State Needs To End Resentments About Dane County

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I am biased when I write about Dane County and the City of Madison.   I readily admit to loving this place I have called home since late December 1986.  There is a vibrancy and uplift here due to UW-Madison and the home of state government.  There is a liberal mindset that comes from having a wide swath of competing interests and backgrounds assembled from not only across the Badger State, but more importantly from around the globe.  There are so many reasons to embrace what happens here.

But drive 100 miles in any direction, or head to the Northwoods, and the perceptions change dramatically.   Some of that is based on cultural differences and some due to just a lack of truly knowing what happens within this city and county.  Today Tom Still, Wisconsin Technology Council president, wrote another of his must-reads in the Sunday edition of the Wisconsin State Journal.  Featured in his column is one of my ‘hero’ companies, Exact Sciences.  (I championed for this company to have a downtown presence.) 

The leadership team at Exact Sciences is so confident of the demand for more and better DNA analysis screening that it estimates test totals will climb from 1 million last year to 7 million per year in short order. Handling that many tests and affiliated work will require up to 1,500 employees at various times on Exact’s Discovery Campus, which explains the parking ramp as well as an amenities center with food service to be completed by 2020.

It is just the latest example of how the Dane County economy, which includes a strong dose of well-compensated scientific and technology jobs, is helping to propel Wisconsin forward.

That concept is often a tough sell in parts of Wisconsin where economic growth can still be elusive even years after the end of the Great Recession that peaked about 10 years ago. There are those who envy progress in Dane County and some other hotspots in Wisconsin, wondering what’s in it for them.

One answer to that question is state tax revenue from companies and their employees. Related jobs in construction and service industries is another. Opportunities for young people to stay in Wisconsin versus going elsewhere is yet another reason to celebrate.

The need for continued state dollars to be pumped into research programs that makes the UW-Madison tick, or to pursue more venture capital projects are a no-brainer.  But at times selling these ideas to the farther reaches of the state is daunting.

We need to embrace private-public partnerships that push the boundaries of new technology and ideas.  We should thrill at educational and business relationships that will not only create jobs but allow for young minds in far-off places to want to live, study, and work in Wisconsin.  We need to find and promote funding sources that are understood to be wise investments for tomorrow.

Madison and Dane County are proving that such ideas work.  The rest of the state needs to end resentments aimed in our direction and learn how it is done.

And so it goes.

History Was Made At DMZ, But At What Price?

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In the real world of international relations it is always better to be talking than not having open lines of communication.  The goes without saying.

But in the real world of diplomacy it is also true placing one of the world’s leading despots alongside the power and imagery of the leader of the free world should only come when there is a significant enhancement of behavior from the one seeking to bask in the light of such attention.  

That then is my issue with what played out today when Donald Trump became the first sitting American commander in chief to set foot in North Korea.  He met North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in the DMZ.   It is no wonder that Kim was grinning widely.  He had secured another international moment while his nation is starving and earning less per year than those who live in the Congo.

I recall when President Bush (43) was reported to have had a visceral reaction when hearing of the starvation taking place in North Korea while the ruling family and military chief lived high and mighty.  One can only image what he thought when it was reported by authoritative news operations in South Korea that Kim had multiple officials–including the lead negotiator in nuclear talks with the United States–executed.

Do not get me wrong.  In the gritty world of international dialogues nations must engage at times and in ways with heinous leaders so to further larger goals.  But when those meetings occur, and the benefactor is a dictator of the Kim variety, something of value to the international community needs to be secured.   Starting up again low level staff meetings between the two nations does not qualify for what took place today.

The tactics employed by North Korea are not new.  It is only Trump who has not come to terms with them.  That is why it is reported that even Trump’s foreign policy bench were not in favor of the free-wheeling approach that was taken for nothing more than a photo op and meeting at the DMZ.

This blog has made the point, repeatedly, that the term disarmament is not one that has the same meaning for Kim and the United States.  One does not need to be a rocket scientist to know that nation will never relinquish its nuclear weapons.   What I have also stressed repeatedly on CP is that Kim is far smarter at this power play, the latest act which played out today.  His family has been staging this play for decades.  Since Trump took office they have now added a Sunday matinee.

From the start we have seen Kim allow for symbolically potent but substantively modest concessions which make headlines that allows for the egomaniac with orange skin to get all giddy.  But the long range foreign policy needs require a truly cerebral leader at the helm for the United States, and we are lacking that essential ingredient.

Trump continues walking into a well-played trap and is not thinking clearly.  Kim is determined to cement his country’s status as a nuclear state while working to undermine and remove economic sanctions.   Why would Kim not want such a bargain?

And who better to play that to than someone who has no knowledge or skill in international relations.  Donald Trump.