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Middle Wisconsin News February 2013


“We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.”
— Aldo Leopold A Sand County Almanac (1948) Madison, WI

Editor’s Note.............................. 1 Mining Bill Email Thread ...... 2 Healing Democracy .............. 6 A People’s Guide ................. 7 Defense Statistics ................ 8 Class Consciousness ........... 9 Broken Hearts .................... 10 Mass Shootings ................. 11 Challenging the Myth ......... 12

Editor’s Note
In Aldo Leopold’s spirit of community — both for one another and for the cherished lands and waters of our state — we open this February edition with the thoughts and concerns of a Northwoods native, Susan Sommer. Ms. Sommer is the attorney who ran against (and unfortunately lost to) Republican Senator Tom Tiffany in the November 2012 elections. Ms. Sommer speaks to us from the heart as both a concerned resident of northern Wisconsin and an attorney who has studied the proposed GOP mining bill (AB1/SB1). We’ve printed a series of email communications that took place between Attorney Sommer and Rep. Scott Suder (see pp. 2–5). She expresses her concern that the proposed bill would receive only one hearing, and that it would be in Madison. (One would certainly think something so threatening to the environment of the Northwoods would merit a local hearing.) This email thread illustrates how the current rush by Republican senators and representatives to pass an environmentally unsound mining bill utterly ignores the wisdom of Aldo Leopold, former professor at the University of Wisconsin, author, scientist, ecologist, forester, and environmentalist. It also displays either the ignorance Rep. Suder and fellow Republican legislators Rep. Mary Williams, Sen. Tom Tiffany, Rep. Mark Honadel, and Rep. Rob Swearingen have of the very legislation they have signed, or their complete lack of concern for our state and its people. Either way, it’s a troubling commentary. It should be noted that although Attorney Sommer’s original email was sent to Rep. Williams and Sen. Tiffany and was merely carbon-copied (CC’d) to Rep. Suder and the others, neither Williams nor Tiffany responded as of the date of this printing. Rep. Suder was the only one to reply.

Middle Wisconsin News welcomes letters, articles, and essays on relevant topics. We ask that you limit submissions to 800 words and provide sources when appropriate. Submissions may be edited for length, clarity, and taste. Emailed submissions should be sent in plain text or Microsoft Word attachments to:


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Middle Wisconsin News
State Legislators Refuse to Hold Local Hearing on Mining Bill
“Our well-being, indeed our future as a species, depends on restoring our relationships to one another and with the land, the water, the sky, and the other generative resources of nature that indigenous people traditionally considered it their obligation to hold and manage in sacred trust.” — David Korten In the foreword to Owning Our Future by Marjorie Kelly owning-our-futuremarjorie-kelly

February 2013 Page 2

A Northwoods Resident’s Email Thread

From: Susan Sommer Sent: Monday, January 21, 2013 9:30 AM To: Rep.WilliamsM; Sen.Tiffany Cc: Rep.Honadel; Rep.Suder; Rep.Swearingen; Susan Sommer Subject: FW: GOP mining bill will get single hearing in Madison, none in northern Wisconsin

This is extremely disappointing [Editor’s Note: This statement is in reference to an article in the Wisconsin State Journal (see Ms. Sommer’s link provided at the end of her email) which reports that the proposed mining bill, AB1/SB1, will receive only one hearing to be held in Madison.] (although, sadly, not unexpected), especially in light of the statements the four of you (Tiffany, Suder, Honadel, Williams) repeated several times during the 1/16/13 press conference about the “open and transparent” process that you insist has been part of the iron mining bill. Your decision to hold one hearing in Madison is unacceptable. Despite your ethical obligations to represent the will of the people, you have failed to do that in setting only one hearing on AB1/SB1, and in choosing Madison as the place to hold the hearing. When you are elected, you represent ALL of us, not just a particular party or party agenda and certainly not special interests or corporate interests. I encourage you to fulfill your duties to the people of your districts and of our State. In Service, Susan Sommer Phelps, WI 12th State Senate District 34th Assembly District 715-891-8318

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Continued on p. 3

Middle Wisconsin News
Mining Bill Email Thread — Continued
From: To: Subject: RE: GOP mining bill will get single hearing in Madison, none in northern Wisconsin Date: Wed, 23 Jan 2013 18:23:02 +0000 Dear Susan,

