What a weekend. Where do I go from here?

As I was departing Pierre for Brookings last weekend, attempting to start fresh in a new city, I wasn't expecting that I'd spend my lunch hour and subsequent weekend hammering out Ted Klaudt articles. But the big story broke and with the passage of the weekend, things have slowed down a bit, and here I am.

I'm sitting here this morning, and I find myself freer to express opinions I might have previously censored for the sake of my employment. I mean, I might be a fool, but I'm not a damned fool.

In light of all that transpired this weekend, more than anything I want to talk about "a better way." No, that doesn't mean the half-baked ideas, redistribution of wealth through taxation, and other liberal social modification policies that supposedly "progressive" folk hope to instill on society. I want a better way of governance that seeks to be less intrusive into our lives. I think the people who earn money need to be able to keep more of what they earn. I want a government that protects our freedoms, instead of infringing upon them.

In other words, I want government to get over itself. It's not the "end all-be all." It's not there to perpetuate and expand itself. It's purpose is to serve the people, not offer dictation and demand that we stand with open ear and pen in hand.

Too many legislators jump up every session and want to pass a law against this, or increase penalties on that. Why? Because they went to some stupid national conference, and there was a single instance of this in Clearwater, Florida. And they're serious as a heart attack when they propose this stuff. In a society that put more value on it's freedoms, anyone who proposed such a measure would rightfully be ridiculed. They at least deserve the verbal equivalent of being tarred and feathered.

We need to remember who authorized this government we live under. It wasn't government itself. It was the people.

I think this comes from me listening to debates on topics such as "the state budget reserve." I hear one side say we need to "save that surplus for a rainy day in case of a disaster." I hear the other side say "we don't need to keep such a huge reserve. We need to spend those funds on doing this, or doing that." But why don't we hear anyone advocating for door #3?

We don't hear anyone saying "We need reserves in case of shortfall. But we should cap them at "X amount." Anything over that should be returned to the taxpayer. If memory serves me, even over in the leftist country of Minnesota, every once in a while, they've given excess tax funds collected back to property owners. But here, everyone in government seems to think we either need to keep it or spend it.

The problem with that scenario is that for the most part - IT'S NOT THEIR MONEY. They collected it from the taxpayer. If they didn't need it, it might be a nice gesture to return it.

So take this as a moment to pause, and think about what you want your government to be. Do you want it to be Mom? Do you want it to be dad?

Or do you want it to be a tool that allows you to live in freedom?

Comments

Pat:
The move to Brookings has been good for you. The reserves situation is obscene. There never is a "rainy day" in S.D. state government.

Follow the money. Who profits from the large reserves? The state's banks where the money sits, where it can be used for loans and leverage for loans.

I'm not against having some reserves for shortfalls or even to invest in projects that arise that could help the state and its citizens. But to put the piggy box in a lock box in a safety deposit box in your local bank and never touching is wrong. State governemnt doesn't want local school districts to pile up big reserves. What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

PP, welcome to truly free speech.
Anonymous said…
PP (or anyone else who can answer this) –

How do you reconcile your belief in less intrusive government with the tendency of conservatives to pass very intrusive social legislation? Obviously abortion and gay marriage come to mind but it goes deeper then that. A few years ago there was an outcry among conservatives when anti-sodomy laws were shot down. Keeping in mind that straight married couples can also participate in this act, why wouldn’t people who support less government celebrate this kind of ruling? That is just one example, many more exist. I mean this question with all sincerity.
Anonymous said…
9:06
I don't understand your comments about obscene amounts of reserves. The rainy day funds amount to about 4% of the states budjet. School districts can and do maintain budjet reserves many times greater than that.
Anonymous said…
9:20

Whaaat?????

4%? Try closer to 94%.

Todd is right on.
bob newland said…
"I want a government that protects our freedoms, instead of infringing upon them."

So you'll be endorsing the idea that sick, disabled and dying people should be given safe legal access to medicine that works for them, right?
Anonymous said…
well said, mr. epp. i think the case could be made that governments having reserve funds is a fundamentally bad idea.

one could reasonably argue that it is better for a government to have a debt -- and pay it -- than to have a reserve fund.

