Friday, July 21, 2017

Crash Course

The next time you are out and about, check out how many vehicles you see with some sort of collision damage.  One of those vehicles right now belongs to my wife, who collided last week with a young woman that decided not to check for cross traffic along a street where she had a yield sign--and my wife had the right of way.  After that crash, I started taking a look at other cars on the road and I notice a lot of crumpled side panels and cracked or missing bumpers.

I used to think that those social media posts ranking "Wisconsin drivers among the worst in the country" were just clickbait--because anytime I saw someone going 95-miles an hour on I-41 or passing an entire line of cars in a no passing zone on the way up north, they had an Illinois license plate.  And I thought that just cutting someone off because you wanted into their lane without even signaling was just an East Coast thing.  But just a week of very close observation of our local driving habits shows that we suck just as bad as our metropolitan counterparts.

We had some construction in front of the Radio Ranch here on South Washburn this week that closed the right-hand lane.  Despite signs warning of the closure well down the block, I've seen at least three instances of drivers in that lane swerving feet in front of the cones and forcing vehicles in the left lane to slam on the brakes to avoid a collision.  What has made it particularly dangerous is that you have people gunning it out of Walmart less than a hundred feet from the construction zone.

And speaking of parking lots, I saw the Cart Guy at Festival have to jump out of the way of a driver that was backing out of a parking spot without looking behind them to see if it was safe to go.  I've also noticed that we have become less courteous of allowing people to walk to and from stores in those crosswalk areas--choosing instead to gun it through before they can set foot into the painted area.  This is especially true at the southside Pick n Save--where drivers give you dirty looks as they nearly run you over.

We drivers aren't necessarily all to blame for the increase in crashes.  The increase of speed limits on all interstates and expressways are giving aging drivers less time to react to unexpected situations.  And the instance of placing roundabouts at every intersection just encourages more confusion and collisions.  My wife's crash was due to Oshkosh's widespread use of yield signs on side streets--rather than stop signs that force someone to at least take a look in both directions before crossing.  And carmakers are colluding to distract us even more behind the wheel with internet connection on dashboard screens and providing false security with backup cameras, lane deviation warnings and self-breaking systems that some people think will avoid crashes all by themselves.

And if you think I'm just over-stating how bad things have been out there this summer, call up one of the auto body shops in town and ask how long it would take to get a repair done.  My wife found six to eight weeks--because those guys can't keep up with all of the bad driving.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Let Them Smoke Pot!

For all the concern that Democrats claim to have for the plight of the poor and downtrodden in this state, they sure have a funny way of trying to "solve" their core constituency's problems.  Take for instance the push to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in Wisconsin.

In a state that is struggling to fill skilled jobs because so many went through the education system without learning the skills necessary for today's workforce, employers are also running into the problem of qualified applicants that can't pass a simple drug test.  How then does encouraging people to use one of the drugs employers don't want their workers to be using going to help the unemployed (or underemployed) find and retain jobs?

We hear often from Democrats that the poor don't have enough money for the basics: food, medicine, transportation, child care--and that Government programs need to be set up to provide all of those.  But is the legalized marijuana going to be free?  Based on the number of dealers getting busted, business in the illegal drug trade is booming here in Wisconsin--so plenty of that money low-income families never seem to have is going into the pockets of those dealers.  Or are you going to make an argument that legalization will "help lower the cost" of pot?

And let's not forget the heady numbers supporters of legal weed like to toss around for taxes the state could collect at marijuana dispensaries.  Who is paying that tax?  The One Percent?  Evil corporations?  No.  It will be the low and middle income drug users that Democrats already say are paying "more than their fair share".

If you are going to say "Jonathan, the poor don't use drugs in any higher rates that the middle class and the rich", I would direct you to a Politifact check on a comment from Congresswoman Gwen Moore of Milwaukee who tried to shoot down Governor Scott Walker's drug testing for welfare recipients by saying the "poor people are less likely to use drugs because they can't afford them".  Politifact gave that a "false" rating--as numerous studies find higher drug usage rates as incomes decline.

It almost makes you think that Democrats want to keep people unemployable and broke.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Trap is Sprung

Despite all of the machinations in Washington, the Affordable Care Act continues to work exactly the way its designers and supporters wanted it to.  Premiums continue to rise.  Insurers are refusing to take part in the exchanges.  Medical inflation remains above the regular rate of inflation and the constant fear of "losing access to healthcare" continues to hang over everyone's heads.  And now, President Trump and Congressional Republicans have fallen into the final booby trap designed to kill them as well.

As I have mentioned here before, the ACA was NEVER intended to make health care more affordable.  It is not designed to improve the current health insurance system.  The Affordable Care Act is solely in place to DESTROY the current health insurance system in order to set the stage for its creators' and supporters' ultimate goal: single-payer, Federal health care.  It's structure of requiring insurance companies to cover all conditions, to allow people to buy insurance after they get sick and to prevent anyone with a higher risk for illness to pay a higher premium is obviously untenable in the long term.

