By Jay Bullock Special to Published Jan 06, 2014 at 11:29 AM

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A friend of mine the other day said, of the West Bend Republican state senator, "Glenn Grothman is a knob."

There's an argument to made against saying something like that on the grounds of politeness. I mean, that's not the sort of thing you necessarily want to say in mixed company. But she had a point. Grothman's latest inanity, which prompted the comment, is the return of the seven-day work week.

You've probably heard this. If you're on the internet at all – and it seems that you are! – you likely had some friend of yours link to the Huffington Post story last week that laid out Grothman's proposal. When I read it, I had to double-check that it wasn't one of those Daily Currant stories that is satire, but not good enough satire to be funny or anywhere near in the same league as The Onion. Because I could totally imagine someone thinking they're funny writing this story.

But it is true! Grothman has not denied it, and the story's been confirmed by real Wisconsin news outlets.

(But it sounds like satire: HuffPo says the proposal is sponsored in the Assembly by a Republican named Mark Born, whose bio says he lives in Beaver Dam with his wife Liberty and their daughter Reagan. You can't make this stuff up, people.)

I will admit, I think the Wisconsin law requiring at least one day off in a calendar week (unless you're a janitor or a cheesemaker!) is weird, and if it disappeared, I doubt the world would end.

But what gets me about this story – and I think what gets me about Grothman in general, and why people think he's a knob – is the reason Grothman gives for wanting to repeal the law.

"All sorts of people want to work seven days a week," Grothman told HuffPo. "A lot of times, you may have a factory that wants to run more shifts or want to work overtime and is short of people – and the employee wants to work, and the employer wants them to work, why shouldn't they be able to work?"

In other words, Grothman is apparently besieged by sad-faced employees of his district who just want so bad to work a straight fortnight that he is moved by utter compassion to offer this fix to help The Working Man.

Grothman says this about "freedom." For, you know, the worker. Who wants to do all that work.

This is Grothman's schtick: His proposals – curtailing access to voting, saying women don't think money is important so they don't need equal pay, his "production tax credit" that can cut corporate taxes to basically zero – are clearly designed to benefit The Man, not The Working Man. More money and bennies to the wealthy, the white, the male, the powerful. But he sells them as being about "freedom" for the average person.

Here's the thing: If The Working Man in Grothman's district needs to take on extra shifts and whole extra days of work to make ends meet, then the problem is decidedly not Wisconsin's funny law barring seven days of work in a calendar week (unless you're a baker or a fire-stoker!). The problem is that wages are too low.

And if The Man really wants to add whole shifts and whole extra days of work at his widget factories, there's a pretty easy answer that employers have been using since forever – hire more people. I mean, haven't we been told incessantly by Grothman and his brethren that these people are "job creators"? Create some jobs, people!

(One could, if one wanted, insert some additional snarky comments about how this would help fellow Republican Scott Walker with his "250,000 jobs in four years" pledge, but I am not that one, today.)

Both of these solutions – raising wages and broadening employment – would be great for most of the people Grothman represents (not to mention around the state), doing something that would actually increase freedom by putting more money in more people's pockets without requiring a return to 19th century workhouse conditions.

But neither of these solutions is appealing to the real constituency of politicians like Grothman, who would rather squeeze the workers they have than pay a penny more or actually create a job.

Is that enough to deserve being called a knob? I don't know about all that. But it's pretty clear Grothman, who as a state senator worked about 40 days last year, doesn't have a clue about what real workers in this state need.

Jay Bullock Special to
Jay Bullock is a high school English teacher in Milwaukee, columnist for the Bay View Compass, singer-songwriter and occasional improv comedian.