Our Views: Thumbs up/down for Monday, Oct. 23

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Monday, October 23, 2017

Thumbs up to “America's Dairyland” license plate. The executive director of Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce thinks maybe it's time to replace the long-time license plate slogan “America's Dairyland” with “Forward,” citing the $10 billion Foxconn plan. Our thoughts on that idea can be summarized in another one-word slogan: Yuck. “America's Dairyland” came to be through toil and perseverance. From Alexis de Tocqueville to Thomas Jefferson, great minds have reflected fondly on this nation's agricultural roots. There's no romance, no sense of work ethic in what Foxconn produces—smartphone and TV screens for people to stare at. Foxconn just can't compete with the state's agricultural image, and lawmakers and industry groups shouldn't be trying to undermine the state's “Dairyland” image for the sake of the Taiwanese manufacturer.

Thumbs down to 36 percent spike in health insurance premiums. As the health care market burns, politicians point fingers. State officials say average health insurance premiums in Wisconsin will rise by 36 percent for people buying coverage through federally run exchanges. In some counties, premiums might jump by as much as 105 percent—thanks largely to Congress' inability to agree on a health-care solution. The 12,000 residents of Rock and Walworth counties buying insurance from exchanges deserve better than Congress' dithering and President Trump's grandstanding. A bipartisan group of lawmakers—led by Democratic Sen. Patty Murray and Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander—has proposed a compromise to restore cost-sharing subsidies and give states more flexibility over health care plans. But the deal could be a nonstarter on Capitol Hill because it attempts to solve a problem.

Thumbs down to man who lied about puppy. What's only slightly less repulsive than throwing a puppy off a bridge into the Rock River? Lying about rescuing a puppy you say was thrown off a bridge to avoid paying a fee to the humane society. A man apparently did just that, and his fake story went viral. A Humane Society of Southern Wisconsin video of the puppy amassed nearly 48,000 views. People were justifiably aghast to think that a child, as this man claimed, would toss a dog from Memorial Bridge into the Rock River. Police spoke to the man, who admitted he had made up the story to avoid paying the fee. He doesn't face criminal charges because he didn't lie to the police, but he deserves public shaming. The humane society didn't release the man's name, and he ought to make amends for the hoax by giving the humane society a sizable donation.

Thumbs up to Evansville. The northeast Rock County city is in the midst of a growth spurt with four projects slated to begin soon. The plan commission approved this month a convenience store expansion, a new subdivision, a combined residential-retail space and plans for the return of Night Owl Food and Spirits. The city is benefiting in part from economic growth spilling over from Dane County, where housing prices are getting frothy and may be prompting buyers to look elsewhere. A depleted housing inventory is propelling home prices higher, and one way to grow that inventory is through new construction. Rental properties also are in short supply, and Evansville's proposed $2.4 million Brown School Place will help address this issue. Kudos to the Evansville Plan Commission for sidestepping the sort of controversies that can sometimes derail rental projects, such as what occurred in Janesville last week when its plan commission rejected a developer's reasonable plan to build upscale, market-rate apartments near Wal-Mart and Sam's Club on the northeast side.

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