Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Report Back from the MN DFL "Misery Tour"

Reader Jim made it to Bloomington City Hall last night for the DFL "Misery Tour"-- (their touring 24 cities in the state to hear feedback on the Governor's budget- which cuts spending to balance the budget- instead of raising taxes).

Here's his report:

On another note, you're probably better off for not going for a ride on the DFL's magical misery tour. You probably would have been depressed by the three hour parade of "don't cut my handout" whiners. I must say, the conservatives put up a good showing, but there were plenty of sobbing (not literally, at least) liberals trotted out, and one I swear was a full-blooded communist.

It went 7-9pm, and was maybe 2:1 in favor of liberal whiners, then there was a break, most of the elected officials (out-state especially) and audience left, and it resumed at 9:10. It went from maybe 300+ people to about 50. From then until around 10:25pm it was maybe 1:1 conservative:liberal.

Clapping was forbidden, but a few eloquent (or elegant... har har) conservative speakers got claps and cheers anyway. This behavior, of course, was scolded by the chair lady, Ann Lenczewski (DFL). When a mentally retarded person said some stuff about wanting to keep his government handouts, he also got some claps, but Ann didn't object then. Overall, she was fair and wasn't a jerk about time limits. She let people talk long within reason and didn't selectively interrupt or anything. She just scolded us for 30 seconds each time we clapped for about three seconds when someone said something about taxpayers having to pay for all the whiners. Who's the one wasting time?

I did feel a lot of it was scripted. You hear the same lines sometimes. "Please consider increasing revenue" says the guy in the wheelchair. Really, you thought of a clever way to avoid saying "increase taxes on someone else to pay for my goodies" by yourself? And three or four other people also just happened to have that exact "strongly imply but avoid saying increase taxes" phrase... hmm.

A funny part was when Ann was talking about a buzzing speaker or echo or something and said, "we're getting a lot of noise from the left." Ha! You know it. A whining sound, maybe.

Readers- if you have any chance to make it to any of these dates/places near you- Here are two metro locations that are still on the calendar for this week.

Burnsville Wednesday, February 25th - 7:30 p.m.Fairview Ridges Hospital, 201 E Nicollet Blvd

Plymouth Thursday, February 26th - 7:00 p.m.Plymouth City Hall, 3400 Plymouth Blvd


Jim said...

Another scripted comment I remember was something about "provide funds so people can be more independent in their own apartment and not have to live in assisted living, which have a long waiting list."

I heard that one at least twice (same general wording followed by "which also have a long waiting list"), and both times it struck me as odd that they wanted more government money to be independent. They depend on the government for their independence. Hmm. I guess it might make sense to try to prevent them from moving into assisted living that's even more expensive to the taxpayers, but why should their kids dump the person on the state in either an apartment or assisted living? Grandma can come live with her kids in her last years if money is that tight. Then you'll know she's getting good care. Oh, no, we can't be bothered. Instead of sending them out to sea on an iceberg, we dump them on the state and demand someone else eat the costs.

Another similarly silly "give me money so I can be independent" line was from another mentally disabled young man. He said something like, "please don't cut funding for [whatever] so I can move out and don't have to keep living with my sister." The sister was standing right next to him, so that got a laugh from the crowd. It's a cute story, but totally ridiculous that the burden of his care and "independence" should be placed on society. I can see why the sister would love to fob him off on society, but maybe "society" has its own problems to deal with and his should be a case of voluntary charity, not mandated welfare.

I don't mean to be totally heartless when I say "whiners" or seem to "pick on" the disabled. Some of the people really did need help, and would probably count as "deserving poor" who are worthy of charity. However, it's a simple fact that our current growth in "health and human services" (HHS) spending is exponential (some fixed percent per year is exponential), and as we see in nature and other parts of the economy (housing, stocks, etc.), exponential growth is simply not sustainable. Sometimes it lasts years or decades, but eventually, it comes crashing down. Exponential government spending on HHS is unsustainable.

It is the humane thing to wean people off of government dependence rather than patch the problem today with a tax increase or some Federal money (where we pay $1 to get 72 cents back with conditions on how we spend it). Even if the MN "budget crisis" is solved today, the unsustainable growth in HHS spending will force us to come back in two, four, ten, years with the exact same problem. They won't cut HHS spending during the good times, and they don't want to cut it during the bad times. When does it end? And how does it end? A smooth and orderly transition away from it, or a real disaster with people literally starving in the streets (and all the dangerous potential for riots and commie revolutions associated with that)?

Why all this talk about welfare/HHS? They had a little slide show about the state budget before the people were allowed to talk. It showed the spending of the state in a pie chart. #1, 37.9% was Education; #2, 31.1% was HHS. There were a few people from "education" who spoke, but most of the "whiners" were asking for more HHS.

It is simply not the role of government to provide welfare as a "right." Charity should be voluntary. If fewer people depend on welfare, there will be less pain when the day finally comes when the government simply can no longer provide these "services." They can kick the can down the road a few years, but the problem doesn't go away. You're not creating self-sufficient citizens if you continue to provide subsidized housing and medical care indefinitely. In fact, if you pay attention to history and economics, you'll realize that government intervention to "provide affordable" anything tends to raise the price of that anything (housing, higher-ed, medical care) and cause even more people to find it unaffordable as the prices go up way faster than they would under true free market conditions.

There's also the worry that if MN doesn't cut HHS, but other states do, we'll be even more of a welfare magnet and we'll end up with even more problems faster than expected.

Anyway, it's easier to say "whiners" in a blog comment than it is to type out a few paragraphs explaining things. It's really for their own good. It's like getting off drugs, you have a period of pain and are better off in the long run.

Now, that's the welfare aspect. The people whining about the "arts" get no mercy :) If the crazy crap they call art can't survive without public/government funding, perhaps what they are doing shouldn't exist. Sure you have "success" stories of some goof finding a job in "the arts" but if that just means you're funding some art school with tax dollars to crank out screwy "artists" that only can survive with government grants, you're not doing anyone a real service. The arts will probably be cut before the HHS stuff, and then you'll have real "starving artists" applying for HHS if they haven't learned how to produce art that fills a true market need (not an artificial government condition).

And so ends the longest comment evar?

Sheila said...

Good points--

I don't support any gvt funding for the arts, because I don't support censorship of the arts and you can't have it both ways (although the liberals do today!)

Your point on subsidized housing is dead-on too- that is the problem in EP- they have a lot of it and keep on building more so that this becomes a place for the "haves and have nots" rather than a place where middle class people can easily afford to live...