Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Good For MN

I am having a lively discussion with quite a few Liberals at this post.
MinnPost GOP Candidates Say MN Should be more like WI and KS

Their story goes something like this.
  • Minnesota is doing much better than WI and KS in many different areas
  • The DFL is in charge of MN at this time
  • Therefore it is foolish for GOP candidates to recommend  Conservative policies
To which I of course do not understand, so I raised the following points.
"If things were bad here, then change would have made sense. Yet as the writer says, everything was great. Yet the DFL and Dayton chose to change the winning formula. Only time will tell what the consequences of their actions are." G2A

"So if Ventura, Pawlenty and the GOP were doing such a good job over the past ~15 years, why again did Dayton and the DFL start "taxing and spending" more just last year. Are they trying to ruin a good thing? " G2A

Do you truly believe that the changes Dayton and the DFL made  less than 15 mths ago account for all this good news? What is your rationale for giving credit to the DFL when the GOP was in control for more than a decade before this recent change? G2A
Eric had a better response than the others, though it raised interesting questions and dialog.
"We need a more intelligent political discussion than is being offered by the GOP.

Our public political discourse has been degraded in a number of ways, but especially, in my view anyway, by the mantra of ‘limited government’ and ‘deregulation’—language that is routinely substituted for more considered and substantive thinking.

I’m certainly not alone in viewing regulation and tax policy as instruments, not ends in themselves, but I strongly suspect that this equation has been reversed by many on the right or is at least muddled. Tax cuts are often offered, for example, with little to no discussion of or acknowledgement of wider systemic effects, or what other values might be negatively affected. Thus, I’m motivated to refer discussions back to questions of ends.

Second, whenever you look at state comparisons of well-being, MN usually comes out on top of WI and KS. Here’s another one: America Health Rankings : MN ranks 1, WI comes in at 10, and KS at 17.

What explains MN’s superior performance? Whatever our analysis, since MN hasn’t been a state in which we’ve had much interest in hard-right experiments, the GOP candidates have an added burden of proof." Eric

"Since Carlson, Ventura and Pawlenty have led the State to most of our success, I do not think we have been a State of Hard Left Experiments either.

Yet here we are actively conducting them. What burden of proof should Dayton and the DFL provide to justify these Expensive Hard Left Experiments that they have single handedly started?

As you say, the burden of proof should rest on those who are proposing or making the drastic change from what has been succeeding. I hope these Hard Left Keynsian experiments turn out okay and hopefully we return to consensus decision making in January." G2A

"In standard American political discourse, 'hard left' is a phrase reserved for pretty much socialism and anarchism. There's nothing remotely approaching that with Dayton or the DFL. (And no, Obama isn't a socialist, Marxist, fascist, or communist.)" Eric

"I am sorry I find it hard to see the difference between the views of many of the commenters here and the DSA. Thoughts? ABOUT DSA

And I don't see Carlson, Ventura and Pawlenty as pure Capitalists either. Yet it did not stop you from referring to their beliefs / actions and those of the GOP candidates as as "hard-right experiments".

The reality is that the 2 candidates for governor will likely be a bit Left or Right of center. And the Liberals will call the GOP candidate "Hard Right" and the Conservatives will call Dayton "Hard Left".

That is just the way the game is played. Remember that when you are sitting in the far Left of the theater, it looks like everyone is to the far Right of you and vice versa." G2A
Thoughts?

50 comments:

Laurie said...

As best I can remember Mn has been a high tax state for a very long time and it seems to work well for us.

Laurie said...

Tim Pawlenty says that as governor, he kept Minnesota off list of 10 highest-taxed states - politifact

John said...

With the DFL's changes last year. Maybe we are aiming to be number 1.

This looks like the info for 2011 before the tax increases.

jerrye92002 said...

The problem is that labels aren't really the equivalent of unequivocal and effective public policy positions. They are great as shorthand, such that referring to Mark Dayton as a "hard left" governor is a short way of saying that he has pursued policies of increased spending, higher taxes and burdens on business, and radical social policy.

And these comparisons aren't even useful, because we can't play "what if." We can't back up and replay the last 4 years with Republicans in charge, and see if the outcomes would be better or worse, and I suspect that even then there would be disagreement over what constituted "better." For example, If the rich people were taxed less and kept more of their income, would that be "better" or "worse"? And are we going to consider that those folks may have expanded their business and hired more people as a result of the lower taxes, or do we just assume that these secondary "benefits" don't count in assessing "better"?

