Thursday, June 14, 2007

Putatively Punitive

Yaaaaaaaaawwwwwwwwnnnnnnnnn.

Strib editorial number 1,980,153 lamenting the fact that the Minnesota taxman isn't butt raping it's citizens as much as other more enlightened places to live (like Wyoming and the District of Columbia) are anymore.

It's all been said before. Just let the lies, hyperbole, fallacious logic and condescention wash over you.

News that Minnesotans have dropped from 16th place to 23rd in the amount of state and local taxes we pay as a percentage of our personal incomes,

I heard it was from 10th to 14th place. Where are you getting these numbers from? Your ass? Boyd? Is that you? Are you still there?

And it seems a little punitive, doesn't it? How about focusing on how much revenue is generated? Because I can gurandamntee you that the contractor the state hires to repave the roads doesn't give a shit about what percentage of who's income his revenue is.

and that our state has fallen from 28th to 31st place in state and local government spending, was greeted with fanfare this week by the governor's office. Not only was this "good news for taxpayers," Tim Pawlenty said, but a signal to those wanting to grow jobs in Minnesota that "we're open for business."

Unless you are a kindergarten teacher for 4-year-olds.

Well, yes. It's nice to feel our comparative tax burden losing some weight, and to anticipate that industry, now duly informed, will deliver the stream of high-quality jobs we've been expecting since our slim-down phase began.

I really should crank out another "Fleen" comic one of these days.

And so we're waiting. Eagerly waiting. Because job growth has been dismal since the tax-and-spend diet began eight years ago with the tax cuts of the late 1990s to the point that now, for the first time on record, Minnesota's unemployment rate for May exceeded the national average, and its rate of job participation fell to the lowest level since the early 1990s.

Hmm. Yet it's unemployment is down from its millennial high of 5% in 2003 and 2004, back when T-Paw was still cleaning the boa feathers out of the Governor's office.

To say nothing of Minnesota's all-time high of 9% in 1982 (back when "no new taxes" was a foreign concept, I believe. To say even nothinger of the fact that Minnesota'a all time low unemployment rate was something like 2.5%. And simple math tells us that 4.5% (the current rate) is an awful lot closer to 2.5% than it is to 9%.

(source, source)

Hey! I can quote stats too!

And so we're waiting. Eagerly waiting. Because job growth has been dismal since the tax-and-spend diet began eight years ago with the tax cuts of the late 1990s to the point that now, for the first time on record, Minnesota's unemployment rate for May exceeded the national average, and its rate of job participation fell to the lowest level since the early 1990s. That's not all. Last week brought the not-so-cheery news that Minnesota's economy grew at a sluggish 2.9 percent in 2006, lagging the nation's growth for the second straight year and dropping the real growth of our gross domestic product to 30th among the states.

As President Bush might say, "Heckuva job."

The phrase "correlation does not equal causation" continues to bounce around in my head like Pac Man. I wonder if the editorial will address that?

Under Pawlenty's guidance, the state seems headed rapidly from exceptional to below average. Minnesota does stand "open for business," as the governor suggests. But the invitation should read: "Come! Take advantage of our traffic jams, our crumbling roads, our inadequate transit system. Come experience our declining, high-disparity graduation rates. (Only 43 percent of blacks and 65 percent of Asians graduate from high school -- among the lowest rates in the nation.) Come witness our declining per-person investment in higher education, our scant support for bioscience technology, our problems in attracting talented students, our untrimmed parks and littered roadsides, our rising rates of disorder and hopelessness, our underfunded and outmanned police forces. Come notice the palpable decline in a quality of life that we once shared together but now reserve for those with means to enjoy it on their private patios."

Again. And again. They are framing the argument to create the impression that nobody is paying any taxes. And again, I have a strong urge to march up to Portland Avenue and shove my tax return in their pudgy pug-nosed faces.

And then maybe poop on the table.

Ohh!!! Hey! I just found some more statistics:

Minnesota population increase from 1990 to July, 2005: 15%

Minnesota biennial budget increase from 1990 to current biennium: 150%

(Source source)

So accounting for population growth, we've endured 135% inflation over the past 17 years! Who let Jimmy Carter back into office?

Oh, regular inflation wasn't 135%. Inflation of the cost of Minnesota government was 135%.

But that, of course, does not take into account the most important lodestar that is tax revenue as a percentage of personal income. Because if you don't do that, well, then, one tax dollar is only worth, like, 50 cents or something. Right?

Minnesota is fast adopting the winner-take-all format of the national economy and social structure. It's a format in which the poor don't really get poorer, but fall further behind everyone else, especially the jet-propelled top 1 percent, who now control a whopping 19 percent of the national income. This, apparently, is the "balance" so attractive to job production. And so we wait eagerly.

Aha! So it is a punitive tax structure for which they're advocating! Heckuvajob Jimmy! Or Lori. Or whoever you are.

Actually, this page preferred the old formula:

Seizing the means of production and vesting ownership of all capital in the State?

Minnesota as a commonwealth, a place where nearly everyone swam or sank together.

Yesss! Called it!

The state was a bit pricier.

Actually, read those budget numbers again: it wasn't. You just want the glorious DFL to enact more useless vote-buying giveaways so that you can feel better about yourselves for working for the good of society without having to take a crowbar to your own friggin' wallets.

But it competed on the basis of quality. And it worked: During the higher-tax 1980s (9% unemployment! - ed.) and '90s, Minnesota routinely outperformed the nation on job creation and income growth.

Which of course was totally due to the tax rate...

Sadly, that Minnesota is fading from memory. So, until the jobs roll in and prosperity returns, we'll side with St. Louis Park Mayor Jeff Jacobs who, on a related matter, said of the governor, "I personally just don't get it, the notion that you are going to cheapskate yourself into greatness."

This from the guy who provided free public screening of An Inconvenient Truth on the taxpayer dime.

He should also note that you can't tax your way to prosperity. And contrary to what the Strib and all the others who spend hours on end thinking of ways to spend your money we are already taxed plenty.

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