The Montana Standard publishes letters from readers in the Opinion section. Here are this week's letters.
To submit a letter to the editor, go here.
Take climate action
The wildfires in California are horrifying. Nearly 100 civilians and 6 firefighters killed, hundreds of people missing, hundreds of thousands of acres burned, and 15,000 structures burned.
Los Angeles Fire Chief Daryl Osby said, “We’re in extreme climate change right now.”
Wildfires are getting worse — more frequent, more acres burned, and more intense, in part because of our changing climate.
Climate change interacts with natural variability. And hurricanes are not more frequent, but they are getting stronger, bigger, slower and their rainfall is much more intense. That's because the warmer it gets, the more water vapor is in the atmosphere and we get more precipitation. Now, to add to the misery, heavy rains and flash flooding have also forced evacuations in Paradise, California.
To mitigate climate change, we need to reduce emissions of heat-trapping gases that are warming our world and changing our climate. Otherwise, the impacts like wildfires and hurricanes will just get worse and worse.
Fortunately, a bipartisan group of Congressmen have just sponsored The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, which would place a steadily rising fee on carbon pollution and return all revenue to households equally. This bill is a market-based approach with bipartisan support. It will drive down carbon pollution while putting money in people’s pockets. It is good for the economy, and will create jobs.
Senators Daines and Tester could also sponsor a similar bill in the Senate. I hope Congressman Gianforte will support this legislation.
It’s time to set aside partisan differences and, for the good of our state, the nation and the world, start addressing the threat of climate change by enacting the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act in the next Congress.
Alexandra Amonette, Big Timber
Recent Standard View and Guest View editorials have rightly pointed out that the community has resoundingly requested a restored creek as a component of the cleanup plan for the Upper Silver Bow corridor, and so far, the Conceptual Agreement does not include it.
I admire and support the efforts of the ROC Coalition, it is empowering to see a community group gain traction and make a real impact on the Superfund process. But I do not believe this creek is the be-all and end-all of the negotiations that will lead to the coming consent decree.
I hope we get a restored creek and hope it flows with water from the watershed it was once connected to. I hope that in time the removal of tailings will result in clean groundwater that will allow for a real creek connected to the water table below. I hope we find creative ways to deal with storm water from the hill and we can allow it to naturally join the creek. I hope we get all of this without losing sight of the bigger picture of cleanup. Here are a few other issues I think are worth keeping an eye on as negotiations proceed:
- If surface water quality standards will be waived, there should be solid evidence there are no adverse effects to aquatic life. One option might be live fish studies conducted by Mt FWP.
- The Residential Metals Abatement Program is being revised and it should include expanded boundaries, testing of schools and play areas, and a clear plan for testing all remaining residences within BPSOU.
- Areas in the flats, especially the Greeley neighborhood, deserve greater consideration. Data gaps in the air, soil, and water quality need to be resolved sooner than later.
- Human health requires more attention. The currently mandated health study and biomonitoring are inadequate, Butte deserves a comprehensive, long-term plan for assuring the remedy is protective of human health.
In this rush to finalize a consent decree, it should be made clear that as the science evolves so will our remedy. Butte will always demand the best possible cleanup.
David Hutchins, Butte
In last Sunday’s paper, L.M. Caine, Tom Ross, and Dick Shockley wrote a letter screeching that Representative Kerry White (Bozeman) is a poor choice to head our Montana House Natural Resources Committee. I disagree. I find that Kerry is an excellent choice.
Kerry founded Citizens for Balanced Use whose purpose is to gain citizens more access to their lands, not less as these three gentlemen imply. They also imply Kerry is some kind of right-wing nut. He is not! I have met and talked with him regarding my problems with a local Conservation Council. He was attentive and helpful in working out a remedy.
There have been other attempts to form public-lands citizen groups to push back on overzealous, even punitive, public lands managers, One group I worked with in the early 1990s was Citizens for Wise Use. All of these groups had the same purpose, to give citizens reasonable and responsible access to their lands. In the end it’s all about Multiple-Use, share and share alike, and Kerry has been at the forefront of these efforts, including testifying in Congress about the Forest service closing over 20,000 miles of roads to date.
Kerry was on Voices of Montana this morning, and I was pleased to find out he has also introduced a bill for a selective 2.5% sales tax, the purpose being to bring some tax relief to owners from increasing property taxes. Recently he was also in Oregon providing input into their Forest Service management plans. He was supporting thinning and cleaning up their forests to minimize their yearly fires which give us summers of endless smoke.
So yes, Kerry White is a Montanan who has our best interests at heart, and we definitely need him working for us in our Legislature for as long as he can. In my view, our current public lands issues are a direct result of 8 years of Obamatization, and over 14 years of Democratic governors. Kerry never gives up the fight to correct this.
