Thursday November 14, 2019

Forward with Education & Reason

FacebookTwitterYoutube
Newsletter
Feeds:

Progressive Thinking

Discussion with education and reason.

Bold Plans Needed to Save Our Planet

Posted by Jan Koch, Shawano
Jan Koch, Shawano
Jan Koch, Shawano has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Monday, 23 September 2019
in Wisconsin

flooding-east-river-gbClimate change is real and increasingly a part of our daily lives. Change won’t take place overnight, but some common-sense steps can be taken immediately.


SHAWANO, WI - God created a world in which everything was in perfect harmony. The land and its plants and animals were a part of an ecosystem that worked beautifully. Man should be able to enjoy all creation for eternity but unfortunately future generations won’t have that opportunity if we continue on our present path.

Climate change is real and increasingly a part of our daily lives. There is evidence, facts, and science to tell us that.

Western Wisconsin has experienced yearly flooding in areas where such phenomena had only occurred every hundred years. Fiercer tornadoes and hurricanes can be seen across the country. Longer droughts out west are causing dangerous fire conditions. Warming temperatures have disrupted wildlife migration, produced toxic algae blooms, and contributed to the dirtying of our Great Lakes.

Even Pope Francis believes that climate change is a moral issue that must be addressed now in order to protect the earth and all that inhabit it. In 2015 he wrote a 192 page encyclical urging the world to take action on this ecology crisis.

earth_day_globeAccording to a February study, there’s a 99.9999% chance that humans are the cause of global warming. Humans burn fossil fuels such as oil, coal and gas, which release carbon dioxide (CO2), methane and other gases into the Earth’s atmosphere and oceans. CO2 is the greenhouse gas that’s most responsible for warming. If the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere isn’t lowered, temperatures will continue to increase.

If we want a habitable planet, we have to confront the problem at its source. This means we have to reduce the use of coal, oil and gas by mid-century.

The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that capping global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius could avoid catastrophic consequences. However, a recent analysis by Carbon Tracker found that 92 percent of companies are working toward growth in fossil fuel production and/or reserves.

Can the fossil fuel industry be trusted to act in the best interest of our planet? Absolutely not.

We can’t believe fossil fuel companies when they appear to care about the planet. Their industry lobbyists have spent years pretending to support the Paris Agreement’s goals. Since the 2015 Paris Agreement, Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron, BP and Total have spent $1 billion collectively on greening up their image. However, they’ll only invest 3 percent of their $115 billion on low-carbon technologies like carbon capture and algae bio fuels.

Conservative Republicans continue to deny that there is a problem. They profess that oil, gas and coal are all good sources of energy and oil drilling should be increased. They won’t support expanding wind and solar sources. They would rather support private ownership of gas and electric industries.

Former Governor Walker ordered the term “climate change” to be struck from government documents. President Trump also attacks climate science. He refused to sign an agreement protecting the rapidly melting Arctic region unless any references to climate change were removed.

Political will to turn off the fossil fuel taps won’t take place overnight. But some common-sense steps could be taken immediately. The yearly $20.5 billion state and federal subsidies could be eliminated. There could be a ban on new leases for oil and gas development on America’s public lands. Reckless new drilling could be stopped by reinstating the crude oil export ban.

When you hear the words “New Deal” you may recall an economic measure that was introduced by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933 to counteract the effects of those who were suffering from the Great Depression. It involved a massive public works program which brought about immediate economic relief, as well as reforms in industry, agriculture, finance, water power, labor and housing.

Drastic measures are necessary at this point in time. Legislation called the “Green New Deal” has been introduced in Congress. Just like the first “New Deal”, heavy investment by the federal government in green manufacturing could bring about a long period of widely shared economic growth. Profound changes to transportation, housing, energy, agriculture, forestry and more could avert climate breakdown.

This new deal is counter to the current system in which corporations produce huge profits from fossil fuels. However, it could return power generation to local or community control. It could bring needed jobs and investment to communities which have been ravaged by fossil-fueled power.

