Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Went 2 a birthday party 4 a good friend @ a bowling alley

My two high school sons tell me the posts here are too drawn-out, and basically boring. The two of them are card-carrying members of the texting, tweeting, Facebook posting and IMing generation.   I don't tweet, but I do know that on Facebook, the supercomputers send you a little message when you are getting too wordy that essentially says:  "Nope, not gonna post it to your wall until you limit it to 420 keystrokes."  To be compatible with SMS, Twitter is even stricter, with a 140 character limit for a single post.   The NYTimes recently pointed out that blogging, once seen as a new journalism paradigm, is being quickly cast aside in favor of making political or social comments by tweeting and Facebooking posts, and that to reach younger people, linking to articles and pictures via short hip messages is the most reliable way to get your political statements out. 

The Wisconsin ACLU appreciates this new approach, and did a great job tweeting the progress and testimony in Judge Sumi's hearing today from an overflow courtroom where tweeting was permitted.  The tweets informed me that the big rush for presentation of the stripped down union busting bill on March 9 seemed a tad unnecessary, as the Governor's staff, LRB representatives and Scott Fitzgerald had been working on the stripped down verision of the Budget Repair Bill for two days before the conference committee was convened. 

In addition to the ACLU, Governor Walker and Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch are also both on twitter.  Here are the last couple days of the Governor's Twitter activity:

Went 2 a birthday party 4 a good friend @ a bowling alley on NW side of Milwaukee. Nice crowd.

What an upset: VCU over Kansas. Too bad it wasn't UW or MU going 2 the Final Four.

Former Lt. Governor Margaret Farrow writes about how we will help improve education in WI: http://bit.ly/g80RuF

IN Gov Mitch Daniels shows why what we're doing will improve jobs and control spending:http://bit.ly/f6Kx1P

Had dinner @ the Tee Pee in Tomah & saw Ed Thompson. Glad 2 see him out @ his supper club.

Spoke 2 Assn of WI Snowmobile Clubs convention in Wausau. Big part of winter tourism efforts!
See how states that chose to "tax the rich" are facing big budget problems: http://bit.ly/fRHuGX

Marquette needs 2 come alive in 2nd. Buzz Williams better a good half time speech!

Meeting with business owners re: jobs plans.

Just sat down with Steve Walters for a WI Eye interview.

Watching UW Badgers take on Butler.

Good story about the positive impact on jobs:http://bit.ly/h4w9aR

Spoke to business leaders from around Wisconsin meeting in Pewaukee. We shared our plans to help create 250,000 jobs.

Signed bill to create new TIF district in Town of Brookfield for major new development that will create 750 jobs.

Toured CEI in Wrightstown. Their CEO emailed that they are hiring 35 more people because of better business environment.

Great stop @ Minnesota Wire in Eau Claire. Their CEO noted that our plans gave him real hope that we can repair the economy!

New jobs numbers are particularly encouraging 4 manufacturing: +3900 in Jan & + 4300 in Feb (vs -300 in Dec).

Many of these tweets simply convey a regular guy, a rabid fan of Wisconsin sports, a denizen of bowling alleys, a consummate cheerleader for Wisconsin in the mold of Tommy Thompson.  Others seem intended to show gravitas, establishing that the Governor is on the right track with his economic and government reorganization plans.

Thinking of something new to post about that hasn't been beaten to death by smarter people is tiring, so occasionally I am going to chose a post from the Governor's Twitter page to talk about.

For today, let's start with deconstructing the new manufacturing numbers in the last post listed above: 

