Border battles (5×8 – 1/24/11)

Business and the border states, you’ve reached the end of the Internet, the lost blizzard film, the Wind and Mr. Ug, and are you a narcissist?

Another Monday. Another Rouser:


The question of whether to cut taxes to businesses to create jobs in Minnesota surfaces on two fronts today.

First, Forum Communications takes a look at the “twin-Davids” in the David-and-Goliath war between Minnesota and the Dakotas. The Legislature is about to tackle its flagship bill, which cuts regulations to make it easier for businesses to expand.

“You may not be able to quantify the numbers, but the reality is it is happening,” said Rep. Dan Fabian, R-Roseau, told the newspaper chain.

Is it? Another paragraph:

No one keeps track of how many businesses are moving west, or to any other state for that matter. But so far in the young legislative session the main thrust has been to help Minnesota businesses, with an eye toward keeping them in the state, helping them expand and attracting new ones.

Meanwhile, in the Star Tribune, Neal St. Anthony advocates for the abolition of the corporate income tax. Minnesota’s is 9.8 percent, but that figure is a joke because over the years, politicians have created plenty of loopholes for the well-connected.

The corporate tax raises $1.6 billion of the state’s $59.2 billion fiscal 2010-11 budget. However, it’s estimated that the state loses hundreds of millions annually through all the exemptions, ranging from breaks for insurance companies, to accelerated depreciation for the purchase of certain capital equipment, to deals for locating in state-targeted rural areas and foreign earnings exemptions.

Where’s all the data? Why isn’t someone collecting the data to show how much business is leaking across the border? For example, South Dakota’s unemployment rate is lower than Minnesota’s, true, but the state’s labor force has dropped by 2,000 people over the last year, even as more people have gotten jobs. But Minnesota’s labor force has declined too.

“I’m not saying taxes don’t matter, but you have to look at the full picture,” Economist Art Rolnick told MPR during last fall’s campaign. “Over all these years when this debate has gone on, Minnesota’s economy has done quite well.”

Minnesota’s Department of Employment and Economic Development also doesn’t keep any data on jobs created by companies moving in to Minnesota.

What we apparently do know is how many legislators on both sides of the tax issue will be guessing when debate on the measures open. All of them.

Meanwhile, a survey out today says businesses have more hiring plans than at any time in the last decade.


We’ve reached the end of the Internet. Early on February 2nd, Mashable reports, the world will run out of IP addresses, the numbers that are assigned to each Internet address. It’s being called the “IPcalypse.” But a new system is already in place, according to Geek 101. The question is: Will there be a smooth transition? If not, we can easily solve the problem by taking down all Web sites dedicated to peoples’ cats.

More tech: A woman won a ton of money from Apple. When Apple called to tell her, she thought it was a telemarketer, said she wasn’t interested, and hung up. Fortunately, they called back.


A man found a cannister of 35mm film after last month’s blizzard in New York, and is trying to find the rightful owner. The sad part? There will be few tales in the future having to do with 35mm film.


Today’s discussion: What’s the metaphorical message?

5) ARE YOU A NARCISSIST?’s swell new quiz. I scored minus 239 million, by the way.


By tradition, Democrats and Republicans sit in separate sections at the State of the Union speech. But there is a movement to abandon that tradition this year. What parts of the State of the Union ritual would you like to see change?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: A new book on higher education shows more than a third of college students showed no significant improvements in learning over four years of schooling, while 45 percent showed little statistical improvement in performance by their sophomore year.

Second hour: The digital age is easy to idealize. We get information (and misinformation) faster, we make new connections overnight and we shop, work and socialize from a keyboard. But are we losing something that makes us individuals? Have we lost the right to retain a private persona and still compete in this new age?

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: The new DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr answers questions about wildlife, parks, water, forests, mining and more.

Second hour: The Commonwealth Club’s annual economic forecast, presented by Tom Campbell, business professor at the University of California and a former congressman

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: First reports on a crisis or tragedy often get important facts wrong, and the shooting in Tucson was no exception. Mistaken reports of the congresswoman’s death proliferated at the speed of wireless — and so, later, did the apologies. What does it mean to get the story right.. and what happens, when you don’t.

Second hour: President Obama finds himself in a bit of a dilemma, says writer Stephen

Carter. He ran as a peace candidate, but wound up as a war president. And, Carter concludes that, he fights to win, and that there’s nothing wrong with that.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – The Central Corridor project is coming in way under budget. Small businesses who feel that their concerns have been ignored during the planning process are asking the project to use some of the contingency money to help them stay in business. MPR’s Laura Yuen will have the story.

Marty Moylan says Supervalu is struggling as WalMart and Target and even Menards offer expand their grocery offerings. The company’s East Coast stores are hurting, and reducing the choices available in Twin Cities stores as the company tries to trim its financial sails.

U.S. House Republicans have vowed to dismantle the federal health care law piece by piece. And it’s likely that a provision that requires businesses in 2012 to report certain transactions to the IRS could be one of the first to go. The reporting requirement was designed to raise revenue to help pay for covering the uninsured. But opponents say the change will result in administrative headaches for companies, particularly small businesses. MPR’s Elizabeth Stawicki will have details.