Whole Foods CEO John Mackey and “Conscious Capitalism” – putting lipstick on a pig

John Mackey is the co-CEO of Whole Foods Market, its founder, and a self-proclaimed independent libertarian. Mackey has also recently authored a book, “Conscious Capitalism.” While he speaks in platitudes about corporations acting as conscientious citizens of the world, Mackey’s actions as CEO of a major corporation betray his real motivation.

Mackey was forced to back pedal from his comments on the Patient Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”):

Technically speaking, it’s more like fascism. Socialism is where the government owns the means of production. In fascism, the government doesn’t own the means of production, but they do control it — and that’s what’s happening with our health care programs and these reforms.

Mackey is dead wrong on the government-corporate relationship under fascism. Italian historian and fascism authority Emilio Gentile gives the authoritative description:

Corporative organization of the economy that suppresses trade union liberty, broadens the sphere of state intervention, and seeks to achieve, by principles of technocracy and solidarity, the collaboration of the ‘productive sectors’ under control of the regime, to achieve its goals of power, yet preserving private property and class divisions. (Payne, Stanley G (A History of Fascism, 1914-1945). University of Wisconsin Press. pp. 5–6)

More importantly, it is time to call Mackey’s vision of capitalism (and Whole Foods Market) what it is, and this writer does not use this term loosely. “Corporate fascism” is an accurate and apt description of the Mackey philosophy. Consider Gentile’s definition. above, in light of Mackey’s actions and writings.

Mackey is a staunch proponent of a corporate-centric economy, with no government or regulatory intervention. Both Whole Foods Market and Mackey are anti-union, anti-worker’s rights. The Mackey philosophy would see a collaborative corporate control over the means of production, to achieve its own goals of power through corporate solidarity (WMC, US Chamber of Commerce, etc.). Preservation of private property and class division are a necessity for the Mackey vision, as there can be no cheap labor production without class division. Ironically, Mackey is a proponent of the expansion of state intervention, as long as it is on behalf of corporate welfare expansion. There is plenty of proof to support this assertion…

On November 16, 2011, Mackey penned an op-ed by invitation in the Wall Street Journal, titled “To Increase Jobs, Increase Economic Freedom.”  In a response to Mackey’s article written on February 1, 2012, Badger Democracy addressed the fundamental arguments in the op-ed:

1. Cut the size and cost of government - 100 years ago, government spending was 8% of GDP; today it is 40% of GDP. This additional money spent by the government could be used to “create jobs.”

2. Cuts should be made in Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Defense – many of these services could be privatized, using the “success” of Chile and Singapore as models.

3. Stimulate the economy by cutting taxes and regulations - Mackey explains that cutting taxes would “increase revenue… as entrepreneurs create new businesses and new jobs and as people earn more money.”

In his own op-ed, Mackey supports further provisions which would continue the US economy down a dangerous path. Greater corporate consolidation of power, greater consolidation of wealth, greater class inequity, and greater corporate influence on policy which would regulate said power.

The dagger in Mackey’s theory is a recent report in the conservative-leaning Financial Times, also reported in the New York Times. The article cites a steady decline in earned wages and a steady rise in investor income through profit and interest:

“58%…is the share of US national income that goes to workers as wages rather than to investors as profits and interest. It has fallen to its lowest level since records began after the second world war and is part of the reason why incomes at the top – which tend to be earned from capital – have risen so much. If wages were at their postwar average share of 63 per cent, workers would earn an extra $740 billion this year, about $5,000 per worker, according to FT calculations.”

More power and wealth for the corporate fascists, with less taxes and accountability means more money to influence and drive politics and policy:

 

Corporate Taxes Paid by US Corporations, 1950-2010

(Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis analysis)

Corporate income tax graph

 

Cheap labor production is possible due to the expansion of the wealth gap and class disparities:

 

 

John Mackey’s Whole Foods Market has also forced employees to “vote” to cut their own wages and benefits. Wages have been cut due to reduction in hours, and employees will be forced to contribute more in spite of enormous corporate growth:

In 2007, WFM profits (after taxes and expenses) totaled $182.7 million. Four years later, in 2011, profits totaled $342.6 million – nearly double in 4 years.  For the first sixteen weeks of 2011, total profits were $88.7 million; for the same period in 2012, profits totaled $118.3 million. Store expenses have decreased by 38 points in 2011, including 28 points due to wage cuts. In real numbers, most stores have executed 3% cuts in labor over the past fiscal year, resulting in most employees seeing a 5-8% cut in wages (due to hours being cut).

