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Nov 6, 201511:03 AMBlaska's Bring It!

with David Blaska

Everyone is a crony capitalist if it means losing Oscar Mayer

(page 1 of 2)

Doesn’t your heart melt to hear a small child squeal with delight? The young Squire did so when he encountered the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile at a parade on Main Street Sun Prairie in the 1950s. As I recall, Little Oscar — a former Munchkin from Watertown — tossed Wienermobile whistles from his fantastic carriage.

Our neighbor on the farm next door worked at “Oscars,” as it was called, providing income to keep his farm, a heritage from previous generations when 40 acres could support a family. When the First Squire needed quick cash he loaded a hog into the pickup truck and took it to Oscars. Oscar Mayer’s impending departure after 96 years leaves a void that spreads throughout the community — none so deep as among the 1,000 employees, especially the rank and file. Guessing most of the 250 execs are putting their Maple Bluff homes up for sale. Attention bargain hunters!

I’m sure Scott Walker and Paul Soglin take the loss personally, as well. They should. Neither did enough.

It’s unfortunate that the two are so antagonistic. Did Paul Soglin go to the governor and ask for help? The Madison economic development authority exercised due diligence in appointing a local Oscar exec to its board of directors, who himself was laid off. Now, that is a canary in the coal mine.

Hellz bellz, Jay Rath laid it all out when he wrote so presciently for the June 25 edition of Isthmus, “Goodbye, Oscar Mayer?

Rumors of Oscar Mayer’s departure bubble up every few years. The possibility now seems more likely than ever, as H.J. Heinz Co. prepares to merge with Kraft.

Even so, the downsized exec referenced earlier told the Wisconsin State Journal, “I don’t think wild horses could have kept Oscar Mayer in Madison, regardless whether anyone spoke to them or not.”

Excellent coverage by Madison’s daily newspaper: thorough, well sourced, and humanized. Especially noteworthy: detailing Iowa’s outreach to keep the plant in Davenport, the structural inefficiency of a seven-story manufacturing plant, and the industry analysis of the way new owners 3G Capital — out of Brazil, for gawd’s sake! — and Berkshire Hathaway do business.

Is Warren Buffett still a liberal hero to Emerald City Democrats?

Anyone remember how the left savaged Mitt Romney in 2012 for cutting jobs? Our … acquaintances … professed bewilderment at his explanation that it was necessary to cut jobs in order to save jobs. But that is exactly what Davenport, Iowa, is doing. They get a new plant and 475 jobs rather than lose their existing 1,400 jobs.

I want to hear from the purists — both left and right — who despise crony capitalism yet envy Iowa throwing $15 million at a multi-national conglomerate.


Old to new | New to old
Nov 6, 2015 11:59 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

You criticize both Soglin and Walker for not doing enough, but Soglin and the City did reach out to Kraft and got no response. Walker et al did nothing. Does it hurt to be such a hypocrite ?

I don't think Iowa did the right thing either. So why aren't you after WEDC with both barrels? Because it is your boy Walker's program, and he does no wrong....

Nov 6, 2015 12:37 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

The Federal government grows unabated, and faster that the economy, fueled by Republicans and Democrats in D.C. who refuse to make hard choices. Torrents of regulations in a growing Federal Register, and US economic growth stagnant barely keeping pace with inflation, you get what we have today.

Corporations, in order to deliver the profit to shareholders, get Bigger: Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A). Put two companies together, lay-off redundant HR, manufacturing, payroll, and other people. The government regulators looks the other way, and permit the Big Corporations to get Bigger. It's what they do absent growth.

Now, you put Kraft and Heinz together, and you get a large number of old plants running at 1/3 capacity. Consolidation, restructuring, and job destruction. Deliver the shareholder value.

Big Corporations
Big Labor
Big Government
Big Banks
Big Insurance
Big Pharma
Big Energy
Big Ag
Big Media... and now, we have,
Big Catsup.

Big is in, with a vengeance.

Big can afford all the influence peddlers, cronies, and lobbyists they need. I naïvely thought that kicking the Republicans to the curb in 2008 we would have rectified many wrongs, but instead of two wars, we now have three! The cronies in the Bush years were replaced with latter day blue cronies. Red to Blue. No change.

Nov 6, 2015 02:44 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

"Those 40-acre farms and their little red barns? Engulfed by 4,000-acre farms with free-stall, confinement barns and automatic milkers."

And don't forget the manure digesters. Renewable energy!

Nov 6, 2015 02:50 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

blaska has a history of bending the truth. (lying)

should run for office.

Nov 6, 2015 03:31 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

robots are going to do everything for us one day, don't ya know. of course, who will pay for them?

Nov 6, 2015 07:55 pm
 Posted by  madisonexpat

Someone in Dane County open a micro meat. Locavore pork, beef Venison? processing. Brand the spice and prep like KFC. Hello foodies.
You'll need the Prog officials to ward off the crushing OSHA, EPA etc. regs.
Stay small. Produce quality. Prosper.

Nov 7, 2015 07:16 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

I'm conservative and pro business, but I don't think the tax breaks, loans and outright giveaways work out for the local economy in the long run. These deals are always made under duress where the threat of closure is always there. Look at Davenport, they paid through the nose to only loose 1,000 jobs instead of all 1,475. And if market forces shift in the years to come, Kraft Heinz won't hesitate to shutter it completely.

Nov 8, 2015 03:19 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

Rumors about the possible demise of the OM plat began soon after its takeover by the Kraft conglomerate. I don't recall hearing about any "reaching out" on the part of city leaders then. Of course for the last year or so, Soglin and the other Isthmus elites who run this town were way too preoccupied with cajoling, enticing, and throwing money at the moguls at Exact Sciences in an effort to get them onboard the Judge Doyle Square boondoggle to pay attention to the impending fate of a bunch of blue collar workers on the déclassé East Side. Business as usual in "progressive" Madison.

Nov 9, 2015 11:22 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

anon 3:19

Why aren't you complaining about WEDC not getting involved? Could it be that they screw up everything they touch?

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About This Blog

Raised on a farm near Sun Prairie, David Blaska is a recovering liberal who spent 18 years in daily newspapers, including 12 at The Capital Times in Madison as a reporter and editor. He served Gov. Tommy Thompson as acting press secretary in 1998 and is a veteran and survivor of 19 years in state government. He served 12 years on the Dane County Board of Supervisors. From December 2007 to November 2011 he wrote the consistently popular "Blaska's Blog" for Isthmus online's "The Daily Page" until, he says, the intolerant liberals ran him off. He blogs from Madison.

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