It's even more complicated than that. We've raised the minimum wage. When prices go up or people lose their jobs or businesses fail altogether, does that count "against" the liberal idiots that thought those things couldn't possibly happen as a result? At what point does a liberal policy get called a failure? When, after that, do they pay a political price for it?

Sean said...

I don't believe the DFL espouses policies that resemble the DSA at all. I think you're exposing your faux centrism by making such a comparison.

Nothing the DFL did in the last session was "hard left" -- it only appears that way to people on the "hard right".

John said...

Sean,
Maybe that is because you are in the Left seats.
Political Self Awareness

Tax the rich and business more.

Redistribute the proceeds to poor.

Have government control more of the spend to ensure fairness.
Total Spend

Promote labor unionization and empowerment.

These are the basic tenants of the DSA. You should read them. They were very informative.

Sean said...

You need to go beyond the basic tenets, which are largely word salad. The specific policies they are pursuing include eliminating traditional for-profit corporations, taking public control of financial institutions, manufacturing, and land-use decisions, massive redistributive shifts, and massive cuts to military spending.

The DFL has proposed none of those things.

John said...

They disagree. Please browse the linked and you may find that you agree with them more than you think. And I think based on their comments, many of the MinnPost commentors are likely card carrying members.

DSA Q and A
DSA Where we stand
DSA Statements

Remember... If you want to make America look and act like France, Norway, etc, you are likely a Democratic Socialist.

There is nothing wrong with it, just don't deny that reality.

As the political self awareness page shows, our government went from controlling ~25% of our GDP in 1950 and to controlling ~40% of our GDP today. France is at ~65%. If you want to give them control over our healthcare funds, we may get to 50+% sooner than later.

John said...

As I often ask... How much of our GDP should flow through our government?

Per the continuum 20% was extremely conservative and 60% was social democrat.

Currently we are half way in between with no slowing of the DFL requesting more wealth transfer. Thoughts?

Sean said...

I have read them and I disagree, John. Sadly, you're one of many who have made this argument in the past, so I'm quite familiar with where they stand.

What the commenters at MinnPost think is irrelevant, because they're not the ones making decisions.

Democrats were barely able to pass a health reform bill that required people to get insurance from a private insurer, much less go to single-payer or the DSA's preferred model of a nationalized health care system.

The DSA wants to eliminate traditional corporate structures and replace them with worker-owned co-ops. The Democratic Party didn't even pass "Card Check" laws for union organizing.

I could go on, but I don't have the time or inclination to humor this absurd argument any longer. The Democratic Party has not proposed any of what you suggest they have in common with the DSA.

Are there people on the far left who have those opinions? Sure. That doesn't mean they represent the Democratic position any more than the John Birch Society represent the Republican position on everything.

For you to continue to make this argument merely exposes your claim of centrism to be bogus. Take the log out of your eye before you start casting aspersions on everyone else.

John said...

The question is not what were the Democrats able to get passed. The question is what would they pass if the Republicans / DINOs and fear of back lash from the citizens were not there to block their efforts.

Would single payer healthcare have passed if only Democrats were there to vote?

Would card check have passed if only Democrats were there to vote?

By the way, you neglected to answer my simple question. How much of our GDP should flow through our government?

How much do you think would be too much?

I think we should reduce it back to 33%. 1/3 for society to use as it will. 2/3 for families to use as they will.

Sean said...

"The question is what would they pass if the Republicans / DINOs and fear of back lash from the citizens were not there to block their efforts."

Pointless question.

"How much of our GDP should flow through our government?"

I don't have a number. Government should have the level of revenue required to do its job.

Laurie said...

Given that MN has done well for the last 35 years being a high tax state would you favor keeping our tax rates the same if the GOP took control (other than repealing the recent increase on the wealthy)?

John said...

Laurie,
I am not worried about taxes for the most part. Remember I thought it was silly that they didn't rescind all of of the Bush tax cuts if they were going to do it for the rich. If the Clinton rates were good for them they should have been good for us.

My goal is to figure out how to shift the trajectory of this terrible curve. Government Costs

If it keeps going the way the Liberals want it to, my children will have less than half the GDP to spend on their hopes and dreams. Some politician / bureaucrat will be deciding what the right things are to spend on. I think that is terrible.

