PolyMet hearings highlight our misdirected passion

Aaron J. Brown

Aaron J. Brown is an Iron Range blogger, author, radio producer and columnist for the Hibbing Daily Tribune.

The purpose of the meeting was to parse the language of a 2,000-page tome of geology, hydrology, chemistry and economics. That’s a tough sell. Even offered free donuts, average humans would duck a meeting of that description.

But this particular meeting on Jan. 16, 2014 — first of three hearings for the PolyMet Mining environmental impact statement — attracted nearly 1,500 people to the DECC ballroom in Duluth. Without donuts. Another hearing on the Iron Range last Wednesday, Jan. 22, drew between 500-800 people, according to various reports. No donuts there, either.

Many of the people weren’t really talking about the EIS. This was, at its deepest core, another salvo in a political and cultural war over mining, the people, the land, the water and the future of northern Minnesota. Battles waged over the creation of the BWCA, the collapse of the 1980s, the closure of LTV, were being fought again by the very same warriors, their sons and daughters. Everyone believes they’re fighting for the future of the region. Everyone believes they’re doing the right thing for our kids. But two sides whose disagreements seem diametrically opposed have formed; and shared goodwill for the future is not enough.

The reality is we are several years away from this new mining, if it happens at all. This is not a random opinion. This is a reasonable hypothesis. And while that does not diminish the importance of PolyMet or other nonferrous projects, it does put them in proper context.

But emotions are at the forefront. People use words like “our way of life.” That’s never a good sign. Here in Hibbing and in towns across the Iron Range, well-intentioned supporters of PolyMet dedicated time and resources to sending people in buses to the Duluth hearing. More local supporters drove over to the Aurora hearing. The big finale will occur at the last hearing this Tuesday, Jan. 28, in the Twin Cities.

Thousands of hours have been poured into a process that is likely headed toward a fatalistic conclusion; one outside our control, dictated by data and financing.

Meantime, our local Iron Range economy is in an immediate state of crisis. Downtown businesspeople I talk to across the Range tell me times are as bad now as ever. It’s not about the mines (which are doing very well); it’s about our population, our attitude and our willingness to work on what we *can* control.

Chuck Marohn is president of Strong Towns, a Brainerd-based nonprofit that helps small towns and regions all over America plan for a future when resources are limited. He says the Iron Range can’t let one project overshadow the work that needs to be done.

“The highest returning investments for any small town can be found in our existing neighborhoods,” said Marohn. “It is those little things we can do right now, with our current budgets, to make life better for the people who already live here. Things like planting a tree, painting a crosswalk or fixing a sidewalk. In our pursuit of the elusive big prize, we overlook all of the easy stuff we could be doing that would collectively have a major impact right now.”

Like me, Marohn is frustrated watching the attention local leaders pay the regulatory process on a big project like PolyMet, when obvious, solvable problems are all around.

“Sadly, our trickle down, big project approach robs us of more than our money,” said Marohn. “They steal our focus, our energy and our resourcefulness. I think a modern Iron Range leader could make a convincing case that the future is not in chasing these huge investments — projects that will come to us eventually — but in making Range cities strong and healthy places for people to live right now. That is a totally different approach, but one that would actually benefit real people in the present time.

“The mineral resources are locked underground,” Marohn continued. “God’s not likely to move them anytime soon. They only grow more valuable each day, but the clock is ticking on all our lives. Why we give away the store chasing rainbows while we ignore all the easy things we could be doing is bewildering.”

Bewildinging indeed. The economic reality on the Iron Range is decided more complex than “add mining jobs and prosper.” Many jobs in retail, service, mining and health care are available right now, but companies struggle to find local workers with the right qualifications. Our schools don’t offer the classes students need; our colleges are in a funding crisis. Meantime, workers in information-based, creative fields are frozen out; forced to Duluth, Minneapolis or further away. Small town institutions are failing; buildings are crumbling.

Few approach the planning of communities on the Iron Range with an eye toward creativity, welcoming others, and recognizing future trends in employment and technology. Basically, if it’s not something people in their late 50s understand, we don’t do it here. That’s a poisonous strategy for the future of the Range.

So, maybe “those crazy enviros” really are “out to get us,” or maybe the “big developers” are just going “to rob us and pollute our waters.” I’m more concerned that the Hibbing Winter Frolic won’t have a Queen or Titan of Taconite this year. Or that we can’t keep the indoor playground going at the Hibbing library. Or that the burned out gas station remains on main street in Nashwauk.

