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Believe it or not, I've got some conservative views

Kirk Bangstad

Last Friday, a conservative friend challenged me when I said I held some conservative views. “What are they?” He asked, probably guessing I wouldn’t or couldn’t elucidate.

Well here you go sir.

For this Sunday, when I usually think about atoning for my sins or admitting to something I’ve done in the past that might come back to haunt me on the campaign trail, I thought I’d write a little bit about my more conservative views and how I came to hold them.

As a brewpub owner, I’ve been quite dumbfounded over some aspects of how unemployment benefits are paid. Now don’t get me wrong, unemployment is an absolute savior most of the time, and it has literally kept food on the table for much of America during this pandemic, but it can also be abused.

I remember when a server of mine chose to work at another restaurant in addition to ours thinking she could make more tips, but when that restaurant closed for the winter, she filed for unemployment because she was no longer working “full-time,” which by Wisconsin law is a minimum of 24 hours a week. We offered her more hours to bring her back to full-time, but she refused, and somehow was awarded benefits from us.

There was another time we let a bartender go because she consistently missed her shifts due to being hung over, yet she somehow was still able to collect unemployment from us although we had documented in writing all the instances where she “no-called, no-showed.”

Similarly, we let another bartender go for drinking on the job. He went and worked for cash under the table as a handyman for the next 6 months, and when the pandemic hit, we were on the hook to pay his unemployment because on paper he hadn’t had a job since we fired him.

Given these experiences, I think there are loopholes in the unemployment system that should be filled, and that may sound pretty conservative to some.

Similarly, I believe but can't confirm that there are some loopholes in the Wisconsin welfare system that are irritating and costly for small businesses. Take hiring for example. We pay quite a bit of money to advertise that we’re hiring online when we need staff. Every time someone applies to work for us through an online job site, we have to pay for that “lead.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve responded to an initial lead and been stood up for an interview. I could be wrong, but I believe there are some folks that are only on those sites to get that email “asking to set up an interview” and document that they were “looking for work” in order to collect benefits.

Now I know in the larger scheme of things, it’s impossible to provide a social safety net to those who need it without running into a few bad actors, and as a legislator, I would work across the aisle to shore up some of these loopholes so that bad actors couldn’t game the system, and that benefits were given to those that truly needed them.

My last example involves red tape.

The amount of paperwork that a small business is forced to do when it comes to providing employee information to mortgage lenders, child support agencies, healthcare organizations, insurance companies, workers compensation cases, and other social service organizations is extraordinary, and takes away from actually running one’s business. While corporations can hire accounting or human resource departments to so this, small business owners mostly have to do it themselves because it’s too costly to outsource.

I think at some level, there needs to be a more streamlined approach for small businesses to get employee information to the multitude of government agencies that require it.

Finally, from a philosophical point of view, I chafe when I see people not take responsibility for their actions and when people expect something handed to them without working for it.

I know that last sentence has been used by 100% of conservatives running for office, and it can be overused as a tool to take away needed benefits from those that are suffering, but at their core, I believe these are truly American ideals, and even more importantly, Wisconsin ideals. There’s a reason why employers on either coast like to hire Midwesterners, and it’s because our work ethic has always been strong.

There is a healthiness to having to work hard to earn a living, but an unhealthiness to continuously being under water financially no matter how hard you work. This is fundamentally why we have a “left” and “right,” to compete with each other to find a fair middle ground that doesn’t make it too easy to shirk responsibility nor does it make it too hard to get help.

Ultimately, this is how we can find middle ground between parties: embracing the idea of working hard and honestly to achieve success. No party can own the mantra of hard work, honesty, and fairness—it belongs to all of us, and if that’s at the core of how we shape public policy, we should be able to find common ground as liberals and conservatives.

Please share these sentiments to those that probably think I'm a communist, and if you really like what you read, consider donating to my campaign so I can keep getting this message out. https://secure.actblue.com/…/bangstad-for-wisconsin-assembl…

Written by Kirk Bangstad on 07/12/20

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