February 2013 Page 3

Thank you for taking the time to contact me about the recently introduced mining legislation. I understand that you may have some concerns with this legislation, and I would like to take some time to clear up some misconceptions that you may believe to be true. This is going to be a hotly debated issue, and it is important to have all the facts before making claims. First, the public has not been cut out of the process in any way and has been actively invited to participate. This bill has been in the public’s eye for over two years. There have been numerous hearings throughout the state where the public has been asked to share their input. There will also be hearing today in Madison where, once again, the public will be able to share their ideas. Also, the public will be represented by their respective elected representatives when this legislation is debated on the Assembly and Senate floors. Second, this bill does not lessen any of Wisconsin’s environmental standards and strictly adheres to the public trust requirements. The standards required for obtaining a mining permit are based on the same standards that are being enforced today. The bill does tweak the permitting process, but the environmental standards will not be rolled back. In fact, there are many provisions of this bill that were put in place to protect the environment against mining waste. For example, before a company starts mining they will be required to do a very thorough analysis of rock composition to ensure that unused material is disposed of properly. It also requires water quality standards to be monitored before, during and after mining operations. In short, the proposed bill does not change any air quality standards, water quality standards, ground water standards, or drinking water standards. I understand how important Wisconsin’s natural resources are, and I have made sure that this bill continues to protect them. Third, mining companies will not have free rein over the information they are required to provide. In fact, it would be against a mining company’s best interest to not provide complete and accurate information. When a mining company submits their application it is up to the DNR to make sure that the application contains all of the required information. An applicant must provide all necessary information or the DNR can deny their request. Furthermore, the bill does not lessen environmental regulations nor is it a gift to out-of-state mining companies. This proposal utilizes Wisconsin’s natural resources in an environmentally responsible manner and will provide citizens with needed job opportunities. Creating jobs in Wisconsin will give individuals, like you, a great opportunity to prosper. With so much at stake, the residents of Wisconsin deserve a factual debate about the environmental aspects of the proposed legislation and I appreciate you affording me the opportunity to share those with you. Sincerely, Representative Scott Suder Majority Leader 69th Assembly District

Continued on p. 4

Middle Wisconsin News

February 2013 Page 4

Mining Bill Email Thread —

From: Susan Sommer <> To: Cc:;; Sent: Wed, January 23, 2013 4:09 PM Subject: RE: GOP mining bill will get single hearing in Madison, none in northern Wisconsin

Representative Suder, Thank you for the courtesy of your reply. I appreciate your time. I have more than "some" concerns about AB1/SB1. I have been studying, researching, writing and speaking about the mining issue facing our State since May 2011. I have no misconceptions. AB1/SB1 speak loudly to the truth of their intent. I have been collecting the facts for a long time now. This bill, AB1/SB1, has not been in the public's eye for over two years. This bill was first available online shortly after your 1/16/2013 press conference. The hearing in Madison today on this new bill is inadequate to address the concerns of the citizens throughout our entire state. The fact that the public's respective elected representatives will represent them when the legislation is debated on the Assembly and Senate floors is of little consolation when this bill is clearly partisan in nature. The public cannot rest assured that its interests will be protected or represented by legislators who vote along party lines and on behalf of party agendas. This bill most certainly lessens Wisconsin's strong environmental standards. Here are some of the ways: 1. S. 295.40 (7) of the Legislative Findings states: "That because of the fixed location of ferrous mineral deposits in the state, it is probable that mining those deposits will result in adverse impacts to wetlands and that, therefore, the use of wetlands for bulk sampling and mining activities, including the disposal or storage of mining wastes or materials, or the use of other lands for mining activities that would have a significant adverse impact on wetlands, is presumed to be necessary." 2. The bill redefines "sulfide ore body" so as to exclude ferrous mining from the concerns surrounding the mining, or disturbing of, sulfide ore bodies. See ss. 293.50(1)(b), 293.50 (2), (2)(a), (2)(b). 3. The bill redefines "unsuitability" to exclude archaeological areas and "other lands designated by the DNR." Legis. Council Memo dated 1/14/2013, p. 15. s. 295.41(46) This new definition allows the DNR to grant a mining permit in areas that our current law protects. s. 295.58(2)(a) 4. Under current law, the DNR may or may not grant an exemption from the requirements of the metallic mining law (under specific circumstances). This bill "requires the DNR to grant an exemption if the request is consistent with the purposes of the iron mining statutes, will not violate other environmental laws, and will either not result in significant adverse environmental impacts, or such adverse impacts will be offset through mitigation." Legis. Council Memo dated 1/14/2013, p. 15-16. 5. Current law expressly prohibits the filling in of lake beds. s. 293.13(2)(d)4. This bill eliminates this specific prohibition. Legis. Council Memo dated 1/14/2013, p. 28. Continued on p. 5

