Brandon will have the pictures up shortly–we counted 53 people at Coast.
Special thanks to Ambassador Graber and to Zilli Hospitality Group for the swanky digs and the appetizers: www.coast.com
With all the recent discussion of health care reform, it is easy to forget that most children are going back to school this week. Education has been a sore spot for administrations of both parties and, while largely a state and local issue, solutions at both the federal and state level have been identical in many respects. If we only throw more money at the problem, the argument seems to go, the education system will improve. The argument ignores any number of other factors that contribute to a child’s success or failure, including but not limited to whether the child finds support in his or her studies at home, the quality of instruction, and whether children, especially in urban areas, are going to school in an environment free of violent crime. Some of these factors can be controlled by policy decisions; others cannot.
Wisconsin has been somewhat of a pioneer in the education area. School choice, hailed by many parents and decried by WEAC, has come under recent attack, and it appears that this trend is spreading. President Obama and the Democrat-controlled Congress recently shut down Washington, D.C.’s school voucher program to new students. The result of this decision was the placement of 216 qualifying students who had planned to attend private schools into 70 public schools. What is staggering about the decision is the level of violence and criminal activity in those schools, according to the Washington Post:
The report pays particular attention to the plight of the 216 students who had planned to attend private school before the administration rescinded their scholarship offers while Congress debates the future of the program. The study looks at the 70 public schools to which these students have now been assigned and finds there were 2,379 crime-related incidents, including 666 violent incidents (one of which was a homicide), for the 2007-08 school year.
Voucher programs have been successful in areas where they have been tried and have been used to give opportunities to groups that may otherwise face life at a disadvantage. These programs are not perfect (some improve performance in reading but not math, for example) and they do not solve the (many) issues facing today’s public school systems, but they could provide one of the pieces necessary to solve the education puzzle and afford students opportunities now. However, instead of facilitating change that is supported by some evidence of success, those currently in power are interested in following the same old routine and placating the same lobbyists. The negative long-term ramifications of these decisions are many and avoidable.
When I was college, my government professor said that Alexis de Touqueville’s Democracy in America was the best political book because it was about the best governing system and it was about the most important democracy. That’s true, and de Touqueville is still just as relevant as the day his book about our democracy was published. The fact that the professor had just written a new translation may have swayed him, too.
In the same vein was David Brooks’s column on Ted Kennedy. Studying America, David Brooks writes:
We in this country have a distinct sort of society. We Americans work longer hours than any other people on earth. We switch jobs much more frequently than Western Europeans or the Japanese. We have high marriage rates and high divorce rates. We move more, volunteer more and murder each other more.
Out of this dynamic but sometimes merciless culture, a distinct style of American capitalism has emerged. The American economy is flexible and productive. America’s G.D.P. per capita is nearly 50 percent higher than France’s. But the American system is also unforgiving. It produces its share of insecurity and misery.
This culture, this spirit, this system is not perfect, but it is our own. American voters welcome politicians who propose reforms that smooth the rough edges of the system. They do not welcome politicians and proposals that seek to contradict it.
I see this every day. In no other country does capitalism play such a central and vital role and there are advantages and disadvantages to that. But it is the reality that we live in, and the reality that we choose. David Brooks leaves it unwritten, but it’s not hard to see that this attitude, whatever the political persuasion of people in power or the president’s approval ratings, will ensure that the current government-interventionist wave will break and recede.
A common accusation put to conservatives these days is that we are nay-sayers blindly hating on the left side of the political aisle. Make no mistake, there are plenty of issues out there to be upset about right now (health care and the ever-ballooning deficit come immediately to mind), but I did come across this article yesterday pertaining to a town hall held by far-left Senator Russ Feingold and will give some positive credit where it is due.
Sen. Feingold says that he cannot declare whether he will support a health care reform bill until he actually sees one. He also says that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s assessment of opponents to the health care proposal discussed during the last session as “evil mongers” was “unfortunate and inappropriate.”
These statements are rational positions (I never thought I’d see the day when I referred to Sen. Feingold as “rational” about anything, and I still can’t locate any meaningful issues on which I agree with his stance when it comes to congressional votes, but I’m just being fair). The source of these moderate, non-committal statements seems relatively obvious: midterm election season is coming up quickly. Feingold recognizes the importance of not (immediately) marginalizing large sectors of constituents who oppose the idea of a government-run health system. It is important to continue to make our voices heard on this and other issues and remind those we send to Washington who they represent. With enough civil debate on the health care issue, it is still possible to prevent our leaders from making a costly mistake.
On that note, don’t forget to come to CYP’s upcoming events, including tomorrow’s happy hour at Coast featuring Rick Graber and our health care event on September 16 to network with other conservatives on issues important to you (and enjoy a drink or two in the process).
