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Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2009

Issue of the Week: Workers Should Benefit When Developers Benefit

Plus Heroes and Jerks of the Week

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Many people are critical when they learn that government gives direct financial assistance to private developers. But rather than complaining, two advocacy and organizing groups—the Milwaukee Inner-City Congregations Allied for Hope (MICAH) and the Good Jobs Coalition—are urging that workers see some benefits, too, above and beyond generally expanding the city’s tax base.

The groups have developed a city ordinance, which will be introduced by Alderman Ashanti Hamilton in the Milwaukee Common Council, that attaches a reasonable employment requirement to any projects that receive more than $1 million in direct financial assistance from the city. The proposed ordinance says that 40% of the worker hours on any project receiving over $1 million in direct financial assistance shall be performed by “unemployed residents or residents at a disadvantage with respect to employment and that the contractor give fair consideration to all segments of the population, including women and minorities.”These employees shall be paid the prevailing wage for southeastern Wisconsin. The proposal is an extension and modification of two very successful existing programs. MICAH has been doing a head count and believes the proposal has the necessary votes to pass it on March 3.


Hero of the Week: Spc. Kristoffer Walker

This couldn’t have been an easy decision. But Spc. Kristoffer Walker of Green Bay isn’t returning to Iraq. Walker enlisted in the Army after 9/11 and served one year in Iraq. He later joined the Army Reserve; his unit was called up in July and deployed in October. Now home on leave, Walker said he won’t return to the battlefield. “I signed up to defend the Constitution and defend the country against foreign enemies. But I’m not going to do something immoral and contrary to the contract I signed up for,” he told a reporter.


Jerk of the Week: Charlie Sykes

Our Jerk of the Week is talk-show host Charlie Sykes, who either just doesn’t get it or just doesn’t want to get it. The world is in the worst economic crisis since the 1930s, and our new president has acted swiftly to address the issue with a strong stimulus package. Put simply, a stimulus package needs to get money into the economy so that goods and services are produced and people are employed. In turn, those people spend their salaries and create even more jobs. If people were paid to dig a hole and bury a newspaper, it would have the same stimulus impact because these shovelers would then spend their wages and create more jobs. If we are going to spend $787 billion, obviously we would like to get some real benefits for the money. This requires a variety of programs to quickly and effectively get the money working in the economy and addressing real needs. Economists across the political spectrum understand that direct government expenditures are far more effective than tax cuts because a portion of the tax cuts will not be spent. Actually, any college freshman taking Macroeconomics 101 understands this as well. But not Charlie Sykes, who is still arguing that this package will not stimulate the economy because it is a variety of Democratic programs. Charlie either doesn’t understand Economics 101 or he does and chooses to misinform his listeners. So, Charlie, are you dumb or just a liar?