Opinion

Commentary from a variety of Montana citizens expressing a range of viewpoints.

Views expressed by our commentators do not necessarily reflect the views of this station.

In Praise of Public Schools

Feb 12, 2014

What do these seminal Americans, Thomas Jefferson, John Dewey, Horace Mann, Frederick Douglass, John Adams, and Susan B.

Work Comp – You Can Help

Feb 12, 2014

Workers' compensation, pretty boring stuff, until you need its benefits.  So, this is for all you workers out there – from desk jockeys and burger flippers, to firefighters – and for you employers who want the best for your workers.  What do you do if you are injured on the job and are unable to work for several weeks, months or years?  How will you keep a roof over your head, make your car payments, buy clothes for your kids or put food on the table?  If you are like most Montanans, you would have to rely upon the Workers' Compensation system. 

U.S. State Department Greenlight for the Keystone Pipeline?

          The U.S. State Department, which has to approve pipelines crossing into the United States from other countries, recently released its updated study of the environmental impacts associated with the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.  That pipeline would carry Alberta tar sands bitumen to oil refineries on the Gulf Coast. President Obama had previously indicated that he would approve the 1,700 mile pipeline if it would not “significantly exacerbate” greenhouse gas emissions.

Black Butte Copper Project

Feb 7, 2014

Good Afternoon, my name is Jerry Zieg and I’m the Vice President of Exploration for Tintina Resources, and a graduate of the University of Montana.  Tintina Resources is a mineral exploration and mining company working through the process of permitting a copper mine on what we call our Black Butte Copper Project near White Sulphur Springs, Montana. 

Community Progress Brightens Gloomy February

Feb 7, 2014

One of my favorite cartoons shows two schoolboys in a blinding snowstorm.   It’s dark out; they’re bundled up and hunched against the wind; clearly, they’re miserable.  One boy looks at the other and says, “I can see why they made February the shortest month.”

That line resonates with me during these grey days and cold nights, especially when I often work on some pretty bleak subjects:  kids dropping out of school, homelessness, childhood obesity, hunger.  But bright spots of recent progress in those areas promise to make THIS February a lot less gloomy.

Veteran's Viewpoint

Feb 7, 2014

This is Dan Gallagher with Veteran’s Viewpoint.

In many ways, this is a hard commentary for me to do, and frankly, I worry that my words may not be sufficient to make the points I think important with the amount of feeling the subject merits.

The subject of my discussion today, and in my next Veteran’s Viewpoint, is this:  Do soldiers ever die in vain?

In today’s Missoulian, reporter Martin Kidston tells the story of Ngo Ha, a Vietnamese professional currently in the U.S. on a Department of State program.

One could debate whether the recent recommendations by Governor Bullock’s Greater Sage Grouse Advisory Council went too far to protect the bird or not far enough.  There certainly have been concerns expressed from both camps.  However, one thing is certain, the best way to protect the bird, and the people that share its habitat, is to keep the sage grouse off the Endangered Species list.

Let’s Fix Montana’s Food Regulations!

Feb 4, 2014

Food safety regulations are some of the most important laws we have to protect public health and safety, but they can also be some of the most confusing aspects of running a successful local food business.  For a long time now, many of Montana’s local food producers and consumers have been dealing with a frustrating patchwork of food safety regulations. 

The War on Poverty

Jan 30, 2014

Fifty years ago President Lyndon Johnson, in his State of the Union address, declared an “unconditional war on poverty.”  Last night, President Obama took the same stage once again to highlight the tragedy of poverty perpetuated by obscene and corrosive inequalities.  Given the half century between these speeches, it would be easy to conclude, as President Reagan did already in 1988, that the war on poverty is over and, as he put it, “poverty won.”  But that’s the problem with persistent and complex challenges:  we’re too easily tempted to buy into the stories that let us off the hook.

Let’s Put an End to the Overhead Myth

Jan 24, 2014

Nonprofit leaders joke that Missoula has five seasons:  winter, spring, summer, fall – and fundraising.  We’re in the thick of that season now at United Way of Missoula County.

We’re not alone.  All over Missoula, banquets are being planned and grant proposals submitted.  And donors – faced with a plethora of worthy causes – do their best to figure out which charities are most deserving.

Yellowstone Bison

Jan 24, 2014

And again, almost like clockwork, the Yellowstone bison wars begin.  This time, however, it’s a much different and important battle.  As deep snows continue to accumulate on the high Yellowstone plateau and bison begin their historic and highly anticipated migration out of the park, Montana’s Department of Fish Wildlife and Parks and the Board of Livestock are once again are at odds over where America’s largest wild bison herd should be allowed to roam. 

Retirement Planning

Jan 24, 2014

Good evening.  This is Susan Kohler, CEO of Missoula Aging Services, the Area Agency on Aging for Missoula and Ravalli counties. Tonight I’d like to share some thoughts I have about the very important topic of planning for retirement.

Like many of you, I am beginning to think about when I might be able to retire.  It’s not that I have ignored the subject over the last 35 years. I diligently do my best to contribute to my retirement fund and annually monitor my expected Social Security income. But I always knew I needed to focus more attention on it.   

Election Protection

Jan 17, 2014

I love election day.

Giants Among the People

Jan 16, 2014

When I was young, there were three pictures in my parents’ hallway -- Jesus Christ,   Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and John L. Lewis, President of the United Mine Workers Union.  These men informed my family’s political and life perspective.

