Editor's Note

What, exactly, have our governments just done for us?

By MIKE NICHOLS | April 2021

We set out to answer some fundamental questions in this issue.

How much of the reaction to the pandemic from all levels of government was really about keeping people safe?

And how much was about other longstanding progressive goals: using tax dollars and new laws or policies to somehow advance the objectives of unions or expand Obamacare or simply redistribute our state and national wealth?

You’ll find answers in the pages that follow, using facts that traditional media conveniently overlook.

The best way to minimize death, you’ll see in Richard Moore’s story, would have been to focus more on the people actually dying, and why they were so vulnerable. Of the 6,500 people who died a COVID-related death in Wisconsin, he found, between 61% and 98% had an additional medical condition. Nearly half were residents of long-term care facilities such as nursing homes. Deaths among those between the ages of 10 and 19, in the meantime: three.

And yet, as you’ll see in Julie Grace’s story, the Milwaukee Public Schools district locked our poorest and most vulnerable children out of the classrooms that are their lifeline. My own piece shows why the Milwaukee School Board didn’t just play a dicey game with kids’ futures. It may have finally eroded the very foundation of the Milwaukee Public Schools. Unfortunately, it’s not just the future of the kids we have to worry about.

Mark Lisheron and Michael Jahr both penned excellent stories about the impact of the massive infusion of federal tax dollars. Help was needed. No one doubts that. Many businesses have thus far survived that otherwise might have failed. Those who lost jobs were taken care of with generous checks and the assurance of Medicaid. In the end, Wisconsin vaccinated a lot of people pretty quickly — to say nothing of the astounding achievement of private-sector scientists who developed vaccines in record time with the help of more tax dollars.

But the evidence is gathering that we could have achieved so much of that without unbridled spending and overreach. The bills, incredibly large ones, will come due. The kids, again, will pay — and not just with dollars.

Lisheron’s piece on Medicaid expansion is a troubling revelation. Please read it all the way through. Mike Konecny’s editorial on the crazy amount of money the federal government is shoving at counties and cities will make any tax watchdog cringe.

Kevyn Burger’s story on the different pandemic responses of Wisconsin and Minnesota, in the meantime, shows just how vulnerable hard-working entrepreneurs are to government overreach. Wisconsin, thanks to legislators who beat back overly onerous restrictions, appears to have taken the wiser course.

We hope our politicians will digest what is written here and realize that a little more wisdom right now is what this state — and America — sorely needs.

Mike@BadgerInstitute.org

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