March 03, 2011
Dispatches (VII): WWBD?
Or, "What Would Bob (La Follette) Do?"
Protesters' signs and online discussions have repeatedly invoked La Follette, a turn-of-the-20th century Wisconsin governor and U.S. senator. His bust has become a locus of the protest, with demonstrators draping flowers around its neck and festooning its pedestal with signs saying "Long Live La Follette" and "What Would Bob Do?"
Dennis Dresang, a professor emeritus at La Follette's namesake Robert M. La Follette Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has a ready answer: "He'd be standing with the protesters, screaming 'Right on!' "
The article continues:
Born 155 years ago in tiny Primrose, outside Madison, La Follette came of age amid the rising corporate cronyism and income inequality of the Gilded Age. Short of stature, self-assured and possessed of a booming voice, he fell out with the Republican Party establishment and spent five years running for governor, still under the GOP banner.
La Follette campaigned by railcar and horse cart, visiting 300 towns and delivering stump speeches that crystallized Progressive ideology: Government should be a force to stand up for the little guy.
Elected governor in 1900, he pushed for workers' compensation and a minimum wage. He moved on to the U.S. Senate in 1906, where he opposed American involvement in World War I and backed child-labor laws and women's suffrage.
To me, the most interesting part of the article is the juxtaposition of names at the end:
Reince Priebus, former head of the state Republican Party and now chairman of the Republican National Committee, said Mr. Walker's plan was actually a continuation of the La Follette legacy.
"We have a long history of reform -- La Follette, Tommy Thompson on welfare, and now Gov. Walker," he said. "The cheeseheads are at the center of the debate."
Posted by Menzie Chinn at March 3, 2011 08:04 PMdigg this | reddit
Once invited to undertake a contract through a program of financial assistance to a remote country. I met a friendly aged Italo American, running a casino in this forsaken place.When asked how to typify his customers, his answer came short in words and brief in substance.They are the gamblers and they are the players.
The gamblers take their money and run,the players want to beat the casino.He added "I do not have a thorough grasp of all the socio professional behaviour,but I know of many that can withstand the comparison"
Who ran the economies as a casino?,who tried to beat the casino?,who beat the casino with the owners consent? where are the piggy bags ?
The answers are provided through the reading of too numerous to mention them, Econbrowser posts and comments.
Machiaevel is to offer a safe Pascalian bet, stand for the small guys before they stand for themselves
Alcuin will answer
"And those people should not be listened to who keep saying the voice of the people is the voice of God, since the riotousness of the crowd is always very close to madness."
Posted by: ppcm at March 3, 2011 10:45 PM
Reince Priebus should recall that the most important initiatives from Tommy Thompson were Welfare Reform, School Choice, and Badger Care, (that provides subsidized health insurance for the working poor). In addition, it was under Thompson's administration that Wisconsin first utilized the "raid the Highway Trust Fund" gimmick to balance the state budget, (a tactic roundly criticised by Walker).
Republican "Fighting Bob" Lafollette was well known as a pro-union, anti-corporatist, progressive tax reformer. As governor he supported legislation for Workers Compensation, Minimum Wages, Non-Partisan Elections, Referendums, Womens' Sufferage, and Progressive Taxation. No apparent correlation to Walker save the party affiliation
I'm not sure that I can yet call Scott Walker a reformer as Reince Priebus implies. A reformer implies a progressive not an ideologue.
Thank you very much Menzie, for all your posts about the soap opera in Madison. Your comments and links have made it easier for my to understand the issues and personalities involved. I very much value the balance your liberal and progressive philosophy affords The Econobrowser.
Posted by: MarkS at March 3, 2011 11:20 PM
Someone say unfunded liabilities?
Posted by: Babinich at March 4, 2011 02:41 AM
Professor Chinn offers us a useful reminder that so-called liberals or progressives are the real conservatives. They cling to the past. Dear old Fighting Bob - a mere 155 year old isolationist. And the dear little unions - so valuable in 1933.
