Marty Seifert: ‘Minnesota government costs too much’

Marty Seifert
Marty Seifert

Marty Seifert, a health-care executive from Marshall, Minn., had a reputation as a policy wonk when he served in the Minnesota Legislature from 1996 to 2006, first as state representative, then as minority leader for House Republicans.  In his campaign for the Republican endorsement to run against Gov. Mark Dayton (he won the straw poll conducted at last week’s precinct caucuses), Seifert is clear that his administration would take a different tack than Dayton’s.

“Frankly, in most areas, there’s going to be a change of direction,” he said in a question-and-answer interview with MinnPost. Here are excerpts from that interview.

MinnPost: What would be your approach to the state budget?

Marty Seifert: I think it needs to be above and beyond just cutting, spending or reducing taxes. It’s got to be about a growth agenda. I know everybody measures things by reductions and tax increases, but we do want to take a proactive approach of: How do we lift all boats to create more jobs, to have people working, less people on unemployment, less people on welfare, more people contributing to the coffers?

But obviously, we are looking at reductions and resizing downsizing, right-sizing government. Minnesota government costs too much, and amazingly everybody understands that. There’s very few people who would say, “I get a very good value for my state tax dollars.”  I think they are looking for a better style of leadership in terms of offering solutions.

I have been very aggressive on welfare reform, entitlement reform, reductions of state agencies, abolishment of the Met Council. It’s a combination approach.

MP: Both political parties have endorsed government redesign but little has changed. How would you accomplish it?

MS: I think my biggest redesign would be the Met Council abolishment and dismantlement.  I think it has to be major piece of the program.

The Met Council is going way above and beyond what it should be doing, particularly in the area of urban planning and zoning that is better left to local units of government that are held accountable with election certificates.

I look at the Met Council as a duplicative layer of government, over the top of local government that should be doing these things. Frankly, there are a lot of local government units that could be consolidating and performing joint services.

Metro transit authority, no doubt, it has to be centralized somewhere, but the Department of Transportation can do that. So there are some things that are going to have to be plugged into a state department. I’m not arguing that that’s not the case, but I just think there’s a lack of transparency and accountability.

MP: How do you grow the economy? What can government do?

MS: We’ve travelled the state extensively. We’ve had a lot of business roundtables that we’ve conducted. Most of the businesses that I’ve talked to say, “Yes, taxes are an issue.” But the bigger issue still relates to the vexing issue of permitting and regulation, license fees, unfriendly bureaucracies. There needs to be a big scissor approach.  Where are the other states around us that have fast-growing economies? Where are they on terms of regulations and license fees?  How do we become competitive again?

In the northeast part of the state, opening the mines again is part of the growth agenda. I think the ag economy is very important in the south and the west. The Mayo Clinic is important in the southeast. Certainly we want to do what we can to recruit businesses into the state but I think we have a great opportunity in growing with what we have.

MP: Gov. Dayton has boasted that the economy is growing, unemployment is falling and revenue is increasing. How do you counter his claim that we are already on a growth path?

MS: I think some of the economic data that shows growth is despite Mark Dayton and his policies, not because of Mark Dayton and his policies. The other thing about unemployment statistics is that a lot of people have given up looking for work and that a lot of people that should be in middle-class jobs are working at services-industries jobs that don’t pay very well.

If you look at the average middle-class family in Minnesota, a lot of them do not feel better off than they did when Mark Dayton took office. Their health insurance premiums are going up because of Obamacare. Their taxes are going up. Their property taxes are going up. Their license fees are going up. In the real world outside of the beltway of the Capitol, people are not feeling that great about things.

MP: What would you do to improve telecommunications and wireless access in greater Minnesota?

MS: They’ve been horsing around on this issue since I was in the Legislature years ago. They now have a broadband office. I would tell them as governor: You need to identify the critical areas that do not have access and get it done. How hard is it?

Obviously, there are some areas of the state that are isolated and there’s going to need some investment to bring them into the communications network. I think we need to put a benchmark out there and say at the end of two years, the entire state of Minnesota is going to be linked.

MP: What would you do with MNsure?

MS: I think the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce has given us a blueprint of the changes that need to be made. I would do everything possible to reflect free markets. I would look at the chamber blueprint as the initial changes that need to happen.

I think the MNsure board needs changing, the leadership needs changing. We need private-sector expertise from the insurances folks who actually understand how this works and then we also need private-sector input from IT people who understand how this works.  

MP: How would you improve education outcomes in low-achieving schools?

MS: I’m a former school teacher [four years at Marshall High School, teaching government civics, geography, and history]. I understand the challenges of being in a classroom. I want to show appreciation for the people who teach and work hard to educate our kids. I think the Republican Party has not always done a stellar job of saying, teaching is a tough field and we have some challenging kids and challenging situations.

I think you have to look at where the gap is. A lot of it is with kids unable to read and write English. We need to focus some efforts; we need to immerse children into reading writing and speaking English. If you can’t understand the teacher, how in the world can you expect them to pass the skills test?

Also, from first-hand experience as a teacher, we have had an erosion of instruction time in the state for the next 40 years. This is something that Arne [former Gov. Arne Carlson] used to talk about. How much time are kids spending in academic instruction in the state of Minnesota? At the end of the day, we have kids in school, less and less, every single year. We need to stop of the hemorrhaging of taking academic instruction time away from the school day.

I think, when people say this problem is going to be solved by just giving them vouchers, that is not going to solve it. We have to understand that 90 percent-plus of our kids go to public schools and they probably always will.

