Sunday, December 7, 2008

Dumbest Letter Ever Published

I'm still not sure I correctly read this Star Tribune letter to the editor about Minnesota's recently announced gigantic budget shortfall (Dec. 6, 2008). What it seems to be saying is so nonsensical, I can't believe they published it, so perhaps I am not understanding it. Let's see if typing it in makes it any clearer to me:

So Minnesota is going to be $5.2 billion in the hole. Seems not too long ago, say a year, that this state's Democratic Party leaders were so hell-bent on passing a $6.6 billion tax increase that they wined and dined six Republican legislators in order to get enough votes to override the governor's veto. I hold House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher and Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller directly responsible for this disgrace, and I demand that they resign their leadership positions immediately for dereliction of duty and gross incompetence.
--Richard S. O'Brien, Albertville, Minn.
For those not up on their recent Minnesota history, the $6.6 billion tax increase Mr. O'Brien is referring to was a phased increase in the gasoline tax, which had not been raised since 1988 and was not indexed to inflation, so in effect the tax had been decreasing every year. Our governor made a "no new taxes pledge" during his first election, and has kept his vow, making it necessary to override his veto in order to increase the gas tax. (This tax was passed after the I-35 bridge collapsed, by the way.)

Mr. O'Brien seems to be implying that the earlier tax increase has somehow caused our current budget shortfall, and this is where it all breaks down. What exactly does that mean? The gas tax increase (which hasn't even fully taken effect yet) caused the economy to tank and therefore decrease the state's revenue projections? Could that idea even coexist in the same sentence as the word "sense"?

Why does the Strib publish letters like O'Brien's? I'm all for citizen discussion from different points of view (really, I am) but this is like printing the ravings of someone who thinks 2 + 2 equals negative 4.

1 comment:

elena said...

I don't think the letter writer gets the links you spell out – it's all "shortfall/even with new taxes" to him. Consider sending a version of your blogpost to the Strib, to help clarify the issue. (Sorry DN3, but you are smarter than a lot of people – and a better reader!)