Community Columnists

North Dakota finances are a house of cards

We have the well-plugging fund, budget stabilization fund, abandoned mine fund, highway tax distribution fund, Legacy Fund, coal development fund, Center of Excellence Fund and a few dozen more funds listed on the home page of the state treasurer. I would also recommend checking the five ...

Heidi Heitkamp must think we’re all very stupid

When asked recently by The Hill newspaper whether or not she’d like former President Barack Obama to campaign for her here in North Dakota, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp was blunt in response. “Nope, no,” the paper quoted her as saying. Of course Heitkamp doesn’t want Obama on the campaign ...

Winning elections by dividing is bad for society

It’s a fashionable thing, particularly in election years, to bemoan the tone of modern politics. I understand why – the word “obnoxious” may as well have been invented to describe desperate political campaigns raining down hyperbole and opprobrium on the electorate – but to describe ...

Labor and other neglected days of honor

Out of the bitter labor-management conflicts of the 1880s and 1890s evolved what is known today as Labor Day, passed into law in 1894. But it has gone the way of several other holidays, honored more for its shopping opportunities than recognition of the working people. Few spend Memorial Day ...

The absurdity of identity politics when identity is self-identified

There’s some weird stuff going on in the national Democratic Party, otherwise known as the organization North Dakota Democrats like Heidi Heitkamp and Mac Schneider like to pretend they aren’t a part of during election years. In recent weeks the party has had to address the problem of ...

A prison experiment unlike anything in U.S.

"North Dakota is conducting a prison experiment unlike anything else in the United States.” So says Governing Magazine, a nationwide publication for state and local government officials, in a four-page interview by David Kidd with North Dakota legislative committees and the Department of ...

Hate ugly politics and hypocritical politicians? Blame the voters

We are now in the heart of the election season. Early voting has made the campaigning during this part of the cycle even more intense. While Election Day is still months away in November, early voting in North Dakota begins next month. The campaigns are still trying to make their cases, and ...

Yard signs are grass roots democracy

Hold that hammer, political activist, before driving that yard sign into the ground. Your life and your sign may be in mortal danger. Not everybody likes those political poppies that compete with dandelions and crabgrass as the most hated of unwanted exhibitions on neatly trimmed yards. Most ...

Tom, forget impeachment and do good

om Steyer, a smart investor who turned straw into gold by converting a puny $8 million into $30 billion in 20 years in the stock market, is now spreading his wealth by sponsoring a $10 million campaign to impeach President Donald Trump. So far, he has gathered 5,000,000 signatures on his ...

Stockpiling other people’s money is a lousy goal for the government

In 2009 the North Dakota Legislature passed a constitutional amendment to create a fund out of a portion of taxes on oil and gas development. It was approved by the voters, as all constitutional amendments in our state must be, in the 2010 election. Today what is now called the Legacy Fund ...

Big ideas, big results

North Dakotans have benefited greatly over the last decade by the world class oil play in the Bakken. As revenues began rolling in from oil taxes, the Republican led legislature, along with the voters, put various funds into place to make sure that the money was both spent responsibly and saved ...

Fighting ‘Godless Communism’ in North Dakota

The Air Force plane drifted down to the tarmac of Osan Air Base in South Korea, sidled up the ramp and open the cargo bay. Fifty-five service members respectfully brought out the remains of 55 soldiers who had lost their lives in the Korean Conflict It took 75 years for them to come ...

Minot Park District and ‘The Big Evergreen’

July 25 was a sad day for our family. We knew it was going to happen sometime this summer. Brian, the city forester, had told us they would just show up and get ‘er done. For 28 years we have lived in this house. And for 28 years, the 50-foot evergreen tree has stood at the edge of our front ...

Bank of North Dakota should explore the marijuana business

In 2016 North Dakota voters invited the marijuana industry into the state when nearly 64 percent of them voted for a ballot measure creating a framework for legal access to medical marijuana. Voters will likely get a chance to expand on the liberalization of state marijuana laws in November, ...

Ten miles for a loaf of bread

Once claiming to be the bread basket of the world, North Dakota is on its way to becoming a food desert, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. For USDA, a food desert means that folks must travel at least 10 miles to find a general grocery store. As rural North Dakota continues to ...

China wants Trump to knuckle under on trade, and so does Heidi Heitkamp

The Shirky Principle, named for technology writer Clay Shirky, holds that institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution. We could adapt the saying for politics by arguing politicians do not want to solve problems which are politically advantageous to them. It ...

Minutes from bump-poot hell sinky summit

When Bump entered the spacious reception room in Hotel Kamp, Poot was already downing his second vodka-seven, irritated because Bump kept him waiting for 45 minutes. Ordinarily, people who did that disappeared the next day. “Sorry, I was late, but we had a hard time finding Hell Sinky,” ...

Are capricious state regulators contributing to ND’s child care shortage?

One of the most bedeviling problems facing the great state of North Dakota are chronic labor shortages, as generations of policymakers can attest. A factor in labor shortages is a paucity of services such as child care. Contributing to the child care shortage, perhaps, is a regulatory ...