July 2, 2011
Governor Doofus Shuts Down MinnesotaBy Gary Larson
Governor Mark Dayton, a Democrat, shut down state offices this week in Minnesota by not signing on to the largest budget in state history. It's the stuff of theater of the absurd, and ironic too: It puts more than 24,000 state workers out of work temporarily, dealt them by a wild-eyed governor they helped elect. Irony never had it so good.
At issue here in Minnesota (my summertime home) is a slightly goofy governor's proposal to foist an even higher tax on "the wealthy," tagging Gopher State sluggards with the second highest income tax rate in the nation. The rich. Who needs' em?
Besides the second highest tax brackets in the nation, Minnesota suffers from the third highest income tax on business income, too, at 9.5 percent at the top tier. High taxes are a legacy of the long-in-power Democrats' hostility to business in this bone-chilling state.
Well known in corporate circles, if not by local liberal news media, is the confluence of sky-high taxes (called the Land of 10,000 Taxes) is that highly respected home-bred, state-domiciled businesses, such as 3M, put down roots routinely in other states, as Boeing did in South Carolina, based on the high tide of taxes and regulations. Oh yes, and also on whether unions' swagger is less than in this dues-coercive, non-right-to-work state. Progressivism here, it's made terrific headway. Quietly, without a lot of suspicion of its real aims.
But enough of the bitching and moaning about my home state's elevated taxes and generally unfriendly business climate, to say nothing of our tough-as-nails winters. In a word, they're brutal, as any native of Lake Woebegon would swear to.
Our crass business climate is denied, sometimes heatedly, sometimes comically, by down-is-up mostly liberal news media and by populist say-it;s-not-so DFLers, by which Democrats are known here, short for Democrat Farmer Labor. Such is their populist fantasy world that confiscatory-like taxes do not matter to growth nor stunt personal wealth in which capitalist growth is nurtured. Reality, it has a way of totall escaping ardent liberals-yes, and not only in Minnesota.
As of this writing, "non-essential" Minnesota state offices are shut down, the public suffers, and Dayton-worshiping state workers are furloughed, all the result of a titanic budget battle. On one side, state GOPers, finally in charge of both houses of the Legislature; on the other, the governor, rich heir to a department store fortune, Mark Dayton. Yes, he is the same United States Senator tagged as the "least effective" of all 100 senators by Newsweek. Recall also he closed his Washington, D.C., office, when no one else did, for post 9/11 threats. He's also admitted to bouts with alcoholism and drug use. Yeah, that guy. (Well, nobody's perfect.)
Except for court-dictated "essential" services, folks are locked out of state campgrounds (booted out) people no longer can get licenses to do stuff, like fish, or even buy state Lotto tickets. Horror of horrors! No Lotto tickets. It is high farce here bordering on parody, a surreal political play in which, sadly, nothing much happens, insofar as responsible budgeting matters.
In one fell swoop, the unemployment rate shoots up two points, to over 8 percent, and state employees living from paycheck to paycheck don't know where to turn. Their own governor did them in. Irony reigns among the uninformed, blaming "the Legislature" for their woes.
How the New York Times describes a few effects of the shutdown :
". . . on the eve of a holiday weekend, residents [found] the state's parks, historical sites and the Minnesota Zoo closed, hunting and fishing licenses no longer being issued, and that state's lottery system and racetracks unavailable. Minnesota's 84 major rest areas along highways were closed. Thousands of state employees [at least 24,000] were expected to be sent home without pay, contractors told to walk away from hundreds of road construction projects already underway.
Just how all did this happen? Too easy. Governor Dayton, a.k.a. Gov. Doofus, vetoed budget bills, holding the budget hostage to his demand to "tax the rich." Sounded good to the rank and file, at least at the time. He held out for a higher budget than even the Republicans' too-generous record offer, of $34 billion, with no tax increases. Currently the state's budget is mid $31 billion, give or take a few hundred million.)
Dayton would tap the top two percent of income earners with even higher rates, bordering on confiscatory. (Take THAT!, rich folks.) Even now they pay the lion's share of the state's general fund, yet their money flowing to the state is called "not a fair share." Caught up in Dayton's massive tax hike would be the Subchapter S corporations, relatively small businesses, often family-held, that pass through a company's bulk earnings to its owners. Did we say, tax unfriendly? Family farms, the proud and few remaining, would get tax-hit, too. Take THAT!, tillers of the fields. Who needs the sweat of your brows?
Dayton's initial tax package called for an 16% increase, an all-time record budget. Gov. Tax & Spend proposed $3.6 billion more in his budget, out of the hides of "the wealthy." Then he offered a sham " compromise." He would "meet Republicans halfway" by shaving $1.8 billion off his monstrous $3.6 billion in his initial budget. Not a "compromise" at all, not by a long shot. Rather a comedown from his artificially high "retail" starting point. About that, more later...
Bottom line: State employees helped Dayton achieve the office, over a conservative Republican in a three-way race, even after his laugh riot of an undistinguished Senate career. Now they suffer the consequences their DFL guy's excessive budget demands.
Fact is, likely to be disputed by the local DFL-taken press, the unions' fair-haired fellow, a Democrat-Farmer Labor party hack, is almost solely responsible for the state shutdown. Some thank-you for their loyal vote, eh?
One Dayton-fawning TV spot tags Republicans for the shutdown, as media are sure to follow. The 30-second spot claims falsely [and I quote verbatim] "Republicans want to send out pink slips to state workers."
Nothing, of course, could be further from the truth. But as cynics might point out, What does truth have to do with it? In political advertising I mean. Isn't that how ludicrous U.S. Senator Al Franken attained his position? Demagoguery usually reigns in finger-pointing political gamesmanship. Those who lie best, often win.
Simply put, Dayton held Minnesota budget hostage for his tax hikes. It was his way, or the highway, despite the fact that 80% of Minnesotans, in a recent local KSTP-TV survey, say -- no tax hike! (In an economy that's tanking, or tanked, that much should be obvious.)
Bottom line: Even the biggest budget in Minnesota history was not enough for this tax-happy Democratic governor. So he shut down "his" state, putting out of work "his people." Targeting the rich, sort of whipping boys, or better yet, straw men, he attacks the successful, the job-creators, the job-expanders. How loony tunes is that?
Mark Dayton worry? No, his South Dakota-based blind trusts provide him with millions while he refuses to accept the governor's salary during the shutdown. Those who voted for this governor, though, this utter failure as a U.S. Senator, don't have a choice: They lose their income. No South Dakota blind trusts for them. Let them eat, ah, cake with sour cream filling?
Soak-the-rich strategies, result mainly of envy and green-eyed jealousy, are forms of self- destructive class warfare. Tax-the-other-guy (the one behind the tree?) resonates with less affluent, uninformed and, apparently, with liberal -- oops, progressive -- mainstream media. They simply don't "get it." What else isn't new?
Finally, this just in: Census numbers and equivalent of state GDPs prove indisputably (except to die-hard, hard-left liberals) that populations are up in the south, and their economies grow too, like Texas, like Topsy. Will chilly Minnesota be left behind in the dustbin of failed high-tax havens, also minus a seat in the House of Representatives? If Governor Doofus has his intractable way, the answer could well be sadly, yes.
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