cur-mud-geon: anyone who hates hypocrisy and pretense and has the temerity to say so; anyone with the habit of pointing out unpleasant facts in an engaging and humorous manner
102 since January 1st…homicides in Milwaukee, that is. That is about one every 2 1/3 days. 102 killings in 236 days! That pace will see nearly 160 deaths by years’ end. The majority of those occur in the inner city. I don’t know how many have been solved versus how many are unsolved, but that doesn’t change the facts.
Take-aways from the first two Republican debates if you’re interested in my thoughts…
The morning Milwaukee Journal Sentinel featured a front-page story titled ‘Safe and sound at the barbershop’ credited to Jason Stein. It dealt with Damien Smith, a youth organizer for Safe & Sound who has put together a Monday session with a barber where young inner city men gather to talk with him while they receive a haircut. This was an eye-opening story, for me at least; it provided me with the view these young men have of themselves and their individual destiny as they live life day-by-day in the Amani and Harambee neighborhoods of Milwaukee, among the highest crime-rate areas in Milwaukee.
Assurant Health, basically the former Time Insurance Company that used to be headquartered in Milwaukee is being put on the block by its parent organization and the blame for that can be laid at the feet of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Time Insurance made money on health insurance using smart underwriting of the risk. The use of health underwriting is forbidden by the ACA, something that people with prior health conditions and without insurance found to be great. Consequently, a formerly profitable health insurer is now losing big money due to adverse claims needing to be paid. It has other business that is largely comprised of life, dental and short-term and long-term disability policies which can still be underwritten but which is insufficient to keep the company alive in its present form.
The Journal Sentinel business section today features the story on the acquisition of Gehl Foods by Wind Point Partners, a Chicago based private equity organization. In order to continue the company on its current growth curve, Katherine Gehl determined that she needed to cede control and made the decision to step aside so that major investments could be made by the new owners. A new CEO steps in immediately.
Right-to-work has taken center stage within the Wisconsin Legislature. As was to be expected, this became an immediate political football with the Democrats decrying the possibility and the Republican leadership saying they can pass it and will pass it.
Can you imagine how badly funded the multi-employer pension plans, i.e. the pension plans of big labor, must be if the President has signed a bill into law that permits pension plan administrators for those plans to reduce benefits already granted in negotiations in order to keep the plans solvent? At least to keep them solvent for a bit longer.
With the defeat (a/k/a dumping) of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), there are some amazing numbers floating around:
Where does anyone begin to review and assess what our President did last evening? He, of course, claims that what he did was completely within his legal authority. He told us that he wasn’t doing anything that every Republican president since Reagan did with Executive Orders.
The Washington world is one of intrigue, broken promises and broken laws. That promises to be demonstrated more and more as we find ourselves watching the final two years of the Obama Presidency with a Republican-dominated Congress.
Uncertainty is at the root of much of the disruption we face today in the various markets that exist in our economy. When that is coupled with energy costs, we have the makings of a tough summer and fall right when we will elect or re-elect a president.
Private sector adds 233,000 jobs was the headline on the story in the morning Journal Sentinel. Then followed the statement: Unemployment rate unchanged at 8.3% after 3 strong months.
What if Newt Gingrich would not continue his slash and burn attacks on Mitt Romney? What if Newt would put the need to remove President Obama from office above his personal, and seemingly petty, needs (compared to the public's needs)? Would that make a difference in the polls that now seem to indicate Obama could beat Romney in the Fall elections?
As I read the morning Journal Sentinel today, I was struck by the political inferences across the main section even though this publication claims to be unbiased. (1) Dan Bice continues on the 'expose Walker' bent that he has made standard fare of late. His "sources say" that charges will be issued in the coming days and that they likely will involve Walker operatives. He mentions that "at least eight" of Walker's "former aides and associates have hired criminal defense lawyers". "Insiders" have told Bice that the "next phase is focusing on the role of some of Walker's closest associates". (2) There is now an 'issue' over whether or not Wisconsin is in a deficit or not in a deficit. The gap of some $3.6 Billion that Walker encountered when he took office was closed by the Walker government but that was on a cash basis. So now we are exposed to the fact that under GAAP accounting there is still a deficit and that this fact was used recently in a petition to the federal government to gain its permission to cut some 50,000+ people from a state health plan if necessary. I don't recall the continuing series of articles during the former government's time in office that traced the ever-increasing budget deficit or that condemned the use of various 'funds' (transportation and patient compensation, for example) to make possible increased state spending. (3) A story on the national 'health care overhaul' from the Associated Press states that Wisconsin is among the states "lagging" in implementation of the wonderful new PPACA legislation that has yet to withstand U.S. Supreme Court scrutiny. This story mentions some 500,000 Wisconsinites who have no health insurance but does not indicate that this state is among those with the lowest uninsured population in the nation. Nor does it bother to mention that each of these 500,000 people have access to health care under federal laws that have been in force for years. Maybe this was simply accidental story selection. Maybe not.
We are witnessing one of the worst types of political campaigns this year. We are watching as politicians try to convince one group that it is being intentionally victimized by the other group, and that it would really be part of the "Haves" if it weren't for the political tricks being played on it. Class warfare, pure and simple.
The union workers (International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local 516) at the Manitowoc Company have been fighting with the company for the past two months to get a new contract. There have been at least three votes of which I am aware. Each time the proposed deal was voted down, the union and company went back to the table and came up with a revised contract proposal. In the meantime, the company hired temporary replacement workers.