Thursday August 17, 2017

Always Foward with Education & Reason

FacebookTwitterYoutube
Newsletter
Feeds:

Progressive Thinking

From people looking forward with education and reason.

Subscribe to feed Latest Entries

Hands Off Our Data

Posted by Lena Taylor, State Senator, 4th District
Lena Taylor, State Senator, 4th District
Lena Taylor, State Senator, 4th District has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Saturday, 08 July 2017
in Wisconsin

vote-rightsMILWAUKEE - This week, the Trump Administration asked for all 50 states to turn over election data concerning voters, which includes names, dates of birth, voting histories, and party identifications.

President Trump has widely stated that he believes nearly three million people voted illegally, which cost him the popular vote. In spite of this, there is very little evidence to support his claim of widespread voter fraud. It sounds more like Trump is defending his ego rather than democracy.

Wisconsin has rejected the administration's request, wanting to protect residents' sensitive information. I am committed to standing up for a voter's right to privacy and am working diligently to develop voting rights protections.

Tags: Untagged
Rate this blog entry
0 votes

Helping Veterans Become Farmers

Posted by Kathleen Vinehout, State Senator 31st District
Kathleen Vinehout, State Senator 31st District
Kathleen Vinehout of Alma is an educator, business woman, and farmer who is now
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 04 July 2017
in Wisconsin

veteransA proposal before the Agriculture, Small Business and Tourism committee would provide assistance to veterans interested in farming. A career in agriculture helps veterans who are suffering from PTSD return to civilian life and will also address the aging workforce of farmers.


MADISON - “As far back as WWI connecting soldiers with nature and farming has been used to treat the invisible wounds of war,” Mr. Brian Sales recently told members of the Senate Agriculture, Small Business and Tourism Committee.

“Back then it was called shell shock. Today it’s called PTSD. No matter what it’s called, its effects are the same and what was true then is true now. Veterans need help and help is what I am here to talk about.”

In a bipartisan effort to bring more veterans into agriculture, Senators Testin, Ringhand, Representatives Goyke and Brooks introduced legislation called the Wisconsin Veterans Farm Bill of 2017. The bill calls for several state agencies to work together assisting veterans in both urban and rural communities. The proposal seeks to provide education, technical assistance, employment, and mentorship including connecting existing farmers with veterans who want to learn farming. Over forty percent of the legislature supports the bill as cosponsors, including myself.

A U.S. Army Infantry and combat veteran who served two tours of duty in Iraq and one in Kosovo, Mr. Sales captivated Senators with his story of how farming brought his life purpose.

“When I returned to civilian life after my final tour, I found myself, like so many other veterans, void of direction,” Mr. Sales explained. “Military service changes a person in many ways. Transitioning back to a civilian life is an overwhelming and often shocking experience – not unlike entering boot camp for the first time. However, there is no such thing as reverse boot camp. The military are experts at turning civilians into soldiers, but not turning soldiers back into civilians…we are still coming to terms with what we experienced in the service…leaves us feeling overwhelmed, confused and restless.”

Mr. Sales experience led him to college to study sustainability, which led him to form the group Green Veterans. Working with both civilians and veterans, he found a new sense of purpose and “a renewed commitment to service and ultimately a passion for farming.”

Using his skills and knowledge, Mr. Sales worked with Mr. Will Allen to develop of veteran “farmer boot camp”. The veterans get up early and stay focused on a mission to build, teach, heal the soil and grow crops.

Mr. Sales noted “with farming, I can see the beginning and the end of a task completed. Through nature’s technology, I can see the result of my work and sacrifice, knowing that I’m serving my fellow man, woman and children. I feed people. I create healthy soil in a way that sustains nature. This is a mission I am dedicated to and with the collaboration of Growing Power and Mr. Will Allen; our vision is to make Growing Power the National Urban Farming Training Center for all veterans who want to learn and become an Urban Farmer.”

