when the university becomes a vo-tech

My undergraduate experience was broken up into two eras: the first was spent at a private ‘university’ that was essentially a glorified vocational school churning out ministers with a half-hearted regard for the liberal arts or professional degrees in favor of continued indoctrination in the sponsoring Christian denomination.

The second was escaping from that place, sacrificing a plurality of my academic credits and essentially starting over at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point as a philosophy and religious studies student. It was there where I was able to trade my angst for serious academics, and where I thrived as a student and grew as a person. Without my experience at UWSP, without a clear path studying philosophy, without tremendous faculty who were as challenging as they were fair, I would not have the opportunities I have today, the job I have, the graduate degree I earned afterward.

The ability to earn that degree and chart a new course for my life, to have encountered great faculty and fellow students, to have helped peers with their reading and writing in the disciplines, to be a vibrant part of student life; I am a better, more well-rounded person for the time I spent at UWSP.

(The fact that I completed my undergraduate degree for the cost of less than one semester at the institution I originally attended is also not lost on me.)

So, when a good friend (and fellow UWSP alum) shared this disheartening press release from Monday on social media, I was deeply grieved. Citing “declining financial resources, demographic changes with fewer students in K-12 schools and rising competition among public and private universities,” the university has proposed gutting 13 undergrad programs (while retaining courses from them, more on that later) while expanding eight other programs and enhancing eight others. Those 13 programs are all underneath the umbrella of the humanities or liberal arts. The 16 they seem to bolster are all professional or STEM programs.

People like myself, or my friend Andy, would not have avenues for growth that we enjoyed. Andy is an outstanding writer, academe and professor. I, despite my longing to move forward in studying philosophy and religion, ended up in a STEM career while writing about baseball for next to nothing. Neither one of us would be the people we are without the time we spent in study in Stevens Point (or the many, many cups of coffee over conversations of how badly we wanted to get out of there.) In fact, the academic rigor I underwent as a Pointer suited me well for the many challenges–academic, professional and personal alike–I faced since earning my BA and entering a job where I was a stranger in a strange land and had to learn web development on the fly nearly three years ago.

To be sure, a certain portion of the populace is outraged for partisan reasons and this would seem to fit their narrative for how the state doesn’t value education, so on and so forth. I, for one, do not buy into those presuppositions for any number of reasons, but I do share in their outrage that the UW System would be open to essentially gutting what makes the university a university. This is not a conservative or liberal issue; this is a trans-partisan matter that should rightly earn the consternation of all people who value a quality, well-rounded educational experience.

It should anger every UWSP alumnus, particularly those of us who lived in the Collins Classroom Center for most of our academic careers.

One of my professors, a well-respected academic, educator and administrator who would undoubtedly be affected by the proposal to gut her department, put it thusly: Philosophy goes well with everything. This is more than a mere quip, it is the absolute bedrock upon which any other enterprise is based. My philosophy degree–and corresponding religious studies work–taught me vital methods of critical thinking and diplomatic and empathetic interpersonal communication because, beyond the trappings and nomenclature, everything is language.

Incidentally, the religious studies program was left unmentioned and presumably unscathed, though it was not its own major.

Everything is language. When I started my day job, I knew WordPress and a very crude sense of HTML I picked up in junior high. Once I moved past basic tasks in our CMS and into code, I was lost…until I recognized that code is not math, code is language. As it turns out, there’s a reason they call them programming languages. And, like any language, it takes time to observe, learn and begin interacting with them. Philosophy allowed and empowered me to make the leap and not be paralyzed by the fear of something completely foreign to my understanding.

My boss is, too, a UWSP alumnus from the WDMD/CIS/whatever they’re calling it this week program. Our shared alma mater was not an insignificant factor in his deciding to bring me on board; neither were the cognitive assessments I was required to take. Both being a part of and built by the UWSP community were essential to my ability to even get in the door at my place of employ.

Now that the school is looking to cut the head off their humanities program–make no mistake, there is reason neither to retaining faculty in these fields nor any incentive for high-potential would-be faculty to go to work for a university where there is no real department or academic program for their subject matter expertise.

