Monday, April 22, 2013

Ellis, out on an island


By Bill Kraus

Not so very long ago Senator Mike Ellis developed and recommended a campaign financing plan that would have contributed a significant amount of public money to anyone who agreed to spending limits. The plan also was structured to protect those who took the public money and agreed to the spending limits from spending by unregulated third parties and organizations.

The comfortable incumbents who would have had to agree to this plan said in effect if not in fact “why would I vote for something that gives public money to people who want to run against me, and that takes away the advantage I have in raising campaign money due to my incumbency?”

The response should have been, “Because this is your last, best chance to be delivered from dialing for dollars and for avoiding hijacked campaigns and being thought beholden to interests rather than to the people who vote for you.”

The response instead was, “Because it’s the right thing to do.”

The Ellis proposal was not enacted.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Power scorecard


By Bill Kraus

The thing about power is that it’s finite. If I have it, you probably don’t. There are, of course, occasions where we both have it in equal measure. This produces ties in games, gridlock in politics.

The other thing is that in politics, power moves or shifts. Sometimes it almost disappears altogether, usually when it is abused. Overreaching, as Lord Acton pointed out long, long ago is not only corrupting as he said but tends to set off a reversal.

So any assessment of who is up, down, and tied is ephemeral. But I can’t resist assessing anyway. It is my way of tracking political probabilities and prospects.

What follows is a truncated version of my power scorecard at this moment in time and space, with emphasis on Wisconsin.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Three endangered species


By Bill Kraus

Three elements in the public policy arena have become so undervalued and weakened that some of us question their survival.

Newspapers. The collection, validation, rating, and distribution of the events that drive all of our lives is essential to a working democracy. It is the first draft of history. Like all first drafts it is imperfect. It is even subject to being tendentious. Jefferson, however, was and still is right when he said, “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them.”

If you are not thinking of creating a model for newspapers that will work economically and will restore newspapers to their full strength and coverage capability, you are not doing your civic duty.

If you have been lulled into believing that the internet is a substitute for newspapers, you are deceived. The internet is a marvel. It is also more divisive than unifying. It also is not yet, maybe ever, something that Jefferson’s “every man” receives.