Thursday, January 31, 2008

Women still getting pregnant after using birth control. What's that say about contracting STDs?

A British abortion company acknowledged that over half of women who have an unplanned pregnancy were using birth control at the time they became pregnancy. According to a story, "Some 43 percent were on oral contraceptives when the pregnancy occurred and another 27 percent reportedly used a condom at the time."

Now if there's such a terrible success rate for contraceptives for preventing pregnancies which can occur only a few days each month, what does that suggest about the effectiveness of contraceptives, in this case condoms, in preventing the spread of STDs which can be spread any time of the month? Not much. Yet that's what the family planning and comprehensive sex education folks keep pushing.

Eventually common sense will come into play but it takes a long time when people are driven by ideology not the realities of the situation. The only reasonable, common sense approach to preventing unwanted pregnancies and STDs among our young people is a clear abstinence message.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Hollywood and pro-life movie themes: Are they seeing the light or reality?

Probably a bit of both. World magazine had an interesting article entitled "The plots thicken" on the emergence of pro-life themes in Hollywood movies and a number of television shows. After years of a strong pro-abortion bias, pro-life themes and messages are starting to emerge in films and shows.

Why is it? I think ultimately reality can't be denied forever. The culture is moving in the pro-life direction as witnessed by the growing pro-life views of young people. The damage which has inflicted millions of people touched by abortion can't be denied forever. The development of modern technology which allows people to see color pictures of unborn babies is also playing a role. The debate over partial birth abortion has helped driving home the reality that abortion ends a human life. And the economics of movie making have allowed lesser financed movies to reach more people who are looking for a pro-life perspective in films. This has made the major studios to take note. And I think there are more conservatives heading into the film and entertainment industry. They are having an impact as well.

It will be interesting seeing what is coming out of Hollywood ten years from now.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Is the University of Minnesota becoming Kinky U? And what does this say about our society and culture and where are we going?

Katherine Kersten, conservative Star Tribune columnist, pointed out in a recent column what some students and student group are up to at our state's flag ship public institution of higher education, the University of Minnesota -- learning about and promoting all matters of bizarre and deviant sexual practices.
It's just another field of inquiry for the dedicated scholars at "Kinky U," a student fee-supported offshoot of the U of M's Queer Student Cultural Center (QSCC).

QSCC already sponsors groups that journey down every sexual side-road and identity bi-way imaginable. Its 14 member groups range from "Biversity" (for "bisexuals, pansexuals, omnnisexuals, and those who prefer no labels") to "Tranarchy" (for "those who identify as transgender, transsexual, genderqueer, intersex, or gender diverse.")

Yes, you might think there's already something for everyone at our flagship institution of higher learning.

But Kinky U aims to reach out to groups still not fully embraced (so to speak) by the university community. It's "a social and discussion group" for those interested in "all forms of kink, including roleplaying, leather, BDSM [bondage, discipline, dominance and submission, sadism and masochism], and much more," according to QSCC's website.

"The term 'kinky' can include anything from biting and scratching, 'which is pretty common,' to power exchanges and bondage," said the Minnesota Daily, quoting Michael Lent, the group's facilitator.

The moral bankruptcy of the University is articulated by comments from the University's vice provost for student affairs Jerry Rinehart who said:

"The purpose of groups funded by student fees, which are decided on by students themselves, is to help encourage a diverse array of ideas and perspectives...As long as the decision process is viewpoint neutral, the U cannot attempt to censor."
The typical bureacratic response. It's fine as long as it's view point neutral and we're here to encourage of "diverse array of ideas and perspectives."

It shows where the sexual revolution is leading us. Down, down, down. Once the Judeo-Christian perspective of sexuality and proper sexual perspective is jettisoned, e.g. sex between a man and a woman inside a marriage relationship, there's no stopping point. Not with cohabiting males and females, not with same sex couples, no it merely spins more and more out of control.

Why is this happening? Because we've lost the courage and the willingness to engage in moral discourse and call behaviors good and bad, right and wrong.

The consequence? Social anarchy. Sure, the actual practitioners of "Kinky U" sex are few in number but they're merely the vanguard the sexual revolution with lots of heterosexual promiscuity following in their wake. They, of course, aren't content to do their thing on their own but want recognition and endorsement of society through legal protection and sanction of their behaviors through anti-discrimination laws, public subsidies (Like student fees programs.) and in some cases redefinition of marriage for homosexuals.

