Friday, August 27, 2004

Olson Memorial Highway Forever

The Taxpayers League of Minnesota wants to rename Highway 55 – the Floyd B. Olson Memorial Highway – in honor of the late President Ronald Reagan.

Uh, no.

1) Floyd B. Olson was the most popular governor this state has ever had. Why do you think a (pre-interstate) major highway was named after him? Not only did he give Minnesotans hope through the Great Depression, but according to this website he accomplished the following:

Many of his political goals were passed despite hostility from a conservative legislature throughout much of his tenure, such as public unemployment insurance, hours and wages bills for women and state highway employees, a mortgage moratorium on farms, a progressive state income tax to relieve tax pressures on property, old age pensions, and the expansion of state environmental conservation programs and the state forest system. He also became well-revered for his restraint and refusal to use state troops to crush strikes in Minneapolis and Austin, the behavioral norm for the era.

2) Not only did Olson help the state of Minnesota, he himself was a Minnesotan. Ronald Reagan wasn't. And like I said, Olson was the most popular governor this state has had. Reagan failed to win this state in either of his presidential elections. History suggests that Olson stay as the Highway 55 patron saint. Although my pal Chuck pointed out that Reagan was a great liberator, because: "Reagan liberated so many Minnesotans from jobs during his first term."

3) Wouldn't renaming the highway, commissioning artists to sculpt up Ronnie, paying laborers to tear statues down (hey – great photo-op! you've liberated Minnesota from a state icon!), and the like, ummm, COST TAXPAYERS MONEY? Shouldn't the Taxpayers League be trying to find ways so that they and their fellow oppressed taxpayers can, you know, pay less taxes?

4) Olson "represents the failed path of socialism?" Oh sure, throw around the pinko card to dismiss a great Minnesotan. I'll say it again: He was the most popular governor this state has ever had. Minnesotans loved him. The Great Depression represented the failed path of the free market and it took a man like Olson to help Minnesota through that dark time. (Oh, and by the way, a similar "socialist" movement in North Dakota resulted in a state-owned mill and bank that still exist to this day.) On a national scale, Franklin D. Roosevelt was the Olson-like leader.

5) And it's Roosevelt that the conservatives want to replace on the dime with Reagan. Let's not diminish Minnesotan or American icons like Highway 55 or the dime by substituting a poor president like Reagan, whose only Cold War victory was in that courageous victory in Grenada.

Long live FDR and Floyd B. Olson.