Middle Wisconsin News

February 2013 Page 5

I'd like to know what you saw and felt when you walked The Range over the weekend of January 11, 2013, Representative Suder. What understanding did you obtain firsthand of the land and the waters there, of our natural resources in that area of this great State?

Mining Bill Email Thread —

Continued Your third point is not entirely accurate. The bill imposes a confidentiality requirement on the DNR and state geologist regarding information the mining company provides them. Legis. Council Memo, 1/14/2013, p. 4. The bill modifies the requirements for the applicant’s mining plan. For example, the mining company (the applicant) does not have to provide information regarding the nature and depth of the overburden. Legis. Council Memo, 1/14/2013, p. 12. Of great concern is the fact that although the bill retains the standard prohibiting violations of groundwater quality standards in regard to backfilling of excavations, it “removes a standard prohibiting an adverse effect on public health or welfare.” Legis. Council Memo, 1/14/2013, p. 12.
In regard to your final point, I have explained above how the bill does weaken environmental regulations. I disagree with your conclusion that the bill is not a gift to out-of-state mining companies. The folks who spoke this morning on behalf of Gogebic Taconite were quite clear on what they expected of Wisconsin if we want their business. Do not presume to tell me what I opportunities I need to prosper. I grew up in Rhinelander. I was blessed to move back here in 2008 with my husband. We came without work willing to live with less because we have so much more here in the Northwoods. We know the realities of trying to find work up here, of low paying jobs, of struggling economies, of unaffordable health insurance. But we choose to live here because this place offers us something beyond finances. Come visit us sometime, Representative Suder. Let me show you what I mean. As a former prosecuting attorney and now a lawyer in private practice, my work has always been about the facts. I do not tolerate exaggeration, misinformation, or obfuscation of the truth. I have seen that happen with politicians as well as with folks representing environmental groups, mining companies, businesses, and special interests. Ultimately, Representative Suder, we are all in this together. The Penokee Range is our common ground. The laws of this great State are our common thread. You are an elected official. You represent all of us. It is incumbent upon you to do your work and to do it well. There is a lot more at stake here than rushing through a bill because of some perceived but unproven goal. In Service, Susan Sommer Phelps, WI 715-891-8318 Attorney Sommer's has submitted a written testimony to the assembly and senate committees concerning the proposed mining bill, which provides a more complete analysis of the legislation: For more information on Attorney Susan Sommer, please see her bio:

Middle Wisconsin News

February 2013 Page 6

Healing the Heart of Democracy
The Courage to Create a Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit
A Book Review by Virginia Kirsch – Wausau Democracy is messy, no doubt about it. It is said to be the worst form of government, until you look at all the others. A totalitarian government keeps order at the expense of suppressing citizen involvement. Dissent is pushed under the surface. Democracy’s foundation rests on citizen involvement. Parker Palmer’s most recent book, Healing the Heart of Democracy, is about involving ourselves in the day-to-day operation of a democracy. In the Old World, a king would settle an issue with a royal decree. The founders of our American democracy chose another way, a system of checks and balances. This form of government was intended to hold the tension in any conflict over time, allowing human creativity to enter the discussion. The founding fathers gave us a system which would “provide a framework in which the salient questions could continue to be debated” (p. 75). This form would allow us to keep the tension in any conflict alive in order to energize the citizens for their input. Here are key structures of our American democracy:
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“Rightly understood, politics is no game at all. It is the ancient and honorable human endeavor of creating a community in which the weak as well as the strong can flourish, love and power can collaborate, and justice and mercy can have their day.”
— Parker Palmer Author Healing the Heart of Democracy

The federal system separates the powers of administrative, legislative, and judicial branches of government. This system of checks and balances holds issues in tension. The federal and state authorities are separate, allowing both levels to continually sort out issues. Our system of justice holds tension between the attorneys for the plaintiff and the defense, as well as the judge and jury. Every constitutional amendment in the Bill of Rights was intended to limit the powers of the federal government and hold the tensions. Elections are intended to draw voters into the tension of debate, allowing them to settle an issue. The cycle of elections continues.