Why? Because those are things we can control, and things we can act on. And we aren’t doing anything about them. What are we waiting for?

Aaron J. Brown is an author and college instructor from northern Minnesota’s Iron Range. He writes the blog MinnesotaBrown.com and hosts the Great Northern Radio Show on Northern Community Radio. This post first appeared in the Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014 edition of the Hibbing Daily Tribune.

 

Comments

  1. Toni Wilcox says:

    Very well said, by you and Chuck Marohn. Seeing reports at the turn out at these meetings reminds me of the old line “don’t just do something, stand there!”

    typo or new coinage?- Bewildinging indeed.

  2. mike simpkins says:

    Thank you Aaron. Great analysis.

  3. Well done. I see this decline in my town, which is not quite on the Range. People are older, younger people have fewer babies. Lots and lots of people drive to Duluth or St. Paul to go shopping, and then the stores on the Range shrink or disappear even more quickly. A new mine might be a good thing, in the short run, as the report on the radio said it might be good for 20 years. But then what? Bust all over again? Trying to fix things with one or two new mines, that also bring potential problems, is kind of like trying to have a better environmental impact by putting up a huge array of solar energy collectors. But we forget that there is so much that can be done in our own homes to save energy at a relatively low cost: more insulation in the attic, covering our windows with better draperies when the sun is down, turning down the thermostat when we won’t be home. And more expensive fixes, but still reasonable: new windows and doors, new efficient furnaces and refrigerators, cleaner burning wood stoves, etc. Many small fixes like this make for an efficient home that is cozier. The things we might to do brighten and enliven our small cities would enhance our lives better than a big new mine on the east end of the Range. And, don’t forget, when you don’t shop local, the local stores will probably dissappear.

  4. Gene Ingelin says:

    The previous poster makes some valid points, however most of the folks that support mining know that mining is not the only answer. We need to attract business up here to and that has already started in many places on the range. Responsible logging, mining, and manufacturing needs to happen also. Most folks that live up here don’t live here because it’s a neat place for tourists. We live here because we love it and want to be stewards of the environment and also want to see economic growth.

  5. Steve Manninen says:

    I strongly agree with you. Just look at 2nd avenue in Virginia- its a getto. Virginia and the rest of the Range has changed. Its no longer safe to go out in the evening. Our elected reps have done nothing but dump cash into mining ventures. Polymet is 300 jobs. I am not for or against this but it starting to seem like a lot of work and time spent on the 300 jobs. I just hope they will be Union Jobs if they do happen.

  6. wayne johnson says:

    Wow! I guess I was wrong. I thought good paying, full-time jobs would be helpful, but I guess a Winter Frolic Queen and a Titan of Taconote are all we need up here…We locals just don’t get it, I guess.

  7. Check the bio, Wayne. I’m as local as they come. You’re missing the point. Communities that take care of their small problems, that create and develop new ideas on their own — those communities attract new jobs, create their own new jobs and grow — on their own. We don’t need a company to save us. We need to work on the fixable problems that exist all around us. This idea does not exclude mining, by the way.

  8. Its not that 300 good paying jobs wouldn’t help, but that the various communities and towns need stores, energy, arts, music, events, ingenuity, creativity, good schools, and zest to be back on an upward path. The base needs to be broadened to attract a variety of people, for example, staff at all levels for the hospitals and clinics. I’ve spent quite a bit of time looking at the help wanted websites for the Hibbing area in the medical field. There are scores of job openings, nurses, Pts, OTs, doctors, a,

  9. With all due respect Mr. Brown…you need to turn that frown upside down!! This is disheartening to say the least…Mr Brown indicates that this project is years away based not on a random opinion but his ‘reasonable hypothesis’ (defined by Webster as an explained phenomenon…not explained at all by Mr Brown) making it it, well…his random opinion. He goes on to state that the Iron Range is in an immediate state if crisis and that he is more concerned with the local coronation rather than good jobs. While reading his article I begin to wonder if we live on the same Iron Range?…I look around and see mining expansions, I see Joy Global, Delta Airlines, Blue Cross, Delta Dental, new Housing projects, big businesses, new medical clinics and more…I see a great area getting better, because of the people who are tirelessly working to make it that way. He also took a number to our local schools-the main reason I live here is so my kids can enjoy the small town schools we are privileged and blessed to enjoy. I hope that Mr Brown takes his own advice and plants a tree or fixes a sidewalk, perhaps it will help fix the one thing he truly can control…attitude. I am proud of our area and am very grateful for our mining industry! Ok I’m done…

  10. Oops, sorry, it posted early. Just trying to say that 300 mining jobs, on the East end of the Range, filled mostly by those who already live here, but are currently under employed, isn’t going to spread all that much cheer over to Hibbing. More in line with AB’s thinking are the various arts and music centers being developed in several communities. Ditto for parks, ball parks, other recreational facilities, community centers, etc. These don’t generate much income, but they enhance life for those attracted to jobs in many other fields. And what about stores? Shopping on the Range currently sucks. But i still mostly shop local.

