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Where is the truth in the MN state shutdown?

July 1, 2011 Leave a comment

I may edit this a few times in the next few days as I learn things about the shutdown in the State of Minnesota. One thing I do know to start – neither side is telling us the complete truth. For the GOP and the democrats, it is all posturing for the next election (this goes at the national level too). Am I being to hopeful that leaders will emerge from the politicians that are running our government now?

If you spend less than you are expecting, it is not a cut.

I hate the word cut as it is used, mostly by democrats. I cannot stress this point enough. It is dishonest and misleading. It would be more accurate to say we are cutting back on projected spending. It could even be stated as we are cutting our inflationary adjustments for this budget cycle. But to call a real-dollar increase that is smaller than projected a “cut” is wrong.

A deficit is not a deficit if the money isn’t spent.

This is another word that makes me crazy. In Minnesota, our constitution requires a balanced budget every budget cycle. In all reality, we can’t have a deficit. I’ve said it before – if I expect a $10,000 raise next year and plan on buying a boat with the extra money and I don’t get the raise, I don’t have a deficit. I can cancel the boat purchase. I can get a second job. But I didn’t buy the boat, so it isn’t a deficit. A smaller projected revenue to projected spending is not a deficit.

The GOP in Minnesota proposed a 6% increase in spending.

Since it seems most news stories only repeat the party talking points, some of these are harder to decipher. From what I gather, the GOP is making the claim of a spending increase based on state money that was spent in the last budget cycle, while excluding money that was spent from one-time stimulus money from the federal government. So the GOP isn’t being truthful here. It would be more honest to state we are keeping real dollars spent level, and we are lucky to have the extra revenue to do so.

Spending shifts are not revenue.

Both parties are to blame here. This will be one spot where I will say the Governor came out like a star in his speech regarding the shutdown. For years, the federal government has been doing this. More recently the state has been using this “strategy” as well. Both parties in the past are to blame. At the federal level, the promised payments to schools for special education is 2 to 3 years behind. They also only pay somewhere around 30-40% of the total cost of special education. At the state level, schools are owed well over $1 billion thanks to the past democratic legislature and republican governor. “Borrowing” from schools is a stupid idea, and it isn’t revenue. If you can’t afford to pay the schools, then just tell them that. They’ve already gone without the money, so let’s stop “delaying” payments, give them what we can afford, and stop lying about it to the public.

Inserting social control into small government.

I am seeing conflicting reports over whether or not the GOP inserted their social agenda into the last budget offer they sent to Governor Dayton. I’ve said many times I am for smaller government. I’m sorry GOP, but you are a big loser here. You can’t push a religious-based, social control agenda and be for smaller government. So, whether or not issues of abortion, stem cells, etc. were in the last proposal, the GOP already showed its hand by trying to pass an amendment against gay marriage. Some GOP candidates for President have already stated they don’t believe in evolution and want intelligent design taught in schools. Why don’t we ask other countries who are far ahead of us in science and math what they teach in their biology classes (hint: Charles Darwin wrote about it).

Defending spending and tax increases

Please read this section carefully. I do think when all things are weighed out we do need to ask the wealthy for more money. As circumstances change, we are going to need to adjust tax rates. It has happened in the past and will continue to happen. Even the Laffer Curve theory admits that the “sweet spot” maximizing revenue changes over time. However, I have a very hard time supporting taking money from anyone when I can’t get an honest explanation or be offered any kind of accountability. I don’t care if Reagan raised taxes 11 times. I don’t care if you “need” it. I need a new truck too, can I get a subsidy for it? <– This question is just for effect. What I mean by it is show me how the new money is going to be spent and how we are going to reduce waste and abuse before I give my support.

This is where the Democrats get it wrong. They hold up a picture of the kids or the elderly and say “this is who we are hurting.” It is a terrible strategy because people don’t believe it. I bet almost everyone reading this can give anecdotes of waste and abuse in Health and Human Services, Education, Housing…all of the big budget items have some level of waste and abuse. Governor Dayton in his shutdown speech said it can be fixed, but we have to give more money first. But we don’t. The waste and abuse continue as they always have. And people have grown tired of waiting to reduce the problem. You can’t use the talking point of “we are only going to tax 2% of the citizens of Minnesota.” They are people too, even if they are rich. Show me you are going to use the money wisely, and I will support it.

