The crime statistics reflect that, overall, South Dakota remains a safe place to live as a result of strong community involvement and law enforcement efforts. Many categories of crime, including murder, rape, and sexual offenses were down in 2016. However, the national drug epidemic continues to impact overall crime in South Dakota, with drug offense alone increasing 12.5% in 2016…. Law enforcement agencies are aggressively fighting crime in South Dakota…. Local, county and state agencies in our state have added over three hundred more certified officers since 2007, which has also resulted in more arrests to keep our neighborhoods and cities safe [Attorney General Marty Jackley, press release, 2017.03.20].
The report says 37.8% of crimes occurred at homes or apartments and 22.5% happened on the road. 6.5% happened in parking lots and garages. 1.0% of crimes happened in government or public buildings. I can’t think of any crimes that happened in the Capitol, where legislators claim there is a pressing need for civilians to pack heat.
2.4 times as many men committed crimes as women. However, victims are split almost 50–50 between men and women.
The report counts 21 “bias-motivated” crimes—i.e., hate crimes. Targeted by those crimes were five blacks, two Indians, one Latino, one multi-racial, two gays, one lesbian, two transgender, two gender nonconformists, three folks with mental disabilities, and two atheists/agnostics. (The foolish conclusion here would be that in 2016, atheist bloggers faced twice as much risk of facing a hate crime in South Dakota as Hispanics or lesbians.)
Only 36 crimes—0.07% of the 53,190 reported Group A offenses—involved gangs. 530 serious crimes involved use of a firearm; 523 involved use of a knife or other cutting incident (stats don’t break down offenses committed with broadswords or epees, alas).
Thieves swiped $23.7 million worth of property in 2016. Law enforcement recovered only 31% of those ill-gotten goods, worth $7.4 million. Maybe Kristi could campaign on the need to bring that percentage up… although the national rate of recovery for stolen property in 2015 was 26.1%, so Marty could argue he’s done a better job of bringing back the booty than cops elsewhere.
Stanford researchers analyzed all U.S. tax returns from million-dollar-plus earners from 1999 through 2011. They discovered a small correlation between state tax rates and net migration of millionaires. For the average state—i.e., out of an average millionaire population of 9,000—”a one-point tax increase leads to 12 fewer in-migrations and 11 additional out-migrations, for a total population loss of 23 millionaire households” [p. 434].
However, balmy Florida generates most of the low-tax attraction identified in this study; other low-tax states show no significant advantage.
Numerous other factors make millionaires less likely to move than folks making five figures or less. Their success comes in significant part from their “embeddedness” in the community: their connections with local and state leaders help them make more money. Millionaires are more likely married, have children at home, and own businesses.
The study finds one-time millionaires “show no sensitivity to the top tax rate.” Persistent millionaires “are more sensitive to these rates” but are also less likely to move than one-time strike-it-richers, likely because their ongoing success is based on their ongoing ties to their communities.
The study finds limited evidence of millionaires clustering on the low-tax side of borders between states with notably different tax policies; however, looking at eight tax policy changes of one percentage point or more over the period of the study, the researchers find no evidence in border regions of policy changes leading to observable changes in the millionaire population.
Rich folks pay attention to tax policy, but numerous other factors weigh on their decisions to move or, more likely, to stay put. If we craft tax policy with the intent of luring millionaires, we are thus pulling at heavy fish disinclined to swim with a very thin string.
Dakota Marketing Coalition, National Farmers Organization, and South Dakota Farmers Union brought a couple of speakers to Aberdeen Monday evening to talk about the chronically dire financial position of American farmers and ranchers. As I waited for the program to start, I heard one of the guys behind me (very few gals attended) joke to his compadre, We don’t have to register Democrat at the end, do we?
I dig fusion, but our NFO speakers—NFO board member Frank Endres from California and Agricultural Policy Analysis Center director Dr. Harwood Schaffer from Tennesse—flew a flag in their speeches as unfamiliar to me as some of Ron’s LaRouchisms: parity. From what I gathered from the speeches, parity is simply farm-activist talk for a fair price, a living wage for food producers. I heard no quantitative threshold for parity—although USDA calculates “parity prices” based on farm prices, wages, rates, and taxes from 1910 through 1914, and Endres did have charts showing parity above 100% during the “Golden Era of Agriculture” from 1941 to 1952 and now at a meager 29%. Dr. Schaffer said NFO’s goal is 100% parity, which I must assume means not just breaking even but having enough left after paying Case IH, Monsanto, the elevator, the bank, and Uncle Sam to buy shoes and college and maybe some fishing tackle.
If free markets worked, we probably wouldn’t have two-and-a-half-hour meetings to talk about the lack of parity in farm prices. People making things of value would win fair compensation for the work they do. People making the most valuable things, things we can’t do without, like food, would get some of the best compensation.
