Wednesday, October 27, 2010

This Kind of Hypocrisy is Almost "Criminal"

During the last budget, draft legislation was circulated that would give companies tax credits for hiring ex felons. Seizing on a perceived politically opportune moment, the right-wing Wisconsin Policy Research Institute (WPRI) feigned all kinds of outrage over the idea. WPRI's blogger dutifully wrote an attack piece entitled "Is the Recession Hitting Felons Too Hard?" In that blog entry he commented that "...using the financial crisis to socially engineer changes that benefit those who have harmed others isn't the 'stimulus' we need." It didn't take long for right-wing talker Charlie Sykes to jump on the always opportunistic bandwagon. What I do find interesting, however, is that I haven't heard a peep from WPRI or Sykes about Ron Johnson's use of employment programs involving convicted criminals.

State records show that Ron Johnson has been using prison labor at the family company since 1998. He has been doing this even as the unemployment rate in Oshkosh has nearly doubled. So maybe WPRI and Sykes should ask Ron Johnson why he is still employing felons, some with violent histories, instead of working families in Oshkosh?

They have not and will not ask Johnson that question but I have a few ideas about the real answer. I suspect that it just might be because Johnson is able to offload health care costs to the state while still having people do the work for him. Again, it seems like this is yet another example of Johnson's double-talk on "small government". It apparently should be small unless it is helping his own bottom line. The AP has reported that the prison labor is saving Ron Johnson about $10,000 per employee per year. Rather than call out the hypocrisy WPRI and Sykes prefer instead to join in with a bit of their own, by remaining suddenly silent.

WPRI, Sykes and the rest of the right-wing brigade continually attack Governor Doyle for the "earned release" program. Usually they go about chronicling the name and criminal record of dozens of people who have (and have not) qualified for the program. So why aren't they raising even a whisper about the inmates — who are still serving time —who are allowed to get out to work in Ron Johnson's factory? While on work release, these people are monitored by the company, but not always by corrections employees. And some of them have serious charges for which they have been found guilty. Consider this listing of offenses by those that work for Johnson:

  • 1st Degree reckless homicide (14 year sentence)
  • 2 counts of bail jumping, 2 counts of fleeing and eluding, homicide by negligent use of a vehicle
  • Homicide by intoxicated use of a motor vehicle
  • 2 counts of battery, 2nd degree reckless endangering safety

  • 2 counts of burglary, OWI, bail jumping
  • Burglary
  • Theft
  • 2 counts burglary
  • Burglary, theft

  • Where is the right-wing fear mongering about these individuals? Where is their feigned outrage over the program itself? Apparently WPRI and Sykes have no problem with the situation because them being consistent would hurt Ron Johnson. Not only would it hurt his campaign but it would hurt his pocket book. That kind of right-wing hypocrisy is breathtaking, in fact you might even say that it is almost "criminal".

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