Noem's Ukraine comments a major blunder, SD's new tax cut a scam: Your letters

Governor Kristi Noem speaks with reporters after signing HB 1090 into law on Wednesday, March 15, 2023, at C&B Operations in Mitchell.
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Your letters to the editor for March 26:

Fix the potholes. Fix environmental strategy, too.

Well, it's spring and both the potholes in the roads and the bigger holes in our local environmental strategy need a lot of work. I'm sure we'll fix the roads − and mutter sweet nothings about the climate.

− Art Hovey, Sioux Falls

Noem's Ukraine comments a significant blunder

"How horrible, fantastic, incredible it is that we should be digging trenches and trying on gas-masks here because of a quarrel in a far-away country between people of whom we know nothing.” Neville Chamberlain, Prime Minister of Great Britain, September 1938.

“This should be Europe’s fight, not ours. We should not waste taxpayer dollars at the risk of nuclear war.” Kristi Noem, Governor of South Dakota, March 2023.

Gov. Kristi Noem has little of Neville Chamberlain’s experience in foreign policy, so perhaps she can be excused for making the same blunder he did: sacrificing a free people to appease a Nazi dictator. There is, though, no excuse for her ignorance of history.

Putin is a Nazi. He draws his playbook directly from Hitler’s, whether it be in Putin’s mythologizing an uber Russian motherland and culture, his inhumane treatment of his enemies (including poisoning and then imprisoning Alexei Navalny, among others), violating international laws and treaties, ignoring domestic laws, authorizing crimes against humanity, and sending tens of thousands of his own subjects to their deaths in an illegal war.

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Noem’s willingness to appease Putin will have the same consequences as the 1938 Munich Agreement that Chamberlain signed. Within four months, Hitler took the rest of Czechoslovakia, something he promised not to do when he got a third of that country’s territory after claiming the Sudetenland was historically German. Putin makes the same false claim about the Ukrainian territories his forces occupy being Russian. In fact, he makes the same false claim about all of Ukraine.

Emboldened, Hitler ordered the conquest of Poland less than a year after the Munich Agreement. Noem should recognize that Putin’s desire to recreate the Russian Empire includes Poland and any other country the tsars once possessed. He probably thinks Alaska should be returned to Russia!

Noem likes to wrap herself in the flag. Try this on for size, Governor, if you want to understand why the Ukrainians’ fight is worthy of our support:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” That universal truth is worthy of everyone’s sacrifice. It is our fight, it is your fight, and it is most certainly Governor Noem’s fight.

−Steven Bucklin, Sioux Falls

Noem's views on Ukraine war not reflective of South Dakotans

Our governor should be more careful of what she says , how she says it, and who she says it to. Gov.Noem recently said to Tucker Carlson that she believes the war in Ukraine is a European issue, not one concerning the United States of America. Statements like this do reveal her true colors, which may be red, but I’m not sure about the white and blue.Perhaps she should review history. Not the make-believe history she is promoting through changes she wants to make in our school curriculum, but the actual history that has taken place. American isolationism has never been a good idea and has never turned out well. This is even more true in these days of global economic activity. She needs to understand that if we just stand by as observers of the Ukraine invasion, it would most likely not end there. Russia would be emboldened to press on until Putin reconstitutes the USSR. That has always been his dream and goal. We simply cannot let that happen. The Ukraine invasion is very much an issue concerning the United States of America and indeed the world. It deserves our full support.As the governor of South Dakota, she represents the people who live here. When she goes on national television shows that claim to be news channels and makes statements like this, I don’t believe she reflects the values of most South Dakotans.

− Robert Funk, Brandon

More:South Dakota Gov. Noem calls Russian invasion of Ukraine ‘Europe’s fight, not ours’

Is Noem a viable candidate?

Recently, we have heard from potential Republican presidential candidates about the Ukraine and its relevance to US interests.One potential candidate is Ron DeSantis and the other is Kristi Noem. Neither was born in 1962 when the United States faced down the USSR ( Russia) over the nuclear missiles they installed on the island. These weapons were aimed at US cities. Totalitarian regimes can never be trusted, especially Russia led by an international war criminal.DeSantis and Noem …..viable candidates ?

