Boots & Sabers

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1214, 07 Nov 18

Governing is harder with diverse opinions

Here is my full column that ran in the Washington County Daily News yesterday. Given the election results, it seems well-timed.

Now that this election season is coming to a close, our soon-to-be newly elected, or re-elected, Wisconsin politicians must turn their attention to solving our state’s problems. If they think that this political campaign was hard, governing a state with such diverse opinions is harder.

Throughout the campaign, Wisconsinites have repeatedly called out the issues that need attention. Wisconsinites consistently identify education and the economy as top issues of concern. Unfortunately, most polls do not delve deep enough into the issues to uncover precisely what the perceived problems are that need addressing, but it can safely be assumed that Wisconsinites want a great education for their kids and a great economy.

When it comes to education, Wisconsinites rightly want our kids to get the best possible education at a cost that we can afford. In the most recent round of test results released by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, less than half of students in third grade through eighth grade are proficient or better in English/language arts or math, and the average composite ACT score for 11th graders was 19.8. These statistics have been consistent for the past several years.

Interpreting test results always depends on one’s perspective, but the general perception is that Wisconsin’s education establishment can do a better job of educating our kids than that. Unfortunately, we have allowed politicians of both parties to fall into the lazy rhetorical position of substituting spending with accomplishments. Spending more money on education does not lead to better outcomes. If that were the case, then we would see it in the test results when we spend more. In fact, the kids who attend choice schools, which generally spend less per student than public schools, achieved higher test scores on average than the kids who attend public schools.

Instead of focusing on how much more we can spend on education, our politicians should advance policies designed to actually improve education. For example, if we look around the world at other educational systems that have better outcomes, they offer some insight into how to do things differently. In some countries, the curriculum is narrower, but deeper. The schools put all of their efforts into ensuring that the students have a deep understanding of core subjects instead of spending time on a more “wellrounded” education. Other school systems have also moved to all-year school to maintain momentum throughout the year. Still others have been aggressive in making sure that disruptive students are removed from the classroom to ensure a quality learning environment for the other students.

In short, in seeking policy prescriptions to improve education, Wisconsin’s politicians should be advancing actual data-driven ideas. Throwing more money into the same education machine expecting different results is lunacy.

When it comes to the economy, there is no dispute that it is booming in Wisconsin. Unemployment is hovering at a record low. Wages are increasing. Wisconsin’s historic economic engines, like manufacturing and agriculture, are strengthening again. Meanwhile, Wisconsin is attracting and growing new economic pillars like high-tech manufacturing and biotech. The biggest problem Wisconsin has right now is that there are more jobs than qualified people to fill them.

Economies are naturally complex and the reasons for the current boom are myriad. The policies and attitude of Wisconsin’s state government over the past few years can certainly claim some credit. Lower taxes, state agencies that strive to work with businesses, regulatory reforms, stable state finances, and a quality transportation infrastructure have all created an environment in which businesses can succeed.

When it comes to the economy, as with most things, the best government is the least government. As the state’s politicians enter the new year, they must not act to disrupt the economic policies that are working by introducing higher taxes, more regulations, or fostering an adversarial relationship with businesses. Instead, they should focus on the economic issues that need addressing, like attracting more workers to move to Wisconsin.

Most of all, as Wisconsin’s freshly elected politicians settle into their jobs, they must remember that not every problem requires a government solution. Most of the time, the best solution is for government to get out of the way.


1214, 07 November 2018


  1. donsladek

    Unfortunately, it appears that the teachers/administrators/public employees are in control of educational spending – I believe almost all of the school referenda on the Fall ballot were passed, and this occurred in a large turnout election.



  2. jjf

    Really, Don?  One minute they’re powerless and ineffectual, the next they’re dominating elections.  Maybe a majority think the schools were underfunded.

  3. dad29

    No, John.  I’ve been through more than a few of those school referendums.

    They pass because of the “Better Than the Joneses” mindset of district parents.  If Elmbrook builds pools into his high schools, Hartland will build the Taj Mahal football locker rooms.  If Oconomowoc builds two new middle schools, Watertown will build three.

    Aside from the “…the Joneses” crapola, voters are suckers; they believe that “improved schools” will increase the values of their homes, and a greater fool will come by and offer them more than the place is worth ….because!!

    Among the best-rated schools in the State are ‘Choice’ and religious schools occupying buildings which are 50-100 years old.   Huh.  Imagine that.

  4. dad29

    Added:  those ‘higher home values’ eventually run into cold reality:  increased prop-taxes WILL negatively affect the retail value of the house because 99% of buyers buy on cash-flow.   That’s not what the Realtors tell them, of course….