UWSP is diminishing its own importance and prestige by taking these steps, reducing their offerings in non-core fields to the equivalent of any number of two-year UW System colleges or a vocational school. There is nothing wrong with a vocational or technical college, but the point of university education to expand horizons whereas the tech school is more geared toward job readiness. The American university climate has already marginalized the broadening aspects by reducing general courses down to credits that must be earned through endurance rather than placing value on those experiences as a way to expand horizons or even make a change in intended studies and life course. Doing this kills what little motivation was there to take these courses seriously for student or faculty.

In the same way that most of us have changed our minds on what we wanted to do or who we wanted to be since you or I were 17 or 18 years old, does not stripping liberal arts programs too strip young people of new, different opportunities? Are we doing a disservice to the students now in the [likely futile] hopes of bigger benefactors later?

The answer to both, given the intended course of action, is a resounding yes. This is not forward thinking. Implementing this solution is nothing if not a Pyrrhic victory.

As an alumnus and someone who owes the totality of my life, such as it is, to the experiences I had at UWSP, I join the growing chorus of those who vehemently oppose these measures. To move forward this way is to rob students of the rich experiences the Wisconsin Idea affords. We may disagree on the politics of the matter, but we see quite clearly the same acute problems this proposal engenders. As such, we urge reconsideration by administration, student government and the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents.

Frankly, it points in the wrong direction.

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briefly, every prevarication starts at dick’s

In the aftermath of the atrocity perpetrated in Parkland and the very public, ahem, conversation(?) taking place on the role of assault-style firearms in American life, people of all walks of life have been, for lack of better term, weaponized.

Major American retailer Dick’s Sporting Goods went viral 28 February, when they issued a press release taking a stand and making policy changes with regard to the sale of ‘modern sporting rifles’. And, of course, the weaponized amongst us saw this as either a humanity-affirming move by a retailer to show their solidarity with the victims and the community, or an encroachment on constitutional rights.

The truth is, of course, neither. And the greater truth underscored here is that people en masse have stopped paying attention to anything anyone says beyond a general sense that whatever is being said generally conforms to existing sociopolitical prejudice.

I noticed this right away, and I’m not alone in doing so, but Dick’s proper stopped selling these types of weapons after Sandy Hook. They say so literally in middle of the press release. What they actually did was change the policy for their Field & Stream label, which only has 35 locations nationwide.

You’ve never heard of Field & Stream stores in the same way that you’ve never heard of Lion’s Choice roast beef joints in the St. Louis area. There are 26 of them. If they were to, say, stop offering coleslaw, you wouldn’t care.

In fairness, if a change in the landscape is going to happen, it ought to happen privately. If a business or community feels as though a change needs to take place, that conversation should happen there. On the one hand, this is how things should be done.

On the other, a retailer is blatantly posturing in a naked attempt to exploit public consciousness on a sensitive topic to make their doorstep more appealing for patrons to darken and spend their money. In so doing, they’ve told a pretty brazen half-truth that technically is true, but actually changes next to nothing.

That hasn’t stopped thousands of people from reacting and sharing the release as though it were a bold stand on a hot topic, which it isn’t. What it is is a shameful, cowardly and deceptive stunt to pry open more wallets in their checkout lanes. (And have you seen the prices on their crap lately? One needs to pry open a second mortgage!)

Dicks, indeed.

Update: Link to press release added, and they slapped highly-detailed UTM conditions on the link (which I’ve stripped from the URL for you. You’re welcome.) Not only does this demonstrate how little they care, but how badly they want to know who is sharing their release where and strategize from there. Dicks, indeed. –b.

running with scissors: how target and walmart are further ruining retail

Several years ago, I posted here about the self-defeating nature of couponing, Running with Scissors. It, by far, was the most successful post I’ve written here or anywhere, earned Freshly Pressed status from WordPress and reached thousands of people worldwide.

Within the last two weeks, I’ve seen how two of the largest retailers in North America have taken advantage of the environment to further nickel and dime their customers.

First, risking life and limb to venture into my local Walmart, I found a few items we needed in the house and noticed the prices weren’t merely non-competitive, but anti-competitive with other vendors in town. (With the best price in town across town, and the weather here having taken a 36-hour dump all over the roads, it wasn’t practical to do any more driving than absolutely necessary.) So I popped open Walmart’s website and found their price match policy, which has changed from one of the more lenient and consumer-friendly policies in retail (and, when coupled with Walmart’s savings tracker, became a great tool for thrifty types) to virtually no price match policy at all:

“We do not match [list redacted] Competitor advertised price” followed by “The manager on duty as [sic] the final decision on any Price match.” and “Walmart reserves the right to modify the terms of this policy at any time.”