We can debate whether the Republican majorities in Congress and President Trump were sent to Washington to "repeal and replace" the ACA.  But their continued failure to do so not only guarantees the fate of healthcare in this country--but also that of the GOP as well.

President Trump--whom you will notice never actually developed his own healthcare plan and instead just chose to criticize the plans developed in Congress--thinks that he is some political genius with his "We are going to let ObamaCare fail--and we will not own it" strategy.  But his plan plays directly into the hands of Democrats--whom voters are not going to "blame" for the collapse of private insurance in this country.  Instead, those that want the Government to take over health care will be joined by the angry Trumpkins whose guy didn't get his way and fiscal Conservatives that realize those who promised to rescue us from the ACA trap don't have the backbone to take the steps necessary and Republicans will first lose control of Congress and then the White House.

And once that happens, the door to socialized medicine is wide open.  What's more, the carnage inflicted by the Affordable Care Act operating exactly as it was designed will have those same voters begging for the Government "to do something"--which will be "Medicare For All" as Bernie Sanders yelled at his millennial supporters last year.  So the greatest expansion of Government power in US history will take place--and the people will cheer as they lose more of their independence.  Meanwhile, Republicans are left with yet another "political rail" that they will never be able to touch again.

The trap was set nine years ago, and this week the GOP and the President walked right into it.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Prisoners of the System

You can't help but feel bad for the students and parents at Washington Middle School in Green Bay that really are committed to getting a good education there.  Thanks to the dramatic testimony from a former teacher at the school earlier this summer, the dire situation those kids and faculty members face at Washington was exposed to the rest of the community--and they too can now demand action from District officials to improve the situation.

But imagine the frustration that those parents and kids must feel when the District and the School Board decide to take actions that in no way, shape of form will address the problems or their root causes.  Last night, an assistant superintendent was more than proud to announce that the district is working on "new expectation guidelines for students" and that it will conduct their "culture and climate survey" more often.

I know that if I was a trouble-making kid looking to disrupt the education process or to intimidate my classmates and teachers I would be quaking in my boots at the prospect of a survey being done more often.  And revisions to a behavior expectation policy that I ignored before would certainly get me to stay on the straight and narrow from now on.  When those concerned parents who are begging for improvements went to that meeting last night they were probably expecting to hear words like "increased in-school suspension" or "immediate expulsion" as the tactics that would be used to restore order at Washington.

The reason actual disciplinary actions will not be recommend nor taken by the Green Bay School District can be summed up in one buzzword: Optics.  Cracking down on those terrorizing Washington Middle School could make the School District look bad--well at least in the eyes of those promoting the agenda of "social justice".

The one issue that everyone on all sides have danced around very carefully in the Washington Middle School controversy is that it has the highest percentage of minority students in the district.  That means that if disciplinary action falls along those percentages, it will appear that the Green Bay School District is punishing student of color more often than white students.  And presenting each case individually and laying out the facts in each case will not counter the blanket accusations that "institutional racism" exists in Green Bay schools.

And so those who can, use the state's open enrollment law to pull their kids from the Green Bay School District to attend classes in the surrounding districts--to the tune of a loss of more than 15-hundred students last year.  That means the "bad actors" make up a larger percentage of the remaining student body--further skewing the numbers when it comes to disciplinary action.  And those who can't "escape" via open enrollment remain prisoners of the system.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Inter-racial Racism

In today's episode of "Trying to Understand How Liberals Think", we examine the curious reaction to the new movie The Big Sick.  In the film, comedian Kumail Nanjiani--who is of Pakistani descent--meets a Caucasian woman and falls in love.  The story centers around Nanjiani's character trying to hide his white girlfriend from his parents--who are trying to arrange a marriage for him with a woman of Pakistani descent.  That is followed by the usual "culture shock" humor and eventual acceptance--because as we have been told many times "you should be allowed to love whomever you want".

One would think that a movie garnering rave reviews and some box office success starring a Pakistani-descent lead actor and portraying societal acceptance of such inter-racial relationships would be considered a "success" in Hollywood--which consistently pays only lip-service to minorities (especially when it comes to things like the Oscars or the Emmys).  But as several on-line articles claim the movie is actually racist.

The problem--according to those on the Left--is that Nanjiami's character falls in love with a white woman--which perpetuates something known as "white love"--or the belief that winning the favor of Caucasian women somehow "embodies an acceptance into American culture."  Men of Asian descent lust after white women not because of who they are--but what they represent--"a gateway to power in our culture".   Furthermore, there is criticism that the Pakistani women recruited by his parents that the main character rejects are all caricatures of the simple, subservient females of the native culture. 

