Dear Minnesota Republicans: Write a Sad Poem in Your Journal, and MOVE ON

Or, Why increasing in the gas tax is the only fiscally responsible move for the Minnesota Legislature.

Dear Minnesota Republicans, we get it. Along with your national brethren you have dominated the political discussion in this country for near forty years chanting the same mantra “Taxes Bad” & “Tax Break” good. The propaganda campaign you have painted against America’s non-existent (or extremely shitty) welfare state has been an exercise in political brilliance; Somehow manipulating not only the rich into believing the government was stealing their money, but also Joe The Plumber™. This war raged on the successful Middle Way/New Society of the Eisenhower (R)/ Lyndon B Johnson (D) tax system is truly a masterpiece. However, there remains one problem with continually waging war on taxes, you run out of money.

While I can understand the frustration of hard working American’s being upset by taxes being taken from their wages, following the dangerous anti-tax rhetoric fundamentalism-like fervor will lead States and Countries of a cliff, just take a at Governor Brownback’s failed experiment in Kansas with his Grover Norquest approved tax plan that has bankrupted the state and left the legislature to steal increasing amounts of funding from the state’s highways.

Speaking of highways, let’s get back to the meat and bones of this issue.

  1. after 25 years of neglect from anti-tax governors and legislatures, Minnesota’s infrastructure is crumbling (the whole nations as well tbh). Over one-thousand of Minnesota’s bridges are structurally insufficient and over 50% of our roads are over 50 years old.
  2. Business rely (heavily) on this infrastructure to transport goods and grow the economy.
  3. Laborers, you know the people who make an economy, predominantly use cars (roads) to get to their jobs, these people generally like their infrastructure to be safe and easy to use.

Right now (if you’re a MN Republican) you’re probably saying, “Why yes Speed, that’s exactly why we are funding new infrastructure projects, Governor Dayton is being the unreasonable one requesting a Gas Tax Levy when we have $900 million dollar surplus.” And you know what if I just looked at the surface of the issue I’d be inclined to agree with you, but there’s a catch.

Using the surplus from the general fund to invest in transportation is not only an unsustainable track to follow (what if there’s another recession? the surplus will be gone, but the shitty infrastructure will still be around!) but it is also incongruent with Republican idealism and their mythical method of ‘pulling oneself up by their bootstraps’ that they have shoved down our throats for the better part of a century. You might be wondering where the second part is coming from (I have to say, first half of this argument is pretty cut and dry).

Well, Republicans tend to be all about people paying for things themselves [I wish to add in parenthesis, I include corporations in this because your Reagan & Bush I & II appointed counterparts on the Supreme Court decide corporations were people too.] People shouldn’t rely on government assistance, they should just abandon their children at home and work a third, or fourth, or fifth job blah blah blah.

AND YET that is exactly what the Minnesota Republican’s are advocating for with their transportation plan. Instead of making the people using the roads (i.e. the drivers) pay for the maintenance and repair of our crumbling infrastructure (with a gas tax increase), they’re expecting big government to pick up the tab. Not only is this incongruent with the rugged individualism espoused by the GOP, but just to throw Jesus in the mix, I’m pretty sure in terms of Christian Social Justice, JC would probably frown on a bunch of rich dudes taking improved drinking water, health care, child care, and education from the people just so they could make a shallow gesture of ‘fighting taxes’ while ignoring problems related to poverty and suffering.

Regardless of what you believe in (God, Allah, Yahweh, Buddha, Krishna, Jehovah, Joseph Smith, Great Mother Goddess, The Force or Madonna) it is universally morally dubious to keep clean water, better education, and health care from the people. The Minnesota GOP is providing lip service for their working class base, while ignoring real issues facing Minnesota’s future. Additionally asking the people in Minnesota who are car-less to subsidize the roads and bridges for people who have cars (and are therefore probably wealthier) is an unjust mechanism of fiscal behavior. If the Minnesota House Republicans were serious about a long term solution for Minnesota’s infrastructure needs they would raise the gas tax and implement more HOT Lanes in the Metro Area, and use this revenue to employ thousands of Minnesotans while simultaneously improving our roads, bridges, and transit across Minnesota.

So Please, Minnesota Republicans, write a sad poem in your journal and MOVE ON! Pass the gas tax and invest in Minnesota.

PS: It was a real dick move trying to tie extending unemployment benefits to North Country miners to tax breaks for wealthy people, Jesus must be proud of you.