South dakota editorial roundup

The Associated Press

 The Daily Republic, Mitchell. Aug. 28, 2012

Time for 'the talk' in wake of STD rise in state

It's not our job to suggest intricate and detailed parenting advice. Those types of things are best left for inside the home, for parents to decide on their own.

Yet as we read that sexually transmitted diseases are rising in Davison County and throughout South Dakota, we cannot help but suggest to parents the one thing that many tend to dread: The talk.

Are the rules within your household to refrain from all premarital sex? Or is it more of an education-based set of guidelines that a teen should strive to follow?

No matter. As STDs rise in the region, kids today need to be informed of the many woes that await poor choices.

The Daily Republic recently reported that chlamydia, gonorrhea, HIV/AIDS and syphilis are well above their five-year median averages, according to the state Department of Health. This is causing concern among health officials, and rightly so.

To avoid STDs, the Department of Health offers these tips:

— Abstain from sexual contact or limit contact to relationships that are mutually monogamous.

— Limit the number of partners.

— Use a condom.

— Visit a doctor if there is any reason to believe you have an infection.

We aren't here to preach one way over the other, nor do we ask anyone to change their beliefs in the wake of South Dakota's STD rise.

We agree that abstinence is the absolute most effective method to stop the spread of STDs, but we know that is an dealistic and sometimes unrealistic approach.

Watertown Public Opinion. Aug. 28, 2012

State is in good shape

We often wonder if our readers get a bit tired of us proclaiming the good news of our fine state. Of course, if you are, please bear with us.

Good news is often in short supply and whenever our state or region shows up No. 1 on a listing, we like to call it out. A recent edition of the weekly investor newspaper Barron's had a cover that proclaimed "Best & Worst Run States" and next to that headline was a postcard showing South Dakota, above a postcard from Connecticut.

So we decided to look into this article and quickly discovered "the nation's healthiest balance sheets belong to South Dakota, Iowa and Tennessee, while high debt levels and pension liabilities in Connecticut, Illinois and Hawaii should give municipal bond investors pause."

A state heavily dependent on tourism like South Dakota can't buy better promotional messages than that.

The article mentions how some local governments, like Stockton and San Bernardino in California, are turning to bankruptcy to solve their financial woes. That means those who invested in their bonds are up a creek.

Meanwhile, accolades like "a strong agricultural economy and a low jobless rate of 4.4 percent" along with "(state) debt and unfunded pensions (that) add up to just 1 percent of (the state's) Gross Domestic Product" clearly point to the sound financial management in South Dakota.

 A nearby chart in the article shows South Dakota with a debt level to GDP of 0.7 percent and an unfunded pension liability to GDP of just 0.3 percent. Neighboring states like Iowa (0.6 percent and 0.7 percent), Nebraska (no debt and 1.7 percent), Minnesota (2.2 percent and 0.7 percent) and North Dakota (0.5 percent and 3.5 percent) were also doing fine. On the other end? All problems.

At the bottom, Connecticut's debt to GDP level was 7.9 percent and unfunded pension liabilities to GDP was 9.2 percent, while Illinois was 4.9 percent and 11.4 percent and third from the bottom, Hawaii was 8 percent on debt and 8.1 percent on unfunded pensions. Translating those percents into real numbers: Illinois, for example, has a pension fund that is less than 50 percent funded (hey teachers, state and local employees — how would you like retiring into that pension system?) and a budget deficit of over $75 billion in 2010.

South Dakota's positive results don't just happen; they are the result of hard work and tough decisions. In this election season we will hear lots of comments and questions about those tough decisions our state made in the past couple of years, with 2011 standing out as the poster child. It would behoove all South Dakota voters to recognize while sacrifices were made, and are being made, those decisions made yesterday allow our state's balance sheet to be ranked No. 1. And as the economy continues to improve, South Dakotans will benefit quickly from that improvement whereas other states will not because they will have to make debt payments and payments to their unfunded pension liabilities.

Sounds like the old "you can pay me now or pay me later" and we think taking care of business and financial issues now is far better than doing so later. Don't you agree?

federal execution was delayed by a month.

But, one year after McVeigh's eventual execution, most family members reported they felt no peace, no closure nor any better than they did before the execution.

The problem the United States has with capital punishment is not our pre-biblical "eye for an eye" sense of justice. Rather, it is the misguided notion that executing a heinous criminal accomplishes more than simply the execution of a heinous criminal.

Studies have shown:

— It costs more to execute a criminal than it does to imprison him for life;

— Executing a criminal does nothing to deter crime and;

— Execution does not — despite what they may say ahead of an execution — help the victims' families find peace or closure.

Despite what people in many other countries may say, executing the darkest, most sordid members of our criminal society is not inherently wrong. Doing it under false pretenses, though, is inherently wrong. If we are too meek to accept the facts of why we are executing someone (the "fact" being we can) then, perhaps, we should not be doing it.

Donald Moeller likely will die for the death of Becky O'Connell. But we would not honor our responsibility as a free people if we did not acknowledge the real reason for his death.

___

The Daily Republic, Mitchell. Aug. 10, 2012

Heat renews debate about global warming

Five years ago, The Daily Republic opined that maybe there is something to all of this global warming talk.

We openly noted that global warming is debatable, but also said that it is "hard to turn the other cheek when faced with news that Arctic sea ice is just half of what it was four years ago."

Again, that was five years ago. And then, of course, the years after we wrote that featured wet and cool summers and downright frigid and snowy winters.

It prompted a few folks to good-naturedly jab us every time a cold streak set in. Well, at least we assume those were good-natured jabs.

Now, we have read that July was the hottest month ever recorded in the United States. In fact, three of the five hottest Julys on record came in the recent past, including 2012, 2011 and 2006.

And sure enough, a report by The Associated Press noted that analysts at the National Center for Atmospheric Research say that these hot streaks are due, in part, to climate change.

Said analyst Kevin Trenberth: "Global warming from human activities has reared its head in a way that can only be a major warning for the future."

Great. Now we're worried once again.

We readily acknowledge that theories behind global warming vary, and some consider the idea complete hogwash. Naysayers simply point out that Earth has a way of working in cycles, sometimes hot and dry, sometimes cool and wet.

But the scientific data seem real enough and the statistics are a bit intimidating. And long streaks of heat only tend to make us wonder anew if global warming is truly the looming catastrophe some claim it is.

It's too bad the controversy is mired in politics. We suppose former Vice President Al Gore's role in the issue has made it so, but it shouldn't be a political hot potato.

It's hot enough already.

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