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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Ebola Fight Needs Cooperation, Not Isolation

Category: Society
Posted: 10/10/14 22:17

by Dave Mindeman

The use of fear as a means of extracting political points or generating followers seems to be a common ploy these days. The Ebola situation has everyone on a razor's edge, but the immediate reactions are just as dangerous.

A House committee hearing on location in Texas began to float the idea of a travel ban from West Africa. No travel allowed - deep restrictions put in place. To the average listener, this seems like a logical approach. Isolate those that are directly affected from the outside world and the rest of us will be safe.

Here is why that is a dangerous conclusion to reach.

West Africans are still people. They are not throw away humans. And the people of West Africa have relatives, friends, and business partners in other areas of the world. They will need to travel and others will need to travel to them.

Currently, people are cooperating with the protocols involved and giving truthful information about their travels and their intentions.

Now, this is important.....if we ban travel in that area - if we make it illegal and impossible to do it out in the open, then people will do their travelling without telling anyone - they will do it in secret....do it illegally.

And when that happens, protocols are out the window and the disease will run rampant all over the world. People that need to travel in that area would do so regardless of US policy. Out in the open (without restrictions), they will answer questions about their travels and who their contacts were - and when treated for illness they will speak voluntarily about where they have been. There are always exceptions to that, but for the most part people do want to do the right thing. If under repressive restrictions, information will be hidden and that will be dangerous.

Remember, the Liberian man who died in Texas told the hospital workers the truth. He knew the ramifications of his symptoms and was forthcoming about what that meant. It was the hospital who failed him - not him failing us.

In order to truly fight Ebola and keep it from becoming an international problem, we need to all work together. To treat West African people as a new sub class that are not part of the world community anymore because they have to battle a deadly disease is just wrong. They should not have to fight that alone.

The reactions of some of our political figures to this situation has echoes of another time and place and another group of people.

It has echoes of AIDS.
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Finally! An Answer To "What's The Matter With Kansas?"

Category: Society
Posted: 10/09/14 16:04, Edited: 10/09/14 16:07

by Dave Mindeman

As I listened to the governor debate yesterday, it was somewhat painful to watch Jeff Johnson grope and claw his way to some reasonable criticism of the Dayton economy. All the numbers point in a positive direction, so Johnson settled on a hard to measure critique of the "underemployed".

But if Jeff Johnson were actually in charge, he would do what Republicans always do - tax cuts to "stimulate the economy".

But we don't actually have to argue semantics here. Minnesota has a real life counterpart in how a state should operate - Kansas.

Sam Brownback was elected in 2010, same as Dayton.
And while Dayton now has both Houses Democratic, Brownback has both of his legislative Houses, Republican.

Brownback immediately went into his tax cutting push for growth.

Here are a few of the things he did:

- He rejected the Medicaid expansion vis Obamacare
- signed the largest income tax cut in history
- lowered the sales tax
- eliminated the small business tax
- gave tax breaks to corporations that contribute to private schools

Here is one summation of what Brownback did:

After his election (2010), Brownback, who was a U.S. senator for 14 years and a 2008 presidential candidate, quickly moved to consolidate conservative power in the state by successfully challenging more moderate Republicans. Advised by Arthur Laffer, the father of supply-side economics, and supported by special interest groups backed by conservative billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, he pushed through legislation that cut taxes and spending, eliminated state jobs and denied far more applications for welfare assistance.

There you go. Full supply side economics, funded by the billionaires that benefit. How much more could a Republican possibly want?

In fact, as he pushed his agenda through, Gov. Brownback said this on MSNBC....

"On taxes, you need to get your overall rates down, and you need to get your social manipulation out of it, in my estimation, to create growth. We'll see how it works. We'll have a real live experiment," Brownback said.

Yes, a real live experiment foisted upon Kansas.

Now, Governor Dayton isn't into experiments, but he has moved forward with a progressive view on legislation. He increased taxes on the wealthy, increased funding to public schools, has all-day kindergarten, and accepted the Federal Medicaid expansion. Increased the minimum wage, above and beyond the Federal minimum. Although, he had a more tempered approach, his agenda still looked like a mirror image of the Brownback "experiment".

So, it is four years later and what is the comparison?

Kansas: But the state is now reporting a more than $300 million revenue shortfall. The poverty rate increased. The state's economy expanded a total of 2.3 percent in inflation-adjusted terms over the past two years, half the rate of its four neighbors. And Kansas's credit rating has been downgraded.

Actually they have had two credit rating downgrades.

And for Minnesota?

Although MNSure had a horrible website rollout, the exchange has signed up 350,000 Minnesotans and reduced our uninsured rate by 40%. We ran a budget surplus. Education shortfalls have been eliminated and increases have been enacted. Credit rating is solid. Poverty rate has declined. Has created 150,000 jobs since 2011. And is one of the 5 fastest growing economies in the country.

