Skip to Content

Declare the pennies on your eyes: Tax day in Minnesota

It's tax day, which means one of several things. You might be one of those folks who completed your taxes the moment your forms arrived and perhaps already have your return and perhaps already have blown it on a trip to Cancun. Or, if you're like an estimated 20 percent of Americans, you've been putting it off until the last minute, and perhaps are just getting around to it, in which case, go ahead and finish — you can always get back to reading the Daily Glean. And there's always a chance that paying taxes drives you into a rage, in which case you might spend the day protesting — the Associated Press reports that about 10 different tax day protests are planned throughout Minnesota.

It can be a bit hard to figure out what is being protested, in part because there is no single agenda. Some people don't like the way their taxes are being spent but otherwise are happy to pay taxes. Some people think taxation itself is immoral, or unconstitutional, and, frankly, some are selfish, such as Jodine White of Rocklin, California, who was queried by the New York Times about the fact that she's on Social Security but nonetheless is protesting taxes: "I don’t know what to say. Maybe I don’t want smaller government. I guess I want smaller government and my Social Security." She then adds, "I didn’t look at it from the perspective of losing things I need. I think I’ve changed my mind."

Some show up in tricorner hats, mouthing the rhetoric of the Tea Party, but even that's puzzling, as the original Boston Tea Party protested taxation without representation. We have representation. But since a majority in the Tea Party vote Republican, according to this CNN poll, maybe they don't consider it representation when their side loses. We at the Glean would like to take a moment to discuss the Tea Party phenomenon, however, as we have become convinced that they are getting more attention than they have actually earned. According to the same CNN article, only 11 percent of the U.S population identifies with or supports the Tea Party. By comparison, according to a Gallup poll in February, 36 percent of Americans actually have positive feelings about socialism. Socialism!

Additionally, Tea Party protests tend to get a lot of attention, perhaps because of all the misspelled signs, but last March, when the Tea Party was famously protesting health care reform, the number of people who actually showed up to protest ranged from 300 to 3,000 people, depending on whom you ask. In the meanwhile, at the exact same moment, there was a march on Washington for immigration reform that attracted 200,000 people. You may not remember that; it didn't get much coverage.

Nate Silver at the FiveThirtyEight blog rounds up the number of protesters at various Tea Party rallies, and they seem to draw about a thousand or so people. That might seem like a lot, but a rally regarding patient safety attracted an estimated 900 nurses this past March in Minnetonka, and was barely noticed by the local media. You put 900 people with signs misspelling the name Obama at the Capitol, the press shows up, but the same number of nurses gets sneezed at? A massive protest for immigration reform gets scant reporting, but a handful of people chanting racial epithets gets national coverage?

Something seems out of proportion, especially when Tea Party members don't actually know what they are protesting. For instance, in a CBS/New York Times poll, 44 percent of Tea Party members thought Obama had raised taxes in the last year, while 2 percent thought taxes had been decreased. In fact, last year, the average tax refund was up 10 percent. MinnPost's Sharon Schmickle details this a little more.

But taxes drive some people corybantic. In fact, when AFSCME recently ran an ad demanding that we tax the rich, the union received a series of angry phone calls, including one so filled with vitriol and profanity-laced that they called the cops, as Tim Pugmire of Minnesota Public Radio recounts. Who would do such a thing? "[A] man implied a connection to the tea party movement and a tea party event scheduled for Thursday evening outside of the State Capitol." Oh. Maybe that's why they're getting so much attention. In fact, the Star Tribune's latest story about the Tea Party is a reprint of an Associated Press story claiming that Tea Partiers themselves are worried about extremists.

And we'd like to make one last comment, about the signs. They've been a great source of fun for outsiders, but we can't help but wonder what people inside the movement think about the enormous quantity of misspelled signs at Tea Party rallies. And the reason we wonder is because American politics has long had a troubling strain of anti-intellectualism in it, as Richard Hofstadter detailed first back in 1963 in his book "Anti-intellectualism in American Life," which netted him a Pulitzer. Given that Tea Party members, when polled, are generally misinformed about the subjects they protest, it's hard not to wonder if they simply don't care whether they spell words like "stimulus," or "informed," or "politicians," or "socialized." Is anybody in the movement politely telling this sign-bearers that they have made a little error, and it sort of undermines the movement's credibility, especially when people hold signs insisting English is the only language of America. To paraphrase Dean Wormer: Benighted and incurious is no way to go through life, son.

