Archived Story

Are people smarter in the Dakotas?

Published 10:04am Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Column: My Point of View, by Jerrold Dettle

Now that Wisconsin is shifting toward the policies of many other politically conservative states, and Minnesota is drifting lower into the quagmire of failed socialist states that are located closer to the coasts, we have become an island in the middle of the heartland.

Jerrold Dettle
Jerrold Dettle

Now, Minnesota has a proud history of independent entrepreneurs, but that individualism seems to be drifting further back into a distant past. No longer can we drive through bordering states and not be somewhat intimidated by their progress and pockets of prosperity. Or no longer it seems that we can stop at local cafes from North Dakota to the Mexican border and brag about our leading edge in technology and population growth.

Is this feeling of inferiority completely imaginary or based on some foggy self-devaluation because everyone on Interstate 29 seems to be driving a large quad cab, and I am in a Prius.

Can it be that research into the actual economic statistics of these states can put my mind at ease and renew my once faithful allegiance to socialist economies.

We could begin with a logical and mathematical comparison of our state with North Dakota. But wait a moment. Would that be fair? After all, hasn’t North Dakota just discovered by use of the world’s must advanced technology, the world’s largest known source of energy? Albeit, this source is oil and gas supplies, which some in my state feel are sources of ill health where an earlier death must surely be the norm.

So let’s be fair and not compare ourselves to those foolish opportunists who use thousands of high polluting semi-trucks to transport their products daily to refineries built before 1970 and located in great distances from North Dakota rather than utilizing the most advanced high tech pipelines that are many times cleaner and lay undetected underneath almost every community in the nation.

So good-bye North Dakotans, because of unfair economic practices your nearly zero unemployment and high salaries cannot be compared our superior rest stops.

Hello, South Dakota! Your natural resources are lower than other Midwestern states, and much of your land can hardly produce a hundred bushel corn, much less than our soon to be 300 bushel per acre heavy black soil. So let’s look at your standard economic indicators and compare them to the trends in our state.

And to avoid comparing apples to oranges, we would like to look at three South Dakota counties that lie at the intersection of two major interstates and are very similar in size to Freeborn County in area and population.

But wait a minute, Sioux Falls is the only South Dakota town that lies at the intersection of two major interstates. The Sioux Falls growth may have been a fluke anyhow, and their growth has far exceeded 100,000.

So Interstate 29 is a single highway going directly north from Interstate 90 and parallel to our border and only 30 miles to the west, but it does contain some contiguous counties that are very similar to Freeborn County in Minnesota. These South Dakota counties are Hamlin, Brookings and Codington.

Population change in the four counties in the past two decades compares this way:

Codington grew from 22,793 to 27,227.

Hamlin grew from 4,969 to 5,903.

Brookings grew from 25,287 to 39,965.

Freeborn declined from 32,554 to 31,054.

Unemployment percentages were thus:

Codington, Hamlin and Brookings consistently averaged around 3.2 percent for 20 years

Freeborn experienced over 10 percent several times and had a lowest figure of 5.1 percent.

According to the South Dakota labor office, the Brookings figures did not include college students.

Slanting of statistics for political purposes seems to be frequent, and, of course, I plead innocent.

But I will not do as the current administration and plead the Fifth Amendment.

So the Honest Democrats who read this (and I know there are many in Freeborn County) are certainly encouraged to check me for human error in the spirit of a friendly debate. The phone number for the Labor Department in South Dakota is 605-626-2314 and the figures for Freeborn County were obtained from the courthouse.

In closing, I would like to express a sincere political opinion in the least offending intent possible.

The economy in neighboring states may be substantially better, but per headline above, the people in the Dakotas are definitely not smarter, only the current politicians.


Albert Lea resident Jerrold Dettle is a member of the Freeborn County Republican Party.