Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Memo To South Dakota's Democratic Elder Statesmen: Where Aaaaare youuuuuu?

     Though a lifelong registered Republican, I did pay enough attention in my History studies to know that our country's two-party system has been as practical a division of ideologies and mindsets as could be produced in a modern  society.  When I look at countries with a myriad of political parties that require both exquisite and cumbersome coalition-building in order to create governments I shudder to think about how paralyzing that must be when it comes to managing a country.  Even worse, of course, are those societies that labor under a one-party system, where limits on political, personal and economic freedom are inherent and self-evident.  The American way, with two major parties and plenty of room for splinter parties to raise issues and consciousness, has plenty of flaws, but over the past few generations has kept the country moving--even if in fits and starts--and continues to make the United States the country of choice for those who seek the best in what modern, multi-faceted societies can offer.
     I think the same holds true at the state level, and this is why I'm concerned with the stranglehold on South Dakota that Republicans have these days.  That Governor Daugaard this year embarked on a series of "workforce summits" in order to address the state's chronic labor shortage speaks for itself as the dilemma our state faces: we can't attract enough people to keep up with the needs of natural economic growth, a fact that Daugaard himself addressed during the legislative session last Winter. A culture of complacency seems to have set into the GOP-dominated statehouse and legislature, resulting in an economy-stifling paralysis that has led to the end result of too many people shunning South Dakota as a place to make their careers and raise their families.  Some healthy, two-party debate is needed to address issues like education, infrastructure maintenance and improved wages.  So far the Republicans have failed to get off the dime on these issues and the whole state is paying the price.
     Unfortunately, South Dakota's Democratic Party has been floundering in the face of this need for a dynamic counter-party.  Scanning the list of Democratic candidates running for statewide and federal representation, I'm plenty chagrined at its paucity of strong and well-financed candidates.  The level of money and excitement that Dems have raised during this election cycle are barely perceptible.  They're likely to lose, big time, and on this front I hold the party's lack of leadership responsible for the coming train wreck.       South Dakota's Dems have some highly regarded figures that for their own reasons have taken to the sidelines, much to the loss of the current generation of party office-holders and -seekers.  I find their lack of responsibility and commitment to their home party's sad state of affairs appalling.  Where, for example, is Tom Daschle these days?  South Dakotans made him who he is, but Daschle's blow-off of the state and his party's need for some leadership is regrettable and classless.  Would it kill you, Senator Daschle, to come home and make a few pro forma appearances at party events with some of the Democratic candidates desperately  fighting the odds this year?  Corinna Robinson's Congressional campaign is starving for money.  Meantime, U.S. Senate candidate Rick Weiland looks to be running himself ragged going around the state on a shoestring of a budget against the lavishly-financed Mike Rounds.   Why should South Dakota's Democrats be excited about these candidates when you, Senator Tom Daschle, appear to be indifferent and apathetic?  I pose the same question to Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, bearer of one of South Dakota's legendary political names and a former South Dakota Representative to Congress.  Do you even care, Ms. Sandlin about how your party's fortunes are faring in South Dakota state races, the same South Dakota that your dad served as a state legislator and your grand-dad once governed?  Sheesh.  Come out here and show your face once in a while.
     Even that great old liberal warhorse former Senator Jim Abourezk (a fantastic individual who once made it possible for me to visit Syria) could be out there helping out the party, if only within the confines of Sioux Falls as a concession to his age.  Leaving all this to retiring U.S. Senator Tim Johnson, as steady a hand as South Dakota Dems have ever had, is probably asking too much of the aphasia-saddled Senator.   As a groundswell of excitement over Democratic fortunes this year isn't likely to materialize, the party's leadership vacuum is getting more conspicuous than ever.  South Dakota Democrats need some serious help, and those most able to give it just don't seem very interested.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Powertech/Azarga Uranium Mining Combo: There's A Whole Lotta Shakiness Goin' On