Thursday, August 27, 2009
5:30pm – 7:30pm
931 E Wisconsin Ave
Former chairman of a major Milwaukee law firm, past chair of the Republican Party of Wisconsin, and former Ambassador to the Czech Republic… there are heavy hitters and then there is Rick Graber. Come meet him yourself and buy him a beer at Coast, with one of the best views of the art museum and the lake in the city. Rick will speak shortly on Prague and other issues of interest to CYP members.
If you have a suggestion for Rick’s speech, email us at [email protected]
A special thanks to Zilli Hospitality Group and CYP member Anthony Zilli.
As if the debate in Washington wasn’t providing enough evidence regarding liberals indifference to the opinions of average Americans, Rep. Eric Massa from NY provides the icing on the cake: “I will vote adamantly against the interests of my district if I actually think what I’m doing is going to help them. I will vote against their opinion if I actually believe it will help them.”
Now I’m not suggesting political leaders should simply vote with poll numbers. There are certainly issues where strong leadership is required to take on difficult topics. But when the nation is split relatively evenly on a matter of great interest, it is taking it to a whole different level to state “I will vote adamantly against the interests of my district.” Underlying a comment like this is the philosophy held by many on the left that elected officials are better able to make decisions for the populace because they simply know what’s good for us. This is social engineering, and it has been the stated goal of the left for some time.
As a good friend of mine recently noted, the trend in Washington is for elected officials to climb “Mount Olympus” and cast edicts down for us to follow. At some point the relationship became inverted. We are the sovereigns and elected officials the servants of the people. Let’s hope there is some leadership on the right to bring these “gods” down from the Mount.
(On a personal note, I want to thank all the CYP members for their kind messages over the past three months. My wife and I were blessed with our first child, Jonas William. The past three months have been wild and for this reason I have not been able to contribute to the website. Thanks to Jason, Brandon and the many others who have continued to grow CYP.)
Hey CYP fans!
We just got our Twitter account set up and want you to start following us. If you are interested, we will be posting “Tweets” regularly, which will keep you up to date with the latest CYP happenings. The CYPMilwaukee twitter feeds will mention: happy hour meeting details, informative articles, and links to other conservative organizations’ and individual members’ Twitter pages/social events. Search for our username: CYPMilwaukee and get in the loop today! It’s social networking made easy, fun, (and addictive).
An excellent article in the Wall Street Journal about the Death Panels. h/t Charlie Sykes writes.
I thought there was some hyperbole about “Death Panels.” Liberals are wrongly thinking that conservatives are objecting to the specific provisions in the health care reform that make everyone have a conversation with their doctor about “end of life” issues. That’s probably a good provision–people should have a will and a healthcare power of attorney to make sure that their loved ones know their wishes and can make the right decisions and feel as though they carried out the wishes of their loved ones.
But I don’t think that is what conservatives who are showing up at townhall meetings are all ticked off about when they shout they don’t want “death panels.” They are using this phrase to refer to all of the collective government decisionmaking in our healthcare that Obamacare will bring. Those provisions may not even be in the bills, but they are might as well be–they are created by the logic of a situation where the government is trying to dramatically cut costs, increase the number of people who are covered, and, to do so, take more control over all of our healthcare. You can’t do all of those things without government making rationing decisions; whether they are as organized as “death panels” is yet to be seen.
Jim Doyle announced today he’s not running for reelection. Doyle’s political obituary will note that he came in largely as a pro-business Democrat who took the nation’s reaction to an economic recession and an extremely likeable presidential candidate to mean that the general electorate had changed fundamentally. It hadn’t, and the Governor’s poor approval rating and Obama’s falling approval rating are testaments to that fact. It amazes me that two of the best politicians this country has produced are tone-deaf to the impacts of a recession on the electorate. The economy is a galvanizing force and one of the few forces that can beat an incumbent. And yet, Doyle was not willing to shift his policies and stance to at least address the challenges of the recession. Doyle’s budget spent more money at a higher rate to do the same-old, same-old while including policy items that made Wisconsin a worse place to do business (and thus create jobs).
Christian Schneider, a former special guest to CYP, has analyzed all of the Democratic contenders in a pretty good column.
If anyone gives Barbara Lawton or John Erpenbach any money, the Democratic primary could be really bloody. I don’t see the Republican primary to be an ideological battle (as of yet); if one of the liberals starts tearing away at Kind or Barrett for not being liberal enough, it could become very negative really quickly. Kind will have to make at least one tough healthcare vote in the next few months that will determine if the Dane County liberals can live with him or look elsewhere.