John said...

Sean,
Interesting answers.

Of course it matters, that is where they are trying to pull our country to over time. (ie boil frog technique: start with cold water and heat it up = cooked frog)

Any amount is ok... The politicians and bureaucrats love you.

Sean said...

"Any amount is ok."

That's not what I said.

John said...

"Government should have the level of revenue required to do its job."

I just don't any boundary of any kind specified in this statement.

Not on the scope of government or what they can spend.

Here is one of my quotes from MinnPost

"I don't think that Public employees are lazy, I think they are humans. Therefore they are focused on the area they are working in and want to make it better. Therefore:

The accountants will seek more personnel and tools to do a great job.
The teachers will seek more personnel and tools to do a great job.
The DOT folks will seek more personnel and tools to do a great job.
The legislative folks will seek more personnel and tools to do a great job.
etc, etc, etc

The down side is that it is difficult for these folks to optimize head count, systems and tools since they work separately. That is why constraining resources and managing the "business/ govt" is so important. Without it the entity grows ineffective and expensive.

Besides who reading this does not think they are worth more than they are currently paid?" G2A

Without constraints, how many English teachers would the English Teachers think a school should have. How many varied and interesting unique offerings would they encourage? They are not greedy or bad, they just believe English and Lit are real important and more should be spent on them.

I am sure the same could be said for the police, social workers, tax personnel, etc, etc, etc.

Laurie said...

once again I am tired of your complaining about spending and taxes so I looked up some information about lower tax countries to which you could move. Looks like Chile and Mexico would save you a little money.

The U.S. Is One of the Least Taxed of the Developed Countries

I spent part of my day listening to a speaker talk about strategies for teaching children who live in poverty (22%, 95% at my school). I really don't care if your very privileged kids "have less than half the GDP to spend on their hopes and dreams." (what does that even mean.) If some politician / bureaucrat wants to raise taxes to give more $ to schools that serve very at risk student populations I am all for it.

Sean said...

"I just don't any boundary of any kind specified in this statement."

Sure, there is. It's just not an arbitrary one. Picking a GDP number doesn't make any sense. What makes 33% the magic number versus 34% or 32% or 25% or 40%? It's just based on your intuition of where you think that line should be instead of evaluating what government needs to do and the resources required to complete those tasks.

Government shouldn't have any more than is required to do its job. It shouldn't do any jobs it's not supposed to do, either.

Granted, people are going to disagree on where those lines should be drawn, and that's what the political process is for.

But let me assure you that there's no one more infuriated by government waste than I am.

John said...

Laurie,
I respect your Liberal / Social Democracy beliefs, though I disagree with them.

Now why does the gov't/personal line matter. Today your children get to use approximately 60% of their income as they wish. They can use it to travel, buy a house, pay for travelling soccer for their kids, save, invest, smoke, drink, gamble, etc. This used to be >75%.

Now the politicians decide where your children will spend an additional 15% of their income. (40% - 25%) Imagine if your child's family has taxable income of $60,000/year, that means your kids have lost control of $9,000 per year.

What could / would they do with that $9,000/year? How would it make their lives more fulfilled?

And the sad part of the story is that much of that $9,000/year is being transferred to people who do make bad decisions. Meaning they do not strive to achieve academic success, they don't save for retirement, they may spend on bad habits, they don't work as hard as they could, etc.

And yes we need to help those who are truly unlucky, but do you want a good chunk of your children's money going to those who make bad choices?

John said...

Sean,
Let's try this a different way then.

What do you think the job of State/Local government is?

What do you think the job of the National government is?

Sean said...

That's an extraordinarily broad question.

Boiling it down to its most basic, government exists to provide for:

* national defense & public safety
* judicial system
* infrastructure (roads, energy, etc.)
* public education
* safety net programs
* promotion and regulation of industry
* support of scientific research
* protection of natural resources
* public health
* disaster response

I may have missed a couple in there, but those are the core functions.

John said...

Split: National vs State?

John said...

Just curious. Where does wealth transfer fit in here?

Laurie said...

...people like John are pained by the conviction that they are paying ever more to finance the expansion of government.