Of course, Mackey built Whole Foods with his own two hands, with no government help (sarcasm)…therefore, government should stay out of his business. This is the great lie of corporate fascism. Mackey and his ilk want the government to work for them. The doctrine of so-called “corporate conscious” follows in the words of Gentile:

…broadens the sphere of state intervention, and seeks to achieve, by principles of technocracy and solidarity, the collaboration of the ‘productive sectors’ under control of the regime, to achieve its goals of power.

The corporate fascists would have us believe the great lie of their own self-determination and success, that personal strength and sacrifice alone built their empires. Mackey is as guilty of this as any of them. Whole Foods is a prolific recipient of government intervention and welfare on its own behalf.

In 2011, an $8 million tax break for a new Washington DC Whole Foods development raised questions of return on public investment and why public money was even needed:

And why does this project require a special subsidy to move forward in the first place?  This Whole Foods already would qualify for a set of tax incentives for grocery store development, including a 10–year property tax break on the store itself.  Moreover, while some projects near Nationals Park have languished in the recession, this area is likely to be part of the emerging rebound, thanks in part to prior public investment by the District.  Finally, if a Whole Foods will revitalize this neighborhood as it did in Logan Circle, why won’t private market interests step up to make it happen?

In the same year, Whole Foods received $4.2 million in tax subsidies to open a Detroit area store, uncovered only by FOIA requests:

The documents, obtained by the Chaldean News under the Freedom of Information Act and provided toCrain’s, show that Whole Foods is asking for $4.2 million in city, state and federal incentives to open a store in downtown Detroit.

According to the exchanges, the 21,000-square-foot project is expected to get $1.5 million in local and community foundation funds, $1.2 million in federal tax credits under the New Market program and $1.5 million in state incentives.

Michael Sarafa, president of the Bank of Michigan and co-publisher of The Chaldean News, questions the use of incentives to lure a national grocery chain to Detroit. He said there are 83 independently-owned grocers in the city, many of them owned by Chaldeans, who did not receive incentives.

 

Controversial “TIF” funds are being used for construction of a Whole Foods-anchored development in St. Louis, hardly in a blighted area.

The new Whole Foods development in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago is being partially funded by an $11.3 million “TIF” in an already well-developed area.

Mackey is now on the record confirming that Whole Foods will begin eliminating full-time employees as a result of “Obamacare” being fully enacted. This in an interview with Greta Van Susteren:

…there will be a strong temptation for businesses to keep people under 30 hours, so they don’t have to provide health care. And you will have a lot of part-time workers and fewer full-time workers, a lot of people underemployed.

Whole Foods prided itself, we’ve always had a higher mix of full-time to part-time workers like 80 percent full-time and 20 percent part-time, which is very rare in retail. But as I suspect as our health care costs are driven up by health care reforms then we’ll end up gradually lower our full-time ratio to a much lower number.

There is no fiscal truth to this statement. As proven in Whole Foods’ own financial statements and a previous Badger Democracy blog, the company’s health care costs per employee are actually lower than they were before “Obamacare’s” passage. The reason for Whole Foods’ higher total costs is simple – the company is growing. With government and public help.

It is time to take the lipstick off the pig. The philosophy of John Mackey should be called what it is. Corporate freedom, rights, and independence over all – even the individual. No worker’s rights, no government regulation or intervention EXCEPT on behalf of the corporation and its own interests. In short…corporate fascism.

And Mackey calling “Obamacare” fascism? Pure projection.

 

Wisconsin really is “Open for Business,” so where are all the jobs?

Give Scott Walker credit. He made his campaign slogan “Wisconsin is Open for Business” a reality. In an administration rife with incompetence, corruption, and political patronage, he got this right. According to data compiled by The New York Times from state and federal agencies, Wisconsin is now one of the top corporate welfare states in the nation, second in the Upper Midwest only to automobile bailout-heavy Michigan.

