Archive for March 16th, 2015


Monday, March 16th, 2015

By Ford Peterson, March 16, 2015

What a country! Two billion people live on less than $1/day. Our state government extracted an extra $1/day, per person, and there is no revolution. I guess we are blessed born American and are accustomed to such waste! Headlines read: “You’ve Been Overcharged!” The average Minnesotan paid roughly an extra $1/day. (Editor: $2B divided by 5.5 million people) The debate is over what to do with that money—spend it or return it to the taxpayers.

I can honestly say my life would not be much different with or without that $1/day. Refunding this surplus is of little benefit to my family if they later ask for it back. In truth, spinning taxpayer benevolence at $1/day is a slap in the face. State and local government costs these same taxpayers, on average $4,912 a year. (Editor: 2012 Tax collections of $27.0 Billion and 5.5 million Minnesotans) The overcharge is effectively a 7.4% increase. (Editor: $2B divided by $27B)

Mental note to self… Add this overcharge to the list of other excessive taxes. Social Security and Medicare, for example, has been overcharging workers. The social security “trust fund,” which was rightly set up to be like a Ponzi scheme and not a savings account, was originally intended to extract from workers ONLY what is paid out to handicapped and retired Americans. The rhetorical spin is that the fund goes “bankrupt” unless we pay extra today. Current rates mean that costs and revenues are not in equilibrium until 2033. Add this latest “overcharge” to the gas taxes redirected to fund urban transit. Why must rural residents pay extra so others can have a subsidy for commuting to work? The public foolishly considers Corporate taxes paid as part of grocery and utility bills to be paid by somebody other than the customers. Then there are the Property taxes added to every business and passed on to the consumers they serve. The political rhetoric, common to both major political parties, is offensive to common sense.

Deficits and surpluses come and go. Most Americans yawn with indifference. Tongue firmly in cheek, and an apology to Job… What the government giveth, the government will taketh away.

A windfall refund has political appeal in every household—mine included. With a refund, most households would attempt to use the money in ways that make life more efficient. Pay off debt, or fix what needs fixing. What a concept! Spend the money on true needs and the taxpayers reap a dividend year-after-year in the form of lower taxes!

The Legislature should consider practical efforts to consolidate infrastructure. Pay it forward! Form mutually beneficial alliances between neighboring jurisdictions. Consolidate remote counties (or services they provide) and create a true investment in our future. Why not spend some of it engineering efficiency into our aging infrastructure! Consider making social services, roads, court system, law enforcement, and jails, more efficient! New urban sports stadiums, downtown retail space, and railroads for urban commuters, are of little value to the vast majority.

As morally bankrupt and administratively inefficient as it seems, the Minnesota Legislature indirectly dictates the hourly wages of teachers, medical care workers, municipal workers, and even construction workers. They attempt to provide a rural and urban difference through “equalization,” which is not equal. The practice is social engineering at its worst! Political solutions for engineering problems never work. Union protections are of little value compared to the power of the purse. The rural versus urban equalization process is substantially broken. Administrative rules routinely deny rural workers a wage similar to their urban counterparts, who enjoy higher wages due to back-door equalization subsidies. The subsidy of urban sprawl is abusive and destructive to the health and well-being of those living in rural Minnesota. An urban subsidy by any other name is still an urban subsidy. Our state government holds rural wages artificially low, and urban wages artificially high, by denying parity in equalization. Why should an urban employee receive more? Rural reimbursements and preferential rates on urban reimbursements are unfair and devastating rural MN. This is wrong, and morally bankrupt.

Whatever happens to this latest surplus, demand that our Legislators pay it forward. We need to see real benefits for years to come, or give it back! Deny the urban subsidies and repair the crippling disparity in rural versus urban reimbursements. At a minimum, end the Legislature’s systemic assault on rural wages.