August 27, 2010

Ron Johnson alleges "dubious premises"

Here's Fox News/Republican/Tea candidate Ron Johnson's latest Fisk-begging statement to the press:
This [federal] grant was secured in March of 1979 by Wisconsin Industrial Shipping Supplies ...
WKOW's report mentioned that, so it's not dubious, it's affirmed.
... in exchange for a substantial business investment for the City of Oshkosh.
"For" the City of Oshkosh. Clever.

But that's generally the way these things work, isn't it? The federal grant to build a spur from the (Canadian-owned) Soo Line is on the larger view an investment in the local economy, based on a presumption that the grantee will prosper and her prosperity will in turn attract more business to the community. Econ 101, I reckon.

And Ron Johnson is coming dangerously close to suggesting the rail spur was somehow a burden on his business, an act of purest civic martyrdom, a sacrifice he endured "for" the City of Oshkosh. Absurd.

A rail siding is a great benefit to a shipper especially. You can fit more stuff on a rail car, and it's cheaper than trucking.* Plus you don't have to warehouse the finished product, you just stick it on the rail car and keep filling it up the next shift. There's nothing like a rail siding run right into your building, particularly a free gummint one.

You know what this rail siding is? Stimulus, which Ron Johnson rails against, and is currently spending much of his life attacking Russ Feingold for supporting similar initiatives all over the country and especially in Wisconsin. So how come it's good for Ron Johnson but it's an assault on Ron Johnson's Freedoms when it's for anybody else?
Ron Johnson moved to Wisconsin in June of 1979 and started Pacur, which has become a true Wisconsin success story.
Nobody, I expect, disputes the latter, although it is less of a premise than a conclusion with at least one missing premise. Dubious.


Yet first Ron Johnson affirms he signed on only a couple of months after the grant was "secured" — it's not clear which moment in the procedure that refers to; it might be any one of several — whereas WKOW had simply said "months." Where's the "dubious premise" there; I don't see it. One could easily have read it as October.

You can take a look at the rail spur on teh Google maps. If it was "secured" in March, it sure wasn't completed by June. They had 12 months to build it and if Ron Johnson is so adamantly opposed to these sort of government handouts, then he should have stopped it, as he was in control of his company since "day one" In June, 1979.

But of course he didn't stop it. It's a pretty sweet deal. And there seems little question the rail siding benefited Johnson's company financially. That's likely even quantifiable, but we can leave that exercise to Ron Johnson, as he's the one with the accounting degree.
Nonetheless, these allegations from WKOW are based entirely on dubious premises.
All premissary dubiousness is to Johnson's account. He is the one yelling at Tea Parties — 'Leave us conservatives alone!' — and elsewhere about the evil gummint and now here he is running a business with a free rail siding, courtesy the federal government.

And $4M in state-facilitated loans at up to 2-1/2 points below market interest rates. Why shouldn't somebody else accrue such benefits similarly? That's the question Ron Johnson needs to answer now.


If your own premises are that government grants and subsidies to business are unwanted and unneeded and indeed, a malicious affront to the hallowed Randian dystopia, then you render those premises dubious when you lobby for and accept so much of them.

How is that not outright hypocrisy, or outright lying,** given Ron Johnson's prior claims about subsidies and stimulus packages?
We have highways, railroads, post offices, water and electrical services among other public services that businesses rely on each day.
Now he sounds like a liberal defending Feingold's vote on the stimulus package. Who knows what Ron Johnson will come up with tomorrow.

It's not any "dubious premises" Ron Johnson objects to, it's the fact that he got himself rather amusingly busted by inquisitive reporters.


In the meantime, where is Dave Westlake? Westlake has economic principles too, but he doesn't appear to have betrayed any of them. Republican primary voters, who go to the polls here in about two weeks, should take another look at him, as I understand they're in the market for someone who can actually beat Feingold in November.

* More so when you've got your own rail siding.

** Not to worry. It's most likely protected political speech in Wisconsin (pending a successful motion for summary judgment).

eta: More observations from the always astute Chief of Oshkosh.
[Welcome WisOpinion readers. They won't link to him but I will.]

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