Democrats Kill Wisconsin Jobs to Spite Governor Scott Walker

On March 6, every Democrat in the Wisconsin State Senate, and one Republican, voted down a bill that could have streamlined the permit process and permitted the development of an iron mine in a depressed area of northern Wisconsin.  The mine would have initially employed 600 to 700 workers (eventually as many as 2,200) and injected at least 1.5 billion dollars into the local economy.  Additionally, it would have proven a boon to Joy Manufacturing and Falk Corp., two major manufacturers of mining equipment located in Milwaukee.

Following the vote, Gogebic Taconite, the proposed developer, announced that they were abandoning efforts in Wisconsin.  Their comments: "Senate rejection of the mining reforms in Assembly Bill 426 sends a clear message that Wisconsin will not welcome iron mining. We get the message. GTac is ending plans to invest in a Wisconsin mine."

Comments by Democrat Senators and by Dale Schultz, the lone Republican who voted against the Bill, included the citation of environmental concerns.  The statements were flatly rejected by Cathy Stepp, secretary of Wisconsin's Department of Natural Resources, who stated that her agency would have been able to permit an iron mine in northern Wisconsin without harming the environment and blasted opponents of the permitting bill for "fear-mongering" (Wisconsin State Journal, March 9, 2012).  She referenced the fact that the Army Corps of Engineers and the EPA had been involved from the first and that their continued monitoring would ensure safety in the water supply and the environment generally.

Of course, anyone familiar with the local political landscape in Wisconsin understands the reason for the bill's being rejected.  Democrats attempting to effect the recalls of Governor Scott Walker, Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, and four Republican senators would rather sacrifice the jobs and investment that could mean prosperity to a depressed area than assist in any undertaking that might reflect creditably on the governor. 

Despite the fact that most of the jobs associated with the mine would be represented by industry trade unions -- and that State Senator Tim Carpenter, a Democrat who represents a largely Hispanic district and was arranging a fully funded program to train inner-city high school students for mining and manufacturing jobs -- the more powerful public service unions demanded the bill's defeat.  The unions, led by out-of-state interests, were resentful of Walker's budget reforms and have spared no expense in demanding obedience from state Democratic office-holders and hopefuls.

Prior to their endorsement of former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk to run against Walker in the recall election, the unions extracted a pledge that she would veto any state budget that did not restore any and all of their pre-Walker privileges regardless of the consequences to the state, its citizens, and its business interests.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Bartlett, considered one of the leading Democrat contenders for the Senate seat that will be vacated by the retirement of Herb Kohl, had no comment even though Joy Manufacturing and Falk Corp. are located in the city of Milwaukee.

If any instance were needed to underscore the fact that union bosses have written off the blue-collar private-sector workers who created the labor movement in the first place, one has only to look to Wisconsin.  Having contributed to the decline of American manufacturing through wage and benefit demands, work rules, and the support of onerous regulations, they have cheerfully participated in their own near-extinction.  Organized labor's last and only hope remains government and public-sector unions.  Their members' refusal to acknowledge the financial realities that have and continue to affect the private sector are bringing them to their own Armageddon.

What is happening in Wisconsin is an example of how corruption by powerful external forces can result in the betrayal by elected officials of both their morals and their constituents.  Whether it will result in corrective action and a restoration of the democratic process or whether it will be met with acceptance by an increasingly tolerant and disinterested electorate remains to be seen.  In either case, it has exposed the extent to which pathological hatred, combined with the influence of special interests, can affect not only abstract ideas, but also individual human lives.  

In Wisconsin, more has been lost than jobs and investment.