− Ed Olson, Mitchell

Greasing the skids for CAFOs

The March 17 Argus Leader headlines a story about recently signed HB1090, a law designed to grease the skids for large animal feeding operations (CAFOs). HB1090 was sold as "protecting agricultural operations from nuisance claims.” In fact, along with its companion, HB 1029, the new laws will severely restrict the rights of citizens to protect their property values and our water and clean air.What kind of “nuisance” do the bills address? Say a poorly-located, poorly-designed or poorly-operated CAFO is polluting our rivers and streams? The public will have no say, unless you happen to own land within one mile, and unless you complain within one year. The protected status of such operations, once acquired, is set in stone.HB 1029 invites county commissions to change their Ordinances by replacing Conditional Uses that require public hearings and a Permit to "Special Uses" that can evade scrutiny by both commissioners and the public. Such "special uses" could be approved by a MINORITY of commissioners ("a majority of those present and voting”). The new law says that such Special Uses SHALL be approved if specified criteria are met, and it even allows an established CAFO to expand without further review!The Argus story featured Clay County Commissioner Travis Mockler, who exploited his position as commission chairman to obtain a permit to build a large hog and cattle feeding facility immediately above the Vermillion River. HB 1090 “would have solved all of that,” Mockler said at the bill signing. He did not mention that his Permit did not comply with basic requirements of the Clay County Ordinance. The local Sierra Club group sued Mockler and the county to demand compliance with regulations, but the suit was never heard on its merits.These two new laws are undemocratic on their face, a blatant attempt to evade reasonable review and consideration of what is best for whole communities. Let us hope that our county commissioners don’t take Pierre’s bait and adopt “special uses” that we will never hear about until it is too late.− Jerry Wilson, Vermillion

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Ukriane is worth supporting

Kristi Noem's comments: South Dakota Gov. Noem calls Russian invasion of Ukraine ‘Europe’s fight, not ours’ shows how she is totally unqualified to hold a congressional office.While I do not support boots on the ground in this conflict, but I do believe it is in our national interest to provide military support to Ukraine.Between active duty and national guard, including going to war for our country, I served 20 years. I believe Ukraine is worth supporting from this Russian invasion.

− William Englert, Sioux Falls

The farcical scam called HB1137

Many years before becoming a pastor, I graduated from SDSU with an undergraduate degree in Commercial Economics. But you don’t need to have a degree in Economics to know that the current tax bill (which was recently signed by our governor) is a total scam. What began as a grassroots effort to help the poor within our communities to weather this difficult period of high inflation through the elimination of the sales tax on groceries, has morphed into HB1137, a meaningless farce of a general tax cut. And calling it a tax cut is also disingenuous and cynical, because the language in the bill causes it to expire in four years.

The original intent of this movement to eliminate the sales tax on groceries, was to make a real difference in the proportion of South Dakotan’s income which is spent on groceries. Of course, groceries are unlike most other products or services we purchase. We can decide whether or not we want to purchase most other products or services (especially luxury items) but we all as humans must eat. We don’t have a choice. The only thing we have a choice in, is how much we eat out at restaurants, versus how much we eat at home using the groceries we have purchased. Typically, the poor within our communities spend a greater percentage of their income on groceries, because they can’t afford to eat out as often as wealthier folks do.

So the elimination of just the state sales tax on food would have amounted to $4.50 per hundred dollars spent on groceries. However, if there was a total elimination of county and municipal taxes as well, that amount would have been $6.50 per hundred dollars of groceries. Either way, it would have represented a REAL savings that would have benefited all South Dakotans, but especially those with lower incomes. But what does HB1137 do now that it has become law? It changes the overall state sales tax from 4.5% to 4.2%, saving us a whopping 30 cents per hundred dollars spent on groceries, along with every other product and service purchased in SD. To put that in perspective; if a person wanted to buy a $5,000 diamond ring for an engagement or a gift, under this new bill they would save a total of $15. Oh Boy!!! Like anyone would even notice or care about that difference. In contrast, saving almost half that amount, $6.50 per hundred dollars worth of groceries, would actually be a HUGE deal!

So once again we can’t trust the SD legislature to do the right thing for the right reason. Therefore, we will have to take things into our own hands as citizens. There is already discussion of creating an initiative to be put on the ballot in 2024 for all South Dakotans to vote on entirely repealing the sales tax on groceries. If it comes to that, I’m confident that we as citizens will do the right thing (as 37 other states already have) in eliminating this onerous sales tax on food which disproportionately affects and hurts the poor.

− Pastor Mark Johnsen, Brookings United Church of Christ

This article originally appeared on Sioux Falls Argus Leader: Noem's Ukraine comments a major blunder, SD's new tax cut a scam: Your letters