Sunday, October 30, 2011

Don't Be That Guy*

Wisconsin's new concealed carry law takes effect on Tuesday. It will take slightly longer for the first permits to be issued, as the rules for training courses were just completed.

Keep in mind the axiom that Bad Facts Make Bad Law.  It will only take a handful of screw-ups by permit-holders to make voters pressure the State Legislature to reconsider.  It won't matter that the same kinds of screw-ups have been committed by non-permit-holders for years; everything will be viewed differently when people are carrying legally. The proponents of concealed carry have long claimed that everyone will be safer when law-abiding citizens are allowed to arm themselves, that it will be a deterrent to crime, and that no one but a violent criminal has anything to fear from legally-armed citizens.

So, in order to fulfill that promise and keep Wisconsinites from turning against legal concealed carry, here is some advice to those who obtain permits:

1. Keep your gun safely stowed in a proper holster or compartment in your bag rather than loose at the bottom of your purse or stuffed in your waistband.

2. Don't assume your gun isn't loaded.

3. Don't count on a self-defense plea if the circumstances are shady.

4. Do not use your gun to settle a domestic dispute.

Really, this should all be common sense. Unfortunately, I have noticed over the years that the people with the least amount of common sense often feel the need to be armed.

And to the opponents of concealed carry out there, relax.  Your odds of being shot by an idiot or a stalker really haven't increased significantly.

Finally, I find it highly ironic that the same Republican office-holders who tried to argue several months ago that the State Capitol must be closed to the public for security reasons because a handful of bullets were found on the grounds now think it's OK for the public to bring guns into the Capitol.

* I am using "guy" in the colloquial Midwestern, gender-neutral sense (as in "you guys"). Wisconsin has plenty of armed idiots who are female.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

British Monarchy Enters the 21st Century

The British commonwealth is finally ending the practice of male primogeniture, meaning first-born daughters will now inherit ahead of their younger brothers.  The Scandinavian monarchies made that change decades ago.

While the change, which has the support of Buckingham Palace, has officially been prompted by the recent marriage of Prince William to the former Kate Middleton, I can't help noticing that Queen Elizabeth's daughter, Princess Anne, is older than Prince Andrew.  Thus, such a change could move Sarah Ferguson's spawn farther from the throne. 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Wisconsin Loses Another Iconic Character

Ed Thompson has passed away after a lengthy battle with pancreatic cancer. (h/t, Blogging Blue)

I voted for Ed for governor in 2002.  I thought he could do less damage than either the incompetent Scott McCallum or the corrupt Jim Doyle.  I also hoped that he (along with former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura) would help poke holes in the partisan duopoly of our nation's politics.  Alas, that was not to be, and the brief flowering of viable third-party challenges collapsed under pressure from the major parties, as well as the impatience of those smaller parties for following a long-term strategy of building viability by consistently running candidates for lesser offices all across the country. The Green Party had actually been following that strategy before it decided to skip ahead several levels and hitch its wagon to Ralph Nader's vanity presidential campaign in 2000.  The Reform Party never really made the transition from cult of Ross Perot's personality.

Although I often disagreed with him, Ed had a loud voice that made sure his unique point of view was heard. Anyone who believes in a free marketplace of diverse ideas must miss him just a little bit.  It is doubly sad that cancer has taken both Thompson and Ben Masel in the same year.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Just Call Him Randy Hopalicious

In the latest episode of the dark comedy that is Randy Hopper's life, the recently-recalled ex-state-senator was busted for driving erratically on Highway 151.  He refused a breathalyzer test but failed field sobriety tests and was charged with OWI.  His reportedly-pregnant girlfriend Valerie Cass was a passenger in the vehicle. I assume she was not drinking if she is pregnant, so it would have saved everyone a lot of grief if Hopper had let her be the designated driver. But the middle-aged Hopper was perhaps unwilling to let a 26-year-old woman drive his car.  Hoist by his own patriarchy.

