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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Commissioner Pay Raises & Republican Hypocrisy

Category: Economy
Posted: 07/02/15 11:17

by Dave Mindeman

It would seem that the MN Republicans are going to have an election discussion about Gov. Dayton's push for increases in Commissioner salaries. But if they insist on doing that, then let's make sure we have all the facts.

1. If the GOP was so concerned about this, why did they allow a window (July 1st) for the governor to do it? In fact, they legislated it that way (the House GOP voted for it). Why didn't they just slam the door entirely early in the session - they had that option. Heck, they even had Bakk's support.

2. From a StarTribune article: Before the increases, Minnesota commissioners were making less than their counterparts in most states, according to an analysis by Minnesota Management and Budget from data compiled by the Council of State Governments. Fourteen of 15 commissioners were paid at or below the 50th percentile; eight were below the 25th percentile. The raises push Minnesota salaries above the median.

The comparison with other states shows that Minnesota has been lagging far behind other states in paying people for "executive" type positions. It took these large raises to catch up - and now that the legislature has taken back control of these salaries, there won't be any further raises for the foreseeable future.

3. Direct comparisons with our neighbors were not favorable either.

North Dakota had at least 10 cabinet-level positions that paid more than Minnesota commissioners before the raises and six jobs that will still be paid more than in Minnesota. Most Wisconsin commissioners were paid slightly more than Minnesota's before the Dayton raises but now would be paid less.

4. The Republican strategy is clear. Even though Dayton is not on the ballot and it was his decision to raise the salaries, Daudt attempts to blame the DFL legislators for this government "failure" - even though the vote on the parameters by which Dayton acted was completely bipartisan.

Frankly, I think Dayton showed tremendous courage to go ahead with these planned increases. We will attract highly competent people to do this important work and solidify the salaries for the future. Future governors (Republican or Democrat) will thank him for it.

The most important takeaway from this is that the MN GOP compares these raises to the "hard working" Minnesota families who don't have the opportunity for such raises....the same MN GOP that fought and continues to fight increases in the minimum wage....and promotes tax relief for the wealthy which the middle class has to pay for.

The Republican hypocrisy in all this is the true election issue.
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Medical Marijuana: Doctor Timidity & Red Tape Need To Go

Category: Economy
Posted: 07/01/15 23:33

by Dave Mindeman

Today the Medical Marijuana law took effect and patients could now get their medication. However, very few people are eligible because doctors are reluctant to get involved and the law is so very restrictive.

As to the restrictions, I feel that Minnesota's legislature was much too timid in regards to the writing of this law. They kept watering down the availability until we have come to the point that the medicine is not going to get to the people who need it fast enough.

But I am particularly disappointed with Minnesota's physicians. I understand that there is ambiguity in regards to State and Federal law - and there might be a certain risk to get into the middle of this-- I think it is minimal but it is still there.

But what I find particularly disturbing is the complaints from doctors about loss of control. As I understand it, the doctors evaluate their patients for eligibility in the program and then hand their patients over to the program for actual treatment. Yes, the doctors do not have much control about the patient treatment once the patient is in the program, but if they are not happy with the outcome they can encourage their patient to drop out and return to the doctor's course of treatment.

You have to wonder how different the doctors would be assessing the marijuana program if it had a Big Pharma company promoting these medications.

Viagra type advertising....doctors given lunches and paid seminars to consider the treatment...sales pitches from hard sell representatives. You know, the kind of thing they are used to dealing with.

You have to wonder how different the program's fortunes would be under that type of promotion.

This program deserves to move forward. It's not like we have a drug that has never been tested in humans. We know the side effects...we know what it will do. A multitude of opinions have been posted about it.

What is needed now is a chance for this program to succeed or fail on its own merits. We do not need to get hung up on speculation or innuendo. We have patients who desperately want to give this a chance. They want the opportunity to try this treatment. They want to take the risks. They want to see the outcomes directly.

The red tape and the doctors need to get out of the way and let the treatment begin.

The patients, the ones that are directly affected, are clear about this.
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Maybe It's Not About Religion, But The Pursuit Of Happiness

Category: Gay Rights
Posted: 07/01/15 14:11

by Dave Mindeman

People who disagree with the Supreme Court on the Same Sex Marriage issue are quick to hide behind the religious freedom amendment - and of course "God's Law".

Here is the problem I have always had with that. You may think that same sex marriage is wrong, but that doesn't give you any basis for denying rights.

Like it or not, marriage does not have the same definition that everyone seems to attribute to the Bible. Over the years, marriage has evolved from a simple spiritual union to a legal contract.

We have placed too many secular constructs into marriage to point to this as a spiritual, religious union anymore.

Marriage is a contract for property rights....for child custody....for inheritance... for health care...and the list goes on. To deny a person a marriage contract in today's society is to deny them legal rights and privileges that we assume should be available for everyone.

So, if you think that same-sex marriage is a religious violation then you really do have to redefine marriage in our materialistic society - it has been defined well beyond Bible definitions and is now a secular and legal contract which is ingrained into our materialistic society. Don't blame same-sex couples for needing to participate in marriage - it is necessary to have a marriage contract because too many legal frameworks have been entangled around "simple" marriage.

We conveniently redefined divorce. The Bible says it is wrong - we seem to have defined "exceptions". The Catholic Church fabricated "annulments". The rest of the religious community simply shrugged their shoulders.

People have religious objections to a lot of things. People who have an objection to war can be a conscientious objector. People who have an objection to capital punishment can move to a state that does not allow it.

But in the case of same sex marriage, your religious objection to it is worth noting, but it has little to do with you personally. Your religion would seem to require that YOU do not have a same sex marriage. If other people decide to do it, that should be for your God to judge (if you truly believe judgment is warranted) - not YOU.

I know that people who object to gay marriage make a big deal about a wedding cake caterer being "forced" to bake a cake for a gay wedding. Well, first of all it is just a cake. Second of all, your objection to a gay wedding and refusal to bake the cake is not going to stop it. Nor are you required to participate other than making sure the cake is there. I don't see anyone refusing to bake any cakes for two divorced people having a second marriage. Third, I doubt that any gay couple is going to "force" you to bake that cake if you are uncomfortable. Yes, if you get belligerent about it, there may be a legal confrontation, but 99% of the time, a couple getting married doesn't want their happiest of days tainted with a sour note. And over time, I would guess that this will be less and less of a problem as weddings lose the extra terminology that tries to define the participants.

Time will heal this issue. And although there will be a lot of hellfire rhetoric on the subject for the foreseeable future, the time will definitely come when we will actually wonder what all the fuss was about.

Our young people know this already. It is their future, not ours. So let's move beyond this and let everyone have the opportunity to be happy.

After all, that's what the Declaration of Independence noted as one of our unalienable rights - the pursuit of happiness.

Let's allow everyone to have that "pursuit" on an equal basis....OK?
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