--lexrex
Anonymous said…
legit question, 9:08. i can only speak for myself, but as a conservative, my motive is to conserve our nation's founding principles. and the most basic principle of government, as our founders believed, is to punish bad behaviors and commend good ones.

my belief is that if a behavior -- such as murder, theft, public intoxication, sodomy, etc -- is found to disturb the health, safety, and welfare of a community, then it ought to be outlawed. since the founding of our country, courts have referred to this as a police power.

of course, there is no bright line showing us where to stop. i stopped, most recently, at car seats for 7-year-olds and shots for teenage girs that were already available in the private sector.

that police power is always tempered by majority rule. and sometimes it helps and sometimes it hurts. but that's the best we can do, outside of finding us the next king solomon.

--lexrex
Anonymous said…
9:20
Your responce proves that you and Todd and many Dems do not understand what you are talking about. You are including TRUST FUNDS in the converstaion about RESERVE FUNDS. The reserve funds, sometimes called riny day funds, amount to about 4%. The tust funds were established from "one time" windfalls that were received by the state through events like the sale of the cement plant, tobacco settlement, ect. The state uses the majority of the interest recieved from these funds to fund education, health care, and many other things. A portion of the intersest goes back into the trust funds to protect them from being eroded because of inflation. The amount those funds have grown over the last five years has barely kept up with inflation. Every year there are atempts to raid tose funds much the same as the Social Security funds have been raided by people in Federal Government.
Last year the trust funds produced over 30 millions $ in revenue for the state. Do you really want to kill this goose that lays golden eggs?
Anonymous said…
Lexrex – so is it safe to assume that you do not entirely subscribe to PP’s less intrusive government theory?
I’m specifically coming back to the sodomy issue. I’ve always wondered how anybody can support a law banning a specific sexual act between 2 consenting (and possibly married) adults. Oddly enough, bob brings up another good point about medical marijuana. Isn’t it conservative to say that these 2 things have no impact on me, therefore I should not be concerned about the government regulating this behavior? (for this discussion I’m talking about medical marijuana specifically and not drug laws in general).
Anonymous said…
According to the professional organization of state chief budget officers, South Dakota has a 12% budget reserve - one of the highest in the country.

You say 4% of state budget, but that includes federal dollars.

You don't make that same assumption for schools - you advocate that they include federal dollars.

I wonder, did you not know that, or are you just advancing falsehoods?
Anonymous said…
you asked, "Isn’t it conservative to say that these 2 things have no impact on me, therefore I should not be concerned about the government regulating this behavior?"

no, it is not. as i explained it's not necessarily about whether a thing has an impact on "me." it's about how that thing impacts the health, safety, and welfare of the community. if an act or behavior disturbs those things, it matters little whether 2 adults consented.

and i happen to believe that there's enough evidence to prove that sodomy is harmful enough to need anti-sodomy statutes, regardless of sexual preference.

on the other hand, i do not believe that there's enough evidence to prove that occasional exposure to 2nd hand smoke in restaurants is.

--lexrex
Anonymous said…
Lexrex – I appreciate this discussion. I am talking more about sodomy then I expected to when I woke up this morning.

I have to take issue with this comment of yours:

“and i happen to believe that there's enough evidence to prove that sodomy is harmful enough to need anti-sodomy statutes, regardless of sexual preference.”

I don’t understand the logic of this. Without being too graphic, I will say that my wife and I (along with most married couples) have violated that law. How is that harmful to society? Would you advocate the government creating a list of sexual acts that are allowed? It could be distributed to people when they apply for a marriage license.
I believe this is a necessary conversation for anyone who claims to believe in individual rights to have.
scimitar said…
The actual reserve funds include the Budget Reserve ($43 million) and the Property tax reduction fund ($99 million).

The "property tax reduction fund" is only a name, and those funds are not restricted to any purpose. LRC says of the property tax reserve fund, "money moves out of the property tax reduction fund with such ease that the property tax reduction fund may be considered part of the general fund."

With reserves of $142 million (separate and distinct from the trust funds) and an annual general fund budget of just over $1 billion, SD does indeed have reserves of more than 12% of our annual budget - one of the highest per-capita reserves in the nation (comparing apples to apples with other states' non-federal portion of their budgets).

The person using the 4% figure is trying to mislead by either putting the federal funds into the equation or by excluding the property tax reduction fund from the equation. The 12% figure is the one arrived at using an apples to apples comparison between states to determine states' fiscal health (ratio of reserves to state expenditures funded by state taxpayers).

