Do you think some Wisconsin business owners have been conned into voting against their interests?

From the pages of In Business magazine.

Welcome to "Political Posturing," featuring opposing views on current issues important to Wisconsin's business community. In this column, Wisconsin Business Alliance Executive Director Lori Compas and conservative columnist David Blaska offer their opinions from the left and the right, respectively.

Small businesses’ dollars often aid only big businesses.


In our modern political system, Americans vote in two ways: at the ballot box, of course, but also with their contributions to candidates and political groups.

I don’t know how my fellow business owners vote at the polls. I assume the majority of them have observed that “trickle-down” principles haven’t worked. They understand that taxes pay for things that all our businesses need but that none of us could build alone — things like roads, schools, and a safe water supply. They’ve seen firsthand that Wisconsin’s giveaways to a few large corporations haven’t met projected jobs goals.

What many Wisconsin businesspeople don’t realize, though, is that sometimes they’re making political contributions — voting with their dollars — without even knowing it.

Take, for instance, business owners who join their local affiliates of the statewide chamber of commerce. Local chambers are great: They promote economic development, strengthen civic pride, and provide valuable networking opportunities. The problem is that local chambers are usually dues-paying members of the state chamber, also known as Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, and WMC has a far-right political agenda.

This probably comes as a surprise. I’ve found that many local chamber members don’t even know what WMC is, or if they’ve heard of it they’ve only heard of Business Day or the Safety Council.

But WMC lobbies at the State Capitol, and it lobbies hard, and if your chamber is a member of WMC, then a portion of your dues is helping fund its partisan agenda. In the past year, WMC lobbied for privately run charter schools (AB 549), eradication of local control over air and water quality (SB 349), and other legislation that benefits a few businesses at the expense of everyone else’s.

“Conned” is a strong word, and I’m not sure it applies in this case. But our organization exists because people are starting to realize that WMC is pushing policies that are actually unfriendly to middle-class business owners like themselves, and they don’t want their own money working against their best interests.

Lori Compas is a small business owner and the executive director of the nonpartisan Wisconsin Business Alliance,



Individual citizens understand the American dream.


It is the kind of question liberals, progressives, and socialists like to ask: “Do you think some Wisconsin business owners have been conned into voting against their interests?”
As a practicing conservative with a soupçon of libertarianism (and a squirt of habañero sauce), my answer is “no way, Joseph.”

People vote their own interests as they determine them to be. Their answers do not always obey Mr. Marx’s dialectical materialism. That independent stubbornness confounds our redistributionist acquaintances, who — after every Republican victory (no matter the venue) — ask the question Thomas Frank posed in his 2004 book of the same name: “What’s the matter with Kansas?”

Frank’s claim that “people [are] getting their fundamental interests wrong” is progressive arrogance, weapons-grade. The nation’s community-organizer-in-chief can’t build a website, ballyhoos food stamp dependency as economic development, and audits his enemies.

Economist Thomas Sowell called it “the vision of the anointed.” It is wielded against “selfish” individualists — various Bradleys, Kochs, and WMC members — who don’t kowtow to the central planners.

Bobby Kennedy Jr. would imprison skeptics of global climate regime change. Milwaukee’s Democratic district attorney persecutes conservatives for speaking to other groups on behalf of candidates and causes they mutually support. Speech police! Open up, hand over your hard drives, and obey the gag order!

It never occurs to the command-and-controllers that most Americans still get the American dream. They bear no animus toward Warren Buffett, Oprah Winfrey, or Judith Faulkner for all their billions. The one percent did not take, they created.  

By a 59% to 37% margin, Americans told pollsters for the Global Strategy Group they want economic growth, not “economic fairness,” which is code for socialism.
Americans celebrate July 4, not April 15. The freedom to succeed and reap the rewards — or risk failure (the greatest incentive to strive) — remains the truest blessing of liberty and the ultimate rebuke of the collectivists.

David Blaska is a Madison columnist and In Business blogger. Find his blog at

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