    BTW, what does it take to qualify as a local? I CHOSE to move here, i wasn’t just stuck here because of ancestors. But I’ve been here longer than bona fide LOCAL Aaron Brown has been alive.

  11. You’re not wrong Wayne, 300 good paying jobs IS a big f**king deal as Joe would say. The liberal thinkers, down deep, really aren’t interested in and “big business” jobs though. They have this socialistic dream of “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs”, and companies, corporations, don’t fill that bill.

    Notice the social dream words used in various posts –
    “plant a tree” – no regard as to who pays for the tree
    “paint a crosswalk” – no comment on who pays for the paint
    ” workers in information-based, creative fields are frozen out” – huh?, like some bad polar vortex is freezing them out??
    “recognizing future trends in employment and technology” – as if waiting for some enlightened central government planning.
    “when you don’t shop local, the local stores will probably disappear” – forget cost & quality and freedom to choose, buy from who we tell you to.
    And the telltale socialistic sign – “I just hope they will be Union Jobs”, because God forbid if I have to be judged on the value of my work to determine what I’m paid.

  12. If you (collective you) don’t shop locally, the local stores will disappear isn’t an opinion or mandate or ideology. It is a fact of life and economics and capitalism. Hey, this little tiny town I live in had (past tense) 3 grocery stores, a couple of clothing stores, a bakery, florist, 2 car dealers, 2 banks, several gift shops, variety stores, auto parts store, 3 hardware stores, 2 lumberyards, garden shops, 7 churches, several government offices, insurance offices, a school, furniture store, appliance store, golf course, ball parks, hockey rink, tennis court, and more. Many are long gone, though the population is only a bit less. When a town becomes a bedroom community to another town (Iron Range small city) and then those places lose to whatever is down the road, 300 mining jobs 45 miles away don’t take up the slack. Its like the song, “You don’t know what you’ve got till its gone. ” But I DID know, and I DID shop here whenever possible. But younger people are used to being more mobile.

    Rightly done, the mine will help, for 20 years. But only focusing on the jobs it will bring to save the area is, as A

  13. David Lakkala says:

    Let’s face it the Range has already died it’s too late. Taken the major Range towns with mining jobs, Chisholm, Hobbing, Virginia, Eveleth. Compare them to other towns around the state of their respective size. They are ghetto like cesspools in comparison. After high school I left the Range around ten years back for a city of 20K in South Central Minnesota. Best decision I ever made. I can freely let my kids run around town without worrying about some sex offender or drunken creep from one of the 50 downtown bars doing unspeakable things. Try doing level 3 offender searches in Range Towns and then in towns of comparable sizes elsewhere in MN. Its quite frightening. The Range is a sick region, nowhere to want to raise children, a place where failed ideas of economics thrive, where tax money is arbitrarily doled out to nepotistic projects doomed to fail by the IRRRB crooks.

    Yes, Virginia, I have some fond memories of my youth, but I more remember the fact that I grew up in a pile of hot steaming poo and had the good sense to leave it. To those who feel they must stay on the Range run, run to the Grand Rapids end, the only place which is not a giant ghetto on the entire Range. Those 300 mining jobs won’t change a damn thing, a sick, alcoholic, white trash culture needs an entire paradigm shift to ever succeed at real change out from the ghetto. The whole of the central and eastern Range has a soul as stained as its bathtub drains, a sickly orange, much like a bloodstain that has been washed.

  14. Zeb Norenberg says:

    Lots of negativity here on this comment page. This article, though written as a call to arms, seems a bit negative as well. I am well aware that progress can come from criticism. That criticism has to be in good taste though to inspire others to take up action. Purely desecrating the Range such as quite a few on this comment page have is not the answer. Saying that we are all a bunch of sex offenders and perverted drunks is extremely upsetting to those of us who have pride for this area and its history. I am glad that some of these people with these mentalities have left this area. We don’t need anymore negativity that we already have. I grew up and graduated high school from Hibbing. I moved away and went to college in Bemidji. I lived a couple years in Saint Paul after that. I also made the decision to move back here. We cannot rely solely on leadership of our local and elected officials to create this change that so many talk about. This responsibility lies on every citizen’s shoulders. Citizens have power too.

