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 Response Page - McElroy  Interview -      

These comments are responses to the questions listed below,
which were generated in regard to the
Dan McElroy Interview of

The Questions:

1    6.2 average response    Competitive position:  Minnesota is well-positioned among the 50 states because of its diversified economy, clusters of businesses, and a strong work force.

2    5.2 average response    Impressions:  The state's economy is much better than negative impressions in the media would indicate.

3.      7.8 average response    Health Care:  Allowing the growth in health care expenses is a top-priority need for strengthening Minnesota's economy.

4    5.9 average response    Energy:  Alternative energy sources offer great potential for future economic growth in Minnesota. 

 5. Comment:  __________________________________________________________________

Ann Berget

I like McElroy, but this interview struck me as rather superficial. I.e., #12 (McElroy's "plan") is no plan at all, just some platitudes. Why did you let him off so easily? The utility costs issue is not going away - it's gonna stay cold in the winters. Recruiting individuals and/or businesses face big challenges. Our entitlement obligations continue to grow, but the share of Minnesotans paying IN doesn't grow. This is not a sustainable picture.  

Donald H Anderson  (8)  (5)  (5)  (8)

Bert Press  (5)  (5)  (5)  (10)

Tom Spitznagle (8)  (5)  (6)  (6)

Arvonne Fraser  (7)  (8)  (5)  (8)

Ray Cox  (6)  (7)  (10)  (5) 

Alternative energy only will work in Minnesota if it isn't 'regulated to death' and is allowed to work and be successful.  Minnesota cannot sit back and look what we did during the past 50 years and pat ourselves on the back. We have to boldly look forward and create systems and plans that are workable and sustainable into the next generations.

John Milton

Sorry -- Don't have time for one of Pawlenty's fantasy-spinners.  I already know the answer: NO NEW TAXES.  Stan Holmquist, Elmer Andersen, and Nick Coleman would be flipping in their graves.  Why don't you get someone like John Gunyou or Jay Kiedrowski?

William Kuisle   (7)  (5)  (9)  (3)

Charles & Hertha Lutz  (9)  (8)  (8)  (10)

Comment:  In Point 5, what is “the glass cluster”? 

Fred Senn  (5)  (6)  (10)  (6)

Thank you.  Good interview.  I learned a lot.

Shari Prest  (5)  (4)  (5)  (  )

Slowing the growth in health care can be an incentive or disincentive -- depending on the price we pay to do that. I have known Dan a long time and respect him but one must remember that he operates at the pleasure of a no-tax governor. Nothing too biased or new in this interview.

Clarence Shallbetter  (6)  (5)  (4)  (3)

Al Quie  (  )   (1)   (3)   (0)

# 1 families first in education will close the achievement gap and produce sought after employees, # 2 eliminate the corporate income tax will prove we mean business, #3 build natural community empowerment and responsibility.

Donald Mark Ritchie

Great report, thanks.

Bill Hamm  (4)  (5)  (4)  (6)

1. Our position is clearly tied to the next election, if we get a DFL Governor and the DFL holds control in the legislature, we will clearly decrease Minnesota's standings via tax increases.

2. This may or may not be true and is also tied to the election outcome. Blaming the media for our negative business rating is quite lame.

 3. Just how are you going to do that? This is going to be even more difficult rural areas considering the "Brain Drain" that is escalating in out state Minnesota thanks to you central planners.

 4.  While alternative energy sources have great potential, I don't believe for a second that Minnesota's legislature or bureaucrats have any idea of how to help.

While I do support your speakers chastising of Tom Dooher and Educate Minnesota, he stops short of asking the important question, where are they getting more money than a political party to hammer us with pro union propaganda? He is also dead wrong on how we feel about schools, we do want them to change back to local control and decision making.

Wayne Jennings  (5)  (4)  (10)  (8)

Terry Stone  (4)  (5)  (8)  (2)

While Minnesota is not without economic assets, it is disadvantaged in a number of ways:

    * The Metro area is a conduit for costly social planning schemes that are endlessly arriving from the liberal east and west coasts. The Metro area is a cistern of social deficiency, academic failure and criminal behavior. It is no coincidence that the only two states with a budget surplus in 2009 were Wyoming and North Dakota; neither state suffers the burden of a large metropolitan area.

    * Minnesota is not among the 22 Right To Work states while, North Dakota, South Dakota and Iowa are; we have a handicap.

    * Large tracks of Minnesota land are sequestered in three federal entities. This land is of little economic value to the state of Minnesota.

