Both Sides of the Fence

A Tosa resident since 1991, Christine walks the dog, cooks but avoids housework, writes and reads, and enjoys the company of friends and strangers. Her job takes her around the state, learning about people's health. A Quaker (no, they don't wear blue hats or sell oatmeal or motor oil), she has been known to stand on both sides of the political and philosophic fence at the same time, which is very uncomfortable when you think about it. She writes about pretty much whatever stops in to visit her busy mind at the moment. One reader described her as "incredibly opinionated but not judgmental." That sounds like a good thing to strive for!

Looking into one jobs creation plan

Finding the truth in political claims is hard work. For one thing, the truth is usually far too complicated to be reduced to a sound bite. For another, we have to test our beliefs and assumptions when it’s easier to just go with what sounds right to us because it’s what we want to believe.

I decided to investigate Scott Walker's claim that he will grow jobs by making the climate better for venture capitalists and keeping retirees here to capitalize on venture capital.

Keeping grandmas and grandpas nearby instead of golfing someplace warm sounds like a great idea to me, but mainly for personal reasons. Having more people around who love you is always a good thing.

But where do venture capitalists come from? Who are they? How exactly do they create jobs, and how long does that take, from idea to proposal to investment to start-up to business expansion?

Fortunately, I happen to know a bona fide venture capitalist. We went to high school together, and he’s had a great career seeding businesses in Silicone Valley. So I wrote Bill:

. . . all I've read about guys who do what you do (and I haven't read much) seems to suggest they come in (to the business) fairly young. I can't get a handle on this and thought aha: I KNOW one of those.

From the horse's mouth:
Hi Chris
In answer to your question, most venture capitalists are young people who have had some experience in medical or computer technology, who figure out new business models (e.g. Google's search), pick good people, and work with young companies to develop and fund them.

I think what Walker is getting at is that job growth is through small companies, not big ones or government. So lower capital gains taxes which encourage risk-taking and reward it are one way that a state can develop young companies and jobs.

A lot of other things need to be in place, though, including role models, lawyers, world class universities and companies (like GE Medical in Milwaukee).

Ever heard of Epic Systems in Madison? They are the U.S. leader in Electronic Medical Records. They could spin out other related companies, although I don't think they needed venture capital to grow.

So the answer is not simple. Rich retirees don’t suddenly become venture capital investors. And other things that need to be in place to spawn investment in new businesses include decent schools and a nice place that you’d actually want to live when you aren’t working.

Walker is right about small business as the source of jobs and about lower capital gains taxes as one incentive. But he’s missing out on “a lot of other things” that need to be in place.

Keeping retirees here, while lovely, will not grow jobs except in health care and personal care industries. Those are low paid jobs that often depend on Medicaid and BadgerCare to provide health insurance for employees. You can see where that goes when you cut those programs. If you care to see, that is.

What would be best for Wisconsin? I’d like to see Tom Barrett and Scott Walker share the position. Imagine what they might be able to do together. But since I don’t get that wish, I’ll vote for the one with the broader, big picture view, the one who puts people first. And that would be Barrett.

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