Evan Barrett

Commentary: Politics Or Prudent Money Management?

Mar 3, 2015

Here are some givens, some just plain facts. Public infrastructure investments are for the long-term, they serve both now and future generations. Also, public infrastructure is public: Montana’s citizens (and businesses) enjoy the benefits of having backbone infrastructure in place that is not the obligation of private companies. And because of those facts, public infrastructure is normally funded (totally or partially) through long-term bonding (borrowing) so that those folks who use infrastructure into the future help pay for the infrastructure they are using.

Imparted Montana Values And The Election

Oct 23, 2014

Yesterday would've been my father's 95th birthday. On Monday, my mother will be celebrating her 95th with all six of her sons and some of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren with her.

Backsliding into Corporate Dominance?

Sep 25, 2014

I recently dropped in on the annual gathering of the remaining delegates to Montana’s 1972 Constitutional Convention.  The Constitution these heroic Montanans crafted made Montana the envy of other states.  As time takes its natural toll and we lose more of these champions of the people, we also are in danger of losing much of what they accomplished as today’s power elites seek to reverse the progress these great Montanans helped make.

Political Debates Strengthen Our Democracy

Aug 28, 2014

In the United States and in Montana, the proper functioning of our democratic form of government requires an active and informed participation by the electorate.

Broad “participation” is essential to the American democratic election formula.  That is why GOP efforts at suppressing the vote across the nation, the subject of my commentary last month, is not just reprehensible, but also detrimental to the proper functioning of our system.

Democracy A Casualty Of Voter-Suppression Politics

Aug 1, 2014

If there's one thing that Americans and Montanans are proud of it's the fact that our form of government is a democracy.

We brag about that around the world and to ourselves.  Our whole belief in American exceptionalism is based substantially upon the fact that we are the oldest continually functioning democratic constitutional governmental structure in the world.

The fact that we have those free elections in our country is something we hold up as a model for the rest of the world to emulate.

The Honorable John Q. Corporation

Jul 3, 2014

Happy 4th of July – Independence Day – tomorrow.

But the old red, white and blue looks a little more tattered this year compared to the past.

For today, thanks in great part to the US Supreme Court, John Q. Citizen, the human being citizen who is the bedrock our unique experiment in self-governance, is being replaced by John Q. Corporation.

Fixing the Student Loan Mess

Jun 5, 2014

I do not accept, carte blanche, the reigning conservative belief that higher taxes directly shrink the economy and reduce economic growth.  However, that macro-economic premise drives decisions in Congress that have made it virtually impossible to approach our economic challenges in a balanced manner.  As a result, the only balancing that has been occurring is the balancing of our economic solutions on the backs of middle and lower income families.  Meanwhile, money is allowed and even encouraged to continue to “trickle-up” to the wealthy, increasing income and wealth disparity --

Medicaid Expansion – Good Jobs, Good Health

May 8, 2014

Seldom, if ever, has such a big win-win proposal been put before the Montana Legislature as the opportunity in 2013 to enact an expansion of Medicaid coverage to thousands of Montanans under the Affordable Care Act.

Producing more than 10,000 jobs while at the same time making Montana and Montanans healthier, the bill was a policy bonanza that should have easily passed the Legislature, but was narrowly defeated based upon political dogma, not facts.

Living Up to the Legacy

Apr 10, 2014

Twenty years ago, Billings, Montana set a national standard for community rejection of hatred and bigotry.  Almost as one, the community shouted a loud “NO” to ultra-right-wing extremist behavior that was racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic.

The Northwest United Skinheads and, police believed, elements of the Ku Klux Klan and the Aryan Nation, were equal opportunity bigots, targeting for abuse and intimidation anything that wasn’t “white, American and Christian.”  Whether you were black, Latino, Indian, Jewish or gay, you were not welcome in their America, or their Billings.

A True Montana Melodrama

Mar 17, 2014

A True Montana Melodrama

A Montana Public Radio Commentary by Evan Barrett

March 13, 2014

Much has been said about the appointment of John Walsh to the US Senate including comparisons to Montana’s earlier Senate appointments.

It’s interesting to look at the actual historical facts of the earlier situations.

Educators as Leaders

Feb 14, 2014

What do Mike Mansfield, Pat Williams, Jon Tester, Bob Brown and Angela McLean have in common?

Mike Mansfield, Senate Majority Leader longer than anyone in US history, led a US Senate that was arguably the most productive in US history.

Pat Williams, elected Montana Congressman for nine straight terms, more than anyone in our history, had a record of legislative accomplishment in fields as varied as labor, education, the arts, wilderness and public lands access.

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.

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.

Raise the Minimum Wage

Nov 21, 2013

Tomorrow is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Next Thursday is Thanksgiving.

Events surrounding these two separate dates coincide to make a strong point about the challenges facing America's working poor.

The Stink Coming Through the Revolving Door

Oct 24, 2013

When one reflects on the recent federal government shutdown and Congress’ near “default” on the “full faith & credit” of the US Government, a whole lot stinks.

Buried in that stinking pile of refuse is a small item that reminds us of a big problem -- the pervasive power that special interests have through their lobbyists and the benefits they gain from the revolving door between Congressional members and staff and those same special interests.

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. 

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.

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.

Counterfeit Constitutionalists

Jul 4, 2013

Today our hearts swelled with pride as the Stars & Stripes led our local Fourth of July Parades.  That flag reflects an American reality of which we are rightfully proud.  For, despite its imperfections, we live in a great country, with a remarkable democracy and governmental structure that are the envy of the world – the bedrock of our national identity.  We are a government of, by and for the people.  We are a nation of laws, not of men and their whims and fancies.

It’s said that "those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it.”  Almost exactly thirty years ago the last Anaconda/ARCO miner laid down his tools.  Does that economic disaster provide lessons for Stillwater Mining today?