Sunday, December 12, 2010

Monday Musings - Snowmageddon edition

Ugh. The worst thing about minor frostbite is that it renders the act of typing painful. But I do it for you, dear readers.

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I don't have the clip, but the Fox 9 evening news lady said something to the effect of "this really reminds me of years ago, when we were covering the tsunami".

Yep, it's just like that, minus the famine.

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Governor Pawlenty nails it on unions, and reminds me of something my (very liberal) mother said to me the other day. She noted that union benefits were earned on the backs of blue collar workers who fought for them, and are gobbled up by government employees.

Quite right, and he is also right when he notes that public sector pay is double that of the private sector. The reason typically cited for this is that government employees are better educated and better trained. There are no McDonalds-caliber employees working for government.

To which, I'll firstly agree. Based on my experiences with Minneapolis city government, I genuinely doubt a good percentage of them could hold a job at McDonalds (much less a steel plant).

Second, this proves my mom's point. Unions now primarily exist to make the upper classes more powerful, and do so under the guise of helping the working man.

Third, if the reason for the discrepancy between public and private sector wages is the level of training and (I'll infer) desirability of the successful candidate for employment, then there is no need for unions to ensure that this remains so.

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R.T. Rybak has offered his proposal to curb spiraling property tax rates (slated to go up about 7% for each of the next two years, not including the inevitable off-year election levies). Part of his proposal is to cut $300,000 from employee pensions.

$300,000. Let's put that number in perspective. In May of this year, a judge ordered retirees to pay back $76 million in overpayments. We overpaid, by accident (of the highly educated and desirable city employees of course) more than 250 times what Rybak is proposing to cut from pensioner pay.

Rybak does not care about property taxes, even though they will inevitably drive residents to the suburbs (where their kids go to school anyway). By the time this happens, we are left with ruins of what once were gentrifying communities, Rybak will have already embarked on a failed bid for governor.

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Yeah, I know Dayton won, officially, but there is no way in hell Rybak pulls it off.

Incidentally, there is some question as to whether Mark Dayton will take a salary as governor of the state. I think he should do so, not because he needs the money, but because of precedent.

Salaries for government leaders ostensibly inoculate them against the temptation to intermingle public and private interests. It might seem quaint, but it actually works, to a degree, which is why campaign finance reform is on anyone's radar screen.

If Dayton turns down a salary, future governors will be compelled to do so. Not only might this inhibit those without the pecuniary means to take an unpaid vacation (so to speak) from running for office, it will open them to temptation once they arrive.

After all, isn't it easier to assuage one's conscience while taking a bribe after having performed an act of altruism (especially one to which you did not entirely assent)? It's like Matt Damon in the Informer.

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The Metrodome imploded, and some have declared that the question of whether the Vikings need a new stadium is settled. A couple of observations.

First, if the Vikings feel they need a new stadium, they should buy one. That's not the way the world works, you say? Okay, well the way the world works is what got us here. We have kids getting felt up by TSA and a basketball stadium people aren't sure still even exists (it does, I checked... It's right by Target Field, actually). The world needs to work differently, and if Minnesota has to lose a team in order to bring that about, then so be it.

Second, one rescheduled game per quarter century does not necessitate a one billion. If the team wants a few million bucks to fortify the damn thing, let's work something out.

Third, if they move the team to Coon Rapids, I think they should call the team the Coon Rapids Vikings.

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Birthday dinner at Saffron. Was welcomed with a happy birthday and my name printed on my menu. Had the lamb brains (don't knock 'em 'til you try 'em), and then let them pick the wine and entree. The cooking at Saffron is really on the highest level you can find in the cities. This was the best meal I've had this year, and I've had some doozies.

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I hate snow. If I met snow, I would tell it to die, and then make a comment about snow's wife that everyone would pretty much agree is over the line.

I'm out.

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