The founding fathers hoped to avoid settling issues with violence. The American system “can and does try our souls. It frustrates, maddens, exhausts, and appalls us when big problems go unsolved because we cannot muster enough agreement to solve them or when problems we thought we had put to rest are called back into play” (p. 76). The U.S. Constitution is a “life-giving set of principles and practices in part because it makes final solutions impossible” (p. 76). The day we reach a Final Solution is the day our democracy dies.

Parker Palmer
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Today’s challenge is for citizens to be actively involved, to take responsibility and study the issues, and to share their perspective. Parker Palmer’s book can help us develop habits of the heart required for a healthy political system.

Middle Wisconsin News

February 2013 Page 7

A People’s Guide to the Federal Budget
A Book Review by Phillip Anderson – Maple Are you confused by the budget debate? Lost in the contradictory numbers? Tired of the political posturing? Angry that the news media doesn’t provide information or perspective to help you understand what is going on? Don’t care because it is all “just politics”? Well there is a great, little book that can help.

As Americans, we possess the inherent power to change our government, and the course of our history— but we can’t do that unless we understand exactly what is going on.

A People’s Guide to the Federal Budget, by the National Priorities Project, provides all the information you need to understand what is going on with the federal budget. It can make you into an informed citizen able to sift though the half-truths from the media and the politicians. And it is short, quick, and easy to read. Why should you care? Because, as the first chapter points out, the federal budget affects all of us in our daily lives. Even though 57% of Americans think they have never used a government program, 94% of them actually have used some federally funded program. If you have ever driven on a federal highway, you have benefited from federal spending. The current budget debate in Congress, and the misinformation surrounding this battle, is going to make a big difference in your future. The book is especially good at defining the terms involved. What is the “discretionary” budget? What is the difference between the national “debt” and the “deficit“? But it also provides an easy-to-understand explanation of the economics and history of the budget. It describes the budgeting process. Importantly, it discusses taxes (where the money comes from), spending (where it goes), and the debt (how we fill the gap between the first two). This basic background information is something every citizen should know. This book lets you sort out the lies, contradictory statistics, and political rhetoric from the budget reality. There is one topic where the book could be improved. Much of the current budget debate involves so called “entitlement reform.” This refers to cutting Social Security and Medicare to balance the budget. The book correctly points out that Social Security is part of “mandatory” spending rather than the “discretionary” budget that Congress can change. The book is weak on making the importance of this distinction clear. These programs are trust funds, separately funded (except for Part D of Medicare), and can not be used to fund other programs. It is incorrect to suggest that cuts to Social Security and Medicare benefits will help balance the budget. The last chapter is on taking action. In a democracy, we are the government and the budget is our spending plan. It establishes our priorities as a society. As Barbara Ehrenreich says in the foreword to the book, in the political debate over budget issues, “There’s much disagreement about what the role of government should be, and what the federal government can afford. You may well disagree with my priorities. But agree or disagree, you and I should understand what is in this book.” Ask for it at your local library or go to This website has great information and tools as well.

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Middle Wisconsin News
Defense Statistics
By Jeanne Larson – Phillips

February 2013 Page 8

"Does the number of warships we have, and are building, really put America at risk, when the U.S. battle fleet is larger than the next 13 navies combined — 11 of which are our partners and allies? Is it a dire threat that by 2020, the United States will have only 20 times more advanced stealth fighters than China? These are the kinds of questions Eisenhower asked as commanderin-chief. They are the kinds of questions I believe he would ask today." — Robert Gates Former Secretary of Defense under George W. Bush and Barack Obama

An overview of a report entitled “Comparative Defense Statistics,” released by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) discusses the level of military spending by various nations. Consider the following numbers provided in this report, indicating the top 10 national defense budgets in billions of dollars for 2011:

U.S.. . . . . . . . . . . . . .$739.3 China . . . . . . . . . . . . $89.8 United Kingdom . . . $62.7 France . . . . . . . . . . . $58.8 Japan . . . . . . . . . . . . $58.4 Russia . . . . . . . . . . . . $52.7 Saudi Arabia . . . . . . .$46.2 Germany . . . . . . . . . .$44.2 India . . . . . . . . . . . . . $37.3 Brazil . . . . . . . . . . . . .$36.6

