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July 01, 2011

Just when I thought all was lost...some good news!

Minnesota's government has shut down!

While I was away on my sojourn through the verdant wilds of Jesusland, the news in my homestate was full of dire warnings of governmental shutdown. In spite of the reinvigorated Minnesota GOP, my cynical nature convinced me that the GOP would fold like a cheap suit and give Governor Mark Dayton (Brave Sir Robin, yo-ho!) everything he asked for: taxes, taxes, and more taxes.

Somewhat to my surprise, the state GOP held firm. No new taxes, and they're demanding pretty deep cuts to government spending instead.


This is interesting to non-Minnesotans mainly because it closely echoes the fight taking place in the federal government right now. President Obama, like Governor Dayton, is a far-left ideologue of the purest ray serene who thinks that cutting state spending is directly equivalent to taking the bread out of granny and grampy's mouths. No government program can be spared, no matter how inefficient or wasteful. The old class-warfare rhetoric is put into play yet again: let the rich bastards pay!

The problem in Minnesota, as in the nation at large, is that there simply aren't enough rich people to cover the budgetary shortfall. And the Democrats (or in Minnesota, the Democrat-Farmer-Labor party, or DFL) knows this. That's why their "tax the rich" rhetoric rings very hollow, and doesn't even really convince partisans: everyone understands that if Dayton gets his way, taxes will go up for everybody.

And there is the public-employee angle, with the pension/healthcare money-sink that entails. I expect to see many heart-rending stories in the days to come about the hardships experienced by idled DMV and DOT workers, and many plaintive "why take it out on the little guy?" human-interest stories. The Minneapolis Star Tribune, a house-organ of the DFL, will spill much ink on the plight of the public workers. (About the plight of overburdened businesses? Not so much.)

Well, I will not be moved, and I devoutly hope the state GOP will remain firm. Minnesota is already a high-tax state, and the last thing we need is to give state businesses more reason to decamp to lower-tax climes. In fact, I have high hopes that this shutdown will end up proving that we can get along just fine with less government. If the DMV office is only open two days a week rather than five, or if we have to hire a private firm to maintain the docks and boat-ramps at the reservoir, I'm sure we'll get along okay.

Minnesota is a weird place, politically. It gives rise to some of the jerkiest liberals in the land -- Al Franken, Walter Mondale, and the current Gov. Dayton -- but also gives rise to conservative stalwarts like Michele Bachmann and Tim Pawlenty. Whatever else this means, it usually provides for entertaining political theater.

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posted by Monty at 09:13 AM

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