Holy cow – I just got my mind changed to vote NO on Measure 7

Measure 7 is something that has come up on the ballot before in North Dakota: removing the requirement that all pharmacies must be owned by a licensed pharmacist.  This time it seems like it may really have some momentum.  I just got my mind blown in such a way that I have switched from a lifelong YES vote on this to a sound NO.  Why?  The answer will blow you away.

First, let me say that I believe that anyone who wants to operate a business in North Dakota should be able to do so.  I’ve always believed that, and it’s been the core principle behind my opposition to North Dakota’s pharmacy laws.  I’ve voted in favor of changing this every time it’s come up on the ballot.  This time around, however, I was wavering a bit, and I don’t know why. Something just didn’t seem quite right.  More on that later.

I’d classify most pro-Measure 7 folks in three broad categories:

  • Those who believe in freedom to open and operate a business, no matter who you are (this was me);
  • Those who believe that all medications are going to become cheaper because of more competition;
  • Those who stand to profit from the measure.

Like I said, in principle I would have voted yes simply because of the first item.  I’m not so sure that prices will come down as the second group of people believe.  But the third one is the one that didn’t make sense until today.

CVS operates pharmacies in the state.  White Drug does, too.  I bought most of my Atari cartridges and lots of my Star Wars action figures in an Osco.  So what gives?  Why do the “big box” stores claim they can’t operate here?  The answer is so simple and so complicated at the same time that it would never have occurred to me until Matt Evans wrote about it on my friend Rob’s blog.

In that article, Matt pulls back the curtain and reveals that there is no free market in this matter.  The big box stores negotiate with insurance companies for the ability to get certain medications covered, with state regulations giving them the muscle.  This artificially distorts the market, obviously.

So what happens if Measure 7 passes?  The “big box” stores go straight to the insurance companies, negotiate the same thing with them as they do in other states, and the next time you want to get your prescription covered you find out that it won’t be – unless you go to Big Box Pharmacy.

Naturally this stinks for a number of folks:

  • My favorite pharmacist, who gives GREAT prices and personal service;
  • Senior citizens who are on Medicare Part D and have to abide by it;
  • People who don’t live within 25 miles of Big Box Pharmacy and who’ll have to drive to one to get covered medications.

No wonder the bigs have been pouring millions into this issue: rather than it being a matter of free markets, it’s a matter of rigging the game in their favor!  In the guise of making more free, open competition available to drive prices down for the consumer, it’s actually a way to subvert the free market using the state-regulated insurance industry as a crowbar to leverage things in their favor.

I went from a 100% principled YES in this matter to a 100% NO in a matter of seconds after I read this.  If a YES vote would result in true freedom of competition and no protectionism, I’d cast it…but it would do exactly the opposite.

Make sure you read Matt Evans’ post on Say Anything.  It’s a real eye opener.  Cast your NO vote to stop government-enforced cronyism from coming between you, your pharmacist, and your prescriptions.  Otherwise the next time you want to support your local pharmacist, you may be doing it with your own money instead of the insurance coverage you already paid for.

Why North Dakota can’t afford to vote Democrat – even at the local level

north_dakota_wayIt’s that time again, when Democrats don folksy apparel and adopt phrases like “The North Dakota Way” and “working with both parties”. Don’t fall for it. Don’t vote Democrat, not even for dog catcher.

Even Senators Conrad and Dorgan started small. Decades later they were North Dakotans on paper only, maintaining shoebox apartments in Bismarck to stay eligible for reelection. Their final legacy: casting deciding votes for Obamacare, legislation wildly unpopular with North Dakota voters, then retiring to multimillion dollar East Coast homes near their lobbyist cronies. Was that the “North Dakota Way”?

Then we elected the “Independent Voice™” for North Dakota, Heidi Heitkamp, who has since voted with her Democrat Party puppet masters 97% of the time according to Congressional Quarterly. We should have seen that one coming.

Now Erin Oban, wife of the Democrat Party’s executive director, uses similar rhetoric. She doesn’t mention this affiliation; in fact, her website’s devoid of issues entirely. Her opponent’s site has a very clear list of where she stands on important issues and she votes as she promises on these issues.

Democrats never actually campaign on what they stand for. Where are the campaign ads saying they support Obamacare, amnesty for illegals, the right to abortion, or gun control legislation? The ads promising to punish big corporations and advance the homosexual agenda? Conspicuously absent, but Democrats are beholden to people who want these things because their votes are guaranteed. Deception and feel-good rhetoric are required to get yours. Guess who they’ll serve.

Find an issue that’s popular in North Dakota, and Democrats are on the wrong side of it. Compare their campaign marketing to their behavior once elected. A Democrat elected to local office this year could cast the deciding vote for disastrous federal regulation in twenty years. We can’t afford to advance their dangerous ideology based on platitudes and deception.

Here’s a little color

butterfly_4423As autumn progresses in North Dakota brings a lack of color to the landscape as everything turns a shade of brown or gray until the following spring.  I was craving a little bit of color and searching my photos for something else when I came upon this shot, one I’d forgotten to share.

World Wide Photowalk, Part 3 (help me rate ‘em)

federal_building_31945I have a couple of stragglers from the photo walk, such as this photo of the crown of the federal building on 3rd and Broadway.  I hope by now you’ve made a selection, but I’ dbe interested in how you like these.


fall_foliage_31973These trees are on the east end of the parking lot at the Peacock Alley.  It’s a parking lot now, but is apparently going to be an ice skating rink next year – because downtown Bismarck has way too much parking space right now.

That’s it!  I was happy with the shots I brought back.  I could have roamed more, but I had a nice morning walk and maximized the amount of time I had available.  My new lens performed admirably, and I had good company.

