Oh! Now I get it. it was a metaphor! Our Favorite Congresswoman was on “Face the Nation” Sunday explaining that stuff about angry God bringing down hurricanes and earthquakes. Says Rachel Stassen-Berger at the Strib: “Bachmann said her recent claim that the East Coast weather events were a sign from the divine was a ‘metaphor’ and backed a push for low taxes on repatriated corporate income taxes. ‘Do you believe that God does use the weather to send people messages?’ CBS’s Bob Shieffer asked in response to her quote that the East Coast earthquake and hurricane were a message. ‘Obviously, I was speaking metaphorically. That was clear to the audience. It was clear to me. Because the American people have been desperately trying to get the president’s attention. He’s not paying attention,’ Bachmann said on the Sunday talk show. ‘That was a metaphor that I was making.’ ‘Do you believe that God uses weather to send people messages?’ Shieffer asked again. ‘I believe in God. I’m not ashamed to say that I believe in God. I’m a woman of faith and a woman of prayer. But the comment that I made right then was a metaphor. That was very simply what I was doing,’ she replied.” So, we’ll take that as a “yes.”
Christopher Snowbeck of the PiPress delivers a very thorough story on groups confronting the need for annual insurance caps because of seven-figure expenses by one or a handful of people: “In July, the Minnesota Nurses Association issued a notice to union members about a “high-cost claimant” who had generated an estimated $4 million in medical bills through the first week of April. By year’s end, the dollar value of the insurance claim could get even bigger — as much as $8 million, according to a copy of the notice obtained by the Pioneer Press. As a result of the financial hit, union leaders warned that health insurance premiums for 2012 would need to grow by 20 percent to 40 percent unless members voted to institute a cap on annual per-person expenses for next year. Multimillion-dollar claims in a year aren’t common, insurance experts say, but the situation provides a window into the growing problem of how groups pay for medical care when an individual’s bills exceed $1 million. The rules for how employer groups and insurers can handle the risk of these big claims are changing with last year’s federal legislation to overhaul the nation’s health care system.”
Entirely unrelated, I’m sure, is this story from the AP: “The University of Minnesota Board of Regents is set to meet this week to discuss their building-projects wish list for next year. The top item is a new $200 million health care center that would expand and replace the clinics in the Phillips-Wangensteen Building in the heart of the Twin Cities campus. University documents say the current clinics were designed in the 1960s with a capacity for 150,000 patient visits a year, but today those same facilities handle 750,000 annual visits. The university hopes the new health care center will help train the next generation of health care providers, increase revenue for the medical school and attract top faculty and staff.”
From the Department of Good News, Minnesota’s rate of traffic deaths continues to fall, in step with marked declines in deaths from drunk driving. Elizabeth Stawicki from MPR reports: “[T]he Minnesota Department of Public Safety is reporting the number of deaths related to drunk driving dropped 21 percent in 2010 from five years ago. Years of statistics show Minnesota’s roadways are getting safer. Minnesota is on pace for fewer traffic deaths than last year; 212 people have died on the state’s roads this year, compared to 262 last year at this time. About a third of all motor vehicle deaths are due to drunk driving, but the Minnesota Department of Public Safety says those numbers are down too. The state broke a record last year for the fewest number of impaired-driving deaths at 131. The state hasn’t experienced such low numbers since World War II, when there were far fewer cars and trucks on the roads.”
Bad feelings continue to fester over mineral rights up north. Steve Karnowski of the AP writes: “It’s an often overlooked fact that the state holds the mineral rights under much of the privately owned land in Minnesota and doesn’t need a landowner’s consent to authorize prospecting or even mining on that property. Ordinary landowners generally can’t buy their mineral rights. Usually, those go to serious bidders, allowing the state to collect royalties on any significant finds. It wasn’t much of an issue until recently when interest began rising in the billions of dollars’ worth of copper, nickel and other nonferrous minerals believed to lie under the forests, lakes, streams and swamps of northeastern Minnesota that may now be economical to mine. … DNR isn’t required to notify landowners that it has sold the mineral rights under their property, but the companies are required to compensate landowners for damages they cause, Kramka said. Not every lease will lead to drilling on someone’s property because sometimes the companies never exercise their rights.”
Aaaaand … we’re No. 1 … in drum and bugling. Eric Roper of the Strib says: “For the first time in their history, the Minnesota Brass Drum and Bugle Corps took home the top prize this weekend at an annual drum corps competition in Rochester, N.Y. It was a major win for the corps, which has been participating in the Drum Corps Associates World Championships for about 30 years but had never finished higher than second place. They aren’t the only Minnesota group celebrating. The St. Peter Govenaires won first place among smaller drum corps competitors.”
We — Americans — are of course the international champs of lard-assery, which prompts an editorial from the Strib’s Jill Burcum. She says: “What makes this a public health emergency is that obesity is a risk factor for so many serious and costly-to-care-for conditions, including Type II diabetes, heart disease and several types of cancer. If the trend continues, it translates to an additional 6 million to 8.5 million more cases of diabetes and 5.7 million to 7.3 million cases of heart attack and stroke in the U.S. and the U.K. That leads to a bigger health care tab. Caring for obesity-related diseases could add another $22 billion to $28 billion a year in costs in the United States by 2020, according to Lancet, and $48 billion to $66 billion by 2030.” Those numbers are on top of the $147 billion in 2008 dollars flab is already costing us.
The “homestead market value exclusion” is coming home to roost. Jim Anderson of the Strib writes: “[O]ne of the biggest decisions to come out of the donnybrook known as the 2011 legislative session seems to have slipped under the radar until very recently. In one of the most significant changes to the state’s property tax system in a decade, lawmakers ended the market value homestead credit that offers tax breaks to homes valued at less than $414,000. They replaced it with what’s called the ‘homestead market value exclusion.’ … [I]t means that starting in 2012, each home contributes less to the tax base. That means local governments have to raise tax rates to get the same amount of money. The bottom line? It’s a $261 million tax increase, before your local officials even started looking at next year’s budget. In an example offered by the Minnesota House Research Department, the tax on a $200,000 home goes up 4.2 percent, from $1,924 to $2,005.” But obviously, that’s still preferable to all our “job providers” moving to South Dakota.
Few topics produce more unintentional black humor than conservative bloggers making their case against the human component within climate change. At Power Line this weekend, Steven Hayward conjures up this Mobius-like gem: “Which ideology is it that throws a hissy fit over genetically modified organisms and childhood vaccinations? Or files lawsuits to stop de-listings of recovered species (like the gray wolf) even after the government’s science advisory bodies say ‘the science’ says they should be de-listed? Who’s not respecting science now? But rather than stopping with the simple observation that ideology or politics drives acceptance or rejection of certain domains of science, it is worth pressing on to ask why liberals dislike some kind of science, and conservatives other kinds. Liberals in the case of childhood vaccinations and GM organisms dislike certain forms of authority (especially private sector, for-profit authority — does anyone think the liberal outcry against GM foods would be as loud if it were a government lab rather than Monsanto that was leading these innovations?). Conservatives have a symmetrical view, about which I have been trying to persuade liberal environmentalists (but I repeat myself) who will listen: even if catastrophic global warming were proved, we do not consent to being governed by Al Gore. Actually I can amend this: especially if catastrophic global warming were proved true, we do not wish to be governed by Al Gore. Putting environmentalists in charge of dealing with the serious effects of global warming would be like putting Barney Frank in charge of fixing the housing bubble. (Oh, wait …).” Part 2 ought to be a killer: How Barney Frank connived with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to melt the Greenland ice sheet.