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Walz administration asks activists to back off on calls for a rent strike in Minnesota

MinnPost photo by Corey Anderson
The Minnesota campaign is part of a national effort aimed at pressuring governments to freeze rents and pass assistance programs for people who can’t afford them in the wake of the economic crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Friday afternoon, supporters of a call to cancel rent payments in Minnesota will gather at US Bank Stadium for what organizers term a “socially-distant car rally, caravan and protest.” 

Their destination? The St. Paul mansion where Minnesota DFL Gov. Tim Walz lives.

“We need a people’s bailout,” the announcement reads. “US Bank, Gov. Tim Walz and the Minnesota Legislature must take action immediately to ensure that nobody falls into stifling debt.”

May 1 is not only International Workers Day and a common date for demonstrations of left-leaning causes, it’s when most rents and mortgages are due.

The Minnesota campaign is also part of a national call for a May Day rent strike — the withholding of rent not only by those who can’t pay their rent but also by allies who can — as a way to pressure governments to enact rent cancellation and rental assistance programs in the wake of the economic crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Among the political and labor organizations supporting rent cancellation, if not a rent strike, are TakeAction Minnesota and the Service Employees International Union. The majorities of the Minneapolis, St. Paul and Richfield city councils have also signed a letter to Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan asking for an executive order to stop rent and mortgage payments, and U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar has co-sponsored a bill to cancel rent and mortgage payments nationally for the duration of the coronavirus crisis.  

But the push from the left flank of the DFL coalition is being met with resistance from others within the party. That includes members of Walz administration, who fear that the talk of a rent strike will endanger the ability to win a significant rental assistance package from the Legislature.

“I get the urgency and I get the hashtag and I get the fear that people are feeling,” Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan said in an interview Tuesday. “But we can do this in a way that’s smart and doesn’t pull the rug out from under an already difficult situation with a lack of affordable housing in the state.”

What the Legislature is doing

DFLers in the Legislature support a $100 million fund that would cover rent, mortgage and utility payments for residents at or below 300 percent of the federal poverty level. The money would go to public, private and non-profit landlords as well as banks and utilities.

Gov. Tim Walz
MinnPost photo by Greta Kaul
Gov. Tim Walz
Republicans lawmakers have their own version of the measure, which includes two key differences from the DFL bill. First, it calls for $30 million in assistance, with more later if needed. Second, they have a cap on how long Walz’s eviction moratorium can stay in place. 

Walz’s executive order stops evictions and late fees while his peacetime emergency declaration remains in place. The current declaration runs until May 13 but it is expected to be extended.

The Senate GOP bill would allow only one 30-day extension, meaning the eviction ban would end June 24. Once that happens, back rent would be due and landlords could begin evictions again.

Landlords, activists and lawmakers all want to avoid a flood of evictions, since it would destabilize the housing system and endanger families and property owners alike. But landlords and some Republicans fear that an unlimited eviction ban offers protections for those who have the ability to pay but are aren’t. 

During a hearing of the Senate Agriculture, Rural Development and Housing Committee last week, GOP members asked Jennifer Ho, the commissioner of Minnesota Housing, the state housing finance agency, whether public and private developers will be leery of investing in new housing given the uncertainty about being able to collect rent. 

“If things are going to be that uncertain, why would I take that chance?” asked Sen. Rich Draheim, R-Madison Lake, mentioning “flyers that get hung up about a rent strike for May 1,” and wondering: “Is there anything else we can do to help fight that mentality?”

Commissioner Jennifer Ho
Commissioner Jennifer Ho
Responded Ho: “The easiest answer would be to make a big investment in the Family Homeless Prevention and Assistance Program, because it would create a way for people to pay,” she said. “The sooner that we can unite around a package here for family homeless prevention assistance, I just think that helps us have a clear message out as to how we’re going to solve this and that a rent strike — or a rent holiday — is a really, really bad idea, because it’s going to put people in really bad shape when we come out the other end of this.”

But it wasn’t just Republicans on the committee urging Ho and the Walz administration to be more vocal about their opposition to a rent strike. Sen. Nick Frentz, DFL-North Mankato, told Ho: “I think you’d find the committee members more comfortable with the idea that you’re against the rent strike and make it easier for us to hammer this together.” 