  15. Rangertildeath says:

    So, I hopped on Facebook this morning and saw Mr. Brown’s post about receiving, “Eat Shit”, letters. So, I headed over to Minnesota Brown to see what the controversy was about. Mining of course. I’ve been a fan of Mr. Brown since reading Overburden. I’ve been a Ranger for 30 years, so the natives will tell you I am a Carpetranger, but I digress. I loved reading the above comments because they so explain the different types of rubes on the Range.

    Ranger47- the unapologetic Conservative Republican oppressed and choosing to live in a commie enclave such as the Iron Range. Bitter to all ends and constantly spewing Koch doctrine without offering any real solutions for the exact strange situation that exists on the Iron Range. In Hibbing he would go to the Republican bar, I forget which it is Palmer’s or Checco’s as I don’t imbibe myself.

    LoieJ- The not quite a Ranger, but living a forest town close enough to the Range where that is with which she associates. Floodwood or some such place. She basically shoots the Mantra of Overburden rehashed in the comments. A progressive Ranger type.

    Steve Manninen- The obvious mining related worker who tries to act like he doesn’t care about 300 jobs, but then has to superimpose that he hopes they will be union jobs, not just jobs, but union jobs if they are created. Who cares if they are good jobs that pay well, but they damned well had be union. Look around at most Range restaurants or bars and most have union stickers in plain view for the majority of union type rubes like Steve.

    David Lakkala- The ticked off Range emigrant. He left and now you all should too! Although he may be a bit right about the towns being a bit run down, I hesitate to use the term cess pool, what he forgets is the unique flavor and culture of the place from whence he came.

    And let’s not forget Aaron Brown himself- He has to prove he has Range cred when called into critique. He’s from a junkyard in Zim and tells you that like Dre tells you he’s Straight Outta Compton. Mr. Brown with his idealistic, yet unrealistic view of how to create a Range Utopia. The man with ideas, the Prodigal Son who returned. What Mr. Brown always fails to remember is that Ranger’s are stubborn bastards who will never change. He is also disconnected because though he grew up on Zim’s finest junkyard, he probably sat inside all day watching Star Wars and reading encyclopedias and had a poster of Princess Leia on his bedroom ceiling; rather than hunting, fixing cars, drinking, and doing things Ranger’s do.

  16. As Ron Burgundy would say, “You know how to cut to the core of me, Baxter. You’re so wise. You’re like a miniature Buddha, covered with hair.”

  17. Haven’t heard from you in a while Rangertildeath…not bad, wordy but deservingly so.
    Oh..I, along with many others have offered straightforward, real, actionable solutions:

    *Abide by the Constitution..or change it via due process
    *Eliminate federal deficit spending and the national debt
    *Reduce the size of government…common sense regulations only
    *Let individual freedom ring

    ….it takes time to turn 120 years of range communism, but it’s happening. Who’d have ever, ever foreseen Oberstar take a dive…or Solberg on a more local level. They had to add re-landscape Gus Halls grave from all the spinning. In the meantime, we continue to get liberal pablum…but things ARE changing…for the better.

  18. Not sure which Koch you’re referring to Rangertildeath, but if it’s the Koch that was honored with the William E. Simon Prize for Philanthropic Leadership in 2011, which honors living philanthropists who have exhibited leadership through charitable giving and recognizes the power of philanthropy to promote positive change, I’d like to meet him. In fact, sounds like he’d be a wonderful speaker at a Change the Range gathering…I we can’t get him, maybe his brother?

  19. Some of the negativity in these various comments surprises me, but I guess it shouldn’t. Everybody says they want the Range to be better, or back the way it was, but how many are willing to work at that? Or do we just say, “Hell, I’m a Ranger and I’ll never change>” So don’t send the carpet baggers in here to tell us what to do. I had a friend, now I’ll only call her an acquaintance, who refused to spend time with a woman and her kids who was to live here for just 11 months because of her husband’s position, because “She’s just going to leave anyway.” Quite frankly, my acquaintance’s loss.

