Faced with a challenge to his sponsor Senator John Thune, Pat Powers feels compelled to portray sensible policy statements from Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Jay Williams as “crazy”, “weird”, “unfathomable”, and “lunacy”. But in his interview this week with that Sioux Falls paper, Williams didn’t really say anything that shocking or unthinkable… at least not to regular citizens who live outside the atrophied thinking of a Republican blog on life support.
[Note: I cite and respond to the words Powers attributes to Williams rather than citing the source material, because life is too short to wait for that Sioux Falls paper’s video to load.]
Williams apparently ventured into state politics, saying that South Dakota is undertaxed and that a state income tax would be useful. This issue isn’t a voting issue for a Congressional candidate, but it’s not a radical idea. 43 states consider income tax a good idea. So does Congress, which does the exact opposite of South Dakota by collecting income tax but no sales or property tax. I’d say it would be far more radical for South Dakota Republicans to universalize their tax maxims and advocate replacing the federal income tax with a federal property tax and federal sales tax. Any takers… or would such a proposal be “utter lunacy”?
Williams apparently described Bernie Sanders as “a moderate. He’s not a European Liberal, He’s an American Liberal…. He’s a progressive guy….” Again, Williams is right on the money: what passes for liberal in South Dakota is really center-right European politics.
Williams apparently said transporting fossil fuels is a problem. The Keystone leak at Menno should suffice to prove that point entirely fathomable. Williams further said that we should rid ourselves of fossil fuels. I will grant that doing so right now, shutting off every coal- or oil-powered machine and plugging all of our gear into alternative power sources by lunchtime is both economically and infrastructurally impossible. But Williams is enunciating a long-term policy that acknowledges a simple truth: we consume fossil fuels faster than fossils can turn into fuel. We may and our children definitely will see us run out of usable oil; coal is more plentiful but similarly finite. No matter whom we elect or how much oil and coal we use, some day we will completely rid ourselves of fossil fuels. That’s not green liberal fantasy; that’s geology and math.
Williams apparently wants to subsidize rooftop solar installations. If that’s crazy, then India must be crazy: they want to double their rooftop solar power generation, with the potential to install enough rooftop solar to produce nearly half of the country’s electric power needs. Australia must also be crazy: financiers there just issued $50 million in green bonds to promote rooftop solar.
Williams apparently said we should get electricity from “wind, solar, and ocean tides.” Powers snorts that South Dakota can’t get power from ocean tides, but tell me what’s so nutty about advocating tidal power to juice the 39% of Americans who live by the coasts and thus conserve and make cheaper power resources for us inlanders? Williams is no crazier in proposing tidal power as a national power solution than Peter Norbeck and Karl Mundt were for proposing hydroelectric power.
Williams apparently said cap and trade “is a pretty good idea.” Powers doesn’t even bother to provide an argument for his tacit mockery… probably because cap and trade really is a pretty good idea, as demonstrated by President George H.W. Bush’s Clean Air Act of 1990. Again, where’s the crazy?
Williams apparently said we should go with an inevitable national trend to legalize recreational marijuana. While I disagree with Williams on this point, his position is far from shocking or marginal: a Gallup poll last October found 58% of Americans support legalizing marijuana.
Williams apparently accepted adding a dollar in tax to gasoline. That proposal seems radical in the context of average federal and state taxes of 53 cents per gallon, but Canada puts $1.25 on each gallon of gas, and the average among the 34 advanced economies of the OECD is $2.62 pr gallon.
Wear a shirt and tie at a nudist camp, and you’ll be called weird. But sport that look in town, and folks will just say you’re dressed for civilized society.
Powers speaks from the nudist camp. His hyperbole is standard GOP spin blog fare, trying marginalize any policy or person who strays from the narrow, isolated Republican party line. We can debate whether Jay Williams is right, but his statements are not crazy, weird, unfathomable lunacy; the statements above are all reasonable and well-precedented.