March 2009

Welcome to Our New Digs

Wisconsin Interest first appeared 17 years ago, back in 1992, as the flagship publication of the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute.

That first issue featured articles by former Education Secretary Bill Bennett, author Dinesh D'Souza, Professor John Dilulio, Milwaukee's then-mayor John Norquist and, as it turned out, me. Over the years we covered politics, education, welfare reform, crime, government spending, the media, gambling, heath care, the judiciary and the economy.

But, as you may have noticed, the time has come for a change.

Welcome to the new generation of Wisconsin Interest, which features a new look and attitude. We hope you find it as informative as the old one, but also provocative and timely.

This new magazine (and it is a magazine, rather than a journal) will include as regular features "Dispatches" by journalists, bloggers and activists from around the state; an in-depth "Front Line" report on important change-makers (including our cover story by Sunny Schubert on an extraordinary choice school in Milwaukee); and opinion columns from WPRI's own Christian Schneider and national writers, such as the Wall Street Journal's John Fund.

This issue also features what we hope to be the first of many hard-hitting investigative reports into government bloat and boondoggles. Mike Nichols, a longtime columnist for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, reveals how the Milwaukee Public Schools wastes tax dollars that are supposed to help parents improve their children's academic achievement.

Marc Eisen looks at the rolling collapse of daily newspapers in America and asks whether they are on the brink of a paperless future. Marc and I are both recovering reporters who have watched with disbelief as seemingly impregnable institutions have seen their business models swept away in the vortex of changing information technology. A few years ago, journalists debated whether there would be any daily "dead tree" newspapers around in 2015. Now the question seems to be: Will they make it through 2009?

And just as the governor and the Wisconsin Legislature seem poised to raise taxes by $2.1 billion (for starters), I have reached back to 1896 for inspiration. William Allen White's "What's the Matter With Kansas?" is a classic American polemic, and I've borrowed freely from his critique of soak-the-rich populism to ask the same question about Wisconsin's new penchant for "sharing the wealth."

A final word: Over the last 18 years, it has been a singular honor to serve as editor of Wisconsin Interest, but I am especially delighted to take this magazine into its newest incarnation. Please let us know what you think.

— Charles J. Sykes

Please wait while we gather your results.

MPS' Parental Enticement Program Spent Freely, Widely

But, oh, the questionable expenditures. Now some are banned. By Mike Nichols


Paperless Future

Overtaken by the Web and battered by the recession, Wisconsin's 32 dailies are in a world of hurt. By Marc Eisen


What's the Matter with Wisconsin?

Begin with disturbing parallels to a classic political screed castigating the anti-business politics of Kansas in 1896. By Charles J. Sykes


Who Cares About Voter Fraud?

Milwaukee police uncovered a problem, but politicians chose to ignore it. - by John Fund