Too bad Mark Dayton isn’t running for national office. Otherwise, I’d love to see Chris Wallace ask Dayton the “flake” question after Dayton’s explanation of the American Revolution to Minnesotans last week, an explanation that went largely unnoticed. Minnesota’s governor has shut down state government in an effort to force the Republican-led legislature to hike taxes on the wealthy in a state that’s already ranked 43rd in the nation for tax climate, and attempted to justify this stand by hearkening back to our forefathers:
It is significant that this shutdown will begin on the 4th of July weekend. On that date, we celebrate our independence. It also reminds us that there are causes and principles worth struggling for – worth even suffering temporary hardships to achieve.
Our American Revolution was very much about fair and just taxes, where the middle-class was over-taxed while the very rich went tax-free. In the absence of fair taxes, the basic services people relied upon for their health and well-being were denied them.
Er … riiiiiiiight. The American Revolution, led by wealthy landowners and businessmen like John Hancock, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and the rest of the moneyed class revolted against the Crown for forced redistribution of wealth via government. Damn the History Channel for not covering this aspect of the Revolution!
For Dayton’s benefit, the American Revolution did result from taxes, but it wasn’t a revolt against middle-class taxes, as the composition of the Revolution’s leaders would certify. The main issue was the capriciousness of the application of taxes, which Great Britain imposed without giving the colonists representation in Parliament. The unrest caused by the taxes (most of which were repealed) provoked the British into occupying Massachusetts and other colonies, and suspending self-government in Massachusetts specifically. That enraged the colonists, who had practiced self-government for more than 150 years, and pushed the colonies into a fight for independence rather than protests to protect their perceived rights as British subjects.
By the way, I’d love to hear an explanation from Dayton as to the “basic services” that were denied colonists by the British based on uncollected taxes from the rich. As far as I know, the colonies didn’t have Medicare or Social Security either before or after the Revolution. The only services supplied by the British were the troops that defended the colonies, which is one of the reasons the British began taxing them.
You can’t blame a Minnesota education on this, either. Dayton comes from wealth and had the best education his family’s money could buy at the Blake School, a prestigious private school in the area. Dayton graduated cum laude from Yale, apparently without taking an American History course. In fact, Dayton eventually got accreditation as — wait for it — a teacher.
Meanwhile, Dayton had to make some determinations as to which state employees were deemed essential in the shutdown, so that they could continue providing those much-needed services to the middle-class people. That includes Dayton’s housekeeper:
[H]ousekeeper Michelle Mersereau was kept on the payroll because the mansion, on St. Paul’s historic Summit Avenue, is 100 years old and needs constant care, she said. (The mansion was opened in 1912 as the home of Horace Hills Irvine, a St. Paul lumberman and lawyer.)
“We need to continue with the upkeep and maintenance of the Minnesota state building, even during the shutdown,” she said.
The GOP accused Dayton of also keeping his personal chef on the payroll. Dayton later said that he’s paying the chef out of his own pocket — an explanation that only appeared after the GOP caught the chef still performing his duties:
Dayton spokesperson Katherine Tinucci called to say that the chef, Micah Pace, is being paid by the governor out of his own pocket for the duration of the shutdown.
And that was the case from the beginning of the shutdown July 1, before Republicans made a big deal of it, she said. “We just didn’t make an announcement about it then,” she said.
Er … riiiiiiiiight. The state GOP had some fun with the story yesterday, putting together a Top Ten list of why the housekeeper and chef are “essential” state employees:
(10) Gov. Dayton thinks a chef and a housekeeper come standard with all public housing.
(9) Gov. Dayton has made such a mess of the budget process that one can only imagine the mess he has made of the Governor’s Mansion.
(8) Keeping the governor’s $45,000 Personal Chef and $35,000 Housekeeper/Server on staff is a reasonable compromise – half way between fending for himself and floating state bonds to purchase Forepaugh’s and Stanley Steamer.
(7) Gov. Dayton believes that deeming a personal chef and a housekeeper/server “essential” proves government can create jobs.
(6) Someone has to open the windows of governor’s SUV for his dogs on very hot days.
(5) Personal Chef Micah Pace will institute significant cost savings by creating “Lobster Helper” recipes for Gov. Dayton during the shutdown.
(4) Gov. Dayton offered the jobs to Speaker of the House Kurt Zellers and Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch calling it a significant compromise on his part, but they turned him down.
(3) During budget negotiations neither Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk nor House Minority Leader Paul Thissen has proven capable of cleaning up after the governor.
(2) Gov. Dayton’s ex-wife is too busy writing checks to Alliance for a Better Minnesota to come over and help. (Rockefellers don’t do windows.)
And the Number One reason Gov. Dayton decided to deem his $45,000 Chef and $35,000 Housekeeper/Server “essential” government employees during his shutdown of state government:
(1) Gov. Dayton cannot accept a Minnesota where the governor of the state does not have personal servants at public expense so that millionaires do not have to pay one dollar more in taxes.
Come on, now. We know that the American Revolution was fought so that imperial governors could continue to live in luxury while they denied the middle class basic governmental services …