I hear the commercials just about every day during my commute. For years the voice belonged to the avuncular Dan Scott, but he's retired now and these days we're hearing his adenoidal sounding successor, Dan Hindbjorgen. These two gentlemen represent the Sioux Falls Development Council and for over a decade now they've been extolling the virtues of their home town, which sits just over the border from Minnesota in lovely, windswept South Dakota.
Their message has been consistent - South Dakota generally, and Sioux Falls in particular, have far lower taxes and business operating expenses than exist in Minnesota. For years they have been telling us that a business could save up to "a million dollars a year by moving to Sioux Falls," and they always assure us that they have the facts to back it up. And for years, they have talked at length about the predations of the political class in Minnesota, particularly the bien pensants who currently run the Legislature.
I'm not sure how much the Sioux Falls Development Council pays these gentlemen to spread their message, but my sense is that they could spare a lot of expense by simply broadcasting the deep thoughts of my representative in 50B, Kate Knuth. Ms. Knuth managed to get elected as a fresh new face in the 2006 election. She is very young and she shares the certitude that many young people have about the decency of their beliefs and the efficacy of their plans to fundamentally change the corrupt world they've inherited.
While it's difficult to get much of a sense of the scope of Ms. Knuth's vision from the sketchy information on her campaign's issues webpage, this week it was her turn to attach her name to one of those DFL press releases that reliably run each week in the local newspapers, in this case the Sun-Focus. (It's always interesting to note the similiarities in writing style that Kate Knuth, Bev Scalze, Paul Gardner, Mindy Greiling and other north suburban legislative deep thinkers share, by the way.) And Kate Knuth has big ideas:
I support an innovative plan to transform the way Minnesota schools are
funded - one that would significantly moderate skyrocketing property taxes and
provide every Minnesota student access to a top-notch education. The
groundbreaking proposal, which will be in play next year, begins increasing
school funding starting in 2010 and can be phased in over the course of several
bienniums as economic conditions allow. It simplifies state school funding,
reduces property taxes and lays a foundation for every student to succeed when
they graduate from high school.
Sounds good, doesn't it? Who wouldn't want to "moderate" their property taxes? But since schools are a local matter under the jurisdiction of local school boards, how would she fund it? You know the answer, of course -- by making the rich pay their fair share, that's how. And that means by shifting the burden to the state, which gets the money from income taxes.
As we said, Kate Knuth is young. She hasn't spent a lot of time in the business world; in fact, I'm not sure she's spent any significant time in the business world, as she's pretty much spent her adult life splitting time between academe and her current perch in the legislature. As a result, I suspect she doesn't quite understand how people who don't travel in her circles live. There are many bright, productive people who earn a lot of money and pay a lot of taxes right now. Many are high-level executives of small or large companies, or entrepreneurs who build their own enterprises and whose innovations lead to good jobs for their fellow citizens. Because such people are bright and productive, they are in demand and they have highly transferable skills. Such people have options. And the Dan Hindbjorgens of the world are more than happy to provide enticements to get such people to leave Minnesota. And when the Kate Knuths of the world start braying about fairness, smart and productive people well understand what fairness implies. And when the braying gets loud, the dulcet tones of Dan Hindbjorgen start to sound better and better.
Kate Knuth could understand all that some day. Anyone who earns degrees from the University of Chicago and Oxford has demonstrated that they can learn. It's quite possible that if Kate took the initiative, she could build her own business or rise to an executive position with a Minnesota company. And perhaps some day Kate may raise a family and learn the impact that well-meaning governmental ministrations have on individuals and families. In other words, she might understand the things that her opponent, Lori Grivna, understands well. If Kate Knuth values education, she ought to concentrate on her own education a little more. And the voters of 50B should not hesitate to offer a new syllabus in November.
Cross-posted at True North.