When you add in all of the trust funds, we are well in front of all other states for cash on hand.
PP said…
My point in this is that while a little reserve is ok, the rest should not go back to schools as some are proposing. It should go back to the taxpayer.
PP said…
That goes the same for school reserves as well.
Anonymous said…
no offense, 12:05, but i'm not sure if you can talk about anal sex without being too graphic, so i won't.

sorry. i guess that's why william blackstone referred to it as a "crime not fit to be named" and said that the "very mention of which is a disgrace."
Anonymous said…
PP's republicans have done nothing to return any of the reserves or trust funds to taxpayers. They are intent on growing them. Many taxes were raised in 2003 while the reserves and trust funds grew. They have simply not offered up anything at all. Where's the leaderhsip?

The democrats are the only ones saying enough is enough. If republicans don't like the democratic plans then offer one up instead of just saying no. But republicans are in caretaker mode. Everybody is afraid to do anything bold. They have the governor's office and the legislature, so why rock the boat?

If the dems can take over the governor's office and at least one side of the legislature, it'll be the best thing that happened to SD in decades. The career bureaucratic managers (who haven't had an original thought in 20 years) that just get shuffled around with each change of GOP governors will be out on their asses where they belong and new ideas will get due consideration.


Change of party control will happen eventually - maybe in 2010. It was good for congress in 1994 and again in 2006. It will be good for SD.
Anonymous said…
12:42, since you need it explained to you, 12:05 was talking about oral sex, which was and still is classified as sodomy.

You've probably even tried this with no harm to society. If not, you shouldn't knock it till you try it.
PP said…
12:45, I'd disagree a bit. Everything I hear out of Democratic legislators is that they'd like to spend that little pot o' gold.

I would agree that it's not an idea that I've heard my party advance in recent years. Not since Janklow got a property tax rebate in the works after he first returned to office.

I think it's far past time. I'm saying the money needs to go back to the people who earned it.

That's a Republican value.
Anonymous said…
Ok Lexrex,

I’m jumping into the middle of this here but – There are a large number of the Nations’ founding principles that we have looked at and rejected over the last 230 years. If we really want to go back to those days we need to only allow white male property holders the vote. We need to allow slavery. We need to vote for electors, not the President. We need to allow the unrestricted growth of marijuana (George Washington was a hemp farmer). Change is good, and some of the founding values of our country won’t work today.

Just because it would shock Victorian (or pre-Victorian) sensibilities does not mean that we shouldn’t do it now. They would be similarly shocked that we don’t dress formally for dinner or that I might address my employer by his given name. Applying the values of 230 years ago to today’s world doesn’t work.

Oh…and Anon 12:42 – The sodomy laws covered more than simply anal sex. In some cases it was anything other than the missionary position.
Anonymous said…
PP, your argument for smaller government would have more credibility of you were consistently for smaller government.

However, it seems to me, as a loyal reader, that you have a tendency to apply your philosophy in a selfish manner: you support limited government on issues that suit you, and vice versa. Got 7 kids who you don't want to put in a booster, you want small government. Got a bunch of daughters who you think should get the HPV vaccine, you want big government.

Your positions on virtually every issue seem to be self-serving in this way.

You don't have to be perfect, but all I ask is that you recognize this tendency, and take criticism of it to heart. You are a powerful voice in SD politics, and many of us share your desire for freedom and limited goverment. We just want your voice to be as powerful as it can be, and some philosophical consistency would go a long way toward that.
Anonymous said…
So, PP, you're suggesting that even though we have the lowest possible tax burden in the naton, we should lower even more, even though we expect schools to do better, do more and do it now?

No room in your mantra for more funds for public ed. They're stuck with what they get, mostly because that's the way it is?

I mean, wouldn't it be RESPONSIBLE to give schools the resources they need to do what we expect them to do?

Sure, right now, Republicans say -we can't give more money to schools, they're doing pretty good. But, when scores dip because we're falling so far behind financially, aren't you same people just going to say - "We don't want to give them more money, what they are doing now isn't working!"

I think the real republican values should stand alone - hard core conservatives just AREN'T for strenthening our education system. Any money is a waste of money. It's a liberal establishment. They don't let us teach our church views.