    * The 40,000 jobs of the Minnesota forest industry what is left of a far more productive period that saw less bureaucracy and a more sensible balance between environmental and economics interests in the state.

    * Minnesota's cost of delivering public services is considerably more expensive that Wisconsin, Iowa South Dakota and North Dakota. This is an artifact of ineffective, inefficient and bloated state government.

    * While Minnesota has kicked the budgetary deficit down the road for two consecutive years, many other states have eliminated taxes on businesses and made real and substantial gains to provide a sustainable balance between wants, needs, income and expenditures.

    * Environmental interests, their MPCA copilots and their DFL legislative copilots are successfully blocking the development of the Duluth Complex-- the worlds largest undeveloped copper, nickel and platinum group metals (PGM) deposit. Projects in the

pipeline are Polymet and Nokomis, but five years of bureaucratic stonewalling has created a poor world-wide reputation in mining capital markets.

 Media reports of state economic problems are consistently understated. The generally liberal media supports LRT, publicly financed stadiums, innumerable social welfare programs funded by the roughly half of productive Minnesotans who put more into the state budget than they receive. In general, the media have not taken a responsible leadership role in providing budgetary adult supervision to a state engaged in a protracted spending binge. Trends in state spending are not sustainable and until this fact becomes part of the media paradigm the spending problem will be worse than commonly portrayed.  Minnesota is in worse shape than we think.

 Efforts to portray alternative energy as a job juggernaut are badly misdirected. Diffused, subsidized, inefficient and intermittent energy sources are ultimately less efficient than free-market centralized continuous power sources. At best, alternative energy shifts jobs from traditional energy employment patterns.  Any actual increase in the number of jobs adds to the cost of alternative energy. Higher energy costs from any source has the same impact as a tax increase on economic activity; it's a job killer.

The characterization of Minnesota's economy varies with the vicissitudes of the political wind. It is to the advantage of the minority party to blame the majority party for all ills and it is best that those be both large and plentiful. The majority party has no one to blame but themselves; unless the Governor happens to be from a different party. An objective inventory of the state's economic assets require more than a casual appraisal.

Paul and Ruth Hauge  (6)  (6)  (8)  (8)    

Chuck Slocum

Dan…I appreciated your recent insights on Minnesota’s economy offered to the Civic Caucus.    You have served Minnesota well in a number of capacities.   The next years of management of our state government will be challenging and most important.

Kent Eklund  (5)  (5)  (8)  (8)

I really don't know how we compare to other states.  There seems to be a very mixed set of indicators, but I don't know how much they are caused by the national turmoil and how much they are specific to Minnesota.  We are more integrated into the national and global markets than even 10 years ago.  It sometimes makes me wonder if it makes any sense at all of use the phrase, "the Minnesota economy"?

Bright Dornblaser  (8)  (8)  (10)  (10)

Scott Halstead  (7.5)  (5)  (10)  (2.5)

Competitive position: We may be over relying upon medical device firms as health care and payment is reformed. 

Energy: Energy conservation would better serve Minnesota.

Mary Merrill Anderson  (7.5)  (5)  (10)  (10)

Travis Bunch  (7.5)  (5)  (10)  (10)

Competitive position: MN is positioned well because of a strong workforce, quality of life and diverse clusters, but factors that impact the bottom line (costs of doing business / permitting and regulations) are making it more difficult to attract and retain businesses. 

Energy: The green economy is a ever-growing industry and MN should be in a strong position to capitalize on this growth.  Especially in the metro, its great to see Mayors Rybak and Coleman work together to develop a marketing effort around it.  I believe there leadership on this issue will payoff.

Terry Joos  (2.5)  (2.5)  (5)  (2.5)

Impressions: This economy has seen not only loss of jobs. But loss of companies. These jobs will not comeback, they need to be replaced.  Health care expenses: Health care is one of our growth industries. Creating more jobs will not happen without expansion of benefits. 

Energy: New technologies have to be approached with skepticism. They have not proved anything yet. I would urge caution. We need to do our due diligence.

Bob Brown  (7.5)  (10)  (10)  (10)

Malcolm Mc Donald  (7.5)  (7.5)  (7.5)  (7.5)

Competitive position: Workforce faces tough times due to k - 12 failing to encourage students to want careers in technology, engineering, machine tool, mechanical, electrical, plumbing and carpenter careers.  We suffer from too many young people not in school and political leaders turning the other way. 

