Sunday, December 10, 2006

Free Advice for Council and Mayor Wannabes

You can pay lip service or ignore this column and still get elected.

You can pay attention to this column and possibly make a difference.

The former will render you ineffectual. The latter will make you remembered as a true leader and someone who cared for the overall well being of Oshkosh.

There are three subjects to remember in leading Oshkosh into the future:
  • Poverty
  • Poverty
  • Poverty

There is a definite connection between poverty and crime. No matter what the official unemployment figures say, the percentage of unemployed is far higher. When a person no longer receives an unemployment check they are no longer counted. The situation in Oshkosh is not dire but could very easily get worse. Some areas of town look pretty drab. Wages are much lower now than a couple of decades ago and the cost of a roof, heat, and lights is through the ceiling.

It's a good idea to look around us to cities that are a bit bigger and observe their thoughts and ideas. Paul Soglin was recently asked what he thought of the mayor's race in Madison. Soglin, a student activist in the 1960's there, and Mayor of Madison several times over the years is convinced that poverty should be on the front burner. You can read the Capital Times article here and Soglin's own site "Waxing America" here.

He tells how Madison's crime rate has dramatically increased over the years and what might be done to change it. His ideas deserve careful consideration.

Oshkosh Truck will not be on an upward curve forever. Dependence on defense related industries is a recipe for disaster. For the community's sake they should diversify further into non-defense items but capitalism's ugly head will rear and the quick buck will take precedence over community needs. Jobs will disappear in coming years. Ed Garvey, writing at, says today that: "There really is no Iraq to save" and "Time to face reality. We have indeed lost in Iraq. Bring the troops home now!"

Timothy J. Bowers of Columbus,OH is a person who found a personal answer to poverty. He was three years away from collecting full Social Security. At age 62 partial S.S. payments wouldn't do it. He robbed a bank of $80, handed it to the security guard, and calmly waited for the gendarmes to arrive. He asked the judge for exactly three years in the prison system so he could then collect full Social Security. The judge obliged. You can find a number of articles here. Mr. Bowers was too old for a paper route and too young for Social Security. A lot of Boomers including me are toughing it out that way. Physical work is too taxing but we're not old enough to retire.

The Progressive Magazine (print edition) talks about Mr. Bowers. Over 2 million souls are now incarcerated in our country and the number grows every day. 1.3 million living units are covered by Section 8 housing and the number drops every day. The Progressive asks: "Could the prison system be the new Section 8?"

Ways to lessen poverty will hold down crime. Non-defense related industries would assist in lessening poverty.

Ignoring poverty in Oshkosh is a recipe for disaster.


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