ND falls short of common good

Common good are those things that emphasizes community as compared to individual good, which emphasizes self.

Every level of civic society – national, state and local – needs common good to negotiate and provide the services to everyone in its jurisdiction.

The national government must provide security, goods and services; state government supplements the national good with another level of security, goods and services; the county government adds administration while also providing local assistance to fill gaps.

The level of common good is measured by the quality of protection, goods and services provided by each level, usually depending on resources available to raise and lower that level.

Measured by its capacity, all levels in North Dakota starve the common good at all levels, perhaps because of the impact of our capitalistic mentality that favors the personal good. Individual frontier mentality still dominates our thinking.

The common good requires a higher level of emphasis at every level of government but struggles against the personal good.

North Dakota usually ranks in the middle – or lower – when measured by the quality of goods and services the common good provides. For the resources available, we could be Number One in the nation in common good. Instead we prefer the individual good by sending money from the common good to the individual good.

The best example is surplus income. We haven’t been sending it to the common good but to the private good, meaning that the common good is short-changed.

Signatures are now being gathered for two individual good measures slated for the ballot in this year’s election.

There’s a sweeping proposal to change election laws by tightening eligibility to vote. This is not for the common good in a democracy that makes almost all residents eligible to participate. Instead, it is intended to limit the common good by narrowing the meaning of democracy.

Then there’s the petition to abolish the property tax without replacement revenue in the plans. On the whole, this petition is intended to reduce the common good in favor of the individual good. Why else would the sponsors bring forward such a proposal?

North Dakota seems to be doing a good job ungrading its capacity to train more technical students to deal with the exploding electronic industry. This is both for the common good and individual good.

Qualified students will have more opportunities than ever before and the owners of affected industries will make more profit. So technical training is common good for the country as well as for the individual good for students and employers.

In the haste to provide technical training, North Dakota has failed to provide the common good of preparing and upgrading all students in the public education system.

Measured against funds available (over $9,000,000,000 in the Legacy Fund), we have been failing to fund the kind of education system that is possible, not on personal taxes but the energy sources that could be used to elevate “F” students to “B” students or “C” students to “A” students.

Policymakers seem to think that lower grades for capable students is enough, but education is more of an investment in the future – more than just current jobs.

Money has been floating to the private good rather than to the common good. The individual good has been beneficial for only the individual good ,which is transitory, rather than for the common good that would endure for generations to come.

Many North Dakotans demean the high taxes in Minnesota but the higher taxes, paid by individuals, pay for a greater common good in Minnesota than exists in North Dakota. Minnesota has better roads, stronger social programs and a better education system because Minnesota is a state for the common good.

It is time to be more futuristic because the common good builds community and the well-being of all North Dakotans.


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