Christian Schneider

Author, Columnist

Cloudy With a Chance of Crony Capitalism

Last weekend, I took some time out from teaching my kids how to make daddy a martini long enough to let them watch the movie “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs.”  As I’m certain you recall, the movie features a young inventor, Flint Lockwood, who devises a machine that makes it rain cheeseburgers, pizza, and, yes, meatballs.  (The movie also features the much-awaited voiceover return of Mr. T, who was robbed when the Oscar nominations were announced.)

Spoiler alert: As the movie goes on, Lockwood’s machine goes on the fritz from overuse.  The city government of Swallow Falls, sensing a huge impending windfall from tourists wanting to see food fall from the sky, forces him to overextend the machine’s capabilities, leading to unanticipated consequences.  Those consequences come when the food gets larger and larger, leading to giant pancakes falling from the sky and crushing buildings underneath.  The island of Swallow Falls is buried under giant donuts, hamburgers, and steaks.

At the end of the movie, Flint flies a homemade spaceship into the middle of a giant meatball and manages to disarm his invention.  When he gets back to the town, they treat him like a hero – even though it was his invention that caused all the problems to begin with.

Now shift ahead to today, where an even more implausible event took place: Governor Jim Doyle thinks he created some jobs.

Yesterday, Doyle announced a $1.5 million loan to the Marquis Yacht Company in Pulaski, in order to save 315 jobs.  Marquis’ parent company filed for bankruptcy last year, and now Doyle’s Department of Commerce is ready to swoop in and aid the yacht maker.

But in the spirit of Flint Lockwood, we don’t need to guess how this all started:

1.  Wisconsin’s high taxes and anti-business climate cost companies millions of dollars;

2.  Additionally, high taxes prevent individuals from buying big-ticket items, like yachts;

3.  Business owner says he or she can’t afford to pay their workers, as profits are tanking;

4.  Jim Doyle swoops in to help only those businesses he deems worthy of block grant money, thereby “saving” jobs.

Sure, it’s not as dramatic as saving humanity from destruction by 50-foot bananas, but it’s the same concept.  Doyle expects us to give him credit for saving jobs that he, in effect, forced from the state.  And the only way for a business to be deemed worthy of a bailout is to drive down to Madison, pucker up, and smooch the posterior of of the outgoing executive.

So just like the movie, maybe we should send Mr. T to the Capitol to smack some people around.  Clearly, he does not pity the fool who costs Wisconsin jobs.

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1 Comment

  1. “Doyle expects us to give him credit for saving jobs that he, in effect, forced from the state. ”

    I call meatballs. Genmar, the parent company which declared bankruptcy, was doing perfectly fine into 2008, some 6 years into Doyle’s term. I wouldn’t blame Jim Doyle for a 50% drop in sales from the previous year in 2008, unless he is responsible for the global recession. The only way to have saved that company would have been to subsidize yachts, which as we all know is a great idea in every respect. So yeah! Doyle is exactly like that meatball guy.

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