The economic war between the states (5×8 – 12/4/12)

Are subsidies and incentives worth much, the last prom in Onamia, Mr. Johnson’s opus, we’re more preoccupied with our phones than each other, and Love unplugged.


Minnesota’s subsidies and incentives to business cost each person $45, according to an investigation of subsidies by the New York Times released this week. That’s nothing compared to Wisconsin, where subsidies cost each person $268. Most of Minnesota’s subsidies are waivers or sales tax rebates. About half of them are corporate tax breaks. Best Buy was the biggest recipient in Minnesota.

Only three states don’t offer subsidies of some form or another to businesses.

In today’s third installment, the paper looks at Michigan, where efforts to attract the film industry have cost the state’s millions with questionable results. The Times also reported that Michael Moore, certainly a critic of big business, got $841,000 from taxpayers for a film effort.

Businesses have gotten good at chasing the incentives and playing states off each other.

A Times investigation has examined and tallied thousands of local incentives granted nationwide and has found that states, counties and cities are giving up more than $80 billion each year to companies. The beneficiaries come from virtually every corner of the corporate world, encompassing oil and coal conglomerates, technology and entertainment companies, banks and big-box retail chains.

The cost of the awards is certainly far higher. A full accounting, The Times discovered, is not possible because the incentives are granted by thousands of government agencies and officials, and many do not know the value of all their awards. Nor do they know if the money was worth it because they rarely track how many jobs are created. Even where officials do track incentives, they acknowledge that it is impossible to know whether the jobs would have been created without the aid.

But this is not a new thing. In 1996, Minnesota Public Radio produced a similar investigation, “The Economic War Among The States,” that looked at the winners and losers when cities and states empty coffers to attract business.

The effort included a national conference on the issue in Washington that brought some of the leading experts to figure out a more rational way of attracting business. Times were good then, but the experts warned that the spending would diminish resources for other government endeavors. They turned out to be right.

More giveaways: What’s the biggest tax break in the tax code in the U.S.? Your health care benefits.


Last month, doctors told told Deonna Day on Onamia not to expect to live for more than a few more weeks. But she’s 13-years-old and wanted to go to a prom. So her community threw her a prom.


For 32 years, Daryl Johnson has been conducting the choirs at Two Harbors High School and the community choir.

“Daryl Johnson is one of the all-time greats in choral music … and Two Harbors was blessed to have a true legend in choral music investing his life into literally thousands of students who were a part of his choirs at Two Harbors High School,” Don Moen tells the Duluth News Tribune.

Moen has gone on to become a bigshot in the Christian music industry and has recorded O Have Ye Not Known, a standard of Johnson’s concerts in honor of the maestro.

O Have Ye Not Known / Good Christian Men Rejoice (Medley)

Proceeds from Moen’s CD will fund scholarships for Two Harbors kids pursuing careers in music.

More teaching: By all accounts, Kim Cook of Florida is the kind of teacher every parent wants for their kids. She was recently chosen as her school’s teacher of the year. So why is she rated “unsatisfactory?” Because politicians came up with a formula that determines how much a teacher adds to a student’s performance.

(h/t: Mary Turck)


If you were paying attention to the controversy over whether a football halftime show was the proper place to bring up the issue of gun control, you might’ve missed the invitation for a thoughtful discussion from a football player on how we relate to each other on a daily basis.

“Thank you, Brady Quinn,” the Boston Globe says today.

(h/t: Than Tibbetts)

Related: As troubles at home simmered, Chiefs tried to help Jovan Belcher. (Kansas City Star)


Kevin Love is doing his coat-drive thing… and apparently so much more.

Bonus I: Why is The Hobbit making some moviegoers sick (This Week).

Bonus II: How tall can a Lego tower get? (BBC)

Bonus III: A man is pushed to his death in the New York subway. Should a newspaper have published a picture of it?


After the defeat of the amendment to ban same-sex marriage in Minnesota, some advocates are beginning to organize an effort to make such marriages legal. Today’s Question: Is it time to legalize same-sex marriage in Minnesota?


Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: With no presidential re-election on the line and a divided Congress, President Obama and Republicans are struggling to find a solution to the fiscal cliff, and talks of capping deductions and/or eliminating some are on the table. What deductions or types of caps should seriously be in the mix and make the final “grand bargain”?

Second hour: This year’s Washington Monthly College Guide and Rankings asks: “Are we getting the most for our money?” Editors at the magazine have called for a new kind of college ranking, in which factors such as cost, accountability and productivity are taken into account.

Third hour: The NFL and domestic violence.

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): A debate from the Intelligence Squared series: Should we legalize drugs?

Talk of the Nation (1-2 p.m.) – An exit interview with Sen. Joe Lieberman.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – British composer Edward Elgar wrote his renowned Cello Concerto just after World War I. Now, American cellist Alisa Weilerstein has recorded her interpretation of it, and critics say it’s among the best renditions ever.

  • Kevin Watterson

    If my phone is interfering with human relationships, why have I received so many kind words from people in the past week that I have never met in person?

  • Bob Collins

    Because they don’t really mean it, kevin. I’m kidding. I’m kidding.