For years ND obsessed over its stagnant population. Wild proposals evolved to deal with the perceived problem, such as paying students to stay in the state, or luring more refugees. Calmer minds suggested that greater productivity, which would bring higher pay and better careers, was the real solution. Population would take care of itself. That seems to be happening, the 2010 census indicates the ND population is about 673,000, a 5 percent jump from 2000, and near the 1930 high of 681,000. Strong job growth, business investment and, of course, the Oil Patch are thought to be the main drivers.
Tom Dennis of the Herald says that in 2005, when the Base Realignment and Closure Commission made a decision to close the refueling operation at GFAFB, there were long faces at The Chamber and GF City Hall. The future seemed gloomy, but today GF County is one of the healthiest in the nation. Dennis credits city and state leaders for making the GF economy stronger and more diversified. He said, “Trend is not destiny.”
Tribune economic columnist Edward Lotterman says the public debate about the estate tax is largely an ideological, political argument. Liberals see estate taxes as a measure to reduce income inequality and prevent large concentrations of wealth, while conservatives believe the taxes reduce savings and investment. Many economists in both parties would be happy to see the estate tax eliminated because its costs exceed its benefits due to distortions and resources wasted to avoid the tax. Lotterman says research indicates the tax is not an important factor in equalizing income.
ND is one of the states with strong rhetoric against government spending and entitlement programs, yet the state receives a disproportionate share of spending under such programs. Lotterman says a deficit reduction package that includes entitlement reform will probably hit states such as ND the hardest.
I can’t help thinking that before Tom Dennis wrote a Herald editorial about earmarks, he first looked out the window at the Grand Forks dikes, then towards the research labs at UND, and finally a glance in the direction of the GFAFB. Dennis discovered that earmarks are good. Why? And this seems a little weak -- because they are so much smaller than entitlements, and he reminds us that earmarks pay for one-time projects, while entitlements are virtually forever. Get it -- small and temporary versus big and permanent. Dennis’ column is an indication of growing nervousness in ND about the impact of deficit reduction on the state.
A Tribune editorial is written in a similar vein, but the topic is farm subsidies. The Tribune hopes Congress, when writing a 2011 farm bill, will look past the current ag prosperity to the time when farmers will again be struggling because of the “erratic nature of weather and markets.”
An unruly crowd of nearly 100 gathered near a bowling alley to witness a fight between young ethnic men using knives, shovels and even a Taser. So what, you say, this type of mayhem is an everyday occurrence in places such as Los Angeles. Well, this wasn’t Los Angeles, it was Moorhead, where Sudanese and Liberian residents who don’t like each other were once again having it out.
This product aids digestion, provides immunity, moistens skin, strengthens hair and has hormonal benefits for women. Whew, sounds like a sleazy late night TV ad for miracle cures. Actually, these are claims for the health benefits of using flax products which are experiencing crazy growth in demand. Goodbye fish oil, hello flax! In any case, it’s good for ND, which has ideal conditions for growing flax. The state produces 95 percent of the nation’s flax. It’s not a small deal -- in 2010 ND planted over 600 square miles of flax.
The Forum has started a series called “11 to Watch” -- profiles of people in F-M who are expected to be newsworthy in 2011. The series began with a musician, a scientist . . . and then the newly appointed publisher of the Fargo Forum, Bill Marcil Jr., son of the preceding publisher. This follows another Forum article about the new publisher, a fifth generation member of the Black family. We take the Forum at its word that young Bill is somebody we should watch, still, it seems like there might have been a more modest way of bringing him into the limelight. Bill Jr. is not bashful about his new prominence: “I really believe we (The Forum) could be a template for newspapers all over the country. Let’s think big.” Template indeed -- we will stay tuned.
The Bismarck Tribune has an extraordinary AP article about the Jamestown “Liechty family.” The article runs over 3,000 words, more simply, that is about seven pages of correspondence. The Liechty brothers, Jon (84) and Si (78), own 17,000 acres of farmland in nine states and rent another 13,000 acres. Beyond that, their operations include real estate and housing. They are part-owners of Amity Technology (farm equipment) in Fargo. The largely retired brothers donate much of their income to charities associated with the Assemblies of God.
Cutting and branding. This takes a little explanation: Branding occurs when young people, usually teenagers, are branded by others with hot metal; cutting occurs when young people scar themselves with knives and razors. A Tribune article by Lauren Donovan indicates both practices are common among desperate children at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation and are also related to a high incidence of suicides there. The practices are the subject of a video produced by Indian Health Services to highlight the problems underlying the harmful practices.
DAKTOIDS: Hmmm, a poll of the entire staff at Dickinson State indicates 30% of the staff is dissatisfied -- the worst outcome at ND’s 4-year schools. President McCallum brushes it off, although most of the negative comments are about him . . . NoDaks are doing well and raising their incomes, but as to people worth over $30 million, the state has only 40, the fewest of any state . . . Do you think, if you see a lot of eagle nests, there must be many eagles? Not so fast. Researchers indicate there can be as many as 10 nests for every adult eagle. A great share of the nests are old and abandoned.