Wednesday, March 02, 2011

The Giving of Tools

(from here)

In the wordle above, if you let your eye move left to right beginning with state, make, spending, next ... just above spending (no comment) you'll see the word tools. In his budget address Tuesday, WI Governor Scott Walker uses the word tools opposite the usual “if you have a hammer, everything’s a nail” type meaning that some have accused him of using. I suspect the intended allusion is to the maxim: “there’s a right tool for every job.” But, the over application of the term in diverse contexts conveys to me that the good people of the state will have all kinds of governing techniques to use on any difficulty. A local municipality could use a sledgehammer when a screwdriver would do, or a chisel when oil is necessary (e.g., a school district could lay off a few union-oriented teachers, impose a wage freeze, spin off the good teachers and wealthy students into a charter school in order to retain a school superintendent).

In the speech he uses 'tool' five times:
1. Not having to be locked into union negotiated deals and high retirement costs: “… so local government and state government have the tools to deal with reduced revenue …” (cannot refer to more tax money since he’s capped that)

2. These must be coping tools, i.e., trade-offs “…, their local communities will be forced to manage these reductions in aid without the benefit of the tools provided in the repair bill.”

3. Vouchers and independent charter schools: “…we give schools across the state the tools to make up for those reductions …” (privatization of education)

4. What UW leaders refer to as flexibility, assuming in procurements, faculty retention, capital improvement decisions: “…we will give our flagship, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the tools it needs to remain a world leader in research and instruction …”

5. Either #1 or #2: “Where we must make reductions, we do so wisely, by giving local governments the tools to save even more money than overall reductions in state aid.”

[FYI, UW-Madison Chancellor Biddy Martin, for want of creativity in an email sent to faculty yesterday, also parroted the word tool.]


Anonymous said...

Definition of tool as "wet noodle holding up falling oak" can be found in this article:

"Although he isn't calling for immediate layoffs, Walker's budget would put tremendous pressure on schools and local governments, which would be asked to shoulder huge cuts without raising property taxes to make up the difference."

Is UW-Madison being given the same tool?

Anonymous said...

Actually, I only saw one tool during his speech.

Mr. Verb said...

The one standing at the podium?

Anonymous said...