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 Response Page - Stinson  Interview -      

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


Minnesota State Economist Tom Stinson gives the Civic Caucus an introduction to the topic of economic growth in the context of the state's present situation and longer-term outlook. He discusses the available tools for economic intervention, the relative merits of short-term versus long-term thinking regarding growth, and the limits of government to directly create jobs. Suggestions for creating a hospitable business climate are discussed including, but going beyond, tax policy

For the complete interview summary see:

Response Summary:  Readers have been asked to rate, on a scale of (0) most disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) most agreement, the following points discussed by Mr. Stinson.  Average response ratings shown below are simply the mean of all readers’ zero-to-ten responses to the ideas proposed and should not be considered an accurate reflection of a scientifically structured poll.

1. Opt for long-term strategies. (8.8 average response) Instead of seeking immediate, short-term results, the Minnesota governor and Legislature should adopt strategies that produce economic growth in the long-term.

2. Limited tools thwart short-term stimulus efforts. (7.5 average response) Because of limited available tools, state government efforts to stimulate short-term economic growth aren't likely to succeed.

3. Avoid selective benefits. (8.8 average response) The state should avoid strategies that favor one activity or business over another without yielding overall economic growth.

4. Support metallurgical research. (6.7 average response) More metallurgical research should be supported because of potential growth of Minnesota' mining industry.

5. Provide incentives for trained workers. (4.4 average response) Because of a coming shortage of trained, homegrown workers, Minnesota should offer incentives for workers in other states to locate here.


Response Distribution:

Strongly disagree

Moderately disagree


Moderately agree

Strongly agree

Total Responses

1. Opt for long-term strategies.







2. Limited tools thwart short-term stimulus efforts.







3. Avoid selective benefits.







4. Support metallurgical research.







5. Provide incentives for trained workers.







Individual Responses:

Larry Schluter  (10)  (6)  (8)  (8)  (8)

R. C. Angevine  (7.5)  (7.5)  (10)  (7.5)  (5)

1. Opt for long-term strategies. I think that the major emphasis needs to be placed on longer term planning while some effort is also devoted to doing whatever possible to assist with short term goals in job development and training programs.

3. Avoid selective benefits. Absolutely.

5. Provide incentives for trained workers. I would prefer to see the money spent on development of home grown training programs and initiatives that lead to job development and placement programs in state.

W. D. (Bill) Hamm  (7.5)  (10)  (7.5)  (7.5)  (5)

1. Opt for long-term strategies. While the concept is great, our legislature is focused on immediate gratification and immediate political gain.

2. Limited tools thwart short-term stimulus efforts. Few of these legislators have a clue what economic development is, and even fewer have ever created a job other than public sector employment that undermines private economic development.

3. Avoid selective benefits. Farm and energy subsidies are prime examples of failed strategies that need to be eliminated.

4. Support metallurgical research. Sadly we have a tendency to do this research and give it away to industry. We need industry to be paying for this benefit.

5. Provide incentives for trained workers. Minnesota needs to prioritize fixing its education system by returning power to the people, its owners.

Debby Frenzel  (7.5)  (7.5)  (10)  (7.5)  (2.5)

Pat Barnum  (7.5)  (2.5)  (10)  (5)  (0)

1. Opt for long-term strategies. Long-term strategies are vitally important for the future health of the state. However, while the Titanic was sinking was not the time to develop plans to store more life preservers and boats on board the next ship. If we don't get Government out of the way of real economic growth and let the free market make its adjustments, the choices for the future are going to be very limited and much different than can be imagined today.

2. Limited tools thwart short-term stimulus efforts. It's not "tools" and more government that can cure what ails us. In fact, the state gets in the way of this. Businesses will not expand and grow here when at each turn it seems there is more and more roadblocks to success being put in front of them.

5. Provide incentives for trained workers. The only incentives for workers to move here should be that we have great jobs here. And that can only be offered by the free market, not the State.