The Independence Party tweeted the night of the shutdown that no one has mentioned why HHS needs more money. Our population is getting older. This is true. It is going to get more expensive to care for the baby boom people. We are going to have to be smart in how we handle these people, our friends, neighbors, and family. But is it fair to ask a few people (the people with high incomes) to pay for all of our parents, friends, and neighbors? We are all going to have to do a little more to help out each other. We don’t need to take the money from the rich by force. There are better ways to get the wealthy to help. We also might have to take a little more out of our own pocketbooks.

A couple of thoughts on how we might ask the wealthy for help. We are so willing to give out state funds to the rich to build stadiums for their sports teams, maybe we could do something similar with buildings that would be useful to more people. Help us build a new school and you can have the property across the street and charge for parking at high school sporting events. Help us build a nursing home and you can put your pharmacy right next door. These might not be perfect ideas, but I’m just throwing them out to get us thinking differently so we can all feel like we walk away with something.

Why do I insist on protecting the rich?

I am adding this section due to some current and previous responses to my blogs about taxes and government spending. Let me just say I am not advocating my position to protect the rich, nor am I saying that we absolutely should not raise taxes on the rich. But there are a few reasons we need to think very carefully before we let this happen.

First, before we raise any taxes on anybody, we need to be asking what we are getting for the money. In any political discussion, have you ever heard an agreement on the government has enough money. Imagine if the parties came out united and said “Great news! We have more money than last year, so we don’t need any more from anyone. Thanks!” When we continue to ask the small percentage at the top for more money, it is a bit like the spoiled rich kid asking for more money for books at college, when all he is really doing with it is buying pot. At some point, the rich start asking why their friends kids Texas and South Dakota never ask for any money (TX and SD have no income tax).

Second, we have to recognize they are people too. People at all levels want to keep what they have and what they feel they earned. The very rich already avoid taxes by changing their behavior. They take income from investments, so they can pay the much lower capital gains rate. They buy municipal bonds that have tax-free interest payments. It doesn’t make what they do “right.” It is reality. We have to be judicious in asking for more money, or the rich will change their behavior. In the end, the person we hurt the most is the person who finally opened that 5th restaurant and made their first million or the family farm who have a good year but take a great risk every year in what they do.

Third is my assertion that government needs to stay small and we should generally not give them more. Once we give them more money or power, it is very hard to get it back. In MN for example, Governor Dayton may have all good intentions to spend the extra money on important things like education, the sick, the poor, etc. But what happens when the next election comes around and someone else is running the show. We have no guarantee that the next person will be as pure in intention or have the same goals as the current person. It is hard to make a complete judgment of that character simply based on a campaign. What if the next person decides to take this new money away from education and use it to develop a long-term nuclear waste storage facility in the state? What if this person uses the money to build a pipeline from Lake Superior to the desert southwest? Once government has the money, we have no way to control how they spend it. I don’t know if anyone remembers the Patriot Act, but we gave that control away to the government and despite his campaign promise, President Obama has yet to give that power back to us.

Finally, I am not saying in this instance a tax increase isn’t justified. What I am saying is we need to have the discussion of how much is enough. The rich do have a big influence on our economy through investments as well as the taxes they already pay. I have advocated in my previous posts that one of the most important things in tax policy is stability. We can’t keep threatening to change the tax code or raise tax rates every time the wind blows. So let’s take a look and have the discussion of how much does government need. Let’s be honest as to what it is going to be used for. And once we’ve decided what level of taxes is appropriate for our needs, let’s set it there with some assurance it won’t change for the next 10-15 years unless there is some disaster far beyond what we could ever anticipate. That’s tax stability, which is nearly as important as the rate. Tax fairness and keeping taxes reasonable is also important, but stability can help offset the other two aspects.

I apologize for a bit of a straw man argument here, but here’s something to consider about tax rates. If we raise the tax rate by 1% every year, where will the tax rate end up (Answer is 100%)? If we raise the rate every time we need money, we soon run out of rate to raise. Tax rates on income are set a percentage. So if the economy grows and incomes go up, the government already gets more revenue. In fact, the state of MN has had an increase in revenue, but because we shifted payments in the past and we spent one-time money from the federal government, the tax revenue projected is about even with spending because we got money from elsewhere in the last budget cycle.

Some sobering numbers

Mark Dayton’s latest proposal wanted to raise taxes on those making over $1 million per year. He said in his shutdown speech that amounted to about 7,800 people in the state we would be taxing. To make up the extra revenue the Governor is requesting of roughly $1.5 billion, each of those people would have to pay an average of over $192,000 each. Do you think $192k will change someone’s behavior?