Joining Mr. Sales at the hearing was Shea Zastrow who serves at the Civilian Chair of Green Veterans of Wisconsin. Mr. Zastrow spoke about how veterans are “hardwired to finish jobs.” He gently admonished the committee to “do more than simply thank Veterans on Veterans Day and then think they are good for 364 days.”

“I challenge civilians to spend just one more day this year with a Vet than they did last year.”

Committee members seemed eager to support the bill. However, during discussion on the bill, members expressed concern as to whether the bill duplicated existing programs. Some of what the bill seeks to do is available through some programs. The Wisconsin Farm Center and U.W. Extension play critical roles in assisting farmers across the state every day.

But twenty-year US Army Veteran and certified organic farmer, Tony Kurtz testified, there is not a specific program to get veterans into agriculture.

Mr. Kurtz told the committee the average age of Wisconsin farmers is 56 and ½ years old. “To maintain our leadership in agriculture, we need an infusion of young, enthusiastic workers. A dedicated program to promote veterans entry into the agriculture industry is a great step forward in helping our aging workforce.”

This is a proposal we can all rally behind. As Mr. Sales said so eloquently, “This bill is an investment in Wisconsin’s veterans that I strongly believe will pay dividends for generations to come.”

Tags: Untagged
Rate this blog entry
0 votes

Blue Jean Nation 'Our disposable society'

Posted by Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation
Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation
Mike McCabe is the founder and president of Blue Jean Nation and author of Blue
User is currently offline
on Saturday, 01 July 2017
in Wisconsin

skilledworkersIn an economy of disposable workers, the time is coming for something like a universal basic income. But none of that talk is happening in the halls of government.


ALTOONA, WI - An economy has grown around us where just about everything is made to be thrown away. There are disposable eating utensils, cups and plates. Disposable towels and disposable diapers. Disposable razors. Disposable gloves. Disposable cameras and disposable batteries. The list goes on and on.

When so much of what is made and sold in this country is designed to be discarded after a single use, it was probably only a matter of time before the workers who do the making are seen as disposable too, especially since those doing the selling are increasingly located half a state or half a country or half a world away.

With industry leaders less rooted in the communities where their companies do business, they don’t think twice about relocating countless factories to far flung places in search of cheaper labor. In the few factories that remain, workers surrender their jobs to robots. Driverless vehicles are on their way. When they arrive, the jobs of truck drivers and bus drivers and taxi drivers will be surrendered too.

Those in power in our government at the moment are proving remarkably insensitive to the uncertainty and anxiety and feelings of betrayal and abandonment that always accompany major economic transitions and dislocations. When the country was going through an industrial revolution more than a century ago and large numbers of people left the land and went to work in factories and offices, the political system responded by providing vocational training, workers compensation for those injured in the workplace, unemployment insurance, retirement security and much more. With a global, technology-driven, increasingly jobless economy now emerging that is leaving so many working people exposed and vulnerable, the government so far is doing next to nothing to cushion the blow.

Those presently in charge of government watch passively as economic markets grow increasingly monopolized and more and more workers get discarded, causing inequality to expand rapidly. They give the monopolists free rein, which is no surprise considering how they’ve joined forces with those economic monopolists to engineer monopolies on political power. They add injury to insecurity in places like Wisconsin, a state once known far and wide for its pristine environment, by looking the other way when industry actions lay waste to natural resources and even inviting industries to write their own pollution permits. Health and safety protections are being stripped away, and the state seizes power from local communities that want to do better by their residents. It’s as if the powers-that-be figure that since people are disposable, there’s no reason to worry too much about them being poisoned.

Working Americans are rightly wondering if there’s a place for us all in this emerging economy, or if a bunch of us are just going to be thrown away. As we all try to gain our footing with the ground shifting beneath us, adjusting to new economic realities that can be cruel and capricious would be so much easier if we had government on our side.

One of these realities is that workers now have to change jobs much more frequently than in the past. Guaranteeing access to medical care with health insurance coverage that follows workers wherever they are employed would create much-needed stability and security while also freeing people to leave dead-end jobs to start new businesses, but the political system has so far failed to meet this glaring need.

