Flipping the bird to the other half

Maybe it’s time to start another war. Seems to be the only thing that brings the American people together anymore.
A Republican presidential hopeful, Herman Cain, said recently “compromise is killing this country,” which seems to be the common sentiment among his fellow Republicans on the state and federal levels.

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The alternative to compromise, of course, is flipping the bird to half the population.
If you get your fairness and balance from Fox, you’ll think I’m crazy, but during the last 30 years, with the exception of social issues like gay rights, Democrats have done all the compromising, as the political center has steadily moved to the right. As taxes on the wealthy have been cut, cut and cut, the economy has stagnated, the debt has skyrocketed, and the middle class has worked harder to earn less.
Tim Pawlenty didn’t compromise as governor, and it may win him the presidency. He’s a shrewd politician who spent his entire eight years as governor preparing for the Republican nomination. He’s working class, he’s a born again Christian, he didn’t raise taxes, he doesn’t have Romney’s Romneycare baggage, and he comes off as more reasonable and electable than Palin, Bachmann or Ron Paul.
If the economy continues to falter (as I believe it will due to the early tremors of peak oil), no one on the coasts and down south will care that he left the state in worse shape than he found it. To wit: the budget disaster and ensuing gridlock in St. Paul.
Here’s my solution: Mark Dayton needs to realize that he can’t win because he doesn’t have the tools. Pawlenty wanted cuts, and he had the tools to get them: the line-item veto and the powers of unallotment. Dayton wants tax increases, but he can’t raise taxes on his own. Tax increases need to be approved by the “no new taxes” Legislature.
The only bill Dayton’s gonna get is a “no new taxes” bill — even though Minnesotans are starting to figure out that 30 years of tax cuts on the state and federal level have hurt the middle class and poor and helped those who didn’t need it.
My advice to Dayton: call their bluff, and double down. Tell them you’ll sign a bill with deeper cuts than they’re offering, but they have to be across the board. Instead of cutting just Democratic pet projects (mainly health and human services), they have to cut everything: schools (the largest piece of the state budget pie), roads, DNR, cops, courts, everything. No stadium, either. Let’s face it, in the downward spiral of the next 50 years, we won’t be able to afford those 20th century luxuries anyway.
Dayton can give the Republicans what they want — a smaller government — and he may just get what he wants: A Democratic Legislature. When Minnesotans get to see what small government looks like, they’ll vote in people who will say yes to new taxes.

More importantly: the @#$*& semi-colon
To adapt Fred DeCoursey’s description of lake flies (see page 6), semi-colons are a stupid species of punctuation, their existence is pointless, and they’re so dumb they don’t move when you go to swat them. People either use them wrong or use them too much, even though you can always get along without them. To paraphrase another old saw, when you’re a semi-colon, everything looks like two closely related independent clauses (sometimes joined with a conjuctive adverb), or like a series of long phrases or clauses containing internal punctuation. Like guns, semi-colons should be kept under lock and key, lest someone get hurt.

Brett Larson is the editor of the Messenger.

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