Notes from the Petition Trail: Nothing But Business Matters?

So I was petitioning at the Brown County Fairgrounds at the Hub City Spring Big Boy Toy Show yesterday (and I’m going again today! 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.! Come sign!), and a guy came up to me and asks if I’ve got any $12.50–$15/hour jobs.

I check my signs—they say “Defend Your Voice, Defend Your Vote—Sign Petitions on SB 69 and SB 177!” not “South Dakota Job Service—Now Hiring.” I look at the guy and ask if he’s asking if I’m hiring petition circulators (the Democratic Party may be, but I’m not).

He comes up and goes on some spiel about how business people create real jobs, while guys like me just… well, I’m not sure what he said petitioners and activists do, but he dismissed it with “just…” and then babbled something about competition.

I took it that this gentleman wasn’t really asking me a question but trying to make some rhetorical point. I told him what I tell you now:

My interlocutor misuses the word just. We’re aren’t just circulating a petition. We are justly engaging in civic activities that are as valuable to society as any commercial activity businesspeople may do. We are exercising a specialization of labor: the green eye-shade types can keep their beady eyes focused on their ledgers while political activists take care of keeping the civic gears of government and popular participation greased and spinning smoothly. Circulating petitions, educating citizens (and a lot of people have not heard the details about the youth minimum wage and the barriers to ballot access that our legislators foisted upon us this session), mobilizing voters, and checking abuses of power in Pierre are at least as essential to South Dakota’s general welfare as making widgets or designing company slogans or doing whatever else my interlocutor thinks is worth $15 an hour.

And if you like competition, well hey! You should be signing my petition to block and refer Senate Bill 69, because Senate Bill 69 makes it harder for people to run for office, meaning there will be less competition in our elections. I like competition; I want more competition in elections to ensure we get better public discourse during the campaign and better candidates in office.

My interlocutor evidently didn’t mean whatever he was saying about competition. He walked away without signing. But that’s o.k. I’ve got 500,000 other voters to talk to… and I’m sure many more of them can put their thoughts together into a consistent philosophy that envisions a complete society of not just glorification of captains of industry and wage-slavery, but a healthy community that integrates honest business and honest politics into a vision of the general democratic welfare.

27 Responses to Notes from the Petition Trail: Nothing But Business Matters?

  1. Way to go, Cory. I expect to meet twenty people and expect them to each get me a full sheet. We’ll see how those expectations churn out.

  2. Lanny V Stricherz

    I was at the downtown post office in Sioux Falls on Wednesday and a young man who worked in Rick Weiland’s campaign was circulating the petitions to overturn SB 177 and SB69. A guy comes by as I am signing, and the circulator asks if he would like to sign. The guy says only if it is a petition to have petitioners be at least 500 yards from any doorway.

    I live near there and he was back there the next day, when I went past. When I got home, I had an email from a member of a meeting I was planning to attend yesterday, Saturday the 11th. THe email asked if anyone on the list had petitions for the repeal of those bills. Since no one did, I went back over and got two sets of petitions to bring to the meeting yesterday. The meeting was Pax Christi of Eastern South Dakota. I gave one set to the Presentation Sisters from Watertown who were there and the other set we circulated at the meeting.

  3. Happy Camper

    Are you some sort of Community Activist???

  4. Lanny V Stricherz

    No just an old man, sick to death with the government that we have in SD.

  5. Yea, Happy. I’m running fur president. How about you? Who you running from or where you goin? Hope you’re no “happier” than I with our party antics.

    Seemed just as easy to let the printer churn 20 times as once.

  6. Happy Camper

    Les, I was referring to Cory the Man future Governor. These “community activists” turn out to be. Well, you know.

  7. Interesting thought, HC. Id give Cory voice lessons if gov was in his sights..chin down, drop tone an octave and quit wavin darn arms so much…lol

  8. mike from iowa

    Community Organizers like Obama was the GOP punchline in the 2008 election. Now wingnuts want their own community organizers.

  9. Les, Mr. H would need to shave more often and talk slower and less excitedly. But his glasses, wardrobe and haircut are fine Governor material. I would not discourage him from running in a couple of years.

  10. grudgenutz

    Thanks bro.

  11. Nothing matters but business! No truer words could be spoken in South Dakota.

    There is currently a vote on school start times in Sioux Falls. The group funding and fighting for an after Labor Day start is business! They aren’t worried about what’s best for the kids…I’m sure they didn’t even consider teachers…it’s about tourism businesses being able to keep their sub-minimum wage employees indentured even longer!

