i got a letter from joel kramer
yesterday, welcoming me to growth & justice,
a "progressive economic think tank." the organization made news
(or, more precisely, purchased
news) by taking out a full-page advertisement in the minneapolis star-tribune,
exhorting minnesotans to push for tax increases
everyone from the greedhead right to the radical left finds it sooooo
easy to savage such proposals. call me a rube, dupe, chump, mark, patsy, pigeon, sap, sucker, or schlemiel, but i signed up. growing up in minnesota in the 1960s and 1970s, i learned all about bipartisan heartland social democracy -- a dignified floor of social benefits, a clean environment, universal access to great public education, and the strong infrastructure and workforce needed for our businesses to crush
in competitive markets. actually, i think that was the local Republican party platform when i was in elementary school.
of course, the wealthy members of the growth and justice
board could simply dump wheelbarrows of their own surplus cash into the state's coffers and leave the rest of us alone, but i believe that their collective public efforts have the potential to do some good.
first, such efforts might help counter local mimicry of the undeniable national trend toward greater inequality of wealth
. as inheritance taxes have been recast as death taxes,
there are few willing to embrace a counter-ideology of meritocracy (that is, if passing along a $1.5 million estate to one's heirs and then
remitting a percentage of the remainder even counts as meritocracy). in contrast, there are plenty of organizations
clamoring to reduce all manner of taxes and applaud minnesota's rapid descent
in state taxation.
national figures such as warren buffet and bill clinton have publicly asked washington to please stop reducing their
taxes, so there's no reason that minnesotans can't do the same.
second, there's every
reason that minnesotans should be leading rather than following this movement. like it or not, my home state thrived on high taxes and great infrastructure. not to mention the sort of modest, bipartisan, incremental reforms that simply try to get the train rolling in the right direction. under the growth & justice proposal, those earning more than $275,000 would pay the state an additional 2 cents in taxes for every dollar earned, or $6,000 in taxes for someone earning $300,000. other income groups would pay proportionally less, of course, and state taxes would not increase for those earning less than $45,000 (which seems a pretty low floor, i'll admit).
yes, i'm a politically naive, economically illiterate, middle-class suburban hypocrite whose sociological training leads him to assign way
too big a role to civic culture, ideology, and paul bunyan-esque minnesota mythmaking. but that still
doesn't mean that i shouldn't pay more in taxes, or help spread the word that a few of us are willing to pay more for a better minnesota. other rubes, dupes, chumps, marks, patsies, pigeons, saps, suckers, and schlemiels can sign up here