With the clear and present danger of a jobless economy and disposable workers, there’s a lot of talk about whether the time is coming for something like a universal basic income. But none of that talk is happening in the halls of government in America. That fact alone speaks volumes about the current disconnect between the government and the governed.

— Mike McCabe

Tags: Untagged
Rate this blog entry
0 votes

Card Skimmer Bill Aimed at Stopping Gas Pump Scam

Posted by Kathleen Vinehout, State Senator 31st District
Kathleen Vinehout, State Senator 31st District
Kathleen Vinehout of Alma is an educator, business woman, and farmer who is now
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 27 June 2017
in Wisconsin

gas-pumpsCredit card skimmers are often put into gas pumps and, when customers swipe cards, the skimmers read the information and criminals use it to steal money from bank accounts or make fraudulent charges on credit cards. Madison and the state legislature have passed legislation to fight this crime.


MADISON - “Be careful when you fill up,” Linda warned me a few months ago. “There’s a new scam that captures your credit card information when you pay for your gas at the pump.”

rob-cowlesOne more thing to worry about, I thought. However, I discovered Senator Rob Cowles already put worry into action. He decided to write a bill to end the scam – Senate Bill 133. I joined a bipartisan group of legislators as a co-sponsor of this legislation.

Recently, both houses of the Legislature unanimously passed SB 133, which creates a new crime designed to stop credit card skimmers at gas stations and ATMs. The previously unknown practice was not written in state law. The gap left criminals a way to squeeze through the legal system.

Senate Bill 133 addressed the question of whether or not possessing the skimmer was against state law. According to the authors of the bill, “Wisconsin is currently amongst a minority of states that have not enacted statutes that provide criminal penalties specific to credit card skimming devices, their use, and the supply lines these criminals are using to obtain these devices. This legislation changes that and gives Wisconsin prosecutors new tools to fight these crimes.”

The bill puts in place harsh penalties for the crime and addresses not only possession but also trafficking of the devices.

Credit card skimmers can be quickly installed in or over credit card readers to steal card information when a customer swipes a card. The criminals sometimes use very small cameras to capture a person’s personal identification number (PIN) for their debit card.

The criminal then uses or sells this credit card information to others who make fraudulent charges. It may take time for you to even know you were a victim of this crime leaving your debit account empty or large charges on your credit card.

The state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Protections (DATCP) issued an alert to gas station owners last August when, during their routine work of checking the accuracy of gas pumps, they noticed unusual devices added to credit card readers to capture sensitive financial information.

According to September story by the Wisconsin State Journal, investigators found fifteen devices attached to the credit card readers on gas pumps across Wisconsin. Five of the devices were in Madison; the others were at high traffic stations mostly near the Interstate. Senator Cowles reported skimmer devices were found in 25 communities including Eau Claire.

Earlier this year, a Wisconsin State Journal story reported that two men from California were arrested and charged with placing the credit card skimmers in Madison gas pumps. In response to this ongoing criminal activity, the City Council of Madison passed an ordinance requiring all gas pumps to install “unique locking devices” to prevent tampering with pumps.

The Wisconsin State Journal went on to report the ordinance was effective. As of last winter, the local Weights and Measures inspectors found that all of the roughly 2,000 gas pumps in Madison have locking devices and are free of the illegal credit card skimmers.

dave-hansenImpressed by the success in Madison, Senator Dave Hansen believes the state should take the step of requiring locking devices to protect consumers. During deliberation on Senate Bill 133, he offered an amendment that would require gas station owners to install the “unique locking devices” on all pumps in the state. Senator Hansen noted that, “Card skimming is a crime of opportunity… By making it more difficult for them to access a gas pump, we can take that opportunity away and protect consumers from this type of crime. It doesn’t seem unreasonable to require gas station operators to take this small step to protect their customers.”

The amendment failed but Senator Hansen’s idea is a very good one.

Meanwhile consumers can protect themselves with a few routine practices. Check the credit card scanner to see if its loose, looks different from the surrounding pump (older or newer), place your hand over the hand you use to type in your PIN. Ask your local station what they are doing to protect you from fraud.