Really, the comparison is stark. I think it is time that we put this supply-side myth to rest. The Kansas "experiment" has failed miserably and Minnesota has succeeded - once it shed Republican obstruction and moved a true progressive agenda forward.

I guess we can finally answer that burning question ' "What's the Matter With Kansas?"

Answer? It is failed Republican policies.
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An Open Letter To Young People - Your Voice Needs To Be Heard

Category: Society
Posted: 09/26/14 10:26

by Dave Mindeman

Hey. All you students, young people, millenials. Drop that iPad or iPhone; Take off those earbuds, headphones, and that bluetooth for just a second.

We need to talk.

Its time you confronted the GOP War on all of you. Yeah, I know the term war gets overused. It almost blends into the scenery these days. Its a war on everything. But you are seriously at risk.

While you study for that exam or check out the new clothes at the mall, the GOP is stealing your future.

Let's look at the list:

1) Student Debt. While you work hard to prepare yourself for a career, the money you earn in the future is being eroded. The amount of student debt that is piling up is nothing short of catastrophic. Cumulatively, it hit $1.2 trillion this year. That is money you need in the future. But Republicans and especially Congressman John Kline are financing the present against that future debt load. Gosh, even the Star Tribune Editorial Board is figuring it out:

It's about time that politicians -- and other Americans -- recognize that a debt load that heavy does not burden recent college grads alone. The whole economy is affected when the purchasing power of that many aspiring young adults is pinched. That consequence should have been discussed more widely as governments in Washington, St. Paul and other state capitols squeezed higher ed funding in the past decade.

Trouble is, we are not addressing this problem. Congressman John Kline has even raised the student loan rates and mortgaged more of your future earnings. And in addition, he has subjected many of you to the predatory practices of For Profit College institutions by protecting their recruitment of students and the resulting defaults - which is skyrocketing as we speak. All of this in return for campaign finance donations from these colleges to his campaign. It is shameful.

2) Climate Change. You know this is happening. You are not denying the science. You get it. But many Republicans refuse to acknowledge it because it would cause too much economic change. You see, the current GOP and their billionaire donors want to keep making big money in the short term. Climate change is your problem. It is not going to affect them. So they intend to make you deal with it. For short term gain, they are going to risk your entire future. Not just monetarily, but your entire way of life.

3) National Debt. This current generation could eliminate its debt. The money is there. It's in Exxon's tax protected profits. It's in Medtronic's tax evasive Irish ploy. It's in the Cayman Islands. It's in those unnecessary oil and gas subsidies. It is all there, but the people controlling that money do not want to pay for the debt that is accumulating because it would mean using those protected finances. Again, it is your problem. Our debt is borrowed money from your future. So, we are going to make you deal with our debt as well as your own.

4) Environment. Let's look at a Minnesota example. Polymet. Republicans think that the jobs (a few hundred) involved in approval of this mining operation (skip the EPA regulations) are enough short term gain to offset the decades long clean up that is acknowledged by all parties. Jobs now - clean up later. And of course, "later" means your problem. You get to deal with the water contamination. You get to deal with effects on the BWCA. You get to pay for the aftermath. It is simple for the Republican thought proces because they only think about right now. The future is your problem.

You should know that the Democratic Party is doing their best to look out for you. They have proposed fixes and help. The MN House Democrats have proposed another tuition freeze if they are re-elected. And the MN House Democrats are proposing something else; from the Star Tribune:

House DFLers also floated an intriguing policy idea -- partial loan forgiveness for some Minnesota college grads. The idea, touted by Speaker Paul Thissen as he campaigned on campuses this week, would write down debt amounts of up to $3,000 per year for grads in two categories -- those who take jobs in "vital fields" in Greater Minnesota, and those who spend a year in community service through ServeMinnesota, the state's AmeriCorps program.

Some people call it a "reverse GI bill". That could help business as well.

Senate Democrats proposed a student refinancing bill which would lower the current interest rate, but it was blocked by a GOP filibuster.

Democrats have repeatedly tried to put Climate Change higher on the agenda....but again, filibusters and the House Republican majority have stood in the way.

The GOP complains incessantly about the National Debt but won't increase taxes on this generation and wants to keep cutting programs that help your generation and stimulate the economy. Unfortunately, Congressman John Kline thinks that making $51 billion off of your student loan problem is part of the answer.

And, of course, the opening of the Polymet mine in Minnesota, right now, full speed ahead, damn the regulations, is the MN Republican answer to Minnesota's future. Your future. And your future liability.

That is what is at stake in this election. And, yes, there is an election this year - 2014. And it is up to you to begin the process of letting your voice be heard. One of the reasons that Republicans can exploit your future is that they are convinced you are not a threat. They say that you won't vote. You won't have an impact.

Well, its time that you end that assumption. After all, it is your future that is affected by all of these issues. And your voice will never rise above the din of Republican largesse, unless you VOTE.

Your future....your time....your voice. Do it.
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