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Ryan Bakken, Forum News Service, Published February 24 2013

Ryan Bakken: Revenge on a license plate

GRAND FORKS - If the North Dakota Legislature decides to change the state’s license plates, as it is contemplating, may I suggest something that might irritate our neighbors to the east?

For a long time, Minnesotans have looked down their noses at us North Dakotans. I know; I was a nose-looker-downer for my first 21 years. However, I’ve seen the light.

Part of the scorn cast our way by our uppity neighbors has been through a comparison of the two states’ beauty. Minnesota has green trees and blue lakes while North Dakota is mostly brown.

The contrast is shown on the states’ license plates. Minnesota’s plate image has two anglers in a boat on a lake, with a forest on the horizon, with “10,000 lakes” printed on the bottom.

North Dakota’s plate has a tiny buffalo and a tiny wheat stalk in the foreground, with vast flatlands and what is assumed to be the Badlands far off in the distance. It looks drab in comparison.

First of all, I think it’s only proper that the buffalo be dropped from the plate, so there’s no favoritism shown to one of the two major universities. However, some may make the case that leaving that license-plate area blank would give UND’s nickname its turn.

But, enough about that issue. More than 10,000 trees have given their lives to print stories about the UND nickname.

Instead, let’s refocus on poking a stick at Minnesotans, especially since their flagship university’s hockey coach is yellow about scheduling games with teams that wear green and white. It’s unclear if the Gophers are more scared of a loss or their players getting owies.

Anyway, back to the license plates as a way of seeking revenge.

While Minnesota lays claim to being the “Land of 10,000 Lakes,” North Dakota could declare itself as:

• The Land of 10,000 Oil Wells.

• The Land of $10,000 Tax Rebates.

• The Land of 10,000 C-Store Pizzas Sold Daily.

• The Go-for-it State.

North Dakota’s license plates also are too wordy. On the top of plates is “Discover the Spirit.” On the bottom is “Peace Garden State.”

The state should pick one. And, it should use the room for the discarded message to advertise that the state has roughly 10,000 job openings.