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ENEWS: Renewing Minnesota Exceptionalism, Inequality Peaking Again, Happy New Year!

Date Published: 12/28/2018

Author: Dane Smith

Take the Lead With Us, in Renewing Minnesota’s Exceptionalism

We were  honored when distinguished Star Tribune columnist Lori Sturdevant, in her last column before her retirement, literally gave us the last word on how to preserve and renew Minnesota’s exceptional communitarian spirit.   She quoted Growth & Justice President Emeritus Dane Smith, who said: "The degree to which we embrace (diversity and immigrants) will determine whether we can sustain Minnesota’s quality of life indefinitely."   Please donate before Dec. 31,  if you have not already, and help us continue to lead in renewing our state’s traditional preference for equity and community and progressive reform.    We are working on  a uniquely ambitious set of policy proposals that would do just that.   In our latest  2018 Progress Report,  Growth & Justice President Jane Leonard earnestly urges Minnesotans to unite around “a first ever statewide socioeconomic contract, fully integrating equity as the superior growth model.’’   The report provides rich detail about our comprehensive and high-minded effort to create a “One Minnesota Equity Blueprint” for the next generation of policy-makers and community leaders, as well as specific initial priorities for the new governor and Legislature in 2019 and 2020.   Bridging our rural-metro differences, relentlessly attacking racial and socio-economic disparities, and accelerating climate action will be at the center of this manifesto.   We’ve spent a lot of our reserve funds in 2018 on community engagement and issue research to gather Equity Blueprint wisdom statewide, so  our coffers are running low, and we urgently need more financial support to generate the advocacy and communications necessary to continue this vital work and broadcast its clarion call to action.    The winds and tides are in our favor and we must take advantage now.   Minnesotans are more receptive than ever to the idea that our future depends on investing in ALL our human potential, upgrading our public infrastructure, and taking better care of the precious natural environment in our beloved North Star State.   It’s easy to contribute on our website.  If you haven’t donated in the past, now is the time.   If you’ve invested in us before, it’s time to double down. Invite your friends with a heart for shared progress to donate, too. Help expand the Growth & Justice giving circle.  Together we will make the case that all forms of social justice – racial, regional, and environmental – are the best path to sustainable and shared economic growth.   We thank you deeply for all the others ways you are making a positive difference, and we wish you a Happy New Year!

Inequality Reasserting Itself

Slow but steady economic growth and declining unemployment since the Great Recession of 2008-09 might be taking some of the edge off concerns about overall economic inequality.   But according to Chart #1 in the  "Top charts of 2018”  by the Economic Policy Institute, the upward march of inequality is reasserting itself, with the top 0.1 percent making 343 percent more than it did in 1979, compared to cumulative gains of just 22 percent for the bottom 90 percent over those 38 years.  The other charts are instructive too.    We recommend a close look at #2 (showing 1 percenters in Minnesota making 21 times as much as the average for everyone else), #6 (showing how a minimum wage of $12.67 in 2017 would have lifted millions of African-Americans and Latinos out of poverty), # 10 (showing how, despite some progress on some indicators, our nation has a long way to go on racial inequality),   and #11 (showing sharp divergence between Minnesota and Wisconsin and indicating that progressive policies produce broader prosperity than conservative policies).  More recent actions in Washington D.C.  and especially the recent tax-cut bonanza for top-income earners, likely will accelerate inequality trends.    Jitters about the inevitable economic downturn happening sooner rather than later add urgency to our cause.    All the more reason to double down on equity as the overriding key principle for public policy in 2019.


“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.  Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world…Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody's ever made before. Don't freeze, don't stop, don't worry that it isn't good enough, or it isn't perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life…Make your mistakes, next year and forever.” – Neil Gaiman,  author of short fiction, novels, comic books, graphic novels, audio theatre, and films. 

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