I wouldn’t be quick to assume that the South Dakota state legislature won’t pass the mandatory gun ownership law that John posted about yesterday. In 2006, the legislature outlawed abortion, only to have the law overturned by a 55-45 margin in a referendum. The statehouse is completely controlled by a fairly retrograde set of Republicans, and only Baby Jesus knows what these idiots will pass on any given day.
There are a lot of reasons that the South Dakota legislature is screwed up. Legislator is a part-time job that doesn’t pay worth a damn, so the typical legislator is some kind of self-employed or retired person. People with real jobs can’t cut a couple of months out of their schedule for what’s essentially free work, and the people who can are more likely to be Republicans. The legislature doesn’t do a whole lot except figure out how to cut spending, because the state’s only real revenue source is a sales tax. Schools and municipalities–the government that people really care about–are funded in large part by local property taxes, so the legislature can’t do much to fuck that up. And there are 70 House members, one for every 6,000 registered voters. Since the top two vote getters in each legislative district are sent to the House, it’s often possible for a dedicated wacko to squeak in.
In short, the place is useless and full of wankers because nobody good wants a shitty part-time job that’s easy to get but not really very important. The legislature has the luxury of jacking off over gun control and abortion because the state economy is fueled in large part by federally-subsidized farming and ranching. The money for that comes from DC, not Pierre, and everyone knows it. Even so, it’s a goddam embarrassing shame to see how poorly the legislature represents some of the hardest-working and most intelligent people in the nation.
sounds like the prototypical state legislature
Hole. Lee. Crap.
@gnomedad: And he’s one of the good ones!
Seriously. That’s 500 pounds of fucktardness stuffed into a 400 pound bag.
OT: Via TPM, can all just agree that this guy has actually reached Peak Wingnut(TM) ?
Dude, never heard of Proposition 13 in Cali? There’s nothing that a ‘good’ state legislature can’t fuck up.
“…no man’s life, liberty, or property are safe while the Legislature is in session.”
— Gideon J. Tucker, Final Accounting in the Estate of A.B. (1866)
There is no such thing as Peak Wingnut(tm), grasshopper. There is only The Wingularity(tm).
really concise and illuminating post. I would love to see something like on more states. it explains so much.
I think I really prefer the professionalism of paid legislators like those we have here in Illinois.
Thank you! Thank you! I’ll be here all week! Don’t forget to tip your waitress!
You just know that guy will be found dead wearing wetsuits and a dildo. Where do these people come from?
Could this be their version of “privatizing” safety? That by requiring everyone to carry their own protection, taxpayers will be spared the costs of paying for a police force. All those savings in pensions, doughnuts…
This is really good information. Sounds like a Republican, small government, wet-dream.
More of this “don’t need no government” horseshit while the rest of us subsidize their electricity, postage, internet and highways.
It’s not a subsidy, dammit! They’ve earned that money by serving as an example of quintessential Amurikaness and thereby guiding the aspirations of us all.
OT: Anderson Cooper and cameraman beaten by pro-gov’t crowd.
This is what comes of the Cult of Government Suspicion.
In reading about Texas history, you are always bumping into the mistrust of government and deliberately weakened state legislature. I think this is epidemic in farming and ranching country; I grew up among people who worshipped “business” and feared and hated “authority” and who didn’t realize Business could easily become Authority.
Perhaps because it meant someone was making money it was good? I’m still trying to figure it out…
Exactly. They deserve it, unlike us.
I heard on Snooze Hour last night that this bill wasn’t meant seriously — rather as a bit of wingnutesque satire of the ACA mandate.
If it’s true I confess I’m impressed. I didn’t know Teatards DID irony. How very elitist of them.
@4tehlulz: From your link:
Ten haymakers? That’s an ass-kicking! Get that man at least 3 steaks. Also, “Cutline” for a guy getting boxed? Cant dream that shit up.
If Cooper was punched, was it by an American sick of his sh..?
@Face: They should have done the three-minute-motherfucker on his narrow ass!
Mike in NC
Don’t a number of states follow this pattern? It would sure explain a great deal.