    Nothing matter but business also applies to most of the recent threads.

  12. Why is starting before Labor Day better for the kids than after, Jana?

  13. Ask the kids Les. The point is that they were the last of the concerns.

    As a parent, I liked semester finals when the information was fresh. I also liked getting out for the summer earlier.

    Asking my children who went through both early and late starts…they voted earlier for two reasons. Summer got boring and they were ready to get back to school, friends and activities…semester exams were over and they had a care free Christmas break with no homework!

  14. Donald Pay

    What a Jackass that guy was. Well, there’s no doubt businesses create real jobs. The way I look at it, Cory, you’re helping him and other businesses do that.

    If kids today are like they were in my day, and in my daughter’s day, they spend much of the money they earn. And, because they don’t have the ability to travel far, they spend it mostly at local places, like lower end restaurants, retail outlets and convenience stores. A few extra dollars a week, means a teen will be able to spend a few more bucks at “Jackass’s” business.

    In my day, much of my money went to Lewis Drugs’ record department and the Barrel Drive-in. Music now is distributed on-line by e-companies run by billionaires, rather than on vinyl at the local stores. That’s a big loss to the local economy, but teens still buy their food, most clothes and gas at local emporia. I’d say the referendum is a way to grow local jobs.

  15. Lanny V Stricherz

    Hate to tell you Jana, but the citizens of SD voted to have school start after Labor Day, clear back in the 1980s and it was a ballot issue. But the legislature in their infinite wisdom overturned that referendum within one or two sessions of the legislature, just like what they did with the minimum wage increase that we voted in this past election and they overrode in the recently completed legislative session.

  16. Pick a lane, Jana. Is it the teachers or the students?

  17. Les, what 2 lanes did I pick in my post? Teachers weren’t mentioned once?

    I only relayed that the money behind the after labor day start was driven by the tourism business and what my own children who had experienced both late and early starts preferred.

    Is what’s good for students mutually exclusive from what is good for teachers?

  18. Voice lessons, Les? Come on, you should know I’m incorrigible.

  19. Indeed, Donald. The gentleman who spoke with me was sort of a live version of a comment-section troll. He wasn’t looking for real conversation. He just thought he’d score points with half-baked economic “philosophy” pilfered from chatter overheard at a Chamber of Commerce cocktail party.

    Couldn’t we argue that economic prosperity and political freedom go hand in hand? Don’t capitalism and democracy reinforce each other?

  20. Lanny, Mr. 500 Yards sounds like another live troll, just being a crank and not really thinking about the importance of petitioning and civic discourse.

    In related news, while making my petition pitch to another gentleman, I said I’m seeking to refer a couple of bad laws passed in Pierre. The man looked at me and said (with my young daughter in earshot) “F— Pierre!” But then he turned and walked away. If he had paused to really think through the political import of his imprecation, he’d sign the petitions, because what better way to fiddle with Pierre than refer the laws they pass?

  21. Lee Schoenbeck

    Lanny, the Presentation Sisters are in Aberdeen. The monastery in Watertown is Benedictine – Mother of God Monastery. FYI

  22. Lanny V Stricherz

    Thanks Lee, I knew or should have known that. There were some of both there. Thanks.

  23. Don’t sweat it, Lanny—all nuns look alike to me. ;-)

  24. Jana@18:63 “”They aren’t worried about what’s best for the kids…I’m sure they didn’t even consider teachers…””. Sorry, Jana, but Ya did mention teachers.

    Lenny’s right. I well remember as of those greedy business people who wanted my kids with me for the only summer vacation we took and voted for an after Labor Day start. You should run for Gov, Jana, you fit well with current state of mind in Pierre.

  25. Nick Nemec

    Back in the 1990s when we had a post Labor Day start our family loved it. Here on the farm wheat harvest often stretched into the last half of August. The last week of August and first week of September was, for us, the slowest time of year. We took some great family trips that would not have been possible had the kids been in school that started in the third week of August.

  26. Post-Labor Day start is good for business. It’s also good for farm families. The fact that something is good for business does not necessarily mean it’s bad for society. obviously I take a much broader view of political issues than my petition-trail interlocutor.

  27. Lanny V Stricherz

    If city kids and their parents would stop and think about it, having the semester tests and break after the Christmas vacation, would give them a chance to do some studying for the semester tests and also to work on any due term papers. There are not that many of them whose families can afford to take a two week break to the Bahamas or wherever, anyway.