At the national level, our debt is approaching $14.3 trillion. According to the IRS, the top 1% of income earners pay 40% of all taxes, the next 4% pay the next 20%, the next 45% pay the remainder while the bottom 50% pay no net tax. If I assume every person is a taxpayer (making the following numbers as low as possible), here is the break down of debt per each segment: The top 1% each owe about $1.9 million, the next group owes over $283,000 each, while the rest of us that pay taxes owe over $42,000 each. I think that’s also enough to change behavior.

My twitter discussions

I’ve challenged quite a few politically active tweeters to some questions they don’t like. To them I’d like to apologize if I offended you. My purpose is I really want to challenge your thinking, and I want you to challenge mine. I want to learn more, and I would hope that rather than be insulting you would grant me the same education.

The thing that irritates me more than anything is blind party loyalty. If you think your party is the solution to all of our problems in government or society, you are simply wrong. I have no problem with someone backing a party that mostly aligns with their principles, but when you call out the other party’s hypocrisy while ignoring your own, you lose credibility. We have to call out the “leaders” on both sides on their hypocrisy and by doing so be leaders ourselves. We will all be better for it.

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Honesty in political speak.

June 26, 2011 Leave a comment

The English language can be tricky. I’ve heard some interesting news stories the last few days that have me thinking about political speech. What gets me irritated about political speech is how words get so twisted, the politicians can deny lying or breaking their political promises by stretching the base meaning of a word far beyond its normal limits.

The first words I want to discuss are “deficit” and “cut.” In state politics, the word cut has come to mean we didn’t get exactly what we wanted. The word deficit means we planned on spending more than what we are going to take in for taxes. When a state sets a budget (such as in Minnesota or Wisconsin), they set spending every 2 years based on revenue projections from the various state agencies that take care of such things. Because most state constitutions require a balanced budget, each budget cycle can only spend what it is projected to take in. When these budgets are set, they also include a set of future projections based on economic forecasts and whatever other variables the state law dictates be calculated into the budget formula. Minnesota has a “deficit” for the next budget biennium because the last budget projected spending approximately $36 billion dollars, but as this year came into better focus the state was projected to collect approximately $34 billion dollars. In state politics, it’s called a deficit. But, if the actual dollar budget were set at the same level from 2 years ago, there is no budget shortfall. Is that a deficit?

On the word cut, it follows a similar vein. We call it a “cut” to a department (education, health and human services) when we don’t give as much money to the department as the expected. They could even get more money, but if it isn’t as much we call it a cut. Let’s say we expected to give education $10 billion dollars this biennium. Let’s say last biennium their budget was $8 billion. If we end up giving them $9 billion, they would call that a 10% cut. In reality, they got a 12.5% increase. If you are expecting a 20% raise from work and only get a 5% raise, did work “cut” your pay? By disguising funding under the word cut of a projected increase, we create dishonesty. It is important to know the real dollar amounts – because that then brings accountability.

“Economic Benefit” is another term that makes me crazy. The Vikings stadium continues to percolate to the top of Minnesota politics. We continue to stress the economic benefit. Who benefits? This one gets very complex, but look at a few aspects. If Minnesota/Hennepin County hadn’t helped build Target Field, what would have happened? Ticket prices go higher than they are? Players get paid less? After the stadium was completed, the Twins saw a 30% increase in their value (if sold to another owner). So was it worth it?

Education. Well, learning is good, so education must be good. We have to be careful here as well. We can probably all provide anecdotes of bad teachers, bad classes in college, or news stories we’ve come across about our standing in the world when it comes to education. Cutting education funding alone isn’t going to solve this problem. Neither is throwing more money at it. We spend almost $12,000 per student per year in K-12 in the United States. That is a 360% increase since 1960 according to the Department of Education. Are we getting what we pay for? Over 50% of student attending Minnesota State, Mankato have to take remedial math as a condition of enrollment. Over 50% have to take pre-algebra in college. K-12 isn’t working. In Minneapolis, the per pupil cost is over $16,000 per student per year, while in Edina the per pupil cost is $12,000 per year.