Impressions: Too many wealthy people who could invest in Minnesota have given up residency and focused on expanding the economy of other states. 

Health care expenses: We fail to understand the need to look at how employees in health care actually spend their time.  Is it really necessary?  Is there a better way? Do we focus on the patient? 

Energy: We focus on the short run and not on the long run.  We need to make long term investments, decades in length, not months.

Duane Hayes  (7.5)  (5)  (10)  (7.5)

Dave Broden  (10)  (10)  (5)  (7.5)

Competitive position: I strongly agree with the statement and the rationale; however the communication of this status is not done well by either government or business. Far too many businesses leave Mn, far too many expand elsewhere, and there is almost no leadership expression of why companies should come to Mn or stay in Mn. If we have advantages let's use them not ride on the wind of success. 

Impressions: True; but who is the cause--politics yes--business yes perhaps not selling why Mn--labor --yes for variety of reasons. There is also a strange sense in the media recently that Mn economy is only metro and perhaps a bit of Rochester to St.

Cloud. Duluth and the iron range is our 3rd largest city--or has the media forgotten the largest inland seaport etc. And agriculture and derivatives remain real economic engines but there seems to be little comment. In fact some say ag is no longer a significant component--I ask since when.? 

Health care expenses: This statement is true but not unique to Mn. This is a national problem and issue. Yes we can move ahead with health care but almost a independent variable in the equation of business and economic growth for any one individual state. 

Energy: Alternate and Renewable energy certainly is one of the growth areas. We need to seek to maintain the diversity of high tech and related business.

Anonymous  (2.5)  (0)  (10)  (0)

Competitive position: Taxes and unfriendly laws are driving business from MN. There is a growing portion of the population that does not produce anything. 

Impressions: Real wealth is down and this will hurt job creation in the future. Taxes are rising. Government is the only growth engine.....that should scare you. Look at the new buildings, government or non-profit. 

Health care expenses: Allow small businesses to pool together. Allow competition amongst carriers. Repeal Obamacare before too late. 

Energy: Are you kidding. Even with a 90% gov't subsidy, solar still takes 5 years to reach a payback. Wind power is worse. Nuclear would be better.

Dennis L. Johnson  (7.5)  (7.5)  (10)  (5)

John Baerg  (7.5)  (2.5)  (10)  (10)

Vici Oshiro  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)

Carol Becker  (7.5)  (0)  (10)  (5)

Competitive position: We are better off than a lot of states because of a diverse economic base. 

Impressions: It is brutal out there and the media seems to be reflecting it pretty accurately. 

Health care expenses: One of the things that bugs me is that no one makes a connection between the Mayo Clinic's strong ability to control health care costs and creating a viable economic climate.  Controlled health care costs could be one of our advantages if we could take what Mayo does and apply it throughout the rest of the state.

David Johnson  (2.5)  (0)  (10)  (0)

Impressions: As long as Minnesota remains a top dispenser and disperser of welfare and other assistance we will not have a a viable economy. Individuals and families relocate to Minnesota to take advantage of the giveaways, draining the economy rather than contributing to it. 

Energy: Wind energy is not the answer for Minnesota, there are too many issues that the public is not being made aware of in the realm of human and livestock health risks. One need only look at studies from Europe that demonstrate the adverse impact of blade flash, noise, and stray voltage.

Peter Hennessey  (5)  (5)  (0)  (0)

Competitive position: I have very little knowledge about the business climate in MN. 

Impressions: I have very little knowledge about the business climate in MN. But I doubt

that the Obama Kool Aid drinking media would do much in the way of bad-mouthing His Majesty's miraculous recovery. 

Health care expenses: Substitute anything -- cost of food, shelter, fuel, iPads or antiques -- to see how stupid this line of argument is. Health care expenses are rising in proportion to the amount of money being thrown at the problem. There is a principle in marketing, "don't leave money on the table." It means that you accept whatever more the customer is willing to you. So now we MANDATE that everyone throw even more money at the health care and health insurance industries. PLUS we establish multitudes of new State and federal bureauracies to enforce all the new regulations. What, you expect them to do all that for free? Direct and indirect costs will skyrocket, due to decreased competition, increased taxes, and runaway inflation. God help us all, this bunch of loonies will destroy the country, not by incompetence but by design. 

