Maybe it should be unsaid that economy is top issue

More than 40 people attended the legislative update sponsored by the Little Falls Chamber of Commerce Thursday, including the usual array of government officials.

Surprisingly, however, none of them wanted to talk about the biggest issue of the day. In fact, at the end of the session, state Sen. Paul Gazelka, R-Brainerd, made note of that fact. He thinks the biggest issue remains the economy and creating jobs.

We do not mean to belittle the issues that were brought up. School funding, foster care, welfare reform, etc. are all important, and citizens voiced concerns about each.

But the elephant in the corner remains job creation and growing the economy. It is only by growing private-sector payrolls that tax revenues can grow enough to fund adequately all the government programs that the citizenry wants.

Gazelka and District 12B Rep. Mike LeMieur, R-Little Falls, not surprisingly voiced support for growing the private economy.

Their approach, while not supported by all, makes sense. First, they want to eliminate governmental red tape to make it easier for start-up businesses to get off the ground. Second, they want to reduce the tax burden on businesses so more of them can at least stay in existence and possibly expand as earnings are reinvested.

If you don’t believe in Adam Smith’s invisible hand of capitalism,  it is difficult to understand the expanding pie that is created by a dynamic business climate. When the pie shrinks, as it did in 2008-2009, or has difficulty growing as fast as the population like in the years since, people sometimes think the pie will remain forever frozen in size, even as the demands on government increase. The temptation grows to rob Peter to pay Paul — that is to take more in taxes from the private sector to finance government today, instead of doing everything possible to grow the private sector so that we have more tax revenue to spend on government.

Make no mistake, cutting public programs is usually painful, and making any enterprise, public or private, more efficient is always uncomfortable. However, the solution will be found in growth, not in using seed money to maintain a governmental size that we temporarily cannot afford.

That such an issue didn’t come up Thursday, we hope indicates that economic recovery is on the way.