24 Feb

It’s now or never on RTW…change the conversation, change the vision for the future!

As SB 44 goes to the State Senate floor this afternoon, it is critical to effectively communicate to moderate Republicans the truth about the bill, and change the conversation, change the vision for the future.

The question to ask is, “Why are you betraying the trust of the people who elected you by destroying democratic institutions that protect the profit creators from corporate greed?”

There is always hope – to change the conversation and present a completely different vision for people to identify with and believe. It is something we MUST ACCOMPLISH if we are to avoid living out the Albert Einstein definition of insanity – doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result. The current defensive template playing out on Corporate Greed and Wage Theft Legislation (SB 44) is identical to Act 10.  It’s not too late…here’s what progressives need to begin communicating to their State Senators and Representatives on both side of the aisle. Critical points are highlighted.

This is fundamentally about two critical truths, which must be effectively communicated to people. First, there is the basic truth about the relationship and roles of corporation and worker. Second is the basic truth about The Public.

1. A private corporation is a form of governance created and existing for one reason – the pursuit of profit. Beyond that, there is no moral mission that it serves. To that end, the corporation hires workers to create profit for the corporation. The workers of Wisconsin are the profit creators. Take away the workers, and you take away the ability of the corporation to generate a product of service from which they profit. It’s that simple – “Workers are profit creators.”

A union, therefore, is the democratically elected representation of those workers who have a MORAL right to receive a living wage portion of those profits – which they create. The union protects and empowers the profit creators as their voice, making certain that they receive that living wage portion of the profit which they have created. Without the union, the profit creators will be subject to corporate greed, never receiving their fair portion of the profits they have worked to create. This truth ought to be the basis for a general strike in Wisconsin!

Any legislation which takes away the right of the profit creators to receive a living wage portion of profit, opens the door to corporate greed and servitude, and contributes to Wage Theft.

2. The Public (government), unlike corporations, exists with a moral mission to protect and empower the people it serves. Legislation which does the polar opposite of that mission represents a betrayal of trust on the part of legislators who support such a measure. Why? As shown in point 1 above, such legislation opens the door to corporate greed and wage theft, and impedes the right of the profit creators to receive their fair portion of profit.

Most importantly, it is critical to communicate an honest vision of what is happening in Wisconsin. Extreme conservative ideologists are pushing on Wisconsinites a corporate form of governance. In direct contrast to Public governance, Corporate Greed and Wage Theft legislation represents one step closer to a corporate form of governance where the sole mission is profit.

The Public is all of us, acting together to protect and empower each other, expand freedom and opportunity for everyone, and calls on us to take responsibility for each other. Unions are consistent with that model, democratically elected and representative to protect and empower private sector profit creators. Every worker who creates profit for their employer is helped by a union. Conservatives would have you believe that The Public (which is all of us) is evil, immoral, and that it must be destroyed. This belief guides every one of their policies – including Corporate Greed and Wage Theft legislation.

Since when is it immoral for people to come together, take responsibility for each other, and help expand freedom and opportunity for all? If you value and want that for your family, why not everyone else? And why do you want to destroy the institutions (The Public and Unions) that empower and protect people from corporate greed and servitude?

These are the questions to ask of Republicans. This is the vision to change the conversation and the status quo.

23 Sep

CAFO Settlement after Decade of Violations

A factory farm in Wisconsin has agreed to pay a $100,000 settlement after a decade of violations. The hazards of concentrated livestock operations to public health are becoming well documented, as evidenced in recent Forward Institute posts on this website. Forward Institute statement on this settlement follows (Press Release):

Wisconsin Factory Farm to pay Six Figure Settlement to State

                A stipulation entered in Kewaunee County Circuit Court on September 12, 2013 resulted in $100,000 in fines levied against Keith Duescher, owner of the former “Legendairy Farms” CAFO. After nearly ten years of violations which subjected neighbors, wetlands, and Lake Michigan to manure runoff contamination and toxic emissions, the defendant (Duescher) has stipulated to the facts in evidence and the fine levied by the State of Wisconsin.

“This case is a stark illustration of how factory farms in Wisconsin are a threat to people who simply wish to live free to breathe clean air and have clean water to drink. Factory Farm oversight and accountability to the people of Wisconsin is absolutely necessary to ensure quality of life and quality of our local farms.” 

The State case outlined violations committed by Duescher and Legendairy Farms resulting in significant impact to the community and the environment beginning in 2004:

1. Manure runoff discharged into navigable waters that feed into Lake Michigan, resulting in a significant threat to water quality in the Great Lake and local tributaries.

2. The failure of Duescher to comply with permit and monitoring requirements posed a significant threat to public and environmental health.

3. Duescher compromised, damaged, or destroyed numerous wetland habitats, even after multiple contacts with DNR specialists instructing him to remove material discharged into those wetlands.

4. The open burning of a demolished barn and plastic containers resulted in airborne emission of dioxin and asbestos, two highly toxic and hazardous chemicals.

