Ed Felien :
Rethinking our revolution: A proposal for a
rural strategy

Tuition-free education, universal healthcare, and legalized pot are pieces of the puzzle.

2016 presidential election by county. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

By Ed Felien | The Rag Blog | January 9, 2017

MINNEAPOLIS — What happened?

Clinton lost Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. She almost lost Minnesota.


When people were interviewed they said she and the Democratic Party were not speaking to them. Trump talked to the people who were hurting from lack of jobs and from small town economic collapse. He spoke their language. He lied to them. But he was reaching them, and the Democratic Party was sadly out of touch with their reality.

Minnesota voting reflected the national average.

Clinton carried the cities, and Trump carried everything else.

In Minnesota you can easily see the shrinking Democratic base. Obama lost 14 rural counties to Romney in 2012 that he carried in 2008. And then Clinton lost the other 19 rural counties that Obama carried in 2012.


Rural folks were tired of the smart-ass managerial elite telling them how to act.

Is it because rural folks were tired of the smart-ass managerial elite telling them how they’re supposed to act when they don’t understand the problems they’re facing just trying to survive?

We need a program that speaks to the needs of people living in small towns and on farms.

We need free tuition for community colleges and technical schools to keep the kids at home and help small town economies grow.

We need free health care for everybody because everywhere else in the world they can do it, and we have the best medical facilities in the world and we can’t afford them.

We need to legalize marijuana. Everywhere that it’s legal they have to grow it on mountaintops. We’ve got the best farmland in the country. We could grow the best marijuana at a fraction of the current market price.

How much would it cost to give everyone in the state a free community college education?

There are 130,456 students enrolled in community colleges. Tuition averages $5,000, so the cost to make community and technical colleges tuition free would be $652,780,000. The state had a $1.4 billion surplus last year. The Republicans want to give that money to the rich in tax breaks and refunds. We should insist it go to make community and technical colleges tuition free.

Tuition free scholarships for the economically disadvantaged is the smartest thing we could do.

Giving tuition free scholarships to the economically disadvantaged is the smartest thing we could do with our money. It will go immediately into the grassroots and create jobs and boost economic opportunities at a local level.

Governor Cuomo has just proposed that New York State offer free tuition to all college students at all public colleges and universities.

Why can’t we have free healthcare?

It’s important to remember that the government is already paying the biggest share of healthcare costs through Medicare, the VA, etc. The government share of healthcare costs is $5,960 per person in Minnesota. The cost of healthcare is $7,409 per person in Minnesota, so the difference between the cost and the government’s share would be $1,449, and that is the amount that is paid by private insurance companies. If you’re 40 years old and make $48,000 a year then your healthcare premium through MNSure is $380 a month or $4,560 a year. The insurance company gets $3,111.

The Minnesota State Budget for the General Fund in 2017 is $20,512,529,000. If we want to provide free medical care for everyone in the state, then the amount the state would have to cover is $1,449. If you multiply $1,449 times 5,457,000 (the population of the state) that equals $7,907,193,000. In order to pay for everyone’s healthcare we would have to raise income taxes by 40%. Which sounds terrible until you actually work out the figures.

A person 40 years old earning $48,000 pays a 7.05% tax rate, and that equals a $3,384 tax bill. Raising that tax bill by 40% would mean they would be paying an additional $1,353.60. But they would be getting complete healthcare coverage — a savings of $3,206.40 over private insurance.

It just makes good sense to go to a single payer and universal healthcare system.

The marijuana laws are stupid,
unconstitutional, and racist.

The marijuana laws are stupid, unconstitutional, and racist. If you’re black in Hennepin County you are 6.4 times as likely to be busted for possession of marijuana. That is a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution. Public opinion has shifted. No one believes any more that marijuana is the gateway to hell. It’s already legal in most of the other blue states.

It’s only a matter of time for the Minnesota Legislature to get the political courage to legalize it. Other states have done it through referendum. There’s no question it’s a popular measure. The Republicans can’t do it because their fundamentalist base doesn’t approve of smiles they don’t understand. Clinton carried Minnesota, but she got 180,000 fewer votes than Obama. Supporting legalization of marijuana will motivate voters.

It would be good for agriculture, but it would be essential and great for tourism. Tourism is a 13 billion dollar deal in Minnesota; 250,000 jobs; 11% of all private sector employment; $4.5 billion in wages; $840 million (17% of the total) in sales tax revenue. If people want to go hunting or fishing or chill out by a lake, where are they going to want to go? Colorado is experiencing record tourism, almost double the rate of growth as other states: 31% to 16%. Would people who enjoy marijuana want to go there, or would they want to go where they could be treated like criminals?

Rural people love the country, but they don’t know how much longer they’re going to be able to hang on. Their kids are leaving because there are no opportunities. Healthcare costs are driving them into bankruptcy, and they can’t make money growing corn and soybeans.

We have a chance to show them we’re on their side.

Addendum: They are beginning a campaign in Canada for free wi-fi for everyone, everywhere. This would be the best way for everyone from the country and the city to stay in touch. It should be a free public utility, like streets and libraries. This needs to be part of our program.

[Ed Felien is publisher and editor of Southside Pride, a South Minneapolis monthly, and a regular contributor to The Rag Blog.]

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2 Responses to Ed Felien :
Rethinking our revolution: A proposal for a
rural strategy

  1. Extremist2TheDHS says:

    “Is it because rural folks were tired of the smart-ass managerial elite telling them how they’re supposed to act when they don’t understand the problems they’re facing just trying to survive?”

    When I read that line, I was hopeful that Ed was going to knock it out of the park. But then I read the rest of the article and realized .. Ed is exactly that elite telling economic fairy tales while the people who actually run businesses and manage government agencies are laughing at his nonsensical ideas about budget surpluses and taxes.

    Nice try Ed. But with you leading the way, the DemonRat party will wander ever farther into the progressive wilderness. I will be sending you a donation so you can lead the 2018 parade to obsolescence in MIN 🙂

    Proud to be an Extremist2TheDHS

  2. joseph v manning says:

    Legalized pot would improve the financial economy as well as the psychological economy. And certainly Medicare for all and free college tuition are necessary and long overdue fundamentals.

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