Democrat: “We’re Screwed”

Even some DFLers – the thin film of them that actually have to manage things in the private sector – are figuring it out.

This piece has made the rounds; it’s from the San Fran Chronicle, in a piece that gurgitates a whooooole lotta Minnesota myths:

“We’re screwed,” [Printing company owner Dik] Bolger said, if the tax goes through. His 79-year-old company competes nationwide and overseas for work with major brands like Chanel. “If you’re bidding for a $100,000 job on a national basis and tax expenses push you a couple of percent higher, then I’m not competitive.”

And I’m hearing this from businesspeople – some political, some not, and mostly off the record – all over the place.

For generations, Minnesotans lived out the progressive argument that high taxes and high services were what gave the state its fabled quality of life.

One thing Minnesota Democrats never, ever get; the “Minnesota Miracle” – creating a high-tax, “high-service” system that actually prospers – depends on several factors:

  • Being the uncontested biggest economy…
  • …within a national economy that has no serious competition (as the USA did not, between 1945 and the mid-seventies)…
  • …allowing near-unbridled prosperity…
  • …which supports boundless government spending.

These factors – especially the whole “only economy left in the world that hasn’t been bombed into rubble, taking nearly 30 years to get back up to speed” bit – are unlikely to be repeated anytime soon, or so we can hope.

But the patience of business owners is being tried more than ever, as Dayton and the Democrats who now control the Capitol mull a menu of tax increases that would primarily hit company ledgers — just as most states are going the opposite way.

Those “company ledgers” include mine.

The piece slathers on the Minnesota Myth – that “high-service” translates into high quality of life for everyone:

Dayton wants the new money to eliminate a $1.1 billion state budget deficit. He also wants more for public schools and colleges, job-creation programs and low-income medical assistance. He’s arguing that such amenities are what perennially put the state near the top of livability lists.

“I’ve heard this for 30 years and I’m not insensitive to it,” Dayton said of the argument that high taxes make businesses look elsewhere. However, “I say we’re not the lowest-taxed state, we’re the best value for people’s taxes.” Minnesotans try not to scoff as they contrast the state’s attributes with the likes of its more down-market neighbors. Minneapolis’ bustling downtown Nicollet Mall, the Twin Cities’ array of theaters and first-class museums, and the state’s expansive parkland and its 19 Fortune 500 company headquarters — the second-most per capita in the country_are what make talented people want to be here, they said.

Make no mistake about it; Minnesota is a great place – if you’ve got yours.  If you’re already a CEO – or a highly-paid non-profit executive, or government PR consultant, or anyone that’s already made your score – then a day of shopping and theatre downtown after a long day in your Fortune 500 office is mighty nice!

But for the people who get laid off because their companies are now 5.5% less competitive?  For the companies that relocate out of state because of the newly-ugly tax climate?  They won’t be shopping on Nicollet Mall or going to the Guthrie.

It’s no coincidence that Minnesota’s unemployment rate is lower than Wisconsin’s (5.5 percent vs. 6.6 percent in December) and its per capita income higher ($44,560 vs. $39,575).

This is one of the arguments that the DFL’s been floating among low-information voters lately.  Wisconsin, addled by a more virulent strain of “progressivism” even longer than Minnesota, and stuck between two larger economies, lagged Minnesota for a generation or two.

But what’s happened lately?  We’ll go through that next week, hopefully.

The Minnesota DFL is clinging to the myths, and hoping they continue to fool enough low-information voters to keep them in office.


The piece should end there.  But I couldn’t resist this next bit:

“What’s real is that quality of life is a decision-maker for the big players,” says Democratic Rep. Alice Hausman.

What “executive” wouldn’t relish a chance to play hooky at the Ordway on a tough day at the office?

15 thoughts on “Democrat: “We’re Screwed”

  1. As I drive past the state of the art BMW plant (which just teamed up to open a world class clinic for it’s emloyees ), weave through the folks hanging a left into the Bausch + Lomb campus I gotta admit I feel a bit of regret that Georgia beat us out of the re-located Minnesota Caterpiller plant….but then I realize that Michelin will probably be needing the real estate as it contemplates opening a 5th plant in the Upstate area.

    Oh, I’m sorry. What were you saying? Something about how wonderful things are in “tax the crap out of ’em” land?

  2. Pingback: Minnesota Democrats discover their party really likes taxes « Hot Air

  3. It’s almost like every politician ought to be shown an accounting ledger with bright yellow highlighting the tax items, bright pink highlighting items like minimum wage, and bright orange highlighting the costs of regulatory compliance, and then with an alternative profit margin on the bottom line in bright red showing what the cost of government is to a typical business.

    And well said, Swiftee.