Chris Brazelton  (7.5)  (10)  (10)  (7.5)  (5)

1. Opt for long-term strategies. I am strongly in favor of long term, visionary planning.  In the short term, the economy will not improve until people have jobs. Companies won't hire people until there is greater demand for the goods and services they produce.  People won't buy more goods and services if they don't have money.  Short terms projects can put money into the economy to end the downward spiral and jump-start the economy.  Also, it also helps to have consumer confidence; all the trash-talking, finger pointing, doom and gloom predictions that have taken over so much of our political environment keeps consumer confidence low.  We shouldn't rack up credit card bills spending what we don't have, but we can spend what we have if we are confident that we'll have enough left over for tomorrow.  I am also concerned that our strategies be in producing living wage jobs, for several reasons.  Recently there a facility that produces snowmobiles lamented that they have a shortage of workers due to a lack of low-income housing in the area.  Most low-income housing is supported by tax dollars, but politically we don't want to raise taxes to pay for it.  Other tax dollars are spent providing other supports to the working poor, including Medical Assistance, food support, child care assistance, etc.  We can't produce successful businesses that succeed because of lower wage workers without the other side of the coin in that low-wage workers need additional supports that are paid for via tax dollars.

2. Limited tools thwart short-term stimulus efforts. Precisely because of our budget constraints.

3. Avoid selective benefits. Shifting money from one activity to another is just a shell game.  It makes us look like we're doing something.  The only time I favor this idea is if there is another goal to be attained, i.e. shifting support away from carbon based fuel production and towards clean energy.

4. Support metallurgical research. I agree with the contept of investing our research into potential growth areas.  I am not an expert on this industry.

5. Provide incentives for trained workers. I believe our incentives should primarily be in the form of educating our youth and adult displaced workers.

Ray Ayotte  (10)  (5)  (7.5)  (7.5)  (7.5)

Bruce A. Lundeen  (7.5)  (7.5)  (10)  (7.5)  (10)

3. Avoid selective benefits. The State should not favor one activity or business over another.

4. Support metallurgical research. The whole idea is make, grow, and mine things, and distribute them at prices people will pay.

5. Provide incentives for trained workers. Asking the question shows the wholesale inadequacy of our post secondary education system, or the lack of motivation of our own people.  Perhaps better to ship the jobs overseas.

Anonymous   (10)  (10)  (10)  (5)  (0)

Vici Oshiro  (10)  (7.5)  (10)  (7.5)  (7.5)

David G. Dillon  (10)  (10)  (10)  (0)  (0)

Dennis L. Johnson  (10)  (7.5)  (7.5)  (7.5)  (0)

1. Opt for long-term strategies. Absolutely - today's fad is tomorrow’s political scandal.

3. Avoid selective benefits. The State should avoid getting into betting on outcomes - let the private sector do that; it does it better.

4. Support metallurgical research. Is it really research that is needed? The state of Minnesota's mining industry is determined most of all by the price of metals on the market. Any research should be done by potential investors, not State agencies.

5. Provide incentives for trained workers. How about more incentives for home-grown workers to get a higher education, by means of lower tuition at our state colleges? This will avoid immigration of people with non-Minnesota values.

Don Anderson  (7.5)  (5)  (10)  (5)  (7.5)

1. Opt for long-term strategies. Can looking at future long-term economic growth, when politicians are more interested in future elections, be possible?

5. Provide incentives for trained workers. Unless we have the resources to train more homegrown workers we need to offer incentives to out-state workers.

Peter Hennessey  (2.5)  (7.5)  (10)  (2.5)  (5)

1. Opt for long-term strategies. It is not the governor's or the legislature's job to do anything like this. It is their job to make sure the cost and impact of government is minimal and does not represent a burden on the people or an obstacle to growth.

2. Limited tools thwart short-term stimulus efforts. See 1.

3. Avoid selective benefits. See 1.  It is not the government's job to pick winners and losers. When government does that, we no longer have free enterprise, we have fascism.

4. Support metallurgical research. No. It is not the government's job to support research. It is the industry's job to support the research they need to bring a better product to market.

5. Provide incentives for trained workers. Well, it depends on what you mean by "incentives."  No, if you mean special financial aid or special tax breaks. That's unfair to workers already residing in the state.  Yes, if you mean a better tax and regulatory climate than other states offer.

Anonymous   (7.5)  (5)  (10)  (5)  (5)

Amanda Giliotti  (10)  (10)  (10)  (5)  (2.5)

1. Opt for long-term strategies. Yes, we should think long term. Infrastructure is important.  Building the light rail to more cities. Concentrating on the future. Being more green in thinking.

