Minnesota: Banana Republic?

Minnesota enjoys a reputation as a progressive, highly-educated, hard-working paragon of Midwestern virtue. It is the polar opposite of my adopted home state of Louisiana. Minnesota is near the top on all the “good” quality-of-life lists. Louisiana is in the cellar, or nearly so, on the same lists.

Minnesota’s 5.2 million citizens have a per capita tax burden ($2,890) that is #4 among the states, and fully 50% more than Louisiana’s ($1,782 – #34).

So what’s up with this?

Exhibit #1. My daughter attended college in Minnesota. In 2003, while driving her to school, we were nearly hit head-on by a drunk driver on the narrow 7-mile stretch of two-lane state highway that connected the college town to I-35. (The girl traveling behind us was hit and suffered serious injuries.) The road had virtually no shoulder and was unlit. There were no reflectors and the lane markings were nearly invisible.

I remember thinking at the time: “This road is substandard by Louisiana standards. It is an obvious death trap. Why don’t these people demand better?”

Exhibit #2. The Coleman-Franken debacle. Paper ballots? You gotta be kidding me. If you wanted to design a system with inherent flaws, so that any close election could be contested in the courts, you’d choose Minnesota-style paper ballots. If stray marks and X’d out circles are a basis of contesting a ballot, the range of uncertainty must be 1% or more.

Louisiana’s voting system as far as I know is uniform statewide – modern, electronic, unambiguous voting machines. Now, I’m not saying our system is perfect, but it does have some measure of integrity. At least if the Democrats aim to steal an election, they have to pay for the votes up front.

So it’s a parallel situation. Minnesota’s voting process is antiquated, even by the standards of an impoverished and electorally-challenged state. Why don’t Minnesota’s highly-educated (and highly-taxed) citizens demand better?

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