In spite of all these “job creating” incentives and programs, Forbes Magazine recently dropped Wisconsin from 40th to 42nd in the nation in their annual business rankings, making Wisconsin one of the worst states for business in the nation. Just what is going on? By the numbers, Wisconsin should be swimming in jobs. Based on the conservative theory that tax breaks for the job creators will…well…create jobs…

Let’s let the numbers tell the full story.

In total corporate incentives, Wisconsin ranks 14th overall in the nation. At least $1.53 billion went to corporate subsidies in the past year (the state cut $1 billion in public education funding in the 2011 – 2013 budget). These subsidies cost the average taxpayer $268 per year. Remember that number the next time you complain about a $30 per year property tax hike to fund public education. A full 10% of the state budget went to pay these corporate subsidies.

Of the 903 reported corporate grants listed in the Times report, 300 (nearly one-third) have come in 2011-2012 alone, during the Walker administration, primarily through the WEDC “Enterprise Zone Jobs Tax Credit.” In fact, seven of the top ten grant awards totaling over $270 million are 2011 or 2012 grants:

Corporate subsidies

Where has the $1.53 billion in “job creating” investment gone? Could this be the end of the myth surrounding corporate subsidies and incentives spurring job growth? Wisconsin under Scott Walker could be an example of an epic failure of this economic policy theory. Over the past two years, Wisconsin has been far behind the nation in employment recovery, and early 2013 is not looking any better.

Wisconsin employers will slow the pace of hiring in the first three months of 2013 even as the nationwide outlook for job creation is at the most promising levels since the recovery began nearly three years ago, a new survey says.

In Wisconsin, “employers are slightly less optimistic about their staffing plans,” said Manpower spokeswoman Mary Ann Lasky. Nationally, however, “optimism among U.S. hiring decision makers continues to improve,” according to the Milwaukee-based global staffing services company. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 12/10/12)

The December 1, 2012 unemployment report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) showed Wisconsin with the most first time unemployment claims in the nation for the week ending December 1.

The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending November 24 were in Wisconsin (+5,876), Oregon (+2,328), Ohio (+2,252), Washington (+2,107), and Iowa (+1,262), while the largest decreases were in New Jersey (-23,966), California (-7,053), New York (-6,682), Texas (-6,425) and North Carolina (-2,609).

On December 12, 2012 Scott Walker appeared at a Waukesha County Business Alliance lunch and claimed to be “just under 100,000″  jobs created since he took office. It did not take long for Politifact to rate Walker’s claim “Pants on Fire.”

However, several within his own administration, including his primary spokesman, have said that is the wrong way to measure jobs — you can’t combine partial and full year data sets. As one aide said: It would be “misrepresenting the truth.”

By his administration’s own yardstick, his statement is false. We think it’s ridiculous to — after private admonitions — publicly present it this way. Pants on Fire.

Walker’s continued denial  of his policy failure is becoming sociopathic. In spite of his administration awarding literally billions of dollars to corporate subsidies, Wisconsin continues to lag behind in the recovery. The jobs crisis in Wisconsin is very real – and will not be cured with $10-$15/hour jobs, right-to-work legislation, or ideological social engineering.

Just how bad is it? Recent BLS data from measures the Walker Administration accepts (LAUS, QCEW) show that the money being given to corporations and “small business” to create jobs is not. The question remains…where is the money going?

First, the Quarterly Census (QCEW), Scott Walker’s favorite.

QCEW 1

Since 2010, there is a very moderate upward trend. The actual data show a non-existent job recovery in Wisconsin.

QCEW table

 

According to the latest verified QCEW data, Wisconsin has gained about 40,000 jobs January 2011-March 2012. The yellow highlights indicate the peak pre-recession employment in 2008 – 2,840,648. It is imperative to understand that Wisconsin still has a 200,000 job deficit just to get back to pre-recession employment levels, without accounting for population growth.

But this is December. The QCEW data is slow to be verified and released. The Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS) gives a more current measure based on unemployment data – which the Walker Administration has accepted as an accurate measure. The LAUS paints a similar picture:

LAUS graph

Again, the actual LAUS data shows a jobless recovery:

LAUS table 1

 

The yellow again highlights peak employment, pre-recession. The green highlights the last QCEW data entry in March 2012. According to the LAUS data, from January 2011 – October 2012, less than 20,000 jobs were created since Walker took office. The same data shows a jobs deficit of only about 100,000 to get to pre-recession levels.

