We've reached that point where you are left with a little vomit in your mouth when you hear Scott Walker say for the umpteenth time that Wisconsin is "open for business." But at least we are getting a clearer picture of what he actually means. Wisconsin is open for old business. The state under Walker seems to want little to do with anything resembling a new economy or, god forbid, a green economy. Wisconsin is not open to high-speed rail. Or wind power or biofuels.
No wonder. We've written plenty about why Walker was willing to say goodbye to $810 million in federal rail funds. And as business reporter Mike Ivey pointed out in a lengthy piece published this week, the two special interests that want to slow down if not stop the spread of wind power gave Walker nearly $1.2 million to aid his run for governor. Oil, gas and coal interests scared by the emergence of biofuels gave him close to $128,000.
Protection rackets traditionally have been underworld criminal enterprises. Nowadays the payment of most protection money has been decriminalized and hides behind a seemingly innocent mask. Now it's called a campaign contribution. And there's no better illustration of the new racket than what old business interests in Wisconsin are doing to protect themselves from the economic destiny the rest of the world seems much more prepared to embrace.