Long story short, Walmart can move the goalposts whenever they want, up to and including refusing to price match items found on their own website or their recently-acquired jet.com.

I asked the young gentleman at the checkout about it, and he confirmed, along with a sympathetic ‘I know’ when I lamented the change.

Remember when Walmarts all had “WE SELL FOR LESS” plastered on every store? Yeah, there’s a reason they don’t have that on their stores anymore. They’ll sell for whatever they want, and you’ll like it or love it.

Secondly, Hipster Walmart aka Target has aggressively deployed digital assets for a while: after jacking their storewide markup 5% when they introduced the debit RedCard (something confirmed to me by a Target rep at the time) they introduced Cartwheel, the digital companion that helped find extra discounts on items in the store. Cartwheel has always been a handy tool, particularly when they added manufacturer coupons into the app and then rolled the app wholly into Target’s base one while adding a wallet feature. All cool stuff.

Several trips to Target ago–because the RedCard discount takes care of state tax where I live–I scanned a few items from my shopping list to find hits on discounts and coupons. Who doesn’t like that?

I went to the checkout, rang up, checked my receipt and saw that none of those items showed the customary, itemized Cartwheel discount. I checked the app again, and one item that connected for a discount was only for a particular size of the product, while the other was linked to a coupon that was for the product in general, but a specific variety. Why should the app give me offers on products I scanned for different items?

To Target’s credit, I brought up my concerns with a manager, who gave me credit for the coupon (which he didn’t have to) and offered to share my concerns with local and regional management, agreeing with me that the app shouldn’t connect the customer with offers on products that weren’t scanned. That is misleading at best, deceptive at worst.

Nevertheless, this is where we’re at: the largest retailer in the country has stopped competing with other outlets, while another of the largest stores in America has given their shoppers an app that gives them a false sense of savings. In fairness, it is incumbent upon the consumer to know what they’re buying and the offers they’re trying to use, but it is bad faith–and approaches the need for antitrust intervention–to flatly avoid competition in refusing to price match and it can be construed as deceptive to give a customer offers that don’t apply to the things they need.

All of this is a counterbalance to the ways in which couponing has turned a simple trip to the store into a byzantine and quixiotic attempt to beat the house, when the American marketplace is not and should not be a casino. A Target run shouldn’t resemble Supermarket Sweep; going to Walmart shouldn’t require a liberal dose of lube. Yet, we are so attuned to thinking that coupons and discounts are somehow exploiting the system that we uncritically accept any coupon or discount as somehow taking advantage when that is seldom the case and misses the actual point: sales, coupons and gimmicks exist to get people to spend more, not less.

The best deal is always good value on a good product. Everything else is designed to get further into your wallet.

blue parrot thinking: the shared plight of churches and car dealers

Reflections on websites, damned websites and how analog and digital approaches are now one and the same.

Over the years here, I’ve shared at length (and perhaps lengths too far) of the brief life I once spent working in ministry. I haven’t spoken much about the life I spend now.

For the last two and a half years, I’ve worked in digital media: writing, editing and overseeing content for sports websites and support for and development of websites for the auto industry. I began the former with a background in journalism and WordPress; this very web presence, along with the work I did with a collegiate fishwrap, got me in the door there.

I began the latter with what could only be charitably described as rudimentary coding ability. I never studied anything more than QBasic in junior high and had a crude understanding of HTML. I would never consider myself a savant or expert developer, but I did find that I had a knack for this stuff, so I learned HTML, Bootstrap and CSS, can read and mostly interpret JavaScript but can’t seem to make the jump to writing it. I intuitively understood that if I didn’t swim, I’d sink and my family would starve. My understanding of ‘innovate or die’ is in many ways quite literal.

Over the last two-plus seasons in web support, development and a stint in account management for good measure, I’ve worked on a lot of projects and websites, which has allowed me to interact with a lot of people in the auto industry, from dealership proprietors from the used lot down the street to executives overseeing some of the largest auto groups regionally and nationally. By and large, my opinion of auto dealers remains healthily skeptical; I’ve been privileged to talk with really smart, savvy and collegial folks from every time zone.

I’ve talked to others, as well. (Haven’t we all?)

The interesting thing is how similarly those professionally part of American Evangelicalism and in your garden variety North American car dealership think.

