For well over a century, Minnesota has battled against the common perception that its climate and location make it an American Siberia. The earliest solicitations to potential settlers emphasized that the state's climate was not harsh, but instead was invigorating and restorative.
In more recent years, the state has advertised its much-vaunted quality of life as the antidote to bitter winters.
Now, new figures from the Census Bureau show that Minnesota is outpacing its neighbors in terms of population growth. This news, however, finds the state on the cusp of a potential major redirection -- one that could diminish the state's quality of life by encouraging Minnesotans to place their own wants above the needs of the community at large.
It long has been gospel among true-believers that high taxes stunt growth and low taxes create jobs. There is little evidence to support that in Minnesota's experience. In fact, given the state's decades of high taxes, one would expect the state to be an economic desert by now.
On the contrary, it's possible to argue that in this harsh northern climate, taxes are the seeds of growth, creating a lifestyle that attracts employers and employees alike. Nevertheless, those who now hold political power in St. Paul are determined to push their anti-tax agenda.
Likewise, given the poor financial condition of many of the state's cities and counties, local public officials find themselves reacting to crises rather than planning for future growth.
Meanwhile, Minnesotans who insulate themselves from a responsibility for the greater good are retreating from the state's best traditions. The quality of life of all Minnesota residents suffers when the needs of children, the poor, the sick and the elderly are ignored. Minnesota's attractive lifestyle came about because the state's citizens recognized the value of being part of something larger than themselves. However, too many elected officials now seem to be encouraging Minnesotans to think primarily of themselves.
Minnesotans always have resisted that temptation. As a result, they have enjoyed a lifestyle so enticing it creates growth in a most inhospitable climate.
-- Post-Bulletin of Rochester
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