Editor's Note

Think politicians and bureaucrats are looking out for you? Think again

By MIKE NICHOLS | October 2019

Politicians like to talk about being “public servants.” But whom are they really serving?

Our cover story suggests the answer is party leaders, who have rigged the system to funnel all power to the top on both sides and discourage any real discourse. As former Lt. Gov. Margaret Farrow, the subject of our Frontlines profile who is also quoted in the cover story, says, many of our elected officials no longer have a voice.

Conservatives like Congressman Mike Gallagher and HUSCO International CEO Austin Ramirez, frustrated by the calcification of our democracy, are joining Wisconsinites from the other side of the aisle to push for a solution worth exploring — and none too soon.

Several of our other stories this fall point to a second possible answer to the question of whom our elected leaders are really serving: Government.

Dave Daley delves into the latest example of politicians’ utter aversion to axing ineffective, wasteful programs like the Job Corps center in northern Wisconsin. Richard Esenberg shows how school district officials in Madison want to supplant parents. And Ken Wysocky and Jay Miller investigate the baffling inability of bureaucrats and politicians in Milwaukee and Madison to differentiate between government and the private sector.

Wysocky’s excellent piece on the Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee’s dream of building a 32-story skyscraper downtown with lots of market-rate apartments to go with the swimming pool and fitness center is particularly troubling.

This was not an easy story to report. Politicians and government bureaucrats who control zoning and permitting have an enormous amount of power over real estate developers who, as a result, are pretty careful with their words. The fact that they’re speaking up and wondering why the city wants to undermine the free market is a testament both to Wysocky’s skill as a trusted journalist and the real concern among business leaders.

Finally, we all know that the Democratic National Convention is coming to Wisconsin in July, and it looks increasingly like a socialist will be the nominee. Expect a lot of blather about the wonderful vision of Milwaukee’s old “Sewer Socialists” and promises to pick up where they left off.

Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders might want to do themselves a favor, the thing is, and first read Mark Lisheron’s piece about the last socialist who proposed a wealth tax around here.

If the idea of a socialist president bothers you, by the way, you might want to skip Dan Benson’s story about who might end up paying some of the costs of the convention:

Yep, you.

So, whom are the politicians and government bureaucrats really serving?

That question, you’ll see inside, has a different answer.





Read the entire issue of Diggings Fall 2019 here.