Minnesota: Government by Truculent Four-Year-Olds

Traveling on I-94 near Ann Arbor, Michigan, I pulled into a rest area today. This is a privilege denied to motorists on I-94 in Minnesota, since Gov. Mark Dayton and the Minnesota legislature are acting like truculent four-year-olds. They shut the state down over a budget disagreement. From border to border, I-94 runs 260 miles through Minnesota. That is four hours of driving without a rest area, which is dangerous–not merely unpleasant and uncomfortable.

A political conflict is understandable, but shutting down state parks, highway rest areas, and other state amenities, not to mention really vital services, is unforgivable. Each side is betting that the public will blame its opponents. To a large degree, this is what will happen.

Right-wingers listen to right-wing radio and Fox News. They hear and believe accusations against the left. Liberals do not have left-wing radio or a left-wing network, but they listen to Rachel Maddow and John Stewart and dismiss right-wing radio and Fox News as a pile of bovine manure. They hear and believe blame levied on right-wingers. Those on the right are likely to blame liberals for the shutdown, but liberals are equally likely to blame the right for the shutdown.

That engineering a state shutdown is a sound political strategy does not make it either right or pardonable. Furthermore, these spoiled, immature jerks intentionally made the shutdown as unpleasant for the public as possible. For example, closing facilities like state parks and highway rest areas was unnecessary. Various nonprofits, such as service clubs, churches, and support groups, could have been recruited to maintain services at such state facilities.

We already have an Adopt-A-Highway program, which relies on service clubs and other organizations to keep parts of the freeway system clean. There is no reason that nongovermental groups could not operate highway rest areas, campgrounds, beaches, libraries, and such facilities. This would require a more extensive operation than Adopt-A-Highway, but it would also provide more chances for charities to solicit donations or make money providing services. However, it would require elected government officials to be more concerned with the welfare of the citizens than they are about political advantage. That is why it does not happen.


John B. Payne, Attorney
Garrison LawHouse, PC
Dearborn, Michigan 313.563.4900
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 800.220.7200
©2011 John B. Payne, Attorney