“If there are more places I can speak in, if there are media outlets in your areas, if there’s someone I can call on the phone and say, ‘Don’t be stupid, pay your rent,’ I’ll be happy to be the conveyor of that message,” said Ho. “If you want a quote, ‘I think the rent strike is a really, really bad idea.’”

Walz administration concerns 

The Walz administration and House DFL leadership think $100 million is the minimal amount needed for the rental assistance program, with more likely necessary, and they are against a specific end to the moratorium. “I hear the landlords who talk to us about setting a specific date,” Ho said. “And we can set a specific date. But it’s the virus that’s driving the timeline.”

Flanagan said she has spoken to TakeAction leaders to talk about how they can be more “aligned,” and that “It should surprise no one that making sure children and families can remain housed and continue to pay their rent and mortgages is a top priority for our administration.” 

But rent cancellation would be unprecedented, she said, and the administration has solicited legal opinions predicting that it would invite court challenges that “could prevent us from taking other important steps to protect Minnesotans and fight COVID-19,” she said. 

That’s why the administration is pushing the rental assistance plan. “We think it’s pretty critical that after the (eviction moratorium) is lifted that we don’t have a whole bunch of folks suddenly finding themselves where they are removed from their homes,” said Flanagan, who called rental assistance a win-win because both tenants and landlords are kept whole.

Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan
Office of the Governor
Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan
As for the call for a rent strike, Flanagan said she tells people she plans on paying her own rent Friday and that those who can afford to pay should pay, since an abrupt lack of revenue for public, non-profit and private housing providers could exacerbate an already existing housing crisis. (The biggest provider of affordable housing in the state is the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority.)

“The loss of affordable housing, naturally occurring affordable housing, additional foreclosures and the removal of families — this is the stuff that  keeps me up at night and is why we’re pushing the Republicans Senate to act on rental assistance,” Flanagan said.

“The eviction moratorium is the first step and housing assistance is the next.”

Activists not backing down

Activists have so far not been persuaded that lowering their voices is a good strategy. 

“Of course it’s a bad idea to not pay your rent,” said Minneapolis City Council Member Jeremiah Ellison, who organized the April 6 letter to Walz and Flanagan asking for an executive order to suspend rent and mortgage payments for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency. “That’s not really what we’re discussing. We’re discussing that people won’t be able to — no matter how much they want to.”

“To say this is a bad idea is beside the point,” said Ellison, who has also been a supporter of Omar’s federal legislation. “Maybe a pandemic is a bad idea, but it’s happening. We don’t really get a say in that. This is a matter of opinion, but I would refute the idea that any activism is interfering with stuff going on at the state Legislature. If Democrats want to assert that, or if people in the administration want to assert that, then I would ask them to prove that state Republicans are willing to play ball.

“And if state Republicans are saying they’re willing to play ball if activists shut up, I would want one of them to say that out loud. That concept strikes me as weird and inappropriate,” Ellison said. 

Elianne Farhat
Elianne Farhat
While he said he is not “quite to the point” of supporting a rent strike in Minnesota, he said he respects that decision by others.

Elianne Farhat, executive director of TakeAction Minnesota, said activists are not interested in small or incremental responses to the social issues that existed before COVID-19 but have been highlighted by the pandemic.

“We need solutions at the scale of the crisis our people are facing,” she said. “What the pandemic has shown is how broken our system is, that it is designed to privilege and feed the richest people in our country at the expense of everybody else.” 

She complimented Walz and Flanagan for what she called their first steps in response to the crisis, but she also said they now need to respond to “the ripple effects” of the economic disruption, including a rental assistance program and solutions to the debt crisis that existed pre-COVID.

“From my perspective, there’s nothing that does that other than cancelling the rent,” she said. 

Farhat said that while Flanagan has taken steps to keep the doors to the administration open to more people, especially people who have been excluded from decision making, TakeAction is not willing to reduce pressure on the administration and Legislature. 

“A healthy, vibrant democracy requires people pushing it to act,” Farhat said. “What I have seen happen at the Minnesota Legislature time and time again is that folks go behind closed doors and cut a set of deals without us seeing what they’re doing. And everytime that happens poor folks, folks of color, indigenous folks, working class folks get left out.

“When we back down, it’s even more likely we’ll get cut out of a deal.”

Correction: This story was corrected to show that the end of the current peacetime emergency declaration is May 13, not May 24.

