|Rounds, Thune, Noem|
So Where's The Beef?
Which is why I'm wondering why South Dakota has yet to get a piece of this action. For one thing, the wellsprings of our state's economy, grain and livestock production, have yet to get a price boost from a marketplace that is showering corporate America with good will and ever-increasing value. South Dakotans are being left behind. Grain and livestock prices since Trump's election are at best about even, while stock averages are up anywhere from 15 to 20 percent. State sales tax receipts have fallen below expectations, forcing lower take-home pay for South Dakota's employees, who are double-whammied by that news and higher prices created by inflation. As to the rest of our state's residents, things aren't much better. During the third quarter of last year, South Dakota's personal income growth was dead last (after being 44th worst the preceding quarter) in the country at a tenth of one percent compared to a national figure 7 times higher. Our immediate neighbors outpaced us by anywhere from 3 to 7 times more growth.
South Dakota's three-member congressional delegation, Republicans all, should come out and say something about this. Congresswoman Kristi Noem and Senators John Thune and Mike Rounds all shared a common theme during their respective campaigns, one heard perpetually in this state from congressional aspirants. In a nutshell they promised to make sure that South Dakota's priorities would be forcefully represented by their presence in Congress. That they all support Trump's presidency and belong to the majority Republican party in Congress should have given them even more visibility, stature and power when it comes to representing our state. Yet here we are, a year after Trump's inauguration, going nowhere fast. While the rest of America celebrates and Wall Street is on an orgiastic rave, South Dakota's economic performance and outlook make us look like wallflowers at best, utterly uninvited at worst.
Actually, I'm only using the Trump presidency as a starting point because of all the economic hullabaloo attached to its first year. Going back even further, let's say to the start of this decade, our people in D.C. have been duds when it comes to any improvement in South Dakota's economic fortunes. The default explanation that grain and livestock prices are to blame doesn't work because during the decade we've had episodes of explosively high, record breaking prices in crop and cattle markets. Meantime, our GDP per capita has actually declined from 2011 to 2016 (latest number available, though our last-place to nearly-last-place personal income performance in 2017 suggest little improvement is on tap for this year). The rest of the nation, including our immediate neighbors have fared much better. If these congressional reps are supposedly pounding their respective tables in Congress and demanding some voice for South Dakota, how come we're getting so far behind the rest of the country? Even more dismayingly, how come we can't keep up with our surrounding states?
I have no doubt that our reps and their p.r. pogues can pull out lists of all the wonderful things they've done for the state. Unfortunately the net results, economically, don't yield much to be proud about. South Dakota went 62% for Trump. When do we get something to show for that kind of support?