Whilst perusing LinkedIn, I happened upon this meme:

As a rule, I don’t do much on LinkedIn. This, and the presuppositions behind it, moved me to violate my own principles. I couldn’t not act, and that was the moment that I realized that I was and am, indeed, a fully-fledged digital evangelist. Much like encountering someone upholding the principles of five-point Calvinism, the fire was trapped in my bones and I could not contain it.

Let’s talk about blue parrot thinking.

The world now exists as a singular duality: the material world (the booth I’m sitting in, the coffee I drink, the keyboard upon which I am relentlessly hammering right now) and the digital version (the website you’re reading [hi!], the memes you share, the snaps that were and are no longer save for the gutter of one’s mind.) There is no longer a difference between the two: your website, digital brand, social media footprint, all of them are viewed as equivalent to your actual self. A car dealership’s website is not a billboard or TV spot, it is the car dealership itself. People are window shopping (and, in a growing number of instances, getting financing and even desking deals in the virtual space.) A church’s website is not a tract, bulletin or radio spot, it is the vestibule (and in a growing number of instances, the sanctuary.)

My response to the meme: “Your dealership website IS your showroom. A poorly-functioning, design-blind website is the same as a dirty, dingy converted gas station used car lot. Not an extension of your brand, but your brand itself.”

You might own a converted gas station used car lot. There’s nothing wrong with a converted gas station used car lot, provided quality vehicles are marketed by quality people there and provided at mutually-beneficial value between buyer and seller. The point is that a poorly-developed website will undermine sales efforts and hamstring efforts to grow your business. A bad website is a loud fart during the exchange of wedding vows: the deed might get done, but the process in getting there is seriously disrupted.

The idea that businesses or organizations of any variety can and should be unapologetic in their digital crumminess isn’t just bad marketing, it’s bad business. There’s a reason this website exists and now in a semblance of ironic glory.

Be glad there isn’t an easily-accessible similar site for car dealers.

Examples of both of these are examples of selling blue parrots. They’re dead on arrival. Worse yet, no one’s even buying.

One can try to talk one’s way out of it; a bad website isn’t bad as long as people are coming in the door and we sell a car is philosophically identical thinking to the Machiavellian ‘even if one person comes to know Jesus, it will have all been worth it!’ gambit tossed out without a shred of self-awareness by Christian zealots who are content with alienating thousands so that they can hoist one on their shoulders in their deluded, bizarre tendencies toward self-congratulation.

In missiology, it is referred to as the ‘mission station’: an outpost people are expected to be drawn toward, as though it were a force of nature bringing them into the center (never mind that centrifugal force doesn’t actually exist.) The mission station, despite its obvious limitations and demonstrable, historic flaws as a strategy for proselytization, remains the preeminent method of ecclesiastical brand building in the world today.

The car dealership without a digital footprint and identity suffers from an identical problem and, without a way to interact with and get in front of others, others will remain staid or, worse, resort to their stereotypes. No one denies that the church and car dealership both suffer from historically poor optics. The fact that every church is stumbling over themselves to declare themselves real and authentic and relevant and that many car dealers talk up their hassle-free, stress-free, not-your-typical-dealership experience only underscores the point.

Churches and car dealerships have been offering the public blue parrots for so long that they only show up when they have to: when the car breaks down, or Christmas and Easter.

What it comes down to is integrity. If an entity wants to put its best foot forward, it’s going to do the best possible job in every possible way. That includes digital marketing, because digital presence is now actual presence, thus the same efforts put into a difference-making organization–be it of the religious or RPM variety–must be put into how that organization exists in the digital space. The same is also true in reverse: a great website or digital presence shouldn’t be papering over blatant flaws in the brick-and-mortar space. To wit, Wendy’s has a killer social media presence, but I’m not buying a Baconator.

We have to come to grips with the fact that it may be more expedient or more affordable to cut corners, but it isn’t right. We may not be turning back the odometer or putting floor mats over cigarette burns, or masking insecurities of conscience by using scare tactics to manipulate someone into a conversion.

It’s all selling dead blue parrots, and when confronted with the fact that the parrot has ceased to be, readying any number of excuses as to why the parrot is alive (or, more to the point, why we aren’t willing to provide a refund.) If either church or car dealer is interested in changing perception, they’re going to make sure their various forms of presence are aligned and consistent with one another, if for no other reason than there are no various forms of presence: either there is presence or there isn’t.