It's sad.
Anonymous said…
Oh. Translation for PP.

"We aren't going to win elections unless we start talking about low taxes. That's all people care about, really. So, let's start talking about lowering taxes."
Anonymous said…
Lexrex - How would you enforce anti-sodomy laws anyway? Should we take current police officers away from their other duties (such as catching murderers and thieves)? Or do social conservatives want to create a new agency to police what goes on in the bedrooms of consenting adults?
PP said…
1:06 - if we're building a surplus, then aren't we taxing more than needed for the upkeep of government?

This has nothing to do with priorities. It has everything to do with taking money out of the hands of the people who earned it.

If government needs more, fine. Explain it. But if it needs less, then why not return it to the people who earned it?
scimitar said…
It's been explained, PP. How many schools have opted out while the state sits on a pile of money? You think schoolboard members, many of whom are Republicans, do opt outs for the fun of it?

With Wyoming paying new teachers $40,000 to start and all of our surrounding states paying teachers more, there is a looming crisis. Even the SF Chamber of Commerce which usually doesn't get involved in these types of things has said that something needs to be done. And fuel prices are hitting schools hard.

What's the House republicans' response? Continue piling up the money in state government. No tax cuts for anyone, and schools got an increase less than the rate of inflation. Ignore the problem.

What was Mike Rounds' response? Propose less than schools actually got, then punt it to the legislature to do what they want. No leadership.
Anonymous said…
y'all can roll around in fecal matter all you want, but you won't find a doctor in the world who says it's safe.

i'm just trying to explain to you why it used to be against the law.

good luck with the sodomy.

--lexrex
Anonymous said…
lexrex - oral sex. You can't tell me you haven't violated that law. You sodom and gamorah-izer.

The law is still on the books - just no criminal penalty. If you're a Christian you better have a public profession of guilt like you did with the abortion thing. It's o.k. Get it off your chest.
Anonymous said…
Lexrex – since I started on this topic, let me simply say that it was not my intent to offend you and chase you out of the conversation. I continue to struggle with your logic and need you to explain your theory on the role of government. The sodomy laws are but one example where I don’t think conservatives are consistent. Several posters have pointed out, correctly, that those laws covered much more then the sexual act that freaks you out. Is this a proper use of the power we grant government. I submit that it is not. You seem to say that it is. Who is the real conservative?
Anonymous said…
I would think kissing is (potentially) harmful as well if you think about it much. Swapping spit that is. The moralizing-right that presumes to speak for the founding fathers, etc., are a dangerous bunch. My theory is they are miserable and unhappy in their own lives amd they want to ensure everyone else suffers along with them. Just because your love-life sucks (oh, bad choice of words), don't make it a crime for everyone else. keep your misery to yourself.
Deputy Dawg said…
Sheeeesh! Just read the comments to this point and it appears to be two simultaneous discussions: One about spending state slush funds and the other about anal sex.

Both procedures may only be related as they pertain to taxpayers.

What a blog!

Hey, who's going to win Idol?
Anonymous said…
Hey, Deputy Dawg

When i got to the end of the positngs I had a good laugh! Thank you!
However, i was able to keep up with the two different postings then we get the same ole posing from BN as usual....

But thanks for the laugh and to answer you I have no clue, I haven't watch it!
Anonymous said…
Anon 9:08
I might try to answer your question but i think things would most likely turn into a fight "maybe" and we would need a posting just for that conversation to be honest.
PP said…
better add "banner of Bob Newland" to my titles.

heh.
Anonymous said…
Here we have peanut butter and jelly - we just need to put them together.

deputy dawg meet bob newland, a "person of interest" to any law enforcement mutt. Get that sniffer off lexrex's butt (bestiality and sodomy - both illegal) and start sniffing drugs!
Anonymous said…
O yea PP i think you should just rush to get the header into place!

However I enjoyed the pun if that was one.
Anonymous said…
"better add "banner of Bob Newland" to my titles."

Yup. Quite a prestigious list you have there, PP:

Gov's former paperboy
Partisan hack
Banner of Newland

Heh indeed.
Anonymous said…
again, 3:44, if you believe that the founders and the courts since then are correct that the state holds a police power "to protect the health, safety, morals, and welfare of its citizens," then i guess you would say that i am the conservative

granted, some states included more than just anal sex in its sodomy statutes, however, that is the one act that can be proven to harmful to one's health, though 3:57 seems to equate spit with feces. i'd hate to find out what he/she has been kissing.

