Commentary: Socialism is Thriving in North Dakota, and Under Republican Leadership?

If election years are good for nothing else, they are good for irony. Our Republican friends seem to be preaching that socialism is a threat to America. We could become “European” and as substandard as German cars, Swiss chocolates, and French wine. Meanwhile, here in North Dakota, every statewide elected office in Bismarck is held by a Republican. The Republicans hold super-majorities in both the state senate and the state house. Why do people who love the free enterprise system so much spend so much time on the government payroll?

What have these champions of the free enterprise system done about our socialist State Mill and Elevator in Grand Forks? The State Mill and Elevator has been a socialist enterprise since 1919. It manufactures Dakota Maid Flour which is a quality product found in virtually every grocery store in this state and many others. The Republican party has controlled the governor’s office and both state houses since 1992. Why haven’t they shut down the State Mill and Elevator? Perhaps because it has created jobs and has been making a profit? If it were not working why would our Republican friends have not given it a decent burial years ago?

Additionally, the state of North Dakota is also the only state in the union with a socialist bank. The Bank of North Dakota, which is located in Bismarck, was also established in 1919. Our champion of free enterprise, U.S. Senator John Hoeven was the President of the Bank of North Dakota prior to being elected U.S. Senator of the Republican ticket. His having managed a socialist bank apparently has not been a political liability. The Bank of North Dakota makes a profit. Its profits go to the state’s general fund. That has meant lower taxes for the general public. It has been a popular source of student loans for North Dakota residents attending colleges and universities. It has also been a source of beginning farmer loans and start up business loans. If socialism is such a horrible thing, why do our North Dakota Republican government leaders utilize it so much? Would they if it didn’t work?

Back in the day, Democratic Governor George (Bud) Sinner agreed with the Greater North Dakota Association (now the State Chamber of Commerce) that there should be more public/private partnerships in order to promote economic development in North Dakota. Then, like now, the North Dakota economy was tanking. Public meetings were held throughout the state. A consensus was reached that enabling legislation authorizing more public-private partnerships should be passed. Various legislation was passed providing for public grants to businesses and interest buy downs on business loans in order to promote business. The North Dakota Department of Agriculture became the marketing wing of North Dakota made products. “Pride of Dakota” is its brand name which we all now take for granted. The premiere cheerleader for this legislative package was the Chamber of Commerce. Democrats on Chamber of Commerce Boards are somewhat like Lutherans in the College of Cardinals of the Catholic Church. Isn’t government financing of small businesses socialism?

Our Republican friends may pay lip service to criticizing socialism, but actions speak louder than words.

Jim Maxson

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