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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Another Study on Marijuana Released - But Anything New?

Category: Medical Marijuana
Posted: 04/17/14 00:28, Edited: 04/17/14 00:31

by Dave Mindeman

On cue, a study was released regarding marijuana use in the young. And as you might expect there are concerns....

Science Daily reports researchers compared the size, shape, and density of the nucleus accumbens and the amygdala - a brain region that plays a central role in emotion - in 20 marijuana users and 20 non-users.

Researchers also found a direct correlation between the number of times users smoked and abnormalities in the brain. A brain region called the nucleus accumbens, known to be involved in reward processing -- was larger and altered in its shape and structure in the marijuana users compared to non-users.

The study (which incidently seems like a small sample) also had a lot of things it didn't say. It didn't know what the significance of this finding is for certain. They only know that they have concerns on changes in that area.

They downplayed the fact that alcohol also affects that area of the brain. So does nicotine. The marijuana changes were different from alcohol, but again, what significance that has was not delineated.

More information is needed....

Researchers say the findings also highlight the importance of research aimed at understanding the long-term effects of low to moderate marijuana use on the brain.

Except there has already been a lot of research. And the use of marijuana is not a new concept. We know that marijuana affects mood and reduces inhibitive behavior. Alcohol and nicotine have those type of effects as well.

Yes, more study is warranted. And we can continue those studies while we allow for the limited use of medicinal marijuana. This is not a drug that was just discovered. It is not a drug that needs clinical trials to find out its effects. The effects are known....and some of those effects have true medicinal value.

There will be more studies to come, but that shouldn't stop us from moving forward on what is already known to be the benefits of this drug.
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The Wealthy's Love/Hate Relationship With Minnesota

Category: Taxes
Posted: 04/16/14 01:45, Edited: 04/16/14 01:46

by Dave Mindeman

The wealthy always have such a quandary about where to live. And inevitably there is this debate about the wealthy and Minnesota taxes. Another article came out today....

Minnesota's wealthy caught in a tight tax net over residency

There is a simple question to ask these wealthy characters...

Do you or do you not want to live in Minnesota?

Snow birds want it both ways. They want the warm weather and low taxes of the southern states. But they want the quality of life, the medical care, the transportation options, and the pleasant summers of Minnesota as well. They just want to pay those low taxes...you know, wherever they get the "best deal".

Yeah, really loyal citizens. The good life, great education and responsible government of Minnesota probably made them wealthy - but they don't feel they owe Minnesota anything. Nope. They would rather manipulate taxes so that they get Minnesota benefits with paying for them.

So, why don't they just leave? Why do they spend enough time in this state to drive their accountants crazy? Why do they keep coming back... which makes it a challenge regarding their legal residency status?

Simplify it for all of us. Go. Leave. Head for those southern climes and don't look back. Stop all the business relationships with this state... the state that you can only complain about.

But you don't do that, do you? You can't completely let go. Why is that? Could it be that Minnesota has things to offer that the "cheap" governments in the south can't give you? Is it our "expensive" education system that trains workers and sets up careers? Is it our world class medical care -- as in Mayo Clinic or the Univ. of Minnesota systems? Is it a state with more Fortune 500 companies per capita than any other? Is it the myriad of Parks and bike trails and family venues that are built and maintained by those tax dollars that you don't want to pay?

Why oh why - can't you just say good-bye? It is a curiousity.
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Minimum Wage Bill "Compromises" Creates Flaws

Category: Labor
Posted: 04/15/14 00:58

by Dave Mindeman

The compromises that occurred with the minimum wage legislation are very evident. The raw numbers are good and necessary, but the indexing portion has left enough ambiguity to throw a wrench to the works.

Some analysis done for MinnPost posted by David Brauer was especially disconcerting....

Had Monday's deal been in place since 1976 (the year lawmakers increased the state minimum to $1.80 an hour), the minimum wage would stand at just $3.91 today, not the current $6.15 (and all calculations assume a governor doesn't override annual increases, a power the deal grants).

Standard indexing was taken off the table and a lesser form of increases was established in law. This method will NOT keep up with inflation and periodic adjustments will, again, be necessary.

But Republican gubernatorial candidates seized on another provision that will almost certainly become a political football....

Under the DFL deal to raise the state's minimum wage to $9.50 per hour with an inflation index starting in 2018, Minnesota's Commissioner of the Department Labor and Industry can suspend indexing the wage for up to 12 months -- if leading economic indicators point to a "substantial downturn in the state's economy."

Since the Commissioner of DLI is appointed by the Governor, this will become an executive branch option on minimum wage.

This creates a scenario whereby Republican candidates (and the current ones have already stated this) will take the opportunity to halt wage increases for the low end of the wage scale - while Democratic governors will more than likely let the upward adjustment go through.

This will be another means of pitting business vs labor in our quadrennial race for chief executive of the state. Business will side with Republicans and Labor will side with the Democrats.

Now, if the GOP wants to establish a precedent that contends they will always be denying low wage earners any kind of raise, then that is the chance they will take in the electoral process. The election mailers will be out in full force - and there may be some difficulty for Republican candidates to persuade 350,000 workers affected that voting GOP will be to their benefit.

Yes, business will like it and it may help fundraising - but corporate "people" aren't voters....and votes is still the final arbiter.

This minimum wage law hasn't quite fulfilled the potential it could have. I am glad that it passed, but compromises here were unworthy of the effort.

Only time can tell us if we achieved full value for our workers.
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