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.

It’s about Democracy

Oct 10, 2013

If you think the current standoff in Congress over the government shutdown is the failure equally of both sides to negotiate a compromise, suppose the party roles were reversed.  A Republican president is confronted by a Democratic House speaker whose most liberal party wing refuses to fund the government unless the president agrees to a single-payer, government-funded health care system.  We all know Republicans would howl that this is government by extortion, which it is.  Give a minority the laws it wants, or everybody suffers.  If President Obama gives in to current demands, th

          Some economic fantasies never seem to recede, even in the face of economic reality. One of these is the belief that if only more and more federal land were opened to oil and gas drilling, local and state economies would enter a period of permanent prosperity. That source of extensive economic prosperity, we are told, is just beneath our feet. All we have to do is drill. But, we are told, the federal government’s environmental regulations and bureaucratic incompetence block this drilling and keep  us unnecessarily poor.

Medicaid Expansion in Montana

Oct 1, 2013

Earlier this year, Montana had the opportunity to expand our Medicaid program to provide affordable, quality health care to 70,000 low-income Montanans. 

Gun Safety - Get Your Remington 700 Repaired

Oct 1, 2013

For me, these crisp autumn mornings mean the big game hunting season is near.  Right now hunters are out sighting in their rifles.  The general rifle season for elk, deer, and antelope opens next month.  Hunting is a family tradition in Montana, a higher percentage of our population hunts than in any other state, and it is common to see hunting parties of two or three generations in the woods and on the prairies throughout Montana.  Unfortunately, a Montana family may lose a loved one to a hunting accident.  While any loss of life is tragic, we are doing better with safety training and safe

Let’s Require Civics Education at All Levels

Sep 26, 2013

After many years away from the formal classroom, I am teaching again.

When I left graduate school in 1968, I was hired on to teach civics to high school seniors.  I ended up with a different teaching position, and after one year of teaching, I took a 44 year fork in the road.  Instead of teaching civics, I entered the real world of civics – the world of government and politics.  Over that period I was heavily engaged in government at local, state and federal levels – working for and with governors, senators, congressmen, legislators, local government officials. 

New Beginnings

Sep 25, 2013

“It’s a new beginning!” I tell my grandson at the schoolhouse door.  “Kindergarten!  You’ll learn new things and make new friends.  It’s going to be great.”

Joe isn’t buying it.  Three older kids whirl by, shrieking, and he shrinks back against the wall.  A few feet away, a little girl with French braids does too. 

“What’s your name?” I ask her.  I get a miserable “Celia” in response.  “What a pretty name,” I say.  “Celia, this is my grandson, Joe.  It’s his first day at school.  Is it your first day too?”   Celia nods and sidles away from me.

Mansfield for a New Generation

Sep 18, 2013

Mansfield for a New Generation
by Abraham Kim, Ph.D.
Director, Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center

What is an Indian?

Sep 18, 2013

In the background of all issues involving American Indians is always the question of what is an Indian? While there are any number of groups in this country today who have complicated issues surrounding identity, there is no identity issue more complicated than that of American Indian identity. As an aside, you will notice I did not say no identity issue is more important.

Two tales of one industry

Sep 16, 2013

Two recent opinion articles in a local newspaper highlighted the fact that Montana’s forest products industry continues to suffer from two tales of one industry. 

Childhood Hunger

Sep 16, 2013

Last night I was eating dinner at a restaurant in Missoula and there were flyers on all the tables from the group No Kid Hungry letting people know that a portion of what they spent on dinner would go to services that help feed hungry children.

Before I go on, I better offer up my own disclaimer. I work for an agency that is part of a coalition working to end childhood hunger and as you might well imagine, there are no easy solutions to this problem.  There are millions of families who don’t have enough food.  The current phrase to describe this is food insecurity.

The Costs of Fear

Sep 13, 2013

September 11, 2001, is often called the Pearl Harbor of our generation.  Like our response to Pearl Harbor, we rallied ourselves to face a dangerous enemy.  Unlike Pearl Harbor, we suffered a blow targeting innocent civilians, designed to elicit fear.  And fear is a dangerous thing. 

While remembrance of the victims is our primary task for today, we do them no dishonor by also reflecting on some of the moral costs of the fear that day inspired and the lessons we might still learn.

The Power of Less

Sep 12, 2013

This past May I attended two meetings full of contractors, architects, and planners. One was a “listening” session for the public to provide commentary on the adoption of a new energy code for all buildings in the State of Montana. The other was a public meeting of a group called the Northern Rockies Passive House Alliance. Both meetings were about energy conservation in buildings, but the tone between the two couldn’t have been more different. At the listening session, I heard a lot about why any energy code improvements at all will cause reckless damage to a fragile industry.

Veteran's Viewpoint

Sep 12, 2013

This is Dan Gallagher with Veteran’s Viewpoint.

Let’s begin with this premise:  The reason that veterans were initially called to military service was to defend our nation’s liberties from an enemy--or enemies--whose goal was to destroy those freedoms; and to defend, sustain, or advance our nation’s principles and interests.

Now, I’m not claiming veteran status qualifies us as foreign affairs experts, nor can it be used as evidence that our knowledge of military matters surpasses our non-veteran peers.  Ultimate wisdom is not necessarily a bonus that war gives us.

Why the Federal Government Wants to Get into Rating Colleges

The Great Society Meets Fiscal Reality

Sep 6, 2013

The Great Society Meets Fiscal Reality

Someone wise in matters of politics once said that programs for the poor are poor programs.  It remains true today – initiatives aimed at helping the most vulnerable in our society, be they privately or publicly funded, seem to be perpetually starved for funds.  And so the genius of those who created the Social Security system – originally aimed at older Americans whose assets were devastated by the Great Depression in 1935 – was to make the program available to all, regardless of income.

