Why we need to go to a part time legislature.

Let me take a step back quick and set this up. I recently came across tthis article about why the religious right does not like public schools.

Right-wing fundamentalists such as Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum hate public schools, which he suggests are government schools wedded to doing the work of Satan, dressed up in the garb of the Enlightenment. Santorum, true to his love affair with the very secular ideology of privatization, prefers home schooling, which is code for people taking responsibility for whatever social issues or problems they may face, whether it be finding the best education for their children or securing decent health care.

But wait there is more(I recommend the whole read):

As the anti-public politicians and administrative incompetents in Arizona made clear in their banning ethnic studies and censoring books critical of a conflict-free version of American history, critical pedagogy is especially dangerous. Not only does it offer students a way of connecting education to social change, it also invokes those subordinated histories, narratives and modes of knowledge in an attempt to give students often rendered voiceless the capacities to both read the word and the world critically. But the religious fanatics and privatizing fundamentalists do more than censor critical thought; they also substitute a pedagogy of punishment for a pedagogy of critical learning.

This is all just worst case scenario and could never happen in WI right? WRONG!

The University of Wisconsin’s School for Workers was planning on hosting an “Art in Protest” festival on campus next month.

Now it’s been canceled.

One Republican lawmaker in Wisconsin, Representative Steve Nass, who has been a longtime thorn in the university’s side, was unhappy about the exhibit, and his chief of staff, Mike Mikalsen, gave an earful to the director of the School for Workers last week, suggesting that the exhibit could imperil the school’s funding.

So lets look at this a little more closely. we need the money to pay for the republican lawyers and their redistricting fiasco.

Mikalsen says he also told Olson that some of the protests against Gov. Walker and the Republicans had gotten out of hand, and if something like that happened at the exhibit, “the consequences of that kind of activity would fall on the extension. They would have to own it.”

Does anyone see the irony of Mikalsen trying to stir up emotions and anger against the people who oppose Scott Walker while playing innocent bystander? I know that, he knows that, republican thugs have been causing a majority of the violence. Also, when is the last time a republican lawmaker “owned” anything?

Mikalsen denies(As bullies often do) that he out-and-out threatened to defund the School of Workers, though he says he told Olson that this is a “very tense time,” and that an exhibit likes this “makes it very difficult” to cooperate with the university.

Mikalsen approached the school with threats and bullying while letting them know that they will get along just as fine as long as the school does exactly what he(Mikalsen – who is unelected) tells them to do.

Lets check in again with Henry Giroux:

One gets the sense that right-wing pundits, politicians and religious bigots believe that there is no place in the classroom for politics, worldly concerns, social issues and questions about how to lessen human suffering. In this discourse, the classroom becomes an unworldly counterpart to the gated community, a space for conformity and punishment as a tool for perpetuating dominant market-driven values and white Christian religious values. This is not education; it is a flight from self and society. As Eric Fromm has pointed out, this type of education embodies a flight from freedom, produces authoritarian personalities and punishes those who refuse to live in a society modeled as a fundamentalist theocracy. The outcome of this type of anti-enlightenment education is not a student who feels a responsibility to others and who feels that her/his presence in the world matters, but one who feels the presence of difference, if not thinking itself, as an unbearable burden to be contained or expelled.

Yes the right wing extremists who have taken over our country believe that college is definitely NOT a place for critical thinking. That needs to be brought under control at the first flyer you see, before it gets out of hand and people start backing their unions.

If everyone who disagrees with him is wrong, then art that might highlight those disagreements(even though the display would not only be relevant it would also be historic) would obviously not be art.

Let's check back in with the players involved:

The “Art in Protest” event had already lined up a range of songwriters, poets, photographers, cinematographers and many others, says Olson. Festival organizers also planned to display a collection of signs and other arts memorabilia from the protests. The idea of this local labor arts exchange was to recognize the creativity and artistic expression that resulted from the 2011 Wisconsin protests in and around the Capitol.

“I kept saying to (Mikalsen), it’s about art, it’s about people’s creativity,” says Olson.

Mike Konopacki, a labor cartoonist who was working on the “Art in Protest” event, is not happy about this outcome, though he sympathizes with Olson’s situation.

