Thursday, May 3, 2007

No Public Interest At The WMC - - Again

The Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce purports to speak for the business community in the state, but the group continues to prove that its goals are extremely narrow and self-interested.

During the 2006 gubernatorial race, the WMC ran an expensive negative advertising campaign that bashed incumbent Gov. Jim Doyle, and at the same time, smeared the business climate in the state through exaggerated whining.

You wonder how much business those ads drove away from Wisconsin, or made entrepreneurs or other owners already here think about expanding elsewhere?

Its seven-figure shilling for Supreme Court Justice winner Annette Ziegler this year was another example of the WMC throwing big bucks at a statewide, pro-business candidate, but given the ethical issues still surrounding Ziegler's candidacy, maybe her winning won't turn out to be in the state's highest and best interest.

Now The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Lee Berqguist has found that a paltry 12 Wisconsin businesses (the WMC alone has about 4,000) are participating in the so-called "Green Tier" program, in which businesses agree to environmentally-beneficial ventures which conserve valuable resources while helping the company.

To help businesses like utilities and recyclers get involved with Green Tier, the state agrees to speed permitting and cut other, onerous red tape, but wouldn't you know it: The WMC thinks that's not good enough.

A spokesman for the state's largest business group said Wisconsin companies are reluctant to join Green Tier because they don't think the payoff is good enough, according to Bergquist's eye-opening story.

"The business community views it as something that has a lot of promise and value," said Scott Manley, director of environmental policy at Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce.

"But we think there needs to be better incentives to drive participation."

In other words, the WMC wants what...subsidies, direct payments, tax breaks, or other forms of what it would probably call welfare or handouts from the nanny-state if other entities or people were asking for..."better incentives?"

We all breathe the same air, drink the water system, and generally enjoy or struggle with the same environment - - regardless of whether we are rich or poor, consumer or producer, retailer or customer.

This WMC's "us-first" attitude is mirrored by the Waukesha Chamber of Commerce's opposition to Wisconsin's adoption of the Great Lakes Compact - - a regional and cooperative agreement to conserve Great Lakes water - - because the business group thinks, erroneously, that the Compact should be first about Waukesha County, and secondarily about an eight-state, two-province, international region of 40 million people.

(Side note: For months, the Waukesha Chamber's website, linked here, again, incorrectly states that Canada could veto a Waukesha community's water diversion plan.
Canada's Great Lakes provinces have only an advisory role, without a veto, but the Chamber won't correct the posting. I guess the incentive just isn't there.)

So ask yourself: Who is projecting a negative image in all this?

Is it the state, or is the WMC and its Waukesha County counterpart?

Former Madison Mayor Paul Soglin has been vigilant in cataloguing the WMC's whining. Here's a sample.

1 comment:

Jack Lohman said...

What is puzzling to me is that WMC refuses to get behind the Miller-Benedict single-payer Health Security Act, which is the best thing that could happen to Wisconsin businesses (and the public as well). But a look at its membership list finds the very insurance companies that are benefitting from the massive but profitable inefficiencies.

Where are the heads of the non-insurance business leaders that they allow one contingency of the WMC to rip off the other? They should be putting massive pressure on WMC, or find another trade group.