     Powertech Uranium Corporation's announcement last month that it was forming a business combination with Azarga Resources has a noteworthy touch.  The disclaimers are longer than the statement itself, and wise observers will spend as much time reading those disclaimers as they do the news release.  Looks to me like there's a whole lot of shakiness goin' on.    
     First off, pending approval by Toronto Stock Exchange regulators, the new business combo will be known as Azarga Uranium Corporation (known as Powertech/Azarga here for the time being), Azarga Resources being a company whose head, Alex Molyneaux, resides in Hong Kong.  On the face of it, this merger, technically known as a "reverse takeover"--I'll spare the financial gobbledygook after this--seems like a simple enough transaction.  Prior to it, Powertech was on the financial ropes. Along came Azarga Resources to the rescue, in the process picking up the company's plan to mine uranium in the southern Black Hills of South Dakota using a controversial method called in situ mining that will alter the region's groundwater forever.
     Dubious as I am about the scheme, I'll set it aside here and let the scientists hash it out.  I'm more skeptical about the business structure that Powertech/Azarga has created with this merger.  Turns out that one of the biggest stakeholders in the deal is a Singapore-based outfit called Blumont Group, Limited.  
Blumont has ties with Azarga and touted itself as the "big winner" in the deal.  I know it's a head-scratcher, but there are multiple levels of international corporate intrigue going on here (I mean, we're talking Hong Kong, Singapore, Toronto, The British Virgin Islands and--oh, yes--Edgemont, South Dakota.) and you're just getting a distillation.  Anyway, Blumont is a company that is now in deep regulatory trouble with Singapore's financial overseers following a huge drop in its stock price last Fall, wiping out billions of dollars of shareholder equity. Singapore's "white collar crimes" police unit is all over this company, its principals, and its records.  Most intriguing is that one of the company's consultants and "key advisors" is none other than Mr. Alexander Molyneaux.
     Molyneaux is now apparently the man who will take charge of the Black Hills uranium-mining interests of the Powertech/Azarga combo.  This strikes me as a little weird and a whole lot unnerving. Do we really need to upset the tranquility of the Black Hills by bringing this cast of characters into them?  

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Sure, Governor Daugaard. Go Ahead And Consider Indexing Fuel Taxes To Inflation. Now Please Explain Why You Won't Index Minimum Wages For The Same Reason.

      Couldn't help noticing all the recent discussion about how federal and state highway taxes aren't keeping up with the cost of maintaining and building our highways.  That the situation has been turning into a crisis is getting obvious, with studies noting that the gas tax now buys only about half the concrete, steel and other materials that it did 20 years ago.  The problem is that the gasoline tax is set at cents per gallon, and with the steady increases in gasoline prices over the years, the rate, or percentage, of the gas tax has been moving steadily downward.  Meanwhile all other costs associated with maintaining the roads with the money raised by the gas tax have been going up.
     The situation at the state level is much the same, with South Dakota's gas tax of 22 cents a gallon having been in place since 1999.  Other taxes, which are set at a percentage of sales, automatically increase with inflation, generally keeping up with the rising costs of government services, so on this front, at least, they aren't much of an issue.  But the unique situation with gas taxes has caught Governor Daugaard's attention, so much so that a few weeks back he said he'd consider raising gas taxes in order to restore the purchasing power those taxes had when they were last set 15 years ago.  Daugaard has noted that this is consistent with his promise not to raise taxes, saying that all he's considering is getting those taxes in line with inflation.
     I think this is kind of a rhetorical dance myself, as a tax increase is a tax increase is a tax increase--regardless of its reason for being.  I don't particularly fault the Governor for seeking to restore the funds that have been lost to inflation this way.  Fact is, roads are such a vital aspect of government services that they need to be funded to whatever level necessary in order to keep them maintained.  No doubt the Governor and his aides, along with the legislature's people, will look for every means possible to get highway funding where it needs to be, short of raising gas taxes.  But if that's the only option, I believe it's a bullet we have to bite.
     My beef about all this isn't the gas tax, per se. I'm just dismayed by the notion that cost-of-living increases need to be considered when pencilling in the price of government services but are to be ignored when it comes considering raises in the minimum wage.  If Daugaard  believes that jacking up gas taxes doesn't amount to a tax increase, just a restoration of buying power, then shouldn't that same principle be applied to minimum wages?  Applying the Governor's own reasoning, raising minimum wages isn't the same as increasing them, it's just a matter of restoring their buying power.  Yet Daugaard has effectively ignored this logic and withheld his support for the cost-of-living increase (with its built-in adjustment for inflation) that will appear on November's ballot.
     It all looks to me like Daugaard believes state government should consider getting a cost-of-living increase but working people shouldn't.  I don't like this.  It's illogical. It's inconsistent--and it comes across as institutionalized cognitive dissonance.  

Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Myth? Raising Minimum Wages Hampers Job Growth. The Reality? Baloney.

     An initiated measure to raise minimum wages from $7.25 to $8.50 an hour (with built-in adjustments for inflation) in South Dakota will be on November's ballot.  Leading the opposition to it, SD Governor Dennis Daugaard last year said, "this issue should be based on economics, not politics.  There needs to be an analysis of how many jobs would be lost." This is an amazing statement on two fronts, actually.  In the first place, I don't know how Daugaard can make the presumption that jobs would be lost if the minimum wage increases. The facts don't support his view.  Which brings us to the second front:  What the facts do support is Daugaard's belief that the decision should be made based on its economic consequences.  I couldn't agree more with the Governor that politics should take a back seat to economics on this one.
     And when it comes to economics, I'd say the most pertinent facts that we can rely on are those that have been gleaned this year from studies of states that have raised their minimum wage in 2014.  Thirteen of them have done so and the numbers so far indicate one thing:  states that have raised their minimum wages this year are experiencing faster job growth than states that haven't.  Economists at Goldman Sachs produced a study cited by The Center For Economic Policy Research that concludes "2014 job creation is faster in states that raised the minimum wage."  Granted, the study doesn't necessarily disprove the claim that some jobs could be lost by raising the minimum wage, but what it does confirm is the far more profound impact of rising wages on the overall economy.  By kicking wages higher from the base upward, more money is put into the hands of consumers, whose overall spending has a positive effect on economic growth.  Job losses created by rising wages in some industries are more than offset by better job creation numbers as consumer spending is increased by better overall wages.
     Seems to me that this is the point that is consistently missed here in South Dakota, which is perpetually on the low end of wage scales, both nationally and regionally. Recent Bureau of Labor Statistics studies confirm as much. Governor Daugaard's much-ballyhooed and recently completed "workforce summits" at various meeting points around the state should (note I said "should") produce a "stand-out" conclusion:  the best way to address South Dakota's chronic labor shortage is to pay competitive wages.  What better way of showing the rest of the country that South Dakota is determined to improve the lot of its workers than by making a clear commitment to raising the minimum wage and insuring annual cost-of-living increases as part of that commitment?  This is what the coming November initiative would accomplish if it passes.
     And if Governor Daugaard is sincere in his belief that the decision should be an economic, not a political one, then he need only study the effects of higher minimum wages on those states that have them.  That means Daugaard should be supporting the initiative.  The facts speak for themselves.  So what about it, Governor Daugaard?  Do we make this an economic or a political decision?

Addendum (added 7/7):  More on this from a UC Berkeley-trained Economist, aka my daughter Emily: "It is my belief that raising the minimum wage can actually increase employment by coaxing marginal workers back into the job market. Controlled experiments are impossible in an actual economy, but anecdotal evidence is strong in this regard. Microeconomics can easily demonstrate this if you assume that there is a "monopsony" in labor markets (many sellers -aka workers; few buyers - aka employers)."  Emily adds this link

Friday, July 4, 2014

Rapid City (SD) Alderwoman Charity Doyle Responds To RC Mayor Sam Kooiker's Post Dated 6/27:

I’m somebody who doesn’t read the blogs or online comments because many of the commenters are politicians who hide behind a screen name to propagate hatred, not fact. But I was recently sickened when a colleague handed me a copy of Mayor Kooiker’s response to your 6/17 post and cannot sit idly by any longer.

First off, a true leader wouldn’t put these claims out there. They are divisive. They hurt the City. They hurt the people. They hurt the police department.

Kooiker has a well-established pattern of creating drama to mask his inadequacies. When he makes a mistake, instead of owning it and learning from it, he uses the power of deflection to take the focus off of him and put it somewhere else. He makes up more lies. More excuses. He continually tears people down and apart rather than bringing them together.

