“Aggressive” is a vague term used by cheerleaders and by country bumpkins who’ve watched too many farm-implement commercials.
Governor Kristi Noem promises to deliver an “aggressive model for our families” in her approach to 2020, which she will lay out in about an hour (after my lunch break—darn!).
By itself, that phrase says nothing to me. An “aggressive” model? For my family? I think my family would be a lot better off if Noem aggressed a little less against us and against taxpayers in general with her reckless spending, her nepotism, her security theater, and her general Trumpist contempt for free speech. How is she going to be “aggressive… for our families”?
Let’s give the Governor some context, from the teaser she gave to AP Sunday:
Gov. Kristi Noem will use her State of the State address to pitch prospective businesses on why they should move to South Dakota, the Republican governor told The Associated Press in an exclusive interview on Sunday.
After witnessing a tough year for the agriculture economy and South Dakota graduates leaving the state to find jobs, Noem said she will approach 2020 with an “aggressive model for our families.” Noem said she will use Tuesday’s address to tout the state’s low taxes, fiscal conservatism, and “reliable” workforce in a bid to attract business to the state.
“South Dakota is open for business and 2020 will be a year of going after opportunities for our families,” Noem told the AP on Sunday [Stephen Groves, “State of the State Address to Focus on ‘Aggressive’ Economic Growth, Noem Says,” AP via Rapid City Journal, 2020.01.13].
Oh. I see. In this case, “aggressive” means recycling slogans from the Daugaard Administration:
For the remainder of the summer, industry leaders in California, Illinois, and Minnesota will receive information about South Dakota’s impressive business climate. The campaign features Gov. Daugaard and includes direct mail, print advertisements and radio commercials.
The marketing campaign will place special emphasis on taxes you won’t find in South Dakota: no corporate income tax, no personal income tax, no personal property tax, no business inventory tax, and no inheritance tax.
“South Dakota is fortunate to have a very hospitable regulatory climate and a stable economy. Not all businesses are currently being afforded this kind of business environment,” said Commissioner J. Pat Costello, South Dakota Governor’s Office of Economic Development. “We want those companies to know, South Dakota is open for business” [apparent press release from the Governor’s Office, 2011.07.26, reprinted by Sturgis Economic Development Corp., retrieved 2020.01.14].
Noem tells AP, “While we have been focused on problems, my job is to cast a vision for where we’re going.” There’s that word vision again. But saying vision over and over won’t make Governor Noem a visionary any more than saying “open for business” and “low taxes, low regulations (low wages!)” over and over has solved the persistent brain drain that Governor Noem says she wants to solve.
If aggressive means just handing out bigger tax breaks to skinflint businesses looking for the least obligation their host communities and issuing more press releases touting our own disregard for our long-term self-interest, we’ll get the same results as every Republican governor prior to Noem, only worse. To be effective, and aggressive approach must be coupled with real vision—not visions like you get out in the desert when your mortal thirst makes you think sand is water, but vision, the ability to see the real problems we face and to envision, explain, and execute new approaches that promise real results.
I’ll check out the Governor’s speech after supper. In the meantime, I welcome you live listeners’ comments below!