by John S. Pinto
In a recent report titled, “The state of Working Wisconsin,” The Center for Wisconsin Strategy (COWS) outlines the
economic condition of the state. COWS is a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank based at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
According to the report’s key findings, Wisconsin’s economic growth has fallen off the national pace and that
Wisconsin has lost 24,000 jobs since June 2007. National income, per capita, exceeds Wisconsin’s by $2,500 and the gap
is growing! Other findings conclude that Wisconsin is losing manufacturing jobs at a record pace — 13,000 jobs from
June 2007 to June 2008. Wisconsin’s unemployment rate edged up to 5 percent and in 2007, Wisconsin’s unemployment
rate exceeded the national rate for the first time since the 1980s. The report enumerates some of Wisconsin’s strengths.
First is a strong work ethic, especially among women. Wisconsin has fewer high school dropouts than most states, and is
among the nation’s top five in terms of its share of the workforce with Associate in Arts degrees. One in ten Wisconsin
worker holds an occupational AA and those workers have a $1 per hour advantage over their peers nationwide. Another
strength is that Wisconsin still has good-paying manufacturing jobs.
Under the heading, “Moving in the right direction,” the report lauds Wisconsin’s minimum wage increase. Since not
all workers are covered by the minimum wage, the report recommends that Wisconsin enact laws to cover them. Another
recommendation is to “boost family income by cutting energy and transportation costs.” Although not specifically stated,
the implication is that the state should mandate lower energy and transportation costs. Another recommendation is to
“raise and strengthen the wage floor.” It is apparent that the authors of the report think that only governmental solutions will
solve the problems of the state. The data clearly shows that the economic problems of the state have been exacerbated,
if not caused, by the state government. For instance, raising the minimum wage to among the highest in the nation will
not bring in more jobs. The effect has been to decrease job creation. For many years, raising the minimum wage did not
have much effect on jobs because economic growth enabled employers to cover their labor costs. With an economic
downturn, employers will lay people off.
The report suggests that the way to cut energy costs is for Wisconsin, like California, to pass appliance energy
efficiency standards and high performance energy codes. They must think that we are idiots if they think we need the state
to tell us to use energy more efficiently. At the same time, the state has increased automobile registration fees and taxes
at all levels. The overall theme of the report suggests that more taxation would be good for all of us! The authors have
done a good job of obtaining data, but their suggestions on how to correct our course, in my opinion, will only lead to
One area where Wisconsin can help immigrants like us, is to reduce fees and regulation. For instance, if one was a
doctor in the old country, he/she could not become a doctor here in Wisconsin when they immigrate. Even though they
may have lots of medical experience and been highly regarded in their home country, upon immigrating to Wisconsin, all
that is thrown by the wayside. They have to go through a lengthy and expensive study process and pass several
examinations in order to be able to become a doctor in Wisconsin. All in the name of protecting the public! This has not
stopped incompetent doctors from being certified by the state as competent. Most of these bad doctors, if not all, are NOT
of Asian descent. In fact, Asians doctors are highly regarded and as far as I know, highly ethical. Wisconsin also throws up
similar barriers to immigrants in many other professions.
To get the state back on track, I suggest the following: Reduce the size and scope of government. Stop trying to
meddle with the free market. No matter how one tries to manipulate (they call it regulate) the free market, it always wins.
In the same strain, remove most barriers to entry that have been set up by the state into almost every profession. The most
important factor in recovery and prosperity is to increase freedom, by respecting the individual, not regulating him or her.
Freedom is rooted in the right to express one’s opinion, the right to buy and sell property, the right to travel where you
want, the right to choose one’s career and the right to live our own lives. Unless we as citizens demand our freedom, we
will be condemned to lives of servile mediocrity.