Comments (38)

  1. Submitted by Alan Straka on 04/29/2020 - 11:59 am.

    “nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”- fifth amendment of the US Constitution.

    The state cancellation of rent would be nothing short of a taking of private property for public use. The state would be responsible for making landlords whole. We are probably talking about billions. Can Minnesota taxpayers afford that?

    • Submitted by Eric Snyder on 04/29/2020 - 06:03 pm.

      Given that the very basis of for-profit landlordism is taking the private property of people who need shelter, the landlord is already in debt to its renters and should be grateful for anything he gets. A cessation of rent along with rent cancellation would only be a long overdue, if insufficient, balancing of the books.

      • Submitted by Pat Terry on 04/30/2020 - 11:55 am.

        Why is it a taking? Why is it any different that the sale of food or clothing? When I was a renter, I paid money in exchange for the use of an apartment that someone else built and maintained. Without the landlord, I would have been homeless.

      • Submitted by Alan Straka on 04/30/2020 - 12:18 pm.

        The US became the most prosperous country in the world based on a system of private property rights. In the 30s Stalin murdered the kulaks. How did that work out?

      • Submitted by Drew Gmitro on 05/01/2020 - 02:01 am.

        “should be happy with anything he gets”, so the landlord who has to pay the bank, loses the building and the non-paying tenants are evicted irregardless. There’s “no free lunch”. It takes several month’s to be evicted. In most cases the landlord will work with most tenants willing to make a payment arrangement. But to simply say “I’m not paying you. Not paying you back rent.” yea. That’s a huge problem and people need to be evicted. Without that eviction action, why would ANYONE pay their rent ?? They wouldn’t. I’m paying my mortgage. I didn’t even put it in “forbearance”. But if they come out and offer “no mortgage payments”, damm right I’m going to stop paying mine. Why would anyone pay ??

  2. Submitted by Jim Tingsdale on 04/29/2020 - 12:50 pm.

    Anyone who believes government has the wherewithal to forestall the coming economic disaster for more than a few months is dreaming. The Federal Reserve doesn’t have enough raw stock to paper over the hole that has been dug.

    Liberals realize this, and are accordingly planning to rewrite the American contract while no one is paying attention. I do not blame them, it’s a prime opportunity for some monkey wrenching.

    But I do not think the people at “TakeAction Minnesota” and their ilk realize the chaos they are looking to implement will be as tears in the rain to the chaos that is being fomented in the desperate homes of the unemployed, and soon to be unemployed.

    The partisan divide will be as large as ever, but both sides will united in their outrage.

    • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 04/29/2020 - 07:11 pm.

      Flip the coin Jim, didn’t uncle Sam just give a lot of these folks ~ $2-3T, point being there are a lot more folks on the down side, than on the up side, seems its easier to give up side help than down side help! Just saying Two sides to the coin! Can we be honest and balanced in times like these or is it all politics?

      • Submitted by Jim Tingsdale on 04/30/2020 - 02:02 pm.

        You’re right Dennis. It’s two sides of the same borrowed coin. These Trillions must be backed by bonds. I don’t know what the rate of return is right now, but with our GDP headed for the dumpster it’s going to be getting really high.

        Bush’s TARP I was an epic mistake. Obama more than doubled it with TARP II, cash for clunkers etc.

        Before any of this even started, the US GDP to debt ratio was 106%. How long do you think we can keep handing out cash before no one wants to buy our debt?

        • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 05/01/2020 - 02:54 pm.

          You are talking to the wrong guy, Tarp was a worthwhile program in my estimation as well as many well known economists including the guys that run the FED. In hindsight, yes, it could have been better, what’s new? Now $1.5T on the credit card for an uber rich tax break was not! This go around we will need to wait and see. Real question, if the WH would have been on their toes earlier, and not fired the pandemic team etc. etc. etc. perhaps this bail out would have only cost 1/2-1/3 or less,

  3. Submitted by Joel Stegner on 04/29/2020 - 12:59 pm.

    People who can pay withholding rent in “solidarity.” If you want to show solidarity, support state funding or give a loan or cash to a hardship case. This is like successful large business gaming the system to get small business funds.

    And no discussion of landlords. Those who rent one or two units are in a different league from big property owners. They may need help too as some are retired and rely on the rent to pay their bills.

  4. Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 04/29/2020 - 01:01 pm.

