FFM Bulletin 3/30/12

Minnesota Non-Profits Receive $440,000 to Fight Keystone XL Pipeline

On Monday, the Freedom Foundation of Minnesota released an Accountability Alert that showed three Minnesota environmental non-profit advocacy groups received nearly half a million dollars in out-of-state funding to oppose the Keystone oil pipeline project. The funding, provided by a well-known liberal California foundation, is surprising, since Keystone’s proposed route does not include Minnesota.

The Tides Foundation, based in San Francisco, awarded nine grants totaling $439,500 to three Minnesota non-profits through 2010, according to Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and grant disclosures listed online.  No records were immediately available for 2011, when the well-funded campaign against the pipeline got louder.

A recent Gallup poll showed that Americans support the proposed Canada - America pipeline by an overwhelming 2:1 margin, showing just how out of touch this foundation and their allies really are.

Since its release, the Freedom Foundation story has attracted significant national attention, including the Washington Times and Breitbart’sBigGovernment.com. Visit our website or either of the other links to read the entire story.

Monticello municipal broadband slugs it out, says MPR

Earlier this week Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) featured an article on their website that highlighted the risks local taxpayers face from FiberNet Monticello, the multi-million dollar broadband network operated by their local government. As the news article shows, the network that has been used as a national model for local government broadband projects is not immune to significant difficulties.  Recent analysis by the Freedom Foundation shows the network ran a $2.6 million deficit in 2011, causing some, including the Monticello mayor, to question if the network would ever be self-sustainable.

Still, FiberNet Monticello is “competing” with other private companies like Charter Communications and TDS for subscribers in the community, a positive side effect mentioned by Christopher Mitchell, a telecommunications expert with the Minneapolis-based Institute for Local Self-Reliance. 

"Now everyone's saving money because everyone's lowering their prices," he said. "If you outlaw even the possibility that communities could build those networks, then there's less incentive for private providers to build, to invest in these communities."

It seems that Mr. Mitchell fails to understand the most essential component of running a successful business: profit—something government funded projects don’t need to worry about. As the Monticello broadband project shows:  local governments can continue to cross-subsidize money losing projects (broadband) with other government-run monopolies (municipal liquor stores.) 

The Freedom Foundation will soon be releasing our report on municipal broadband that shows the hazards of local communities investing in industries best provided by the private sector.  We’ll be sure to mail extra copies to our friends in Monticello – along with a copy of Henry Hazlett’s Basic Economics.

Tax Foundation: Where you purchase your winning ticket matters

In the midst of the Mega Millions madness now projecting a $640 million payout, the Washington DC based Tax Foundation released a short report on state lottery withholding taxes. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Arizona has a withholding rate for non-residents (Read: snowbirds), so an out-of-state winner could face double withholding.
  • States rely heavily on lottery revenue, collecting an average of $58 per person in “profit” aside from any income tax collections.
  • State lotteries pay out an average of only 60 percent of gross revenues in prizes, compared to 90 percent for slot machines and casino table games. State-run lotteries “work” as income generators for state government since they function as monopolies with a private ban on private lotteries.
  • Arguments that lotteries are a “voluntary tax” confuse the purchase of a product with the payment of the tax on the product.
If the sole winner in tonight’s Mega Millions drawing comes from Minnesota, the state would receive $32 million in tax revenue, according to estimates. The State already makes $0.24 off of each $1 ticket sold in Minnesota. 

Notably, Minnesota has the 8th highest lottery withholding tax rates in the nation at 7.25 percent, something to keep in mind when you collect your winnings.  Odds are, unfortunately better that you’ll get struck by lighting in one of our spring thunderstorms.  Free advice from the Freedom Foundation:  save your money but if you’ve already purchased a lottery ticket, stay indoors while holding a nine iron.

Special promotion for FFM Annual Dinner with John Stossel

We are offering a special promotion for our Facebook fans and Twitter followers! If you 'Like' us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, you will be eligible for the “Member Rate” of $30 for the speech and general reception for our event on April 17th with John Stossel! Once you’ve liked and/or followed us, use your promo code to purchase your ticket at stosselatffm.eventbrite.com. The ticket price for Facebook fans and Twitter followers will be the “Member Rate” of $30 (normally only available to members that donate $100+ annually). Be sure to share this opportunity with your friends. For more information on the event, visit our website.

The latest from MN State News
Minnesota House passes ticket freedom bill
The Minnesota legislature moved one step closer to guaranteeing fans’ full ticket ownership. On Tuesday, HF 657, the bill that would protect the ticket resale market, passed the House floor by an 83-50 margin.  The bipartisan legislation marks a major victory for those opposed to restrictive ticket sales. Read more:

Day one recap: Affordable Care Act on trial
Day two recap: The individual mandate on trial
Day three recap: Severability on trial

Also, if you haven’t already, be sure to check out the new look of Minnesota State News at www.mnstatenews.com. You can also ‘Like’ us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and share it with you friends.

You're Invited: Human Achievement Hour
On Saturday, March 31, some people will shut of their lights as a symbolic gesture against global climate change for “Earth Hour.” Free market enthusiasts, however, can join the Freedom Foundation and the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) in celebrating Human Achievement Hour, where thousands of people across the country will leave their incandescent lights on to celebrate innovations throughout history that have improved our lives!

Mark your calendars, set a reminder on your phone, and celebrate the free market for one hour on Saturday, March 31 at 7:30PM-8:30PM CST. Learn more here and RSVP at CEI’s Facebook event page.

Note to candidates: Join our email list for the latest from FFM!
Are you or do you know a candidate running for the legislature or local office in 2012? If so, be sure to sign up for our mailing list to stay up to date on the latest issues facing our state and local governments. Also, candidates will be invited to special events and summer training sessions designed to help you better understand and communication free market solutions to some of the toughest issues facing our state. Visitwww.freedomfoundationofminnesota.com/signup to get started.


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