Sunday, May 16, 2010

Taxes101, Taxes201, Taxes301

As a politician, John James sucks; but he is a creative thinker who wants to mend Minnesota’s sticky financial chaos.
by Charlie Leck

It’s not an enjoyable thing to do on a Sunday morning, but I invite fellow Minnesotans to take a serious, non-political look at the economic situation in Minnesota and at our state’s fiscal footing.
It is a fact that our state’s legislators and our Governor are at loggerheads about how to balance our coming fiscal year’s budget (a constitutional requirement).

Charging in with help is John James, riding on a questionable looking gray mare with aging legs, a dusty, mousy looking coat and a bowed back-line. “Hi O’ Smokey, away!”

I know John James. He is a very good, good man. He is also bright and he loves his home state. He is a student of taxes and has plenty he could teach any of us about the subject. His problem is that he just can’t get very many people to take him seriously, but that’s not for a lack of trying.

John’s problem is that he is one of the most non-political characters you’ll ever meet. That probably makes him attractive to you, as it does to me and a wide-ranging and kaleidoscopic number of his friends. However, this doesn’t get him far in trying to influence a large body of legislators or a Governor who can’t place him anywhere on the political spectrum because he actually doesn’t fit into any of their little slots of definition, power or influence.

So he takes his case to the general public; but he comes riding in on the same dull and mottled horse that looks no more attractive to us than it did to the politicians.

Nevertheless, if you want to take a serious and intellectual course on taxes and state finances, John James has now created a web site that offers his very bright and creative views. He calls it Sensible Tax & Fiscal Systems (STAF). John will take you as deeply into this subject matter and possible solutions to our state revenue problems as you want to go. And, if this is a subject for you, you won’t go away sorry you delved into it. Begin with John’s basic explanation of Minnesota’s Tax & Fiscal Systems and their current, sorry condition– what John calls “the big picture.”

There are plenty of places on John’s web site to go mulling around. You can eventually, if you have the stamina, end up at his three proposals to solve the problem (or perhaps it is one proposal in three different gulps): John James Light, John James Medium, or John James Jumbo or Bold.

If you have any influence with Minnesota’s political leadership, beg them to take the course and give John James some thought.

As John says on his web site, “Republicans and Democrats, stop fighting! Let’s get something done for Minnesota!”

I can support John’s claim that his proposals are not left, right, liberal, conservative, Republican, Democrat or even Independent. They are for serious thinkers who want to get this problem, which is bound to get worse if it isn’t seriously attacked, solved.
“Minnesota’s state-local fiscal system is no longer sensible in multiple respects, which is hardly surprising in light of the state’s seemingly endless fiscal crisis.”
I’ve given John James some time because I know and respect him. He’s not seeking personal gain or profit. He’s genuinely concerned and looking for serious state leaders who are willing to look at some new and creative ways of attacking the problem.

John is a graduate of the University of Iowa and Harvard Law School. He served as the Minnesota Commissioner of Revenue from 1987 to 1991. He is currently a practicing attorney and he serves on a number of boards for non-profit organizations.

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