    I agree bad idea: No one knows what these folks do with their money. cancel rent so they can do what? What next cancel utilities, have they already canceled cable/cell phone? How about they just walk into grocery stores etc. and take what they need? No longer required to pay at the gas station? One of my friends a landlord gave all of his tenants a 15% break on rent. This all or nothing is ludicrous thinking, and the politicians supporting it are ludicrous as well, if it is that important Omar should take part of her political war chest and offer it up! .

  5. Submitted by Bob Barnes on 04/29/2020 - 02:58 pm.

    The Governor and DFL are making a very big mistake here. By denying property owners their right to evict tenants they are creating a serious issue. Tenants know they can’t be evicted and don’t have to pay rent. That also means they can destroy the property as much as they want and nothing can be done to them. Who is going to compensate the property owners for all the damages? Are they also going to be compensated for lost income and have their own bills delayed/forgiven?

    On this the GOP is mostly rights, but the eviction block needs to end immediately, not a month from now. And there shouldn’t be a bailout for renters either…we can’t afford it and we already pay way too much in taxes.

  6. Submitted by Andrew Fahlstrom on 04/29/2020 - 03:34 pm.

    Everyone in the Walz Administration, the housing sector, and at MN Housing knows that $30 million or even $100 million is a drop in the bucket in term of the need for rents that were missed in April, now May, and soon June and beyond. We face a recession predicted to be at least 4x more severe than 2008, and it will last for years. We can’t continue on this unsustainable path.

    Senate Republicans are trying to play for power, not solve problems.
    Business as usual without real solutions is going to make thousands of people homeless across the state. MN lead the nation during the great depression in suspending mortgage payments for 2 years. It must lead now. Join the #CancelRent #CancelMortgages caravan on May 1st, 2020 at Noon at the US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis!

    • Submitted by lisa miller on 04/29/2020 - 05:57 pm.

      The reality is that Flanagan and Waltz are right–most mortgages are secured and invested and sold off as bonds; the government has little to no control over that. Most cities including Minneapolis are backed or invested in such bonds and it would cause a mess. The whole point of unemployment and the 1200 was to assist those who can’t pay the rent. Also there is housing court. Mpls is one of the biggest evictors in their public housing–they should invest in lawyers and advocates to assist those who are vulnerable and being evicted in the process to come up with payment plans–that they have some control over.

  7. Submitted by Paul Mielke on 04/29/2020 - 05:11 pm.

    Peter Callaghan- what are the bill numbers for the house dfl and the senate republican legislation mentioned iin the article. Thanks!

  8. Submitted by Pat Terry on 04/29/2020 - 06:25 pm.

    Walz also understands that there is no legal authority whatsoever to do this. The stay-at-home orders are legally tenuous, but are at least plausibly legal. They may stand up to legal challenge. The government cancelling rent and mortgages is unquestionably illegal.

  9. Submitted by Betsy Larey on 04/29/2020 - 07:44 pm.

    Okay, it is getting really hard to read MN Post anymore. Why any reputable news organization would print this is beyond me. I am a Democrat, but I am wondering how much longer I can take this.
    The Republicans sold their souls years ago to the far right. And we got Trump. The city of Minneapolis ( and the metro council ) sold their souls to the far left. And we have the people who think they deserve free housing. Last week I read about a man who owned a building with 9 units. All of his tenants stayed employed. But they all stopped paying rent. Do they think ( actually they don’t care) the bank is going to say okay, you don’t have to pay your mortgage? Hell no.
    At some point the people who have money and live in Minneapolis will leave. Because there won’t be enough of them to pay for cheap housing for all of those who don’t want to pay.
    And for the record, this “epidemic) will go down as one of the most insane overreactions in the history of mankind.

    • Submitted by Pat Terry on 04/30/2020 - 12:11 pm.

      Have faith Betsy. Walz knows this is nonsense and won’t go for this. And he is the governor picked by statewide primary voters and the electorate at large.

      And you can golf again!

      • Submitted by Jim Tingsdale on 05/01/2020 - 09:27 am.

        If I understand this article, Walz won’t go for rent strikes, but he’s more than happy to take someone else’s money to pay rent for those that won’t.

        Rent strikes are straight up theft, but what Walz is considering is theft, backed by the threat of armed enforcement.

        • Submitted by Pat Terry on 05/01/2020 - 11:32 am.

          Its not for people who won’t pay. Its for people who can’t.