2. Limited tools thwart short-term stimulus efforts. Short-term thinking never works out in the long run.

3. Avoid selective benefits. It is just like moving money from one pocket to another pocket... no growth has been produced.  I think tax rates will bait new companies into the state.  I'm asked about our corporate tax rate often when people are trying to decide where to open a new company up.  Also we should follow Wisconsin and give a reduced rate to those who are retired to stop the flight of our elderly to Florida, Texas, Nevada and Wisconsin.  I see lots of retired folks, with money, leaving our state in droves.  We could use their property tax and sales tax from purchases.  Instead we now have nothing.

4. Support metallurgical research. Tough to say whether our mining will really take off.  Lots of environmentalists in our state with deep pockets.  Our state has always been green-focused and mining doesn't really go with that train of thought.  If we could figure out… how to be less destructive in our mining then we might have a chance with it.

5. Provide incentives for trained workers. Tough to entice others to come here when we have plenty of Minnesotans out of work.  If we have a shortage of people in our state then this may make sense.  But I have always found that people flock to where the money is so if our state becomes known as the place to get a job they will come without enticements.

Sharon Anderson   (na)  (na)  (na)  (na)  (na)
LandLords vs. City St. Paul Magner will Break the City_ Disparate Impact Check it out

Jan Hively  (8)  (6)  (8)  (8)  (6)

I would broaden #5 to talk about incentives for workers from other countries.  For example, we should try to keep international students after they graduate in high tech fields.
It's great to know that there's a steady sense of direction from our State Economist.

Bert Press  (10)  (5)  (10)  (10)  (0)

Carolyn Ring  (5)  (4)  (9)  (10)  (7)

One of Pres. Nixon's plans that got lost in the "Watergate" debacle was to ask business and industry to predict future personnel needs in the next 10, 20 years and distribute those findings to Universities and colleges for their student counseling and training.

Al Quie  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (5)

Shari Prest  (9)  (7)  (7)  (na)  (4)

Jeff Forester  (10)  (10)  (8)  (0)  ()

Roger A. Wacek  (10)  (10)  (0)  (5)  (0)

The concept of economic growth is nonsense. [Want to] argue? Read the book "Oil, War & the Fate of Industrial Society". The issue is retaining some of the $20 billion dollars that leaves the state every year for energy; much of it for oil overseas. I'm on the steering committee for SE MN Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs), a group that is working on the economic development of local energy sources.

Chuck Lutz    (10)  (7)  (9)  (6)  (10)

John Milton  (10)  (7)  (8)  (10)  (0)

Too bad Pawlenty killed the State Planning Agency -- let's bring it back.  More $$ for K-12 and higher education will help MN grow its own trained (or re-trained) work force.

Bruce Lundeen  (na)  (na)  (na)  (na)  (na)

It seems to me the State economist could have said something about the effect of government spending on the State’s economy. Does he really think employers will relocate here because of the standard of living?  I thought we had been seeing employers relocate to lessen expenses for thirty years.

Robbie LaFleur  (na)  (na)  (na)  (na)  (na)

The Tom Stinson interview is a clearly-written tutorial on issues and choices facing policymakers.  It would be a great introductory piece for citizens who haven't followed state economic issues closely.  Thanks!  As soon as it is posted to the website, I'll tweet about it. Director,Legislative Reference Library 

Bernie Brommer  (10)  (5)  (10)  (8)  (0)

I remain convinced that past government efforts to invest in the education and training of the state's workforce and in the basic infrastructure of our communities was a sound and logical approach to the subject of economic development. In my opinion, our political fixation on casting Minnesota as a state with a bad business climate has as much to do with our decline as any other single factor.

Terry Stone  (10)  (10)  (10)  (5)  (5)

Mr. Stinson fully understands that government should not be in the business of picking winners and losers, yet he succumbs to the idea of offering incentives for trained workers in other states to locate here.

Rather than picking winners and losers in the skilled labor markets, the state needs to reward all productivity through tax policy that values and rewards productivity. Additionally, Minnesota will need to become a right-to-work state to allow Minnesota to compete successfully in the national skilled labor pool. The free markets will then be at liberty to reach skilled labor equilibrium and Minnesota will compete aggressively.

Wayne Jennings  (9)  (8)  (7)  (10)  (5)

David Detert  (10)  (9)  (10)  (8)  (8)

We shouldn't count on growth in the health care industry or investment in it to drive growth in the future.  We cannot continue to spend what we are on health care even with us baby boomers coming.  Our research should be in much broader areas to stimulate growth in the future.

Lyall Schwarzkopf  (9)  (8)  (8)  (8)  (6)

Fred Senn  (10)  (8)  (8)  (8)  (5)


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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