Our special legislative session met and accomplished some business, including funding for flood relief and repealing a law that required the University of North Dakota to keep the Sioux nickname.
The nickname issue may not be dead, however, as there is talk of a referendum.
And some business was left unfinished or unaddressed, such as two border issues with our neighbor to the east.
Locked-out Crystal Sugar workers living on our side of the Red River are unable to collect unemployment benefits, while those residing on the Minnesota side are receiving these benefits. Our legislators ducked this issue, even though our state is relatively flush.
The other border issue is more complex and curious. Our state is suing Minnesota because their air quality control is stricter than ours and they don't want electrical energy from our coal plants that pollute more than their standards.
This is somewhat like the U.S. telling China to eliminate child labor and reduce shoe factory pollution, yet expecting them to keep supplying us with cheap sneakers. Something is wrong with this process.
If Minnesota doesn't want our energy, they don't have to buy it, just as we don't have to buy shoes from China. (Some U.S. colleges have, in fact, discontinued buying logo sportswear from China in response to China's pollution and child labor practices.)
The problem is Minnesota apparently values clean energy more than cheap energy, and our economy would suffer if we lost our major energy customer.
So we have a weird standoff in which their state government seems more concerned about the health of our citizens than our state government is.
But we know about standoffs. They are nothing new.
Other countries have not purchased an agricultural product of ours because it was too dirty. I don't recall us suing Japan because our harvesting and storage process was not clean enough for them. Maybe we did.
But suing customers to force them to buy our product doesn't seem like a good business model.
As to the UND team nickname and the talk of a referendum, a significant minority of legislators were dissatisfied and disgruntled with the repeal of the law that forbade UND to retire the name.
Too bad these legislators didn't attend the recent Native American Awareness Week at Minot State University where, among a number of issues, the Fighting Sioux nickname was discussed.
In fact, the term "Sioux" hardly honors the Dakota people. It comes from the Chippewa word for "snake" or "enemy." Then it comes through the French pronunciation of the Chippewa word and, voila, we have "Sioux."
Certainly an institution of higher education like UND should be allowed to do the right and informed thing: retiring the Fighting Sioux nickname.
And now, in conclusion, something completely different, even though I told myself I'd written enough already about the Greatest Generation.
But that was before I saw this wealthy guy, Charles Fink, on TV talking about taxing the wealthiest, like him, at a higher rate. He mentioned how we paid off WWII debts under Republican President Eisenhower with the wealthiest paying taxes at a 90 percent rate. Yes, the Greatest Generation.
He also said the Republican's current rationale for no tax increase, that low taxes on the wealthy create jobs, was simply a lie. Spending demand creates jobs. There is no evidence that a lower tax on the wealthy does so.
He recommended the 39.6 percent rate that Warren Buffet and a few others have recommended. A couple years back, I recalled, Bill Gates' father and others had recommended a 45 percent rate.
These numbers (and Herman Cain's 9-9-9 plan) brought to mind a new, improved tax plan: 45-10, or 45 percent for 10 years. Half as much, half as long, this would be one-fourth of what the Greatest Generation contributed for the common good: 90-20, or 90 percent for 20 years.
We may not be the Greatest Generation, but can't we try to be one-fourth as great as they were?
(James Lein is a community columnist for The Minot Daily News)