Villago Delenda Est
Somehow, being oppressed by a private entity is less onerous than being oppressed by a public one. Don’t as me how…it’s like Jeanne Kirkpatrick drawing the distinction between an “authoritarian” regime and a “totalitarian” one…if you’re being tortured, the distinction is most assuredly without any difference.
‘hardest working and most intelligent’?!?
Damn, I’d get tarred and feathered if I tried to say that with a straight face about California.
Up here in the northern tundra (26 below F this morning) we used to make fun of our neighbors to the south because our Republicans, while misguided, at least provided a minimal level of competence while governing. I am afraid that even here, in the land of Teddy Roosevelt, teh stoopid has taken over the GOP who are now pushing bills to allow ignorance, mandate ignorance, and create a one year waiting period for divorce. That last bill should be a boon for gun shops as there is a minimal or no waiting period to purchase a weapon. The bill is so bad that even a local minister testified against it.
@justawriter: Your state income tax has always been the basis of better government, IMO, and a reason the politics in ND have generally been more sane than SD.
Still trying to figure how it is that when the gubnit forces you to buy health insurance it ain’t constitutional, but when the gubnit forces you to buy a gun that’s okie-dokie.
@justawriter: Agreed. Things appear to be slipping a bit down in Bismarck. Whenever I’ve felt a bit despondent about the state of politics in ND, I’ve always told myself “well, at least I’m not living in South Dakota.” I’m not sure how much longer that will cheer me up.
On the bright side, we still have the oil revenue helping to keep things in order. Until the Republicans figure out a way to mess that up, too. One would think they’d not kill the goose that laid the golden egg, but I’m sure they’re constantly on the lookout for new, innovative ways to mess things up.
I was born in SD (though I hasten to point out, per the song, that I haven’t f*cked any cows), but now live in neighboring MN, where I often hear radio ads inviting businesses to relocate to my home state, due to its superior “business climate” (translation: no corporate or personal income taxes, “right to work,” low wages, etc.). I do think South Dakotans are, on average anyway, better than their lawmakers (though lets also remember that they did keep sending liberal George McGovern and competent Tom Daschle to DC for many terms), but the cowboy-yahoo mentality is also pretty strong, especially west of the Missouri. And since their Cayman Islands-like corporate environment has kept unemployment low (and, as you point out, federal money keeps flowing in), there is little incentive for change. It seems that the only real price for running a state this way is occasionally being made a laughingstock–and even that, in turn, just feeds our rural, midwestern resentment, which is what we’re really good at.
That would be a stronger argument if it had been passed by the state legislature. Prop 13 was put on the ballot by Howard Jarvis and voted on at a statewide election. If anything, it’s proof of why unfettered ballot initiatives are a bad idea, not of how legislatures screw stuff up.
@policomic: Having been born and raised out there in the Black Hills myself, I will definitely concur with your assessment of the yahoo mentality being strong in west river SoDak. It pretty much embarrasses me to be from there anymore with these idiots proposing these stupid laws. I live muuuuuch further west at this point, in a hotbed of hippie-dom (Go Ducks!) but my parents still live there and still get into arguments with friends and neighbors who don’t believe in big government as they draw Social Security, federal retirement, and Medicare.
“the state economy is fueled in large part by federally-subsidized farming and ranching”
OK, look, I was maybe spoiled because I grew up in a country run by Pierre Trudeau – an asshole in many ways, but also someone who would ruthlessly call his opponents’ bluffs when they were blowing smoke. So there are still many things about this country I don’t get, even after living here 25 years. This is one of them: why doesn’t the administration, or perhaps some arms-length hatchetman (allowing the administration deniability) , just float a tentative “budget cutting/deficit reduction” plan that would involve gutting all the favorite red state boondoggles: Farm subsidies – gashed. Federally subsidized hurricane and flood insurance for the Gulf and south Atlantic coast? Cut. NASA operations in Huntsville, Alabama? Cut in half. Identify various military bases whose closure was recommended and then tabled after congressional lobbying by local congresspeople? Say you’ll actually close them. And so on.
Make these people play defence for once. As things now stand they can pretend that the deficit is all due to foreign aid and T-bones for young bucks. Put them in the position where they are arguing explicitly for their favorite cash cow. Make Grassley and Steve King defend the ethanol subsidy, over and over again.
