T. Denny Sanford’s wealth has grown by $600 million since April.
$600 million in six months. Consider the amount of work South Dakotans do to generate that sort of income. In 2019, the median annual household income (household, meaning Mom and Dad both probably putting in hours) was $58,275. So making $600 million in six months would require the labor of over 20,000 typical South Dakota households. That’s the sweat and time of every household in Brown County, Marshall County, and Day County, matching what Sanford gets for leaving his money in various high-finance pots while he reclines and occasionally graces various audiences with his generous eminence.
Reporter Jeremy Fugleberg notes that this growing wealth fouls Sanford’s aspiration to “die broke” and asks his readers to submit their suggestions for how Sanford might accelerate his giving past his earning curve.
Hey, we’re all good at spending other people’s money, right? Here are my top five uses for Sanford’s stubbornly growing billions:
- Pull the Premier Bankcard database, identify every credit card holder bankrupted by Sanford’s predatory interest rates, and pay reparations.
- Pay the outstanding medical bills of every patient at every Sanford hospital.
- Give the state the whole $3.4 billion to place in a fiscal lockbox earning 7% a year. Never touch the principal, but each year, use the interest to pay every public K-12 teacher in South Dakota a bonus that will raise the statewide average teacher salary above the highest average teacher pay in any adjoining state. Start with a $15,000 bonus to each of our roughly 10,000 teachers in 2022, increase bonus by 3% each year, and the principal remains untouched until 2080, by which time the economic stimulus of better, happier teachers and three generations of better educated students will have boosted South Dakota’s tax revenues so high that the Sanford teacher stipend will no longer be necessary.
- Save South Dakota from the moral stain of the trust companies by paying each of the trust companies’ South Dakota employees $10,000,000. Spend any remaining cash on lobbyists to convince the Legislature to repeal South Dakota’s laws allowing perpetual trusts.
- Fund the expansion of South Dakota’s Government Accountability Board. With all these complaints the Attorney General is sending their way, the GAB is going to need more judges.
There are my top five plans for Denny’s money. Come on over to the water cooler and propose your own big ideas: how can we spare Denny the burden of his persistent wealth and do some good for South Dakota?