OAKLAND, June 23, 2013 — North Dakota is sheer beauty. Like anywhere, there are drawbacks. The winters are frigid. My experience in June would have been less enjoyable in February. North Dakotans are used to negative temperatures and appreciate them; they keep out Californians.
While meeting people in a single city does not give the picture of an entire state, it helps us form a more informed opinion than those who have never visited, especially when the state population is relatively small. Those who think of North Dakota as flyover country need to drop their elitism and visit for themselves.
Politically, North Dakota is reliably Republican. Governor Dalrymple and Senator Hoeven are both well liked. Yet despite a legislative super-majority, the state is less conservative than it could be. North Dakota has a state income tax, and eliminating it entirely does not seem to be happening. Many Democrats run as Republicans in order to get elected. While some would find it shocking that Democrats would lie about who they are to win political office, it happens.
North Dakotans are not all drowning in oil wealth. The recent oil boom has reduced unemployment in the state to a ridiculous 3.5 percent. They say that if you cannot find work in North Dakota, you are not looking.
Williston is in the Western part of the state. It was a town of about 3,000 people a few years ago that now has 40,000 people staying there to pump oil. Roughnecks come from Montana, Minnesota, and from much further away. Hotels are booked solid, trailers rent out for as much as a nice apartment in LA, and even paying wages of $15 to $20 an hour, fast food restaurants can’t hire enough people to provide fast service.
Strippers report making $2,000 to $3,000 in tips ― per night.
The oil industry is booming in Williston.
Fargo is the Eastern part of the state. They do not have oil. However, the state does have a billion-dollar budget surplus, and the net impact of the oil industry on the state is over $34 billion per year.
Oil isn’t all North Dakota has going for it. It has a well-educated and technically savvy population. Fargo now has the largest Microsoft campus outside of Washington State. Bill Gates has visited, and Microsoft is expanding.
The expression “North Dakota nice” is true. Just like Minnesota and Wisconsin, North Dakotans are very neighborly. However, the movie “Fargo,” as with much of what Hollywood does, is wildly exaggerated. People here are not country bumpkins. Perhaps if Hollywood producers spent time in the places they depicted and met the people, movies would reflect that.
Unlike California, border crossings are not a concern here. Canadians rarely kidnap and execute North Dakotans. The general consensus is that the Canadians you see crossing the border are friendly, polite people who are trying to escape oppressive Canadian taxation to go shopping in America, or who are trying to avoid the year-long wait for knee surgery in Canada’s nationalized hospitals by buying new knees in America.
Canadian and North Dakotan shoppers tend to look similar, and the two groups seem to get along. The Canadians don’t demand that offices all hire Canadian-speaking staff to ease their linguistic pain, though North Dakota merchants have graciously added “eh” to their vocabularies, and the better restaurateurs have learned on hearing /mus/ to quickly determine whether their Canadian clientele is requesting “mousse,” “moose,” or “mouse.”
North Dakota is fairly homogenous. Diversity comes in various forms of white Christians, although some are eggshell and creme. There are some black people, but not as many as in other states. A Jewish person will be delighted to find three synagogues in the major cities, two in Fargo and one in Grand Forks. However, for Jewish dating, New York and Los Angeles are better options.
If one thing separates North Dakota from anywhere else in America, it is the “two for one hamburger specials.” When you order a burger, you get a whole other burger to eat on the way home ― for free. Those not blown away by this should be. North Dakotans take it for granted, and it makes sense. You drive long distances in North Dakota, and in North Dakota cold, you need the extra calories. Big D’s is just one of several Fargo places that offers this beautiful experience of twice the deceased cow for half the price.
North Dakota children also seem much smarter than in the rest of the country. Elizabeth, aged nine, personifies this pioneer spirit. This young girl scout showed me how to change my wallpaper on my I-phone. What a great kid.
All in all, it is safe to say that what is good for North Dakota is good for America. Outside of the cold winters, it is sheer tranquility and bliss. It is a fine state with even finer people.
Eric Golub is a politically conservative columnist, author, public speaker, satirist and comedian. He is the author of the book trilogy “Ideological Bigotry, “Ideological Violence,” and “Ideological Idiocy.”
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