Minnesota budget battle...

great little op ed piece, I think…

"See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime. Then abolish this law without delay… ."

French statesman and philosopher Frederic Bastiat, “The Law,” 1850.

Just what is it with the Minnesota left and this obsession for taking other people’s money? Every budget cycle it’s the same old song and dance. Hiding behind those golden parachutes of Great Society liberalism – education and health care – the DFL and the Star Tribune renew their demand for more and more in taxes to placate an inscrutable appetite for redistributing wealth.

Forget about the particulars of the latest budget “crisis” for a moment. It was, as always, merely a ruse to raise more revenue. For no one in the real world thinks that a $30 billion budget in a state of only 5 million residents (North Carolina has a $32 billion biennial budget serving well over 8 million) represents anything other than a “spending problem.” No one paying the taxes instead of consuming them would dare suggest that education is being shortchanged when K-12 spending now totals a whopping $10,162 per pupil, according to the Department of Education. And no Minnesota family paying for their own health care would consider it Draconian to ask able-bodied, childless adults to wean themselves off MinnesotaCare – especially since Tennessee’s Democratic governor is now demanding the same thing on a much larger scale.

No, that’s not what the biennial budget battle was all about. It was, however, about the DFL’s own man of the cloth, Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson, ignoring one of the seven deadly sins by trying yet again to use the tax code to discriminate against a select few. Granted, such class warfare does have the popular appeal of mob rule, but the Senate’s proposed $1.4 billion tax grab on the so-called well-to-do – in part by arbitrarily choosing 40,000 taxpayers and subjecting them to a fourth and higher income-tax bracket – takes the politics of envy to new heights.

Perhaps Johnson and his band of DFL robber barons should simply identify Minnesota’s 10 richest citizens and, well, just take everything they have. That, of course, would require sacrificing those pesky little things called individual rights which for generations have separated the American experiment from the despotic ones. But it appears Minnesota liberals are up to it.

That is what the budget debate was all about. The false premise of the rich getting off easy, such as when the Star Tribune insists (ad nauseam) the wealthy “pay a smaller share of their incomes in state and local taxes than other Minnesotans do.”

Well, life is full of surprises, and those with more money pay a smaller share of their income for groceries too. That’s why they’re called wealthy.

This tax-the-rich chicanery is and always will be fundamentally anti-American. For if the American dream means anything it means that as your earnings grow your expenses, including state taxes, shrink as a percent of income. To argue otherwise, you would have to assume that as we become wealthier we demand more in the way of government services – when roughly the opposite is true.

Unless you believe the rich are more likely to put their kids in public, not private, schools; more likely to ride mass transit and live in public housing; and more likely to claim the working family tax credit or enroll in MinnesotaCare.

No, what is really meant by left-wing criticism of the governor’s “no new taxes” pledge is that the tax code isn’t sufficiently transferring enough income. Odd, considering the Department of Revenue’s 2003 report showing that the richest 10 percent of Minnesota households pay 39 percent of the total state and local tax burden and a remarkable 55 percent of the individual income tax collected. How’s that for “striving to spare the wealthy”?

Nevertheless, the prairie populists know a good thing when they see it. After all, if the GOP is willing to call a cigarette tax a “fee,” is it really surprising the DFL would try to punish Minnesota’s most productive on top of it?

Republicans were pushed into offering just such a “compromise” by listening, no doubt, to their “moderate” inner child. But they ought to remember that Dean Johnson once represented the beloved “middle” in Minnesota’s GOP and is now doing everything he possibly can to eviscerate every last principle the party platform once stood for.

Genuine conservatives believe that government should raise revenue in a neutral manner (the framers called it “uniformity”) in order to provide those few public goods that benefit everyone – even the rich. Minnesota liberals don’t. They think government exists to redistribute income from one individual to another. Period.

And that’s what these budget battles are all about.

Jason Lewis hosts a weekday radio talk show in Charlotte, N.C.

Hey, Clark, you might enjoy reading Bastiat’s The Law here:


Personally, I think he was reactionary even for his time, much less now. No point in protecting an absolute right to one’s own cabin in a ship if it means the whole ship will sink. Plus it seems to me that there are other rights involved, e.g., the right to the minimum conditions for human flourishing, that cannot be achieved without differential contributions, and it sure as heck is less of a burden on the wealthy than it is on the poor. :)

thanks. I will take a look

Sheesh… ever heard of snow removal? There’s a big difference between MN and NC. :D

now that’s funny! :D