  4. bubbasan; Excellent satire! You know full well that a DemocRAT could be tied to a chair and forced to look at such a ledger every day for a month and they still wouldn’t get it!

  5. Boss: You don’t have to tie a democrat to a chair. They’re usually on their cell phones in their Barca-Lounger. Show them a ledger sheet and you confuse them. They understand feelings, envy and social justice. The only way to get them out of their chairs is to stop sending them money for merely having a pulse.

  6. The “Minnesota Miracle” model was based on the state reorganizing the finances of the majority of the then-population who were gainfully employed and allowed the state to basically do the books for them by providing services that they would have had to find and pay for by themselves anyway.

    That economic abundance also helped out the relatively fewer back then who did not have the resources to pay for their own services.

    Since the number of those who were able to pay have diminished and we have become a magnet for those without resources “through no fault of their own” (so whose fault is it?) or “looking for a better life” (at our expense), the miracle has been debunked; the image of the Madonna in the lefse has proven to be the work of the baker.

    But it was great while it lasted and we still have that hockey trophy from 1980 to adore.

  7. Mitch, you forgot one other factor of the “Minnesota Miracle”: a ridiculous(ly high) work ethic. This is the same one that allows the Scandinavians and Germans to resist the results their socialist policies as well.

    I will hazard the prediction that both of the gentlemen interviewed for that article will, after complaining a bit, sigh, suck it up and work “harder”.

    They will learn nothing.

  8. It has to do with what your definiation of high tax, high service is. I think high service is having libraries, parks, a short term safety net for those who truely need it. And as a conservative, I do like mass/public transit (where it makes sense). Maybe even found museums where the content has broad appeal.

    What the left wants now is unlimited welfare spending. Unlimited spending on art that only art fans could like. An expensive department of civil rights that hassles private businesses over trival matters…..such as serving a Dago sandwich or selling a T-shirt that says “my Indian name is drinks like fish”. Corporate welfare for Big Sports (and I say this as a sports fan who has supported some of the projects). Funding a university department that has something called a Gender Studies department and just spent $3700 on an orgasm seminar.

  9. Joe and JDM, correct. You can have more services if most of the population works hard, and as Scandnavian countries have found out, are relatively homogeneous. Everyone works hard, and wants some perks from Big Gov’t, but nothing over-the-top. And for the most part, have the same goals in life.

    Now people want lots of free stuff and don’t want to work for it. Minnesota was bulit with lots of hard work. When I go by the Ramsey county building on Kellogg and see the double parked cars (walking 2 blocks is too much effort), or see the check cashing line on the first of the month at the University Ave Wal-Mart, I don’t think those people are thinking of putting in 50 hour weeks to get by when they get free stuff now.

  10. “just spent $3700 on an orgasm seminar.”

    Bubba Clinton got ‘er done for a lot less than that. Couple of poetry books and some costume jewlery as I recall.

  11. It’s almost like every politician ought to be shown an accounting ledger with bright yellow highlighting the tax items, bright pink highlighting items like minimum wage, and bright orange highlighting the costs of regulatory compliance, and then with an alternative profit margin on the bottom line in bright red showing what the cost of government is to a typical business.

    The High Grand Poobah of the Democrats, their Savior, their Anointed One has lamented that he can’t help his girls with 7th grade math.

    And you expect Democrats to be able to understand accounting?

  12. Nerdbert, cynical as I am, I didn’t believe you until I googled it. Now a LOT of things make sense (or at least nonsense) to me….and of course I’m crying. :^)

  13. Front of T-Shirt:
    “just spent $3700 on an orgasm seminar.”

    Back of T-Shirt:
    “and all I got was tennis elbow”

    … but we all got screwed

  14. I travel for work and some times spend months in other cities. MSP isn’t special. There are many other places with a very good quality of life, if you work. Salt Lake City, UT is very nice, as is Austin, TX. and Denver CO. I also like Hollywood, Florida and Durham, NC. I don’t know if Minnesota really was any better in the 70’s, I moved to MN in 1984. But I can assure you that there are plenty of cities with a quality of life equal to MSP with better weather.

  15. MSP is a really cool place on a lot of levels; it fights way above its weight in terms of arts and culcha, if you value that kind of thing.

    And I do.

    But having a thriving regional theatre scene doesn’t help the lower-middle-class find a decent job.

    Joel Kotkin predicted that cities were eventually going to become enclaves of the very wealthy – CEOs, government types, non-profiteers, key high-level staffers and their support staff, the people who go to the Walker and support MPR – surrounded by the very poor (who are warehoused in the inner city by government), with most of the the actual economic development moved off to the exurbs and the mid-sized markets. I think MSP is well on its way.

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