Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Washington Stall Impacts Minnesota!

I tried reading the newspaper with the dog at my feet this morning, but this canine wonder just had to abandon me for the fresh, clean air!
by Charlie Leck

It ain’t no fun!
On a weekday morning I’m usually awakened at an ungodly hour by my wife’s alarm clock. Farmers, you know, need to be about their chores before the sun peeps up over the eastern horizon. Farmers who also need to be off to another day-job, must be up and off even earlier in the morning. I’ve gotten used to the early alarm and I just arise with her, or a few minutes after, and trudge on out to the kitchen, hoping that she’s ground the coffee beans and gotten the brewing process started.

The local newspaper doesn’t deliver way out here anymore. I subscribe electronically now. That works okay. I can’t haul the paper around the house with me, reading as I walk to refill my coffee cup or as I make a stop in the little bathroom in the front corner of the house, but I've gotten use to it.

This morning, on the front page, I saw the news and it wasn’t pleasant: State faces a projected $1.1 billion shortfall (bad budget news arrives even as Minnesota’s economy is showing signs of improvement).

“Great,” I shouted aloud, and the dog raised his head to look at me, wondering about me as he does on those occasions when I talk to myself.

I looked out into the black morning (5:28 AM) and wondered if I should read the story or just turn immediately to the sports section.

“I’ll, at least, give it a sentence or two,” I spoke up again, and the dog twisted his head a significant ways to the side in curiosity.

“We’re worse off than we should be and could have been if we’d had responsible budgeting in the previous two years,” Governor Mark Dayton said Wednesday. “The years of previous fiscal irresponsibility are now landing on our heads.”

“Gosh darn politicians!” The dog quickly raised his head at my somewhat louder voice, thinking he had done something wrong.

“No, it ain’t you,” I said to him as soothingly as my temper would allow.

“The state’s budget woes could worsen if Washington leaders don’t find a way to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff by January.”

Two pretty darn good journalists (Baird Helgeson and Jennifer Brooks) had been assigned the story.

I wanted so much to move the mouse up to the little “sports banner” at the top of the page, but I stuck with it and read on, wondering what, in the end, it was going to cost us – me, the dog, and the absent farmer-wife – and all the time cussing the dang-blamed politicians who can’t seem to cooperate with each other anymore.

“What the dad-rabbit kind of idiots are they anyway?” The dog looked up again, but he had no answer to my question. It was clear, however, that he recognized the single word, rabbit.

Going over the friggin’ cliff will probably lead to worker layoffs up here in Minnesota. Corporate profits could “tumble” (and we have some of the leading Fortune 500 companies in the nation). The natural result of all this would be a cut-back in consumer spending and a drop, once again, in the housing market.

The state-hired economic genius said a recession shouldn’t occur. The state legislature will convene in January and the likely outcome of all the legislative arguing, threatening and bullshipping will be some tax hikes. Naturally, the Republicans are saying we don’t have any need for new taxes, but cuts in spending are definitely in order. Same old argument, you know. Only now, the Democrats are in the majority over there in the capital city and hold the governor’s office as well. So, it’s pretty much a guaranty that we’ll have some new taxes.

To get along during the last four years of recession, the legislature borrowed money from the school fund and now they’ve got to figure out how to repay that massive loan or the schools are going to have trouble operating.

All of this happens, don’t you know, amid positive national forecasts for economic growth and a strong recovery from the doldrums of the last four years.

The Governor insists new tax hikes will only impact the top two percent of earners.

Guess what? You’ll be amazed at this: the Republicans in the legislature are saying “this is no time to raise taxes, but rather it is the perfect time to reduce them!”

So, what’s new? A frightening headline, indeed, but it’s the same old story.

In the end, it all gets back on the shoulders of those idiots in Washington who can’t seem to sit down and work out some kind of compromise that will allow the country to keep on moving back toward a healthy condition.

The dog shakes his head, wondering how human beings can be so dumb. How can they not have learned the secret of circling each other calmly, sniffing a bit at each other’s butts and then taking a romp together across the field, enjoying the pure wonder of the earth upon which they run?

“It’s a good question,” I tell him, but I silently know that there is not an answer to it.

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