All right, the irony of spending so many words to make the case that the Tea Party may not deserve so much attention doesn't escape us, so let's take a quick detour to news stories that have nothing at all to do with tax day. And there are a lot of weird ones out there lately. For instance, there is the tale of St. Paul librarian and blogger Amanda Cortright, who apparently loved vintage items so much she allegedly simply stole old books and magazines from her library — as Mara H. Gottfried of the Pioneer Press reports, a police search of her house yielded 1,400 missing items, including Photoplay movie magazines from the 1930s and 1940s and Gourmet magazines from the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Then, in a scene that feels lifted from Werner Herzog's "Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans," (warning: f-word) an Alexandria man was stabbed in a dispute over an iguana, as the AP reports. And that's not the only oddball stabbing story: A Rochester man was stabbed twice in the back at a soccer game while hugging his girlfriend, allegedly by her ex, according to Janice Gregorson of the Rochester Post-Bulletin. There don't seem to be any iguanas involved in this story, but you never know. You just can't trust iguanas.

Holly Wagner of WCCO tells us that more than 70 pigs were killed in a barn fire in Scott County in a story that manages to sound both horrifying and delicious; in related news, assuming you find human ears delicious, the Northfield teacher who bit off part of a man's auricle will lose her job, according to Maricella Miranda of the Pioneer Press.

Finally, in sports, it is apparently possible to buy a ticket to a Twins game in the new stadium, arrive and discover the seat you have purchased doesn't even exist, according to a story by FOX9. The fellow who first discovered the error was escorted out of the game, which he seems to be taking with disappointed good temper. If it had happened us, we would have chewed somebody's ear off.

Get MinnPost's top stories in your inbox

Comments (13)

Your writing drives me corybantic and I mean that in a good way. :)

By coincidence, this evening is our monthly meeting of the fraternal organization that hosted the original Boston Tea Party. I'd be surprised if we get much more than the usual half dozen members to attend.

Speaking of delicious irony...

"Is anybody in the movement politely telling this sign-bearers that they have made a little error, and it sort of undermines the movement's credibility, especially when people hold signs insisting English is the only language of America."

MMmmmmm......

I don't claim English is the only language of America, but there must be some sort of internet law the guarantees that if you write about somebody else's misspellings or typos, your comment will contain some sort of error.

Anyway, I write Glean in a mixture of Yiddish and Spanish I called Spidlish, and if there are any errors, I blame Google's online translator.

If you're going to leave profanity laced threats on someone's voice mail, it's probably a good idea to block your caller ID. According to Andy Birkey at MNIndy, AFSCME used that to identify the caller, and passed that information to the police. Turns out, he's a vendor for the state of Minnesota.

Some graphs and charts for tax day:

http://tinyurl.com/yyjxlzr

Startling data on the war the rich have been waging on the rest of us.

Nice Glean, I may print this one out and put in on my wall.

You're right, Bunny. The Tea Party *is* concerned about extremists. Thankfully, there is one less to worry about today:

http://blog.oregonlive.com/mapesonpolitics/2010/04/beaverton_teacher_fac...

This one kook, alone, probably accounts for uncounted acts of savagery that have been perpetuated upon the English language at Tea rallies in the furtherance of leftist infiltration.

Since we’re all about catching the kooks, we're all breathing a bit easier today, aren't we?

"there must be some sort of internet law the guarantees that if you write about somebody else's misspellings or typos, your comment will contain some sort of error."

The Sparber Corollary.

Dear Max Sparber:

It's called Muphry's (sic) Law: If you've just been bragging about what a good proofreader or how detail-oriented you are, or have a super-special-must-be-accurate document, THE DOCUMENT WILL HAVE AN EMBARRASSING TYPO IN IT.

I'm with Paul.

This may be my favorite (partial) sentence of all time:

Holly Wagner of WCCO tells us that more than 70 pigs were killed in a barn fire in Scott County in a story that manages to sound both horrifying and delicious

Granted I am not well read, but still!

I wonder what that would be called in Spidlish?

"we're all breathing a bit easier today, aren't we?" If so, thank us, not Max, Swiftee.

Robert Moffitt
Communications Director
American Lung Association in Minnesota