We need to get academic instruction time back to par. On testing, we do need to test periodically, but I do think we get a little overboard at times.

MP: Would you support raising the minimum wage?

MS: I ask, are you for raising youth employment opportunities? And the answer is no. The reality is that the Democrats are going to raise the minimum wage in this session. The only question is how much.

MP: How would you find common ground with the Senate Democrats?

MS: Just because we don’t necessarily agree on all the policies of the day, I do think personal relationships and respect mean something. I’m going to be looking at what are my highest priorities that I want to have done. They obviously have their priorities that they want. There’s a framework that we are going to have to work with. I think we will find some common ground.

MP: What are your top priorities?

MS: Downsizing and right-sizing of government is one. I think the job agenda has to be top priority, like assessing where in Minnesota we have major employers who would like to expand and finding what’s holding up the show.

There’s a few issues on the tax front that are going to be dealt with this session so I want to see what they end up doing. The average middle-class family is looking for tax reductions and I want to provide that for them. I don’t have detailed tax plan put together, other than I know that people need to keep more of the fruits of their labor.

MP: Would you support a gas-tax increase or metro-area sales tax increase for transit?

MS: No, on both counts. There is already a sales tax for transit now. There is never enough money for the people who want to keep spending it. We have to look at what the average family can afford in their budget.

I want to look at, why does it cost 20 percent more to pave a road in Minnesota as compared to a similar road in a state that’s next to us. Do we have issues of competitive bidding? Do we have issues with prevailing wage requirements, permitting, regulations, right of way, easements, etc.?

I think we need to halt any new construction of any new rail lines because none of them meets a cost-benefit analysis. Over 92 percent of the population needs roads and bridges. That’s where the money needs to go. 

MP: Do you envision any changes in the way the state approaches citizen privacy?

MS: There’s a large group of people in both parties that are concerned about privacy and Fourth Amendment-type stuff.  I am interested in going in the direction of having some accountability for law enforcement when it comes to the new technologies like cell phone spyware. People are concerned that government is getting bigger and more intrusive and this is an issue where the parties can work together.

You can also learn about all our free newsletter options.

Comments (59)

  1. Submitted by Theo Kozel on 02/13/2014 - 10:07 am.

    The Atlanta model

    “The Met Council is going way above and beyond what it should be doing, particularly in the area of urban planning and zoning that is better left to local units of government that are held accountable with election certificates.

    I look at the Met Council as a duplicative layer of government, over the top of local government that should be doing these things. Frankly, there are a lot of local government units that could be consolidating and performing joint services.”

    In other words, we should follow the Atlanta model – a patchwork of uncoordinated, independent local governments. I think that should work fine, provided we never get a dusting of snow.

    • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 02/13/2014 - 11:14 am.

      Seems to me

      that’s what we have in Minneapolis/Saint Paul. And by all accounts, the people’s ability to hold local office holders accountable explains why the snow removal operation in Saint Paul has dramatically improved in recent months. The people remember, come November.

  2. Submitted by Bruce Johnson on 02/13/2014 - 10:20 am.

    Seifert’s comments on K-12 education here are very refreshing for a Republican.

    The broadband quote, on the other hand, was a pretty big chunk of BS, even for a politician.
    “Obviously, there are some areas of the state that are isolated and there’s going to need some investment to bring them into the communications network. I think we need to put a benchmark out there and say at the end of two years, the entire state of Minnesota is going to be linked.”

  3. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/13/2014 - 10:54 am.

    Hmmm

    I’ll never read this article because I just can’t handle such a fresh perspective that has NEVER been offered ever before anywhere in the entire history of the world let alone the last four decades. I’m sure my mind would be blown completely to pieces by such a revolutionary claim. I’m gonna go look for some pictures of kittens.

  4. Submitted by Todd Hintz on 02/13/2014 - 12:04 pm.

    Policies

    I’m sure Seifert is a very intelligent individual, but when he says things like “I would tell them as governor: You need to identify the critical areas that do not have access and get it done. How hard is it?” it makes him look like a clueless individual who hasn’t looked at any of the issues. He clearly hasn’t dug into problems to see what the pros, cons, and problems are. Instead he stands there proclaiming like a petulant four year old yelling “just get it done!”

    On the subject of the Met Council, I could not disagree with him more. Far from abolishing the Council, I think we should build them up, make them stronger, and give them a mandate to encourage growth within the metro area and discourage it in the exurbs. We should not be subsidizing housing choices in far flung areas that are just going to raise our maintenance costs in 40 years via aging utilities, roads, and bridges. It’s far more sensible to spend the money maintaining what infrastructure we have rather than adding to the bill.

  5. Submitted by Jon Lord on 02/13/2014 - 12:06 pm.

    What a laugh

    “…other than I know that people need to keep more of the fruits of their labor.” Although not more increases in wages where they’d stand make more money than a simple .01 decrease in their taxes. Of course he’s not talking about the upper 7% tax cuts which he doesn’t want to mention. He wants to decrease jobs in one of the biggest job providers in the state just as he’s saying, in essence, that most unemployed have given up looking for jobs that don’t exist. So, what’s his welfare reform platform? Force people to look for non-existence jobs? And if possible work for the current minimum wage and be happy? Listen, youth employment opportunities at minimum wage is one thing. Working adults, on the other hand, shouldn’t have to work for minimum wage. Most repubs want to ignore speaking to it however. This is just another Straw Man.

