In a recent letter, Ron and Rose Marie Reynolds wonder why the country is the way it is, why people are protesting in the streets of Wisconsin and America.
I believe it’s because people are frustrated. They see their whole way of life slipping out of their hands.
We started 2011 with a new governor who, even before he took office, made decisions that cost thousands of jobs in Wisconsin. We were to be the center of the future in high-speed rail in the Midwest. There would have been short-term construction jobs and long-term manufacturing jobs at Talgo, a Spanish train company with a factory in Wisconsin. But all those jobs, as well as $80 million in federal transportation funds, were lost when Governor Scott Walker decided to drop the project.
Then came Walker’s so-called “Budget Repair Bill.” And the grand rush to get it passed. Taxpayers did not even get a chance to read it or debate its contents. Walker wanted it passed immediately. When Democrats in the state Legislature wanted to take a good look at the bill, Republicans pushed ahead with little debate or public discussion.
That is when 14 brave senators left the state to try to delay passage long enough for the public to realize just what the bill entailed. Republicans threatened them with arrest and withheld their pay.
Then we learned that the bill was really about union busting, cutting funds to public schools, cutting medical assistance to the poor and giving the governor sole authority to sell off state-owned utilities without soliciting bids. More than 100,000 people protested in Madison, and thousands more protested across the state, including here in Waupaca.
Since the Republicans couldn’t get the bill enacted by normal channels, they passed it in the middle of the night without the mandatory public notice. Then a Republican-controlled Supreme Court ruled that a Republican-controlled state Legislature doesn’t have to abide by its own laws when it comes to open meetings.
Candidate Walker promised to create 250,000 jobs during his first term. Since July, when Governor Walker’s budget took effect, Wisconsin has lost nearly 35,000 jobs. There are people all over the state now who cannot afford to pay their bills, buy medicine or even food. The front page of the County Post recently talked about the growing number of local children living in poverty and the growing number of families who need help from the area food bank. Everywhere you go you hear about people who are at the end of their rope. All those jobs Walker promised have not materialized, and more are leaving the state.
Now the Assembly is trying to deregulate taconite mining in Ashland and Iron counties. This bill was largely drafted by lobbyists for Gogebic Taconite (GTAC). That company’s top executives donated $10,000 to Walker’s campaign and $3,000 to Scott and Jeff Fitzgerald’s campaigns. So for $16,000, GTAC is looking to deregulate our existing mining laws.
The Sierra Club reported that all nine of the operating taconite mines in Michigan and Minnesota have serious air and water violations. Taconite mines are chronic polluters that have resulted in fines of over $10 million. Are we willing to let them ruin the North Woods for huge profits that will never benefit the people of Wisconsin?
When people feel threatened they react in a defensive manner to protect themselves and their families. It is the law of the jungle, and more and more of us feel like we are living in a jungle.