But one main message of Monday night’s program was that the free market doesn’t work today in American agriculture. Endres noted that Adam Smith’s theory of supply and demand assumes that buyers and sellers have equal strength in the marketplace. Big-industry consolidation among ag suppliers (Monsanto, read Endres’s slide—Bayer, Chem China, Syngenta, DuPont) and buyer/processors (Cargill, Saputo, JBS, ADM, Tyson, Bungee) squeezes farmers, ranchers, and dairy operators from both sides. Unless ag producers form their own conglomerate (there’s the NFO/Farmers Union pitch!), they cannot compete against the oliogopoly vise.
Even if farmers can organize effectively and counterbalance the market power of Big Ag, they may not be able to get parity without government intervention. Dr. Schaffer noted that, just like healthcare, the food market “does not meet the textbook conditions of a free market.” Ag demand has low elasticity—we eat about the same amount of food whether prices are high or low. Ag supply has low elasticity, too—when prices go down, farmers don’t quit planting; they “maximize production to reduce fixed costs.”
Dr. Schaffer also rebutted the contention of the American Farm Bureau Federation that free trade is good for American farmers. He noted that since peaking in the late 1970s, U.S. exports of the eight biggest crops have remained mostly flat while imports have doubled. Since the implementation of NAFTA in the mid-1990s, U.S. stockgrowers have seen our negative trade balance in beef with Canada and Mexico go deeper. We import more livestock from 20 free-trade agreement countries than we export to them, while we maintain a positive livestock trade balance with the rest of the world.
The free market doesn’t serve American agriculture well; government apparently does. Dr. Schaffer argued that the four most recent periods of relative propserity for American agriculture all resulted from government decisions:
During World War I, farm prices rose because the federal government asked for more hogs to make up for the decline in European production.
World War II again drove ag production, but farmers benefited further from production supports maintained through 1952.
The policies needed to restore fair prices in agriculture won’t happen by themselves. Farmers can’t just plow and plant, take their products to market, and hope everything works out. They’ll need to work together, in the marketplace and in Congress, and recruit allies to check the failings of the free market and win the parity prices that will keep them up on the farm.
South Dakota attorney general’s office spokeswoman Sara Rabern confirmed one incident of what she called “felony vandalism” southeast of Sioux Falls on Friday. Lincoln County Sheriff’s Deputy Chad Brown said it happened at an above-ground valve site that had no fencing or other security.
“When deputies arrived, they observed what appeared to be a hole in the pipe, and it looked like there was burn around the hole,” Brown said, adding it was possible the vandalism was done with a blowtorch.
In Iowa, Mahaska County Sheriff Russell Van Renterghem said it appears someone used a torch to cut a hole in the pipeline at an above-ground safety valve site southeast of Des Moines. He said it appears the culprit maneuvered under a fence around the facility. The incident was discovered March 13 [Blake Nicholson, “State Officials Confirm Dakota Access Oil Pipeline Vandalism,” AP via Rapid City Journal, 2017.03.21].
Spokesman Jay O’Hara of Climate Direct Action, a group that tried vandalizing pipeline equipment last October, says his group isn’t behind these Dakota Access incidents but then tries to make excuses for dangerous criminal behavior:
[Professor Kerry] Sundberg said “it’s stupid and dangerous” to tamper with pipeline shut-off valves.
…Sundberg also said that it’s ironic for people who say they’re concerned about the environment to take an action that could cause an environmental disaster.
But O’Hara said: “The hypocrisy really lies in the pipeline corporations who say their pipelines are safe, say leaks don’t happen. They blame activists who are trying to stop global cataclysm by taking action to point out what they do every day, which is leak and spill” [Blake Nicholson and Steve Karnowski, “Dakota Access Pipeline Vandalism Highlights Sabotage Risks,” AP via ABC News, 2017.03.21].
No, no, no, Mr. O’Hara. Violating private property is wrong when Energy Transfer Partners and other pipeliners do it to build their pipelines; it’s just as wrong when pipeline opponents do it for their own cause.
We have the regulatory process. We have the courts, We have elections. We even have civil disobedience, speech acts that call all parties to conscientious objection but subject nothing to the risk of physical harm except perhaps the protestors themselves at the hands of police and private goons.
But we cannot resort to vandalism or vigilantism, not if we want to maintain the moral high ground.
The Daugaard Administration caught a break from USCIS last week. In a decision issued on March 15, the USCIS Administrative Appeals Office withdrew an earlier decision to revoke South Dakota’s EB-5 Regional Center status. We aren’t in the clear; USCIS simply says it needs further proceedings to determine whether the feds can trust South Dakota to run the EB-5 visa investment program honestly and effectively.
As Seth Tupper notes, the USCIS decision recognizes that the government must weigh both the financial shenanigans that took place in the Rounds/Bollen/Benda EB-5 program and the economic good the program did for South Dakota. On the positive side, USCIS cites the “thousands” of jobs created by EB-5 in South Dakota.
…He has offered no evidence for his claim, and a parade of intelligence officials, senior Republicans and Democrats have since said they have seen no such evidence.
