Thursday, January 20, 2005

Rampant Graft Uncovered in North Dakota

When I moved to the Chicagoland area nearly 20 years ago my first impression was shock at the level of graft and corruption that existed. I have become hardened to it now. I'm less shocked than disappointed now. It results from a spirit that rests on this place. Hustle and get what you want at others expense. Not every public servant is crooked. Not every businessman cuts corners. The big bosses and big power call the shots. It's a case of absolute power corrupting absolutely. When you do business here you have to know that it's all part of the mix.

Now looking back with wiser eyes I see some of the same things in North Dakota, my home state. Less about money, more about mine-mine-mine-mine at the expense of others.

Take for instance the battles over economic development, Hunting, Intrastate migration, and where the money goes. It's soft graft but it's graft none the less. Graft here defined as the powerful exploiting the weaker for the powerful and their friends gain or enjoyment.

As the city states of rural America, particularly in North Dakota, gain power and voter influence, the tendency to use that power for their own devices is too much for representatives to eschew. 25% of the legislative representation in ND is from Cass County.

That mean Lamore county is left dangling, hoping for a morsel. The arrogance of ignoring these small population counties to feed into the large population counties will result in more rapid acceleration of the decline of the small counties. Even intermediate sized cities are not immune. If Grand Forks landed a large High Tech plant needing 500 able workers at $9 per hour where do you think they will come from? HMMM Devils Lake? In fact there is a parasitic relationship between city state economic development and small town demise.

I suppose in a poor way the city state areas are serving their constituencies well, after all, if there are no people in these low pop counties the hunting pressure is less, the golf courses are empty, no one to chase you off from snowmobiling, 4 wheeling anywhere you want will be ok. If there's no one there, it won't matter.

That's what graft is in Chicago. I'll get mine, I don't want you to get yours if it means I can't get all I want.

I think in a way it's the same in North Dakota. You just don't go to jail when you get caught with your hand in the cookie jar. You get re-elected.

Sunday, January 16, 2005



To spur economic development, the destroyed beach communities should implement stringent controls on its prime resource, beaches, swimming, and sunning.

1. Issue Sunning and Swimming licenses, charge $100 for one weekend visits. For that you get the opportunity to sun for 12 hours total.

2. Make beach goers visit only specific beaches. Control access. Put no trespass signs on most of the beaches. Don’t over-publicize the access. You wouldn’t want too many people coming to the beach from other countries.

3. Create public sunning and swimming areas but have them only available for half the day. Citizens of the country only will have the opportunity to use the areas any time all day long during the season.

4. For swimming, issue only 30,000 swimming licenses per year. You want to keep overcrowding to a minimum.

5. Keep in mind at all times that the people that live in the area are far more important than those who come to visit. Make sure those who visit understand this. Make visitors feel like imposers. Don’t be overwhelmingly welcoming. They might come back.

6. Allow those from the big cities inland from the beaches make the beach permit rules. Don’t allow those who live on the beaches to control their own fate. After all people in the big cities know best.,

By now you must be saying, that’s the dumbest thing you ever heard. For a country to take its prime natural resource and make it inaccessible to people who might want to pay to use or participate in it makes no sense. When we look at thru the lens of these destroyed countries it’s easy to see what THEY should do.

It’s harder when it’s on our own turf. North Dakota controls hunt tourists who come to hunt in exactly this way. Does it make sense? Only you can decide.

As laws regarding hunting are made, ask the question, is this rule encouraging or discouraging hunt tourism. Every rule made that wouldn’t pass the tsunami beach common sense test should not be enacted. Those that are equally as detrimental to hunting tourists that are in effect now should be re-evaluated.

As Helen Keller, the famous deaf, dumb and blind figure from the early part of the 20th century said, “People do not like to think. If one thinks, one must reach conclusions. Conclusions are not always pleasant.”

Fixing broken systems means change, and all change is perceived as loss. We must learn to cope with the cacophony of shortsightedness.