    So now I’m old, raised my kids here, sent them off to great colleges where they thrived because of the great St. Louis Co Schools education, and when I die, I’ll be buried here, but to people born in the area, I’ll never be a local. Yet, I’ve been on lots and lots of committees, boards, groups, event planning work, etc. where I’ve lived here longer than any of the others. There’s a lot of great stuff happening all around the Range. Maybe the true Rangers need to look just a few miles out of town in various directions and see what’s up.

    I’ve heard stories about people recruited to work at really good jobs on the Range, who left after a few years because those people and their families felt shunned in the Range cities. Some of the comments show that these stories may just be true.

    So those of use who “live in the woods” can ignore the negativity and concentrate on just what great things we do have going on. And not all economic activity is generated by the mines. In my general area, there has been several millions of dollars of construction accomplished over the last 4 years. At least one million of that has been from private money, not tax money.

  20. 1. Maybe they should just let all the girls who wanted to participate in Winter Frolic share the crown this year? There would be five girls to be in parades and participate in community activities.

    2. Maybe you are going through seasonal disorder? This was a bit of a downer.

    3. I just don’t know if -30 F for two months is going to be driving people here in droves, even if we did have faster internet or friendlier, well-kept communities.

    4. Ever notice you never hear environmental people say, “Well if Polymet goes in, I’m not brining my canoe and spending my $500 in Hoyt Lakes.” Only Ely gets those types of comments.

    5. In a weird way, isn’t hundreds of people getting riled up and riding busses all over Minnesota, carrying-signs-for-their-side sort of a community-building activity in itself?

    6. Because schools (everywhere, not just here) can’t keep up with the changing needs of the economy, maybe a trend will be for businesses themselves to provide education to employees?

    7. And yes, it would be good if each person gave an additional 1 hour or $5 a week to making their community better here!

  21. Rangertildeath says:

    Aaron- I figured it was pretty much spot on.  There is nothing wrong with being an idealist utopian thinker, as long as you keep your expectations low.  The greatest benefit of this blog is the entertaining posts, comments and discussions.  It’s the divergent views and biases that I find so very interesting.  I will say that the Range has more, “flavor”, than most of the rest of rural Minnesota, and that along with the woods and lakes is a big reason I stay here.

    Ranger47- Thanks, and your comments afterwards enforce the stereotype in which I so bluntly painted you.  That stereotype included being very non-specific in your solutions for local type decisions impacting the Iron Range.  Spewing Federal policy changes when it comes to the very specific problems of the Iron Range is a perfect example. I don’t want to get started on the Koch’s, as they are separate unrelated discussions, I just referenced them to paint the personality picture I was trying to create.That being said it’s always good to have one Range Republican on the thread to add some contrast and tick union members off.  

  22. Back when iron was discovered on the Range, if people had sat on their hands and cried about how mining was going to ruin the land instead of developing an industry, there would be no Range culture today, and it would be just another wilderness. For lack of steel, the U.S. would not have entered WWII and the Nazi’s might have won. Today it’s about copper and rare earths, which we get from mines in Peru, largely owned by the Chinese. They can decide to cut us off at will, and have already done so in the case of rare earths, which by the way are used in nearly every electronic device we depend on. Should we allow this to continue, or should we sacrifice a bit of the wilderness to ensure our own safety? That question affects the whole country, not just Minnesota, and that’s the question you residents need to be asking yourselves. Are you willing to put the entire country at risk? If a minerals emergency should ever happen, the Feds will step in and develop this ore body, and it will be messy, because they will be in a hurry. There will be a lot of environmental damage, which could be avoided if sensible, planned development takes place today. Just sayin’.

  23. You’re correct RJ, if todays tree huggers, snail darters and spotted owls existed back in 1880, not a pound of iron ore would have been mined in Minnesota. Our beautiful Ore Be Gone and Canisteo lakes, tailing ponds and once world-class high schools wouldn’t have existed….nor would the Taconite industry (employing 100′s of thousands), Magnitation (employing thousands), etc. etc. It’s a wonderful God given cycle if we only let nature take it’s course. When we start playing God, we get bears eating people, deer running wild in our cities and wolves eating our cattle…and no one working. But we’d be huggin’ them 200 year old white pines….us and them dying of old age together, singin’ kumbaya. Nice…