  5. MaxwellsEQs

    School referendums create jobs and Wisconsin has had a lot of them in recent year, not withstanding the 80 some that just passed. In a few years, when the housing boom and the massive government funded construction projects stop there will be a massive economic crash.

    Owen, I agree 100% about funding not being the problem with education. Our public schools are graduating more and more students who know less and less. One of the biggest problems is that no one has successfully advanced a policy program that actually works. Things are so bad that one wonders if people are not deliberately working to make the schools worse than they need to be.

    Some years ago testing and holding schools accountable was the solution. The state established a Wisconsin DPI school report card. A score from 0-100% was given to each school along with ratings such as needs improvement, meets expectations, exceeds expectations, etc. One of the metrics in the report card was graduation rates. The effect of such a metric was to reward administrators for graduating students who knew nothing. Every year since the DPI report card was created the average graduation rate in the state increased.

    Tenure for teachers was removed in this state and Scott Walker passed ACT 10 making it easier to fire teachers. Emergency permits allow anyone to teach. Now administrators fire teachers and give jobs to their unlicensed friends, family members, and relations to school board members. It is very easy to win trips and other bonuses for choosing how a school district spends its money.

    Should you buy dell or chrome computers? If your school buys computers from the “right” vendor your district administrator might be rewards with a trip to Ocho’s Rios.

    Nobody knows much about the school board members. The most conservative school board candidate usually wins. The candidate is usually uneducated and has absorbed his whole political world view from FOX and conservative radio shows. When a so called “Liberal” does run, they usually run, because of social issues, and have little interest in budgeting and making sound policy choices.

    So are the thoughts of an independent thinker.

  6. kjanz1899

    If the most conservative school board candidates are elected the why
    1. Are the majority of the elected school board members happen to be the same people endorsed by the teacher’s union?
    2. Were there over 60 school tax referendums on the ballet yesterday?

  7. MHMaley

    If you want to send your kids to religious schools of any kind , please pay for it yourself .

    I paid for mine ( not Daddy or Mommy ) . With all the dough you got from the tax cut ,handling the tuition should be a breeze .

  8. MaxwellsEQs


    1. This statement is just not true. I do not know of any school board members who have the endorsement of the local union. School board members around here avoid that thing like the plague. I know things in West Bend were heated and some of the teachers leaned toward some school board members, but I do not believe they received an official endorsement. Moreover, Kewaskum, Campbellsport, Mayville, Random Lake, Northern Ozaukee, all either do not have unions or only have token unions with no power. Anyone running for those school boards certainly does not want the endorsement of a union if they are going to win.

    2. You must not have read my original post or either struggled to grasp its meaning. Referendums are big bucks. Every dollar that the school district spends is money in someone else’s pocket. School board members describe themselves as conservative at election time, but when some middle aged white guy shows up clean shaven in a blue button up shirt and talks about the jobs he is going to create in the community, you already know what is going to happen. And that is assuming that school board member isn’t related to the lead contractor or sub-contractors on the construction project.

  9. Kevin Scheunemann


    The parents of the kids who go to the liberal, godless, secular humanist factory should pay for that themselves as well to.

    That is the worst of all religions.

    After all, the liberal religions of secular humanism, and evolution, should be treated as “fairly”, or as hostile, as you want to treat “Christianity”.

    …but we all know, you are never about fairness.

  10. jjf

    Dad29, I agree with many of your points.  Believing you have goods schools in your town is like having granite counter tops at home.  It’s about present comfort and assurance and appearance.  Other counter tops might be much cheaper and work just as well, but they’re not as pretty when company is over, are they, and they’ll surely help our resale value someday?

    Many referenda are driven by the threat of loss…  if we don’t get this money, we’ll need to cut language X and music program Y and science program Z and shop class M.  Or maintenance that was deferred and deferred, and next thing you know it looks like building new might be cheaper and then we’ll get the granite counter tops, too.

    As for Elmbrook vs. Hartland vs. anyone, the state Constitution says our schools should be “which shall be as nearly uniform as practicable.”  That doesn’t happen, either, and your Elmbrook neighbors would scream if any politician ever proposed a plan to do that.

    Point at your favorite 50-100 year-old building and school and tell me how we can replicate that model in Boscobel.

  11. MHMaley

    They do, by paying their taxes .
    You want your own brand of religion taught that says your beliefs are
    Superior to all others , which is perfectly fine .
    Just pay for that exclusivity of thought .

    That was fair from 1966 – 1970 for me and remains fair for you .

