Wake-Up Call for the State of Wisconsin

By Br. Steve Herro, O. Praem.

Bishop Frank Dewane | Photo courtesy Diocese of Venice (used with permission)

Bishop Frank Dewane | Photo courtesy Diocese of Venice (used with permission)

In late October, I fired up Wisconsin Public Radio on my computer to catch the morning news and the headline “Report shows continued racial disparity in children’s well-being in state, nation” caught my attention. According to the report, the “opportunity gap” between Wisconsin African-American children and those of other races is worse in Wisconsin than in all but three of the 44 states surveyed. The “opportunity gap” is derived from 12 different indicators in health, education, and economic sectors.

I continued reading and discovered these jarring statistics:

  • 72 percent of White children in Wisconsin live in economically secure families.
  • 36 percent of American-Indian children live in economically secure families.
  • 31 percent of Hmong children live in economically secure families.
  • 30 percent of Latino children live in economically secure families.
  • 24 percent of African-American children live in economically secure families.

(Economic security is often defined as the assurance of consistent income to guarantee an ongoing maintenance of your current standard of living.)

This is a severe wake-up call for the people of Wisconsin. In 12 months, we will choose a governor, 99 state representatives, and half of our state senate. Will any candidates running for these offices address these terrible racial disparities in our state?

In an October 25, 2017, letter to U.S. Senators, Bishop Frank Dewane, chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, listed six moral principles to guide tax and budget policy-making:

  • care for the poor
  • family formation and strengthening
  • progressivity of the tax code
  • adequate revenue for the sake of the common good
  • avoiding cuts to poverty programs to finance tax reform
  • incentivizing charitable giving and development

I encourage voters and legislators alike to reflect on these priorities and this letter as we work “to form a more perfect Union” with equality and opportunity for all.

DISCLAIMER: This blog represents Br. Herro’s own opinions and experiences. It does not represent an official position or opinion of St. Norbert Abbey or of any other Norbertine.
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