Tuesday, April 21, 2009

"Modernizing" Minnesota Government

Ed Lotterman is a regular columnist for our Pioneer Press newspaper here in Minnesota. His recent column, "Government needs to catch up to the times", argued that given "today's modern world" we don't need the decentralized government the founders of the state created due to technological change, etc. His column can be seen in full at --



Mr. Lotterman fails to note that technology does two things -- it empowers people and it allows for things to be decentralized. He just need to look at his newspaper office to realize this since most newspapers in the USA are dying while websites and social media services are booming as direct competitors.

Instead of centralizing even more power with the Minnesota state government we should close entire departments so that the money, staff, and responsibilities can be transferred to our county governments. I would much prefer 87 "mini-legislatures" (the number of counties in Minnesota) instead of all powerful legislature that treats county leaders as vassals on the estate.

Phase two of course would be for all taxpayers to get involved in their county government which is actually much easier to do for someone in International Falls, Minnesota versus driving 6 to 7 hours to St. Paul to lobby ("beg") their state legislators on issues of concern to them.

The resulting much reduced (in power and purse!) state legislature would perhaps meet for 60 days simply to play their constitutional oversight role and to adjust the state's sales tax rate because in my reform model all other taxes -- property tax, personal income taxes, corporate income taxes, estate taxes, etc. would be phased out -- leaving only the sales tax as a revenue source to be divided on a per capita basis to county governments. The parallel reform would be that all school districts, watershed districts, soil/water conservation districts, etc. would be revised to follow county boundaries. This would create the type of transparency we need because it would end the constant finger pointing we see from public officials today.


Minnesota Department of Economic Development

Tell me again why we even bother spending tax dollars on economic development in Minnesota?

Given this pending legislation the entrepreneurs who create new jobs will be inspired to move to South Dakota and Florida which do not punish achievers:

Editorial: The new 'sin tax'The New Ulm Journal had this view: Legislators love to raise "sin taxes," those extra charges on things you shouldn't be doing in the first place, like drinking or smoking. The Minnesota House DFL apparently thinks it is also a sin to have a high income. House Taxes Committee Chairwoman Ann Lenzcewski has proposed a tax increase plan that not only raises the cigarette tax by 54 cents and the alcohol tax by 3 to 5 cents per drink, it creates a 9 percent tax bracket for people who earn more than $169,700 a year ($300,000 for married couples).http://www.nujournal.com/page/content.detail/id/506405.html?nav=5011

Reminder - I primarily blog here now: www.regularfolksunited.com

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Theatre deemed a Vital Local Service

So the City of Burnsville, Minnesota's controversial (and publicly financed) Performing Arts Center (PAC) is running a current annualized deficit of about $276,000 yet in a recent newspaper article (www.startribune.com - by Dean Spiros) it was reported that Burnsville is "trying to trim 12 to 15 jobs through buyouts and attrition as it prepares for a projected $1.5 million loss in revenue........." which means cuts in the police, fire, and administration staffs.

What shocked me was that this article did not even mention the PAC's operating deficit. So residents can get to the theatre -- assuming there is something playing since the main stage is only projected to have acts booked for 50 nights this year -- but hopefully their homes won't start on fire during the show given the cuts at the fire department!

Again - governments should do VERY few things and it should do those things VERY well. The current Burnsville budget situation is a perfect example of public officials spending someone else's (our) money.


Talk Radio Changes

Ok, I don't understand all the changes at my favorite talk radio station in Minnesota -- KSTP AM 1500, www.am1500.com .

Earlier this week Dave Thompson was released (fired?) from his noon show and today I read that Bob Davis was gone/fired from his 9 am talk show. This inspired me to switch the office radio to Cities 97 which is the headquarters for anyone who matured musically in the 80's and 90's. Cities 97 produces an annual CD of exclusive recordings to raise money for charity -- it is a must purchase which sells out at Target stores in less than an hour.

So goodbye and good luck Dave and Bob. Dave plans to run for chairman of the Republican Party of Minnesota now but he is late in joining the race I believe. No idea where Bob Davis is but I have to guess he will pack his bags to head back to his hometown of Chicago. Bob's show is fun and he is very well read so it is worth watching his next move.


Tuesday, April 07, 2009

National Bargain Association

Reminder -- I primarily blog at this site now: www.regularfolksunited.com

Today's Wall Street Journal sports page (page B16 if you love the paper copy like I do) noted that the Los Angeles Clippers of the National Basketball Association recently sold game tickets for 10 cents if you bought one ticket for $12.00 thus making the tickets $6.05 each.

Not only is this a great bargain but it is clear evidence the market forces work for consumers. Residents of Los Angeles have two NBA teams to choose from -- Lakers and Clippers -- yet only one team is putting a great product on the hardwood thus the ticket prices for the lowly Clippers with their .234 winning percentage are very low.

Now if only a school choice revolution in Los Angeles would harness similar market forces that would allow parents and students to flee their failing government schools.