Why does this not happen?
@eemom: Calling it “irony” is a bit generous. It’s more on the level of the obvious, point missing, “clever” rejoinders to affirmative action: “Well, maybe we should get more fat, bald, white guys in the NBA – Haw Haw!”
This is the “you want us all to buy health insurance? Well, how do you like it if we make y’all buy a gun! Haw Haw!”
Except it’s a bit dumber, because they seem to think that the issue is constitutionality: “Oh, yeah, well if it’s constitutional to make us buy health insurance, then it must be constitutional to make you buy a gun. Haw Haw!” But I expect that it is constitutional to require the purchase of a gun, at least if the “requirement” is in the form of a tax deduction for gun owning. (Compare: a tax deduction for smoke detectors as “requiring” smoke detectors in a house. Or even fining homeowners who don’t install smoke detectors. Unconstitutional? Don’t be silly.) What prevents governments from requiring gun ownership is not the constitution, but rather the simple fact that it is a really dumb idea.
I wish I knew. Personally, I wonder if the Dems don’t appease the Repubs because they KNOW they are completely batshit and will wreak some sort of ULTRAHAVOC if not coddled.
Because year after year, many of us yearn to see Our Team play this kind of hardball, and they don’t.
@ppcli: Because the US doesn’t have a parliamentary system, and the President’s statutory authority in the budget-making process is zilch. He can ask for stuff, but he can’t make a credible threat to delete any particular program.
ETA: Within Congress is a different story, but I don’t have the energy to explain it right now.
@PeakVT: True, a Prime Minister has legislative clout a President doesn’t have, though I was meaning to include congress too. But even without credible threats to cut, you could just keep talking about it. Every time deficit reduction is mentioned, bring up the ethanol subsidy as the first item on the agenda. You could even do it by defending it “Well, for example many people say that the ethanol subsidy [or subsidized hurricane insurance or… depending on the target] is a waste of money. And there is something to be said for this view, though I think its importance to the economy of Iowa [Louisiana,…] gives good reasons for retaining it, or at least only cutting it in half…” (Transparently disingenuous, of course, but when has that ever hurt a politician?) Keep mentioning it and mentioning it until it becomes part of the debate.
But look, I’ve lived long enough to appreciate the truth of the principle: “If someone keeps doing something that strikes you as obviously irrational over and over again, even when this irrationality is pointed out to them, and they never give a convincing explanation of why, then most likely they are acting in a perfectly rational way and you have simply not grasped what the actual incentives and interests moving them are.” So I’m sure there are reasons why the Democrats act this way. I just don’t know what they are.
@ppcli: Corn ethanol survives in part due to the peculiarities of the presidential nomination process (Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primaries first). But mostly it’s due to logrolling in Congress. Assorted coalitions form up to protect subsidies that on their merits would die. The tax cut bill passed at the end of the last Congress is an example at a very broad level: Republicans and Democrats fought for months, then teamed up to pass each others favorite tax cuts. The net result is worse than either tax cut alone, but neither would have passed on their own.
To some degree it’s the gerrymandering built into the Senate that drives all this. If NY and CA and TX could throw their weight around, a lot of domestic policies would look very different. There would have been no Northeast Dairy Compact, for instance, and probably no corn ethanol.
@debbie: When I visited Anchorage, Alaska a few months ago I did a random scan of daytime AM radio stations. Listening for even 5 minutes confirmed that I was in a foreign country. The discussion between host and callers was focussed on how one could use deadly force to protect one’s property. The reason? The Anchorage police had apparently asked for a raise and the host and his callers knew that they were taxed enough already and couldn’t afford police. (And they are unionized you know!)
@Yukoner: I’m sure they didn’t like the idea of a smaller government allotment check.
As a born and raised South Dakotan, and a regular visitor to both Sioux Falls and the Black Hills, I wholeheartedly endorse this post.
Please remember this post the next time someone tells you John Thune isn’t that bad. He is much like the rest of these guys: affable enough, fully moronic, believes what he says, and commensurately dangerous to good public policy.