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South Dakota: We’ll Kill for Your Business!

South Dakota is pro-dollar, not pro-life.

Such is the grim moral and political conclusion we can derive from this pandemic-assessment statement from Dan Bucheli, the Beltway political hack whom Governor Kristi Noem hired to make sure her Health Department toes the party line on spinning our failure to control the pandemic as proof of good government:

Noem’s emphasis on the economy was reflected in a statement Monday to KELOLAND News from Daniel Bucheli, communications director for the state Department of Health.

“South Dakota’s unique approach in handling of COVID-19 and its positive results are evident. We provided the latest information and trusted the people of South Dakota to make the best decisions for themselves and their families,” he said.

“Our people did not see business shutdowns, our government did not impose blanket restrictions on anyone’s freedom, and because of such, we are now enjoying the lowest unemployment rate in the country, while pushing our COVID-19 numbers down significantly,” he continued. “There is a reason people are flocking to our state and why we are being talked about everywhere—unlike other states which chose a different route and are now paying the economic price for it” [Bob Mercer, “South Dakota Has Paid a Human Price for the State’s Economic Success During Covid-19,” KELO-TV, 2021.06.15].

Bucheli does not address the blanket restrictions on freedom that come from having to fear going to the grocery store once a week for provisions because neighbors are following the Governor’s bad example and treating masks like political symbols of oppression instead of cheap and effective public health interventions. Bucheli does not address the lingering drag on freedom caused by far too many South Dakotans pigheadedly refusing to get a really effective vaccine that he and his Governor do little to promote. And most tellingly, Bucheli does not mention the 2,000-plus South Dakotans who have died and thousands more who have suffered expensive hospitalizations in part due to the state’s choice to value going out for beer and wings over protecting human life.

South Dakota has had positive results all right from its “unique” approach to coronavirus. Our state government didn’t approach coronavirus seriously; thus more of us tested positive for coronavirus than would have with more sensible leadership and policy, and more of our friends and neighbors died. But we kept our sales tax flowing (through wind power and federal stimulus, not brilliant state governance) and boosted house prices. Yay.

Yes, South Dakota values business. But that makes South Dakota a more dangerous place to live.


  1. cibvet 2021-06-16 08:43

    I and my family chose the vaccine just as we choose the flu shot. They are available and if you choose not to take them, its YOUR gamble with Your life and those like you. Your hospitalizations really only end up affecting my health insurance premium and will definitely keep covid around for years. Again, your choice and perhaps your funeral and I’m ok with that.

  2. Guy 2021-06-16 09:00

    Bucheli: “People are flocking to our state”. I agree with him on this statement. People have been “flocking” so much to our state that they are overwhelming our infrastructure. We lack affordable housing, there are waiting lists for apartments, and because of all of that, no more homes for service workers. Businesses have had to cut back their hours while the tourist season ramps up because there’s not enough service workers. Where are they going to live? So, is a huge boom in South Dakota’s population worth it, if there are no affordable housing for all the people needed for all the job openings?

  3. mike from iowa 2021-06-16 09:31

    Dakota population growth is 9% over the last decade. Approximately 72k new people calling SD home or 7200 per year. Not sure how many own RVs and use SD for tax purposes. Still, there are many more prairie dogs than people. More pheasants are slaughtered than the total population every year.

  4. Porter Lansing 2021-06-16 10:23

    South Dakota’s Big Lie

    -SD shut down as much as any other state, no matter what is presented on right wing media.

    -The Governor didn’t know what to do, so she did nothing and labeled it “supporting small government”.

    -She then passed the buck to county commissioners and town councils which shut down their areas as much as anyplace was shuttered, anywhere in USA.

    -Don’t think other Presidential candidates won’t use this information as a weapon in their debates.

    -She’s Done, Like Burnt Toast

  5. Loren 2021-06-16 10:34

    What Porter said! Even my very Republican, full-time RV’er brother, who has been watching the Rodeo Queen on the national stage, thinks she has exceeded the Peter Principle. Let’s hope!

  6. Whitless 2021-06-16 10:52

    When did it become the job of the communications director for the Department of Health to issue statements about the state’s economy? More importantly, Bucheli’s false and misleading statements erode confidence in government. When he states that South Dakota is enjoying the lowest unemployment rate in the country, other states are doing well too. In April, three other states had the same unemployment rate as South Dakota, 2.8%. Not far behind was Vermont at 2.9%. Vermont had the second lowest death rate per 100,000 people while South Dakota made it into the top 10 of states with the highest death rate per 100,000. South Dakota also has the miserable distinction of being in the top ten despite the fact of being the most sparsely populated of the states with high death rates. Our state has an average of 11 people per square mile. The next most sparsely populated state with a high death rate is Mississippi with an average of 62 people per square mile. Mismanagement should not be celebrated.

  7. John Dale 2021-06-16 12:00

    Free money is okay, but you better get it into assets quick to offset inflation.