Ultimately, the gold standard of a society and culture -- monogamous man and woman marriage is debased -- and that's the foundation of society. Cohabiting and out of wedlock births help create a social underclass which breeds criminal predators and general lawlessness in society. And of course this also feeds the social welfare system established to deal with all the resulting social problems.

Ultimately, this sort of thing affects us all.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Planned Parenthood's ( Custer's?) Last Stand

According to a Wall Street Journal story, Planned Parenthood has announced plans to enter the political arena (I didn't know they weren't already involved in some shape or form.) with a $10 million campaign to persuade 1 million voters to vote for pro-abortion candidates. I'm told this is to be combined with the $46 million plus Emily's List expects to spend on pro-abortion candidates and NARAL's $10 million.

It strikes me as a sign of desperation. Public opinion is steadily moving in the pro-life direction especially among young people. The recent pro-life rally in DC saw an unusually large number of young people involved. The number of pro-life bills introduced in state legislatures was up by 50% in 2007 over 2006. And the number of abortions have dropped to their lowest level in 30 years.

Planned Parenthood sees the writing on the wall and is making it's last stand in the political arena. The battle over these issues is ultimately won or lost in the culture. As Abraham Lincoln once said in his first debate with Stephen Douglas, "...public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it, nothing can succeed. Consequently, he who molds public sentiment, goes deeper than he who enacts statutes or pronounces decisions. He makes statutes and decisions possible or impossible to be executed."

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Look who the atheists are broadcasting with -- 950 AM Air America

A January 14 story in the Pioneer Press and carried in a number of local newspapers statewide highlights a new radio program by Minnesota Atheists on 950 AM, Air America. The story was entitled, "Erasing the atheist stigma". Interestingly, the story is no where to be found on the Internet.

I thought there were a number of interesting aspects to the story.

One, it's scheduled for Sunday mornings when of course the atheists' chief protagonists, Christians, are in church. August Berkshire, founder of the show and Minnesota Atheist, is quoted as saying, ""We're not trying to convert people, We're trying to engage them in a discussion. We want people to realize atheists are their neighbors, family, nice people, and that they should get to know us." So much for efforts at dialogue when their chief protagonists are in church. That last line is also what one generally hears from homosexual activists.

Second, it's being aired on the local Air America affiliate. Air America is the radio network for the political and cultural Left in America and I think there's a natural, philosophical affinity between the left and atheists. (The story's author writes, "Berkshire said Air America liberals are a natural audience.") They both reject, generally speaking, a transcendent authority in life, a natural law which is embedded in the creative order, the Declaration's "Laws of nature and nature's God." Atheists outright reject the existence of a Creator and the left rejects the implications of such a Creator for human existence, e.g. the existence of binding ethical authority beyond man. Both groups have drunk deeply at Darwin's well of evolutionary naturalism which holds that man and everything else in the material world are simply the result of a mindless, purposeless, chance process.

And third, the goals of the radio program include the usual "warn people about... erosion of the wall between church and state" but also "anti-gay marriage laws, restrictions on embryonic stem cell research and creationism in schools." That's standard liberal fare. It again shows the natural affinity between the left and atheism.

Atheists are and always will be a small percentage of the general populace, because their beliefs don't line up with the evidence of design and order in creation which point to a Creator. I would argue it takes much more faith, even a faith blind to the evidence, to suggest that the universe and human existence is merely the result of a blind, purposeless, chance process.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Roe v. Wade, abortion in Minnesota and prospects for the future

Today marks the 35th anniversary of the infamous 1973 US Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade which opened the floodgates to eventual abortion on demand, with no restrictions and no questioned asked.

In Minnesota, we've had our own state version of Roe v. Wade in the form of the Minnesota Supreme Court's 1995 decision Doe v. Gomez. Gomez "created" a state right to abortion in the Minnesota Constitution. As a result, Minnesota taxpayers have been forced to spend over $10.8 million dollars on 39,000 abortions since 1995. In 2006,
according to the Minnesota Department of Health, there were 14,065 abortions performed in the state; 3,969 abortions were paid for by taxpayers, which is over 28% of the total. The 2006 figure represents the highest number since the Gomez decision in 1995. A tragedy and travesty.

Of course, this is more business for Planned Parenthood which saw a 21% increase in the number of abortions they are performing in Minnesota. Their one year increase was 648 to a total of 3,660 abortions a year in 2006.

