Friday December 9, 2022

An Independent Progressive Media Outlet

FacebookTwitterYoutube
Newsletter
News Feeds:

Progressive Thinking

Discussion with education and reason.

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 Jeans in High Places: The Coming Makeover of American Politics.
Mike wants to hear from you.
Blue Jean Nation, P.O. Box 70788, Madison, WI 53707
Email: one4all@bluejeannation.com
Phone: 608-443-6086

Blue Jean Nation 'Work at the crossroads'

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, 20 May 2017
in Wisconsin

matc-studentsWe can steer clear of the social, political and economic turmoil and upheaval this new economy has the capacity to create. If heads are buried in the sand, chaos will reign.


ALTOONA, WI - Those in power in Wisconsin’s Capitol want everyone to notice that the state’s unemployment rate has come down some. They are equally eager to have everyone to look past other troubling facts, such as wage and job growth that is lagging behind the national average, a poverty rate that’s higher than it’s been in 30 years, and a middle class that’s disappearing faster than anywhere else in the country. They pay no attention to rising economic inequality and hope no one notices that the income gap is growing faster in Wisconsin than in other states.

As unwilling as they are to acknowledge much less do something about these politically inconvenient realities, they are even more reluctant to engage the public in any kind of discussion about even greater challenges that lie ahead.

There is a reason why most Americans believe our kids will be worse off than their parents. The U.S. is hurtling toward an increasingly jobless economy and everyone can see it coming. Even the politicians can see it but don’t want to deal with what is plainly visible on the horizon. Instead they look for scapegoats, telling frightened workers that immigrants are stealing their jobs. Or they offer empty promises that closed factories can be reopened and lost assembly line jobs will somehow magically reappear. This is the cruelest kind of hoax.

sherman-park-youthToday’s immigrants aren’t replacing yesterday’s factory workers on the assembly lines, robots are. Immigration is not the culprit, technology is. Even if new factories replace the old shuttered ones, how many people will work in those plants? Driverless vehicles are coming. When they arrive, what happens to the truck drivers and bus drivers and cab drivers?

Call this emerging American economy what you will. Some call it global, some call it high-tech. Others label it an information or knowledge economy. Still others see little left but a service economy. Probably the most accurate description is post-human. Workers have every reason to feel vulnerable, and those feelings are only going to intensify.

Fewer and fewer workers have union representation. There was a time when virtually every American household included at least one union member. Today, less than 11% of all Americans and only 6% of private sector workers belong to a union. Labor unions were an outgrowth of the industrial revolution. That revolution came and went. In what came after, unions struggled to adapt and steadily lost membership. Workers lost bargaining power.

In the short term, steps can be taken to empower working people, from affordable and debt-free education and job training to universal access to everything from health care to high-speed Internet. But in the longer term, if our society is going to hold together in an increasingly jobless economy, we are going to have to renegotiate the social contract. Totally new approaches to maintaining social cohesion are going to have to be considered. Maybe part of the answer is moving to the 30-hour workweek that Amazon and other companies are trying out. That would make work available to more people. Maybe the time will soon come for a universal basic income. That would require all of us to see the value in making sure no one is left behind. Maybe making union representation a civil right could be a piece to the puzzle. Perhaps some combination of these or other ideas will light the way.

If minds are open, we can steer clear of the social, political and economic turmoil and upheaval this new economy has the capacity to create. If heads are buried in the sand, chaos will reign.

— Mike McCabe

Tags: Untagged
Rate this blog entry
0 votes

Blue Jean Nation 'Wisconsin’s Economy: An about-face in 4 steps'

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 Tuesday, 09 May 2017
in Wisconsin

skilledworkersFor many, it’s hard to find work that enables you to make ends meet. Change is possible, but it will require us to understand growth and prosperity gush up, they do not trickle down.


ALTOONA, WI - When it comes to Wisconsin’s economy, those in power go to great lengths to direct everyone’s gaze at moderating unemployment in the state. They don’t want to acknowledge or discuss that while it’s possible to find work, for many it’s extremely hard to find work that enables you to make ends meet and stay in the middle class. Persistent stagnation and rising inequality are big parts of the full story of Wisconsin’s economy.

For years now, Wisconsin has depended on an economic development strategy devoted to empowering a few thousand of the wealthiest among us in hopes that some of what they have will trickle down to everyone else. Not much has trickled. At the heart of these feed-the-rich policies are tax breaks targeted to the wealthy and taxpayer-funded subsidies for businesses with few strings attached.

Wisconsin needs to do an about-face. Instead of seeking to empower a few thousand people and then pray they work some magic for the rest of the population, the state should focus on empowering all of the more than 5 million people who live here. This turnabout can be accomplished in four steps.