Apparently, to meet the "expectations" of liberals, The Big Sick should have featured a Pakistani-American man that meets a Pakistani-American woman that is successful in business, independent, that has rejected the "patriarchal standards of Pakistani culture" and whom he treats as an equal.  His parents immediately accept her for who she is--and not what their background believes she should be.  All of his friends--especially those that are white men--respect her from the first time they meet her.  And then they go on to marry and have kids that they do not force any cultural expectations or gender norms upon.

There probably wouldn't be any comedy and hardly any entertainment value in that story--but at least everyone would leave the theater feeling really good about themselves.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Banking Some Goodwill

I hope the Oshkosh Corporation tosses out a lot of candy during their parade on Saturday--and that every child that wants to ride on one of the big trucks gets a chance during their open house--because the company may need all the goodwill it can get for a battle coming up in the future.  As City Councilmember Steve Herman told us this week, there is "plenty of buildable space" at the site of Lakeshore Municipal Golf Course--and by all accounts, Oshkosh Corp wants that land for a new world headquarters.

You can't really blame Oshkosh for eyeing that site--as it has the perfect combination of riverfront acreage and easy access to Interstate 41.  The corporate leaders likely have a bit of "headquarters envy" if you will.  Take a look at what smaller companies like Thrivent Financial and Plexus have in our area.  Thrivent has lagoons and walking trails and multiple parking lots on their site--which everyone driving by on I-41 can see.

Plexus just moved into a beautiful new building that consolidated all of their corporate divisions along the Fox River in downtown Neenah--where their employees can walk along the water or dine at neat little restaurants just a few blocks away.  Plus, the city is building them a parking ramp next door.  Compare that to Oshkosh's current corporate headquarters--which you could easily drive by without even noticing on Oregon Street--with it's funky "five corners" intersection confusing visitors looking for the parking lot. 

Now imagine replacing that set up with a gleaming new tower that you couldn't possibly miss along I-41 alongside the river, with the big old trees already on the site and the WIOUWASH Trail leading over the causeway right next door.  Wally at Robbins says he already has a new bar/restaurant ready to go into that building--and somebody looking to build a hotel next door--all of which could easily serve Oshkosh Corp employees and visitors.

The company will likely find a Common Council amenable to a potential sale.  I doubt Councillors Palmeri, Krause (no relation) and Panske are going to vote to preserve a playing ground for such an elitist, racist and misogynistic sport like golf.  And the pressure on the remaining Councilmembers to retain the headquarters of the largest employer in town will be great.  It's bad enough that the most well-known Oshkosh-related company--B'Gosh--has nothing to do with the city anymore.

So smile and congratulate the folks at the Oshkosh Corporation on their milestone anniversary this weekend--because things are not going to be so friendly in the near future.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Early Bird Special

I don't go to that many of them every year, but I would have to say that last night's Waterfest concert at the Leach Amphitheater in Oshkosh was the best one ever.  I don't say that because Huey Lewis and the News is one of my favorite groups and that they played all of their hits in fine form.  I don't say that because the rain stayed away--and it was the warm and muggy weather conditions that I love.  I say it was the best Waterfest show ever because it was done at 9:15 pm.  With the possibility of severe weather looming, organizers shortened up the sets for the opening acts and started Huey at 7:45pm.

Admittedly, I'm a bit different than your usual live music fan.  I'm on the job at 3:00 AM on weekdays--and I usually have something going on very early on weekends--while most everyone else is still sound asleep.  But is there really a good reason to hold so many events so late at night?

The average Waterfest show runs until 10:30 or so--with headliners not hitting the stage until around 9:00.  You add on the half hour it takes to get out of the Leach and back to your car--and the time to drive home on the crowded, one-way downtown streets and there is little chance of getting to bed before 11:30.  Last night, I was sleeping before ten.

One of the biggest complaints I hear from people that stopped going to Country USA is that the headliners don't get on until 11:00 every night.  And with the traffic nightmare getting out of Ford Festival Park afterwards, it usually turns into an all-night affair.  Who needs that hassle, even if you don't have to be to work until 9:00 the next morning?

Whenever you hear about a new study that finds Americans don't get enough sleep, remember that we do that to ourselves.  Nights haven't become any shorter since the advent of time--we just insist on scheduling everything as late as possible. 

And it's not just concerts.  Sports is another late night offender.  Playoff games in all leagues and the college ranks start at 8:00 Central Time--9:00 on the East Coast--and go until around midnight.  There's no reason to start that late other than to make sure the entire game takes place during "prime time hours" in all time zones.  I'm sure the players themselves would be just fine with a 6:00 kickoff or tipoff.

So if I could make a suggestion to Mike Dempsey and the rest of the crew at Waterfest: Consider more "Early Bird Specials" and let us enjoy our beer and our music--while still getting to bed at a reasonable hour.