Aol Defense, in “The Military Imbalance: How the U.S. Outspends the World,” discusses criticisms of the IISS report. For example, the Chinese and Russian defense budgets do not include all defense-related spending; however, neither is all U.S. defense-related spending included. Aol Defense would add these non-Department of Defense (DOD) costs to the U.S.’s $739.3 billion: $20 billion military retirement paid by Treasury Department (DOD pays less than half of annual military retirement costs); military aid to countries like Israel and Pakistan (under International Affairs Budget); Department of Homeland Security; veterans’ care paid by Department of Veterans Affairs; plus a share of interest on the national debt, totaling about $1 trillion for 2011. See the article for discussion of “purchasing power parity” (PPP), an attempt to equalize the value of a dollar of spending in each country. Setting aside the criticisms, comparing the IISS numbers as listed, the total of the next nine top defense spenders comes to roughly two-thirds the U.S. amount. Also consider that it makes more sense to compare U.S. spending to that of its potential opponents – say China and Russia – whose combined total is $142.5 billion. Then to $142.5 billion, add the defense budgets of Syria, Iran, North Korea, Somalia, or any other potential opponents. It won’t change the big picture. None of those countries breaks the $10 billion barrier in defense spending. Every year the U.S. spends roughly five times the total of what all these potential opponents spend. Contact Representative Sean Duffy (202-225-3364), Senator Ron Johnson (202-224-5323), and Senator Tammy Baldwin (202-224-5653). Tell them unnecessary defense spending is crippling the U.S. and defense cuts should be part of the debt debate.

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Middle Wisconsin News
Working Wisconsin – Labor News & Views

February 2013 Page 9

Class Consciousness
By John Spiegelhoff – Merrill
“Power concedes nothing without a demand; it never has and it never will.” — Fredrick Douglas, Abolitionist & Social Reformer

“We want more school houses and less jails; more books and less arsenals; more learning and less vice; more constant work and less crime; more leisure and less greed; more justice and less revenge. These are the demands made by labor upon modern society and in their consideration is involved the fate of civilization.” — Samuel Gompers (1850–1924) Founder of the American Federation of Labor wiki/Samuel_Gompers

I often wondered what happened to the Occupy Movement that was so prominent a few years ago. The encampments that sprung up in major metropolitan cities bringing attention to the widening inequality gap between the extremely wealthy (the 1%) and the rest of us (the 99%). What, if anything, did this brief visible public display accomplish? Looking back on the Occupy Movement, I would submit that it accomplished quite a lot. The Occupy Movement thrust into America’s consciousness the following:
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That our financial system is rigged for the wealthy. It is not a free market but rather a market for the 1%. That there are few “haves” who own most of the wealth in this country. The majority of us struggle to make ends meet. That the capitalistic and political system we have favors the wealthy and gives back little in return to the workers who are truly the profit makers. That corporate greed has infiltrated the very nature of our society. That our legislators are shills for the wealthy and corporations. That the 1% believe that workers are simply “resources” analogous to the raw materials that simply can be replaced at a cheaper cost.

The beautiful result of the Occupy Movement is that it created a feeling of class consciousness. A collective feeling that we are all workers, we are in this together, and we need to do something about the inequalities in this country. A collective voice that shouts we will not tolerate being treated as raw materials; we are human beings. A collective voice that demands dignity, respect, and fairness. Our efforts are starting to pay off. The wealthy are starting to pay more of their fair share as evidenced by the fiscal cliff (curb) negotiations. Corporate welfare must end for companies who ship jobs overseas, and there must be a demand to manufacture goods in America. There is an increasing public awareness that corporations have a moral obligation to give back to a country that has made them wealthy. Our legislators must now be accountable to WE THE PEOPLE and not corporations. Although the Occupy Movement is not headline news, it has certainly created a movement for social justice. History clearly shows us that change only comes when we collectively stick together and demand things from those in power. Solidarity Forever!

