OTC updated by think tank advocating free-market principles

By Tom Hintgen

Otter Tail County Correspondent

Workers in Otter Tail County and in most areas of the Upper Midwest have productivity that is the best in the nation. Statistics point this out.

That revelation came from John Phelan, an economist with the Twin Cities-based Center of the American Experiment. He spoke Monday evening, July 19, at Thumper Pond in the town of Ottertail.

Phelan is part of a think tank that is an advocate of free-market principles.

“Minnesota, thanks to good workers, has above-average Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita,” he said.

GDP is the monetary value of all finished goods and services and is a broad measure of overall domestic production. In simple terms, GDP functions as a scorecard of economic health.

“We use GDP as a key tool to guide policy-makers, investors and businesses in strategic decision-making,” Phelan said. “Productivity is what really matters.”

Many people, during the gathering at Thumper Pond, expressed appreciation for workers here in Otter Tail County.

Phelan referred to words from Paul Krugman, an American economist, professor and columnist.

“Our standard of living depends on our ability to raise our output per worker,” Krugman said.

Phelan said that Minnesota is fifth in the nation in the number of new patents on an annual basis.

“Innovation and entrepreneurship are keys to our success in Minnesota,” Phelan said.

As a conservative, he said he is concerned with Minnesota’s high personal income taxes and high corporate taxes, in addition to excess regulation.

One attendee pointed out to Phelan, and the audience in general, that the permit-process for some projects in Minnesota can take several years. “That’s much too long and is not good for the economy of our state,” said the attendee.

Phelan said that new housing regulations are far less stringent in neighboring Wisconsin compared to housing regulations in Minnesota. He said this needs to change.

“The new houses, when completed, are just as safe in Wisconsin as are the houses built in Minnesota,” he said.

Phelan and attendees agreed that people in Minnesota need to overcome uncertainty in these challenging times, not the least of which is a new economy following COVID-19.

“This where knowledge capital comes into the picture,” he said.

Knowledge capital refers to an organization made up of learned techniques, procedures and innovations. In simple terms, knowledge capital is the full body of knowledge that an organization possesses.