Maybe he'll blame it on the mind-numbing ordeal that is driving on Highway 151.  Even former Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager couldn't face the trip to Fond du Lac without first fortifying herself with a couple goldfish-bowl-sized glasses of wine.

Shades of 1982

The Brewers have once again fallen to the St. Louis Cardinals in the postseason.  I wish I could say I'm surprised.  At least the Packers pounded the Rams yesterday, so St. Louis sports fans can't feel completely superior.

Friday, October 14, 2011

We Are All Job Creators

One of the latest memes making the rounds of the right wing is that only rich people are job creators. "I've never been hired by a poor man" is the sound byte. Perhaps not, but I have been hired by non-profit organizations and cooperatives, which had a distinct shortage of rich people. Members of my family used to tend bar in a neighborhood tavern that didn't even make enough money to support a family of three (the mom ran the bar while the pop worked a day job -- they lived in a modest ranch house near Oscar Mayer).

When you buy locally-produced goods and services, you are creating jobs in your community. You don't have to wait for largesse to trickle down from the highest tiers of society (most of those golden showers will fall overseas anyway).

If you have an IRA or 401(k), you are a stockholder and/or a bondholder.  Read those annual reports you get in the mail and find out what companies' stocks and bonds are held by your mutual fund(s).  Do you recognize the companies?  Do you know what they produce?  You may want to move some of your money into companies that are investing in U.S. production.

Remember that the super-rich are not the only investors in this country.  We are all job creators.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

PSC Prohibits Plale Purchasing Privileges

OK, so that's grammatically incorrect. I should have said revokes rather than prohibits, but I couldn't resist the alliteration.

There was an episode of The Sopranos where Tony and his crew went after a small businessman who welshed on a gambling debt. They raided the man's sporting goods store and took whatever inventory they could easily sell, then used company credit cards to buy plane tickets and other big-ticket items.

I've often thought that episode provides a useful metaphor for what Scott Walker is doing to the State of Wisconsin, turning civil service jobs into overpaid patronage positions, hiring high-priced private lawyers at taxpayer expense rather than giving the work to the Justice Dept., and privatizing whatever he can for the benefit of his donors.

However, Walker appointee Jeff Plale and his staff seem to be literally copying that episode.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Johnsonville Looks for International Growth

A day after I tried to point out how corporations have more incentive to grow their markets overseas than to keep the U.S. economy strong, I noticed this article.

The relevant passage is here:
About 10% of revenue is derived from international sales, which have been producing high double-digit growth, said Michael Stayer-Suprick, managing director of the company's international business group and Ralph Stayer's son.

If "high double-digit" means 50%, then international sales will account for 15% of the company's revenue in a year. If that "high double-digit" rate of growth continues, it will take only five years for the majority of Johnsonville's revenue to come from outside the U.S.

No wonder the company is backing Scott Walker.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Trading Places with India and China

After World War II, the American economy embarked upon an era of tremendous growth and prosperity. This was fueled in part by new technologies that were developed for the military during the war, but mostly by a rapidly-growing population and pent-up demand for bigger houses and durable goods like automobiles and household appliances.

We have reached a point where our birthrate and population growth from immigration have slowed. We have also saturated our market with automobiles and appliances. Consumers in China and India, on the other hand, are just beginning to acquire automobiles in large numbers and move into less-crowded housing.

That is why large corporations are much more interested in doing business with China and India. Steve Wynn is blowing smoke when he says the Chinese government is more favorable to business. The real reason he prefers the Chinese market is because Macau has only a handful of casinos and proximity to millions of newly-wealthy Asian gamblers, while Las Vegas is saturated with competition.

When large corporations push tax-the-poor memes and schemes to end employer-sponsored health insurance and replace it with vouchers for individual policies, they really don't care that they are reducing the buying power of American consumers. Their future profits will come from overseas markets.

Once an entire generation of Americans has given up the "American Dream" of owning a spacious single-family house and a car for every adult, big corporations will again find the American consumer worth courting. Getting us to that point while expanding their markets in Asia is their long-term strategy.