My point is more money alone isn’t going to help. In fact it might not be what is needed at all. I know Edina parents have more resources than Minneapolis parents on average. But $4,000 extra per student is alot of money, and yet students in Edina still perform better. We need a plan, then we can calculate the cost. We need to find a way to get students and parents to understand the value of education. One example, let’s stop gearing all of high school to college prep (see above, we can’t even do that well). Maybe it is time to bring the trades back into the schools. The average age of a labor force is now over 40 years old. We are going to need people skilled in trades. Maybe it is time to rethink college, reducing the liberal arts education and concentrating more on the needed skills. Perhaps a more integrated approach in college would be beneficial. Whatever the approach, we need to demand results for our tax dollars and not just hand out more money for more of the same.

My overall point here is stop for a moment when you hear political speech and don’t let words like “cut,” “education,” “health care,” etc. get you worked up. Instead, try your best to understand it. Look at what both parties are saying. Do some research. And make the best decision you can. Don’t jump to conclusions.

Logical Fallacies in Politics

June 1, 2011 Leave a comment

I am still seeing two issues come across the news and social media quite a bit in regards to Minnesota politics. One is the lack of a budget (vetoed by Gov. Dayton)/upcoming special session/tax rates. The other is the gay marriage amendment. My idea here today is to show how rampant the use of logical fallacies in defending each side, and to give a lesson on common logical fallacies so we can all spot them and make more informed decisions.

One of my favorite podcasts is The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe. Their website carries a great explanation on what is a logical fallacy:

All arguments have the same basic structure: A therefore B. They begin with one or more premises (A), which is a fact or assumption upon which the argument is based. They then apply a logical principle (therefore) to arrive at a conclusion (B). An example of a logical principle is that of equivalence. For example, if you begin with the premises that A=B and B=C, you can apply the logical principle of equivalence to conclude that A=C. A logical fallacy is a false or incorrect logical principle. An argument that is based upon a logical fallacy is therefore not valid. It is important to note that if the logic of an argument is valid then the conclusion must also be valid, which means that if the premises are all true then the conclusion must also be true. Valid logic applied to one or more false premises, however, leads to an invalid argument. Also, if an argument is not valid the conclusion may, by chance, still be true.

Most of us will be guilty of using logical fallacies often. I am guilty of it myself, but for most of us it is done by accident. It takes reflection and discussion to uncover the fallacies and form a more sound, logical argument. Politicians are guilty of using logical fallacies purposely to advance their personal or party views.

Here is an egregious logic fallacy committed by AFSCME. The key statement here is this:

The Republican majorities are choosing to protect the richest 2 percent. They’re making sure these households – making $300,000 or more – don’t have to do their share to fix the state’s budget problems.

This claim falls under a few different categories. The first would be a False Dilemma. AFSCME’s assumption here is the only way to solve the state’s budget problems is to raise taxes on the rich. I haven’t looked at the budget in detail, but my understanding is the budget vetoed by Gov. Dayton was roughly a 6% increase in spending (with no tax increases). According to the BLS, inflation from 2010 was under 3%. If inflation stays at the same pace, then the 6% increase in dollars is a true increase in spending as well since the extra dollars should be able to buy more even when considering inflation. So is the state’s budget truly dire when we can increase spending without a tax increase? Yes, I know this could be construed as it’s own logical fallacy since government is only one sector of the economy and it is possible inflation in those sectors is much higher. The counter-argument to that is to then ask why is inflation higher in those sectors since the government is so heavily invested in those certain sectors of the economy, it could be partially due to their own doing.

The second fallacy of AFSCME’s statement is an example of an Appeal to Emotion, more specifically an Appeal to Spite. Saying the GOP is “protecting” the rich is a way of inciting an emotional class warfare. These people have way more than most people, and that “isn’t fair.” You could even say this is an Ad Hominem attack, saying the GOP’s position is wrong simply because they are protecting those people which most people hate.

Finally, AFSCME uses an Appeal to Belief that the rich don’t pay a fair share of taxes. Statistics on the federal level are readily available and reported. The top 1% of income earners pay 40% of federal income taxes and the top 5% of income earners pay 60% of federal income tax. The democrats want to tax the top 2% of Minnesota incomes on the premise that they don’t pay enough. Think of an analogous situation: If 100 people are in a bar and in total ring up a $5000 bar tab. 1 person in the bar pays $2000, 4 more people pay another $1000, leaving the rest of the people in the bar to pay just over $21, even though the average bar bill was $50. Did the first 5 people pay their fair share? Let’s say they each drove away in a Bentley, would you then feel cheated by how much of the bar bill they paid? Maybe you could make a moral argument that they should pay more, but claiming they didn’t even pay a fair share is simply a bad conclusion.