“I’m getting e-mails from artists who are saying, ‘What the hell is going on?’ This is a direct attack on freedom of speech, on freedom of expression, on academic freedom, and on labor education,” says Konopacki. “We were celebrating all the art and creativity that people come up with at these protests. It’s beautiful stuff. We’ve had the largest outpouring of protests in the state’s history, and the School for Workers is not allowed to display this?”

What does Mikalsen and his fellow extremists think of the arts?

The exhibit, he said, could be “a festering sore” for the state-funded university.

I guess according to Mikalsen this appears to be the only "art" thats acceptable.

When you stand for nothing, in a losing cause you have to spend more time stifling any opposing views than pushing your own unpopular extreme views.

By the way what is the school for workers?

UW-Extension’s School for Workers dates to 1925 and is the oldest university-based labor education program in the country. The school has long brought teaching, research and outreach to thousands of workers, unions and employers throughout Wisconsin and the nation.

They obviously though need to reach more people because there is still some incredible misinformation out there about workers and unions!

“Unions are strictly about compensation.” Mike Mikalsen

The one take-away from all of this comes from Mike Konopacki :

“The School of Workers survived McCarthyism,” he says. “It may not survive Walker.”

Think about that! And RECALL!

It is easy to criticize things that you do not understand. This little episode shows us two truths about WI:

1. We need to switch to a part-time legislature. They obviously have too much time on thier hands and are wasting our taxpayer money on silly witch hunts.

2. It is imperative that we have a democratically controlled legislature.

6 Responses to Irrefutable Proof

  1. dmr says:

    Let’s hope they will stand up to these bullies! Bring it on! I teach art and am mad as hell that this type of cohersion takes place. Oh, but again it is funding for an art venue of course.

  2. Dennis D Degenhardt says:

    How can we move this art festival from the School of Workers to some other group willing to keep the freedom of speech available in WI? As a protestor, part of the joy of circling the capitol was the signs and art. It would be a shame to allow narrowed minded people to win.

  3. John Foust says:

    As Z tweeted, “rhymes with Nass.”

  4. Jeff Simpson says:

    The best way to win would be to vote Nass out in November

  5. Chris Rockwood says:

    Excellent post; I agree that all of the issues you brought up are serious problems, and I’m especially upset about the suppression of the “Art in Protest” event. What I don’t agree with is the suggestion that a part-time legislature would be a solution to these or any other problems.

    We certainly need to elect a lot of better legislators, and to enable that on a regular basis there is an urgent need to get money out of politics. It’s reasonable to have a city council be part-time, and we can debate whether county supervisors should be part-time or full-time, but state legislators need to be full-time or they won’t be able to do their jobs adequately (especially if they live far from Madison). It’s reasonable to want “citizen legislators,” but how can they have time to hold regular full-time jobs in addition to legislating and representing their constituents? Unless you propose a system in which employers would be required to release legislators from their jobs at least 1/4 to 1/2 of the time (which isn’t going to be workable), the only people who could afford to be part-time legislators would be retirees, people who are wealthy enough to do without income (or for whom a part-time job is enough on its own), or people with spouses/partners who can support them. We can’t afford to exclude regular working people from the pool of potential state legislators.

  6. Jeff Simpson says:

    Chris,

    Thank you for your thought provoking response. I like all of your points as laid out and agree with them until the end. The way the campaign finance system is set up now its practically impossible for a “regular working person” to become a state legislator now.

    Especially when you have the incumbents excusing things like whats going on in the john doe investigation. Its hard enough to beat an incumbent as is who gets to spend their whole day campaigning much less have a team of fundraisers working on their behalf paid by the taxpayers.

    I think we need to have a part – time legislature because of people lke Nass/Mikalsen. Mikalsen makes an exorbitant amount of money for what he does, so in order to justify these salaries he has to go on partisan witch hunts to justify what he is doing. Think of things like this and grothman trying to take over the snowplowing of the city of Madison and you realize they do not spend much time actually working for the people.

    Look at i believe last October, these guys were in session one day. We had to pay full salaries to everyone involved because they worked one day in a month. Think they were all in their districts working hard for their constituents on the days they were not at the Capitol? or were maybe some outside the state doing fundraisers in DC, of which we pay them to attend. Ever see Joel Kleefisch’s facebook page? how many days of hunting have the taxpayers of WI subsidized? When is the last time that Jeff Fitzgerald met with a constituent who did not actually donate to his campaign? Has Scott Fitzgerald ever even talked to a minority in his life?

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