Thanks for looking through my photos!

World Wide Photowalk, Part 2 (help me rate ‘em)

Here’s another set of photos from our local group’s participation in the Worldwide Photo Walk.  I’m trying to decide which photo to submit.

counterweight_31935This is the counterweight for a fire escape in downtown Bismarck.  I love the sky in the background combined with my vignette.


lion_chain_31953Remember Gary Miller?  If I remember the walk correctly, and I don’t know why I shouldn’t, this is one of the chains holding up the overhang at the entrance of Gary’s Gallery.  I believe this gallery will be closing in the near future, as his wife had announced something about it a while back.


no_smoking_31971I love this sign.  It’s attached to the freight elevator in the Anderson Building, which I hope to own some day.  This elevator is no longer available to the public.  I remember hearing a news report in the late 80s or early 90s about a young girl getting her arm pinned and amputated by this elevator.  That’d do it.

I’ll shoot myself in the foot by saying that these three are my favorite of the bunch.  I do have a couple more, but they don’t mean as much to me as these.  I’ll post the other ones soon and hopefully receive your feedback in time to upload my selection to the Photowalk website.

World Wide Photowalk, Part 1 (help me rate ‘em)

Our photo club took part in the Worldwide Photo Walk this past weekend, and it was a blast.  I didn’t stay for the entire window of time because of other errands, but I did walk around downtown Bismarck for two hours with a couple of photo pals.  Each member of each local photo walk submits one photo to the group.  The group them forwards one photo on to the worldwide walk, and so on.  I got a few shots that I like with my brand new lens, and I need some feedback as to which I should submit before the deadline.


belle_bricks_31933This was right at our starting point in front of the historic Belle Mehus Civic Auditorium.  I tried to go for sort of an optical illusion effect.


hebron_brick_31957On the other end of downtown, I found this little nook in the back of the Anderson Building…a building I one day hope to own.  The frame gave it a nice splash of color.


hebron_brick_31959Made in North Dakota.  These are the bricks which sealed shut the window in the last photo.  Good ol’ bricks and mortar, compliments of Hebron.

I did take photos of more than bricks, but I thought I’d share these first three together due to the similar subject matter.  The ones I really like will be posted next.  Shoot me an email or post a comment when you find your favorite!


iss_31923I’ve had some great shots of the ISS over the years…passing over a Fort Lincoln blockhouse, streaking across the sunrise above the Double Ditch post, and above the Pioneers statue at the capitol mall.  Tonight I opted to grab a shot of it passing over the tower from the north, and it didn’t disappoint.

I like those direct overhead passes because they take longer.  There’s more to see.  But sometimes that poses a photographic challenge, even with a 10mm lens.  When it’s lower on the horizon it’s easier to get a nice arc over your foreground subject.  In any case, I’m relishing every photo opportunity I can get these days!

The path ahead

lc_trail_31892I got this shot while being swarmed and attacked by squadrons of aggressive mosquitoes, the likes of which I’d never seen.  My family and I decided to take a celebratory walk on the Lewis and Clark path, and man did we find skeeters!

The path was nice, although we were a few days too late to find the leaves in the photogenic state we’d prefer.  The aforementioned mosquitoes cancelled our plans to find all the geocaches along our route.  I was extremely glad that we didn’t bring bikes, as much of the western part of the path is overrun with tons of river sand washed up from the 2011 Missouri River flood.

As to the title of this post, I’m pleased to report that my recent “do over” surgery at Mayo Clinic was a success.  So too was my wife’s surgery a week later.  After giving up our house in March after receiving the bad news of my condition, we’re now in the process of building a brand new one.  Even my kids’ health has markedly improved.  I have a brand new camera lens on the way, one which I’ve wanted for a year or more.  The path ahead looks sunny indeed.

Dark Side of the Capitol

capitol_darkside_60d_0655One consequence of the capitol grounds construction is that the lights illuminating the north face of the tower are no longer in place.  I’m sure there will be new ones once the construction is completed, but for now it’s just dirt where the parking lot used to be.


capitol_dirtwork_ip_4088I took this photo a while back (click for larger size) and it shows how things are starting to take shape.  The north side of the capitol will have more pedestrian area, much like the south side.


capitol_projectDon’t take my word for it – this information is posted and updated on the capitol’s Facility Management website.  You can get a PDF copy of the plan by clicking here.

By the way, there were other notable song title candidates for the title of this blog post, such as “On the Dark Side” by Eddie and the Cruisers, “Moonshadow” by Cat Stevens, “Standing in the Shadows” by Dokken, “Ribbon of Darkness” by Marty Robbins…need I go on?

BOHICA* – more “Local Control” coming Thursday night at 6pm

burleigh_co_anncThis terse notice to Burleigh County suckers taxpayers was posted on the Burleigh County website but flew mostly under the radar.  If you read it, you’re about to get socked by another expensive sucker-punch by commissioners Jim Peluso, Doug Schonert, Brian Bitner, and Jerry Woodcox.  I left Mark Armstrong off that list because he’s the one through whom I actually learned of this nonsense.


burleigh_co_noticeHere’s the obscure listing of the notice, which doesn’t even appear as plain text (just a PDF file).  What in the world does that even mean?  Well, apparently that’s all the explanation we’re going to get about this tax hike.


By the way, what do other Public Notices look like on their website?

burleigh_co_noticesThey’re posted nearly in their entirety.  Remember that Sesame Street jingle, “One of these things is not like the other”?  Start singing it now.  And then grab your ankles, because it’s clear that the Burleigh County Commission does NOT want you to know about this until it’s too late.  Well, you’ve been warned.  Show up at 6pm tomorrow and make your voice heard.
*BOHICA = Bend Over, Here It Comes Again