Energy: WHAT alternatives? In the absence of government subsidies (that is, money extorted from one class of taxpayers and given to another class), ALL solar, wind and whatever else sources of "alternate" or "green" energy sources are LOSERS, they don't make economic or environmental sense. The ROI is measured in decades, not years or months. Windmills wipe out the birds, solar panels cover precious land. We have HUGE oil and gas reserves in the Rockies, but the feds won't let us tap them. We could go nuclear (no "greenhouse" gases, no mountains of poisonous wastes), and have abundant clean energy forever, but the enviro-nazis won't let us proceed. They ridicule "clean coal," totally ignoring the technology that can scrub the smoke clean if done at the source. They have us classify CO2 as a pollutant, totally ignoring the biological fact that plants need CO2 in the air to grow and make food for all creatures farther up the food chain. And they force us into ever more repressive, destructive reductions in living standards in the name of "saving" the planet, totally ignoring the fact that one good volcanic eruption wipes out decades of gains in reducing pollutants released by human activity.   So going green will be good for the economy? Look at Spain, where each new green job has cost two jobs elsewhere.

Robert Freeman  (0)  (7.5)  (10)  (7.5)

Competitive position: Yes, if it does more to both attract business and then to keep it here. 

Impressions: Depends what you read. 

Health care expenses: Strongly, strongly agree.  The first state that manages to get control of health care costs is going to enjoy an insurmountable advantage over its neighbors.  Minnesota should be that state - we need to strive for it as a goal and business needs to stay engaged to keep policymakers focused on that goal.  Energy: Nuclear should be part of this equation. 

Energy costs are beginning to become as important as health care costs, especially to manufacturing and other heavy industry.

Ken Smart  (7.5)  (10)  (7.5)  (7.5)

Competitive position: I would put emphasis on PRODUCTIVE work force more than strong.  The truth is that Minnesota workers employed by non-government entities tend

to produce more work per day than many other states - this is true for both hourly and professional workers.  Unfortunately, the same does not hold true for government workers so I strongly support the goal of reducing the states cost of delivering services on a per unit basis. 

Impressions: Minnesota consistently has a lower unemployment rate lower than the national average.  We have a much higher Fortune 500 base per capita than other states.  Our standard of living is much higher than national average.  Yet most woiuld think that Minnesota is an economic laggard based on media reports. 

Health care expenses: This is all relative - and an issue for all states 

Energy: Minnesota is better positioned as a supplier to alternative energy providers more so than being a source of alternative energy.  Our climate is not nearly as conducive as other states in providing wind, solar or wave power.

John Sievert  (7.5)  (7.5 ) (5)  (5)

Competitive position: I'm in the tech business - in semiconductors.  We've found that many companies have been bought or closed and there has been little to replace them. In point of fact, I don't think it's been years since a notable startup began in MN in the electronics industry.  From the place that is the birthplace of the supercomputer, Honeywell, Sperry/Unisys, and others - our tech economy is shell of what it once was.  These are all high paying, high value, white collar jobs.  The loss of this represents a significant cause of the lose of real income for

Anonymous  (2.5)  (5)  (10)  (2.5)

Anonymous  (2.5)  (0)  (2.5)  (5)

Bob White  (7.5)  (7.5)  (10)  (7.5)

Anonymous  (5)  (5)  (7.5)  (7.5)

Anonymous  (10)  (0)  (10)  (0)

Greg Dahl  (10)  (7.5)  (10)  (10)

Warren Strandell  (2.5)  (0)  (7.5)  (0)

Energy: With only from 3 to 6 percent of all CO2 entering the atmosphere attributed to human activity (based on 2 different studies) and with only 1/3 of that from coal-fired power plants our focus is all wrong. Sure, keep the heat on coal-burning power plants to reduce and control emissions but don't try to lay all of the blame on the on them for the almost insignificant 1 to 2 percent of the CO2 going into the atmosphere that they generate. To make any headway on global warming (if indeed it is not cyclical), we need to plant trees and grow crops, etc. Higher cost green power won't generate economic growth.



The Civic Caucus   is a non-partisan, tax-exempt educational organization.   The Core participants include persons of varying political persuasions, reflecting years of leadership in politics and business. Click here  to see a short personal background of each.

   Verne C. Johnson, chair;  David Broden, Charles Clay, Marianne Curry, Bill Frenzel, Paul Gilje,  Jim Hetland,  Marina Lyon, Joe Mansky, John Mooty,  Jim Olson,  and Wayne Popham 

The Civic Caucus, 01-01-2008
8301 Creekside Circle #920,   Bloomington, MN 55437.
Verne C. Johnson, chair, 952-835-4549,       Paul A. Gilje, coordinator, 952-890-5220.

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