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Both Sides of the Fence

A Tosa resident since 1991, Christine walks the dog, cooks but avoids housework, writes and reads, and enjoys the company of friends and strangers. Her job takes her around the state, learning about people's health. A Quaker (no, they don't wear blue hats or sell oatmeal or motor oil), she has been known to stand on both sides of the political and philosophic fence at the same time, which is very uncomfortable when you think about it. She writes about pretty much whatever stops in to visit her busy mind at the moment. One reader described her as "incredibly opinionated but not judgmental." That sounds like a good thing to strive for!

Save the County AND live happily ever after

Milwaukee County, economy

Eliminate Milwaukee County government to save money and reduce taxes? The Pubic Policy Forum's proposal to do just that will be greeted with jeers on one hand and applause on the other.

As a more moderate sort, I fall closer to the "not so fast" end of the spectrum. But that doesn't mean the "do nothing different" end of the spectrum.

Rob Henken, who heads the Forum and the study research team, is a very smart guy. He worked on Scott Walker's executive team (but was not necessarily on the County Executive's political page), and he knows whereof he speaks.

Still, an accounting approach to the very real problem of bloated fringe benefit costs that are sinking the County ship is one-sided. The other way to approach the problem besides cuts is to increase income. And there's a way to do it without just taxing all of us.

Increase hiring, tame the pension and benefits plans, and go self-insured.

That's right: more jobs, not fewer. A pension system becomes a ponzi scheme when the number of retirees increases and the number of people paying into it decreases. So reducing county staffing but continuing to pay for someone else to do the work only worsens the problem. It sends the money somewhere else.

Hire residents to do the work. I guarantee there are more than enough excellent people out here. Let us pay into the pension fund while you are curbing its earlier excesses and making current benefits more in line with what is reasonable.

And create a model self-funded healthcare system. Maybe you have that already: I don't know. But the County certainly has the resources to do it. Too bad the County Hospital was privatized: that could really keep costs down in a self-funded system. If Quad Graphics can do it, certainly the County can. And with the incredible resources here, it could become a model of cost-effective healthcare.

An immodest proposal? I don't think so. Isn't it time to stop finding "solutions" that worsen the problem for people while showing economic improvement on spreadsheets?

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