But in fact, most Americans in 2010 paid far less in total taxes — federal, state and local — than they would have paid 30 years ago. According to an analysis by The New York Times, the combination of all income taxes, sales taxes and property taxes took a smaller share of their income than it took from households with the same inflation-adjusted income in 1980.

Tax Burden for Most Americans Is Lower Than in the 1980s

How the Tax Burden Has Changed

John said...

You have shared that before and it still seems suspect. Here is why:

- Why did they start in 1980 rather than 1960? (luck or bias)Kevin Drum at Mother apparently played with numbers to make a false point by starting in 1981.

- It focuses exclusively on taxes, not on spending. Sorry to say but our current deficit spending will need to be paid back through higher tax revenues.

- It was created in 2012, so it does not have the recent tax hikes on the wealthy in there.

- It does not mention all of the cash benefits the low income people get out of the system. If they are paying 20% in local, state, and federal taxes and getting back 30% in TANFF, Heating Assistance, Welfare, housing assistance, etc, in my mind they have a -10% tax rate.

And we all know what I think about calling FICA a tax rather than a forced savings and insurance account.

Sean said...

"Split: National vs State?"

Other than national defense, they both have pieces (in some form or fashion) of both.

For instance, the state doesn't typically fund scientific research, but they fund the large state universities at which such research is typically performed.

Sean said...

"Where does wealth transfer fit in here?"

I guess it would fall into the safety net category, depending on what you consider "wealth transfer".

John said...

To me a safety net means something that catches people when they fall.

Not something that supplements their income for most of their life.

Unemployment, Job training and short term welfare are examples of good safety nets. (ie safety trampolines)

Long term TANF, SNAP, Medicare, Heating assistance, Housing assistance, Earned income work credit, Legislated minimum wages, Free and reduced lunch, subsidized health insurance, etc are all examples of policies that continually transfer money from those with it to those without it.

These are more like safety hammocks. They provide no incentive for people to work harder, learn more, change bad habits, etc. Instead they enable them to continue as they are.

John said...

"Other than national defense, they both have pieces (in some form or fashion) of both."

Why do you think the Feds need to be involved in welfare, medicare, food programs, etc?

Why are we not keeping that at the local level?

Are we not to be trusted caring for our own?

Laurie said...

Why not go back to 1914. I believe spending has increased tremendously in the last 100 years and if the trend continues might reach 100% of GDP

also have fun debating Bush record vs Obama record on spending, deficit, and jobs over at Minnpost. I am not up for it.

three-charts-send-your-right-wing-relative-guaranteed-make-their-head-spin

Three economic statistics that make Obama look good — but with some cautions

Sean said...

"Long term TANF, SNAP, Medicare, Heating assistance, Housing assistance, Earned income work credit, Legislated minimum wages, Free and reduced lunch, subsidized health insurance, etc are all examples of policies that continually transfer money from those with it to those without it."

I don't know about "continually" because you have some programs in there that have some real defined limits, but yeah, that's their purpose.

It's about ensuring people have the means to make the most of themselves. Are there some who won't? Sure. But the research shows that a huge majority give it their best shot.

We can let kids go hungry at school, I suppose, but that's not really my thing. I'm not down for blaming kids for being born to the wrong parents. You seem to be big on dividing folks into the virtuous and non-virtuous, so go for it.

Sean said...

"Why do you think the Feds need to be involved in welfare, medicare, food programs, etc?"

Federal involvement in such programs developed from the failure of other levels of government and the private sector to do it on their own.

John said...

Sean,
Do you mean that the virtuous people in MN and like states deemed the people in Mississippi and like states to being non-virtuous in caring for their friends, neighbors and fellow citizens.

Therefore the virtuous imposed their idea of being virtuous on the non-virtuous by moving the expense and burden to the national level.

John said...

Remember the continuum... And how we have steadily moved from the right to left since 1914. My thought is there can be too much of a "good thing".

"Why not go back to 1914. I believe spending has increased tremendously in the last 100 years and if the trend continues might reach 100% of GDP." Laurie

You should be happy then, if the DFL has it's way we may become a social democracy yet. Of course your kids won't have much economic freedom, since the government will just take their check and give your kids what they think is fair.

Do you feel that water slowly coming to a boil??? Ribbitt...

Sean said...

The reason we have Social Security is because we had a bunch of destitute elderly people living on the streets and it was a real societal problem that wasn't otherwise being resolved, not because wild-eyed democratic socialists were plotting to take away your liberty.

