Promoting quiet recreation in Wisconsin.
Opposing the coming attempts to sell off Wisconsin's natural heritage.
Fighting denial about climate change. When are we hitting the streets?

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Taking down Billboards

5 years ago, Sao Paulo, Brazil  removed all billboards from the city.  Apparently, people like the law.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

December Quiet Hunting

This is the quiet hunting season in the Northwoods-just enough snow to ski, and the Snowmobile trails aren't yet open.  You don't have to go out far to away from human sound.

I couldn't find my waxless skis, so I took out the old Asnes and headed out to the Lumberjack trail, hoping that whatever I had on the bottoms would work on a day that seemed warm and cold at the same time.   The description of the trail as "ungroomed" is not accurate-it is often groomed by some guy with big boots and several large dogs (Or, some guy being stalked by several large wolves maybe) and by the random skier or snowshoer.  You takes your chances.  

Chances went my way today-the Sun was shining, the glide wasn't great, but I wasn't sticking or slipping, and it was absolutely still and peaceful.  

The Wisconsin Hunter Heritage Bill is Government Social Engineering

The purpose of the bill is to "recruit" hunters, anglers, and trappers, since interest in these pastimes is declining among young people.

But one might ask: "why is it the government's job to nudge people into doing something they don't want to do? Maybe young people just want to play World of Warcraft instead."   And the answer is: to meet important social goals.  We need hunters and trappers to manage animal populations, and we need people outdoors in order to build an ethic of caring for the land.

In other words: Government Social Engineering.   Nothing wrong with that, but the same logic applies when we nudge people to use public transportation and more efficient vehicles.    There are things the government can do to "get" people to do what they wouldn't do otherwise.

The Sports Heritage Bill and Laws that encourage energy efficiency may be well designed or poorly designed, but you can't be in favor of one and criticize the other merely because it is "social engineering"

Friday, December 09, 2011

Crapping up Wisconsin, continued

This looks very bad, but its about what we could expect:

-The DNR would have to approve or deny an iron mine application within 360 days of deeming the application complete. Current state law doesn't lay out a deadline.
--Contested case hearings on DNR permitting decisions would be eliminated. The hearings allow testimony and cross-examination in a quasi-judicial setting; they've been a crucial recourse for conservationists in the past.
--No one who isn't directly injured by a mining operation could bring a lawsuit challenging DNR permit enforcement or alleging violations of mining laws.
--The DNR would have to issue a mining water withdrawal permit even if the applicant can't show the withdrawals won't hurt the public welfare or the quantity or quality of state waters if the agency decides the mine's public benefits exceed the harm.
--Half of the revenue from a state tax on ore sales would go back to the state's general fund. Currently all the money from the tax is distributed to local governments where the ore is mined.
--The bill acknowledges mining will probably result in "adverse impacts" to wetlands but presumes it's necessary.

Its hard to imagine any case under rules like these in which a permit wouldn't have to be granted.    Fortunately, mining companies generally act as good environmental stewards of the land, even without strong oversight, right?

Thursday, December 08, 2011

The Republican Franchise means you make the burgers the Koch way

Via, Joe Romm, a great article in the National Journal on why so many Republican politicians-including Presidential candidates- have changed their minds on global warming and became deniers at the same time the evidence for climate change became even more certain.

The answer: The Koch-financed Americans for Prosperity:

"What it means for candidates on the Republican side is, if you … buy into green energy or you play footsie on this issue, you do so at your political peril. The vast majority of people who are involved in the [Republican] nominating process—the conventions and the primaries—are suspect of the science. And that’s our influence. Groups like Americans for Prosperity have done it.”
As I said, in order to be a Republican candidate, you are told exactly what positions you will take.   While on some level those positions are "ideological", that isn't the case with global warming. This is purely about supporting the interests of the Koch brothers and others like them over the interests of the market and the people of the United States.  Simply put, there is no free market right to pollute.

The clearest and most "free market" way to deal with Global Warming pollution would be through a carbon tax in order to create incentives for developing the most efficient market alternatives. Money from the tax would could be funneled back to those, like long distance truckers, most effected by the tax.

The second most "free market" way would be through a cap and trade system.  Paradoxically, the Reagan administration proposed the second idea, and Al Gore something like the first.

But Republicans today oppose both.   The reason they oppose both is that they know the kind of blizzard that would come down on them if they did.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Walker Strategy number two: Blame the poor

You are spending tons of  money from your corporate handlers on television commercials, but the commoners are still signing recall petitions.   Even in the hinterlands!   Pretty soon, those friends of yours are going to wonder whether you are up to running their Wisconsin franchise.

So what do you do?  Shout "Look! Over there! Poor people!"  

Poor people do scam the system.  So do rich people.  Here is the difference: The scams performed by the wealthy put the country in a recession, nearly brought down the wold economy, required secret bailouts, and still netted the scammers obscene profits and bonuses 

 Another difference between poor people scams and rich people scams is that when the wealthy get caught, they know their army of lawyers will force the government to settle without even admitting wrongdoing .