Coming attractions

American Experiment plans an aggressive fall of new and worthwhile efforts.

At the beginning of the summer, we kicked off our traffic congestion project by releasing a report by Randal O’Toole on the Twin Cities’ congestion problem. We held a press conference with Mr. O’Toole, simultaneously unveiling, where readers can learn the facts about congestion. On the same day, we had an op-ed about congestion in the Star Tribune and were guests on three local radio shows.

Over the summer, the Center placed 486 radio spots about congestion on nine local stations. We wrote op-eds in nine newspapers, and were guests on 10 radio programs and two television shows. Our congestion project was the subject of five television news shows and 13 newspaper stories and editorials.

We promoted the project online, through our web site (, our Facebook page and, which has been visited by thousands of Minnesotans. We rented a physical billboard at one of the most congested intersections in the country, Interstates 494 and 35W, as well as seven electronic billboards around the Twin Cities. We passed out thousands of bumper stickers.

All of this effort was focused on informing Minnesotans that the Twin Cities’ extraordinary traffic congestion is the result of political decisions that can be changed, not an inescapable fact of life.

American Experiment hasn’t been working only on transportation issues. On the contrary, we have launched a major education project, the purpose of which is to promote alternatives to four-year college degrees. You can read about that project in this issue. We have pursued employee freedom on behalf of personal care attendants and others. Peter Nelson has continued his national leadership on health care. We have fought for lower taxes and spending restraint in Minnesota’s legislature. And much more.

In September, we published an update to last year’s blockbuster report on Minnesota’s economy by Dr. Joseph Kennedy, which was titled “Minnesota’s Economy: Mediocre Performance Threatens State’s Future.” The update, by the Center’s economist John Phelan, shows that one year later, Minnesota’s economy continues to underperform. The economy will be a major focus for the Center during the coming year.

In September, we also released the first paper associated with our Great Jobs project. Authored by Amanda Griffith, a Ph.D. labor economist from Wake Forest, it uses Minnesota data to show that many occupational paths that do not require a four-year degree—welders, millwrights, CNC programmers, radiologic technicians and others— are expected to yield significantly more income over a career than is earned by the median graduate of a four-year Minnesota college or university.

Later this month (October), we will publish a paper on energy by Steven Hayward that will document the enormous amount of money that Minnesota has spent on “green” wind and solar energy, and will explain why those investments have had virtually no impact on the state’s emissions of carbon dioxide.

November will see the release of yet another paper, on the estate tax. Minnesota is one of the relatively few states that levy an estate tax, and the tax produces little revenue. The paper will assess the economic consequences of repealing the estate tax, and will undertake to answer the question, how much revenue—if any at all—would the state actually lose if the estate tax were repealed?

As you can see, the remainder of 2017 will be busy! What distinguishes American Experiment is not so much that we publish papers, but rather, what we do with them afterward. You can expect to see more campaigns to educate the public in the months to come, much like our traffic congestion project. However, the next few campaigns might not include billboards and bumper stickers.