Governor Tony Evers recently showed his determination to address climate change by committing the state to use 100 percent carbon neutral energy by 2050. His order includes the creation of the Office of Sustainability, which Republicans had stripped from his budget.

This is our planet. Future generations are counting on us to preserve it. Only bold plans will reverse the global warming that is destroying God’s creation.

Jan Koch, Shawano

Tags: Untagged
Rate this blog entry
0 votes

Middleton Legislators Echo Police Chief’s Call for Gun Safety

Posted by Jon Erpenbach. State Senator 27th District
Jon Erpenbach. State Senator 27th District
State Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-Madison) - A former radio personality and legisla
User is currently offline
on Saturday, 21 September 2019
in Wisconsin

school-gunsMADISON – It has been a year since an active shooter targeted his place of work in Middleton. Yet, unfortunately, a year later we have made zero progress in ensuring that no other Wisconsinites are affected by gun violence.

Every Wisconsinite should have the opportunity to go to school, a place of worship, or any other public space in their community knowing that they are safe, and there are steps that we can take to strengthen the system to ensure that an incident, such as what happened in Middleton, will not happen again.

The majority of Wisconsinites agree that it is time to pass gun safety legislation. According to the most recent Marquette Law Poll, 80% of Wisconsin voters support expanded background checks, and nearly the same percentage of Wisconsinites are in support of red-flag laws. The numbers are clear, this is not a partisan issue.

That is why Middleton Police Department Chief, Charles Foulke released a statement recalling the incident and urging politicians to make a difference. As someone who has served his community for 38 years, his words speak volumes.

Enough is enough, it is time to enact common-sense gun laws.

Tags: Untagged
Rate this blog entry
0 votes

Have a Conversation for Democracy’s Sake

Posted by Jeff Smith, State Senator District 31
Jeff Smith, State Senator District 31
Jeff Smith, Senator District 31 (D - Eau Claire)
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 18 September 2019
in Wisconsin

congress-unproductiveSen. Smith talks about the importance of having conversations with people that have different points of view. We can overcome the political divisiveness in society if we remember we have more in common than what sets us apart.


MADISON - Politics is everywhere around us – when you turn on the television, open a newspaper or scroll through Facebook. It’s hard to get away from it all. When we see the divisiveness all around us, it’s easy to think our system is broken.

Political divisiveness affects our attitudes of others and the way we communicate with neighbors or members of our own family. It’s easy for hurtful rhetoric to drive a wedge in these relationships, which makes it difficult to realize the values we share: hard work, a supportive community and what’s best for our family. It’s time we learn how to progress forward together.

Oftentimes, politicians use fear to make people angry and pit one group against another. It’s a simple tactic that has a big impact determining who we interact with and who we ignore.

During my time as a state senator, I’ve hosted many Stop n’ Talks throughout the 31st Senate District. It’s my own way to get around the district to learn from anyone who wants to talk. Folks have busy lives, and it’s difficult for people to find the time to attend official town hall meetings or scheduled hearings. I find the best way to have a conversation is to show up where citizens congregate or invite anyone to stop and talk on their own terms.

A couple of weeks ago, I held a Stop n’ Talk near an event that attracted many from the farming community. As their state senator and the Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Revenue and Financial Institutions, I wanted to make myself available to learn. Most folks are polite; they acknowledge me with a cordial hello, talk to me about their concerns or simply ignore me. However, there were many who had no qualms about insulting me, while refusing to have a conversation.

jeff-smithI’ve also been uninvited from public events, as a state senator, because organizers thought my presence was politically-motivated. I find these examples to be so sad, yet telling about where we are now. My attempts to meet and learn about the issues that matter most to community members are seen as “photo opportunities” or “campaign stops.”

It’s a dangerous cycle we’ve fallen into when we refuse conversations with others based on political beliefs, pushing us further apart. Without the opportunity to openly communicate, we’re unable to discuss the issues that matter most to us.