    CPI is going crazy .. here comes the predicted wave.

    I’m neither upset or glad about the free money.

    I would like a thriving technology and information systems economy so our software could be written by Americans for Americans.

    That is all.

  8. John Dale 2021-06-16 12:02

    In gambling, what is acceptable?

    If you have a 5% chance of winning, is that enough to put a quarter in the machine up in Deadwood?

    If you had a 99.5+% chance of “winning”, would you really be “gambling”?

    Regarding covid and other cold and flu viri, is it really such a gamble?

    I’ll take that bet.

  9. Whitless 2021-06-16 12:38

    Mr. Bucheli also lies when he claims that state government provided the “latest information” on COVID. Of the numerous public service announcements featuring the Secretary of Health or the governor, how many included a recommendation to wear a mask? None that I know. Instead, the message was always limited to practicing social distancing and good hygiene. Public health decisions should always be based on science rather than politics. For this governor, the public’s health was sacrificed on her altar of political ambition.

  10. Mark Anderson 2021-06-16 12:46

    Its simple, the reason more than 600,000 died is John Dale and all the people like him. What would he have done in New Zealand, Australia, Norway. You can compare Norway and their immediate neighbor Sweden who took the more Republican approach. 750 vs 15,000 is quite a difference. The whopping total of 26 people died in New Zealand because of shutdowns set by their liberal government. They came out of it better and earlier because of liberal policies. In America freedom to process death was more important for Republicans. Porter, DeSantis did exactly the same buck passing, the counties did all the work entirely and it was similar to every state. Its still killing hundreds every day and will continue to kill in America, hurray hurray. Abject stupidity rules.

  11. mike from iowa 2021-06-16 12:56

    Hard to imagine magats deliberately allowing their core constituents to die like flies when they are inexorably headed for majority minority status soon. But, no one ever claimed drumpf or Noem were Einsteins.or even junior Einsteins.or even imaginary Einsteins.

  12. ABC 2021-06-16 12:58

    Juneteenth holiday bill passed the Senate and will pass the house. It will be a Holiday! June 19th

    CNN notes South Dakota is the only state that hasn’t passed it!

    Crypto racist South Dakota!

    Let’s dismantle apartheid in South Dakota! Us elect every Republican from state and legislative office.

  13. bearcreekbat 2021-06-16 13:01

    It would be one thing if folks claiming that refusing the vaccine is nothing more than a gamble with their own health and life, but it is quite another if, as cibvet observes, it is a gamble with the health and lives of other people including “those like you.” It seems the epitome of selfishness and immorality to decline a vaccine with no apparent consideration whether by doing so you can become infected, perhaps with only minimal symptoms, and then spread your own infection to other people who may not be so lucky, such as folks who for reasons beyond their control are not yet protected by the vaccine, as well as folks “like you” who care little enough about their own lives and health to risk infection, serious illness or death (however small they think that risk is) by declining the vaccine.

    One must recognize the danger of infecting others and then make the moral judgment whether one’s personal fear of the vaccine outweighs potentially endangering the lives of friends, neighbors, loved ones, and even strangers who are still at risk of becoming infected from being in contact with a non-vaccinated carrier of the disease.

  14. Whitless 2021-06-16 13:20

    Proclaiming individualism is antithetical to public health. But that is what occurred in South Dakota, and it still is being asserted when people like Mr. Bucheli say that the government “trusted the people of South Dakota to make the best decisions for themselves and their families.” Dealing with a public health pandemic requires action to protect the public, not what an individual or family decides is best. For example, individuals are allowed to smoke in their homes all day long if they want, but they are not allowed to smoke in many public places because the evidence is conclusive that tobacco smoke is dangerous. You don’t have the right to endanger the public just because you want to smoke. Similarly, I can’t toss my family’s excrement and garbage at the curb because I believe it saves me money and isn’t a danger to my family’s welfare. Even if I was that much of an idiot, I don’t have the right to engage in such behavior because the public’s health is endangered by such practices. The above statement by Mr. Buchelli and similar ones by the governor and her lackeys is infuriating because it is so contrary to government’s responsibility to protect the public’s health.

  15. Jake 2021-06-16 15:33

    Whitless, in a few words you just said it all! Thanks! Worth re-reading…

  16. Arlo Blundt 2021-06-16 17:25

    Well…as Whitless observes the limits of “rugged individualism” end where your neighbor’s nose begins. The pandemic scared the bejesus out of any public official with an once of common sense. Thank goodness most of them acted in the public interest. 2,000 died in South Dakota, many elderly but also people living in rural communities, of all ages, who did not have immediate access to health care. I wonder how many deaths from Covid went unreported.It has been a tragic and traumatizing year.

  17. mike from iowa 2021-06-16 19:30

    Magat’s idea of rugged individualism is driving the ‘dually’ pickup down the driveway to mailbox and picking up subsidy checks by yourself.

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