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Jack Zaleski, Published February 25 2012

Zaleski: ‘Limited government’ not the ND way

More funny stuff from politicians. They just can’t seem to help themselves.

Ron Paul, the libertarian/Republican (can you be both?) candidate for president was in North Dakota a few days ago. In a comically clumsy attempt to flatter North Dakotans, he said this:

“In this state, people are very much oriented to limited government and more freedom, and that is what we need.”

Come again? Limited government in North Dakota? Clearly grumpy ol’ Ron and his people did not do their homework.

No state has more levels of government, more people per capita in government, more of a tendency to add more government, than does North Dakota. We elect more statewide government officials than nearly any other place in the nation. Attempts in the past to do away with elective offices were always met with howls of voter protests.

For a state of some 650,000 people, we have a helluva lot of commissions, councils, boards of supervisors, water boards, regional authorities and licensing offices. That’s to say nothing of such hybrids as the Lignite Energy Council and the Milk Marketing Board, whose sole purposes are to ensure their special interest can play an insider’s game when they seek regulatory goodies, favorable tax treatment or protection from the free market. It’s not unreasonable to conclude, for example, that the Legislature is a wholly owned subsidiary of the coal industry.

And if that’s not enough government for you, just count the myriad ways North Dakotans embrace Uncle Sam and his moneybags. Heck, the state has been uncle’s willing ward since the Homestead Acts of 1862 and 1909.

So, Rep. Paul joins the growing list of presidential candidates who’ve visited North Dakota but don’t know much about the state.

The prez, too

Not to be outdone by Republican foot-in-mouth disease, last week President Barack Obama, while criticizing Republican drill-baby-drill energy policy, said this:

“That’s not a plan, especially since we’re already drilling. That’s a bumper sticker.” He added, “We have a record number of oil rigs operating right now – more … than the rest of the world combined.”

Hmmm. So drilling isn’t the answer, but that “record number of oil rigs” has produced more oil than in decades – more than in the eight years of the Bush administration. Independent oil analysts and the industry confirm the president’s assessment.

So drilling works, then? “Drill, baby, drill” indeed has a place in U.S. energy policy? The prez should visit North Dakota’s Bakken play where he will learn that drilling has allowed him to crow that U.S. oil production is way up.

Contact Editorial Page Editor Jack Zaleski at jzaleski@forumcomm.com.