  6. Submitted by Dan Kaufman on 02/13/2014 - 12:14 pm.

    If Minnesota is doing so well

    despite Gov. Dayton instead of because of Gov. Dayton, then why is Wisconsin where a more Republican approach has been pursued, seemed to fair less well?

    Good summary of this comparison between MN and WI here: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/24/opinion/sunday/right-vs-left-in-the-midwest.html

    Also, I always hear from Republicans that the higher taxes drive people and businesses away. In reality, MN is gaining people and businesses. Can anyone (maybe Ms. Brucato) provide a good list of business that have left MN in the past 3 years during Gov. Dayton’s term?

  7. Submitted by Sean Olsen on 02/13/2014 - 12:19 pm.

    Yawn

    1.) The Met Council (or something like it) is required by federal law. Could you pare back its functions somewhat? Sure. But you’re not likely to legally be able to “abolish” it without replacing it with something else.

    2.) Another GOPer calling for more roads without a plan to pay for them. Even if you cut the price of construction by 20% and take the money from all the rail projects in process, you still don’t have enough money to maintain the existing roads over the next 20 years. And you’ve just taken taxes off the table. Good luck with that.

    3.) Good to know that broadband access is just as easy as setting a date to have it done by. Is your caucus going to put up the money for that investment?

  8. Submitted by Dean Carlson on 02/13/2014 - 12:22 pm.

    Here’s another question:

    Mr Seifert,

    Many of the policies you support have been tried in Wisconsin under Governor Walker — who was elected the same time as Governor Dayton. Yet Minnesota’ economy is stronger, more jobs have been created, unemployment is lower, and the state budget is in better condition. Are you trying to take us down to the level of Wisconsin?

  9. Submitted by Kathi Malone on 02/13/2014 - 12:28 pm.

    Gov

    Minnesota is thriving. One only look to the west to see how Republican policies have failed. If it “aint’ broke, don’t fix it. “Why not vote Governor Dayton?

  10. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 02/13/2014 - 01:07 pm.

    Deserved criticism

    To the existing critiques already in the comment section I’d add only that Mr. Seifert is spouting Republican boilerplate about health care.

    As T. R. Reid and Stephen Brill have documented in lengthy and exhaustive detail, a “free market” approach to health care pays health insurance company executives millions of dollars while denying coverage to thousands of Mr. Seifert’s fellow Minnesotans, millions of his fellow Americans, and all for actual health results that are surpassed by most of the industrial world. The corporate model of medical and health care – the one we’ve slipped into over the past 40 years or so, through very skillful maneuvering on the part of health insurance companies, medical device manufacturers – makes profit the objective of medicine, not health.

    This is the only industrial country on the planet that does not provide health care to all its citizens through some combination of taxes and the private sector, administered by the government, and we’re also the only industrialized country on the planet where it’s possible – and all too frequent – for families to find themselves in bankruptcy, losing homes, businesses, and any other property of significant value they might have, because of ruinous medical bills. Every part of the medical establishment is complicit in this ethical cesspool, and Mr. Seifert demonstrably has no knowledge or insight into what he’s talking about when it comes to health care.

    The Chamber of Commerce model for health care that he cites does nothing to address the primary problem – that profit, not health, has become the goal. That doesn’t make the Chamber evil incarnate, it simply makes their solutions, not surprisingly, ones that benefit business rather than the public.

    Despite what some executives and business owners might think, “business” and “the public” are not synonymous, and what’s good for business may not always be the best solution for the public. A corporate state is no more benign – I’d argue it’s much less so – than the “big government” that those who like to call themselves “conservative” use as a boogie-man to urge voters to support their causes and candidates.

    • Submitted by Jon Lord on 02/14/2014 - 09:36 am.

      Exactly…I would add

      A government run by corporations is getting way too close to fascism. When we, as a country, don’t care about people without huge bank accounts then we become a country without any altruistic goals. The majority of people would find out very soon that we don’t want to go further down that road. History proves, over and over, that it’s not that hard for humans to become inhumane to their own species.

      This country really needs to ask, if we strip everything down to just how people feel about other people who are we and what do we want? (No hiding behind a corporate structure, etc.!) How do we feel, as a person, about those people in that neighborhood over there! That more than anything defines who we are and where we are headed as a country.

  11. Submitted by RB Holbrook on 02/13/2014 - 01:20 pm.

    This man is a wonk?

    “Metro transit authority, no doubt, it has to be centralized somewhere, but the Department of Transportation can do that.”

    Metro Transit is one of the more successful programs of the Met Council. Why would he transfer authority to a centralized state bureaucracy? This could be a convenient way of neutering transit, by turning it over to a state government that is less than interested in urban transportation. A certain former Republican Transportation Commissioner said she was not interested in transportation she couldn’t use to haul potatoes. I don’t see any reason Mr. Seifert would not follow that idea.

    Incidentally, the “health care executive” who is a former high school teacher was employed for most of his years in the legislature as an admissions counselor at Southwest State. He fed at the public trough for longer than he wants to admit.

  12. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 02/13/2014 - 02:28 pm.

    If Mr. Seifert is Going to Be Elected Governor

    He’s going to have to convince the people of Minnesota,…

    who have been only to happy to see Gov. Dayton and the Democratically-controlled legislature undo a lot of the damage done by Tim Pawlenty and the previous Republican-controlled legislature (in Gov. Dayton’s first two years),…

    that his entire approach to governance would not be (as the Republican attempts at governance have been in Minnesota over the past several decades) a violation of the excellent old aphorism,…

    “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

    The Republicans worked very hard to “fix” the state that had the best economic record and ACTUAL business climate in the upper Midwest, and messed things up pretty thoroughly.

