#405 – Dick Bernard: Day 18 of the Minnesota Government Shutdown; Day 15 to Default of the U.S. Government. A Crucial Time.

Demonstration at the State Capitol, St. Paul, June 30, 2011

Personally, I predict that the Minnesota Special Session will be towards the end of this week, probably on Thursday. Logically, the agreement between the Governor (Democrat) and the House and Senate Leadership (Republican) should pass. But this is not a logical time. At some early point approximately 200 Minnesota Senators and Representatives will take their vote. Until then, we’ll not know whose light is green (for) or red (against) the compromise.
Who are these folks deciding our collective fate? I went to the Minnesota Blue Book for 2011-2012 (free for the asking at the Secretary of State’s office).
The Minnesota State Legislature in 2011*.
Republican (IR)

23 – Freshman (first six months in office)
14 – Incumbent
37 – Total
62% of the Republican Senate majority are in their first year as lawmakers.
Democrat (DFL)
3 – Freshman
27 – Incumbent
30 – Total
Republican (IR)

30 – Freshman
45 – Incumbent
75 – Total
40% of House Republicans are Freshmen.
Democrat (DFL)
4 – Freshman
55 – Incumbent
59 – Total
* – These numbers show legislators listed in the book itself. I am aware of at least two Senators in the book who have left office, one due to death; the other to take another appointment. But the general data still stands.
53 of 112 Republican Legislators (47%) are Freshmen. It’s been indicated that some of these newcomers had never so much as even visited their State Capitol in which they now control the outcome of a $35.5 Billion budget affecting 5 million people.
There are doubtless plenty of people who think this new crop of lawmakers is just fine. “Good riddance to the old ‘tax and spenders’ “, they say. “Let’s run the state like a business….”

Ah yes, a business.
A short distance from where I type this post is the World Headquarters of 3M, one of Minnesota’s largest and most important multi-national corporations, over a century in business.

3M Headquarters from a nearby Maplewood MN neighborhood July 18, 2011

I wonder how 3M would fare if, all at once, most of its experienced top leadership was thrown out of office, and replaced by people who had a parochial view of 3M based on their own selfish interest.
My guess is that chaos would reign at that World Headquarters which I pass by several times each week.
While generalizations are always problematic, the ‘spontaneity’ that led to the 2010 election results, and what has happened since, would be intolerable and unacceptable in the corporate world.
A corporations goal is its collective success: if the corporation succeeds, everyone within it succeeds.
Our political system, on the contrary, State and National, increasingly appears as a system in mortal combat within itself: we have become a winner-take-all bunch destined to lose it all because of our attitude that only losers compromise.

Ironically, many of the newcomers set to shape up Minnesota and the U.S. were supported by Big Business PACs. Corporations are now, of course, “citizens”, with powerful rights and privileges thereof.
Now the controlling votes are in the hands of people vaulted into power by an unikely coalition of angry voters, and people who didn’t bother to vote at all in 2010.
It will be most interesting to see how the 89 DFL Legislators vote when the final agreement comes to the legislative table this week. The Governor has accepted some items which are as reprehensible to the Democrats, as some other items are to the Republicans.
A short distance behind is the even worse catastrophe facing the United States if it defaults on its debts.
Whatever the case, we’re stuck with the current status quo. We elected those deciding our fate.
It would be nice if the electorate learns a lesson from this crazy scenario.
I wish I could be more hopeful.
NOTE: I have written frequently on this topic at this space since June 23, 2011. Further posts will follow.

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