This broken cycle pushes us back into our own bubble, reinforcing preconceived notions of others groups, which affects the way our democracy works and functions. Voting is a practice that should provide all citizens the opportunity to have their voices heard, but that isn’t always the reality. Poll taxes, literacy tests and other restrictive measures have limited a citizen’s ability to express views at the ballot box. More recently, voter ID laws limit certain people’s right to vote. To this day, politicians gerrymander, creating districts that guarantee an election win for a certain party.

Voters are disenfranchised even when voter suppression attempts fail. Lame duck session laws from last fall changed the jobs our elected officials can do after the election.

Recently, Attorney General Josh Kaul found it impossible to perform the job he was elected to carry out due to the enormous roadblocks from last fall’s lame duck session. The extraordinary session created a process that ties the hands of our Attorney General by requiring the Republican-led Joint Finance Committee to sign off on settlements.

These practices, from voting disenfranchisement to the unprecedented lame duck laws, silence voters and prohibit productive debate or negotiation, pushing things to be more partisan.

I see firsthand the damage all this political divisiveness has done to us. Citizens don’t see a cohesive government working for their best interests, especially when legislators only meet on rare occasions. The fear-based rhetoric, harmful voting policies and the lame duck laws erode whatever trust citizens might still have in their government and their elected officials.

We all have a responsibility to repair the system. Set aside the blame game. Start a conversation with someone with a different point of view. Contact your legislators and tell them to do the same. Insist that your legislature work for your best interests by meeting, debating and working toward solving problems together. After all, we have more in common than what sets us apart.

Tags: Untagged
Rate this blog entry
0 votes

Wisconsin schools put students first, Legislature should do the same

Posted by Jon Erpenbach. State Senator 27th District
Jon Erpenbach. State Senator 27th District
State Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-Madison) - A former radio personality and legisla
User is currently offline
on Friday, 13 September 2019
in Wisconsin

school-kidsSenator Jon Erpenbach is hopeful that Republicans will join Democrats and work to restore what they have cut from education.


WEST POINT - Under Governor Tony Evers’ leadership, Republicans agreed to make a down payment on the People’s Budget and increase funding for our schools. Unfortunately, with school just getting started for the year, communities across Wisconsin are already realizing that their schools need more. Education should be one of our state’s biggest priorities, yet schools are facing teacher shortages and closures - with at least one entire district considering dissolution- and heartbroken students.

Schools and communities across Wisconsin are already beginning the process of putting referendums on the ballots, asking property taxpayers to pay more to keep school doors open. They are doing so because the state once again failed to fully fund education. Governor Tony Evers proposed funding education to the full amount that taxpayers are already paying through referendums. Yet, Republicans apparently believe that local taxpayers should carry far too much of the weight of funding their schools, throwing aside equity, as rural, underfunded schools fall behind, and unaccountable voucher programs steal funds away from communities.

On average, students in Wisconsin have lost 11.8% of the local teaching experience that they had in the classroom since 2011 due to teachers being underappreciated and underpaid. Communities are facing more challenges to attract and keep talent in because Republicans have slashed compensation. There is no denying that politicians disrespecting teachers hurts kids.

Cuts have hit our rural schools especially hard. Republicans cut, altered, or eliminated their own Blue Ribbon Commission proposals that Governor Evers included in his budget, including an increase in sparsity aid for rural districts. The GOP cut the Governor’s proposal significantly, cutting $10.1 million from sparsity aid for rural schools compared to the Governor’s plan. Their rejection of the task force recommendations led to schools in my district, Senate District 27, losing $600,000, with 82 other districts statewide also losing funds.

jon-erpenbachThese major cuts do not come without consequence. According to data released by the Department of Public Instruction (DPI), under Republican leadership, standardized test scores in English and math are declining. For English, reading, and writing, only 39.3% of students met proficiency standards, with math at 40.1%. DPI notes that declining scores may be attributed to underfunding classrooms. In order to continue moving Wisconsin forward, it is vital that we give students and teachers the support that they need. Thankfully, Governor Evers is already moving us in the right direction by signing a budget that will increase funding by $570 million over the next two years. Unfortunately, the budget he was sent cut hundreds of millions from his original proposal, including 84% of his proposal to live up to the state’s responsibility to fund special education.

