Monday, October 02, 2006

Pawlenty. Hatch. Taxes. The governor's race in Minnesota

I envision Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty getting up every morning, pouring himself a cup of Joe and going to his computer to check on the day’s talking points from Comrade Rove. The Timster barely has to glance at the e-mail, however, because he knows what it will say, as it has every day for the past umpteen years — TAXES.

Pawlenty, like all good Republicans running for office, is hammering the issue of taxes. He won’t raise ‘em. His opponent, Mike Hatch will. End of story. Perhaps the only other single word in all of American politics with as much emotional bang as “taxes” is “communist.” I just crossed myself, and I’m not even Catholic.

Yes, Repugs own taxes. Every election, they go to the electorate pool, slap a few dollar bills on a hook, and cast away. And every year the voters bite hard and bite often. Like carp with brains the size of a period, people can’t seem to stop themselves from taking the bait.

Republicans want voters to believe that taxes are a socialist invention, and, to an extent, that is correct. But when you take this idea to its logical conclusion, “family” must be straight out of Das Kapital. A family is, after all, a group of people who work as a unit, each sacrificing some individual goals and desires for the good of the whole (theoretically speaking, of course). The family is a socialist enterprise. Yet Repugs cannot make the simple leap necessary to realize that what’s good for the family is good for the community, the state and the nation. Shared sacrifice.

Taxes are the relatively small sacrifice we pay for the good of the whole. In Minnesota, we pay higher taxes than many other states. I have lived in other states, and, when I compare the schools, highways, snow removal, etc., I am convinced it’s worth it. My fantasy (the one that is PG) is to take busloads of Taxpayer League of Minnesota members and their families to Alabama or Mississippi and force them to live there a year. Let their children experience the public schools in a state with low taxes. Let the I-hate-taxes group try and get the social services they need or the medical care they take for granted here. Do they really want Minnesota to emulate Alabama?

The “No New Taxes” chant from Pawlenty will grow louder and louder as election day approaches, drowning out other substantive issues that deserve discussion. Unfortunately, like negative advertising, it works. Hopefully, Hatch will be able to convince Minnesotans (who are better educated than many other Americans because they have good schools) that you get what you pay for. End of story.

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