Take Wisconsin Back? Create Real Jobs

This morning, while listening to the news, I heard a report in which Paul Ryan, the conservative US Representative from Janesville, urged his fellow Republicans to work hard and “take back” Wisconsin in the Gubernatorial and Senate recall elections on June 5th. I found this quite odd since the Republican party currently controls the Senate, the Assembly and the Governor’s office. In fact, it is the actions of the dominant party of Wisconsin that has caused the recall election.

I am watching the race from a far. It will be a flurry of activity, no doubt. While I understand that the incumbent governor has raised over $13 million from out of state and the Democratic challenger, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett has barely $1 million on hand, I can hope that there will actually be a discussion. My advice to the challenger? Take a cue from Mayor Paul Soglin. Start championing the cooperative community of Wisconsin as the real job creators.

Co-operative jobs are, simply, better jobs. They will stay in Wisconsin. They will be sustainable over the long term. The cooperative model can even help provide services to the communities. Presuming that the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act survives the US Supreme Court, cooperatives will be the most sustainable and effective model of health care delivery.

The State needs to do more to help cooperatives move forward.

  • Allow workers to pool their unemployment benefits in a lump sum to start a worker cooperatives;
  • Help workers buy out companies in crisis (crisis due to not being profitable enough) or to allow the current owners to retire without losing their retirement to Capital Gains taxes.
  • Examine educational options such as Ed Visions in Minnesota as a means of a true overhaul of the k-12 school system.

Co-operators exist throughout Wisconsin. A message pushing the co-operative model will find a lot more support than Mayor Barrett might think. It might even encourage people who normally vote Republican to cross over. It is time to start a new chapter in Wisconsin’s progressive history. A candidate in this recall race who embraces the core values of co-operatives will also find that they are embracing the core values of many Wisconsinites and the historical beliefs of small “r” republicans and small “d” democrats.

The GOP leadership, such as it is these days, wants to take Wisconsin back to a place that most of us really don’t want to live. It is also a place that really never existed in the United States. The GOP race to the bottom for the vast majority of the citizens while their wealthy benefactors receive a blank check needs to be aborted.

We don’t need a welfare state for any group. We need a community that believes in sustainably, mutual self-help, and self-responsibility. I think that message, through the co-operative model, crosses party boundaries. I hope that Tom Barrett gets it.

About John McNamara

John spent 26 years with Union Cab of Madison Cooperative and currently helps develop co-ops in the Pacific Northwest. He holds a Ph.D. in Business Administration and Masters in Management: Co-operatives and Credit Unions from Saint Mary's University.
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