  12. Le Roi du Nord


    As an elected public official that is involved every year with setting levies, tax bills, paying taxes, etc., it is completely disingenuous of you to make the following statement, “liberal, godless, secular humanist factory should pay for that themselves as well to”.

    If you are so ill-informed as to the funding of public schools as to make that statement perhaps the electorate needs to look at a charge of malfeasance in office.

  13. Kevin Scheunemann

    Nord, Mark,

    I see.

    You are not for equal treatment. Secular humanism is your favored religion.

    Your discrimination is awful.

  14. Le Roi du Nord


    This isn’t about religion, it is about how schools are funded as per the WI constitution.  Or aren’t you aware of that either?

  15. MHMaley

    Kev, after all these years I have a question .
    Do you hit a buttton on your belt and your fingers type “ secular humanism as a religion” ?

    Even on this site of rigorously conservative and sometimes wing nut commentators , I don’t ever remember a single person saying :
    “Right on Kevin .
    Not even a “Uh , ok Kevin .

    But .. ya gotta love the tenacity , the memorization of bible verses and the belief that they explain anything pertinent to any discussion in 2018

    Be well , M

  16. Kevin Scheunemann


    Are you saying secular humanism is NOT a religion?

  17. Le Roi du Nord

    I don’t know about Mark, but I’ll say it; secular humanism is not a religion.

    You can look it up.   I did.

  18. Kevin Scheunemann


    At least I can admit my religion.

    Cannot help it if you cannot admit your religion.

  19. MHMaley

    That’s exactly what I’m saying . We believe in evidence
    And science . We change our opinions when the facts and evidence change .
    It seems to be a reasonable attitude with no belief in an entity
    That allows 9 million a year to die under the age of 5 and sits back
    With folded hands yet speaks directly to others .

    We don’t think there is an entitiy that we praise for anything that happens we like and let off the hook as “mysterious “ when terrible things happen .

    We don’t believe we live in a celestial North Korea when a magical being
    Care what we do , what we think and then when we die , the real fun begins .

    As far as I can see , a reliance on evidence vs belief in
    Bronze aged writings nullifies it from being a religion in any way .

    When you talk to God , it’s prayer . When God speaks to you , it’s schizophrenia .

    We have no problems with your belief , we just think that if you want your own
    Narrow band of belief taugh to your kids as undeniable truth , just pay for it yourself ( as I did )

  20. Le Roi du Nord


    Well good for you.  But don’t ever think you can force your beliefs on me.  Or tell me that you are right, and I am wrong on that issue.  I don’t care if you believe in the easter bunny, tooth fairy, giant spaghetti monster, or Jim and Tammy Faye.  That is your choice.  But don’t say I’m wrong if I don’t.

  21. Kevin Scheunemann


    So let me get this straight, you have faith in the evidence until there is new and better evidence to take it’s place?

    Sounds like a religion to me.

    It’s a shame you can’t admit your faith.   That would make for more honest conversations.

  22. Le Roi du Nord

    “Sounds like a religion to me”.

    How so?  You refuse to take any new information into consideration, but rely on a book of hearsay ~2ooo years old.   Do you think before you type?

  23. dad29

    Leeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeroy you ought to keep up with Federal Court (including SCOTUS) rulings.

    1)  In a landmark decision last week, a federal judge in Oregon declared ‘secular humanism’ to be a religion, opining that those who profess to be atheists and secular humanists should be afforded equal protection rights under the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution and be allowed to enjoy the same liberties to practice religion that religious groups are able to enjoy.  (see:

    2)  In 1961, the U.S. Supreme Court acknowledged that Secular Humanism was a religion.

    The SCOTUS item was ‘dicta,’ but so was Brennan’s asinine flapjaw that ‘anchor babies’ are US citizens.  He was wrong, but that was Brennan’s hallmark:  being wrong.

  24. Kevin Scheunemann

    As the court says, “secular humanists” should be defunded in the name of “equal protection”.

    When can we start seeing some liberal advocacy toward defunding the massive subsidy’s secular humanists get?


  25. MjM

    McHaley admits: “We believe in evidence And science . We change our opinions when the facts and evidence change.”

    IOW, you believe in gods until they are upgraded with new gods.

    Wondering: do you consider yourself to have previously worshipped false gods when this occurs?

  26. Le Roi du Nord


    “The court finds that Secular Humanism is a religion for Establishment Clause purposes,” Judge Haggerty wrote in his ruling last Thursday. “Allowing followers of other faiths to join religious group meetings while denying Holden the same privilege is discrimination on the basis of religion.”

    Big difference from what the court said, and what you claimed.