    Now that we’re finally getting back on our feet again, the very LAST thing we need is to allow the Republicans to come back and “fix” what very clearly “ain’t broke” (except in their alternate reality bubble, where facts, figures, statistics, awareness of the realities of human nature, and ideas that actually work are NEVER allowed).

  13. Submitted by Ron Gotzman on 02/13/2014 - 02:35 pm.

    Hope and change

    Mr. Seifert needs to offer real hope and change. What will promote the best hope for our future is to change the current “trickle-down union education complex.”

    Promoting and funding “education”, rather than just “union education”, will inaugurate the change that will provide hope for our kids.

  14. Submitted by Tim Walker on 02/13/2014 - 03:49 pm.

    Mr. Seifert, a question, please.

    Are you still a racist?

    http://www.minnpost.com/politics-policy/2009/04/politicians-minnesota-budget-standoff-makes-unsettling-breakfast-fare

    I ask because you expressed a very racist attitude at a debate in 2009. Here is the relevant passage:

    Seifert then made everyone in the room gasp when he suggested that Minnesota might not be able to help provide health care to “anyone not born in Minnesota.”

    House Speaker Keilliher was first to jump on Seifert’s comment.

    “How many of you were not born in Minnesota?” she asked chamber members.

    About half the people in the room raised their hands.

    She noted that her great-grandmother was born in Sweden. Her husband was born in a different state.

    “We shouldn’t leap to conclusions about who’s getting health care,” she said to Seifert.

    “I meant foreigners,” muttered Seifert at one point.

    And this got Pogemiller incensed.

    “Those people — the Ecuadoran mothers with their children, the Hondurans, the Somalis — may be foreigners to you, Seifert,” Pogemiller said, “but they’re constituents to me. It’s offensive what you said.”

  15. Submitted by Robert Gauthier on 02/13/2014 - 04:09 pm.

    Another

    Fox News conservative regurgitating talking points. What government is redundant? What programs, or more to the point, whose programs does he want to cut? Until they show specifics, just hot air.

  16. Submitted by Eric Snyder on 02/13/2014 - 04:55 pm.

    “Small government” babble

    It’s concerning that public political discourse here and elsewhere in the country all too often gets stuck in the grossest of simplifications. The present case in point being that “smaller government” is synonymous with better government or smarter government or more freedom.

    ‘Smaller government’ has become a meme with 9 lives, immune to critical examination as a core principle despite endless counterfactuals. It’s among the most popular ways that people substitute a slogan for actual thinking. Its usage very often ignores or negates altogether the more important question of what kind of society we want.

    Indeed, what kind of goals do we want for society? Perhaps they include things like:

    Improving literacy.
    Ending the achievement gap.
    Reducing maternal mortality in childbirth.
    Connecting the internet to rural communities.
    Making college affordable.
    Improving medical care for veterans, children and seniors.
    Making sure all life-saving/improving research is adequately funded.

    If one’s answer to these and hundreds of other potential social goals is primarily “smaller government,” that’s not a serious response. For every complex problem there isn’t necessarily a simplistic solution, or one that relies automatically on reducing taxes or regulation. If “smaller government” is the automatic answer to almost any political question regarding the role of government, that answer, almost by definition, doesn’t come from a place of rational reflection. It’s more akin to a motor response.

    Should regulation, taxation, fees, etc., be reduced and simplified at times? It would be surprising if a good case couldn’t be made for doing so in some instances. At the same it would also be surprising if there weren’t cases in which we needed more taxation and more regulation. I bet you won’t find many people in West Virginia right now who wish the government would do even less in the future about potential toxic chemical spills into public waterways, or people living along the Gulf of Mexico coast who want the government to give oil corporations more leeway to cut corners in terms of safety and pollution.

    Saying “less regulation” is an a priori good thing is as dumb as saying “more regulation” is good. It entirely depends on the context and the public goals we want to achieve.

    And yet here we have another political candidate mouthing these tired clichés. How did our political discourse get reduced to this level? –A contest between those whose imagination goes no further than wondering if there’s some regulation, fee or tax that could be lowered, and everyone else. The world is more complex than this.

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 02/15/2014 - 07:53 pm.

      Enough is Enough

      I agree with you in some ways, yet… I posted some interesting graphs here to explain why the GOP supports decreasing or at least slowing the growth rate of government. Many Conservatives including myself don’t think the current trendlines are sustainable, however Liberals don’t seem to see problem with them.

      http://give2attain.blogspot.com/2013/10/us-government-spending-trend.html

      Liberals seem to like to say the Conservatives are trying to “change” things. Yet it seems the Liberals have taken us a long ways to the Left since the 1950’s, and they seem dedicated to giving government more of our GDP each year. I am always curious when they will say enough is enough. 50%, 60%, more?

      • Submitted by Jon Lord on 02/16/2014 - 07:52 am.

        Enough is enough

        Since the 80’s Reagan came along with his trickle-down fake economy that only deregulated us into very dangerous waters things have gone downhill for the middle class and the poor. Only the very wealthy have benefited and maybe the upper middle class a little. It’s not a matter of Conservatives ‘trying’ to change things, they have. It’s for the better for the very wealthy and for corporations maybe but the majority have only seen their wages stagnate and minimum wages become draconian.

