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?