Meritocracy in Wisconsin

The Governor of Wisconsin is paying a 27-year-old college dropout who has never held a real job more than $80k a year to run environmental regulation for the state’s Department of Commerce. Oh, yeah: his father is a big-time lobbyist who chipped in six figures to the Walker campaign.

See, if we just get rid of civil service protection and public-employee unions, we won’t be stuck with over-paid and under-qualified state workers who can’t be fired despite their inability to do the work. And if we get rid of affirmative action, we can hire people based on their qualifications, rather than their descent.

Oh, wait …

Well, look on the bright side. To wingnuts, hiring unqualified people because their parents are important isn’t a problem as long as the unqualified people are rich and white.

Anyway, the universities are full of leftists; if the kid dropped out of UW it wasn’t because he was dumb or lazy, but because he was standing up for his conservative principles. And his inability to find a real job before he turned 27 is probably Barack Obama’s fault, or ACORN’s fault. No? Then let’s blame it on George Soros or Planned Parenthood or the SEIU.

After all, it stands to reason that if your father is a big-time lobbyist for homebuilders you must know a lot about business, so putting this ne’er-do-well in charge of environmental regulation makes perfect sense.

Here’s hoping that the State Senate recalls in Wisconsin are just a warm-up for the Gubernatorial recall.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

21 thoughts on “Meritocracy in Wisconsin”

  1. Is there such a thing as an anti-meritocracy? Where you give the job to the least qualified person, so they are as ineffective as possible?

    Kinda like when your head of HR gets fired for sexual harassment. (true story, btw.)

  2. Even better than the head of HR getting fired for sexual harassment is the head of the EEOC, which enforces the law against sexual harassment, getting put on the Supreme Court despite having committed sexual harassment while heading the EEOC.

  3. We Arizona old-timers remember a Republican governor named Evan Meachum: he was a proto-teapartier (his far-right constituency didn’t have the kind of intraparty power it now has) and was impeached by a Republican-led legislature. His policies weren’t that far off from the rock-ribbed conservatism of his peers but he was personally embarrassing to the state and was a political loose cannon — not a “member of the club” you might say. I’ve seen more than a few office seekers (and holders) these past two years who look a lot like old Ev.

  4. Yes Mobius, it’s called Republican governance. Instead of starving the beast, you just dress up like one and go golfing.

  5. “Kinda like when your head of HR gets fired for sexual harassment.”

    Well, almost two decades ago, MIT had a student-affairs dean who was also in charge of sexual harassment cases. Then, one day, the student-run paper published the story of his long-term, on-and-off affair with a married departmental secretary, with both filing harassment charges against each other. He was gone from campus the same day and, after 24 hours, never heard from again.

  6. MIT also had a Dean Of Admissions who faked her resume. It was only discovered after she’d been in office a long time, having risen all the way through the ranks, and she was greatly respected for her job performance, but the irony was just a bit too intense and she had to go. She apparently still works as a consultant to university admissions departments.

  7. As frustrating as the Democrats can sometimes be, they aren’t nearly as bad as the Republicans. This is further proof of that.

  8. (Kleiman): “To wingnuts…
    How soon they forget the relation between incivility and violence.
    (Kleiman): “…hiring unqualified people because their parents are important isn’t a problem as long as the unqualified people are rich…
    Kennedys, anyone?
    (Kleiman): “…and white.
    Just who’s preoccupied with race, here?
    In what society does nepotism not occur? A policy which would minimize the damage would give to the unconnected options beyond the reach of insiders. In other words, a competitive market in goods and services.

  9. (Calling all toasters): “Shorter Malcolm: Look over there! Also, identifying racism is racist.
    Professor Kleiman raised the issues of nepotism and race, which I addressed. What “racism” did Professor Kleiman identify (as opposed to imply, without evidence)?
    (Instapundit): “Racial slur led to fight with Illinois trooper, student says. ‘The politically connected head of Gov. Pat Quinn’s Southern Illinois security detail used a racial slur against a black college student in a Carlinville bar, starting a fight that preceded the officer’s resignation, the student says. . . . Snider, one of Quinn’s top security people and a well-connected member of the region’s Democratic power structure, resigned shortly after what officials have described as a barroom ‘altercation.’ The following day, Snider also resigned without explanation as head of the Macoupin County Democratic Party and president of the Carlinville School Board’.”

    Right. Call them racists. Where have we seen that before?

  10. The racism is the implicit racism in hiring only folks that are in your clan, whether it’s family or close circle.

    It’s hiring by descent. And since the parents were well connected whites ( status quo, you know ) the children get to become well connected whites. It’s good ole boys + a token or two.

    And any attempt to remedy this, uh, I’ll call it a tendency, is denounced as reverse racism.


    The other alternative is that they hire the wastrels to be figureheads presiding over the implosion of an inconvenient watchdog.

    Looking at you, GWB.

  11. Malcolm, it is interesting how there can be two interpretations of the same thing – especially when context is sparse.

    Because when I read “call them racist”, I didn’t read it as “pretend they are racist”, but rather, “point out the racism in inherent in their language”. One could go further and point out the racism *inherent in their policies*, but that’s a bridge for another day.

  12. (Eli): “…when I read “call them racist”, I didn’t read it as “pretend they are racist”, but rather, “point out the racism in inherent in their language”. One could go further and point out the racism *inherent in their policies*, but that’s a bridge for another day.
    (Ackerman): “…take one of them–Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, who cares–and call them racists. Ask: why do they have such a deep-seated problem with a black politician who unites the country? What lurks behind those problems?
    So shoot first and ask questions later.

  13. Mark K., Jonathan Z., Steve T. and Harold P. were JournoLists.
    “Anonomous”above, was me.
    (Eli): “One could go further and point out the racism *inherent in their policies*, but that’s a bridge for another day“.
    Alas. If “their” means “Republicans'”, (Palin, Ed Brooke, J.C. Watts, Martin Luther King, Condoleeza Rice, Allen West, Clarence Thomas, Herman Cain), “free marketeers” (Palin, Cain, Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, Dambisa Moyo, Dick Armey) or “Christians” (Palin, Cain, + millions), I would like to see how anyone could attribute racism to “their” policies.

  14. (Klein): “The racism is the implicit racism in hiring only folks that are in your clan, whether it’s family or close circle.
    Strange definition of “racism”. Anyway, it does not appear to be the case“. Did you check before you made the suggestion?

  15. Not a definition of racism at all – a consequence of racism.
    And for nepotism and cronyism – I’ll just say, “Heck of a job, Brownie”

Comments are closed.