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Noem Hides from Chronic Economic Failure with Culture-War Distraction

While Governor Kristi Noem makes more Presidential campaign noise about civics curriculum that she hasn’t read, she ignores the fundamental and long-standing weaknesses of the South Dakota economy. In helping to explain the economic pessimism revealed by the new South Dakota News Watch/Chiesman Center for Democracy survey, USD econ and labor prof Kathryn Birkeland says South Dakota’s political propaganda doesn’t make up for the economic realities our underpaid workers face:

Birkeland said politicians and policymakers in South Dakota often point to intangible benefits that make the state a great place to live, such as wide-open spaces, abundant outdoor recreation and a relaxed pace of life.

But she said South Dakota’s economy doesn’t stack up well against those in neighboring states.

One example is the state’s over-reliance on the agriculture industry and continued taxation benefits for farming and ranching, to the detriment of industries such as finance, banking and insurance, which could create more and better-paying jobs, she said.

“There are some pretty significant issues facing workers that don’t seem to appear in states that are close to us,” she said. “If you have the ability to work in Minnesota or Iowa or Nebraska, and do almost the same thing you do here, people are choosing to do that even with the supposedly higher tax rate in other states” [Bart Pfankuch, “Poll Part 2: Why Some South Dakotans Are Pessimistic About the Future,” South Dakota News Watch, 2021.05.21].

Don’t be fooled by our Governor’s culture-war squawking: she would love nothing more than for all of us to talk about critical race theory all the time. By ginning up that controversy, she keeps us from engaging in critical economic discussions and recognizing that Governor Noem’s failure to read and act on economic data only perpetuates South Dakota’s inability to keep up with its more prosperous neighbors.


  1. Eve Fisher 2021-05-24 09:20

    Aw, Cory, you forget, America is the most special nation in history! Of course, our Governor believes that history only started when she was born, but hey, she said it so it must be true! And anyone who disagrees with her is simply just another hater!

  2. Donald Pay 2021-05-24 10:18

    Birkeland is wrong. Taxation has little to do with why people live somewhere, nor does it have much to do with the wage businesses pay. Production agriculture is over taxed compared to the financial sector.

    People often live with a lower wage if they have certain intangibles met. I was one of those people who grew up in South Dakota, moved back and didn’t expect a big wage. I knew you paid a price for living in South Dakota. I wanted open spaces, an open government, fairness, no hate, democracy, clean water, good schools, and a child friendly atmosphere. And I wanted to make a difference. The longer I lived in South Dakota the more I saw the intangibles eroding away, and that’s when the wage issue started to come to the forefront. If the intangibles erode away, then wages become important.

    I’m so glad I got out of South Dakota in time to make a little money, have a pension and some investment income now that I’m retired. And I found a place that has relatively open government, more fairness, far less hate and lots of democracy. And I am able to make a difference.

  3. Porter Lansing 2021-05-24 11:28

    Keep telling yourself … wide-open spaces, abundant outdoor recreation and a relaxed pace of life aren’t really this is the middle of nowhere, trying to tolerate the wind, mosquitoes, humidity, and algae ridden water, and a relaxed lifestyle isn’t really just boredom.

    -Men live where their wives want to live and women want to live near Mom.
    -Putting up with poor wages is the cost of “happy wife/happy life”.
    -To compensate for their shallow lives, white Republican men are mean to poor people and minorities.
    -Makes ’em think, “I may live in poverty, in the middle of nowhere but at least I’m above those damn Indians!”

  4. O 2021-05-24 14:31

    As more work-from-home-wage earners move to SD because they long for freedom, the political tipping point will get further away on the issue of fair wages. Imagine SD populated with the GOP/MAGA faithful BUT financed through blue/union state wages. We are creating a political centrifuge to concentrate the worst climate for all but the most well-to-do.

  5. O 2021-05-24 14:38

    Donald, EVERYTHING is overtaxed compared to the financial sector. That was also a deregulation deal SD made with the devil on the promise of a pool of low-wage workers.

  6. Mark Anderson 2021-05-24 15:21

    DeSantis has been reading from the same book, How I Won The Presidency and Didn’t Really Lose It. Chapter 13 is how to race bait the conned. The last chapter is the most interesting, How I Pulled the Rug on Those Who Dream of my Presidency. Really the race is on to see who will be Vice President to Trump.

  7. Arlo Blundt 2021-05-24 17:30

    Well…the Governor has no idea how to govern South Dakota. It’s amateur hour all day long.

  8. Mike Livingston 2021-05-24 20:26

    When pigs fly, the republicans will start to consider the possibility of thinking about the idea of doing the peoples business. Not

  9. grudznick 2021-05-24 20:46

    Mr. Livingston, many Republicans think about doing the business of the people a lot. But I’m not going to be throwing my breakfast bacon, or even a slice of frisbee ham, about just to prove you wrong.

  10. Mike Livingston 2021-05-24 21:08

    Any one who comes to the defense of the current republican party is complicit in the seditious, treasonous actions during the term of the loser from Mara Lago, aka Donito Trumpolini.

  11. grudznick 2021-05-24 21:40

    Mr. Livingston, I can almost smell your seething rage, and I am glad you do not direct it at grudznick, for as you know I despise Mr. President Trump. He was one rude bossturd, insaner than most. That the overgodders tend to back him is enough evidence to me that Mr. Trump should continue to be shunned. Plus he’s really funny looking, which is not helpful.

  12. leslie 2021-05-25 00:01

    She could take a leadership role as what a small state can do to ameliorate climate change and the planet. But no, firecrackers in the middle of a national forest. Geez

  13. V 2021-05-25 06:07

    Noem is a like a firecracker. She fits snuggly in the hands of Trump. Lewandowsky, or whoever handles her. And when they light her up and let her rip, she’s just a lot of noise and no substance.

    And like firecrackers that I can not tolerate even once a year, Noem has the power to ignite everything around her just because she can.

  14. leslie 2021-05-25 09:41

    Putin is threatened by his election to Parliament chances in September. He couldn’t have a forceful US president like HRC in 2016 so he had Trump elected. 53% of Republicans believe Joe Biden is not the 2020 elected President. Republicans like Noem are puppets to Putin’s hand, unseen or seen. Our state legislature almost gleefully goes along with her owning the libs. Like grdz. Noem is no leader.

  15. Mark Anderson 2021-05-25 17:20

    Oh grudz, I feel for you, conservatives have been awashed away in the party of trump. What are you going to do, unless you kiss the ring, its over for you.

  16. John Dale 2021-05-26 14:29

    From my perspective, the Trump movement is disruptive to entrenched power who created a house of cards to control both parties.

    Future Texas governor Alex Jones blew it over.

    Now, we have no house.

    Not because of the wind, but because of lazy leadership unwilling to hear the poeple.

    Trump is loved by the real Democrats.

  17. Dicta 2021-05-26 15:01

    Yes, we definitely want Alex Jones, the guy who said Sandy Hook parents faked their childrens’ deaths, as the governor of something. Great idea. Can’t wait.

  18. Dicta 2021-05-26 15:04

    Also, what is a “real” democrat, herp derpington?

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