Ralph Kingsbury: Does North Dakota Need A Criminal Charge For Being Stupid?


A few weeks ago I wrote a column that contained some thoughts I had on different subjects but that weren’t long enough to be a whole column by themselves. I wrote that I would give it a try and we would see about the response from the readers. Response! There is no doubt I had responses’. Probably the greatest number and the strongest responses, both pro and con. So, why not try again. Here are some more.

First, I never was much of an athlete. In truth I was never anything approaching an athlete. I have written before how I never could understand the money and the time people put into a sport until I watched my son develop his baseball skills that he inherited from my wife’s family. There was no way I was going to withhold anything that would keep him back from playing at his level, or reaching for the next level.

Still, when I heard how much Bison alumni and fans spent to get down to Texas for that game, and the same for UND alumni and fans spent going to Minneapolis and then that Ohio town I wonder about our priorities.

If I was told correctly, each fan spent more money for those trips than they paid for North Dakota income taxes, and maybe even sales taxes.

Now I am a believer in the right of the individual, but I wonder where our concerns are, or should be. Maybe we do tax North Dakota generated income too high, but it is difficult to make the point we spend more on one sports trips for a college game than for a year’s income taxes.

In the meantime the tuition has become so high that many cannot afford to go to college even if the money is always there. It is simply a bad investment and as a result we are short of teachers, especially in our smaller schools.

And that doesn’t even begin to include the discussion about the money we spend on hiring a coach, or buying one out when we fire him, or her.

A second issue: I think, especially in the individual states, in many ways we have become a minor police state.

A good example is right here in North Dakota. Every “Colonel” of the North Dakota Highway Patrol comes to the legislature and ask for more patrolman to make our highways safer. Then they announce a program that says this weekend there will be strict DUI enforcement three miles west of a particular town. The next issue of the local weekly, or daily, announces there were four drivers cited for DUI. That was the wrong charge. They should have been charged for being stupid. Can you imagine getting caught in that trap? Can you imagine how that type of system reduces the DUI dangers to any degree? Can you believe this is a place where we could reduce useless government expenditures?

Third, how can any of us call the current American system of business capitalism? It is anything but that. So much of what we do now is a mixture of private and public spending. So much of what has happened since the latest government buyout began has been one lie after another.

For example, first we are told the government made money off the GM bailout. Now years later we are told really it was a loss of something like $100 billion dollars. Quite a difference.

Finally, for this column my last comment is really not because there isn’t enough to say. Rather, it is that there is too much. It is at least a trilogy in itself. I am talking about America’s political economic system as it used to exist and as it exist today.

Ike became President and created the interstate highway system, the largest public works project the world had ever seen, and he did it without hardly any effort. It happened because it was done at the level of spending we could afford. Not too fast, not too slow, just right. Why can’t we do things like that today?

How can we find our way back? America never was perfect. We always had our problems, but what is happening today at all levels of government is something that must change in order to survive as a society.