Sunday, January 7, 2018

Scott Walker's localized version of Disaster-like Capitalism continues to payoff.

This is just a quick post about something I'm still trying to sort through... 

Writer Naomi Klien calls it "disaster capitalism," the free market exploitation of a disaster or problem. Trump and Scott Walker are relentlessly pushing this idea in big ways. Here's a past example under Bush:
Hurricane Katrina and other catastrophic events: The exploitation of crises for corporate gain, often under the guise of relief or reconstruction efforts. A list of "Pro-Free-Market Ideas for Responding to Hurricane Katrina and High Gas Prices," by Vice President Mike Pence; "make the entire affected area a flat tax free-enterprise zone," "give school-choice vouchers for displaced children," and "make the entire region an economic competitiveness zone (comprehensive tax incentives and waiving of regulations)."
Public Education Disaster? Scott Walker's use of disaster capitalism plays off his own major ideologically driven policy disasters, like education. Walker first drummed up support by making things worse with Act 10...vilifying teachers as union thugs who indoctrinate kids with their liberal agendas:
Walker cut $782 million from public schools.  
Even though Wisconsin is in the top 12 for overall state grades and 9th in K-12 Achievement, Republicans have convinced their voting base our public schools have been a failure. Walker purged the system of costly experienced teachers, introduced free-market bidding wars for instructors, ignored school funding reform, expanded voucher and charter schools, and forced school districts to pass funding referendums. Running again for governor, he's now increased spending on schools, after creating educational shortfalls:
...state aid is the highest ever in raw dollars, but adjusted for inflation remains below levels more than a decade ago. 
State Parks Funding Disaster: Walker did the same to our state parks, by first cutting taxpayer funding, and then coming to the rescue with free-market user fees that aren't keeping up with maintenance, pricing lower to middle income Wisconsinites out. And fees are going up. Trump is doing the same thing with our national parks with even bigger increases. Can you afford to see and enjoy your own country? Now that's freedom:
In the 10 months since Ryan Zinke took the reins at the U.S. Department of Interior, he has proposed more than doubling summer entrance fees at Yellowstone, Glacier and other popular national parks to $70 per carload. Lest the thrifty or those on a tight budget try to plan around such a price increase, under Zinke’s leadership, the National Park Service reduced the number of free park admission days to four for 2018 — down from 16 free days in 2016 and 10 in 2017.
Lincoln Hills Disaster: Walker decided to close the states budget deficit by consolidating the juvenile prison system, cutting 292 full-time jobs.
Then-Racine County Circuit Judge Richard Kreul sent a memo directly to Walker on Feb. 10, 2012, said he had been shocked when the state closed a separate youth facility, Ethan Allen School in Wales, in 2011 and instead sent all young offenders to a single institution, Lincoln Hills. "My experience with the administration at Wales was 100% better than my experience with the administration at Lincoln Hills," he said. 
We have yet to see how Walker will turn this into another money making opportunity. Still, what Walker is proposing is just another hail mary his legislature most likely won't approve of or have the money for. It's just an idea that may not panned out:

Walker unveiled an $80 million plan to turn Lincoln Hills School for Boys in northern Wisconsin into an adult facility and transfer the population at the embattled detention center to five regional teen prisons, three in southeastern Wisconsin, in 2019. But it will still take years — and political skill — to pass the legislation, acquire the land, build these new prisons and create programming for them that gets better results for inmates and the public. In the meantime, Walker will still face questions about past problems at Lincoln Hills — and potentially new ones that might develop in the meantime.

State Rep. Cindi Duchow has said Ethan Allen, the 140-acre former correctional facility, off Highway 83 just north of Wales, is so contaminated with asbestos, lead paint and mold that it is unsafe and cannot be economically repaired.

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