While the baseline for each measure is different, the result is the same. Since taking office, Scott Walker has only created 20% of the jobs needed to just get back to pre-recession levels, not accounting for population growth.

The untold story of Walker’s tremendous job failure in relation to corporate welfare is the anemic labor force. Since Scott Walker took office, the total labor force has been virtually stagnant:

labor force graph

 

Once again, the actual data show an anemic labor force – not what a recovery looks like with over $1 billion a year in corporate subsidies being granted.

LAUS table 2

 

Note the high point of the labor force shortly after the recession took hold, in yellow – nearly 3.14 million people. When Scott Walker took office in January 2011, the number had dropped to nearly 3.07 million. As of October 2012, there are only 3.06 million people in the labor force. While the adult population has grown since April 2009, the labor force has dropped by over 70,000.

An 80% deficit in job growth, coupled with a decline of 70,000 people in the labor force. Is this the employment climate over $1.5 billion per year in corporate subsidies gets us?

The people of Wisconsin would be better served investing that $1.5 billion back into public schools. Because the question still remains, what has Wisconsin received for that $1.5 billion “investment?”

 

About the latest employment numbers, Governor Walker…how’s austerity working?

Scott Walker was quick to take credit for continued modest gains in employment after the latest quarterly numbers were released (QCEW) on Thursday. From Walker’s weekly radio address:

The fiscal reforms we put in place coupled with reforms like reducing frivolous lawsuits and bringing certainty and accountability to state regulations, have established a strong foundation for job growth.

Walker has also been quick to blame Barack Obama and the national economy for Wisconsin’s lag in job growth:

“While Wisconsin still faces the challenges of a stagnant national economy, Governor Walker’s upcoming budget will focus on creating jobs, and growing the state’s economy.”

Wisconsin continues to lag far behind most of the nation in job growth, a pathetic 38th overall. Growth was virtually non-existent at 1.22%, 45th in rate of growth (image courtesy Milwaukee Journal Sentinel):

The US and most Midwestern states saw growth around 2% for the same time period. Walker is taking credit where no credit is due. In fact, his austerity measures targeting public employees have been a large reason Wisconsin is lagging in job growth. The austerity measures in place in Wisconsin have resulted in a real tax increase and burden on the middle class. Less income for a majority of Wisconsinites means less revenue, and slower growth.

The data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is proof positive that any employment growth in Wisconsin is largely due to the direction of the overall national economy. And that the policies of Scott Walker are holding us back.

Given the long-term nature of employment growth or loss, let’s go back to 2002 for the 10-year trend.

Wisconsin 2002-2012 QCEW report (full spreadsheet linked)

March 2002 – 2,639,035

March 2007 – 2,728,963

March 2010 – 2,568,348

March 2012 – 2,638,987

Wisconsin is barely back to 2002 employment levels. That is not the case nationally. Scott Walker’s austerity measures have had a direct short-term impact (negative) on employment. The national numbers show that Walker is riding the coat tails of a modestly growing national labor economy:

US QCEW 2002-2012 (full spreadsheet linked):

March 2002 – 127,303,773

March 2007 – 134,280,105

March 2010 – 126,228,228

March 2012 – 130,175,438

Notice the trend there? The difference is that the national (and most other states’) economies are outpacing Wisconsin, significantly exceeding 2002 levels.

Three graphs, displayed on the linked Employment PDF Graphs here, demonstrate the commonality in the overall employment trend – with Wisconsin lagging in growth from 2010-2012, as the above data indicates. Walker’s continual politicization of the employment data has made matters worse, pursuing ideological agenda over real bi-partisan economic policies.

Austerity is a job killer. Period. Forget “regulation” or “uncertainty”, all of which are corporate conservative propaganda. The real damper on job creation can be found in the policy manuals of Scott Walker, Paul Ryan, and Mitt Romney.

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Federal Agency says WEDC just a “third party contractor”…block grant program in shambles

This afternoon, Federal officials have weighed in on the Walker Administration’s mishandling of a critical federal block grant program. Badger Democracy has learned from US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)officials that the DOA response to HUD’s highly critical report is currently under review by the federal agency(link to August 16, 2012 HUD letter to DOA). HUD expects to have a written response in 30-45 days.

