MTPR

Opinion

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

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

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.

Food Stamps Work for Montana

Aug 2, 2013

One of these days I am going to get on the radio and talk about how Congress has really put partisan politics aside and gone back to the good ol’ days of legislating - coming together to invest in programs and services that make our families and communities stronger. Well, today is not one of those days. Today, I get to talk about the newest ideological debate - whether we make sure that our neighbors don’t go to bed hungry - today we get to talk about food stamps.

Detroit: Conquering Challenges

Aug 1, 2013

The challenge in Detroit is two-fold: financial and economic.

There are sensible and proven solutions to both challenges.  This country and its leadership need to move beyond dogma and politics to do the right thing for both Detroit and the nation.

The Section 504 Marvel

Jul 31, 2013

It’s strange to me that I know so many parents now who have a child with a debilitating illness.  It’s strange because throughout my own school years, first grade through twelfth, I was aware of only one classmate who was chronically ill.  And over 18 years of teaching high school students, I recall only two with chronic illness.

Regulating Corporate Behavior

Jul 31, 2013

Is Congress doing it's job? Most of us would agree that the answer is no – Congress's approval ratings are at an all time low for good reason. But that doesn't mean they aren't busy.

The House will be voting on 10 bills this week to highlight their headline grabber “Stop Government Abuse Week.” Now, if the name makes you think this might be a renewed effort to rein in the NSA's surveillance program, you'd be wrong. Maybe the name conjures up hope that Congress is looking at how to rein in the TSA before every air traveler is irradiated, no such luck.

The drama and distress of wildfire season is upon us again: Fires sweeping towards homes, families hurriedly evacuating their homes; the constant buzz of fire retardant bombers, water-carrying helicopters, and spotter planes; and exhausted fire-fighters struggling up hill to try to contain a fire while other firefighters stand guard at our homes.

            This drama and distress always raises the question of whether there is something we could have done or should be doing that would better protect us against wildfires.

The Health Care Marketplace

Jul 26, 2013

Beginning on October 1st of this year, just about 2 months away, Montana and the rest of the country will begin a process which will radically change how many people shop for and buy health insurance.

Most people have heard of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, though a survey just a month ago showed that up to 40% of Americans still believe that it has been repealed or is not going to take effect.  This points out the problem of a major new law which many people simply don’t understand.  The ones who could benefit the most are probably the least likely to get it.

A journey of young leaders on global environmental issues

Jul 24, 2013

We represent the group of 20 undergraduate students selected for the Study of the United States Institute   (SUSI) program, funded by the U.S. Department of State, led by Dr. Len Broberg, and hosted by the Mansfield Center of the University of Montana. This is the fourth year that this program has gathered the young and talented future leaders to study about global environmental issues. We all agree that it is a five weeks of brand-new experiences throughout Montana, Louisiana and Washington, D.C.

Forestry and the Farm Bill

Jul 23, 2013

As the U.S. House and Senate inched towards a Conference Committee on the farm bill last week, some believe the failure of Congress to pass a farm bill in 2012 (instead passing a nine-month extension), and the current stalemate, illustrates how impotent this policy has become.  Some believed the extension was a gift to the taxpayer, who would have been stuck with paying for potentially exorbitantly expensive insurance, and price support subsidies, while others believed the extension eviscerated a score of important programs.

A New Model for Clean Energy

Jul 22, 2013

Three weeks ago, President Obama laid out his long-awaited plan to address climate change.  As he put it in a speech to college students, “I refuse to condemn your generation and future generations to a planet that’s beyond fixing.”  Key components of the President’s plan include limiting carbon pollution from power plants and increasing the production of renewable energy.  This has major implications for electric utilities across the U.S.

Pat Summitt

Jul 22, 2013

For those of you who know me, you know that I am one of the least athletic people you are ever likely to meet.  I don’t have good vision in one eye so I have no depth perception.  I’m not fast or strong.  I’ve long said that my two best sports were bowling and bingo.

Veteran's Viewpoint

Jul 22, 2013

This is Dan Gallagher with Veteran’s Viewpoint.

“To be or not to be…,” Hamlet asked rhetorically.  “Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them?”

Controlling Wildfires: Local versus Global Solutions

 

Montana’s wildfire season continues to develop slowly, but elsewhere in the American West, the wildfire season started early and violently.  By early June wildfires were raging across Colorado where the Black Forest fire burned 22 square miles and destroyed almost 500 homes, leaving two dead by mid-June. Then at the end of June, in Yarnell, Arizona, 19 “hotshot” firefighters died as a wildfire suddenly surrounded and trapped them.

Climate and Carbon

Jul 12, 2013

Health professionals last month applauded President Obama for making a long-awaited announcement regarding his plans to address carbon pollution and climate change.

By making this announcement, the president put forth a framework for addressing the very real risks to public health posed by our warming climate.

Scientists warn that the buildup of carbon pollution creates warmer temperatures, which increase the risk of unhealthy ozone levels. More ozone, which is also known as smog, means more childhood asthma attacks and more complications for people with lung disease.

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