This is how the world is. In reality, this is how the world has always been. We’re just recognizing it anew via emerging technology…and a nearly 50-year-old comedy sketch.

waging war on salary

Everything is rooted first in an idea. Seldom are things what they are–seriously, it is what it is is a phrase that needs to be obliterated outright–rather, they are anchored by presupposition, predicate events, definitions, etc.

The present is inextricably linked to the past. Nothing exists in a vacuum. (Come to think of it, isn’t that a brilliantly redundant sentence?)

With recent fiat regulatory changes to the nature of pay for exempt (read: salaried) work authorized by the erstwhile presidential administration, then stayed by a federal judge in Texas, the nature of exempt versus non-exempt work briefly became a point of conversation. In short, exempt workers earning less than $47,476 in salary were to be paid overtime as though they were non-exempt (read: wage-earning) workers.

The first glance take by many was, ‘Cool! MONEEZ!’ And that would make sense, since, hey, who doesn’t like more money? In a sustained economic climate of flat average wages and inflation, it could be seen as government throwing the gray collared class a bone.

A deeper look at the matter, though, showed the rule change for what it is: a bureaucratic and logistical nightmare for businesses and employees. Employees who were not adjusted to above-threshold pay levels would essentially lose their exempt status, the trade-off for more money being meticulously tracking time as though they were not salaried at all. Employers artificially bumped entire sectors of their business, creating a new, unintended impact to the bottom line, putting some employers in a position where they had to cut payroll to keep the books level.

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[Hmmm? Oh, I didn’t say anything. Sorry.]

***

These kinds of wholesale changes are almost unilaterally nothing more than cynical pandering. Attempts to jack the minimum wage don’t just cause headaches for small business owners, but they push entire segments of the workforce closer to poverty as the other mechanisms are triggered within the economy adjust to the new baseline. Flat wages lend themselves to flat revenues; starve someone long enough and they’ll eat anything that looks like food. (Hey, they’ll get your vote, too.)

And this is what happens when we fundamentally misunderstand wage and salary. This is neither an economic nor math problem: arbitrarily rewriting numbers higher–even for the most well-intentioned (assuming noble motivation) reasons–does nothing productive when we don’t even comprehend what it is being changed.

Salary and wage are ideas. Salary is more or less an allowance: rooted in the Roman military tradition of paying salt-money in exchange for continued service. It is a forward-thinking payment that sets out to make above and beyond work worth a person’s while. Wage, on the other hand, is a reward for work already done. It is recompense for the past.

Salary, in essence, buys off a person’s commitment to a standard schedule where it is made worth a person’s while to not be confined to a shift. Wage, in contrast, is offered with clearer baseline expectations. (Anyone else ever work in an environment where overtime was discouraged, if not penalized?)

Neither are necessarily bad: some people prefer income stability, while others prefer the budgeted schedule and the chance at making a little more here and there. Some employers prefer people to not worry about the clock, others need to maintain a bottom line. It depends on the business and type of activities within it.

The problem is that workers and managers alike also seem to misunderstand this as much as, if not more than, government bureaucrats and the wage-hike cheerleaders. Salary is not designed to be abused and make people work 50-70 hour work weeks; that is an abuse of workforce and bad faith. Similarly abusive are environs where workers are either subjected to repressed wages or otherwise obligated to work overtime on a regular basis.

Simply jacking salary or wage numbers doesn’t address the actual problems however far beneath the surface. Raising the exempt overtime threshold, or the minimum wage, does not reconcile anything.

If anything, it amplifies fundamental misunderstandings and makes bad situations worse: a jerk of an entrepreneur who expected 80 hours of work per week from an exempt employee for $40,000 will expect that much more from someone when they have been required a nearly 20% raise by bureaucratic decree. That same jerk will either cut working hours or workforce entirely when wage obligations reach an unsustainable level. These are not merely math problems: they’re philosophical problems.

The part about Smith’s Wealth of Nations that people seem to overlook is that the name of the book has nothing to do with capital or capitalism. He’s pretty clear on this point, before laying out–in most comprehensive detail–his capitalist treatise: the wealth of nations is in the goodness of its people. The title is an irony. And, while I quickly veer away from the partisanship and rancor and cause all gradation of grundy such as whenever terms like ‘capitalism’ or ‘socialism’ are implied or invoked, the point I’m making is that if we understand what we’re dealing with, we stand a far better chance of actually solving problems, and doing so together. Further, I believe this is particularly true in matters of compensation.

