Rick Becker is a preeminent public figure when it comes to limited government politics in North Dakota. Whether it’s manufactured controversy over a meme, eliminating sobriety checkpoints, or pointing out the Legislature’s need for true fiscal conservatism; these are just some of the things that draw the ire of Rep. Becker’s critics. Those certainly aren’t all of them though— as illustrated by this Letter to the Editor in today’s Bismarck Tribune.
I have no problem with people who disagree on political issues, but Bismarck resident Gordy Smith’s letter goes beyond anything even resembling semi-rational disagreement and treads into the realm of character assassination.
Let’s take a look at some of the ridiculous claims of Mr. Smith.
“Becker’s legislative history has several examples where his votes and comments indicate he appears to be anti-law enforcement.”
This statement is utter nonsense. Smith attempts to backup his claim by citing Becker’s efforts to bring Civil Asset Forfeiture reform to North Dakota— his most recent effort being House Bill 1286. In case you’re not familiar with Civil Asset Forfeiture, it’s the legal process that enables a government to seize property and other assets belonging to persons suspected of committing a crime.
Oh, and just to help you to understand better where North Dakota is at with this issue, we’re just one of two states that earned an “F” with the Institute for Justice when they graded state and federal forfeiture laws. According to their report, our current laws provide “few property rights protections”. And they’re correct in that assessment.
Back in November, I addressed this pathetic claim that supporters of Civil Asset Forfeiture reform in North Dakota are somehow “anti-law enforcement”. Why would anyone in their right mind believe it’s okay to take someone’s property and keep it without a conviction of any wrong-doing? Furthermore, we should remember that such reform protects all of us— including law enforcement. That’s the blessing when we catch the vision of having “a government of laws, and not of men”, as John Adams once said. Simply put, it’s NOT anti-law enforcement at all to demand Due Process and property rights protections.
Naturally, opponents of Rep. Becker’s bill have argued that North Dakota doesn’t have a problem with law enforcement abusing our current laws. I’d argue that the mere fact that the law exists as it’s currently written is a problem. Must we wait for fundamental rights to be abused before something is actually done to protect them? Because that’s essentially what Becker’s opposition is suggesting.
Besides, as wonderful as law enforcement is, are we to pretend that they’re all angels? Forgive me, but at the risk of sounding “anti-law enforcement”, all professions have bad apples. And that’s why we have laws to protect us. Heck, that’s the reason we have federal and state constitutions! Remember, the Father of the Constitution, James Madison, once said, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.”
“Then Becker voted against a legislative resolution celebrating the 100th anniversary of women winning the right to vote. Apparently he doesn’t feel we should celebrate women having the right to vote.”
Either Mr. Smith is being disingenuous, is completely ignorant, or is just downright lazy. But let’s suppose it’s one of the latter two. Not only would have a simple e-mail or phone call to Rep. Becker helped Smith to understand why he voted as he did, but the representative from Bismarck has explained votes like this before on his Facebook page— which is accessible to anyone. Simply put, Rep. Becker pretty much votes against all these feel good resolutions, because they’re a waste of time. And he’s right.
Celebrating women’s right to vote wasn’t the only feel good resolution Becker voted against— urging Congress to build the wall (which Becker supports), congratulating Cara Mund on becoming Miss America, and honoring Carson Wentz on his accomplishments were some of the others.
So, pretending that Becker somehow doesn’t care about women’s right to vote is as ridiculous — if not more so — than it would be to suggest that he believes Cara Mund shouldn’t have won the Miss America competition or that Carson Wentz is an awful quarterback. No, instead, Rep. Becker feels the Legislature should spend its time — and our money — doing things that government should do. Oh, I don’t know, things like maybe cutting spending and reducing the tax burden on the citizenry.
“Based on his votes and comments on these three pieces of legislation, it appears he is catering to that small sliver of voters who are high-tax-loving, law-enforcement-loathing, male chauvinists.”
The third piece of legislation Smith eludes to is House Bill 1066— otherwise known as “Operation Prairie Dog”. Smith mentioned it in the opening paragraph of his letter, but I left it until now, because of his ending reference to Rep. Becker “catering to that small sliver of voters who are high-tax-loving”.
Smith describes HB 1066 as “the bill that will distribute oil and gas taxes to local political subdivisions and help keep local taxes down.” But is that a true representation of the potential reality if the bill passes? In short, it’s not. As explained by Rep. Becker at the 17:52 mark of this Facebook Live, throwing $250 million at local governments actually inhibits doing things like eliminating property tax or income tax.
In addition to this, as Rep. Sebastian Ertelt (R – District 26) explained during debate on HB 1066, the bill actually creates a circumstance in which political subdivisions may become too dependent on the subsidy and inflate their budgets. In this situation, if the dollars ever go away, they either have to cut inflated budgets or raise local taxes— usually property taxes. And based upon how the property tax buydowns of the past turned out, folks can look forward to higher taxes.
It’s still early in 2019, but Mr. Smith might have just won himself the award for Most Ridiculous Political Comment of the Year in North Dakota. Suggesting that Rep. Rick Becker — of all people — caters to “high-tax-loving” voters is downright laughable. It’s truly an indictment on how out of touch Smith is with reality. And to toss in “law-enforcement-loathing, male chauvinists” to boot? Well, that’s just despicable. It’s either a display of complete ignorance or downright character assassination. Neither of which are becoming of someone who pretends to know so much.
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