Sunday, October 30, 2011

Reasons to run

By Bill Kraus

Where have all the candidates gone?

Actually, maybe the question should be, “Where have all the traditional candidates--or the candidates from traditional places--gone?"

There used to be a lot of lawyers in the state Legislature. Running for office was a way to meet people, get known, and for those who didn’t have a warm enough fire in the belly to want to seek higher and higher office, it was a way to start a law practice.

No more. The new graduates need to make money fast to pay off the debts those degrees burdened them with.

Another steady source of legislative candidates was county boards and city councils. Except for Milwaukee where candidates did just the opposite. They ran for the Legislature as a stepping stone to the city council or the county board where the pay was better, the hours shorter, and the travel nonexistent.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Health history

By Bill Kraus

When Frances Perkins came to Washington as Franklin Roosevelt’s secretary of labor, she brought along a “to do” list. All of the programs that became the New Deal were on the list. Almost all of them were enacted. Most survived the displeasure of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Health care reform was on the list. The more urgent, Depression-driven items had a higher priority. By the time health care got to the top, it was pushed aside by the demands of World War II as were most social issues and a lot of other stuff as well.

When the war ended the new labor government in England put health care at the top of the priority list and passed what was called socialized medicine for that country.

Meanwhile, back in Washington President Truman (with the help and at the urging of still-Labor Secretary Perkins) presented his version of a national health care system to what he called “The 80th Worst Congress.”

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Protests and recalls

By Bill Kraus

Protests are a fixture in banana republics everywhere, the mideast more or less continuously, and parts of Europe and Africa more recently.

Wisconsin had a notable one this year, and now Wall Street and bankers everywhere have taken center stage as targets of the Occupy Wall Street protests.

Protests are usually rooted in frustration and anger. They are spawned by organizations or collections of people who are not getting attention, action, or are simply being brushed off by those with power, because those with power have different agendas and priorities or are simply indifferent to the causes or needs of those without power.

Protests worked in a big way on Vietnam and civil rights. The draft was ended (which was probably necessary at the time and may or may not have been a good idea) as a response to the Vietnam War protests, and the giant step forward of civil rights in the 60s is unimaginable without the widespread protests of that era.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Only so angry

By Bill Kraus

What are the "angry" voters going to do about Congress? Not much.

One thing is clear. The polls are unanimous. The Congress is below unpopular on the way to being disdained, which is a step away from being despised. The conversations on the street confirm the polls.

The protests spreading across the country, however, are about banks and other brigands. The Congress is mentioned obliquely for not punishing the bad guys who ruined the country and are being protested against.

The protests are not going to overthrow the Congress.

It’s up to the voters. Will the voters do what the voters are supposed to do when the people they elect don’t perform up to the voters’ expectations?