Everyone who reads about the idea put forth by Governor Scott Walker to cease publishing Wisconsin Natural Resources, the magazine produced by the Department of Natural Resources, understands the motive behind the move. It has nothing to do with being interested in small government, but instead has everything to do with attempting again to undermine the science surrounding climate change.
In a statement about this controversial idea, Walker’s spokesman Tom Evenson said, “It is not the government’s role to produce magazines that duplicate what is available in the private market.”
One more time the talking points of small government is tossed about as an argument, as if there is any credibility that limited approaches to governing has ever entered the discussions during Walker’s time in the top statehouse job. From mandating how school boards must deal with teacher contracts, or reducing the control women have over reproductive rights, to academic freedoms there is proof with policy after policy which demonstrates an attempt to use the levers of government to implement conservative goals. So to pretend that undermining the DNR magazine is all about small government is simply a joke.
What can not be disputed is the degree to which the Walker administration has went out of their way to undermine the science of what we see when it comes to climate change. The winters of my youth in Hancock, Wisconsin where the fond memoires of snow plows on rural roads creating white banks more than half-way up a telephone pole, or the changes in planting zones in the seed catalogs all are proof of what is happening to our weather patterns. You know it. I know it.
Sadly, former editors of the magazine have told of the censoring by the Walker administration of topics allowed to be reported, and even the words to describe the reason for the changes we are experiencing. As was reported in the Wisconsin State Journal “our changing climate” replaced the more accurate terms “climate change” and “global warming” in the publication. On top of all the other ways Walker has already worked to deny this science underscores why the attempt to end the magazine is just another kick at the can.
I did have to smile, however, as the story about the magazine gains state-wide traction and the attempt by Walker to stress the small government angle continues. We might recall that another small government type, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, desired to start a state-run taxpayer-funded news outlet aimed at competing with the institutionalized media. When it comes to those who speak the most about small government it is always best to dig a little deeper and very soon the truth is exposed.
There is no economic justification for this publication to cease operations. Using the latest science to explore issues through this magazine that are relevant to our state is most appropriate. Encouraging citizens to be better informed seems a most useful tool of government. As we look at the lay of the land politically it is very evident that disseminating more information is needed. Any effort to curtail that effort is short-sighted and needs to be ditched.