In the gay marriage amendment debate, I have heard 2 arguments for passing a gay marriage ban. The first one is the idea that being homosexual is biologically unnatural because it doesn’t lead to procreation and that it would be like saying “sand is food.” Human psychology and physiology is much more complex than simple procreation. While it is true that humans are animals and sex is mostly about procreation, Wikipedia has a great summary showing examples in other animals where sex is more than just a mechanism for procreation. To get very basic, it is unnatural for human males to be with only one partner in marriage. In many large mammal species, the biggest and strongest males get to breed with several females to best ensure the survival of the species. Another example where we go “against biology” is when men shave their face or women shave their legs. Biology intended that hair to be for warmth and protection. Should we ban shaving too because it is “biologically unnatural?”

Yes, that last question is a Straw Man argument, but I was employing it in this case as an exaggeration to prove a point that the “sand is food” argument is also the same type of argument. Homosexuality isn’t a biological “wrong” and cannot be explained that way. There are layers of biology, psychology, and other reasons beyond a simple “yes or no” explanation. So the “sand is food” argument doesn’t prove anything.

The other argument used is the past history of voting on this issue in the U.S. I haven’t looked at each vote and what was specifically addressed, but the claim is 34 votes banning gay marriage have taken place and all have had the outcome of supporting a ban. This is wrong based on both the Appeal to Popularity fallacy, as well as the Appeal to Common Practice fallacy. This is easy to explain. I am sure everyone remembers a parent saying to you, “If friend A and B jump off a bridge, are you going to as well?” Just because something is popular or has always been done doesn’t automatically make the position or action correct.

Both major parties are horrible at explaining their logic and presenting evidence for their positions on issues. Most usually want to ignore past data to support an idealistic position that is popular. For example, raising taxes on the rich sounds like a great idea in theory, but it never comes out in practice because we ignore the fact people will adjust their behavior to derive maximum benefit for the amount of work they do. It is human nature. If we taxed every dollar above $1 million at 95%, do you think many people are going to work much past that $1 million mark? Stated another way, if I make $1 million for working 6 months out of the year and make $2 million if I work 12 months, but I keep $500,000 if I work 6 months and keep $550,000 to work 12 months, how many months do you think I am going to work?

My example above doesn’t mean a tax increase isn’t warranted in this budget cycle. Maybe it does need to be part of the solution. But to say tax increases on the rich are always justified is wrong. It is also wrong to assume raising taxes will raise the revenue needed to solve the budget concerns.

If the GOP gets its budget passed in Minnesota, it does look like some people are going to lose their access to the social programs they rely on. That could affect them negatively in the short-term. However, we can’t simply look at the first layer of the consequences in a government policy and make our political decisions based on those outcomes. Taxing the rich gains us money in the short-term, but what if that change prompts a corporation to relocate? What if the rich work less or change their investments and the revenue doesn’t pan out to the projected amounts? What if a person dies due to lack of coverage?

As callous as it sounds, we do have to look at the cost/benefit in these decisions. People die more often because of the 70 MPH speed limit on the interstates in Minnesota than they would if the speed limit were 40 MPH. The higher speed limit saves everyone time (and time is money), thus costing less to transport goods, giving us more time for production, etc. We have chosen to set the speed limit at a reasonable human cost in balance with our own financial interest. Most insurance policies have a co-pay to prevent unnecessary trips to the doctor. Maybe someone skips going to the doctor because they think they just have a mild flu (rather than pay the $20) and end up dying when their infection quickly worsens. (Yes, this is more anecdotal because it is harder to quantify scientifically, but I thought it made some sense to discuss here).

Hopefully you are still reading and didn’t get too bored with some basic insights on logic. My point is to stress the importance of analyzing your political positions carefully, especially if you are perfectly aligned with the ideals of a particular political party. Be especially wary if your party or candidate uses an Ad Hominem Tu Quoque attack, where the attack is simply based on the fact the opponent changed their mind. Use your mind, think logically, discuss with a measured reason, and don’t be afraid to change your mind.

Sports Stadiums and Logic

This tweet from the account @BleacherView came across my Twitter feed this morning:

MN has lost 2 sports teams due to inadequate facilities: Lakers & North Stars. Paid more for new teams later.

I am always trying to improve my skills in the use of logic, and I find using analogies is a great way to help people visualize a certain subject and to also a way for people to better understand my point of view.  Today’s analogy will be televisions.