According to HUD, DOA “…lacks the administrative and management capacity to properly oversee the (CDBG) activities of WEDC.”

Meanwhile, the federal agency is making clear their position that the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) is merely a “third-party contractor” in the eyes of the Federal Government.

In addition, serious questions remain as to whether DOA is functionally capable of administering and overseeing WEDC, required under the pending (and still under review) agreement with the federal agency. Hanging in the balance are millions of dollars in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) money, a critical program to local governments.

The entire fiasco raises the question exactly how WEDC is making government “more efficient” than the previous Department of Commerce (DOC)? Even if the agreement between DOA and HUD is approved, DOA will be required to have full oversight of WEDC for the administration of federal grant programs. So much for eliminating the middle man and streamlining government.

Also of significant concern is the failure to re-allocate a total of $43 million in local revolving loan funds (RLF) which have been repaid from previous projects. In its criticism of the state administration of the program, HUD officials stated:

In 2010 and 2011, local revolving funds could have contributed over $7,000,000 to economic development projects benefitting residents of their counties. Instead, the State of Wisconsin funded the projects using CDBG grant funds.

State officials interviewed by HUD officials gave the reason for this practice in their report (pg 18 of the linked document):

The State of Wisconsin has different loan terms than local RLFs that are more favorable to companies such as lower interest rates and forgivable loans. 

The HUD report provides increasing evidence that Scott Walker’s signature “state agency” has nothing to do with “streamlining government.” Rather, it has everything to do with being a conduit for public money into private corporate capital.

On May 21-24, and again on May 30, 2012, HUD officials were on-site at DOA and WEDC to conduct monitoring of the CDBG program administration. HUD’s monitoring objectives were to determine whether the state has been administering the block grant program in compliance with Federal Law, and if the state has a financial management system in place to “adequately safeguard the funds.”  Some key report findings after financial audits and staff interviews:

1. The state fails to follow its own program guidelines. In one case, a  loan for Kapco corporation in Polk County was approved with a per job benefit of $20,000; in spite of a state plan maximum of $10,000. The loan to Kapco was eventually forgiven, in spite of written state policy that “loans are only forgivable under extraordinary circumstances.” Since 1/1/11, eleven of twenty loans under this plan were forgiven. As part of interview comment, WEDC staff told HUD officials:

Certain jobs were considered more valuable to the state, so limits were exceeded, projects received forgivable loans.

The HUD report was scathing, saying the process had no documentation where there should be a “transparent and defensible process.”

2. Underwriting - Two CDBG awards received no underwriting, bringing into question a wide range of accountability issues. Gilman Corp in Grafton was “skipped to accommodate the business timeline” according to interviewed state staff. Morgan Aircraft in Sheboygan County was claimed to have been performed by WEDC, but as of the report date, no underwriting had been submitted to HUD.

3. Administration and financial management - From 7/1/11 – 3/7/12, WEDC awarded $9,634,470 in CDBG funds that were unauthorized – as it was not recognized as a state agency and oversight by DOA had not been approved by HUD.

The severity of this utter fiasco cannot be overstated. According to the report, “DOA lacks the administrative and management capacity to properly oversee the activities of WEDC.”

As of today, the federal government considers WEDC a “third-party contractor” with the state. Whether DOA will meet the federal oversight guidelines remains to be seen. Meanwhile, the block grant program remains in limbo, and Scott Walker’s signature “agency” is nothing more than a conduit to public funds for private corporations. WEDC as a non-state entity has less accountability, and DOA has yet to demonstrate the ability to monitor its own programs adequately.

The Joint Legislative Audit Committee should launch an immediate audit into the entire program, as it is displaying a tremendous lack of transparency and accountability. Where is the $43 million in repaid revolving fund loans?

This fiasco has been ongoing since HUD’s first letter to DOA in February 2011. Did Paul Jadin’s exit have anything to do with the current state of affairs?

If WEDC cannot meet a basic federal standard as a state agency, was the point of replacing the DOC merely to get away from public accountability? How has this streamlined government?

This story will be updated as it evolves. Previous Badger Democracy articles on this topic can be found here, here, and here.

Repeated attempts at comment from DOA have not been returned.

