We are in a perpetual, political tug of war, as if we are having a nasty family quarrel.
Few of our political leaders seem interested in civil discourse or nuanced conversation. For more than four years, our country has been in a horrible downward spiral, as if the objective is to see how fast we can reach bottom of what seems to be a bottomless pit.
During my professional career, I have found if a problem needs to be solved, it is important to engage the best possible minds to find solutions with the least adverse side effects.
America is great at solving problems. The challenge we have in our society is not a lack of talented, educated or able men and women, but what we collectively decide to identify as problems. Problems get the trifecta of problem-solving tools: time, talent and money.
Is it a problem that minority children have lower-performing schools and fewer resources than do whites? Not if your child attends Cassville Elementary school in Neenah or Freemont Elementary in the Weyauwega-Fremont School district.
Those are the top two elementary schools in Wisconsin, according to www.schooldigger.com. The website also ranks high schools, and — no surprise — schools with significantly poor or minority enrollments are conspicuous by their absence from the top rankings.
Then there’s state Rep. Sally Kern, R-Oklahoma City, who recently said minorities earned less than white people because minorities don’t work as hard and have less initiative. Any legislator who felt this way would not support investigating racist employment practices or closing the transportation divide because, clearly, minorities are the problem.
As I look out my window and see Capitol Drive torn up between 60th and 84th streets, on the one-time sea of asphalt is a sea of mostly white men. In fact, I’ve not seen one obvious minority, but I’m not monitoring the construction site.
From my office window, I saw three out of four white men for an entire week performing a segment of their work that clearly could have been accomplished by any healthy male or female randomly picked off the street.
Yet none of these men were minorities, although it’s a neighborhood that’s 90 percent black.
Before I send my labor friends into a tizzy, I’m not suggesting that these men are not skilled, nor am I saying that the majority of their work doesn’t require substantially more skill to perform than it did on that week.
However, I saw one city block of work, taking more than 100 man-hours. There are 25 blocks of roadwork to be done at a prevailing wage near $50 an hour, suggesting there’s more than $125,000 in wages to be paid.
Are there issues surrounding minorities who don’t want to work? Yes. Is it a black thing? No. Is it the only reason blacks and other minorities aren’t working? No.
I have traveled the state and have family and friends throughout Wisconsin. There are good people in all corners. They come in all colors, political parties, opinions, faiths and sexual preferences.
It’s easy to take a moral stance against people you don’t know but so much more difficult when you dig deep to get to know one another.
Randy Crump is a columnist for The Daily Reporter.