Sunday, July 03, 2005

Let them eat lunch

Posted by Craig Westover | 11:41 AM |  

In an article entitled “Capitol City Blues,” Pioneer Press business columnist Dave Beal leads off what promises to be a parade of articles lamentingthe hardships caused by the shutdown of state government. In this case, Beal’s point seems to be that in addition to determining the impact of tax and spending decisions on the entire state of Minnesota over the next two years and beyond, lawmakers should understand their obligation to keep the economy of St. Paul humming.
Restaurants near the larger state office buildings saw business turn down.

At the Subway franchise on East Seventh Street, near a large and mostly unpopulated Department of Human Services building, shift leader Amanda Wright said the lunch crowd was down.

The shutdown's full impact on employment and spending won't be felt until Tuesday, since some workers had scheduled Friday off earlier in order to put together four-day holiday weekends.
How ingrained is the notion that government employment somehow boosts the economy? Consider this expert analysis.
Raymond Robertson, an economist at Macalester College in St. Paul, said the longer the shutdown goes, the more discretionary spending will fall.

"Potentially, economic activity could be reduced by almost $500,000 a day because of the shutdown," he said, basing his estimate on state data showing that the sidelined workers make average hourly wages of $21.82.

"It's going to be an experiment in how great the impact of state spending is," said Robertson. "The effects will be concentrated in Ramsey County."
More on the entitlement attitude.
Jim Monroe, executive director of the professional employees association, questioned the way the state workers have been treated.

"If any employer in the state had laid off 9,000 workers, we would have had a special session and all the parties would have come together to do something for that company," Monroe said.
Monroe is probably right. The state would do something. Legacy companies -- automobile manufacturers, airlines, computer companies -- suffer from the same bureaucratic thinking as big government. They believe are entitled to some kind of special consideration because their business model is no longer economically viable. If they don’t get help, people will lose their jobs. And we can’t have that. That doesn't make it the right thing to do.

The seen versus the unseen -- better for a politician to visibly save a job that may not have any real value or function that to trust that a new unseen job with value is created when capital is released back into the private sector.

Let’s hope that saner minds prevail and tax and spending measures that come out of the special session are based on what’s best for Minnesota and not contingent upon putting government workers into downtown restaurants.