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LETTER: Let’s vote on conservation initiative

BUTTE, N.D. — I recently heard the shocking news that the proposed Conservation Initiative will siphon money directly away from school children. Right on schedule.

In the federal government, this is known as the “Washington Monument” principle, i.e. where proposed funding cuts in Washington are immediately met with “Well, then we’ll have to close public access to the Washington Monument.” High visibility targets are best when fending off funding reductions.

Initiative opponents tried to sway public opinion earlier with the “eastern money and influence” bogeyman. But this fell flat with a populace that embraces Teddy Roosevelt as one of our own. It was time for new scare tactics.

Not to spoil the surprise, but in the coming days we will likely hear how the initiative will impact our road funding, although it’s hard to imagine rural roads could be worse. The final phase will be your health and safety:

“By golly, if that money goes to conservation we’ll have to cut back on our ambulance services and rural fire departments. Maybe even remove milk from school lunches.”

These are tired tactics from opponents who absolutely do not want to give you a chance to vote on the proposal. Seems they think North Dakotans are either not smart enough to make the “right” choice, or smart enough to take care of their state when nobody else at the Capitol will. I opt for the second statement.

Education and public safety are now and will continue to be priorities. This isn’t an “either-or” equation.  North Dakota receives more than $1,000,000 each day in oil revenue. We have money, and we should have some say on how it is spent. But opponents of the Initiative are doing everything they can to ensure you don’t have that opportunity.

Setting aside money now for conservation is a smart thing to do, a gift to ourselves. Let’s put it to a vote.

Sobieck is a retired USDA Risk Management Agency regional director