The first step is to substantially boost wages. That means raising the wage floor and turning the minimum wage into a living wage. The federal minimum wage has been boosted more than 20 different times, and every increase was greeted by claims it would be a jobs killer. Jobs didn’t disappear. In fact, new ones materialized. The national economy grew steadily through every minimum wage increase. And states that increased their own minimum wages have seen faster job growth than those that didn’t. Makes perfect sense, actually. Put more money in workers’ pockets and they don’t pad their net worth with it or stash it in tax havens in Bermuda or the Cayman Islands, they spend it. And that stimulates the economy.

Step two is to restructure Wisconsin’s tax system. When you add up all  the state and local taxes we pay, the wealthiest 1% pay the lowest overall tax rate. That’s gotta change. There’s no need for new taxes, but there is a pressing need to make sure everyone pays the ones we already have. Requiring those in the top 1% to pay their fair share is key to doing something about economic inequality and empowering 5 million people who currently pay a bigger portion of their incomes in taxes.

The third step is to make education and job training as affordable for our kids and grandkids as it was for their parents and grandparents. Debt-free education and training has to be the state’s goal. A high school diploma alone is no longer a sure pathway to the American Dream. Wisconsin needs to clear a path that does not leave young people buried under a mountain of debt.

Step four is equipping every last person living in Wisconsin with indispensable 21st Century tools such as high-speed Internet and access to mobile phone service. Fully participating in the global economy and 21st Century American life is not possible without these tools. Wisconsin is lagging badly in this regard, and failing to catch up is a recipe for further economic stagnation and greater inequality.

An about-face is possible, and it can be done in four steps. But it will require a fundamental change of economic philosophy. Sustainable growth and prosperity gush up, they do not trickle down.

— Mike McCabe

Tags: Untagged
Rate this blog entry
0 votes

Blue Jean Nation 'Wisconsin’s biggest problem'

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, 27 April 2017
in Wisconsin

wisconsin-rustedIn recent years, Wisconsin appears to have lost its ambition to be first or best. Roads are going to hell, we rank 49th in Internet speed. We’re lagging badly in renewable energy development and jobs. Recovery starts with wanting to be a state of firsts again.


ALTOONA, WI - Wisconsin has more than its share of problems. Our state leads the nation in shrinkage of the middle class and is dead last in new business start-ups. The roads are going to hell. We rank 49th in Internet speed. We’re lagging badly in renewable energy development. We used to pride ourselves on having some of the best schools in the nation, but in recent years have watched them slip toward mediocrity. Many parts of the state now have a public health crisis on their hands when it comes to drinking water.

The biggest problem of all is that Wisconsin appears to have lost its ambition to be first or best. For the time being the state seems content to be average or even bring up the rear. Wisconsin has, temporarily at least, lost its pioneering spirit. Past generations made Wisconsin a state of firsts. First in the nation to establish kindergartens, first to set up a vocational, technical and adult education system. First to pass a law providing workplace injury compensation, first to create an unemployment compensation program. First to create primary elections to take the business of nominating candidates away from party bosses in smoke-filled rooms and put it in the hands of the people. First to base taxation on the ability to pay. Social Security was cooked up here.

Today, about the only way Wisconsin leads the nation is in the disappearance of the middle class. For Wisconsin to become what it has the potential to be, the state’s pioneering spirit has to be rediscovered. We have to aspire to be first again.

For example, it should be Wisconsin’s goal to be the first state in the nation to be fully powered by renewable energy. You know some state is going to get there. It’s only a matter of time. Why shouldn’t Wisconsin be that state? The race is on, but Wisconsin has not yet shown it is serious about competing in that race. Time for that to change.

Wisconsin needs to make education and job training as affordable for our kids and grandkids as it was for their parents and grandparents. We can settle for nothing less than debt-free college and vocational preparation.

Access to high-speed Internet and mobile phone service are 21st Century necessities that must be brought to every household. Everyone in Wisconsin should have them. Wisconsin ranks 49th in Internet speed. We should take all necessary steps to be first.

No one anywhere in Wisconsin should turn on a water faucet and be afraid to drink what comes out. Wisconsin should lead the nation in protecting water quality. No one in Wisconsin should be unable to go to the doctor when sick. Instead of turning down available federal funds for medical care, they should be used to leverage expansion of BadgerCare and ultimately make it a health coverage option for everyone in the state.

No more Wisconsin communities should be forced to go backward and turn paved roads into gravel. Wisconsin now has the fourth worst roads in the nation, with nearly three-quarters of them in mediocre or poor condition. It should be our goal to have the best ones in the country.

It all starts with wanting to be a state of firsts again.

— Mike McCabe

Tags: Untagged
Rate this blog entry
0 votes

Blue Jean Nation 'Treasure in sport, rarity in politics'

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 Monday, 17 April 2017
in Wisconsin

dick-bennettWisconsin's remarkable success in Basketball is based upon Dick Bennett's five pillars: Humility. Passion. Unity. Servanthood. Thankfulness. Qualities in short supply elsewhere in the Capitol these days.


ALTOONA, WI - Any idea which college has won the most NCAA Division 1 men’s basketball tournament games in the past four years?