Let’s say you own a television.  You buy it in 1967.  It works great up until 1993 when it needs some repair.  You really don’t have the money to fix it, so you give the TV away to someone who puts a bunch of money getting it working.  Now, a few years later you find yourself really missing TV.  Well, you go buy a new one.  Likely, it would cost a little more than what repairing your old one did, but you didn’t have the money to fix it at the time.  The new 2000 model TV also cost much more than the 1967 TV because of simple inflation.

Here’s the other question to ask in this analogy: Is television a necessity?  Television is  primarily an entertainment vehicle.  Now granted, there are some economic considerations, such as the jobs created to design, manufacture, and distribute the TVs, along with the on going benefit you provide your local cable company.  However, not everyone has a TV and those people do fine.  And again, I would argue that television is not necessary for a fulfilling life. I don’t think the government has money for the 2000 model right now anyway.

Hopefully you followed my analogy in regards to sports teams.  When it comes to government funding, I just can’t find any justification for the government to fund a sports stadium.  Professional sports is primarily an entertainment vehicle.  Should the government really be funding entertainment?  Why not fund movie theaters?  Why didn’t the government step in and bail out Blockbuster or Borders Books?  Are those not venues of entertainment where thousands of people’s jobs are affected?

The arguments for a stadium are usually the economic benefits.  Is there really a large economic benefit from a stadium?  Let me ask it another way.  If the Vikings/Twins/Wild/Timberwolves didn’t exist, would you not find some other form of entertainment?  I would guess you would still go out to dinner.  maybe you would go see your local high school or college sports team.  Those teams would benefit because the admission could be put back into the education system.  You might read more books or rent more movies.  You might go to more plays.  The idea here is that people like ways to relax and getaway.  You don’t need a sports team to convince you of that.  A stadium simply concentrates that money into a smaller area.  Likely you wouldn’t travel to a central location if the stadium wasn’t there – which is also a benefit by saving infrastructure cost and maintenance to the government.

The other consideration is how pro sports works.  The Vikings are threatening to move to Los Angeles.  Could LA really support all 30 NFL franchises.  Or 15 each in New York and LA?  Obviously, no.  The markets need to be spread out to maximize ticket sales, TV revenue, and merchandise revenue.  I guess if a team can’t make it in a market, they need to find a market where they can make it.  If a league can’t survive without government support, then perhaps the players need to get paid less so the league can be profitable.  If the current players can’t survive on $5 million per year instead of $10 million per year, well then find another job because I am willing to be quarterback for the Vikings for a nice cool $500,000.  I bet I can find a few others willing to play for alot less, and now the Vikings will have $100 million+ per year free to finance a stadium.  OK, I understand the last sentence is a stretch and who would go to the stadium when the best athletes aren’t playing.  On the other hand, that also means the stadium could be much smaller and it would cost even less.

I do understand stadiums are a much larger project, and the government would have some limited involvement with infrastructure planning.  The government would also have some role in perhaps helping to secure property and maybe even offer some property tax breaks.  I say this only because I would say it is hard to value a stadium.  When our homes are valued for property taxes, it reflects what we could sell our home for on the market.  A stadium isn’t exactly easy to sell, so I think offering some concessions on property taxes could be considered while planning for a new building.  We do already offer teams government help, such as anti-trust exemptions.

We all like TVs and we all pretty much have one.  But should the government pay for our TVs?  I wold hope you would all answer no.  We shouldn’t be forcing our friends and neighbors to pay for entertainment they might not use.  By taking the cost of stadiums off of the teams and the leagues asking for government assistance, we artificially increase their profits, allowing them to pay their players more and benefit the owners of the teams.  As much as I like watching sports, sports will survive without government help.  Elite athletes will play for less money if they have to, because they will still make far more than most of us ever will see in our lifetime.  I hope the Vikings stay, but I am not willing to have my taxes diverted from roads, education, etc. just to have a football team play 8 times a year.

Let me leave you with this last thought as we all near property tax payment time.  The Vikings want $500 million from the state in assistance.  I couldn’t find numbers on how many homes there are in Minnesota, but there is just over 5 million people.  If there is 1 million homes in Minnesota, that $500 million dollars could instead reduce all of our property tax bills by $500.  That’s alot of money to me.  I really don’t feel the Vikings have delivered $500 worth of entertainment to my house.  I have been at a few games, and have been very entertained, but I also paid for the ticket.  That’s exactly who should pay for it.

I’ll buy my own TV.