Gauging the Well-Being of Wisconsin

From the desk of Wisconsin Family Council president, Julaine Appling:

“Wisconsin’s Cultural Indicators, 2014 Edition: Gauging the Well-being of Wisconsin”

In 1997, Wisconsin Family Council released the first edition of Wisconsin’s Cultural Indicators.   It was a well-received publication in part because it was the only document of its kind that brought together important statistics giving a panoramic snapshot of Wisconsin.  We released the second edition in 2008.

Modeled after William Bennett’s The Index of Leading Cultural Indicators at the national level, our Wisconsin’s Cultural Indicators provides an overview of important indicators that impact Wisconsin’s best natural resource:  traditional families.  When Wisconsin’s families are healthy, Wisconsin is healthy.  When our state’s families are weak, struggling, and dependent on the government, that is sure to be reflected in the overall health of the state. As the family, so the state.

The greatly expanded 2014 edition of Wisconsin’s Cultural Indicators follows in the footsteps of the 1997 and 2008 editions and continues to track critical indicators, typically, over a substantial amount of time, almost 50 years in some instances.  When we present these indicators graphically, we are able to see trends—trends that reveal how healthy or unhealthy our state is in specific areas and in a general sense.  As we look at these trends, we are also able to assess whether or not interventions have been helpful. This in turn can provide direction for policy and decision makers on whether or not to maintain such interventions or to introduce others.

ImageIn this 2014 edition, we basically doubled the size of the publication because we added what I consider to be an extremely important section.  Entitled, “Family Structure,” this opening 29-page section shows in graphs, charts and tables that family structure really does matter to Wisconsin’s well-being.  On every measure we considered, husband-wife families do better than single-parent families in Wisconsin.

For instance, single-mother households are much more likely to live in poverty.  Single-parent households are much more likely to take government assistance, including Food Stamps and other income assistance.  One table we provide shows that a single-mother with two children would lose $2,600 every month in government-subsidies if she were to marry.  In annual numbers, this single mom has over $36,000 of taxpayer money coming into the household from credits and programs such as Earned Income Credit for both the state and federal government, Child Tax Credit, WIC, and other subsidies.

Other statistics show that Wisconsin’s marriage rate has dropped nearly 38% in just the last 12 years and that Wisconsin’s total fertility rate has been below replacement levels since 1975.  Replacement level is 2.1 children per woman.  We have vacillated between 1.7 and 1.9 for 39 years.   The data also shows that while teen births have gone down, births to unmarried women have steadily risen since 1960, when only 3% of babies were born out of wedlock to 2010 when 37% of Wisconsin babies were born to unwed mothers.  That figure correlates closely with 50% of the babies born in 2010 having their births paid for by Medicaid.

On some indicators we separated out Milwaukee from the rest of the state.  Milwaukee numbers show an even more startling difference between married and unmarried households.  I believe it is very fair and very accurate to say that written all over this publication is the impact of fatherlessness on a state and a community.

Quite honestly, the data tells the story.  We do provide some analysis and additional information from current research.   Our hope is that public officials, educators at all levels, business leaders, pastors, ministry leaders, and lay citizens will find this Wisconsin Cultural Indicators 2014 Edition instructive and helpful as they make decisions affecting Wisconsin’s future.  We want this publication to make a real difference in our state as we work to improve and increase Wisconsin’s best natural resource—her married mom-and-dad families.

This unique and significant report is available online HERE.

Milwaukee Data Show Decline of Family Hurting the City

Press release from Wisconsin Family Council:

Wisconsin’s Cultural Indicators, 2014 Edition shows children suffer

when the traditional family is on the decline

ImageMadison, WI—Today Wisconsin Family Council (WFC) announced the online release of Wisconsin’s Cultural Indicators, 2014 Edition.  WFC first released this premier publication in Appleton, Wisconsin on May 27th.  The Wisconsin’s Cultural Indicators, 2014 Edition, provides an overview of important indicators impacting the well-being of children and families in the state of Wisconsin and Milwaukee in particular.

“This timely compilation of data highlights how much the disintegration of the family unit is hurting Milwaukee,” said Julaine Appling, president of Wisconsin Family Council. “While some blame government, the failure of programs, the judicial system or the education system for problems in Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s Cultural Indicators shows the root problem: where the family unit is no longer the underpinning of society, everyone suffers at every level of society, especially the children.”