In 2005 alone, taxpayers were forced to pay $1.4 million dollars on taxpayer funded abortions.

The good news is public attitudes are shifting on abortion, particular among the young. They realize that a human life is involved and they see the devastation abortion has wrought in the lives of millions of Americans.

The most interesting article which I've seen was published in Glamour magazine in 2005. It highlighted a CBS/New York Times poll which found the most significant shift away from support for abortion was among young women and then interviewed various young women to find out why.
In 1993 just about half of women between the ages of 18 and 29 said abortion should be available to anyone who wants it, according to a CBS/ New York Times poll; 10 years later, in 2003, the number of young women who felt that way dropped to 35 percent. The youngest group, it turned out, was more conservative about abortion rights than women in every other age category -- except women old enough to be their grandmothers, 65 and up! This slow but steady seismic shift has gone mostly under the radar, but the reverberations may end up deciding the future of abortion in this country.
They interviewed the head of the International Planned Parenthood Council and grandson of the prime mover of Planned Parenthood a couple generations ago, Alexander Sanger. His response to the poll numbers? "I've seen the numbers and I find them unbelievably shocking."

The tide is beginning to turn, but in the meanwhile the tragedy continues.

Monday, January 21, 2008

What do the pro-abortion, pro-homosexual, pro-condom groups have in common? All proponents of comp sex ed and share a common worldview about sex

A friend recently received in the mail an end of 2007 fundraising letter from SIECUS (Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States). SIECUS is the national organization that has established national guidelines for comprehensive sex education. The letter shows their ideology when it comes to all things involving sex and that includes abortion.

When it comes to presidential candidates, SIECUS believes these individuals "must support five key objectives." And what are these objectives?
1. A comprehensive approach to sexuality education combined with adequate funding to support these programs.

2. Evidence-based programs to prevent HIV infection, unplanned pregnancies and sexuality transmitted diseases.

3. The right of all women to choose when and whether to have children.

4. The right of all individuals and couples to be treated equally, regardless of sexual sexual orientation.

5. International policies that allow medically accurate sexual and reproductive information to be shared and women to receive the reproductive health services they need and deserve."
The letter goes on to say,
"If we make the right decision, in a few short months we can be on our way to seeing the end of a regressive era in American history..."The abstinence-only-until -marriage industry, built in large part by the current administration, has been harming millions of young people in thousands of classrooms around the country for far too long. A woman's right to choose and abortion has never been in greater jeopardy than it is today. And same-sex partnerships are being demonized in the media and in Congress by conservative zealots."
What's interesting is the strong appeal to homosexuality and abortion as key parts of their agenda. Looking at actual comprehensive sex ed curricula, the linkage becomes much clearer; comp sex ed is the vehicle for pushing a pro-abortion and pro-homosexual agenda in the schools and among our young people.

I was told by an elected official that he was door knocked this past summer by MN NARAL on behalf of comprehensive sex education. And the Minnesota AIDS Project, a key pro-homosexual group in the state, pushed for comprehensive sex ed in the public schools during the last legislative session.

At its core, these interest groups all share a common worldview on sex. It's very much a materialist, self-centered view that sex is first and foremost about the person and whatever that person might want. It's not rooted in the transcendent. Sex isn't the product of a Creator's plan nor does it have a transcendent purpose. And it doesn't fit into the "laws of nature and nature's God" view articulated by the founders.

Those on the cultural left demonize those on the "religious right" for wanting to impose their religious beliefs on others through the abstinence until marriage approach to sex education. Yet cultural left have their own worldview and even religion when it comes to life and sexuality. It's not rooted in the Scripture and Christian tradition but rather in a secular, materialist naturalism which views the material as all that exists. And people decide based on their personal preferences what constitutes the moral and ethical.

One of the ways to resolve who's right is to look at the fruit of the different worldviews. Through the sexual revolution and the "anything goes" mentality towards sex, there's been a steady stream of suffering, disease, and death. Reality has a way of crushing down and exposing false ideas and understandings about life. That's exactly what's happening with a distorted view of sexuality. We can't deny the reality of the fruit of particular worldviews. Eventually, the truth does prevail but often at a terrible human cost.

Friday, January 18, 2008

The principle threat public threat to religious liberties in the U.S.? The activist homosexual movement

I've always thought the biggest threat to religious liberties in the United States will come from homosexual activists and associated sexual lifestyle groups. It will come initially through the use of anti-discrimination laws and eventually the tax code.

