I was going to leave this alone. Honestly. I really wasn't planning on touching it. But then Mike Mathias and James Rowen had to stir the embers, and so here we go.
Last Saturday, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel printed a story of Walker's grandstanding on next year's budget. Walker probably figures he has to start early, since Governor Doyle just outdid the Republicans in the budget fix.
James Rowen points out that Walker is just trying to take advantage of the poor economy to advance his privatization schemes and set up his gubernatorial campaign. I particularly want to point out one of the comments on James' post, which reads:
Naomi Klein called privatization opportunities that take advantage of budget crises, natural disasters, and terrorist attacks the Shock Doctrine. It gave us such wonderful things as Enron, Bechtel (privatized water in Bolivia), the war profiteering of Halliburton and Blackwater, and boondoggles such as the Department of Homeland Security. Our "friend" Mr. Walker is simply looking to re-create this on a local basis; use disaster capitalism to provide less services for more money, redistributing wealth upwards.
Mike Mathias goes into greater detail, pointing out the shoddy reporting done by Steve Schultze.
There are two points I would add to the arguments of these two fine gentlemen.
One is the part of the article which reads (emphasis mine):
"Anywhere and everywhere, they should be considering contracting out" so services can be provided at less cost, Walker said in an interview. That's been his mantra since he took office, one that he re-emphasized during his successful re-election campaign this year.
This doesn't jive with what MJS reported back in 2002, after Walker won his first election:
Meanwhile, he has repeatedly said he will not look to turning large chunks of county government over to the private sector. Nevertheless, he can expect battles from the county's labor unions, most of which backed his opponents - first Milwaukee Ald. Tom Nardelli, then Ryan.
The other part from Schultze's article is this (again emphasis mine):
The airport deal won't be ready for the 2009 county budget, Walker said in an interview. The other ideas could come up for '09, along with contracting for fleet maintenance and economic support workers. He didn't provide details.
There are two problems with this. First, it is against state statutes for the intake part of economic support work to be done by any body but a government agency. Of course, stuff like that never slowed Walker down before.
The other issue is whether this would be a wise idea. We have seen all sorts of problems with W-2 and how it's been administered by private agencies. Or have people already forgotten about this.
Fortunately, as Mike points out, even some of his supporters on the County Board are starting to make noises that they're tired of Walker's stunts. I'm sure Walker would just call it bridge building, like he promised in his latest inaugural speech.
ADDENDUM: Even the Brawler has stirred himself from his hiatus to comment on the issue.