    Can you cite the 1961 SC case.  The one the pops up for me doesn’t say what you say it does.  Thanks.

    k:   Can you provide the quote?  At what line is this statement found, ““secular humanists” should be defunded in the name of “equal protection” ?

  27. MHMaley

    “When the evidence changes , I change my mind .
    What do you do”
    A Lincoln

  28. dad29

    “The court finds that Secular Humanism is a religion for Establishment Clause purposes,”

    It’s a religion, just as Kevin said.  What are you missing, aside from cogency?

  29. Le Roi du Nord

    Except you didn’t include the whole quote, nor expalin the Establishment clause.

    Read slowly, maybe you will catch on…

    “The First Amendment’s Establishment Clause prohibits the government from making any law “respecting an establishment of religion.” This clause not only forbids the government from establishing an official religion, but also prohibits government actions that unduly favor one religion over another. It also prohibits the government from unduly preferring religion over non-religion, or non-religion over religion”.

    Source:  Cornell Law School.

  30. dad29

    I think you’ve explained it very well, and with your explanation you have confirmed Kevin’s line of thought completely.

    You confirm that Secular Humanism is a religion for E.C. purposes.

    You further advise that the E.C. “prohibits government actions that unduly favor one religion over another.”

    Therefore, ALL religious schools should be receiving Gummint moneys equivalent to what Gummint (Secular Humanism) schools receive.

    Thanks, Leeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeroy.  Ya done good!

  31. Le Roi du Nord

    Like I have always said, you are free to believe whatever you want.  But  when you omit the ” It also prohibits the government from unduly preferring religion over non-religion” part it really messes with your argument.

    When you going to provide your 1961 SC citation?  Or did you just make that up as well?

  32. MjM

    McHaley weasels: “A Lincoln”

    Oh, my. Time for you to change gods. If I were you I certainly wouldn’t trust the current one that said that quote came from ol’ Abe.

  33. MjM

    Nort huffs: “When you going to provide your….”

    … evidence that your school district is saving “thousands and thousands” as a result of an LED upgrade project? Or did you just make that up?

    Hypocrite much?

  34. MHMaley

    No need to change God’s if you see no evidence for any of them .

  35. MjM

    McHaley prances: “… if you see no evidence…”

    And so, guarded by blind ignorance of truth you maintain your worship of your false gods.

    Got it.

  36. Le Roi du Nord

    “guarded by blind ignorance of truth you maintain your worship of your false gods”.

    Thanks for the comedic relief.

  37. MjM

    Nort relieves himself: “Thanks…”

    Well, you, of course, would find McHaley’s sorry life volitions amusing. I find them rather sad.

  38. Le Roi du Nord

    So you want to force your beliefs on someone else?  How un-American.

  39. MjM

    Nort dumps again: “you want to force your beliefs on someone else?“

    Oh, nice try, numbnutz. Do you mean, like, forcing someone to believe in your false god of “no mandates”? Or the saving of “thousands and thousands”?

    In case you are unable to comprehend (and I have no doubt) the discussion here is how McHaley arrives at his beliefs; by way of science, evidence, and all that, as he claims. Given that he believes A. Lincoln spoke the words he quoted calls into question his methods. And I did.

    If you have an opinion on the topic at hand – and I do mean other than just regurgitating your boring old cliches – please join in. Otherwise I suggest you retire to your basement lair and go back to skinning cats for your own amusement.

  40. Pat

    MajorJagoffMoron eats a big bowl of beans and farts out: “the discussion here is how McHaley arrives at his beliefs”.

    And I thought the topic was school spending.

  41. jjf

    So Dad29, when that Federal judge said that secular humanism “was a religion for Establishment Clause purposes,” in what ways do you think they meant that secular humanism was not a religion for other purposes or definitions?  What are you trying to equate here?

  42. MjM

    Patsy squeaks: “I thought…

    See? That’s the problem, right there, Little Mz. Hypocrite.  Try comprehending instead.

    btw, if you have a problem with the sidetracking of the OP you should complain to McHaley, as it was he who first did so.

  43. Pat

    Moron pisses: “See? That’s the problem, right there……Try comprehending instead.”

    My comprehension is fine. Are you saying the topic isn’t school funding?

  44. MjM

    Patsy lies:  “My comprehension is fine”

    The topic between McHaley and me in this thread is not PS funding, as I explained previously to Nortumous, and as anyone – other than you and Nort, of course – could grasp.


  45. Pat

    Moron spews: “The topic between McHaley and me in this thread is not PS funding”

    My apologies. Carry on with your sub-topic.

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