        The 50’s had the conservative ‘tail-gunner’ Joe out trying to put liberals in jail for being communists, and it turned out there weren’t any. His ‘anti-American’ act destroyed innocent lives but what…that doesn’t matter? He went after Lucille Ball and Lloyd Bridges to name just a few innocents! We were lucky to have turned to the left to get out of that kind of inquisition. We’ll be lucky never to go back to it.

        • Submitted by John Appelen on 02/16/2014 - 07:45 pm.

          Are You Serious

          Wages have not dropped because of what the politicians have done. They have dropped because us American consumers like to buy inexpensive high quality products, no matter the negative impact it has on the American worker’s income.

          You are correct though that we have moved a long way to the Left.
          http://give2attain.blogspot.com/2012/09/action-reqd-political-continuum.html

          Same question I often ask… If you mandate higher wages and benefits for American workers. Whose economy will they support with their new found cash? America’s or those of the low cost producers? (ie China, Korea, Vietnam, etc) Will the higher cost of American goods encourage Americans to buy more or less American product and services?

          • Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 02/17/2014 - 09:43 am.

            Are YOU Serious?

            Your blog, which contains articles you write and numbers and graphs you provide is not a record of fact, it is a record of your own biased opinion. Linking to it doesn’t add weight to your argument that the ills of the american middle class were brought upon themselves buy purchasing foreign goods.

            • Submitted by John Appelen on 02/17/2014 - 03:22 pm.

              My Pics, Not My Data

              I drew the lines but the spending data is what it is. And the source is documented.
              http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/spending_history

              As for the continuum, it is simply a graphic to clarify positions and relativity. Just curious, where would you like to see gov’t spend at?

            • Submitted by John Appelen on 02/17/2014 - 04:09 pm.

              Back to the questions

              If you mandate higher wages and benefits for American workers. Whose economy will they support with their new found cash? America’s or those of the low cost producers? (ie China, Korea, Vietnam, etc) Will the higher cost of American goods encourage Americans to buy more or less American product and services?

              Thoughts and rationale?

              • Submitted by Jon Lord on 02/17/2014 - 05:06 pm.

                sigh

                Whose do you think they supported before the US companies started shipping jobs overseas? See, just because it says “made in China” or “Indonesia” doesn’t mean it wasn’t an American company behind it? Where’ve you been these last couple of decades? Go into a clothing store and look for Made in America clothing! Hey! How about shoes? One of the last companies to finally begin making their footwear overseas was Red Wing! Nearly 100% of all footwear is made overseas by American companies! Check your shoes!!

                Is that just because the American Public is cheap? Or could it be that they aren’t paid enough? There’s a loop going on here with the economy and it’s been heading downhill since Reaganomics. Take away money from the poor, the middle class, etc and they’ll what…buy more product? Pay more for it? There just ain’t been enough trickle down for that I’m afraid and there won’t ever be.

                • Submitted by John Appelen on 02/17/2014 - 08:47 pm.

                  Correct Correlation, Wrong Causation

                  I agree that it showed up in the mid-80’s, however it started decades before when a guy named Deming was turned away by the American corporations. So he went to Japan, a country that was struggling and desperate. Where he is now celebrated as a hero.

                  By the way, I don’t think the American consumer is cheap. I think they are true red blooded Capitalists when it comes to spending their own money. They want to attain the most personal value for every dollar they spend. This means they simply are not willing to pay the same or more for a lower performance, less feature laden, less stylish, less reliable, etc product or service. So we consumers did take away the money and forced many companies like Red Wing to change their business model.

                  So how would you stop this cycle, raise the wages of the poor and middle class? I ask again, where will they spend it???

          • Submitted by Matt Haas on 02/17/2014 - 02:38 pm.

            Come on now

            You’ve trotted this out in several threads now, how’s about a little context. Yes, American consumers have bought into the “cheap is best” disposable consumerist culture. However, this hasn’t happened in a vacuum, its wqa deliberate policy pushed by both corporate America and its minions in government. Its not as if one day the average consumer woke up and said “Gee, these American made products are garbage, but you know this Chinese plastic crap is GREAT!” Decades of carefully crafted marketing, the explosion of discount retail outlets (whose rise has coincidentally aligned with the middle class decline), and the systematic demonization and subsequent destruction of the labor union have put consumers in the position we are in. The battle has already been lost, people like me, who value quality over price, are in the minority. You certainly cannot blame consumers for doing exactly what they have been directed and encouraged to do, in some cases now, for the entire lives. You blame the people in who’s interest it is that it remain so.

            • Submitted by John Appelen on 02/17/2014 - 03:31 pm.

              The Mind Control Experiment

              So you argue that people have been mind controlled into buying high foreign content goods and services?

              Why again would GM, Ford, Chrysler, Bobcat and hundreds of other American owned businesses have sought to have you buy Honda, Toyota, Subaru, BMW, VW, Hyundai, Komatso, etc, etc, etc. Do you think they had a death wish?

              If you want to improve the situation, join me in trying to convince your peers to pay a bit more to buy high domestic content stuff, and stop looking for boogey men in the closet.

              • Submitted by Jon Lord on 02/17/2014 - 04:51 pm.

                The point

                See, although they sell here, GM, Ford, Chrysler and hundreds of other American owned business don’t make their products here. Sure, some will assemble some of the parts here but they aren’t “manufactured” here!

