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Noem’s “Aggressive” “Vision” Really “Fervent Hallucination”

“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!


  1. jerry 2020-01-14 13:13

    Business leaders already know about our failed state. No Medicaid Expansion…check, hate for gender equality with “potty bills”.,,double check, mass corruption (we lead the nation)…triple check, massive student debt (we lead the nation)…check, massive pollution with CAFO’s…check… draconian hemp laws…check. Colleges hemorrhaging students…check. In order to get business aggressive and show you mean business, then the governor and the cabal of the legislators need to mass resign. Yep, we have it all here in South Dakota, “We’re on it”.

  2. Donald Pay 2020-01-14 13:17

    I recycle, too, but mostly it’s paper, plastic, glass and aluminum. Dragging out tired phrases from the past doesn’t say much about her “vision.” At least she substituted “aggressive” for “bold.” Otherwise she could have copied it all from ex-Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin. We heard “Open For Business” so much from Scott Walker that I believe it was trademarked and put on Welcome to Wisconsin signs.

    Recycling tired conservative memes seems to be as “aggressive” as Republican leaders get these days. Governor Mickelson had a “model for our families” as well, but he actually followed through by expanding health care coverage for poor families in South Dakota. There’s a difference between a “model,” and doing something. Let’s hope Noem is more action than talk on that one.

  3. Mark 2020-01-14 13:34

    My takeaway here is that it is difficult if not out right impossible to have much vision with your head that far up your arse, and as far as the “aggressive model for our families “ goes, that sounds like “Live according to my rules
    or we will F you up. “

  4. jerry 2020-01-14 15:09

    Indeed, healthcare coverage or the lack of is clearly on the minds of business people who get subsidized to offer employer based healthcare. What we have here in South Dakota is a state that is full of folks that are not healthy. That means more healthcare claims and more serious increases in premium costs.

    As a nation, our healthcare system is the poorest ranked in all sectors compared to the rest of the “rich” nations. We pay an outlandish amount for nothing.

    “The United States spends far more on health care than other high-income countries, with spending levels that rose continuously over the past three decades (Exhibit 1). Yet the U.S. population has poorer health than other countries. 1 Life expectancy, after improving for several decades, worsened in recent years for some populations, aggravated by the opioid crisis. 2 In addition, as the baby boom population ages, more people in the U.S.—and all over the world—are living with age-related disabilities and chronic disease, placing pressure on health care systems to respond.”

    Why don’t we have billboards that proclaim Opioid’s are a crisis and we’re on it. If we had Medicaid Expansion here in our state, we would be able to take care of the opioid and the meth issues. But we have the billboards, so there is that.

  5. Debbo 2020-01-14 15:59

    “low taxes, fiscal conservatism, and ‘reliable’ workforce.”

    I don’t recall a governor who hasn’t said this and the first governor I remember is Frank Farrar.

    How’s that working out for ya, South Dakotans? Want to keep beating the same poor dead horse?

  6. Bob Newland 2020-01-14 16:43

    Kristi spoke words, several hundred of them, some even with more than two syllables.

    I think that about covers it.

  7. Bob Newland 2020-01-14 17:23

    Sometimes horses die of causes we are not closely affiliated with.

    Sometimes horses die because we are ignorant of how to treat horses. (I speak of some experience with literal horses, but the metaphor is still applicable.)

    Sometimes we ride horses until we exhaust them; sometimes we exceed even that humanitarian barrier.

    Today, Kristi rode a horse of valiant wind and muscle, whose feats, while somewhat replicable, don’t really apply to what we face in SoDak, or the USA, or the multiverse.

  8. grudznick 2020-01-14 17:42

    Bob, you’re a gentleman and a poet, which is why you’re one of the best breakfasting partners, ever.

  9. Bob Newland 2020-01-14 17:43

    Newland note: The “dead horse” metaphor has interested me since my days of having to tolerate cannabis-legalization bill hearings during which our arguments were met with “stalking horse-for-marijuana legalization” responses to our blatant arguments in favor of cannabis legalization (even though the dead-horse metaphor doesn’t really apply to abject stupidity). I found several explications of the term; I liked this one:

    “Dead horse; to beat/flog a…

    “To pursue a futile goal or belabor a point to no end. That this sort of behavior makes no sense was pointed out by the Roman playwright Plautus in 195 b.c. The analogy certainly seems ludicrous; what coachman or driver would actually take a whip to a dead animal? The figurative meaning has been applied for centuries as well; often it is used in politics, concerning an issue that is of little interest to voters. However, some writers, John Ciardi among them, cite a quite different source for the cliché. In the late eighteenth century, British merchant seamen often were paid in advance, at the time they were hired. Many would spend this sum, called a dead horse, before the ship sailed. They then could draw no more pay until they had worked off the amount of the advance, or until ‘the dead horse was flogged.'”

  10. Bob Newland 2020-01-14 19:41

    And, by the way, Cory, by what metric can a country bumpkin who is concerned over his possible absorption of too many farm implement ads determine whether a line has been crossed?

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