The State’s Definition of Critical Services

We’re in day eight of Minnesota’s government “shutdown” but really the word shutdown is a misnomer. I think it would be more appropriate to call this a reduce government operating capacity. Services that have been deemed critical by the state are still running. So what’s critical? Well the collection of taxes for instance:

The Minnesota Department of Revenue said Friday it will continue to process tax payments during the shutdown. All tax laws and deadlines are still in effect.

But with no authorized funding in place, agency functions not deemed critical by the courts are suspended. That means no tax refunds will be processed or issued at this time. And the Revenue Department will have no one to help taxpayers by phone or email until normal operations resume.

According to the state, who get to make the rules, processing the payment of taxes is critical but returning excess money is not. Although people are required to pay their taxes on the appropriate deadlines the state sees no need to ensure help is available to those not sure if they’re filling out the right forms correctly (after all if people don’t know if they’re doing something correctly they’ll likely screw up and the state can fine them for more revenue).

This further demonstrates that this entire “shutdown” is nothing more than a political game. Only services that will noticeably impact the lives of Minnesotans negatively have been shutdown. The parks were shutdown which was noticed on Independence Day, tax refunds aren’t being sent out which will noticeably impact the finances of many Minnesotans, etc. This “shutdown” is simply an attempt to gain political influence next election cycle. The Republican are blaming the Democrats and the Democrats are blaming the Republicans. Both parties are pointing to the other and saying, “Look! The other party make sure you wouldn’t get your tax refunds on time!”

Personally I hope the “shutdown” continues indefinitely. People who are dependent on the state need to rid themselves of that yoke and those not dependent on the state need to realize it. We don’t need the state to run our lives, we’re more than capable of doing that ourselves.