"New jobs numbers are particularly encouraging 4 manufacturing: +3900 in Jan & + 4300 in Feb (vs -300 in Dec)." 
This post is based on job numbers released last Wednesday by the Department of Workforce Development.  Each month the Secretary of DWD issues a press release that includes the last month's job numbers, comparing them to the previous month and the same month a year earlier.  You can find these press releases here.  With each monthly release, you'll see that the Secretary of DWD tries to say something relevant about the data. The Secretaries of DWD are obviously political appointees and if they don't want to find themselves standing inside a DWD job center they formally managed, they also have to be consummate cheerleaders.  Here for example is what new DWD chief Manny Perez said, in part, about the December 2010 job numbers released in January (the state had lost 16,500 private sector jobs over the course of the month), just two weeks after the Governor was sworn in:
“Congratulations to Governor Walker for proactively showcasing Wisconsin at the national level and initiating legislative policies to improve the business environment in Wisconsin."
The comment by Secretary Perez got me thinking.  At what point will Governor Walker be able to logically claim that the new "Open for Business" policies he has been putting into place have actually been responsible for new jobs that are being created?  Based on his tweet, he seems to be comfortable with the idea that he should get credit for the manufacturing jobs that were created in January and February.  He went out of his way to contrast the positive results in manufacturing jobs in those two months with the results in December:  "(vs -300 in Dec)."

While businesses can usually move faster than governments in implementing institutional change, I seriously doubt that many of those jobs were created because of the Governor's policies.  Adding those jobs to existing manufacturing plants, or moving those jobs into Wisconsin from outside the state would likely have taken some time to plan and execute.  Those job likely should appear in a column labeled "Doyle."

The question that is still up in the air is what jobs the governor intends to credit to his campaign promise to add 250,000 jobs in his first four years.  Let's hypothesize that a large portion of those jobs in January and February 2011 were added at two facilities: Oshkosh Trucks in Oshkosh, and Marinette Marine in Marinette.  Why should any of those jobs go under the "Walker" column? 

Marinette Marine's new U.S. Navy contract for ten  "littoral combat warfare (LCS) ships." was awarded by the Navy in December 2010, after the Doyle Administration had put together a $50 million dollar package of incentives to be paid out as the shipbuilder added jobs.  The Journal Sentinel reported on the LCS contract award:
If the lame-duck Congress is willing to alter the contract-awarding process for the first phase of production of its littoral combat ship fleet, or LCS, Marinette Marine estimates it would add 1,000 employees to help build 10 of the vessels by 2015. In addition, [Senator] Kohl said, another 5,000 jobs could be generated among companies that supply parts and services needed to produce the ships. Kohl made his comments Thursday morning amid a crowd of employees inside DRS Power & Control Technologies Inc. in Milwaukee, which makes electronic equipment for the ship.
If, in fact, the huge Navy contract awarded Marinette Marine leads to an additional 6,000 jobs in Wisconsin over the next four years, why should Governor Walker's policies be viewed by anyone as a factor?

Oshkosh Defense's new $3 billion military contract to build some 18,000 new trucks for the Army and for National Guard units nationwide was originally awarded back in September 2009, but because of challenges to the bidding process by a losing company in Texas, the first trucks under the contract just rolled off the assembly line in January of this year.  Why should the jobs added at Oshkosh Defense based on this contract be attributed to the Walker administration?  Oshkosh Defense is already looking at additional deals for the same lines of military trucks with Canada and the United Arab Emirates.  If those deals lead to further expansion of the workforce, and come to Oshkosh becuase of the $3 billion dollar deal with the U.S. Army, why should those jobs go under the "Walker" column

I am sure that when scorecards were kept on the job creation performance of past Wisconsin governors, this kind of nuanced analysis didn't get attempted.  They likely looked at the total number of jobs in Wisconsin when they took office and kept track of how the number grew over time during their adminstrations.  But Governor Walker has consistently touted himself as a governor who will be bringing in new jobs from out-of-state, and encouraging the expansion of existing employers due to his new pro-business policies.  Perhaps it is fitting to have his scorecard break out new jobs he has created that can be logically tied to his pro-business policy initiatives.

If we score the Governor based just on the raw data published every month by the DWD, his numbers look like this for his first two months (not seasonally adjusted):

Total employment at the end of February 2011      -  2,777,200
Total employment at the end of December 2010     - 2,827,700
Net loss of jobs in Walker Adminstration                       49,500

Manufacturing jobs at the end of February  2011   -     435,300
Manufacturing jobs at the end of December 2010  -     434,200
Net gain of Manufac. jobs in Walker Adminstration          1,100

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