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Middle Wisconsin News
Our Hearts Are Broken – Our Spirit Is Not
By Joyce Luedke – Hayward
“Our hearts are broken; our spirit is not,” acknowledged Rob Cox, one of the co-founders of the non-profit, Sandy Hook Promise ( He goes on to say, “Newtown must not be remembered as the town filled with grief and victims, but as a place where real change began.” He is joined by other parents from Newtown, Connecticut, who have come together knowing that “we can no longer do nothing.” He continues: “We know we need a holistic approach to turn the tide on gun violence.” “We can change laws, but we also have to change attitudes.” He urges us to sign on to the Sandy Hook Promise, which asks participants to “do everything I can to encourage and support common sense solutions that make my community and our country safer from similar acts of violence.” Another co-founder, Tom Bittman, outlined three points the organization hopes to advance as the national discussion ensues: gun responsibility, mental health, and making public spaces safer. Other groups are coming to the forefront to add their voices, clout, and money to the issue of gun violence and responsibility in this country. On January 8, 2013, Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, announced the formation of Americans for Responsible Solutions PAC: Goals for this Super Pac: launch a national dialogue and raise funds to counter the influence of the gun lobby. They hope to raise $20 million by the 2014 elections. Americans for Responsible Solutions is advocating for universal background checks to close the gun show loophole and a ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines. Facebook is the primary social network used by Americans for Responsible Solutions. 10, 2013 and

February 2013 Page 10

Shannon Watts, one of the founders, states: “An internal alarm has sounded in mothers across the nation. This bell cannot be silenced.” She goes on to say, “No more dependence on the actions of others; it is time as mothers to rise up as a collective force and demand action on gun control.” State and local chapters are being formed across the country. 1mm4GC has organized a silent march on Washington, DC, on January 26, 2013. Other marches are scheduled in cities across the United States on that same day. The goals of One Million Moms for Gun Control are: *Ban assault weapons and ammunition magazines of more than 10 rounds *Require background checks for all gun purchases *Report the sale of large quantities of ammunition to the AFT *Limit the scope of concealed weapons laws at the state level Pledge 26 Americans for Safe Schools is another Super PAC formed in memory of the 26 people massacred at Sandy Hook. This is a citizens’ campaign to match NRA dollar for dollar in 2014. The website asks donors to pledge $26. Another PAC, Mother’s Against Gun Violence, has also filed papers but little is known of this group to date. Mother’s Against Gun Violence in Milwaukee is an organization trying to stop the violence; www.milwaukee Against Gun Violence has Memorial Pages for each year starting in 1999 on their website. Listed on the Memorial Pages are the homicides in the city and county of Milwaukee including the name, date, and place of the homicide.

New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, has a Super Pac, Independence USA PAC, and a nonprofit organization, Mayors Against Illegal Guns Action Fund. He has also pledged his own money to This is Gabrielle Giffords’ statement: “Two years ago, a mentally ill bring reforms to gun laws. young man shot me in the head, killed six of my constituents, and The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence is advising the wounded twelve others. Since that terrible day, Americans have White House on gun safety reform. Dan Gross is the president. seen eleven more mass shootings—but no response from Congress to prevent gun violence. After the massacre of 20 children The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence seeks “to secure freeand six of their teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary though, it’s dom from gun violence through research, strategic engagement clear. This time must be different.” and effective policy advocacy.” The CSGV has 48 national organizaWatson/2013.01/11/ gabby-giffords-new-firearms-reform-pactions with members from religious organizations, child welfare goes-viral/ As she told Diane Sawyer on ABC news, “Enough.” For advocates, public health professionals, and social justice organizamore information on Gabrielle Gifford, see: tions. story/opinion/2013/01/07/gabby-giffords-mark-kelly-tusconIn his Inaugural Address, President Obama addressed specifically shooting-gun-control the responsibility of us, the citizens of the United States, to be One Million Moms for Gun Control is a grassroots organization activists. May we all do our part to assure that even though “the formed after the horrific shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in heart is broken, the spirit is not.” Let us do our part to work with Newtown, Connecticut. one or more of these groups to end the senseless slaughter of innocents.