Yet the President clings to his assertion like a drunk to an empty gin bottle, rolling out his press spokesman to make more dubious claims. Sean Spicer—who doesn’t deserve this treatment—was dispatched last week to repeat an assertion by a Fox News commentator that perhaps the Obama Administration had subcontracted the wiretap to British intelligence.
That bungle led to a public denial from the British Government Communications Headquarters, and British news reports said the U.S. apologized. But then the White House claimed there was no apology. For the sake of grasping for any evidence to back up his original tweet, and the sin of pride in not admitting error, Mr. Trump had his spokesman repeat an unchecked TV claim that insulted an ally.
…Two months into his Presidency, Gallup has Mr. Trump’s approval rating at 39%. No doubt Mr. Trump considers that fake news, but if he doesn’t show more respect for the truth most Americans may conclude he’s a fake President [editorial, “A President’s Credibility,” Wall Street Journal, 2017.03.21].
Words matter. In terms of economic and geopolitical stability, the words of the President of the United States matter more than the words of most individuals. When the President of the United States lies this openly and often, he does genuine harm to the United States.
The world cannot afford a Fake President.
If ever the United States needed a parliamentary system where Congress could call an election with a vote of no confidence, now is that time.
As exhausting as it is having an idiot in charge of the country, it’s an immense relief to have a master of comic understatement representing our fair state in the Senate. KSOO’s Rick Knobe elicited these two musings from Senator M. Michael Rounds this afternoon on Viewpoint University:
Rounds: It wasn’t very good for the President with the absence of evidence of wiretapping.
The reality is all we can hope to do is minimize the damage that he’s going to do in our state to move against the conservative principles that we stand for. He’s not on the same page as the Legislature, and I think that people in the leg would be wise to distance themselves from Daugaard, and my guess is that he’s going to be helping a candidate with the next election because people are going to be looking for a candidate more conservative than him [Rep. Lynne DiSanto, in “Lawmaker Says Daugaard Couldn’t Get Elected Dog Catcher,” KCCR Radio, 2017.03.20].
Looking for a candidate more conservative than Daugaard? That won’t be declared candidates Kristi Noem or Marty Jackley. It won’t be Lt. Gov. Matt Michels if he jumps into the race. It could be DiSanto, if she decides she wants to walk the brighter runway of a statewide race.
The steps are likely to have limited success in curbing the terrorist threat since people will still be able to fly from the Middle East via hubs such as Frankfurt, where there are no limits on in-cabin devices, to target U.S. services, said Mark Martin, an aviation consultant in Dubai. “When it comes to aviation, there’s a very thin line between paranoia and precaution,” he added [Deena Kamel and Michael Sasso, “Mideast Airlines Braced for Trump Ban on Electronic Devices,” Bloomberg, 2017.03.21].
Another aviation-security expert, Jeffrey Price, said there could be downsides to the policy.
“There would be a huge disadvantage to having everyone put their electronics in checked baggage,” said Price, a professor at Metropolitan State University of Denver. He said thefts from baggage would skyrocket, as when Britain tried a similar ban in 2006, and some laptops have batteries that can catch fire — an event easier to detect in the cabin than the hold [Alicia A. Caldwell and David Koenig, “US Bars Electronic Carry-ons from Mideast, N. Africa Flights,” AP, 2017.03.21].
Chalk another failed policy up to the Trump Administration.
Keeping with the spirit of only spending more money on things than can kill us, the Trump budget increases funding for the National Nuclear Security Administration, a semi-autonomous division of the Department of Energy charged with helping us use nuclear materials to keep America safe.
The Trump budget doesn’t mention the boreholes (term must hit too close to home for the President), but it does specify $120 million for the Department of Energy to “restart licensing activities for the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository and initiate a robust interim storage program.” Nuclear energy writer Rod Adams says the Trump Energy budget is spoiling for a fight rather than promoting comprehensive nuclear policy:
This phrase [on restarting Yucca], describing a spending item that represents just 0.4% of a $28 Billion DOE budget, opens up a new chapter in an argument that is as certain to cause political controversy without hope of resolution as either abortion or immigration.
…There is little or no good news in the draft budget blueprint that provides support advancing nuclear energy development. The nuclear weapons management complex and the clean-up programs seem to fare well, but there is no follow-on for the expired SMR program, ARPA-E is eliminated instead of expanded to cover nuclear, the Title 17 Innovative Technology Loan Guarantee Program is eliminated, and there are reductions in basic nuclear research conducted under the auspices of the Office of Science [Rod Adams, “Trump Budget Blueprint for DOE Designed to Revive Yucca Conflict Instead of Advancing Nuclear,” Forbes, 2017.03.18].
I wonder if the Trump Administration has even noticed the $36 million DOE wants to spend on the Borehole project, or the deep distrust with which the project has been received in New Mexico and South Dakota. But hey, if the President can’t be bothered with the details of our main nuclear weapons treaty with Russia, we can’t expect him to understand the details of new nuclear waste disposal technologies.