An excellent example is a transgender woman (a man who wants to be a woman) who is demanding a sex change operation at a Catholic hospital in California. Previous examples include the Catholic Church forced to shut down their adoption services in Massachusetts, because they refused to place children in practicing homosexual households.

These examples point out why these "sexual orientation" provisions in anti-discrimination laws are so insidious. I recall here in Minnesota when sexual orientation was jammed through the state legislature in 1993; there were the usual assurances that all homosexual men and women wanted was to be left alone. Since then and most obviously with the push for homosexual marriage, the rally cry is for societal and governmental endorsement not just tolerance of homosexuality.

The biggest threat and obstacle to ultimate goals of the homosexual activists will always be the church which embraces the moral vision that sexual behavior outside of marriage is always wrong and that of course includes homosexual behavior.

Well, the church has flourished and prevailed under far, far worse persecution and attacks than these and no doubt will again. But it's a sad commentary on the moral drift in our nation. A drift which is harmful for all concerned.

Teddy Roosevelt on "a bane to any nation, a curse to society, a menace to the home" -- easy divorce

Teddy Roosevelt, our early 20th century president, was a champion and outspoken on many causes. I just came across his thoughts on easy divorce. He wasn't for it.

According Kairos Journal:

Throughout the nineteenth century, state legislatures greatly expanded the legal grounds of divorce. The result was a catastrophic rise in the divorce rate. In 1880, only one in twenty-one marriages had ended in divorce; by 1916, it was one in nine.

President Theodore Roosevelt loathed the advent of the “easy divorce,” which he warned repeatedly would bring nothing but evil. A century more of history has shown him to have been exactly right.

And then they quote him saying:
I do unqualifiedly condemn easy divorce. . . . It has been shocking to me to hear young girls about to get married calmly speculating on how long it will be before they get divorces.

[E]asy divorce is now as it ever has been, a bane to any nation, a curse to society, a menace to the home, an incitement to married unhappiness and to immorality, an evil thing for men and a still more hideous evil for women.

As they say, there's nothing new under the sun. It's interesting hearing the outspoken Teddy Roosevelt discuss something that's still with us - easy divorce. But it's probably even easier than it was in the early 1900s.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Another reason comprehensive sex ed would be a disaster for Minnesota's public schools -- deadly virus being passed among homosexual men

Another reason for not supporting comprehensive sex education in our Minnesota public schools, which some legislators wanted to mandate for every Minnesota public middle and high school, is the recent news of a deadly bacteria being transmitted among homosexual men who have sex.

According to the Reuters news agency:
A drug-resistant strain of potentially deadly bacteria has moved beyond the borders of U.S. hospitals and is being transmitted among gay men during sex, researchers said on Monday.

They said methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, is beginning to appear outside hospitals in San Francisco, Boston, New York and Los Angeles.

Sexually active gay men in San Francisco are 13 times more likely to be infected than their heterosexual neighbors, the researchers reported in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

"Once this reaches the general population, it will be truly unstoppable," said BinhDiep, a researcher at the University of California, San Francisco who led the study. "That's why we're trying to spread the message of prevention."

According to chemical analyses, bacteria are spreading among the gay communities of San Francisco and Boston, the researchers said.

"We think that it's spread through sexual activity," Diep said.

This superbug can cause life-threatening and disfiguring infections and can often only be treated with expensive, intravenous antibiotics.

It killed about 19,000 Americans in 2005, most of them in hospitals, according to a report published in October in the Journal of the American Medical Association...

Incidence of MRSA is rising along with the resurgence of syphilis, rectal gonorrhea, and new HIV infections partly because of changes in beliefs about the severity of HIV and an increase in risky behaviors, such as illicit drug use and having sex that abrades the skin, Diep's team wrote.

"Your likelihood of contracting each of these diseases increases with the number of sexual partners that you have," Diep said. "The same can probably be said for MRSA."....

Why is this another strike against comprehensive sex education? Because it promotes condoms and acceptance of various sexual behaviors and lifestyles. It mentions very little of abstinence and zero of marriage. More fuel on the fire of sexual promiscuity.

