So, as usual, the second after I hit the "send" button, I started having second thoughts. Is it useful for me to send a letter to legislators who are out of my district? Does it do more harm than good? But the state of this state affects my business so I am not without justification. And aren't all Wisconsin legislators ultimately all of ours? It is perhaps my sense of sadness and anger that led me to send letters in haste last night but I'm just going to go with it.
So, here's the letter I sent. Still too long to be a letter to the editor. But I'm sending it to the Gov and to all legislators. Already getting the "if you aren't in my district, I probably won't reply to you" emails as well as this one from Walker: "I take into account the views of all of the citizens of Wisconsin, and I will keep your specific comments in mind during my service as your Governor." Yeah, right.
Dear Governor Walker and Wisconsin Legislators:
I am writing to you as a graduate of the Madison public schools and the University of Wisconsin, and as a member of the Wisconsin Business Alliance. Though writing from Madison may leave me outside your district, I am writing as Wisconsin business owner with customers from around the state. I ask you to vote against “right to work,” the proposed cuts to the University, the ongoing cuts to the public school system, the undermining of environmental stewardship, and privatizing what should be government work (for the greater good, not for profit). I am very concerned about the effects of such legislative and budgetary actions upon the prosperity of Wisconsin’s citizens, and thus the success of my own business, not to mention others around the state.
Until I started my own business with my sister in 2008, I never understood what people were talking about when they said government should be run more like a business. I still don’t entirely agree, but there are some things about running a business which I think that this state is ignoring at its peril. What does it mean to run a business? First and foremost, is the realization of my complete dependence upon other people: my business is nothing if not for customers, taxpayers, union members, government employees, students, women, employees, family. The success of my business depends upon the success of everyone.
Other than that, there are really only two things on my mind:
1. What is new and unique? I am constantly on the lookout for new products and how I can differentiate myself from others. Just a hint: someone can always offer lower prices. What is Wisconsin doing to cultivate new industries and new customers in areas where growth is occurring? Is it really useful to undercut University research and teaching? How are we building upon what is unique about this state, the good people, great schools and natural resources?
2. How can I get more money? How do I reach more customers and get them to spend more? What is Wisconsin doing about the earnings of the majority of its citizens? Frankly, the $60 I saved in property taxes can either be undermined or exponentially increased in a matter of minutes if I have more customers earning and spending more money. What is Wisconsin doing about the welfare of all of its citizens, about their quality of life and earning potential? I have seen distressingly little action that would bolster my customers and thus my business.
Please note that taxes are not on that list. To be clear, I pay taxes, I just don’t base any of my business decisions on how they might change.
So, I ask you: what is this state doing to promote growth? How is the budget or SB44 in service of such growth? What actions have been taken that would benefit the majority of my customers (the women? the middle class?). I have seen little evidence that voucher and charter school expansion, “right” to work and reduced University funding will improve the bottom line of this business that is all of ours, the state of Wisconsin. I ask you to honor your commitment to our state Constitution and to all the people in your district and this state, to preserve that which keeps us unique and above all, improves the prosperity of all of our citizens.
Thank you very much for your service and your attention.
Laura Komai, co-owner, Anthology