--lexrex
Anonymous said…
and oh yeah, as i said in my first post, reserve funds are generally a bad idea.

--lexrex
Anonymous said…
Once again, lexrex dodges the questions. He is just too lightly armed to defend his positions effectively.

11:12 asked how anybody can support a law banning a specific sexual act between 2 consenting (and possibly married) adults and still claim to subscribe to PP's "less intrusive government" philosophy. lexrex has no direct answer to that question.

12:05 noted that oral sex is sodomy under SD's law and that many married couples are sodomists under that definition. and asked if lexrex advocates government creating a list of permitted sex acts to distribute to people. Lexrex has no answer to that question.

1:36 asked lexrex how he would enforce the sodomy laws: divert existing police to the task, or create a new sex police agency. lexrex refuses to answer the question.

3:02 asks lexrex if he has violated the sodomy laws. lexrex refuses to answer.

3:57 notes that kissing is potentially harmful to people because it involves swapping bodily fluids - should it be banned? lexrex refuses to answer the question.

The fact is, lexrex is unable to answer basic questions in defense of his beliefs. He comes to this debate armed with nothing more than an arbitrary set of beliefs.

Reading these comments it is obvious that lexrex does not have a coherent philosophy on the role of government. He simply thinks that government should ban everything that he doesn't like. how can someone who thinks that way have any credibility?
Anonymous said…
Mr. Reagan and Senator Goldwater had an enduring link. Ronald Reagan first came to national political attention in 1964 with a rousing televised speech on behalf of Senator Goldwater, then the Republican presidential nominee. The mantra for conservatives of this era was the declaration, to which Senator Goldwater subscribed, of keeping government out of “the boardroom and the bedroom.”
Anonymous said…
As for swapping spit as in kissing, if you are talking aids it would take a gallon of spit (ish) to catch aids and I am not aware of anyone who can kiss that long, non stop and then handle that amount.
I think i just turned my own stomach.
Anonymous said…
are you hitting on me, 10:35?

--lexrex
Anonymous said…
TO: Lexrex 11:15p
Frm Poster 10:54p

If your question was to me (10:54) about hitting on you NO WAY. I'm not that kind of person.

I was finally responding to poster 3:57 who was talking about people kissing and getting sick.

Though I will admit that people can get a herpes complex (some call it a cold sore) which is a virus that lives in your system and stress can bring them out.
So if you know someone who says I have a cold sore or you see it DON'T be kissing on them you will pick it up and it will remian in your system.

Heck at this point i need to go back and read the heading to remember what the topic was jezz.
Anonymous said…
I think some peoples computer clocks are off so this can cause a problem when responding to some of the time lines and posters.

what is time really???? hehehe
alberta said…
Y'know, it appears that the moderator of this blog is little more than a shell; a juvenile parrot of neo-con non-philosophy who will not face his own inconsistencies. Instead, he bans those who point those inconsistencies out. He'd be a good president, wouldn't he?
Anonymous said…
Alberta, you know as i read your postings I am not sure that i have ever read one in a positive tone. Could that be possible? If you hate all the post why do you bother coming here anyway.
Now, don't give me a "i come to laugh" and "I come to irritate". I would think you like to go to sites/blogs that your views fit in with. Of course could it be that you don't agree with any blogs?
Just curious.
Anonymous said…
Rainy day funds are a good idea generally. I cant remember SD ever using them though. When the devastating blizzards crippled central SD, we did not use rainy day funds, we raised the gas tax for a year or 6 months (cant remember the time) to pay for relief.

Caps would be a good idea if there was an agreement on "when" to use the funds. The problem I see is these funds are being used like "trust funds", politicians see the interest as a way of funding their special projects without raising taxes or cutting funding from something else. An example would be Adelsteins k-12 funding idea.
Anonymous said…
my idea for rainy day funds: repeal all state gas tax/sales tax on gas during the summer to offset high prices gouged by oil companies.

or perhaps invest in economic development of alterative fuels. as far as i am concerned our dependance on fossil fuels *constitutes* a rainy day...for many years to come. let's break into those funds and do something that improves life for south dakotans!

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