Why Milwaukee Needs a New Deal

Urban Milwaukee
David Riemer 

Government can work better. And cities like Milwaukee will benefit. Excerpt from a new book.

putting gov in its placeMy new book, “Putting Government In Its Place: The Case for a New Deal 3.0”, (HenschelHAUS), begins on a front porch in Milwaukee.

It’s a warm June afternoon. After a hard day’s work, the porch sitter (gender neutral) is enjoying the remains of the day, eating pizza, drinking beer… and not thinking about government.

But as I proceed, I point out the dozens of ways in which government is all around. The streets, sidewalks, fire hydrants, underground water pipes and sewer pipes, garbage carts, and nearby parks and schools are all owned by government and largely maintained by government employees. Many passing vehicles—police cars, fire engines, and recycling trucks—are government-owned and driven by government everyone.

“[Government] is everywhere,” I write. “It is hiding from you in plain sight. It’s so obvious you don’t notice it. It’s so visible you see right through it. It’s omnipresent; it’s a big deal in your life; and it escapes your observation.”

This omnipresent but invisible government does a lot of good. Yet we are also deeply unhappy with many of the results we’re getting from government—especially the federal government. According to polls by the Pew Research Center, between 2008 and 2019 fewer than 30%—and at times below 20%—expressed confidence in the federal government to do what is right at least most of the time.

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