                Why do you think there’s a glut of minimum wage jobs and a lack of manufacturing jobs in this country? It’s tied to the high pay CEO’s make! So tell me this, why are American goods so expensive if they aren’t manufactured in this country?? Shipping and handling? But CEO and related officers can still raise their own pay? To the tune of say $20,000,000 a year? Why, that’s 400 jobs paying $50,000 a year in one company alone on just the CEO’s compensation!

                Guess what, people will always buy what they can afford! If companies are willing to pay CEO’s etc, as much as they do and then cut wages and ship jobs overseas, and if they are smart enough they probably see the day coming when most American’s can’t afford to keep them in business! Oops! The question really is, why should they care? They’ll come through it just fine. That’s not going to be true for the small business owners however. Like the rest of us, if the GOP comes to power, they’ll be on the losing side too.

              • Submitted by Matt Haas on 02/17/2014 - 05:48 pm.

                They wouldn’t

                But the global partners they combined with would. How about you go a little higher level and look at things like steel, oil, construction materials. Most consumers wouldn’t have a clue where they came from, yet all met the same fate. Not to mention customer service work, which the average consumer would almost universally prefer remain in country. When faced with stagnate wages, and messaging that reinforces that “cheapest is best” (though it usually never is), and a veritable flood of freely imported foreign goods (remember those political minions?), how do think the outcome could have been any different. Without actually protecting our shores from low cost manufacture overseas,through trade policy, every union could have gone belly up, accepted every concession, and still the result would have been the same. Conservatives will never accept those measures.(including those on the Democratic side of the ledger) Throughout all your posting you’ve yet to give any realistic recourse for the American worker to compete against literal slave labor overseas. As I suspect you wouldn’t favor any alteration to trade policy any thing you level against the the buying preferences of the American consumer is just so much hot air.

                • Submitted by John Appelen on 02/17/2014 - 08:33 pm.

                  Personal Responsibility

                  We don’t need a trade war.

                  We just need American consumers to decide that supporting American workers is part of their value / purchase calculation. Currently it isn’t, and until that changes things are going to keep heading the wrong way. As the costs increase due to wages, regulations, taxes, etc in America, jobs will flow elsewhere because as consumers we desire low prices, high features & high quality, and as investors we want our mutual funds, IRAs and 401Ks to grow.

                  I am not sure how to do this, it seems real hard for most Americans to willingly pay more or accept less… Even if supports a higher wage American employee. I guess we are all capitalists at heart, no different than those “Managers” you blame.

                  If you don’t like my thoughts, try this guys:
                  http://courseweb.stthomas.edu/fmzimmerman/articles/articles.htm

                  • Submitted by Todd Hintz on 02/25/2014 - 12:05 pm.

                    Buy Local

                    Actually many people do indeed buy local. Just take a look at your local farmers market on a Saturday morning or the impressive growth of micro brews throughout Minneapolis. The number of people who shop at Cub Foods still eclipses Whole Foods, but the market growth of the latter is very impressive. There are also a lot of people who choose to eat at local independent restaurants rather than the chains and many of those eateries locally source their ingredients.

                    It’s not an overwhelming wave by any stretch of the imagination, but we are seeing a lot more people who get the connection between buying local and supporting their neighbors. Not to mention the carbon cost of shipping a product halfway around the world vs buying something made fifty miles away.

                    It’s a brave new world and we get to vote with our dollars.

            • Submitted by John Appelen on 02/17/2014 - 04:16 pm.

              Your correlation is correct

              However your causation is incorrect. Quality low cost cars like the Honda Civic and other products led the way.

              American companies and Unions were too egotistical and self centered to see the change a coming…Consumers walked and finally the American companies and work forces are getting serious about competing. Unfortunately many consumers aren’t willing to give them a second chance.

              Maybe with time.

              • Submitted by Jon Lord on 02/18/2014 - 08:18 pm.

                Well

                It’s a question of whether or not companies will provide decent wages or not. People need to be able to afford good product. Credit isn’t the answer, it’s a trap. There is a view held by many supposed economists that assume there is a triad of ‘companies, workers, and consumers, and the companies would like to and strive to eliminate the worker. That view is a fallacy, a trap in itself. The truth is there are companies and consumers, both working and non-working. It’s a duality and a partnership of sorts but it’s become combative. Owners of business’s want more profit in their pockets and less in their consumer’s pockets.

                • Submitted by John Appelen on 02/19/2014 - 08:02 am.

                  Exactly

                  Just as the consumers want more value for less spend. (ie keep more money in their wallet)

                  And the consumers who also own 401Ks, IRA, mutual funds, etc want to maximize their returns. (ie maximize company profits)

                  I am not saying the businesses are blameless. I am just saying both the consumers and businesses are equally responsible for our mess. Yet somehow the more Liberal folks seem to focus on only the “greedy” businesses and owners… And think that somehow we can legislate our way out of this tragedy by increasing the cost of doing business in the USA.

  17. Submitted by Rick Ryan on 02/13/2014 - 05:04 pm.

    Met Council

    Abolish Met Council? Then who will be responsible to treat our our wastewater? They operate at least 7 wastewater treatment plants in the now 11 County metro area. Who takes on that role? Or should we all install our own septic systems, that may work great in Marshall, but I don’t have room for that on my lot in Minneapolis. Pandering to ex-urb republicans and developers that want to turn farmland into housing is what that is. Houston Texas is another example of terrible planning and zoning.

  18. Submitted by Frank Phelan on 02/13/2014 - 05:08 pm.

    Prevailing wage law means nothing to most people. Kansas found out the hard way it matters a lot.