If you find anything unusual, be sure to report details to the station owner and the police. Do not tamper with something that looks to be a fraudulent skimmer. You may be tampering with evidence of a crime.

Stay safe out there on your summer travels.

Tags: Untagged
Rate this blog entry
0 votes

Blue Jean Nation 'Upending the new Jim Crow'

Posted by Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation
Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation
Mike McCabe is the founder and president of Blue Jean Nation and author of Blue
User is currently offline
on Thursday, 22 June 2017
in Wisconsin

black-hoodyMonopolized political speech, mass incarceration and voter suppression together pack an enormous discriminatory wallop. Overcoming the new Jim Crow starts with recognizing it and seeing through the false justifications.


ALTOONA, WI - There was a time when efforts to keep people in their place were easily recognizable. Bondage is hard to miss. Women were chattel and blacks were slaves. The nation’s royals eventually lost their moral and legal justification for employing such crude and brutal means to keep people down, but not their desire for race, class and gender superiority. So slavery was out, Jim Crow was in. Poll taxes and literacy tests and other such tactics were put to use. Give them rights, but make sure they are not equal rights.

The civil rights legislation of the 1960s and early 1970s ended the old Jim Crow but not the royals’ discriminatory impulses. The ink was barely dry on the series of laws addressing race and sex discrimination, and a new Jim Crow was promptly fashioned that makes discrimination more disguised than ever.

The new Jim Crow stands on three legs. First, longstanding restrictions on money in politics were legally challenged. The U.S. Supreme Court’s money-equals-speech ruling in 1976 gave the mightiest in America new ways to thwart the will of the masses even while allowing the exercise of largely equal rights. Campaign donations became the drone strikes of the race and class wars. The beauty of political donations as tools of social and economic control is that they don’t appear discriminatory because, in theory at least, anyone can make them. But the difference between theory and practice in campaign giving is as distinct as the divisions of race and class. Almost all of the money flowing to elected officials comes from an elite cadre of individuals who are wealthy and white. Control over the levers of power is preserved by making political expression and participation prohibitively expensive for all but a few.

Monopolizing political speech has been done in the name of protecting the First Amendment. The barely visible hand of organized money has robbed voters in most parts of the state of their ability to control their own political destiny. Long before voters ever cast a ballot, whoever is most successful in attracting money wins what amounts to a wealth primary that weeds out any meaningful competition, leaving the people with a vote but little if any choice. The wealth primary works hand in hand with the practice of gerrymandering political boundaries to strip elections of competitiveness and render them pale imitations of democratic contests.

Having secured the means to keep people down by allowing them to freely vote in elections whose results are preordained, America’s royalty nevertheless took no chances. Discriminatory drug policies and the practice of racial profiling by law enforcement authorities and the resulting mass incarceration of African American males became the second key feature of the new Jim Crow. This was largely done in the name of fighting the scourge of drug abuse in America. The War on Drugs has never put much of a dent in drug use, but it has been a remarkably efficient tool of discrimination.

The third leg the new Jim Crow stands on is voter suppression. Since the 2010 election, nearly half of the states made laws restricting the right to vote in one way or another. These laws have been sold as election integrity measures. The public has been repeatedly told such laws are needed to prevent rampant voter fraud. In reality, voter fraud in the U.S. is nearly non-existent. But in Wisconsin and elsewhere in the country, new laws restricting voting in the name of preventing fraud have proven remarkably effective in preventing racial minorities, the poor and the young from casting ballots.

Monopolized political speech, mass incarceration and voter suppression together pack an enormous discriminatory wallop. Overcoming the new Jim Crow starts with recognizing it and calling it what it is, and seeing through the false justifications. Then its legs need to be taken out from under it.

— Mike McCabe

Tags: Untagged
Rate this blog entry
0 votes

Who's Online

We have 111 guests online

Follow on Twitter

Copyright © 2017. Green Bay Progressive. Designed by Shape5.com