  24. …und gesang in deutsch

  25. In Response:
    Aaron’s views speak more to reality than both the deluded and collaborators ever want heard, thus the angry responses. The Range’s problems start from having a collaborationist kleptocracy that since the beginning of taconite, has used local, state and federal government power to collaborate with the mining companies, extract as much wealth as it can, then leave the social, economic mess to others, whether in time or place, out of desperation to keep the hope alive and rob the treasury themselves. The local elite, whether private industry or government officials, don’t get multiple properties in Aspen or the Cape, but they do get the lake homes and the multiple trips out of the sacrifice zone. You see the same names and people cycle through the various appointments, and if one is compliant and happily mimics the secret handshakes, the reward is a good position. Elected officials now act as publicly funded lobbyists for foreign hedge funds, selling off public resources and subsidizing them with direct funds, low interest loans and free ecosystem destruction. If you are a good boy, have the right name and played hockey with the right people, they might float you a free loan you can use to pay your family to lobby for your non-existent, no collateral company project.
    The workers, allowed to make a decent living due to long ago won rights, are now long since co-opted, serving only their own interests and as willing lapdogs for the corporate elite as long as their pay continues with the hope of the inherited lake home and a country 40. I don’t know what planet some of the commentators live on, but the range I live and work on consists of closed down downtowns, half open malls more populated by churches than stores, empty buildings, a culture that drives anyone raised after the 19th century away and a McCarthyist like local state where anyone speaking out has the boot put to their neck and is disappeared, unless a member of the professional class or independently wealthy. The addiction rates are insane, probably due to the sheer boredom and visual misery of living next to a brownfield, the ridiculous comment of old mine pits as beautiful not with standing, unless beauty is a rockpile and an asphalt campground filled with mobile artifacts of suburbia next to an old mine whose depths are filled with so much hydrogen sulfide no aquatic creature can live. Reflecting on that comment, has the cost calculation of dealing with the groundwater problems for 10,000 years been calculated? Doubtul. Speaking of Magnetation as a success is this: “We had a giant pile of garbage left by someone else, no one would or could do anything about it, and now someone figured out how to process it and make money. We still won’t clean up the mess afterward and it will still take millennia for things to stabilize, but 50 people got new trucks and built new houses, so god and the angels smile”. It is not “progress” in any sense of the word, just a recycling of the same mess dumped on us 60 years ago. The Range’s problem is this: It was built for one industry that needed much more manpower, and from 1960-1980 was a featherbedded nightmare where workers showed up drunk, slept on the job and stole tools. In short, everyone was stealing, and that has been the range’s history from the beginnings when the first logging magnates and mineral prospectors bribed their way to control of your resources via the legislature, something that continues today. Now, however, the bribery does not come directly from the companies themselves, but instead through the system of agencies and consortiums. We all know the initials.

  26. In a way, to those 50 families who got a new truck and a new house, maybe it does seem that god and the angels smiled, finally, for once, at them. It doesn’t mean that those 50 families are thieves, or lapdogs, or addicts, or miserable, or only serving their own interests … Maybe it just means dad or mom got a job where everything doesn’t have to be quite such a struggle right now. A house is usually better than an apartment. It’s usually better to bring your own lunch to school than to get free. A first actual family vacation is usually a good thing. Maybe for the kids in those 50 families, it is progress, at least in some sense of the word …

  27. You speak the truth Amy. That describes life everywhere, including the Range. Whether it be a private individual or Fortune 500 company, it’s someone taking a gamble by spending their money which provides an opportunity for someone else. The result is one job at a time, for one family at a time…on and on.
    The government is the worst institution to do this. One, they first have to take money from someone to spend it. This leaves less money with the person they took it from to spend (or invest). Two, the government has no incentive to pick the right things to spend money on, nor manage the spending efficiently. It’s no skin off their back, it wasn’t their money to begin with. They’ve nothing to lose.

    i.e. Look how differently Excelsior money is spent and managed vs. Essar money.

    • Essar owes as much as $40 million to its contractors right now, so let’s hold our horses on that one. And the government would have incentive to make good investments if voters held them more accountable. But they don’t — Republicans vote for Republicans and Democrats vote for Democrats. Not much changes that way.

  28. If Essar goes belly up, Essar suffers….along with its employees, shareholders, bankers, contractors and any others who willing invest time and money in Essar. That’s fair and just, how it should be. Those with skin in the game win, or lose, accordingly.

    If Excelsior goes belly up, you, me and all Minnesota / Federal taxpayers suffer…not Anzelc, not Sertich, not Dayton, not Obama nor anyone on the IRRRB. That’s unfair and unjust, not the way it should be.

    It’s an inherently wasteful, inefficient process to allow people to make investment decisions when they have no skin in the game. They suffer no consequences for poor decisions. Plus, allowing people without business experience to make business decisions, especially with others money, is foolish.

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