    A number of years ago, Kansas got rid of their prevailing wage law, which basically specifies that on state-funded construction projects the various trades need to be paid at the most common rate in that area. It may or may not be the union scale. The stated rationale was to lower the costs of school construction. And those costs did go down, by 2-3%. Wages for the construction trades fell by about 30% across the state on both government and private construction jobs.

    It changed the construction industry from one where someone could get a decent job and make a career out of it, supporting a family and buying a home; to one that people drifted in and out of. Those jobs no longer could support a family. Union apprenticeship programs were decimated. As those who could earn a better wage left the industry, untrained people filled in behind them, and occupational injury rates sky rocketed.

    So the next assault on the middle class came in the form of gutting work comp benefits because “insurance rates were out of control.”

    Getting ride of prevailing wage law for road construction will result in out of state contractors bringing in their itinerant employees, who will take those Minnesota tax dollars back to the Dakotas and Nebraska. Minnesota taxpayers will not benefit from the multiplier effect of their spending on infrastructure.

    Because government building projects go to the low bidder, minimum standards are used to insure a quality finished product. The standards specify what kind of floor covering, paint, and concrete are used. They also apply to the labor that is bought. You get a better road from a cement finisher who commands a $45/hour wage and benefit package than from one that is only worth $22/hour.

    Seifert may be a wonk, but if he wants value for our dollar he needs to bone up on this one.

  19. Submitted by Tom Christensen on 02/13/2014 - 05:37 pm.

    All you need to know about the Republican’s ability to manage

    George W. Bush – disaster, Tim Pawlenty – disaster, Scott Walker – disaster, Chris Christie – disaster, Michelle Bachmann – disaster, Mitch McConnell – disaster, Sarah Palin – disaster, Ted Cruz – disaster, Rand Paul – disaster and the list goes on. What they all have in common is they are hardliner political zealots. What the Republican’s really need is their political moderates to return. They are the ones able to work with others. They weren’t against ideas that were once their own. They would find common ground and propose meaningful ideas, not ideas that only would serve a small fraction of the country or contain a guaranteed poison pill giving it no chance of survival.

  20. Submitted by jody rooney on 02/13/2014 - 05:59 pm.

    “Beltway of the Capital”

    Where does he think he is Washington DC?

    I don’t know Mr. Seifert but I always find it ironic when people who have fed directly from the public feed bin complain about government spending. Of course he moved to a much more profitable and one might say bloated with administrators feed bin Health Care. Clearly he knows a lot about what it is like to be without health insurance.

    Keep moving folks nothing to look at here.

  21. Submitted by John Harrington on 02/14/2014 - 09:18 am.

    Fact check anyone?

    Doesn’t anyone bother to fact check our politicians anymore? Too expensive compared to what? According to the Minnesota Management and Budget office, we have the lowest cost of government (14.6% of Personal Income) since Calendar Year 2003 / Fiscal Year 2004. (The data series at the link doesn’t extend back past 2003.)

    http://www.mmb.state.mn.us/doc/budget/report-hca/may13pog

  22. Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 02/14/2014 - 09:38 am.

    I have to say, I find it disheartening how many comments from obvious progressives and supporters of good government and good governance like to use phrases like ‘feeding from the public trough’ or ‘sucking on the teat of government’ or something of the like. I get that it’s in no small part to highlight the hypocrisy of those who deride ‘government moochers’ (like Nienow, Bachmann, etc), but I think that can be accomplished by simply pointing out their hypocrisy, without inadvertantly perpetuating the annoying and incorrect memes of government largess.

    Language cuts both ways people. Please use it carefully.

    • Submitted by jody rooney on 02/17/2014 - 12:32 pm.

      I am sorry Mr. Ecklund I should have prefaced it

      by saying that I was a federal employee for 22 years, an employee of corporations for 13, and a business owner for 9 years. When I use feeding from the feed bin I mean it is more of an agricultural sense then a derogatory sense.

      It would be like me calling my friends the girls which would be an unwise choice perhaps for a male that they had just met.

  23. Submitted by James Hamilton on 02/14/2014 - 10:06 am.

    Softball season, already?

    Questions without follow up do little more than provide the interviewee with an opportunity to spread the gospel as he or she sees it. A few minutes at his campaign site would have given Ms. Brucato some more pointed questions to ask, such as :

    If we eliminate three state departments (Health, Labor & Industry and Corrections) which functions do we do away with, why and how much do we save in the process? If we do not do away with any functions, where are the savings?

    You propose a 7% across the board reduction in spending for every department not eliminated? Where, specifically, do we find those savings in each of these departments?

    Explain your thinking behind this position: Stopping any attempt to release dangerous sex offenders into our community. The long term goal will be to restructure sentencing for those we are mad at and aim resources for imprisonment of those we are afraid of. What, specifically, will you do to bring our current practices into line with Constitutional requirements?

    You say you want to “ask the legislature to put a lid on any erosion of teacher-student instruction contact time that has taken place over the past few decades.” Has contact time been eroded? How? What, specifically, will you ask be done to address that?

    You say “I will also seek to give parents more choices in which to send their children to schools that succeed.” Does this mean vouchers?

    You’re a product of a Catholic elementary school. Do you see any conflict between using state funds to finance a religous education and the First Amendment? How do you resolve this conflict, if any? If you don’t see a conflict, why not?

    You contend that “Minnesota’s educational curriculum is best developed by parents, teachers, school board members and our communities, not federal bureaucrats.” What’s the state’s role? Should there or shouldn’t there be state standards for curriculum? Do you endorse the teaching of Creationism as science in publicly-funded schools?

