Driving County Roads

An on line journal sharing my views. The content reflects my background as a rural person employed in agriculture and as a retired elected official of local government.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


It was over 18 months ago I attended a meeting sponsored by Region 9. The main speaker at the meeting was state economist, Tom Stinson. He gave a word of warning:
PIGS.  What did he mean by that? He meant Portugal, Italy, Greece, and Spain.

These countries were on shaky grounds then and are on worse grounds now. There was plenty of awareness early on - but very little guts to take action. The European leaders evidently are of similar ilk as the ones in our country. end

Monday, November 07, 2011

Minnesota's new elected leaders

Senator Kathy Sheran recently sent a letter of explanation of the changes that the legislature made in the area of Market Value Homestead Credit. It is a complicated issue and I will not attempt to explain it. There are plenty of other smart people who have done that.

The information that Senator Sheran shares about how the action came about is what is making my hair rise on end! She explains the first proposal came from the GOP house in March 2011 and it followed the same month in the Senate. Evidently it never got hearings or came up for a vote on the floors because it was not a part of the final budget proposal.

As a result, Senator Sheran writes, "I never supported or voted for this proposal". What does that mean? It means that laws are being made without our elected representatives having an opportunity to vote yes or no. It means that our representation has been taken from us.

The new laws come about because of closed door sessions with no input from anyone except the leaders. decision. (This time it was done in order to get the state back working.) Perhaps the ends justify the means, but this is not the kind of government Minnesota is known for.

This is not democracy, this is oligarchy. end

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Flat Tax in the News

There is nothing new about the idea of a flat tax. This writer first investigated it in 1995 when Rep. Dick Armey of Texas was advocating changing to the flat tax. 

At that time, I read a book entitled "The Flat Tax" written by Robert E. Hall and Alvin Rabuska. These authors base their system of a flat tax on a basic principle:

"Income should be taxed exactly once, as close as possible to its source." 

These authors also explain that all income would be taxed at the same rate.  Following this principle, if I made widgets and sell them and gain income, I would be taxed because the source of the income would be the manufacture of the widget. It would also follow that if there were various components to my widgets which were made by other entrepreneurs, the components maker's income would be taxed in a similar manner.

In 1995 the authors of this book were advocating for a rate of 19% and contended that using that rate, the same amount of revenue would be generated as was currently being generated with the old system.

There were some other benefits of their tax. The biggest one was simplification. They contended that the average tax payer could send in a return on the back of a post card. And that a farmer's return would have a total of 10 lines. That would be a vast improvement from what we now use. It is at least 15 pages - (I did not take the time to dig one out and count the pages - but I am in the general vicinity.) 

The authors suggested ways to limit the burden on low income families by setting a threshold where low income earners would be free of a tax. Herein lies the rub. Once exceptions are made or special credits given, the PANDORA'S BOX is opened.

As with every proposal, the devil is in the details and the reform of the flat tax might end up being no reform at all if the special interests, and lobbyists have their way with our elected representatives. We should not give up on tax reform. It should be a very high priority. Time will tell. end.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

McRib Is Back

McDonalds has brought the elusive sandwich back at all McDonalds franchises for a limited time. Come and get all you want, but come before November 14. Its one of those "marketing" deals - not for us lay people to understand.

What's not to understand by the big wigs. When you have a sandwich that is tasty and popular, why not sell it all the time? They do in Germany. (I always thought Germans were smart.)

Evidently a few franchises have the McRib available all of the time and the sandwich has produced a cult following. There is even a McRib locator and some pork lovers have been known to take road trips just to get the sandwich. The company big wigs stated, "bringing it back every so often adds to the excitement!" Woo Woo! end