The seventy-page publication provides a breakdown of data and trends between Wisconsin and Milwaukee for indicators such as “Children and Family Structure,” “The Relationship Between Government Assistance and Family Structure,” “Childbearing and Poverty Status,” “Sexual Activity Among High School Students,” and “Illegal Drug Use on School Property,” as well as a “Government Entitlement Analysis” that uses Milwaukee County rates.

“We know, for example, that 73 percent of children in Milwaukee living in single-mother households were in families receiving government assistance in 2010, compared to 56 percent of single-mother households statewide,” noted Appling. “Both figures are staggering, but they highlight the unique needs in Milwaukee. So many children in Milwaukee are missing out on the great benefits of living with a married father and mother. It is our hope that Wisconsin’s Cultural Indicators will help leaders and concerned citizens in Milwaukee craft policy and programs that strengthen marriage and families and by so doing, strengthen the city of Milwaukee.”

Wisconsin’s Cultural Indicators, 2014 Edition is available online.








12 – 1 p.m. (FREE)

GUEST SPEAKERS: Sen. Glenn Grothman/Rep. Andre Jacque & More!

On Tuesday, May 27, Wisconsin Family Council will publicly release its newest publication. Wisconsin Cultural Indicators, 2014 Edition, is a unique, Wisconsin-specific document that looks at cultural and policy trends that impact the well-being of the state. This publication clearly shows how important intact mom-and-dad families are to Wisconsin’s well-being, both now and in the future.

You are invited to join us for this event at The Machine Shed in Appleton from noon to 1 p.m.! A complimentary lunch will be provided. Registration is not necessary; we’ll fill the room on a first-come, first-served basis. Fox Valley Conservative Forum has graciously agreed to allow us to do this public launch in cooperation with them and their weekly meeting at The Machine Shed. Attendees will receive a copy of Wisconsin’s Cultural Indicators, 2014 Edition (one per family).

In addition to WFC staff, several special speakers will join us for this special event. State Senator Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend), Rep. Andre Jacque (R-DePere) and other community leaders will deliver brief remarks about the importance of the information in this publication to our state.
We look forward to seeing you at The Machine Shed in Appleton on Tuesday, May 27, at noon!

GAMBLING: A Bad Bet for Wisconsin

From the desk of WFA president Julaine Appling:

So here’s the premise for this entire commentary: gambling is a bad bet for Wisconsin.

Right now, the Menominee Indian tribe wants to open what is known as an “off-reservation” casino in Kenosha.  This is a project that has been on the table for nearly 20 years.  Numerous roadblocks, including the indictment of the tribe’s developer for illegal Imagecampaign contributions, have, to this point, prevented the opening of this new gambling establishment. Recently, however, the tribe received the federal approval it needs to move forward and has now asked Governor Walker to approve the casino.  According to the law, the Governor has the final word, trumping even the decision from the federal Department of the Interior.

Governor Walker’s response has been very measured. He has said before he would approve the Kenosha casino, three criteria have to be met: 1) the plan must have community support, 2) there can be no net increase in gambling, and 3) the state’s other 10 tribes must agree.

Given the rancor that has existed between and among the tribes over the years, especially on these “off-reservation” casinos, getting the other 10 tribes to agree to giving up some of their gambling and reaching total consensus on the Kenosha plan is a very tall order.

I can say that I am personally hopeful that the criteria are not met, as pleased as I am that we actually have these criteria.  When Jim Doyle was governor, he basically expanded gambling in this state exponentially and had no legislative input on doing so, so I’m especially glad that Governor Walker has laid down some pretty stiff restrictions if this casino is going to become a reality.

According to a report issued by Wisconsin Policy Research Institute in 2012, “Today, virtually everyone in Wisconsin is within a two-hour drive of a casino. Gambling opportunities are numerous and ubiquitous. As of October 2010, the casinos in the state boasted 16,643 gaming devices (slot machines, etc.) and 345 gaming tables for poker, roulette and so forth. Casinos are located in 17 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties….”

Of course, the argument being used by those who want the casino is that it will bring in jobs and help the families of those who get employed by the casino and boost the overall economy of the area.  However, experts looking at data of other places with casinos don’t see a net gain in all those areas.  The money the low- to middle-income people spend on gambling—most of which they lose—is money that would have likely been spent on real products and real services that have real benefits for the people and the community—not just the tribe who owns the casino.

gambling lossLook, gambling is not a victimless activity.  By its nature, it’s addictive.  The Wisconsin Council on Problem Gambling reported that the calls they received in 2012 were nearly record-setting and represented a 6.9% increase over 2011. As Rose Gruber, director of the Wisconsin Council on Problem Gambling says, “he total number of calls is really just part of the story. There are other significant numbers in our annual Helpline Report that show how devastating a gambling addiction can be.”  Gruber says in 2012, “45 callers reported thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts, 37 callers reported having to file for bankruptcy due to their gambling problem, and the average gambling debt of callers was $39,849.”  And these are just the reports from those who volunteered this information, since privacy laws prevent the Council from requiring the callers to share this information.

