You Go To Hell, I’m Going to Florida

When Tennessee voters didn’t return David Crockett to the US Congress in 1836, Crockett said to his former neighbors, “You go to hell, I’m going to Texas.” Texans, proud of almost everything, sell T-shirts and bumper stickers with that phrase all over the state, including near the Alamo, where Crockett’s career ended.

Bill Cooper, former TCF Bank mogul and former state Republican chairman, has up and moved to Florida, according to Neal St. Anthony in the Star Tribune. “I reject feeding this dysfunctional beast,” Cooper is quoted as saying about Minnesota government. So he’s taking his Scrooge McDuck money bags and going to Florida, where a no-income-tax government won’t bother him for contributions for silly things like schools and roads.

Cooper’s done some good things for Minnesota. And Minnesota, as he acknowledged in the story, has been good to him. Well over $100 million good. Top executives who raid their customers and the low-paid workers at the bottom of their organization to gobble up huge rewards from Wall Street always seem to have a problem forking much of that money over to people who live on bus passes and grocery coupons. If people were worth their salt, they’d make millions just like Bill did, the philosophy seems to go.

So Bill calls Minnesota government dysfunctional. And it has become that, as the Republican program to transfer wealth from those who don’t have much to those who have way more than they need has taken hold here. Cops? Libraries? Roads? Schools? Wealthy Minnesotans don’t pay as large a share of their income to support those quaint things as do middle-class Minnesotans, and yet it’s the wealthy who are whining and mewling about taxes. The Minnesota House votes to make the wealthy pony up their fair share, and Republicans declare it’s the End of Days and bleat that all the wealthy (read “good”) people will go to Florida.

Let them.

The rest of us will plug along here, pay our taxes and see if we can get Minnesota back to being a state that works.

Enjoy Florida, Bill. I went to college there, I spend part of the winter in Key West, and I love the state, what’s left of it. But live there? No thanks. Florida has a government as responsive as a corpse, a legislature that’s sold to the highest bidder (often Big Sugar, which bought the legislature so it could drain the Everglades), tattered schools and a voting system that’s the envy of African dictators. If that’s the kind of state where you want to live, Bill, take your Minnesota money and count it down there. Florida government’s got a long way to climb to reach “dysfunctional.”

– Bruce Benidt

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6 Responses

  1. Well, Florida schools are not cheap by any means. I live in Florida and I love it. I was born and raised in So Cal, so I am a beach bunny by birth. Florida is like Cal only 20 years behind, at least in the northern part where I live. I scoot down to the Keys for a weekend but I don’t care for south Florida and hate Orlando, it is too crowded and traffic is horrible.
    There are a lot of wealthy celebrities that own homes in Florida for tax purposes. One that comes to mind is an ex-basbeall commish, Bowie Kuehn. He dumped big money in a million dollar home, where it is Homesteaded and they couldn’t touch it. I’m not sure what the problem was, (before my time) but the IRS or somebody was after him for big bucks, so the story goes.
    I just like the boating, the beach , tennis and golf and good food.

  2. “…the Republican program to transfer wealth from those who don’t have much to those who have way more than they need…”

    Huh?

    The top 40% of wage earners in Minnesota pay 90% of the state’s income taxes.

    In the 5-year period from (1997-2002) spending increased by over $1,000 per Minnesotan. State and local government spending now comprises 21% of personal income vs. 11% of personal income in 1957.

    Cooper fought the good fight. Can’t blame him for not wanting to dump his fortune down the DFL’s insatiable black hole.

  3. I’m sorry to see Mr. Cooper go. He was always good political theatre, and he undoubtedly did good things for the community outside of politics. But I just don’t get the victimhood complex.

    By citing statistics about the top 40%, the point about Bill, who ranks in the wealthiest one percent, is avoided.

    Minnesota Citizens for Tax Justice’s analysis of state Revenue data: “households earning between $40,000 and $80,000 a year pay a net of 11.3% of their income in state and local taxes after the value of deducting those taxes is factored in. Those earning the top one percent of income ($11.4 million a year or greater) pay 4.7%.

    Those at the middle pay a net rate two and a half times greater than those at the top. If one excludes the value of the federal deductions, those at the middle pay 11.9% in taxes, while those at the top pay 6.9%.”

    As for spending, former Republican Governor Arne Carlson and others have stressed that you really need to look at spending as a portion of personal income. Despite all the wailing, this state and local “price of government” has dropped a bit in recent years, from 17.5% in 1997 to 16.2% in 2006. http://www.budget.state.mn.us/budget/summary/pog/060612_pog.pdf

  4. “From each according to his ability ….” – Karl Marx, 1875

    At least the DFL has no disagreement with Marx’s philosophy. Only denials that they are one and the same.

  5. “Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them…well, I’ve got others.” – Groucho Marx

  6. It is fun going back and forth on this stuff with fellow wicked-tongued folk, no matter the point of view. Good stuff.

    I do fear that much of the Republican approach is about transfer of wealth, from the lower and middle economic rung to those already doing just fine. Republicans are so good at yelling “class warfare” and “redistribution of wealth” when social-program funding comes up — when in fact it’s been class warfare for centuries in this country (including colonial days) and the wealthy won the battle long ago.

    The Republican-Big Business alliance transfers wealth by:
    +Tax policies that allow the wealthy deductions, write-offs and depreciation that bring many wealthy people’s tax bills to a small percentage of their income, much smaller than the average Joe’s.
    +Wage/salary/stock options structure that increases the gap between rich and poor — the top-exec/line worker earning ratio is so far out of whack it’s shameful.
    +Tax and business policies that put “shareholder value” at the top of the corporate purpose — far outweighing the stake employees, customers and the community have in a corporation. And while most Americans have a little handful of stock, it’s the top execs of a company who have distended bellyfulls of stock who benefit most by short-term decisions that boost shareholder value while sticking it to employees, customers and the community.
    +A compliant government that sends the EPA and OSHA out on break while companies pile up environmental and health damage, the cost of which is picked up by the mainline taxpayers while top execs collect their bonuses.
    +A compliant government that lets companies dump their pension plans, the cost of which is picked up by the government pension agency funded by all us little taxpayers, while once again top execs are rewarded by Wall Street for cutting expenses. Talk about welfare chiselers!

    I could go on. And of course all these points are debatable (well, how debatable is the issue of dumping pensions onto taxpayers while getting bonuses for doing so?). But I find it depressing to see the gap between rich and poor continue to grow. Many Republicans, of course, truly believe they’re doing the right thing and helping people by clearing the way for free enterprise. But I see too much of the results of “free” enterprise (government-protected enterprise, as in the pension issue) freeing up money for larger mansions while Pell grants and cops are cut. It seems like a rip-off. And while the wealthy retreat to their gated communities to be protected from crime committed by the less-well-off, it’s too often the people behind the gates who are ripping off their employees or their neighbors, who will have to pay for the cleanup of the environmental mess out beyond the gates.

    And I find it depressing that I get so downhearted and angry about this. I don’t want to be a cynic. I don’t want to read the paper every day and hear that familiar refrain in my dark little head, “Here they go again.” We need funding for cops and libraries so people who don’t live in a gated community can hold onto their property values, pay their taxes, feel comfortable in their neighborhoods and feel like America is for everybody, not just the rich.

    Is that a dream?

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