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Tommy and Medicare…2008 – 2012 – From “Death Panels” to “Death to the system”

Two videos, four years apart illustrate a dramatic departure from political and economic reality for Tommy Thompson. In a recent speech in front of the “Lake Country Defenders of Liberty”  at Olympia Resort and Conference Center (Oconomowoc), Thompson laid out the plan to end Medicare. Four years earlier, in an October 2008 online interview, Thompson supported a commission to reform end-of-life treatment limitations as a way to help save Medicare. This extreme ideological shift begs the question – is Thompson even capable of independent thought and responsible governance anymore?

In the recent speech, Thompson outlines the textbook neo-conservative methodology for killing a government program . In the words of Grover Norquist:

I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.

Thompson asks “…who better than me, I already finished one program, Welfare, to do away with Medicaid and Medicare?” His answer follows the Norquist blueprint. “Give people a choice,” says Thompson, between taking the current government-run Medicare or purchasing their own insurance with a subsidized voucher.

Thompson continued the attack, “…no one will accept it (the current plan), because Medicare will be broke by 2022.” The same strategy is being used to weaken public pension plans. As more people “opt out” the participant pool diminishes. Revenue going into the program decreases to the point that it becomes incapable of paying out current benefits. It can then be “drowned in the bathtub.”

Aside from the ideology over economics, Thompson’s claim requires a fact and reality check. The Thompson claim that “Medicare will be broke by 2022″ is inaccurate. Further, the voucher policy he supports, coupled with the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (Thompson has stated his support for repeal) would make Medicare even less stable.

According to the Medicare Trustees’ report from this year:

“The Medicare Trustees Report shows that the Hospital Insurance (HI) Trust Fund is expected to remain solvent until 2024, the same as last year’s estimate…The ACA is giving the CMS the ability to do this work, with tools to lower costs, fight fraud and change incentives so that Medicare pays for coordinated, quality care, not the number of services…without the Affordable Care Act, the HI Trust Fund would expire 8 years earlier, in 2016.

Much of the neo-conservative propaganda about Medicare and the ACA being touted by Thompson et al, comes from an independent paper published by a Public Medicare Trustee  Charles Blahous.

To ensure the ACA does not worsen the federal fiscal outlook, fully two-thirds of the ACA’s new health-exchange subsidies must be repealed, or financing offsets must be found before 2014…the ACA will add some $530 billion to federal deficits by 2021 and that the Obama administration employs “double counting” in its savings estimates.

Blahous is a “Senior Research Fellow” at the Mercatus Institute - funded by Charles and David Koch. The Blahous paper has been skewered by more rational minds, namely Jonathan Chait and Paul Krugman. From Chait:

You may wonder what methods Blahous used to obtain a more accurate measure of the bill’s cost. The answer is that he relies on a simple conceptual trick. Medicare Part A has a trust fund. By law, the trust fund can’t spend more than it takes in. So Blahous assumes that, when the trust fund reaches its expiration, it would automatically cut benefits.

The assumption is important because it forms the baseline against which he measures Obama’s health-care law. He’s assuming that Medicare’s deficits will automatically go away. Therefore, the roughly $500 billion in Medicare savings that Obama used to help cover the uninsured is money that Blahous assumes the government wouldn’t have spent anyway. Without the health-care law, in other words, we would have had Medicare cuts but no new spending on the uninsured. Now we have the Medicare cuts and new spending on the uninsured. Therefore, the new spending in the law counts toward increasing the deficit, but the spending cuts don’t count toward reducing it.

Krugman illustrates this accounting absurdity using a budgetary example relative to the Bush Tax Cuts:

“…the whole of the Bush tax cuts will expire at the end of this year. If that’s your baseline, then plans like the Ryan budget, which not only maintains those tax cuts but adds another $4.6 trillion to the pot, are wildly deficit-increasing — in fact, the Ryan plan would be a huge budget-buster even if hell freezes over and his secret loophole-closers turn out to be real.”

The absurdity of this accounting of Medicare persists with far right-wing GOP candidates – including Thompson. The reason is obvious – it creates panic and confusion about fiscal reality. In fact, it is now replacing fiscal reality with ideology. The proof is Tommy Thompson in 2008 talking about how to save Medicare.  

