Friday afternoon rebuttal #1

(The first in a series of fairly brief Friday rebuttals of posts and columns from Wisconsin and national sources.)

In a recent post, local blogger David Blaska notes many “red flags” regarding a report critical of Wisconsin’s new WEDC and other “privatized state economic development agencies,” as the report calls them. Blaska’s thesis is that The Capital Times and Good Jobs First are rather liberal in their perspectives, and so readers ought to simply dismiss Mike Ivey’s article and the report on that fact alone. Here’s an example of Blaska’s position:

“The very name of the organization [Good Jobs First] shouts “liberal,” as it is liberals who differentiate between good jobs and bad jobs (the latter being any job that cannot support a family of four and a two-car garage).”

This point doesn’t address the actual report, and I don’t think you have to be liberal to understand that trying to raise a family of four on one or even two low-paying/minimum wage jobs alone would be hard, if not impossible.

We all know that a “good job” is more than mere wage slavery. (And even a well-paying job might not be “good” if it is ultimately destructive or exploitive or personally unsatisfying.) A liberal is someone who believes that governments should invest taxpayer money wisely in creating and encouraging good, healthy, sustainable jobs; this can include working with the private sector, but it keeps the prudent separation between government and special interests. The GJF report offers a lot of fact-based research to bolster its claim that most such public/private state development agencies have wasted much money and time.

Unfortunately, Blaska doesn’t examine a single issue or fact raised in the report, preferring to focus only on his own perception of political bias, a perception not much in dispute. This seems a red flag for being unwilling to critically engage with the argument, liberal or otherwise.

UPDATE (10/29): Also see this Center for Public Integrity report on similar public/private agencies in other states.

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