If you’re guessing North Carolina, guess again. If you think it’s Duke, you’re thinking wrong. Kentucky? Incorrect. Kansas? Wrong again. Villanova? Louisville? UCLA? Gonzaga? Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

The answer is the University of Wisconsin, with 13 tourney wins and four trips to the regional semifinals known as the Sweet Sixteen, two Final Four appearances and one run all the way to the national championship game.

The Badgers have made it to the national tournament the last 19 years straight. That streak started under coach Dick Bennett. The program’s remarkable success is built on a foundation of Bennett’s five pillars: HumilityPassionUnityServanthoodThankfulness. In fact, those five words to live by are literally cemented in the foundation of the arena the Badgers call home.

These pillars are nowhere to be seen at the State Capitol. They are conspicuously missing in the behavior of state lawmakers. Three of the secrets to the Badgers’ sustained success on the hardwood are most noticeably absent in the marble corridors of power — humility, unity and servanthood.

Authentic leadership requires humility. Good leaders give credit and take blame. Today’s politicians routinely do the exact opposite.

Unity is indispensable in any team endeavor. If you picture Wisconsin government as a team, then it currently looks like a dysfunctional one. The team’s captains don’t seek unity, they consciously sow seeds of division instead.

Perhaps the ingredient of success that is most scarce in politics nowadays is servanthood. A true public service ethic has withered away. The aims of those who govern mirror the greed and self-centeredness that dominate American life. Those who hold office are supposed to be servants but act like masters. They rule, they don’t serve.

At least they don’t serve the masses. They scratch the backs of a wealthy and privileged few and get their backs scratched in return. They let a few use as much water as they want, to the point of drying up lakes and streams. And they get rewarded for it. They let others pollute as much as they want, to the point of poisoning countless neighbors. They get rewarded for that too. A thousand other transactions just like those are completed and rewards reaped.

When all is said and done, the qualities that have made the Wisconsin men’s basketball program a powerhouse are in terribly short supply in Wisconsin politics. What makes a successful team also makes a successful state. And it’s nowhere to be found in the Capitol these days. Coaches are fired for managing teams the way our state is being managed. Right there is one way life really should imitate sport.

— Mike McCabe

Tags: Untagged
Rate this blog entry
0 votes

Blue Jean Nation 'Spreading it thick'

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 Friday, 07 April 2017
in Wisconsin

manure-spreaderThe powerful and privileged have brought on the era of fake news and alternative facts we now live in.


ALTOONA, WI - Our current times will go down in history as the age of bullshit. Unless, of course, the manure spreaders somehow figure out a way to prevent the truth from ever being recorded for posterity.

The powerful and privileged have always found honesty inconvenient. It has this pesky way of interfering with their plans.

Their problem got way bigger in the 20th Century with the advent of radio and then television. Never before in human history could more sources of information reach mass audiences so quickly. The powerful and privileged knew they had to do something.

Step one was doing away with the Fairness Doctrine and weakening other public interest obligations enshrined in the Radio Act of 1927 and the Communications Act of 1934 that for decades ensured everything from coverage of local issues to children’s educational programming.

Step two was methodically demonizing legitimate news reporting and convincing a significant segment of the population to no longer trust what is reported.

Step three was the construction of their own alternative “news” operations. Free of the old requirements to serve the public interest, they could build their own propaganda machine. And they did.

The completion of these three steps brought about this era of fake news and alternative facts we now live in. The age of bullshit. The powerful and privileged succeeded. They may have been too successful for their own good.

At first, they had to be delighted by how efficiently their machine worked. All across the nation, public offices were occupied by people who benefited from the falsehoods the machine spread but at least appeared to understand the truth. But now, a large and growing segment of society clearly embraces the lies and either won’t or can’t distinguish fiction from fact. More and more public offices are being occupied by such people, which has brought us to the point where those who’ve been empowered to govern aren’t governing. Maybe they’ve been entertaining fantasies and scapegoating and demonizing for so long that they’ve forgotten how to govern. Or maybe they never learned how. In any case, they can’t possibly deliver what their propagandized constituents expect them to accomplish. They can’t simultaneously cut taxes, drastically increase military spending, protect Social Security, balance the budget and bring down the national debt. They can’t create a private health insurance system with no government involvement that will cover everyone and cost less. They have no way of bringing back all the lost U.S. factory jobs in heavy manufacturing.

At least one of the minions of the powerful and privileged who helped spread the manure now admits he helped create a monster as he regards a president who “gives every indication that he is as much the gullible tool of liars as he is the liar in chief.” Most just keep spreading.

In 1795, Thomas Jefferson wrote that “light and liberty go together.” By 1816, Jefferson’s thinking on the matter sharpened: “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.” It sharpened more by 1821, almost as if he could see what was coming: “No nation is permitted to live in ignorance with impunity.”

One can only imagine what Jefferson would have to say in 2017.

Tags: Untagged
Rate this blog entry
0 votes
Tweet With Us:

Share

Who's Online

We have 50 guests online

Follow on Twitter

Copyright © 2022. Green Bay Progressive. Designed by Shape5.com