Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Perpetual Pillaging Proposal*

In a conversation I was having last week, I tried to explain how Scott Walker and the Republicans were operating.  I referred to the classic science fiction series related to "Dune" by Frank Herbert.  I said that there was a turn of phrase from the book that dealt with very complex schemes to reach a desired outcome, which went something like "a plot within a plot within a plot."  It stuck with me throughout my life and would often arise when watching what Walker and his allies were doing.

One example would be one of this favorite ploys of declaring a fiscal emergency in order to grab the authority and power to do what he wanted regardless of whether it was ethical or even legal.  Ofttimes, the fiscal emergency was really non-existent or one that he contrived to create.  He did this shortly after being sworn in as governor, declaring a fiscal emergency where none existed before, then giving huge tax giveaways to companies (read campaign donors) to artificially construct a deficit.  By doing so, he gave himself the excuse to do all sorts of things that would not have been allowed to happen otherwise, like busting the unions.

And we're seeing another such chain of events unfurl before our very eyes.  One which will allow Walker and his Republican cadre to set up a perpetual pillaging machine on the middle class of Wisconsin.

It's no deep dark secret that Walker is greatly beholden to the well-moneyed special interests that funded his entire gubernatorial campaign and already coughing up big money to defend against the recall which is coming his way.  Among these special interests are groups such as land developers, real estate mavens**, Big Business, and of course, the road builders.

Walker's ties to the road builders are so strong that, during the campaign, he had a land developer fly him to Florida in order to get money thrown at him by the boatload during a road builder convention.  Laughably, Walker had this to say about the donations he received:
Donations from those at the Florida event won’t affect his decision-making on transportation as governor, Walker said. Those donations were no different than money from other groups, he said. Walker did not provide a figure for how much was raised in Florida.
Of course, he didn't mean a word of it.

Shortly after taking over as governor, partially lost in the furor over his assault on the working men and women of the state by attacking their rights, Walker took transit out of the transportation fund and put it in the general fund. This meant that the transit systems across the state now had to compete with other very important things, like education and health services, to get their funding.

It also meant that road construction had the transportation fund all to themselves. And Walker was quick to sweeten that pot for them:
Regional Transportation Authority board member Steve Hiniker reminded those in attendance that the bill will cut off millions of dollars in federal funding to Wisconsin’s public transit system and redirect the money to highway construction,

Walker’s bill freezes $107 million of federal funding for public transit, allowing for all previously earmarked funds for the transit system to be transferred over to highway work. The bill also includes provisions to redirect money from state recycling programs into funds for the construction.

The city’s transit system currently receives federal funding through the State Segregated Transportation Fund. When Walker’s bill goes into effect, funding for the public transit system will instead come from the state’s general fund and will consequently need to compete for its funding.

The general fund also supports other public services, such as education and aid to low income families. This means transit’s federal funding will be cut by $48.6 million annually, Hiniker said.

“The governor is trying to kill all government programs except for highways because his friends are in the road building business,” Hiniker said, alluding to 40 private companies that financially supported Walker’s campaign.

Funds for highway construction will increase by 15 percent and the total revenue going into the highway fund will be more than $400 million.
But apparently that pot still wasn't sweet enough and Walker and his allies are gearing up to dump a whole lot of our money into it for them.

A extreme right wing front group, WPRI (Weasels Promoting Republican Ideology), came out with a "comprehensive" study that found that Wisconsin needs to start up toll roads.  Not just any toll roads, but electronic ones that don't require real people to man them.  This way they can be easily privatized, like they've done in other parts of the country, and would mean huge profits for the entities who are so eager to snap them up and are willing to pay top dollar to get their piece of the pie.

Sounds like something right up Walker's alley.

So watch for Walker and his Republican buddies in the legislature cite this propaganda in order to ram through privatized toll roads, maybe even as soon as in this "special session."  Then they will make the contract for some crazy length of time, like 99 years. That way they can keep gouging us for a long, long time, even after the Republicans are booted out of office.

Now, before the gentle reader says that Walker is so anti-tax that he would never consider doing something which would raise taxes, let me point out to the gentle reader, he had already opened that Pandora's Box while he was campaigning.

After all, he has to keep raising funds to support his ultimate goal of running for president. (Yes, even with Walkergate and everything else, he is still that narcissistic that he thinks that is an attainable goal.)

And all of this goes to support something that I've been saying for a long time: The Republicans don't give a damn if you're paying  less taxes. In fact, they would like to see us pay more, as evidenced by their continuous tax hikes, fee hikes and rate hikes on the middle and lower classes. What the Republicans really care about it making sure your money goes to the right places, like the pockets of their corporate sponsors.

*Alternate Title: Walker's Troll Road

**It's no coincidence that many of Walker's cronies, from Tim Russell to his just turned former campaign treasurer, John Hiller, are deep in the real estate business.


  1. http://www.politifact.com/wisconsin/statements/2011/sep/30/one-wisconsin-now/one-wisconsin-now-says-gov-scott-walker-charging-p/

    Play to play for Walker!-$50.00

    One Wisconsin Now claimed the Walker administration is charging people to hear elected and appointed officials talk about jobs and the economy in a day-long event in Green Bay.

    They are. ...................... We rate it True

  2. Will the money be used to defend him during the recall?

  3. As for toll roads, isn't paying a toll to drive on a toll road really just another tax?

    Does anyone know if the tolls will be on existing highways or on new highways?

    People are going to end up paying more to drive than they would have paid to take the high speed rail.

  4. Hope Dems in the Senate and Assembly are using a spreadsheet to keep track of your terrific reporting. These are the issues that have to be presented to the voters.

  5. Union boss Terry "GOOCH" McGOWAN, Operating Engineers, local 139 Multi-millionaire (from union dues)SUPPORTS WI anti-union Gov Walker. Boss McGowan, like many in his top 2%-3% income class has long supported the regressive toll road tax. McGowan continues to walk hand in hand with his anti-union buddy Gov Walker in support of this toll road tax that will have a devastating effect on the rank and file un/under employed union workers, while the union bosses simply use their union paid credit cards to pay for those peskey tolls. tellfred.com

  6. I think the worst thing is that a toll road will only be done through privatizing the roads we have built and paid for since Eisenhower. Our interstates were originally funded with defense dollars to allow large military equipment movement and also (as a selling point) the ability to evacuate civilians from metropolitan areas. Once toll roads are privatized they will immediately be sold to foreign corporations. Why not just privatize the pentagon and sell it to Iran?

  7. > "Paul!" The Duke frowned at his son. "Knowing where the trap is -- that's the first step in evading it. This is like single combat, Son, only on a larger scale -- a feint within a feint within a feint . . . seemingly without end. The task is to unravel it. Knowing that the Harkonnens stockpile melange, we ask another question: Who else is stockpiling? That's the list of our enemies."