|What, Me Worry?|
This Is South Dakota
(photo from www.comicvine.com)
|What, Me Worry?|
We Can Even Teach The President A Thing Or Two
(photo from politico.com)
For one thing, Obama could learn that we're not all as indifferent to reality, if not altogether delusional, as Noem is. When it comes to efficiency, effectiveness and accountability in our "state government that respects hardworking taxpayers," I'd guess that Noem must have missed the recent brouhaha over how our state government let maybe more than $100 million slip away in the EB-5 fiasco. Then, of course, this efficient, effective and accountable government, whose head man Governor Dennis Daugaard a bit over a year ago told us our roads and bridges are in great shape ("South Dakota’s 8,000 miles of paved state highways rank a 4.4 out of 5 for quality, and our state bridges rank 91 on a 100-point scale."), exposed that bit of propaganda this year with a state-sponsored pitch informing us that our roads are in dire need of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of repairs and that our bridges are the 4th worst in the nation, with 31% of them "structurally deficient or obsolete right now." As long ago as 2008, the American Society of Civil Engineers said that 29% of SD's roads were in "poor or mediocre condition." Thanks, efficient/effective/accountable state government. That extra 6 cents you just tacked on to the price of gasoline makes me darn glad we live in a state with so much efficiency, effectiveness and accountability.
Meantime, Noem touts our labor shortage as if it were some kind of asset, even as Governor Daugaard has been scrambling to come up with a solution. Yes, Congresswoman Noem, sub-4% unemployment looks good on the surface, but everybody in South Dakota, except, apparently, you, knows that it's because we can't find enough people to come and work in this state. Given the lowest wages in the region (if not the entire country), the most poorly paid teachers, indifferently maintained infrastructure and a congressional rep who's willing to shut down our national parks in the middle of a prime tourist season, a labor shortage is to be expected. Good grief, Congresswoman Pollyanna, do you even read the news in your home state?
As to the "better lifestyle," for some of us it's the best. That's why I live here, but we've got a disconcerting trend going on--a "spike" in poverty during the past few years, notably in the Black Hills, which has its highest poverty level in a decade. In the meantime . . . back at the rez . . .
And about that perenially "balanced budget?" First off, it's a constitutional requirement, not an act of fiscal statesmanship. Second off, you know darn well that half of it comes from the federal treasury and that South Dakota gets back from D.C. way more than we ever send in. Without the federal government, which you routinely lambaste, we'd be in awful fiscal shape. The glib self-adulation over our state's balanced budget is kind of cloying, don't you think?
Then there's that weird appendage to your accolades about our "healthy economy." If whoever wrote your puff piece were paying attention, you would have known that South Dakota's soft economy has resulted in just 1.1% sales tax growth this year, way below the expected 2.8% that was projected. Even worse, it's below the rate of inflation--which means we've had real negative growth in this "healthy economy" you tout.
South Dakota has a lot of great things going for it, but having a Congresswoman who's attached to reality isn't one of them. Noem's Alfred E. Neuman-esque ("What, Me Worry?") recitations--insincere, shallow and uninformed as they are--of South Dakota's wonderfulness makes me question the seriousness of her intentions and abilities to improve conditions in her home state, which by every measure that counts is lagging behind its immediate neighbors, not to mention the country as a whole.