Thursday, May 2, 2013

WEDC a failure, but don't expect Walker to change course

Conservative approach to economics won't fix Wisconsin's job growth woes

How many jobs can you create with season tickets to UW Badgers football? That’s a good question for the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, the semi-private government institution created by Gov. Scott Walker to help spur job growth and business creation.

On the issue of job creation, the WEDC has been an utter failure. Both the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have noted that Wisconsin has lagged in jobs, dropping to 44th in the nation after previously holding the number 11 spot before Walker took office.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has also pointed out that, in terms of short-term job growth, Wisconsin is dead last in the nation.

While the state falls behind the rest of the country, the WEDC has been mismanaging its funds in ways most taxpayers wouldn’t be happy with, including buying alcohol for events, buying season tickets for Badgers football games, and even purchasing iTunes gift cards.

It's unclear really how these types of purchases might spur substantial job growth, but Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chairman Mike Tate took note of the hypocrisy that would certainly occur had other state programs failed in this respect:
Can you imagine what they’d do if a poor person in Wisconsin used taxpayer money (food stamps) to buy tickets, booze or iTunes cards?
Even Republican lawmakers are flabbergasted by the turn of events, such as State Sen. Robert Cowles:
I hope they can get their act together, but this is pretty darn bad. I'd say the jury is out whether this was a good idea to create this whole entity [the WEDC].
The failure of the WEDC to invigorate our state's economy highlights Gov. Walker’s inability to understand what factors actually create jobs. It isn’t tax breaks for the rich or for corporations -- indeed, $2.3 billion in giveaways to corporate interests failed to spur anything decent in terms of creating work in Wisconsin.

Instead, Walker needs to grow demand, increasing the need for more production and services in the state. When demand is up, the need for more employment to keep up with it goes up, too.

And what’s the best way to create demand? Getting money back into the hands of the consumer base -- that is, the working class. When consumers can make purchases, they create a greater need for the products and services they buy.

But it seems that Walker and his WEDC are too focused on methods that have already been proven to have failed. The governor's spokesman, Tom Evenson, has stated that, "Gov. Walker is confident in the direction of WEDC as an agency that aims to promote job creation and economic growth for Wisconsin."

So while WEDC has failed to deliver, and has caused more problems than anything else, Gov. Walker is "confident in the direction" it's heading in?

It's sad to think it, but it looks like Wisconsin won't be seeing brighter days -- so long as Scott Walker is still in charge.

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