          If you are talking about bailouts for big business and billions in corporate subsidies pre-Covid, I am willing to entertain a discussion about theft. Donald Trump’s entire life has been about theft. When it comes to assisting the most vulnerable among us about keeping a roof over their heads, its just human decency

          Walz is blessed with compassion. He also is cognizant is what is within his powers as governor.

  10. Submitted by Richard Owens on 04/30/2020 - 10:18 am.

    Poverty is ugly. Fixing the symptoms is complicated, not as simple as “not paying”. Even in good times wages sometimes aren’t enough to afford housing. It can happen to anyone who has no cushion, loses a job or holds personal debt like many Americans find themselves.

    For us “not poor”, it is inconvenient and annoying to keep hearing about the problems of the poor people, and how the homeless population just seems to keep growing and growing.

    While the voices of the poor keep making us frustrated and angry and anxious and confused about how to fix this, we should acknowledge the voice of those suffering.

    We who are not facing immediate crises are all they have to turn to for help.

    It’s embarrassing to know how vastly rich America is and how poorly that wealth is allocated among our people. It makes the social conscience very uncomfortable. We have become commodities, useful only if we can generate money, and useless and in crisis if we can’t.

    How can we raise children to have a conscience when social caring is smothered every day by indifference and the voices of those who are “winning”? Poor people can’t help themselves become secure and safe without some help from their leaders and their safety nets.

    • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 04/30/2020 - 09:12 pm.

      For the majority we agree. However we can’t “make” folks change the way they see the world? We all get to choose, so if folks keep making the wrong choices despite all our efforts, etc. etc, feed the bad behavior and perpetuate another generation? Tough choices.

      • Submitted by Richard Owens on 05/02/2020 - 10:27 am.

        I appreciate your response.

        Who are we expecting to change? The poor?

        It is not the poor who need to change their views. It is those who will protect vast, unneeded personal wealth over the responsibility society has to make sure everyone has an affordable place to sleep.

        You didn’t say it harshly, but I do think you are blaming the victims and those least able to “fix it”. This is a social welfare problem and a crisis of basic morality. We waste more money than they would even be required to address the crippling poverty that ruins the lives of our people.

        • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 05/04/2020 - 11:19 am.

          To be clear all “poor” folks are not all poor because of the same reasons/reason. There for treating poverty as single cause is not a viable solution, suggesting that, there are folks that game the system, and, make bad behavior/choices. You could say the same for most every financial set of folks, circumstances and behavior matter. No single solution will solve all poor folks problems. On a 2nd point, one needs to answer, who is most in charge of changing their own destiny? To look at others as the main force of change for me is a fallacy, help no problem, My success/failure in the end is still largely dependent on me and my decisions. We are not locked into a caste system, yes, it may be more difficult for some than others no denial, I never could play basketball like Michael Jordan. C’est La Vie.

          • Submitted by Richard Owens on 05/04/2020 - 01:44 pm.

            Our agreement might be that the poverty I refer to is SYSTEMIC.

            Generational poverty is sustained by a stacked deck.
            The reasons are widespread, but the result is the same.

            Your quote says it all: ” There for treating poverty as single cause is not a viable solution, suggesting that, there are folks that game the system, and, make bad behavior/choices….”

            Your quote is true for the vastly wealthy as well! The difference “..folks who game the system…” — these people are the rich. They get lots of help in policies and tax cuts that never quite do anything for the SYSTEMIC mis-appropriation of capital.

            Today I read Mark Cuban’s prophetic declaration that the first trillionaire will be the guy who owns AI.

  11. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/01/2020 - 11:15 am.

    We always have wannabe Constitutional scholars pointing to their own legal interpretations whenever stuff like this comes up. There is no “taking” here because the government is neither capturing the rent, or claiming ownership of the property when it declares a moratorium on evictions. The government has broad powers in emergencies and property rights are not unlimited and invoilable. There’s not reason that landlords should be guaranteed income and revenue when no one else is.

    I could see modifying the moratorium so that evictions could happen for some”cause” other than late or missed rent payments. However I wonder what kind of issue this really is because you can evict someone, but you still have to rent to someone else and they will also have to pay rent. Evictions might do little more than empty out apartment buildings.

