Social conservatives who listen to talk radio, and watch Fox News and the Christian Broadcasting Network, they especially resent their tax dollars going to a public school system that teaches about the "homosexual movement," Mike says, or that doesn't allow studies of creationism. But, with his oldest son just starting kindergarten, he says he will give public schools a try, with parochial schools the fallback.
Steve Ziegler, an accountant who bought InPro Corp. in 1993 and turned it from a $10 million to a $44 million business, is such a fan of Reaganomics that he recently offered to donate $60,000 to any local school district that would rename one of its schools after the late president.
A Bush supporter with a "W '04" sticker on his black Lincoln Navigator, Ziegler says he knows from running his own factory that improved technology is the cause of the sharp decline in jobs, not anything George Bush has done. "The people who used to do these jobs - you need to do something else," he says, walking through his plant, where sprawling machines turn plastic pellets into handrails with minimal manpower.
"Unfortunately, some individuals are stubborn and don't want to do something else," Ziegler says. "So they go on unemployment and they blame Bush and they complain, 'My job was lost.' The job wasn't really lost; it was taken over by technology."
He points to his recent hire, Michael Gibbs, as Exhibit A in the new economy, someone who rose out of the warehouse ranks to a more lucrative position, one that gives him financial security and the kind of family life he and his wife covet.
"We both like coming home at 5 o'clock and having a family dinner and going out with the kids, and doing all those things," Kristin says. "We want to be able to take family vacations, and we want to be able to do fun things. And yet we don't want to be at our jobs 80 hours a week, where you can't enjoy any of those things. And so this is perfectly comfortable for us.
"It's exactly where we want to be."
The Konecnys once had all that. Dinners around the table with Carole's pot roast and potatoes. Children running in and out of the house. Family vacations (to Disney World, of course). In fact, the Konecnys liked to think of their family as the Cleavers - as close as you could get to the TV ideal living in an urban bungalow bordered by a freeway overpass, railroad tracks and a cemetery.
But with the four of them suddenly jobless, the comfortable, traditional 1950s-style life they had clung to seemed as much a relic of the past as Beaver's soda shop slang.
"It was devastating," Carole says of the loss of their work and the change in their lifestyle.
After taking out a home-equity loan - which has set them back five years in paying off the $32,900 house they bought in 1981 and remodeled, they stripped their budget to bare bones. Shopping was confined to the dollar store. Dentist visits were canceled because the health insurance they bought didn't cover dental. Their son Daniel switched from Claritin to a cheaper generic version of the allergy medicine, which he says is not nearly as effective.
For six months, Carole, a high school graduate with a cosmetology license and much typing and office experience, searched the newspaper and the Internet for work. She says she went on roughly two interviews a week, including six interviews at Palermo's Pizza, which never got back to her. Finally, she found an entry-level clerical job, with benefits, at a health insurance company.
It took Doug longer, a year and a half, before he found a job that wasn't too drastic a cut in pay or too humiliating a cut in responsibility.
"You hear people say, 'I'll dig ditches for a job,'" says Doug, who has worked since age 11, when he had a paper route. "You go down quite a ways in what you'll do."
When he did find a management job, he was competing against former CEOs, he says, or hundreds of applicants, most with college educations. He realized that his lack of a college degree put him at a severe disadvantage. As a former supervisor himself, he knew that employers always made two piles when collecting resumes - degree, no degree.
"My resume was always in the wrong pile," he says.
Which is why he and his wife were insistent that their two children - who were paying their way through college with the help of partial scholarships and their jobs at Everitt Knitting - stay in school, even though they talked about dropping out. "There was no way we would let them do that," Doug says of his son and daughter, who both live at home. "We said, 'We'll figure out something.' Like every parent, we wanted the best for them - better than what we had."
As it turned out, Megan, 23, who graduated last May from Marquette University, and Daniel, 22, a student at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, were eligible for tuition assistance through a federal program attached to NAFTA because the family had lost its employment because of foreign import competition.