Homosexual sex is inherently unhealthy. This news report is another example.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Liberal former Lutheran bishop Chilstrom wants it both ways

I often get a kick out of members of the "religious left" who attack people on the "religious right" for somehow politicizing and co-opting Christianity. After making such a charge they usually turn around and do the exact same thing they accuse conservative Christians of doing -- asserting that their faith leads them to arrive at certain policies and positions.

An excellent case in point was the recent Star Tribune opinion column by Herbert W. Chilstrom, formerly, very liberal bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America entitled, "What being evangelical means to me" with the subheading "By taking on a political agenda, some have sullied and secularized what once was a revered term." In a rather disjointed piece the bishop takes to task conservative Christians for co-opting and perverting the term "evangelical" for political purposes.

Chilstrom says in part,

So why am I so emphatic in saying that I am not an "Evangelical Christian"? It's because I now find myself living in a culture where some folks who call themselves "Evangelical Christians" are putting a very different twist on that old and revered term. They have sullied and secularized it by tacking on a political agenda. They tend to identify themselves not simply by what they believe, but by the stance they take on controversial issues. The majority of them are anti-abortion, pro-death penalty, anti-gay rights, pro-preemptive war, anti-immigration, pro-home schooling, anti-Palestinian rights, pro-Republican party, anti-Democratic party, pro-literal reading of the Bible, anti-higher taxes, and so on.

As I look over the list of things these "Evangelical Christians" espouse, I find that in some areas I agree with them. In most, I strongly disagree.

He's upset, it seems to me, because his understanding of evangelical is now associated with the a wide variety of policy positions he disagrees with, strongly disagrees with, in most instances. These religious conservatives have "sullied and secularized it by tacking on a political agenda" according to Chilstrom.

Thus while attacking conservative evangelicals for somehow politicizing "evangelicalism", Chilstrom immediately turns around and states that he's on the exact oppose side of most of these issues. (I can guess what they are.) He goes on to say who his favorite president is - a southern Baptist aka Jimmy Carter and states what criteria he'll use for selecting the next president on foreign affairs: "In the presidential contest, does the candidate have the potential to become a respected statesperson in the community of nations? And will this person be likely to seek to resolve international conflict by dialogue and political negotiation, using military force only as a last resort?"

It appears to be a little bit hypocritical when the former bishop does just what he accuses conservative evangelicals of doing -- identifying his view of evangelical with particular political and policy positions.

To top it off he says that his view of evangelical Christian is rooted in reason and by implication the evangelicalism of those pesky conservatives isn't. "So when one applies all of this to our common life in the public square, what is the difference between being an evangelical Christian and an 'Evangelical Christian'? In my opinion, it lies in the emphasis evangelical Christians put on the use of reason in relationship to their faith..."

Again, a jab at conservative evangelicals.

Frankly, I'd love to see more debate and discussion on the role of faith in politics and the public square. I think it's an extraordinarily important and useful discussion. Unfortunately, former bishop Chilstrom and many of his fellow travelers on the religious left would rather name call and attack than engage in real dialogue.

Friday, January 4, 2008

The real social problem and crisis facing Minnesota and America? The breakdown of marriage.

Legislators and policy makers spend their time attempting to solve society's problems. Particularly on the state level, the focus is on addressing social problems involving health care, welfare, education, crime and so forth. All of these in my view are symptomatic to a degree of a deeper social problem which receives little to no attention. In fact, addressing this underlying problem will significantly help address these other problems. What is this problem? It's the breakdown of the marriage and family as shown by the record number of children born out of wedlock.

An excellent article discussing this problem is Maggie Gallagher's "Unmarried births: Does any one really care?"
Between 2005 and 2006 (just one year!) the proportion of out-of-wedlock births climbed from a record 36.9 percent of all births to a new record of 38.5 percent. The unmarried childbearing rate (meaning the likelihood that a given single woman of childbearing age chose to have a child) jumped 7 percent. In raw terms, 114,666 more babies faced the known hardships and heartaches of being born to unwed parents in 2006.

Almost all races and ages shared the increase. Eighty percent of teen births are now out-of-wedlock, as are 60 percent of births to early twentysomethings and 30 percent of births to women age 25 to 29. The proportion of nonmarital births among non-Hispanic whites jumped from 25.3 percent in 2005 to 26.6 percent in 2006; for non-Hispanic blacks, from 69.9 percent to 70.7 percent; Hispanic nonmarital births jumped from 48 percent to 49.9 percent.
In Minnesota, the out of wedlock birth rates rose from 29.8% to 31.7% from 2005 to 2006. While those percentages are lower than the national averages, the increase was higher in Minnesota - a 6.3% increase compared to a 4.3% national increase.