Bring back the Stanley Steamer, I say!
Posted by: C Thomson at March 4, 2011 05:36 AM
If they were honest, I imagine they'd want to tear the statue down. La Follette is a main symbol of progressivism and that is the enemy because progressivism believes government can help make a better society. There is a concerted effort to vilify progressivism and not merely from that dangerous lunatic Beck.
More symptoms of a society that has forgotten its past: children working in factories, dirty water, dirty air, dangerous workplaces, etc. We've become the opposite of Tom Brokaw's book - The Greatest Generation - because we don't believe in shared sacrifice for a common good but in "what's mine is mine."
You know that Michigan is putting forward tax proposals that raise taxes on a single parent with 2 children making $22k a year more than on a family making more than $250k a year. They're eliminating the state's earned income credit because that kind of government subsidy is bad. They've decided that since other states tax pensions, it's fair that Michigan should too, which means pensioners on fixed incomes will see tax increases higher than anyone. A retired couple living on $48k a year will see a $2560 tax increase.
Starve them. Make them move out of state. Cruelty is justified because government is bad.
Posted by: jonathan at March 4, 2011 09:01 AM
La Follette was the most socialist senator of his time. He rejected the presidential nomination of the Socialist Party, but developed is own Progressive Socialist Party. The Socialist Party disbanded and jointed La Follette. In his bid for president on February 2, 1912 La Follette gave a rambling speech then passed out. This caused many to question his sanity.
In 1924 he again ran as the Progressive Socialist Party Candidate because he didn't believe that either major party candidate was socialist enough. He won 17% of the vote as a third party candidate and 13 electoral votes because he carried one state, Wisconsin.
Though a registered Republican La Follette, America's grand socialist, was significant in establishing Wisconsin's lasting socialist tradition.
Posted by: Ricardo at March 4, 2011 01:09 PM
If "clinging to the past" means clinging to Adam Smith and Edmund Burke I'll take the Stanley Steamer, please!
Posted by: Sufferin' Succotash at March 5, 2011 07:33 AM
Remember: it's for the children.
Posted by: Babinich at March 6, 2011 05:04 AM
Tangentially on topic:
So you think we're ready for high speed rail?
I had to fly out to Cleveland on Thursday, but wanted to leave my car at the Princeton Junction train station, which is both a NJ Tranist and Amtrak stop.
I woke very early, made my early emails, and showed up at the station at 8 am. Of course, the token-pay spots were already taken, so I was forced into the overflow lot. There, you can park for a day, but not two, as the attendant on duty informed me. But as I was flying to Cleveland that night, I needed a two day parking spot, and I had a meeting in New York that day, so I had no choice. I had to park anyway.
Of course, I was fined (after informing parking management that my car would be there). So the West Windsor parking authority, and its clients Amtrak and NJ Transit, were simply unable to provide an over-night parking spot in a lot with an attendant and extra spaces.
This degree of incompetence and indifference is just stunning. And these guys want high speed rail? All this says to me is that government employees are clueless about serving their core customers. When these folks are able to provide appropriate parking services for their customers, then we can start talking about high speed rail. Right now, they can't even figure out how to let me leave my car overnight.
Posted by: Steven Kopits at March 6, 2011 05:09 AM
This is boring from outside the USA. Fiscal austerity needs to set in in the USA, and it will, one way or another, sooner than later.
The USA in February made all time record deficit of 223 billion. How long must that go on in order to get "recovery"?
There can not be many left still thinking spending is a good way out of overleverage crisis, especially once they have succeeded to export inflation to oil producing countries that will continue to cause punctuated but increasing supply interruptions of a scale never seen before.
Even with USA in recession in 2012, oil price will not fall significantly , as it did in 2009-because the supply is disrupted for the next 3 years at least, and investment in extraction is delayed as well.
Posted by: Ivars at March 7, 2011 11:39 AM