When I joined the council I was a Kooiker supporter. One month later two police officers were shot and killed in the line of duty and a third—my husband—was shot and seriously wounded. This was when I learned who Sam Kooiker really was. He approached me while I was standing guard outside my husband’s hospital room conversing with an officer who’d worked on the Fish landfill case. Mayor Kooiker randomly turned to me and said while motioning to the gentleman, “Now this is the real hero!” I was immediately filled with horror, silently praying that the next words out of his mouth would excuse the insensitivity of his words. “(This officer) uncovered the waste and fraud at the landfill,” is what he said. One officer was dying in a room behind the Mayor’s back. My husband (we thought at the time) was dying in the room behind mine and that is what the Mayor was thinking about. I was speechless. I excused myself, went in my husband’s room, and cried my eyes out over having voted for somebody like him.

As I got behind the scenes and explored what was really going on with various issues, I discovered that everything Mayor Kooiker accused Alan Hanks of doing he either misrepresented, or does ten-fold. And I have voiced it because I thought people would want to know the truth. Since that time I have frequently been in the Mayor’s political cross-hairs. He rehashes old debates over and over and over and over and over…. I am one in a long line of people he has done these things to which is why I haven’t discussed his accusations before. I always believed that to give attention to any delusion just encourages the delusional. But Mayor Kooiker has hurt my family deeper than Daniel Tiger did. Daniel couldn’t help the way he was. Neither my husband nor I have never felt one ounce of anger or hatred toward Daniel because of the volunteer work both my husband and I have done over the years with kids just like him. Mayor Kooiker on the other hand does these things intentionally. He exhibits the exact behavior we expose in our book and I can no longer stand by and let him continue to spread these horrible lies and put my husband, my family, and the City’s police department at risk.

Speaking of rehashing old issues…

Disability Consideration: We changed this in October 2011. Nearly three years ago. Because of this policy, we now separate and put a flag on people with disabilities. The way we did it before, there was no way for the hiring authority to know if a person was disabled which prevented them from discriminating. Kooiker has a selective memory on the matter; I said he had a conflict of interest not because he’s disabled but rather because he got to break the tie on a policy he sponsored. My only goal was to protect all applicants and not single anyone out. After the vote, I moved on. Interestingly, he has brought this issue up to me a dozen or more times, which I don’t understand because he got his way. I’ve never brought it up. Even if I had thrown my pen across the room as he continually claims—my husband almost died two months prior to this vote—perhaps I was going through a lot. I don’t know, just a thought.

Human Relations: My problem with this is well documented. First, we expanded this with no additional funding. Second, we gave private, unsworn, citizens the power to subpoena without any training in wielding that power responsibly. Third—the diversity of the commission extended to only minorities and women but I believed it would also be important to for a certain number of commissioners to have some kind of business experience because of the types of decisions and disputes they’d be handling. These mayor-appointed commissioners now have power over every landlord, business owner, and employer in Rapid City and I felt that training, character, and integrity were paramount if we were going to expand those powers. This one went Kooiker’s way as well yet he continues to cry about it.

Police Chief: My vote against this appointment had only to do with qualifications. Period. I have a deep regard and respect for police officers and what they face day after day and I felt that command staff experience was paramount in this appointment. Eli Diaz and his wife Sarah played a special role in the healing process of my family after Aug. 2nd. They will always hold a special place in our hearts and I pray that they don’t believe a word of what Kooiker is spewing. As far as abstaining from this vote? If my husband had applied for the job I would’ve. Or if I was going to gain financially by my vote I would’ve. His efforts to get me to abstain were nothing but a deflection tactic to mask the fact that he made a mistake. Smoke and mirrors. The only one engaging in a smear campaign here is Mayor Kooiker.

The Book: With respect to Mayor Kooiker claims about our (seven-year-old out of print) book, the book is all about our take on the role of politics in the state of the country. It’s about arming ourselves against politicians that would manipulate us into believing lies. It’s about personal responsibility. And it was written long before I ever considered running for office and long before we knew about the “Sam Kooikers” of the world. My husband and I are both engineers by degree and training and used political satire to illustrate viewpoints. Mayor Kooiker cannot tell the difference between the art of using political satire to illustrate a viewpoint and reality. As new writers, perhaps we could’ve done a better job of explaining our satire but for the two years following the book release, NOT ONE person accused us of anything negative. It was quite the opposite, even from people we now know are in the Mayor’s camp. It wasn’t until the book got in Mayor Kooiker’s hands that these attacks started. Seven year old book. The Mayor’s had it for two years. I’m sure you can do the math.