Thompson’s ideas to reform (not kill) Medicare:

1.  “I would put a Medicare base closing commission together which is going to make the tough decisions such as age, such as taxes, such as when you’re on your death-bed, what sort of treatments do you get, and when you get in the last 12 months of your life where 30% of the cost of Medicare dollars are expended.”

2.”The second thing you have to do is you have to fix SCHIP. This is the program for poor children and you got to be able to put together a bipartisan support on SCHIP and I think that’s imminently doable.”

3. “…the third thing you have to do is you have to fix what we call the reimbursement formula for doctors. It has been postponed now for five years, and every year that it’s postponed, it’s causing more money and that’s got to be fixed.”

4. “…we got to do something about Information Technology and have national standards for an electronic medical record and put the cost to credits in there that’s going to be the inducement for doctors to use electronic medical records and actually prescribe using a computer instead of handwriting.”

5. “…we really educate America to eat properly, exercise and take care of themselves and that’s where chronic illnesses come in, because most of chronic illnesses are either self-inflicted or exaggerated and exacerbated by what we do, what we put into our bodies and our failure to exercise”

 Who was that Tommy Thompson? Such is the influence of corporate money and influence on politics. Merely four years ago, Thompson was talking of bi-partisan reform, and was even in support of what has now been demonized as “death panels” to reform end-of-life care treatments.

Today, Thompson has become an ideologue, putting the corporate takeover of democracy over responsible governance.

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While Rome burns…Walker sells Wisconsin to the lowest bidder – China

Scott Walker is in Texas today with Governors Rick Perry (R-Texas) and Rick Scott (R-Florida), courting Chinese investors in the hopes of attracting “investment” in their respective states.  Walker and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation are attempting to attract millions of dollars in Chinese capital investment into Wisconsin, from the PiYi Investment Management Co. 

Meanwhile, back in Wisconsin, the monthly ritual of analyzing jobs data continues, with the same result. No matter how the far right attempts to spin the numbers, Wisconsin is still far behind the rest of the nation in job growth. The weekly unemployment claims report showed Wisconsin at the top of the list  of first-time unemployment filings.

The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending September 8 were in Louisiana (+6,678), Puerto Rico (+1,679), Mississippi (+1,067), Wisconsin (+988), and Washington (+833).

Right behind Louisiana, Puerto Rico, and Mississippi. Nearly 1,000 first time unemployed. Yes, it’s working – so much that Walker and WEDC will be happy to sell Wisconsin workers and resources to the Chinese, and their followers will be  lemmings diving in. Since Walker took office, job growth has come to a grinding halt.

Here’s a look at the numbers Walker actually accepts – the Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS).

Labor Force is at its lowest point in 6 months, and down 10,000 from August in 2010. The population in Wisconsin is growing at about 1% per year – we are not creating enough jobs to even keep up with population growth.

Statewide employment is stagnant since Walker took office in January 2011 (2.833 million 2011 – 2.832 million in August 2012). That increase is consistent with August 2010 – August 2012 – 10,000. With 10,000 fewer people in the workforce, the net is a zero gain.

The number of unemployed is down 8,000 since Walker took office (237,000 January 2011 – 229,000 August 2012), but is at its highest level in nearly a year – September 2011. Again – 10,000 fewer people in the work force.

The unemployment rate is at its highest level since September 2011 as well. Since the passage of the Walker budget in July 2011, any decrease in the rate is virtually gone – again, with 10,000 people less in the labor force.

Scott Walker has chosen ideology over governance. The opportunity has existed to create actual job legislation, and it was squandered. Acts 10 (collective bargaining) and 32 (budget) have done more to dampen the employment hiring climate in Wisconsin than any protest could ever have.

The Bain Capital of China, PiYi, will be enthusiastic to “invest” in Wisconsin. What will that mean?

Public Education defunding to support more state “partnering” with these venture capitalists – socialized risk, privatized profit. Simply stated, the selling out of Wisconsin’s workers, resources, and ideas to Chinese investors.

Rest assured, Scott Walker will make sure our kids have enough education to stack the boxes and work the cheap production jobs for their “venture capital” bosses. Take a hard look at Freeport, Illinois and Sensata for the future of manufacturing in the Midwest. This story has been much ignored in the media.

Welcome to the new economy in Fitzwalkerstan, and the United States.

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