Wisconsin communities are suffering because Republican lawmakers would rather use our tax dollars to support corporate giveaways instead of funding public schools. The People’s Budget would have funded schools to virtually the same amount that taxpayers have approved in referenda under eight years of GOP control, but Republicans refused to make that investment. While I am thankful that Governor Evers was able to restore some funding with his veto pen, we should have, and Democrats fought to, fully fund education. Unfortunately, the Republicans in the Legislature put a tax handout that is resulting in fewer jobs and an infamous giveaway to Foxconn ahead of 830,000+ students in 422 Wisconsin communities.

There is no better investment in Wisconsin than improving chances for future generations to thrive. Under Republicans, Wisconsin’s priorities have not aligned with what the state needs, or what voters chose last November, and we are now paying the price. Governor Evers was able to make historic investments in our schools, yet as he has pointed out, it was only a down payment on the People’s Budget. Our communities and schools deserve more, and I am hopeful that Republicans will join Democrats in approving more of their Blue Ribbon Commission proposals, and work to restore what they have cut to education.

Tags: Untagged
Rate this blog entry
0 votes

The time for redistricting reform in Wisconsin is now

Posted by League of Women Voters WI, Erin Grunze
League of Women Voters WI, Erin Grunze
Erin Grunze is the Executive Director of the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin
User is currently offline
on Friday, 13 September 2019
in Wisconsin

voter-us-electionsLeague of Women Voters continues the fight for nonpartisan redistricting legislation.


MADISON - The need for redistricting reform in Wisconsin is critical. Concerned voters across the political spectrum are calling to end the practice of gerrymandering by our elected officials. The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin has advocated for nonpartisan redistricting for decades. Over these decades, the control of the legislature has teetered between the two major parties. The response from the party in power has always been to accuse the League of siding with the minority party and that the League is looking to push that party’s agenda. The League has been accused of siding with Republicans and then siding with Democrats.

But in fact the League has always been looking out for the voters in our advocacy. The voters who are packed together or cracked apart because of gerrymandering. It’s a problem with power, and when those in power can determine how they keep their power, we no longer have a representative democracy. Republican voters are cheated when Democratic politicians gerrymander like in Maryland. Democratic voters are cheated when Republican politicians gerrymander like in Wisconsin. No party is innocent.

Gerrymandering isn’t a problem of one party. It’s the partisan cling to power that damages the will of the voters and erodes our democracy. Voters should pick their elected officials, not the other way around. With our current system in Wisconsin, politicians draw their own district lines to pick their voters and to lock in their own political power.

Yet, there is a solution.

Representative Robyn Vining (AD 14) and Senator Dave Hansen (SD 30) drafted redistricting reform bills that will make this process more open, more representative, and more transparent by taking the redistricting process from the partisans and moving it to an independent and nonpartisan Redistricting Advisory Commission. There is bi-partisan support because this is a solution that is right for democracy. Wisconsin voters across the political spectrum want to see this change.

And now is the time for the nonpartisan redistricting bills SB 288 and AB 303 to get a public hearing and deserve serious consideration by lawmakers in Wisconsin as we expect the representatives we elect to be held accountable to the public’s unified call for reforms. Elections should be determined by voters, not politicians who draw maps.

Fair voting maps are fundamental to what makes democracy work. The League will keep pushing for this reform with unrelenting energy and motivation of our members and partners. It has been and will continue to be a long, difficult fight, but it may be our most important work. Wisconsin deserves better and the League is committed to making it happen.

Tags: Untagged
Rate this blog entry
0 votes
Copyright © 2019. Green Bay Progressive. Designed by Shape5.com