Corporate Colonization of Wisconsin: Part II – Selling Our Resources
This is the second in a series of articles by Dr. Keith Roberts discussing the corporate colonization of the state of Wisconsin. In this segment Dr. Roberts explains how the resources and property of Wisconsin are being sold out from under the citizens – often to foreign companies or individuals. Previous articles in this series can be found archived under the author’s name.
I have been consulting and working in Asia since 2000 and have been amazed at how the international plutocrats via the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) have been able to dismantle the middle class in Wisconsin under Scott Walker and create a low wage extraction state where a vibrant socially responsible state once stood. Walker clearly has no clue as the plutocrats fund his campaign, ALEC ghost writes his legislation and others ghost write his biography. The emerging Asian nations I have been working with are intent on increasing their middle class as a way to become a modern society. They are investing in schools and public transportation (high speed rail). Walker’s policies are going in the opposite direction. But, that doesn’t make any difference to Walker’s handlers because they can sell things to the emerging middle class in Asia. Hence, Walker’s trade mission to China.
An interesting article appeared in the Chinese News magazine “Oriental Outlook” on January 29, 2013. It is important enough that it was translated into English and published in the April, English edition of “News China”:
“Unnerved by rocketing house prices at home, a growing number of Chinese real estate investors are shifting to the over-seas market. Despite warnings from experts that taxes, fees and higher loan rates for overseas buyers could result in diminished returns for Chinese buyers, the trend shows no sign of slowing. Media have revealed that non-naturalized Chinese people accounted for over 40% of total house sales in Vancouver last year, and that one third of new apartments in London’s ritzy Canary Warf were sold to Chinese buyers, pushing up housing prices in the area by 5 to 10 percent. Many governments in Western Countries have issued policies to curb price hikes which experts believe “will further increase investment risks for Chinese investors.”
These new Chinese Plutocrats are eager to buy real estate anywhere and as a result many governments have issued policies to curb price hikes. But these Chinese Real Estate investors have patience and will invest and wait.
Up until now, Wisconsin has had a 130-year-old state law limiting farmland owned by foreign investors to 640 acres that had prevented this kind of land grab by foreign investors. But Republican Gov. Scott Walker has been pushing for a repeal of this law, essentially opening up Wisconsin’s farmland for sale to the highest bidder. The provision was dropped from Walker’s 2014 budget, but is being discussed again among Republicans in the legislature for possible adoption in spite of restrictions.
Imagine how a state like Wisconsin must look to these Chinese investors. Pristine lakes, a tradition of taking care of the environment, (up until now), clean water, lax mining laws (now) and new legislation enabling foreign real estate investment (not restricting it, enabling it!).
State Senator Vienhout’s concern about the future of the Wisconsin family farm is right on target. One of the biggest shortages in China today is infant formula, a dairy product. Wisconsin Ginseng is also in demand in China and has been for years. But, will the small Wisconsin farmer benefit from this potential market, or will Walker find a way to pay back his big outside donors.
Recently the Swiss Bank UBS subsidiary UBS Agrivest purchased 9,965 acres of Wisconsin farmland for $67.5 million. This was done in spite of Wisconsin’s law restricting foreign ownership of farmland because UBS Agrivest is a subsidiary incorporated in the US. This international investment bank addresses its US farmland investment as follows:
“We firmly believe that carefully selected well-structured investments in farmland provide a solid and rewarding component of a well-designed portfolio. A component that not only enhances risk-adjusted returns through meaningful diversification but also provides a strong hedge against inflation.”
The family farm is of little concern to Wisconsin’s Colonial Governor who receives his money from large corporations and his legislation from the business controlled ALEC. “Farmland has now become the latest scarce ‘hot’ commodity for all sorts of speculators who have absolutely no interest in agriculture,” said John Peck, executive director of Wisconsin-based Family Farm Defenders.
“No local farmer can compete with $7,000 an acre,” he said, citing the going price foreign investors are willing to pay for Wisconsin’s farmland.
Rural Wisconsin will continue to suffer under Walker, but rural voters have been taught by the plutocrats who have colonized Wisconsin that urban welfare is the enemy and they will continue to vote against their own best interests and move Wisconsin closer to a colonialized third World economy.
In the meantime Governor Walker is in the process of selling off State property at his own discretion at a no-bid price. This is property that the hard working taxpayers of Wisconsin have already paid for. The citizens of Wisconsin need to be especially nervous now that Walker has a looming deficit in the next budget. When Russia moved from a planned economy to a market economy, a few well connected favorites were able to buy government resources at bargain basement prices. This was corruption in Russia and it is corruption in Wisconsin.
The Koch controlled Republican Party in Wisconsin has successfully driven out the few moderate Republicans so that we now have an essentially one party rule that is controlled by outside colonizers. Now is the appropriate time for urban and rural populists to join together and unite to fight the downward spiral of Governor Walker’s policies.
Keith J. Roberts, PhD lives in Greendale, Wisconsin and is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for International Studies in Education, University of Pittsburgh, and a Senior Ambassador for the Globalization for the Common Good Initiative, Oxford, UK. In addition to his work in the USA, Dr. Roberts has been a planning and development consultant in diverse locations around the globe including China, Mongolia, Tibet, Thailand, Vietnam, Taiwan, Samoa, Fiji, Tahiti, the Marshall Islands and elsewhere. Upon returning to Wisconsin from China in January of 2011 he was stunned by the actions of the Walker Administration and could see that while Third World countries were implementing policies that were moving their countries to First World Status, Walker was implementing policies that were moving Wisconsin to Third World Status. Since that time he has applied his research and analytical skills to document the “Cycles of Greed” in America with a special emphasis on the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and its role in undoing the Progressive Traditions of Wisconsin. Since February 2011 he has made numerous presentations to unions, educators, retirees, political organizations and grass-roots organizations.