Wisconsin's future. Think: Mississippi. P1040056 (Medium)
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All politicians have an agenda underlying their policies. That is not necessarily a bad thing. But sometimes it is. In any event, an understanding of what that agenda is and how it affects individuals can be instrumental in evaluating an administration's success or failure to govern. In light of Scott Walker's record and his bid for reelection, an evaluation of his administration is in order.
All states have not emerged equally well from the Great Recession, and a comparison of how Wisconsin has fared in comparison to other states should reveal something about the effectiveness of each state's plan and accomplishments in that regard. Where have we come from? Where are we now? Where are we headed? And are we proceeding as planned, on pace, and with observable documented accomplishments to show for our efforts?
Comparison of one state's success with that of another can be tricky, since many variables make up a state's population demographics, degree of urbanization, state income sources, etc. The most effective comparisons, obviously, are between states with the greatest similarity across many such demographics. Comparison of very different policy approaches between states with otherwise very similar demographics, can supply the best evidence for success or failure of those different policy approaches.
Performance can be measured not only in comparison to that of other similar states, it can also be compared to the performance of the preceding administration. But in this case, a comparison with the previous administration is grossly unfair, as the previous administration, that of Jim Doyle, governed during the national economic collapse of the Great Recession.
Agendas create policy. And policy affects a state's success as reflected in statistics and rankings in comparison to other states. So the most objective appraisal today should be seen in comparisons between highly similar states' post-recession growth. Those states recovering the fastest have good reason to tout the success of their policies. The proof is in the numbers.
However, as already noted, recovery can be driven by factors other than policy. It can be driven by the good fortune of having varied sources of revenue to support that growth, such as tourism or heavy fossil-fuel industry involvement. So, the fairest comparison of policy differences from one state to another, would be a comparison of states with the same degree of reliance on income from policy instead of tourism, fossil fuels, or other resources. Wisconsin and Minnesota are two such similarly funded states, with starkly differing approaches to policy.