Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Daugaard Gets an "F" in Understanding Today's Students

Daugaard just doesn't get it.  Despite that his GOED paying money for Lawrence and Schiller to find out what people care about and think about when it comes to choosing to stay and live in our state, he sends out a message of the usual low taxes, and low cost of living drivel to our graduates looking forward to getting out of the state; I mean, getting out into the "real world."

He states:
Most of you probably already have a good idea of what you’ll be doing next – what additional education you’ll seek or what career you’ll pursue. Whether you’ve decided to stay in South Dakota or pursue a career or education elsewhere, I hope you’ll ultimately consider a future here in our state. There are a number of reasons to consider living and working here.

First, we have the fourth lowest unemployment rate in the nation at 3.5 percent, compared to the national rate of 5.5 percent. Job opportunities are better here than in most places.

Secondly, the tax burden in South Dakota is low. We are among only a few states without an income tax, meaning you can keep more of the money you earn. Money that can repay student debt, buy a house someday or replace that car you drove into the ground in school.

Third, not only do people keep more of the money they earn in South Dakota, but that money will buy more here than in other places. According to a U.S. Department of Commerce report, South Dakotans experience a very low cost of living in the United States. We don’t spend as much money on housing, insurance, food and the other everyday needs. In fact, we have some of the lowest costs in the nation.  In New York, California, Washington, D.C., or many other places, you will find costs that are 10 percent, 12 percent, even 18 percent higher than the national average.  In South Dakota those costs are only 88 percent of the national average.
Today's youth are not focused on "getting by."  They are not persuaded with talk about low cost of living if that means that you have nothing to do while living here.  His own economic advisor said as much:

"One of our mantras for business is no state income tax," Costello said. "That didn't resonate with individuals. Individuals viewed that as maybe the state doesn't have good education or fire protection or crime might be high or the park system not adequate. That was almost a quality of life deterrent."
The Governor ignores this and shows no sign of being able to think past the tired, old justifications that are not working.  Today's graduating students are concerned about things like getting a job with a decent pay, being able to see a future for themselves, but they are also looking for purpose and opportunity beyond a paycheck.  That may come in the form of opportunity of entertainment, it may come in the form of service in the community, it may come in the opportunity to explode on the scene in a profession.  

Dr. Tim Elmore posted this insight into graduating students in 2012:
Nine out of ten of them think about the future several times a week. They desire a “life of purpose” and want to engage in work that has a higher meaning than to merely draw a paycheck. They’re trying to make sense of it all, but life gives them an anxious eagerness about the future.

While that was in 2012, I believe that is true today.  Mr. Daugaard, if you want to succeed at encouraging more of our youth to stay in South Dakota, you must show them that it is not the almighty dollar that matters.  They can go and get good paying jobs in almost every other state.  You must show them that South Dakota provides an opportunity for life to really matter.  You must go beyond the idea that one can simply live in South Dakota and try and make this a place where people WANT to live in South Dakota.

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