Friday, September 14, 2012

The peculiar lunacy of Mark Dayton

No one has ever accused Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton of being the brightest bulb on the tree. While his ongoing battle with mental health issues and alcoholism is certainly courageous, it is sometimes very hard to listen to him and not wonder if all the mental cylinders are firing in the right order.

Case in point: This week Dayton took to the stage at the University of Minnesota and essentially called the people of Minnesota selfish for not wanting to pay more taxes.

Mark Dayton
"This unwillingness to pay taxes ... is going to be the death of this country if it's not corrected," said Dayton, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "Our legacy is going to be that we were not willing to raise revenues for what we know we need."

So, according to the Guv, all the taxes we pay - and Minnesotans currently bear about the 10th-highest per-capita tax burden among the 50 states - go directly to things we "need."

Now, reasonable people can differ about what society's "needs" are, but I'm pretty sure they don't include new stadiums for Mickey Mouse baseball teams.

The very day after blasting his constituents for their selfishness, Dayton held a press conference to announce a series of "economic development" grants. Leading the list: $25 million for a new ballpark for the minor-league St. Paul Saints.

The Saints, in case you've never heard of them, are a baseball team that emphasizes "fun" at their games. They have to emphasize fun, because the quality of baseball is abysmal. This isn't major league baseball, this isn't even AAA minor league baseball. Or AA, or Class A. Nor is there any affiliation with any major league baseball team. The Saints are an independent team that operates in something called the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball. It's a higher level of baseball than your local high school team plays, but not much better than many of the amateur "town teams" that play around Minnesota.

The Saints are a cute little operation with gimmicks like using pigs to carry baseballs to the umpire and nuns giving massages in the stands, and the past couple of years they averaged about 5,000 fans per game. I'm sure they'd like a new ballpark to play in, but I have a hard time understanding why the people of Minnesota should foot the bill.

Consider this: Minnesota has about 5 million people, so when the Governor hands $25 million to a private business, he's doing so by taking $5 out of the pocket of every citizen in the state. A family of four, struggling to get by? Mark Dayton just took $20 out of your family budget and gave it to the St. Paul Saints. Without even a "thank you."

Next, Dayton handed out $8.5 million to Duluth to build office space and a parking ramp. Now, I'm sure it will be a spiffy new building, but according to Twin City Business magazine, Duluth currently has a 14% vacancy rate in its existing downtown office space, so it's not clear that another 15-story building is really going to meet any urgent need. And if the need existed, why wouldn't a private company build the building? But again, our struggling family of four has to cough up another $7 to pay for Duluth's new unneeded office space. 

(In what I'm sure is just a coincidence, Duluth historically has one of the highest Democrat voter turnouts in the state. I'm sure that had nothing to do with Dayton giving them the money.)

Then comes light rail. Light rail currently loses barrels of money in Minnesota and is a huge, unnecessary burden on the taxpayers. The more we build, the greater the losses, but Dayton gave $2 million to another light rail project. The list goes on: $4.2 million for a health facility destroyed by a tornado (what, no insurance?), $1.9 million for a recycling plant, a million here and there for different sewer projects, none of which were apparently important enough for the locals to fund themselves.

Then to top it off, he closed the press conference with a bald-faced lie about how he chose which projects to fund. He had asked his Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) to rank the various project requests. DEED, according to the Pioneer Press, did not rank the light rail project. But Dayton stood up in front of the press and said, "I went strictly by the book with this DEED rating system because I didn’t want to be accused rightly or wrongly of being involved of the politics of it."

All of this comes after a legislative session in which the Governor jammed through a $350 million bill (about $280 from our family of four) to build another private business - the Minnesota Vikings - a new facility.

And with all these millions in spending going on for things that can only be considered "wants" rather than "needs," Dayton has the nerve to blast Minnesotans for not thinking their taxes are high enough and not being "willing to raise revenues for what we know we need."

Dayton has an unnatural obsession with raising taxes. In 2011 he forced a government shutdown, rather than accept a budget without tax increases. He backed down 20 days later, when he finally realized the Republican legislative majorities didn't share his enthusiasm for job-killing tax increases.

A year later, the lesson still hasn't sunk in. It might be time to adjust the infamous gubernatorial medication.


  1. I'll stand naked next to the golden horses at the Capitol if the Vikings' stadium comes in under $1 billion- and guess who gets to cough up for that? SuckersQ

  2. Yep, drunk and nuts. Pay more in taxes? Well that's ok for a couple of years, but then guess what. yes, we need to pay still more taxes. The governor may have problems but what excuse do the rest of the sharks have?

  3. It is always nice to see the costs broken down to the individual level. So glad I can help fund things I can't afford to use.

  4. Nicely written, Tim, and Corrie's point is a good one: costs broken down to the individual level are so much more concrete. (I'm not even in or from Minnesota but linked through the Poweline site)
    Steve C

  5. I'm not very familiar with this character, but I can provide some insight on alcholism; a drunk is functionally nuts. A part-time drunk ("on-going battle") is 10 times worse. Also, a practicing/non-recovering drunk is functionally sociopathic/pyschopathic in that there is an absence of effective conscience and ability to feel guilt. In practical terms, this means the practicing alcholic is capable of any crime or swindle that seems to benefit him in the short run. (The return of conscience and guilt is the thing that makes recovery so difficult; it's much easier to simply return to the obvivion of drink.)
    Given his impairment, he should be relieved of duty and asked to show several years of 100% sobriety and recovery before being allowed near the public trust.

  6. It always amazes me how someone as RICH as Dayton can spend other peoples' money with such ease. This rat should not be talking about how cheap the people of MN are after putting the stadium up our behinds without a referendum. A definite sore spot with me. He speaks of funding things we "need" - like the stadium? Dayton will be taxing little old widows who could care less about should not have been blanket taxing, but rather, end-user targeted taxes. Dayton is quick to criticize - I wonder if he is one of those Dems avoiding the REAL issues like the economy and jobs focusing on Mitt's money - the Dayton family fortune makes Mitt look like a pauper. But, I guess the old adage associated with the Dems is true - "Do as I say, not as I do." Elitist pigs.