Falling is dangerous - and preventable

Sep 5, 2013

Good evening.  I’m Susan Kohler, CEO of Missoula Aging Services, the Area Agency on Aging for Missoula and Ravalli counties.  Because September is fall prevention month, tonight I’d like to talk about why preventing falls is so important as we get older, and suggest some ways that can help you do this.

In Montana, We Don’t Let Our Neighbors Go Hungry

Sep 3, 2013

This week, children across the state headed back to school after another beautiful Montana summer. And while there are many kids who wished summer would last forever, there are also kids in every community in the state, who are excited to get back to the classroom - because back to school means getting enough to eat.

As we approach Labor Day, Montana and American workers are plugging away at their jobs, producing products and profits for their employers while Congress goes out of session for 5 weeks, leaving Washington having produced little or nothing.

There is a great disconnect between Washington, DC and the rest of the nation.  Is it no wonder that less than 10% of folks give Congress a positive rating?

Let’s take a minute to compare the jobs, job quality and productivity of workers in Montana and the nation with the wages, working conditions and productivity in Congress.

Dream Deferred

Aug 28, 2013

Fifty years ago today, Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech as the March on Washington drew to a close.  The nation was wowed.   But as good as the speech is, to appreciate the full range of King’s gifts, you must read the letter from Birmingham jail he wrote five months earlier.  As an example of persuasive writing, it’s top-drawer.   It matches the “I Have a Dream” speech in imagery and musicality, but surpasses it in rhetorical genius.

Work Comp on Right Road? Not for Workers

Aug 28, 2013

Last week, the Missoulian Editorial Board proclaimed, “State on right road with workers’ comp.” As an attorney who represents injured workers, I could not disagree more. From my perspective, if you are injured on the job in Montana, and relegated to the “meat grinder” of the workers’ compensation system, you are often on the Road to Ruin.

Health Care Marketplace provides competitive rates

Aug 27, 2013

Health Care Marketplace provides competitive rates

Many of us already know that there will be new ways to obtain health insurance starting in 2014.  After a long process following the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, which included a Supreme Court decision and a Presidential election, we are now approaching the time when health insurance will be within reach for most Americans.  Many call this Obamacare, but few really understand what it’s all about.

     Young people graduating from high school face a conundrum: Going to college has gotten more and more expensive while the economic payoff from having a college degree has increased in value. College tuition and fees have continued to grow much faster than most other costs in the economy. At the same time, state legislatures have become increasingly reluctant to subsidize college operations.

American Youth Leadership Program

Aug 21, 2013

Montana summers are filled with great things for teenagers – sports camps, swimming, family reunions, sleeping – but for 20 Montana high school students, a month of their summer was spent on an educational exchange in Cambodia. Through the State Department’s American Youth Leadership Program, or AYLP, the Maureen & Mike Mansfield Center selected 20 talented young leaders and two innovative high school teachers to participate in an intensive environmental studies and cultural exchange program in Cambodia.

Drugs and Prisons Dominate the Week’s News Cycle

Aug 19, 2013

Drugs and prisons hit the news cycle this week with the force of a coordinated campaign. New York City’s stop-and-frisk policy was found unconstitutional and we learned that the NSA shares intercepted information with the DEA to use against American citizens. It is the DEA’s policy, then, to makes up stories to cover up how they got their leads.

Food and Community

Aug 16, 2013

In July, NPR’s “All Things Considered” reported on the Farm Bill. Legislators failed to pass the bill before vacation, which angered farmers who sell food locally. The bill contains the “Local Farm, Food and Jobs Act.” This act marks an important policy shift to promote local foods. Supporters argue that locally grown foods are healthier and better for the environment. Less discussed is the importance of local food and farming for building community and strengthening democracy.

The benefits of community supported agriculture

Aug 16, 2013

The buzz around buying local is fairly widespread and luckily our community has many options for access to locally grown and produced food.  Local food can be purchased in many retail grocery stores and from May to October there are a number of Farmer’s Markets available.  How can we take the idea of supporting our local food system one step farther? The answer is Community Supported Agriculture.  You may have heard of Community Supported Agriculture also known as CSAs or CSA shares or a CSA box or maybe even food shares. But really…what is it?

Teaching and learning are under multiple pressures to make heavier use of the Internet’s vast capability to provide access to information and almost instantaneous communication to and from the most remote of locations.

The signs of climate change are all around us.  2012 was the hottest year on record in the country.  Last October Superstorm Sandy wreaked havoc on the nation’s largest city.  And the Southwest is locked in another severe drought this summer.  Here in Montana, it’s hard to travel on any mountain highway and not notice the large swaths of beetle-killed forests, and we had evening fishing closures kick in for a time as early as July this year.  The planet is warming and extreme weather events are becoming more common. 

Assisted living

Aug 7, 2013

Good evening.  I’m Susan Kohler, CEO of Missoula Aging Services; the Area Agency on Aging for Missoula and Ravalli Counties. This evening I would like to share some of my perspectives about the issues raised in the recent Frontline episode on public television.  It was called “Life and Death in Assisted Living.” 

Montana’s Extreme Weather

Aug 6, 2013

You know the old saying:  if you don’t like the weather in Montana, just wait five minutes. We’re a state that’s known for its wild weather changes.  But in recent years even our extremes have become extreme.  Our fire seasons start sooner, last longer, burn hotter, and cost more to fight.  Just two years ago the historic floods of 2011 became one of the most expensive natural disasters in state history.  And in the past month alone we’ve seen intense wildfires, and destructive flash floods - both of which have threatened lives and destroyed property.

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