Corporate Paid Umpires?

Jan 16, 2014

The L.A. Times has an editorial today on a subject I've spoken about before – arbitration. It opens with a “what if” - what if the L.A.

Dodgers have “just won the pennant and are going to play the New York Yankees in the World Series. But the rules have changed: All games will be played in Yankee Stadium. And, there are new umpires, hired and paid for by the Yankees.” The opening concludes with the observation that 'with rules like that, the Dodgers wouldn't stand much of a chance.'

Swan Song

Jan 15, 2014

This will be my last commentary on this program.  As I pondered what to say in parting, I landed on what I what I should have said to you at the start:  why I think ongoing commentary on the subject of public education is important.

The Oil Companies’ Self-Serving Fatalism on Petroleum Use

Fracking: America’s new “F” word

Jan 9, 2014

Since the release of the film Gasland, the 60 year old petroleum extraction process of hydraulic fracturing, better known as “fracking” has been lighting up the media like the flaming faucets used to scare energy consumers.

Fracking, a post drilling injection that pumps pressurized water, sand, and publicly disclosed chemicals into tight formations several thousand feet below ground, is being used today with another innovation; horizontal drilling, to take America from energy scarcity, to energy abundance.

Sustainable growth in the forestry economy

Jan 7, 2014

With the global financial crisis of 2007 (hopefully) behind us, it is time to look at the future and what opportunities lay ahead for the forest products industry.

The world is increasingly becoming a single market, with interdependent production systems, consumption of similar goods and consumers responding to similar conditions.  We no longer compete only in a local economy.

Humility: The Forgotten Virtue

Jan 2, 2014

On New Year’s Day, many of us make resolutions to do certain things for self-improvement.  The ancient Greeks thought that becoming a better person was the product of taking on certain traits of excellence, called virtues, traits like courage and justice.  One learns virtues by imitation:  imitate a good person, and you will become a good person.

Creating and Destroying “Good Jobs”

Dec 31, 2013

Creating and Destroying “Good Jobs”

Funding Impacts on Senior Services

Dec 27, 2013

Good evening.  I’m Susan Kohler, CEO of Missoula Aging Services; the Area Agency on Aging for Missoula and Ravalli counties. As many of you know, Congress has come to an agreement on the major budget issues that have delayed finalizing the funding for fiscal year 2014, which started October 1.  Because Congress has only partially offset sequestration with this budget deal, I want to talk tonight about why it is important that we advocate on behalf of vulnerable older adults. 

Three Lumps of Coal for the Working Poor

Dec 19, 2013

Three Lumps of Coal for the Working Poor

A Commentary from Evan Barrett

I ended my commentary last month this way:  “Here’s hoping that the onset of Christmas will result in some Christian values rising up in that ‘millionaire class’ that we call Congress so that we might, by year’s end, see the minimum wage go up.  But I wouldn’t bet on it.”

Well here it is, almost Christmas, and so far Zippo from Congress.

The Holiday Gift That Keeps on Giving

Dec 18, 2013

Of all the tasks involved in being a school board member, certainly the most pleasant is attending holiday concerts. Every year I drop in on school programs throughout Great Falls, and this year, I’ve been focusing on the elementary schools.  The talent and sophistication are certainly more evident in the high schools, but in the elementary schools, every child is part of the program.   And for a couple of hours, you get to be part of the unique mini-community that develops around the hub of a neighborhood school. 

Holiday Cheer - Mandatory Arbitration Fixes?

Dec 18, 2013

It's that time of the year when when many of us are out buying gifts as part of our holiday celebrations.  The vast majority of those will be purchased with debit or credit cards.  Later this month and continuing next month the statements for those cards will be arriving – in mailboxes or in-boxes across the state.  And, if you have a dispute with the bank – such as additional fees being tacked on that you didn't know about that caused you to go over your limit and incur even more charges – you will likely find that buried in the fine print of your account agreement is a provision requiring

From Violence to Non-Violence:

Putting Nelson Mandela’s Contribution into a Broader Context

The toxic politics of health care

Dec 13, 2013

The editors of the Journal of the American Medical Association have put together in the November 13th issue, a wide ranging collection of articles that address the current organization of health care in the US.  They say “The US health care system has reached a tipping point when there is both little doubt about the kind of change that is needed and much uncertainty about how to achieve it.”

Peace Corps

Dec 12, 2013

With the first 50 years of the Peace Corps behind us and more than 200,000 former volunteers, we need to take stock of its original purpose and consider what still needs to be done. When President Kennedy proposed the Peace Corps in 1961, he envisioned a volunteer corps of 100,000 Americans each year. But at its high point, the maximum number sent has been 15,000 volunteers in a given year. In 2006  former President George W. Bush called for a doubling of Peace Corps' size, but to no avail.

Chickens

Dec 11, 2013

Recently, I figured out that all I ever wanted was 25 chickens.

I don’t mean ‘if I only had 25 chickens my life would be complete’. 

No.  I mean ‘all I ever wanted was 25 chickens, NOT 700.’

At the pinnacle of my chicken mania, my flock was about 450 laying hens and 250 baby chicks.  We dispatched about 200 of the oldest birds that fall, so thankfully, I only had about 700 chickens for most of one summer.

Pages