5. A second open burning incident occurred 8 months after Duescher had been warned by DNR against open pit burning. 

The full text of the stipulation and order can be read here

:Legendairy Farms Stipulation and Order

Wisconsin’s legislature and state agencies have created rules and accountability for a good reason, and this case is an illustration of why. We need continued oversight of factory farms and their practices for three important reasons. First, we have a fundamental right to live our lives with clean water and air. Second, our food supply needs to be safe and clean. Finally, factory farms engaging in unscrupulous practices without regard for their negative impact on people, land, and water are a scar on the long heritage of the Wisconsin family farm as part of the community. 

While we appreciate the efforts of the Wisconsin Department of Justice and Department of Natural Resources beginning to enforce the law, that there is much more work to be done in this area. There is a significant amount of research demonstrating the need for oversight and enforcement of CAFO operations.

Duescher’s “Legendairy Farms” is now owned and operated by Ebert Dairy Enterprises LLC of Algoma, WI.

06 Sep

New Messaging Campaign Unveiled at Fighting Bob Fest

You are invited to visit us at Fighting Bob Fest 2013 this weekend, where we are unveiling the Wisconsin Progressive Freedom Campaign…

“We CAN win the messaging war!” 

Forward Institute is spearheading a new, collaborative effort with progressive organizations and grassroots groups to take back Freedom for Progressives.

“What is this campaign all about?”

            The Wisconsin Progressive Freedom Campaign (WPFC) is a broad effort that has no precedent in Wisconsin or the US. For decades, progressives have been mere observers as conservatives have dominated messaging and communications on politics and policy. Through the WPFC, we will counter that dominance, and reclaim a value that has always represented progressives – Freedom. 

“Who is involved?”

Forward Institute is partnering with progressive organizations, individuals, and statewide grassroots organizations to create a long-term, multi-pronged structure for communications and values-based messaging on progressive issues. Consulting is Cognitive Science and Messaging expert George Lakoff from the University of California-Berkeley.

“How will it work?”

WPFC creates a four-pronged structure to address significant needs in progressive policy messaging and communications. Each will serve internal and external needs for partner organizations and all progressives statewide:

1. “Framers and Trainers” – Core group trained as messaging experts and trainers for work with grassroots and policy organizations statewide.

2. “Research” – Unique capacity to conduct independent, academic quality research on progressive policy issues to ensure accurate, authentic messaging. Also serves as resource for grassroots groups without research capacity.

3.”Strategic Communications/Booking Agents” – Creates capacity through multiple media formats to disseminate values-based messaging. This segment works to educate key media in progressive values policy language. Assemble and train issue experts on progressive values language for media appearances and contact.

4. “Social Forums/Donor Development” – Creates and plans social event forums with featured speakers to engage the public on progressive values and issues. Engages donor development through direct interaction with the WPFC, potential donors, research, and messaging on policy issues.

“How can I help?”

1. Donate to our secure pay pal account below to support this critical and progressive effort. Forward Institute is a 501(c)(3) organization.

2. Follow Forward Institute to stay informed about this important campaign, and check our website often – look for the “Wisconsin Progressive Freedom Campaign” tab.

3. Email us to get involved with the Wisconsin Progressive Freedom Campaign:             info@www.forwardinstitutewi.org

4. Visit us at Fighting Bob Fest to get more information!

Through a collaborative, consistent, authentic, and values-based messaging campaign – we WILL reclaim FREEDOM for PROGRESSIVES!

Donate Button with Credit Cards

30 Nov

Forward Institute to release Wisconsin School Report Card Study

The Forward Institute and State Senator Kathleen Vinehout will hold a Press Conference on Wednesday, December 5th at 10:00 am, in the Senate Parlor at the Wisconsin State Capitol to release a new study on the Wisconsin School Report Cards.

The study analyzed all available Report Card score data for Wisconsin Schools, and the results will have a significant impact on the statewide Education Policy discussion for the coming Legislative Session.  Representatives from the Forward Institute will be on hand to brief the press and public on the study findings and answer questions.

The study addresses critical links between poverty and education in Wisconsin public and non-traditional charter schools.

While the public is invited to the Press Conference on December 5th, Forward Institute will post the full study with all supporting data and references on this website and our Facebook page early on Wednesday, December 5th – BEFORE the Press Conference at the Capitol.

To receive the report before it is released to the public, follow Forward Institute on this website, Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/ForwardInstitute), or Twitter                        (@ForwardInstWI).

Link to Press Conference Invitation

20 Sep

“Our Wisconsin”

The Forward Institute is Wisconsin’s first Progressive think tank. It is our mission to publish and deliver accurate studies, communication, and messaging on significant public policy issues in Wisconsin.

Organized as a non-profit, educational foundation, the Forward Institute website serves as a public portal for the exchange of progressive ideas and information. We welcome all interested individuals and organizations to participate, and join us in changing Wisconsin politics through open, honest, factual dialogue.

“We believe in Our Wisconsin”

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