Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Republican Vision for Higher Education - More NBA Arenas.

Over the border from me, the Scott Walker experiment to dismantle the state of Wisconsin continues. He wants to create Kansas-North. Conservatives are loving it, and he's just the kind of boring white guy with an allegedly criminal past that the GOP establishment might nominate for president.

Not long after President Obama unveiled his ideas for Free Community College, a proposal that, among other things, articulates a vision of public education as a common good, Walker has come out with his own brilliant plan for higher ed - more NBA Arenas.

In the last few days, Walker has proposed a 300 million dollar budget cut for the UW system. At the same time, he's proposed a 220 million dollar giveaway to the Milwaukee Bucks, owned, like all NBA teams, by one of the richest humans in the history of the world. The Republican love for corporate welfare knows no limits (and it's a smart investment, as the masters of the universe turn around to fund their campaigns and hire them after their political career is over), and Democrats are equally willing to shill for pro-sports teams (the new Vikings stadium in downtown Minneapolis is going to be a neat place, except for the bird-killing). Still, to have these simultaneous announcements come out from the Walker administration does reveal their priorities fairly neatly.

Corporate welfare = "An investment." In the link above, Walker talks about how much money the NBA team brings to Milwaulkee.

Higher Ed Cuts = Making the UW system "more independent." Indeed, so independent he's stripping out tenure and faculty governance from state law, so that his appointed Regents can chip away at a world-class network of institutions.

To lose an NBA team means losing tax revenue, to be sure, although in general stadiums create only service jobs and concentrate entertainment revenue in a certain spot, rather than create more revenue. I wonder, though, how much revenue Wisconsin will lose over time with a less-educated citizenry? It will be less quantifiable. It won't involve any billionaires. It will come, though.

As my bandmate Kurt said, That Ain't Right.



Meanwhile, I love that one of my hero bands, the Dropkick Murphys - union lovers and Southie Boston working men all, called out Walker for using their music for his intro (seriously, GOP, you get most country music and Ted Nugent and that's it).

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