And why is this a problem? As Gallagher points out:
We know these children face a massively increased risk of negative outcomes: more poverty, dependency, infant mortality, substance abuse, school failure, criminal conduct and behavior disorders to name just a few.
She points out that the public reaction to this large increase in out of wedlock births was largely silence.

While the government does spend millions and millions to preventing teen pregnancy, its programs rarely if ever mention marriage and usually focus on contraception distribution which of course hasn't been a useful response. (I compare it to pouring fuel on the fire of teenagers with raging hormones.)

I find many people on the Left saying the government has no business being in the marriage promoting business. (Of course, they do think the government should be funding abortions, handing out condoms and endorsing various sexual lifestyles.) While some on the Right wonder if less government should apply to marriage involvement as well.

My view, and the held by the founders of our nation, is marriage is the foundational institution of a healthy society. We will not have a healthy, safe society if the children in that society aren't raised by a mom and a dad. There's no way around it. Until we get it right, social problems will only worsen and the economic foundation of our society will only erode. (The traits individuals need to be productive members of a society are learned in the family headed by a mom and a dad.)

The government's fundamental job is promotion of justice in society. That means setting the legal standard for marriage and insuring justice is secured for the members of that institution. This means one spouse can't just unilaterally walk away leaving the other party holding the bag. And children aren't viewed as pawns subject to the whims of their parents who decide they're tired of marriage and want to try something else. I think it's appropriate for government to point out to people how important marriage is and what's at stake when they make what's supposed to be a lifelong commitment.

But an even more important role rests with churches who don't get it, when they should more than anybody else, that "What God has joined together, let no man should put asunder." The church needs to recapture it's moral voice in word and deed on the critical importance of the institution of marriage to society, individuals and ultimately God.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Is Minnesota a state in decline?

Minnesotans have generally prided themselves on being progressive, on the cutting edge of positive social change and having a great quality of life, despite cold winters and mosquitoes in summer. However, the past few years there seem to be some chinks in our state's armor. We've witnessed substantial state budget deficits and economic growth lagging behind many other states. We may well lose one of our eight congressional seats after the next census because our population growth is too slow. And we witnessed the tragic Mississippi bridge collapse this past summer. A sign of technological failure and/or poor oversight. This all begs the question: Is Minnesota a state in decline or at the very least entering a period of economic and social stagnation? If so, why?

I just came across an interesting, fascinating study released by the American Legislative Exchange Council called "Rich States/Poor States: ALEC-Laffer State Economic Competitiveness Index. ALEC is a conservative, free market oriented organization working with state legislators to promote conservative public policy proposals.

The report looks at sixteen factors, e.g. the level of state spending and taxation, migration of people to and from states, minimum wage, debt, and education freedom and so forth, and then ranks states according to these factors.

The study points out that people are migrating out of high tax states, e.g. Northeast and Midwest states for Southwest and South states in record numbers.

They point to California, which has one of the most liberal, wackiest legislatures in the country, as a state now witnessing substantial out migration despite the appeal of beaches, ocean and warm weather. And they look at the "Irish Miracle" where in the 1990s, Ireland significantly cut back on their welfare state by cutting taxes and privatizing many government services resulting in a significant immigration of people to that country.

Where does Minnesota rank overall? According to their index 35 out of 50 states. Definitely below average. Minnesota is high on taxes and middle of the pack on migration of people out of Minnesota (24th), since 2002 we've had a net outflow of people every year, and our wage growth is 28th nationally. We're ranked well, top ten, only for our legal system (2nd) - tort litigation treatment, and judicial impartiality - and education freedom (5th) - school choice, educational options.

The report mentions that some people point to a third way between a true free market approach and a socialist approach. Where government raises taxes to invest in and grow the economy and provide vital public services. They say this approach was tried in Europe and was a failure.

I believe there is more to life and the quality of life than merely dollars and cents. However, I think if one doesn't get it right in the economic realm you probably won't it right in the cultural realm. Personal freedom, limited government go hand in hand with moral and cultural well-being. Both are essential. I think Minnesota's problems go beyond just economic to moral and cultural factors. The economic red flags indicate that not all is well in the land of 10,000 lakes.