By Ruth Conniff on February 13, 2013

In his speech today to the state's biggest business lobby, Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, Governor Scott Walker got a big round of applause when he announced his plan to make 75,878 people go through mandatory job training in order to receive food stamps.

Another applause line: Walker's announcement that the state won't accept $65 million in federal dollars to expand Medicaid coverage for the poor.

During the speech to business lobbyists, the Governor's office tweeted out the Power Point detailing Walker's modest proposal: "From Dependence to Independence -- Entitlement Reform in WI. See the Power Point I presented today."

The power point presentation should have been called "How Food and Medical Care Make the Poor Lazy."

Walker's proposals are a particularly cruel joke given his abysmal job-creation record. Wisconsin ranks at the bottom of the region for job growth. And siphoning millions into job-training for nonexistent jobs won't make those numbers budge. Neither will turning away Federal funds to expand Medicaid. That measure, in addition to leaving poor people without health care, will cost the state jobs in the health care sector.

Hard to see how this is a winning proposal.

But the business lobbyists ate it up.

Melanie Conklin, a staffer for Democratic assembly leader Peter Barca, tweeted as Walker joked to the WMC crowd that repealing collective bargaining rights for public employees "caused a little ruckus a couple years ago, if I remember."

High on his victory in the recall election, and having redistricted the state legislature into Republican hands through gerrymandering, Walker is ready to roll forward with his "bold" rightwing ideology unimpeded by the consequences for Wisconsinites.

According to Conklin, Walker asked his audience: How many kids have dreamed they'd grow up to be dependent on government?

Well, Walker, for one.

The Wisconsin governor has drawn his salary and good, taxpayer-funded health insurance from the government throughout his entire adult life.

Given the results Wisconsinites have seen so far, we should cash out his benefits and make him work for food.

If you liked this article by Ruth Conniff, the political editor of The Progressive, check out her story "Republican Jobs Nonsense".

Follow Ruth Conniff @rconniff on Twitter.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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