John said...

This should have read:

"Why do you think the Feds need to be involved in welfare, medicaid, food programs, etc?

I had planned to leave medicare and social security out of it on purpose, since there are some benefits of those being at the national level. Being that people move over the decades.

The others not so much so.

John said...

"destitute elderly people living on the streets"

Do you have any idea why they didn't just put those people on some equivalent of welfare?

Instead they force all of us to save the same percentage and to "invest" our money in government bonds. That money could have been likely put to a more effective use.

Thoughts?

jerrye92002 said...

"Federal involvement in such programs developed from the failure of other levels of government and the private sector to do it on their own. "

Really? Or did we just have some people that thought THEIR idea of how much "help" the poor "needed" was different than what the local authorities thought necessary? Equally likely, the national politicians wanted the "credit" for their do-good-ism, rather than letting the locals manage it for effectiveness.

jerrye92002 said...

"The reason we have Social Security is because we had a bunch of destitute elderly people living on the streets and it was a real societal problem that wasn't otherwise being resolved,..."

So why do we still have it today? Why is it rapidly going broke? Why is it mandatory? Why wasn't it privatized back when the transition would have been much easier, and the resulting payouts by now much greater? Just because government does something does not mean they SHOULD be doing it, or that they do it well, or that they do it better than the private sector.

Sean said...

When Social Security was enacted over half of people over the age of 65 lived in poverty.

Even today, about one-third of seniors are kept above the poverty line by Social Security.

Social Security will only be more important in the years going forward because of the collapse of traditional pensions and the dismal performance of defined contribution plans as replacements.

John said...

I am fine with maintaining social security, however I think some changes need to be made:
1. Raise payroll tax rate
2. Raise retirement age
3. Both of the above

What I don't support is turning it into a wealth transfer tool like welfare. Way this happens:

A. Tax benefits only for those with other income sources.

B. Reduce benefits for those with other income sources.

C. Remove the payroll tax cap without increasing the benefits for those impacted.

People who promote A, B, C seem to think SS and Medicare should be converted into welfare and medicaid... If that is the case, then let's get rid of SS and medicare, and save the administrative costs.

John said...

Sean,
"dismal performance of defined contribution plans as replacements"

The plans work even better than social security, I remember this every time I calculate my net worth.

The problem is not the plans. The problem is that people choose to spend their money today instead of putting it into their 401K or IRA.

BankRate Overcoming Inertia

Sean said...

Here's a good discussion of why 401(k) plans should never have become the main retirement vehicle.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/business-economy-financial-crisis/retirement-gamble/teresa-ghilarducci-why-the-401k-is-a-failed-experiment/

John said...

401K Failed Failed Experiment

jerrye92002 said...

It would appear that the big complaints about 401Ks is that they let people save for their own retirement, are not controlled by government, that not everybody has them and many don't use them, and that the rich people have bigger nest eggs than poor people. I'm not seeing the problem, and in fact I have a simple solution.

Simply require that Social Security taxes (on a sliding scale based on age) put those funds into a (fully vested personal) IRA/401K in exchange for an equally reduced SS benefit at retirement. Everybody pays, everybody benefits, and that terribly regressive FICA tax goes away.

jerrye92002 said...

Way back 40 posts or so [you leave town for two days and...] we were having a debate about the proper level of government spending. Somebody suggested "whatever government needs to do its job." Unfortunately, just like everybody else, government expands its "needs" to use all the available income and then, because it alone CAN, increases its income by decree. Just look at what has happened in MN. If State spending in 1960 had kept pace with inflation and population growth /only/ [one could say holding quality of life due to government spending constant], the State budget today would be only 10% of what it actually is! Really, is our quality of life ten times better than it was?

John said...

I do find it disappointing that many American citizens with all our freedoms seem inccapable to be responsible enough to save and invest for their retirement.

Worse yet is that my benefits will be reduced or taxed because because I saved and invested aggressively, and they did not.

John said...

What I find interesting is that Liberals seem to believe that Conservatives think public employees are bad, lazy, power hungry, etc. Where as I tried to explain that this government growth problem requires no ill intent to occur.

Meaning their good intentions can still lead to a bad result.

John said...

A Timely Financial Guide for Young People

Now if they just have the patience, ambition and will power to do this.