We discuss race issues quite a lot pointing out that we’re tired of people using race to further divide people—which, by the way, is exactly what Kooiker is doing here. In fact, Kooiker hasn’t once contacted me for clarification about comments in the book he seems so confused about. Why? The only answer I can come up with is that he doesn’t care about the truth, only his spin.

As we state in the book, we agree with Morgan Freeman, who, when asked by Mike Wallace how we could get rid of racism, said: "Stop talking about it. I'm going to stop calling you a white man. And I'm going to ask you to stop calling me a black man. I know you as Mike Wallace. You know me as Morgan Freeman."  He also said Black History month was a joke: "You're going to relegate my history to a month? I don't want a Black History Month. Black history is American history.”

We further believe that Black history is American history. This does not mean that blacks give up their history or heritage, nor do whites, Hispanics, Europeans, Asians, etc.  What we do is change our focus from how we are different to how we are the same and we work together to make the country better for all of us.

In the book we also talk about Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s famous speech in the book and say that when MLK says that he has a dream that his children will live in a nation where people are judged by the content of their character and not just the color of their skin, was he talking about everyone?  All races?  We believe he was. WHY is this important to us? Because our family is Native American, Hispanic, Black, and white. The Mayor knows this but continues to spread evil propaganda by taking things out of context. It is sick.

By doing what he is doing, he is not only attacking me, but he is attacking my husband, a city employee, and possibly creating a hostile work environment for him, both within the department and on the street. He has created an environment where bloggers are taking the Mayor’s words as truth and attacking our police department, some are even singling my husband out. As painful as the August 2nd shooting was, the Mayor’s continued harassment, obsession with me, and attacks continue to hurt and cause damage to my family. I and my family deserve better. This police department deserves better. The people of Rapid City deserve better.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Rapid City (SD) Alderwoman Bonny Petersen Responds To RC Mayor Sam Kooiker's Post Dated 6/27:

I can’t let Mayor Sam Kooiker’s remarks on your June 27, 2014 post stand uncorrected.  As a council member, I can assure you that the Mayor knows why the appointee wasn’t confirmed and it had absolutely nothing to do with his heritage. 
The Mayor knows the real reasons the vote was no, he knows it has nothing to do with heritage, yet that is what he suggests.   He attacks two council members to divert attention from the real facts-- that the selection process was adequate until it got to Mayor Kooiker.    Once there, Mayor Sam Kooiker failed to do his due diligence.   Let me repeat, Mayor Sam Kooiker and only Sam Kooiker failed to do his due diligence.   He chose to ignore information that eight of us could not.  He can say whatever he wants and point his finger outward, but the fact remains he made a mistake.  The eight no votes were a no to a bad decision; it was not a vote for a preferred candidate.  We knew that the Mayor could bring in someone from outside the state and we were willing to accept that over his appointee. None of us took our vote lightly.
We all make mistakes and it would be nice if the mayor would accept and learn from his mistakes, instead of turning to his counterproductive methods, of attacking others.  Until I read his comments in your blog, I had always held out hope that the Mayor was capable of becoming upright in his techniques, that he would learn that his personal attacks are not good for the city. 
 Prior to the vote, I anticipated there was a high likelihood that Sam Kooiker would use the appointee’s race and heritage as a means to attack the council.     Seeing him now actually use it, only confirms that Mayor Kooiker is willing to use race as a tool to get what he wants, whether for an appointee or revenge.    This is disrespectful at best and dangerous at worst.   
Now his words have spread across the state, the impact to the council, though significant, is minor compared to the impact on our community.  Our city has real race issues without making them up for political gain.   We have police out on the streets twenty-four hours a day and the last thing they need is our Mayor claiming governmental racism, when he knows it had nothing to do with the vote.  He betrays our community by using race as a political weapon.   He undermines the huge efforts made throughout our city every day to alleviate the effects of racism.  How do these comments influence those that already feel disenfranchised or businesses looking to move here?
After serving with the Mayor for 4 years and working closely with him while in leadership for two years, I have noticed he uses predictable and unproductive methods that you have seen in his comments.   When he detects disagreements, he launches attacks and accusations against people that reflect a different view or that he perceives as a political threat. He brings up totally unrelated facts and throws them out there in hopes they will stick.  He is too ready to throw people under the bus for his political goals, whether they are his own citizens, employees or council members.
He takes advantage of situations that require confidentiality and the council can’t or won’t divulge information that would contradict what the Mayor says because it could end up in a lawsuit.  He will shine the light on one part of a story that supports his claims, while knowing if the complete story was illuminated it would say something entirely different.   Example of some situations that could require confidentiality and force council members silence are issues involving our employees, claims against a Mayor or council members, lawsuits or whether or not a council member actually asked for his legal fees to be paid.
The negative methods that Mayor Kooiker clings too and has mastered so well are the reasons the majority of the council no longer trust or respect him.  Is this the fault of the individual council members?   I think history clearly shows there is something about the way Sam Kooiker conducts himself that alienates people that work closely with him. (It is not his causes—many of us support his causes--it is his techniques.)  Not playing well with others is fine until it undermines the city---and Sam Kooiker pointing to racism on this vote though predictable is beyond disappointing-- it is outrageously irresponsible.
John, Even though the above needed to be said to reflect an accurate picture of what truly happened, I agree with the Mayor that there are things to celebrate.   Coming in as a nurse wanting to serve her community, but not really connected to movers and shakers in the city, I didn’t really know what to expect.  As I end my service on the council, I have more faith in our government than ever.  Our council members come from all walks of life and bring different life experiences to the table.   Overall, they truly desire what is good for the city.  Each decision is based on that and only that.  I have read speculations about 6 – 4, pro-Kooiker and anti-Kooiker or Establishment and Outsider, but I don’t see it that way.  When a diverse group does their homework, and weighs that against their life experience and what they have heard from their constituents, their votes will naturally come together and differ at times.  There is no sinister plot, council members seldom talk to each other off the dais.  Rarely do they know the votes before they are cast. This is encouraging because the council is an important part of the checks and balances that work to do what is right for Rapid City. I will forever be thankful that I was given the honor to serve and I will forever do what I can to protect the city.
Bonny Petersen

