Mayo Clinic CEO Dr. John Noseworthy raised the ire of the Minnesota State Legislature this week when he made comments to the National Press Club in Washington. Now the Clinic PR machine is being made to eat the CEO’s words.
Here’s what the Doctor said. In his comments he referred to the plan to get the State Legislature to pay out over half a billion dollars, that’s with a ‘B’ not an ‘M’, to pay for a facelift for the City of Rochester as part of the Destination Medical Center project. The plan is now a topic of discussion at the capitol and is going a little too slowly for Noseworthy. The doctor says that if the legislature doesn’t approve the funding, there are 49 other states that may be more welcoming.
While there is probably little likelihood that Mayo Clinic Rochester will move, the veiled threat still stung. Legislators were truly miffed, one referring to Noseworthy’s comments as “Stupid, stupid, stupid!”
Mayo Clinic has footholds in other states already. If they decide that the economic climate is not good in Minnesota, and it isn’t, they might just decide to spend their money on projects in Arizona or Florida, rather than Minnesota. The state can do a lot to keep industry here, including deregulation and a more welcoming and fair tax code, but should they be involved in “investing” tax payer money in any industry, helpful or not?
Anyone who knows about politics in Minnesota knows that the state is paying millions to keep the NFL Vikings Football team here by building a new stadium. The Vikes owners have made continuous threats if the state doesn’t fund their coliseum they’ll leave. By staying in town, the Vikes bring in a lot of revenue to the downtown area. The legislature caved to their demands, creating one of the worst stadium deals in history. The funding sources are a little shoddy too, so if they aren’t able to make up their portion of the stadium budget, what will the legislature cut? Roads and Bridges? State tuition grants? Subsidized health care for the poor? Education?
At best the stadium and the Vikings team supports a group of millionaire football players with big egos and their billionaire owners. Any other revenue will be made by hardworking urban types making minimum wage as cashiers and bartenders in the downtown. Not much there.
The Mayo Clinic however supports the economy of the state in two ways, by supplying a world class health care system employing highly skilled professionals, and by supporting efforts in the service community who serve the patients who come here to stay. People come here from every state in the union and from other countries too, often overflying the two best rated hospitals in the world, John Hopkins and Boston General, to come here to the third best hospital. Why do they do it? Oh, those hospitals have good doctors, and so do we. The difference is our technically competent and compassionate allied health staff, otherwise known as nurses. Here we have the “Minnesota Nice” going on. You want a good doctor, that’s important, but if you are sick, there is nothing better to have at your bedside than a Minnesota nurse.
So if you’re going to invest a lot of money in an industry, the Clinic is a far better choice than the stupid old stadium. But here is where the libertarian in me kicks in. Why should the state, especially during economic downturns, be funding any private industry, whether it be sports teams, farmers, wind farms or world class clinics? The answer is, they shouldn’t. The free market system is the way to go. The state needs to create a friendly economic climate for industries of all types, and not be in the business of picking winners or losers. If they clear away the cobwebs of onerous regulation and burdensome taxes, the businesses will come here and stay. But if they don’t, those industries are free to find greener pastures.
The state legislature and this Governor, Mark Dayton, don’t understand that. They see the taxpayer’s money as their play toy to dispense with as they please, and they’ll be happy to spend it. Sometimes wisely, such as in the case of the clinic, other times not so much, Go Vikes! No I mean it, go away!
The free market capitalistic system is always the best way to go in a Republic. After all, it allowed two country doctors and a handful of Fransiscan nuns turned nurses to create the third best health care system in the world, (many would argue that it’s actually the first), building it with their own bare hands in the midst of crisis. Let’s face it, William and Charles were great, but we wouldn’t have a clinic here without those nuns. The buildings at St. Mary’s Hospital bear their names, Domitilla, Francis, Mary Brigh, Alfred, Generose. They were the first nurses and they set the tone for care for all who followed them. If the clinic stays true to the principles that it was founded on, it will thrive, whether or not they get a taxpayer funded infusion of cash or not.
A full video of Dr. Noseworthy’s comments can be found on You Tube here.