A good and wise business owner will treat her employees with goodness and wisdom in all respects. Granted, this doesn’t happen much, but when the conditions are such that ownership is obligated to conform to a standard, the ability to demonstrate goodness or wisdom is also  necessarily restricted.

So, then, this is how we ought to interpret broad-stroke regulatory changes like the one currently stayed: as a capricious restriction on our ability to be better. The bigger check makes for stronger chains. The law brings death, and that which is dead is connected to nothing at all.

Graves have no roots. Those in them don’t get paid, either.

find a way: an open letter to milwaukee and wisconsin on the milwaukee bucks arena

On Thursday, 4 June, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker held a presentation in Madison. Flanked by fellow politicians and Milwaukee leaders, Walker stated the case in partnering to get a deal done with the Milwaukee Bucks to build a new arena. This morning, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published an editorial stating their cautious endorsement of making this development a reality.

I agree with the editorial staff: the details should merit strong scrutiny. I also agree that, if the details bear weight, this is a deal that needs to get done.

Predictably, the comments to that editorial are filled with reflexive and reptilian polemicist claptrap. Rather than respond there, I choose to respond here.

First, with this kind of opportunity, no one in their right mind leaves that much private money on the table. Former Bucks owner and US Senator Herb Kohl, and current principal owners Wes Edens and Marc Lasry have pledged $250 million of their own wealth. Kohl and Edens/Lasry are putting up a considerable amount of their considerable wealth to make this happen. That’s not only noble, but a good faith gesture to the region and state. If you have half the cost of anything–a house, a car, a business–in place, you find a way to punch that deal through. By comparison, this is a much better deal for the city and state than Miller Park ever was.

(The ESPN/AP report’s headline is misleading: taxpayers may be responsible for up to half of the cost, should there be delays or cost overruns. The $500M figure, as I understand it, includes contingencies. There is public precedent for doing this kind of thing the right way; thousands of cars drive it every day. Another major public project, the reconstruction of I-94 and the Marquette Interchange in Milwaukee, was completed early and under budget, one of a scant few praises anyone should have for former governor Bingo Jim Doyle.)

Also, it merits mentioning that no one found it grundy-inducing for the Green Bay Packers to do extensive expansion and renovations to Lambeau Field on the public dime twice. What are the Packers, or the Milwaukee Brewers, that the Bucks aren’t?

Second, fully publicly financed stadiums and arenas have overwhelmingly been a poor ROI, I will concede that point. Private-public partnerships, though, have not been such a dramatic boondoggle on the whole, partially because of the built-in accountability that tends to come from direct oversight in a healthy business. Current Bucks ownership has streamlined and modernized the business and gone to considerable lengths in their pilot year to be good corporate citizens. There is no reason to think they would not be good stewards of this project as well.

Third, by keeping the Bucks, an unquestionably ascendant NBA team, it guarantees a continued draw of interest, bodies and money to Milwaukee, keeps a percentage of wealth in Wisconsin to be spent in Wisconsin, generating tax revenues to be used to support the community and state as a whole and, coincidentally, help retire the Miller Park tax/debt. This is as opposed to high-speed rail, which only facilitates travel en route from to B. A midpoint is not a destination, and if California’s rail debacle is any indication…well, let’s just try to avoid being like California government in any way, shape or form.

Finally, the model new developments such as this are following is Kansas City’s Sprint Center, which not only has assisted revitalizing KC’s downtown, but has regularly turned a profit (independent economic impact report available here, and yes, that is independent) for the city and stakeholders, all without a full-time tenant in the arena. The criticisms of these reports are your garden variety fallacies: question begging and poisoning the well. One gets the sense that as soon as Walker came on board, others jumped off, which is as short-sighted as it is foolish.

People are free and welcome to disagree with me on this; it is my hope that their reasons are offered in good faith and are worthy of the kinds of scrutiny the Bucks arena deal will be getting in upcoming days and weeks. I should be clear, again, that if there are problems with the agreement, I agree it must go back to the drawing board. Frankly, in an admittedly cursory review of the plan, I don’t see any.

After clearing those hurdles, though, it has to be a green light. A Good Land Green light.

the tradition continues.

What more can be said that hasn’t already been said?