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

SD GOP Calls Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby "A Victory For Religious Freedom." I Call It A Victory For Symbolism Over Substance.

     South Dakota's Republican Party didn't waste much time before whooping it up over the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision.  It was a matter of hours before GOP wordsmiths  produced a brief statement calling the case "a victory for religious freedom."  No surprise there, I suppose, considering that the GOP's long held belief in the the rights and sanctity of individuals and their inherent freedom to make their own choices is a bulwark of Republican philosophy.  It's too bad that many of those celebrating Republicans won't uniformly apply the principle of limited government to the rights of individuals making their own decisions about reproductive rights and marriage choices, but on this issue they have cause to be satisfied by the Hobby Lobby decision.
     That the whole thing is kind of a pro-forma scam doesn't detract from the symbolic value of the case.  Julian Sanchez, one of the right-wing's intellectual doyenne's at the Cato Institute, notes that the Hobby Lobby decision doesn't deny the company's employees access to contraceptive care and medications at all.  It doesn't even make them--in the snarky harrumph of so many anti-choice advocates--"pay for their own contraception."  All it does is apply the exemption that religious non-profit corporations like churches, charities and religiously-affiliated hospitals get from paying for employee conctraceptive health care to privately held concerns like Hobby Lobby.  As Sanchez notes, there's an accounting trick involved.  Basically, the guys with the green eyeshades figured out a way to let exempt corporations buy health plans without contraceptive coverage while requiring those insurers to provide the coverage independently to those who want it.  Insurers find that the cost of contraceptive coverage is offset by the savings of lowered maternity costs, so there is no extra cost to the covered employees.
     Neat, hey?  The whole thing lets opposing political views get aired out while effectively giving employees access to the kind of care they want.  More to the satisfaction of Hobby Lobby employees (including any participating owners) who invest in the company's 401k plans, they get to continue to invest in and profit from companies that manufacture and distribute contraceptive devices.  Looks to me like everybody's happy:  Hobby Lobby owners have their religious beliefs reinforced and indemnified even as they and their employees can continue to profit from the contraceptive care industry--and women workers can get all the reproductive care they need via an accounting loophole.  All the while, on a political scale, there's probably an incalculable symbolic value attached to the decision, one that will feed a lot of coffers on both sides of the reproductive rights debate.  I doubt that SCOTUS has ever reached a decision that has created so many winners.