    I have to second Mr. Fahlstrom’s observation regarding the amount, and scold Callaghan for his reporting. How did anyone arrive at these figures in the ($100 million vs. $30 million) in the first place? What’s the point in even arguing about this if the funding doesn’t solve the problem? Don’t we have to figure out how much rent is being lost before we come up with a plan to pay it? How do we know that any of these numbers make sense. Why is it that reporters so rarely ask such obvious questions? Is the political process more important than the actual outcome?

    I have to agree with Ellison; this decades long practice of Democrats handing power to Republican in exchange for more extremist demands has erased liberalism from the political landscape. The fact Republicans are demanding/expecting Walz et al to join Republican efforts in marginalizing activism is ridiculous enough, but the fact that Walz is actually conceding that demand is flat out absurd. This neoliberal practice of joining forces against constituents not only sabatoges rational policy and promotes perpetutual crises, but it alienates Democrats from their natural base of support. Whatever.

    The whole point of “activism” and direct action is to exercise citizen power, not seek government permission. If Walz and Republicans are THAT worried about rent strikes maybe they should figure out a way to service their constituents

    • Submitted by Pat Terry on 05/01/2020 - 11:36 am.

      You don’t need to be a constitutional scholar or even have gone to law school to know that the idea of cancelling rent and mortgages is utter nonsense.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/01/2020 - 01:20 pm.

        One also need not be a scholar to know the difference between “cancelling” rent and mortgage payments vs. suspending them. No one is talking about eliminating the concept or practice of paying rent and mortgages, we’re just talking about suspending evictions, foreclosures, and some payments until the economy can sustain them again. Obviously this is not utter nonsense because it’s been done on State and National levels.

        The issue here really comes down to the legitimacy or illegitimacy of the proposition that some people, groups, or sectors should be exempted or protected from financial loss during calamities; while others fail and suffer. How is a government guarantee of rent or mortgage revenue for banks and landlords different from a food stamp program?

        Somebody in an earlier comment pointed out the success of capitalism vs. Stalinism, fair enough. But the key component of capitalism isn’t “private property”, that’s been around in a variety of economic systems for millennia. The big characteristic of capitalism is supposed to be the RISK that innovators and investors make in pursuit of financial profit and wealth. Well, what’s the big idea then having the government step in and eliminate the financial risk?

        • Submitted by Jim Tingsdale on 05/01/2020 - 04:18 pm.

          “No one is talking about eliminating the concept or practice of paying rent and mortgages, we’re just talking about suspending evictions, foreclosures, and some payments until the economy can sustain them again.”

          Does this mean you would include banks from foreclosing on mortgages until the” economy can sustain them” again? And the bank stock holders will eliminate the concept or practice of investing? This is the type of thinking that unserious people engage in.

          • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/02/2020 - 08:21 am.

            Tim, we’re in the middle of a economic crises the likes which capitalism has never seen before. Of course banks and their investors will lose money like everyone else, why would any reasonable person expect otherwise?

            Again, the primary feature of capitalism is RISK, you pay your money you take your chances. ROI is not a guaranteed feature of our private sector, for banks or anything else. If we learned anything from the Great Recession it was that the banking industry and it’s foreclosure processes is a fiasco.

            And again-again, no one is talking about permanently ending the practice of foreclosure. The problem is the probability that the financial industry left to it’s own devices will end up making debt and payments even more burdensome and onerous by the time we get to the other side of this crises.

            Anyone who thinks that this crises or any other will shut down Wall Street for good by convincing people that investing is too dangerous has no business considering themselves a “serious” thinker. Greed persists, and no crises has ever decreased the number or enthusiasm of investors for any length of time. Even now in the middle of this crises, investors rally and crash every other day, but they don’t pull out of the market completely.

            • Submitted by Jim Tingsdale on 05/04/2020 - 07:28 am.

              Risk is a major component of free market capitalism, true. But one of the major responsibilities of government is enforcing contracts. When government steps in and makes unilateral changes to an existing contract, all bets are off.

              No one is investing in Venezuelan, N. Korean or Cuban businesses, because we all know business in those places is conducted according to the whims of who ever happens to be in charge at any time. Contracts are not worth the paper they’re written on.

              Citing emergency powers, government can suspend some aspects of contract law. They can for instance stop evictions temporarily in the interest of the welfare and safety of the general public. When the state of emergency ends, contracts must be immediately enforceable. Cancelling debt is the job of the Federal court system, according to the laws governing bankruptcy, not a group of “activists”, or even a Governor.

              • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/05/2020 - 08:19 am.

                Again, no one is talking about canceling debts or making all housing rent free from now on. No one is talking about abolishing the concept of private property or ownership. All we’re talking about is making sure that people who are already facing the hardships of unemployment and lay-offs don’t end up with evictions and foreclosures on their plates as well. Absolutely the government has the authority to do that during an crises like this. And absolutely the legislature has the authority to make laws that allow for that. Just because YOU don’t like something doesn’t mean it’s unconstitutional.

        • Submitted by Pat Terry on 05/04/2020 - 03:26 pm.

          Utter nonsense.

          The distinction between cancelling and postponing rent is meaningless. The government does not have the power to interfere with private contracts. It can shut down the court system and stop legal eviction proceedings. It could end loan guarantees and other support. But it cannot cancel or postpone rent and mortgage payments.

  12. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/01/2020 - 01:32 pm.

    By the way, the article mentions developers and builders that won’t want to take risks… according to THIS Minnpost piece from a month ago builders are crazy with optimism during the COVID recession and can’t wait to build and build some more.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/02/2020 - 08:25 am.

      By the way, you’ll note if read the article I point to above, that none of the “game changing” housing these guys are building is affordable housing.

  13. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/02/2020 - 08:57 am.

    I think in some ways the crises we’re confronting here is a hang-over from the Great Recession. THAT recession was created by a deregulated financial industry that ran amok with risk and collapsed under the weight of it’s own irrational incompetence.

    The US government opted to save and protect the banks and their investors in the last crises, rather than workers and homeowners. THAT strategy led to one of if not THE most lopsided and delayed “recovery” in modern capitalist history. In fact, when THIS crises emerged a majority of Americans were still grappling with un-affordable housing costs, and stagnate wages. Baffled neoliberal “economist” were marveling at the fact that investors and corporations don’t “share” their profits with workers after all. Who knew?

    Meanwhile Trump et al and their Republican conspirators all over the country dumped a big giant welfare program on the wealthy to the tune of trillions of dollars while once again exploding the debt and deficits. Once again magical thinking (i.e. cut taxes and wait for the magic to happen) failed just in time to make the pandemic crises twice a bad as it would otherwise have been. The champions of fiscal responsibility created the worse case scenario and now they want to sue China for starting a pandemic… and so it goes.

    To the extent that Democrats buy into this Republican coping strategy, they will only exacerbate the crises.

    And somebody should tell Walz and everyone else that they’re not going control what activist demand in any case so they can all retreat back into their little bubble and get bent. Well, you can leave the “get bent” part off if you want.

  14. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/02/2020 - 09:10 am.

    I assume the legislative “obstacles” the activists who are demanding we re-open the economy are creating will be the subject of future discussions by the way? Or are we just worried about liberal activism?

  15. Submitted by William Altman on 06/12/2020 - 02:34 pm.

    The financial crises of 2008, when our Federal Government threw voters under the bus but rescued entities labeled “too big to fail” just demonstrated that we really have no control over what our governor’s want to do. Remember, they asked us how we felt. And the majority of us said “NO!!”. They did what they deemed necessary and disregarded us, their constituency.

    And now we have a global pandemic. People are forced out of employment and their income. Governments, state and State, are confused and have no idea how to resolve this crises. We, as voters, realize that our voice has no influence on legislative decisions. Government decides, without our permission, to do whatever they desire.

    Complacency was our response. But now we have an entire generation of “voters” who refuse to just be complacent.

    Hence, “burn it down” is preferable to “continuance”, and complacency.

    The arguments occurring here are, honestly, laughable. A sensible voice, for rental forgiveness or for eviction, will not be heard, and maybe not even understood, by the bureaucrats. They will decide without our input.

    This new generation is giving us all the message that they will no longer tolerate indifference in Government. They perceive indifference as “a knee to the neck”.

    This time, an abomination of justice occurred. Criminal or not, a man died in handcuffs. And right or wrong, it infuriated the younger generation enough that we now have anarchy. Because Government does what it wants and expects complacency.

    So, do we temporarily suspend rents and mortgages? Exactly how can we require landlords to pay their notes if rents are not paid? How can we expect banks to suspend foreclosures?

    These governors will not care if good answers are provided. They will do as they wish.

    Just as they did in 2008. And, voters will lose.

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