    Mr. Seifert should feel free to respond here to any of the above.

  24. Submitted by James Hamilton on 02/14/2014 - 10:30 am.

    P.S.

    Mr. Seifert is not a “health care executive”. He is a real estate sales agent and an employee of the Avera Marshall Foundatio, a fund-raising organization for the Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center.

    Fact checkers getting hard to come by?

  25. Submitted by John Appelen on 02/15/2014 - 07:40 pm.

    Please prove this

    “You get a better road from a cement finisher who commands a $45/hour wage and benefit package than from one that is only worth $22/hour”

    Though I support specifications to ensure road contractors meet quality requirements, I am pretty sure contractors are capable of hiring their own employees and determining what to pay them. Or do you also support saying they need to buy $20/yd gravel???

    It seems to me that you have forgotten that us citizens are paying that extra $23/hr via our taxes…

    • Submitted by jody rooney on 02/18/2014 - 02:16 pm.

      And we haven’t forgotten that laborers at that

      wage can put their families through college, support their own retirement, and have great health care. It is one of the few job categories that don’t require a college education where you can do that. Not to mention they rarely work 12 months a year. The decline of union labor and that career pathway has not served the nation well. You may not like it but these folks at the journeyman or masters level are as worthy of their pay as any white color professionals with similar responsibilities.

      Don’t mess with the trades they are still the best route out of poverty for people who don’t have an academic orientation.

      Although I must say that the prevailing wage boundaries are interesting. Highway 48 near Hinckley has one rate zone on the south side and a different one on the north side. I have had laborers switch side of the road just to get the higher wage – fortunately that just means more folks came to work on the north side.

      • Submitted by John Appelen on 02/18/2014 - 06:19 pm.

        Subsidies

        So your belief is that all of us citizens who pay taxes should pay more so that certain groups of citizens can continue to get higher compensation than the market requires to get the job done.

        Would you support a rule that said you need to pay twice market cost to get your home maintained? (ie new roof, siding, etc)

      • Submitted by John Appelen on 02/18/2014 - 08:31 pm.

        A Clarification

        I am not trying to make a judgment of the worth of blue vs white collar employees… I just believe the employment market should set that value, not a bureaucrat or union contract.

        • Submitted by Matt Haas on 02/18/2014 - 10:35 pm.

          You get what you pay for

          I for one would be happy to pay the extra cost. Let’s use your roofing example, not many Union roofers that I am aware of, but would I prefer my home repaired by skilled laborers, invested enough in their craft to demand and receive good wages and benefits, or should I with the outfit that pays it workers the bare bones minimum that they can, resulting in high turnover, lack of experience, and general employee malcontent? Seems like an easy choice to me. When you race to the bottom, you get what accumulates there.

          • Submitted by John Appelen on 02/19/2014 - 07:44 am.

            Assumption

            That means you are willing to pay for a “better” product and you are making a big assumption that “Union employee” equals better. Since consumers and contractors can get references and evaluate each prospective contractor or employee on their own merits, I think one will get a better roof for the money by talking to your friends than blindly hiring the union firm, just because they have “union” employees.

            I am happy though that you are willing to spend in accordance to your beliefs. Unions would be much stronger if more pro-union believers bought union made goods and services.

            • Submitted by jody rooney on 02/19/2014 - 10:39 am.

              I too would pay more for union repairs to my house

              and if you have hired a plumber, electrician or any of the skilled trades you probably have too.

              I grew up in a neighborhood where 2 of my friends fathers were union members, another one was a business owner, and my father was a furniture factory rep. When my neighbor built his house it was constructed with all union labor. My dad asked him why and his statement was that if he expected to charge people for his wage he should also expect to pay it.

              This is about white color vs. blue collar. You really can’t say with a straight face that every $100,000+ business or government employee you have met is worth that kind of money, I sure can’t. As consumers we all pay the higher costs of hiring idiots. If you have bought a US made vehicle in the last 20 years you have pretty much paid for idiot compensation in the executive suite. Most vehicle lemons weren’t built wrong they were designed wrong. Invested lately? Now there is a group that could use a little union integrity. And unions are a lot quicker in dealing with incompetents than white collar organizations and they don’t need a government organization to help them do it.

              You may understand money but you don’t understand value.

              • Submitted by John Appelen on 02/19/2014 - 12:53 pm.

                Thank you for Your Thoughts

                I may disagree with with “time served / classes taken” mandated compensation and job security, but I do appreciate your thoughts.

                And yes there are a lot of white collar personnel that are paid more than I think they should be. However in my view that is a decision to be made between the specific employee/contractor and their employer. They know the cost/value details of the transaction better than I do.

  26. Submitted by Logan Foreman on 02/17/2014 - 11:59 am.

    Does old Marty

    Still want to continue that socialist program Aid to Cities which allows his town and most rural towns to survive using tax dollars from suburbs?

  27. Submitted by John Appelen on 02/19/2014 - 10:00 pm.

    Try here instead

    Jason,
    Here is a graphic I found via Winning Progressive. It looks a lot like the US Spending Total Gov’t Spending site curve. Is this unbiased enough?

    http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2013/01/16/us/politics/16fivethirtyeight-gov4/16fivethirtyeight-gov4-blog480.jpg

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 02/20/2014 - 10:43 am.

      Irony

      After further review… Winning Progressive referenced the NY Times who referenced US Spending…

      So if you have better source, I am still interested in hearing about it.

Leave a Reply