Middle Wisconsin News

February 2013 Page 11

Action Now on Mass Shootings
By Phillip Anderson – Maple The mass killings in Connecticut demand serious action. Grieving for the victims and consoling their families is not enough. We must turn our shock and grief into action. Gun violence is a complicated issue and will not be solved by gun control alone. But we should not allow the complexity and difficulty of the task to prevent taking sensible action. We can begin to move in the right direction now. Sensible action will include regulation of gun sales and ownership. But it must also include dealing with our pervasive culture of violence and inadequate mental health services. There must be a comprehensive, long-term, national effort on both of these fronts if we are to have any hope of preventing future school or other workplace shootings. We can not allow the gun lobby to continue to dictate public policy on these issues. The National Rifle Association (NRA) would have us move in the wrong direction by arming everyone. Making our society into an armed camp is not the solution. Fortifying our schools is not the answer. Arming teachers is not the answer. None of these phony “solutions” is conducive to an effective educational environment. All would create huge costs for local school districts. Arming people does nothing to change our culture of violence and the glorification of violent solutions to problems that is the ultimate root cause of the problem. Gun control is the sensible place to begin. Gun control can be enacted under the 2nd amendment. It says “a well regulated militia…“ which leaves plenty of room for gun control. But gun control must be comprehensive to work. There are too many unregistered, unregulated guns in our society. Comprehensive gun control should include the following:

“Thank you for inviting me. This is an important conversation for our children, for our communities, for Democrats and Republicans. Speaking is difficult but I need to say something important. Violence is a big problem. Too many children are dying. Too many children. We must do something. It will be hard, but the time is now. You must act. Be bold, be courageous. Americans are counting on you. Thank you. “ — Gabrielle Gifford Former U.S. Representative (D–Arizona) Shooting victim

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Outlawing assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines. I am a gun owner and hunter. No one needs these for hunting. More than 5-round capacity is dangerous to everyone. Instituting buy-back programs to reduce the number of guns. No registration program will work with 300 million guns already out there. Requiring registration of all guns. Every gun must have a title, and no gun can be sold anywhere without transfer of that title. Licensing all gun owners. No one owns or uses a gun without a license that requires training, a background check, a mental health check, etc. Making hunting licenses require gun registration and owner licensing. This provides teeth to make people register their guns. Ensuring that a conviction for a violent crime or for failing to uphold a restraining order results in revocation of gun privileges. Repealing concealed carry and “stand-your-ground” laws. If necessary, due to the failure to enact the policies above, repealing the 2nd amendment.

Testifying before Congress January 30, 2013
© 2013 Middle W is c ons in

Achieving any of these objectives will be difficult. The effort will require a huge grassroots uprising to demand change. Like Mothers Against Drunk Driving, people need to get in the face of their elected officials and stay there until the job is done. Civil rights and women’s suffrage took many decades. Changing our violent society must be a long-term effort as well.

Middle Wisconsin News

February 2013 Page 12

“And if all others accepted the lie which the party imposed— if all records told the same tale— then the lie passed into history and became the truth.”
— George Orwell 1984 (published in 1949)

The Myth That Public Employee Pay Is the Cause of Our Economic Problems
By Dave Svetlik – Mosinee

Many Middle Wisconsin Newsletter readers living in the central part of the state are aware that throughout the month of January, the Wausau Daily Herald, a Gannett newspaper, dedicated its Sunday edition to covering public employee salaries. This included publishing the names and pay levels of area school teachers and university and technical college instructors. It is unclear what the Wausau Daily Herald hoped to accomplish with this action, but their reporting did prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that at a state average of $55,000 plus benefits, teachers and professors are absolutely guilty of earning a living wage. The underlying tone, of course, is that this is a problem in need of correction since earning a living wage has become increasingly difficult for private sector workers since the 1980s. But it is stagnating private sector pay – not teacher (or other public employee) salaries – that is the issue. Ignoring this results in falsely blaming public employees for all that has gone wrong, pits community members against one another, and destroys any sense of the common good. Though not likely the intent of the Wausau Daily Herald, it is classic “divide and conquer.” Our attention is directed toward undermining one another, and the true culprits behind our economic woes continue to manipulate and exploit. The real concern we should be addressing is, How did it become possible for the income of the single highest paid hedge fund manager in 2011 – taxed at 15% (not to mention offshore tax havens) – to exceed the pay of all Wisconsin public school teachers combined? “Raymond Dalio's fund, Bridgewater Associates, manages a total of $120 billion in assets, while the hedge fund unit manages $70 billion. Dalio was able to make $3.9 billion for himself last year.” — The Motley Fool There are just under 60,000 public school teachers in Wisconsin. 60,000 teachers  55,000 / teacher $3.3 billion


It is difficult to wrap one’s mind around such gross inequity. So it bears repeating: One hedge fund manager makes $600 million more than 60,000 Wisconsin teachers combined — and pays at a lower tax rate. And this is truly just the tip of the Wall Street iceberg. Why on earth are we even talking about public sector pay?

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