These calls and these statistics represent real people and real families.  According to Gruber, anywhere from 5-7 percent of Wisconsin’s population are believed to be problem or compulsive gamblers.  That’s at least 345,000 people and likely over 86,000 families directly impacted by gambling. We know every new casino makes it easier for new people to get involved with gambling and easier for problem gamblers to feed their addiction.

Governor Walker is right in being cautious about approving this casino.  Of course he wants new jobs in Wisconsin; we all do.  But I am guessing the governor knows that not all industries and not all jobs are morally equivalent.  Some do more damage than good to our state’s most valuable resource—her families. And when that happens that’s never good for Wisconsin. Gambling qualifies as one of those industries.  I repeat: gambling is a very bad bet for The Badger State.

Appling/Jacobs Affirm Founding Father’s Principles at “Let’s Do Lunch” Event

“We are still the greatest nation on the face of the earth. Our difference has made us prosperous; it has made us free.” – Julaine Appling

Julaine Appling with guest speaker Dr. Jake Jacobs at Wisconsin Family Action’s “Let’s Do Lunch” seminar in Sheboygan Falls 6/12/2012.

The Aviation Heritage Center was the venue for the Sheboygan Falls “Let’s Do Lunch” seminar hosted by Wisconsin Family Action.  President Julaine Appling spoke to a group of 40, passionately affirming the foundation of family, the need for people/churches to be politically involved, and the work WFA has been involved in over the past year and currently.
You can listen to Julaine’s speech by clicking HERE.

Dr. Jacobs speaking with attendees after the seminar

Jake Jacobs, Ph.D., former college history professor, author, and professional speaker, guided attendees through the nation’s history stating “All 50 states acknowledge God in their constitutions as the source of life and liberty.” Jacobs reiterated the history of the Wisconsin Constitution and some of the founding father’s views on morality and government.
Dr. Jacob’s speech can be heard by clicking HERE.
Wisconsin Family Action hosts “Let’s Do Lunch” seminars throughout the state of Wisconsin. Check out our schedule on our website HERE to watch for one being held in a community near you. You may also follow us on Facebook and Twitter @WIFamilyAction!


NOTE: Dr. Jake Jacob’s is the author of Mobocracy: “This is what Democracy looks like!”, a book that describes the devastating effects of the mob mentality/Occupy Movement. You can view information regarding his book HERE.

The Lottery, A Zero-Sum Game

This week’s radio commentary…

What’s more Wisconsin than Klement’s Famous Racing Sausages?  You know, the six varieties of sausages that entertain the fans during the Brewers’ home games each season.  Apparently, what’s at least as Wisconsin as those sausages is the state lottery the sausages are now being used to advertise.  Hey, it’s all just fun and games, right? It’s just baseball, apple pie, sausages and gambling.  Really?

Last year the Wisconsin Problem Gambling Helpline received 14,604 calls – setting a record for the helpline. The Wisconsin Council on Problem Gambling estimates that five-to-seven percent of Wisconsin’s population may be problem or compulsive gamblers. That may not seem like a lot but with a population of over 5 ½ million, that comes out to over 282,783 thousand people in the state, or 1 in every 19, with a serious gambling problem and that is a problem.

Listen to/download the MP3…

Read the transcript…

Gambling your way into recession

For five years Professor John Warren Kindt and colleagues worked to compile the the three-volume United States International Gambling Report. The report is intended as a warning, according to Kindt.

The United States and the international economies are headed in the wrong direction thinking that gambling will help them. It’s Economics 101 that you cannot gamble your way to prosperity. But you can gamble your way into more recessions and even depression.

Very true, in more ways than one, I think (who doesn’t believe Congress is gambling with our future on a daily basis?).

What surprised Kindt the most in his work? You’re never going to believe this–it was the “influence of big gambling interests in state and local governments.” You don’t say?! We wouldn’t know anything about that here in Wisconsin.

Kindt’s report illustrates the danger of gambling to national security and the economy and sites troubling problems within the gambling infrastructure such as terrorism, money laundering and the inherent drain of gambling on the economy.

How long is it going to take for our state government to realize that gambling is a zero-sum game that’s bad for our state, our families and our economy? Instead, we’re signing yet another big gaming compact.