Andy Johnson, Butte
This is in response to the recent letter about pardoning a Turkey. It sounds like a sweet idea but it is only an emotional ploy to help people relieve artificial guilt brought on by misinformation. Let’s look at a few facts about the meat industry that Brad doesn’t know.
Reason you are sleepy after a heavy meal is tryptophan an amino acid found in plenty of foods, both plant and meat, helping you relax.
Food recalls are up in both plant and meat, mostly because technology can identify quicker problems in our food. It shows our system works.
Hormones are necessary in anything that grows. It’s illegal to add hormones to pork and poultry. Beef naturally have 1.3 nomograms, added has 1.9, tofu naturally has 51,483,600 namograms.
Since the 1960s beef cuts have reduced fat by 80%, there are 66 lean cuts of beef to choose from.
Antibiotics are tested with any slaughtered animal that has an injection site.
There are 3.2 M farmers on 2 M farms that feed 320 M people, 87% are small businesses, pretty efficient system. Since 1977 ranchers use 19% less feed, 12% less water and 33% less land to feed the US. 68% of the land is unusable for anything else besides pasture for animals, turning indigestible matter for humans into high protein that is usable. Agriculture’s carbon footprint has been reduced 16% since 1977, can the transportation industry say that.
Animals supply hundreds of products including rubber, artificial eggs and medicine.
Sleepless nights belong to ranchers; we lose sleep worrying about our animals with weather and predators. They feed before they eat; they build their barns before their homes.
An abused or unhappy animal does not thrive causing a loss of income.
Animal rights use scare tactics to get you to give, 48% goes to their retirement funds, large portions for lobbying laws that make it more difficult not easier on animals.
Eating a balanced meals with a variety of foods is essential to good health, of course good habits and genetics contribute even more. Food should be enjoyed not feared.
Patty Sayler, Butte
Thank them instead
Wouldn’t it be good to thank all the unsuccessful candidates in our recent election instead of beating up on them, as Bob Brown does to Matt Rosendale in his recent column?
That Rosendale came close to winning is attributed, by Brown, as stemming from President Trump’s frequent visits.
Maybe Rosendale’s candidacy actually suffered from Trump’s pogo-stick appearances, especially the one in Missoula. Trump doesn’t seem especially popular in the University of Montana’s home town.
So, unlike Brown, I feel Matt Rosendale deserves our thanks for putting himself out there, where in our present political climate, a losing candidate is not only abused while running but in an election’s aftermath.
Also, thanks to candidates for higher office like Kathleen Williams and for state office like Superior’s Diane Magone, who ran for the House District 14 seat as a Democrat.
Others can fill in many more names worthy of our thanks.
History benefits those who heed it. It is worth recalling that Winston Churchill was labeled a “loser” during the 1930s as he remained a lone voice warning against the menace of Adolf Hitler.
Ed Chaberek, Superior
This letter is in response to everybody who believes that diversity will make America great again. The exact opposite is the truth.
Since the change in immigration laws in 1965, this country has become vastly more diverse with the arrival of millions of legal and illegal immigrants from everywhere in the world. In 1970, America was 83 percent white. It was 61 percent white in 2016 and is projected to be less than 50 percent white by 2045. Shouldn’t that be enough diversity to make America already great and becoming greater every year?
America is not becoming greater every year because diversity is not a strength. Diversity is divisive. Minority and special-interest groups fight only for their own self-interests at the expense of the common good. This is identity politics. It dominates the Democratic Party. The result is the bitterly divisive politics that we have been experiencing in this country for many years now.
If diversity is what you want, move to California. It’s already a majority-minority state. That’s the reason why thousands are fleeing the state and coming to places like Montana.
Henry Fowler, Stevensville
Out of concern for my fellow small-businesses owners, I sincerely hope that U.S. Sen. Jon Tester will help ensure the HIT (Health Insurance Tax provision of the Affordable Care Act) is suspended for 2020.
I have been in business since 1977 and have seen many businesses similar to mine come and go. I don't want our remaining small businesses to incur higher costs because of the HIT.
Our health insurance went up by about 20 percent recently, and we would struggle quite a bit if it increased further. I don't mind paying my fair share, but if the HIT is left in effect for 2020, it's going to hurt the small business sector overall.
Meanwhile, big corporations are not affected by the HIT at all. This tax is singling out the small business sector, and attacking it. That's not right.
I look forward to seeing our senator work with his colleagues to delay the HIT again for 2020. This needs to be done now, before Congress goes into winter recess.
Harold Davis, Missoula
Peril of relativism
In just the first hours in law school a student is told that his goal in law school is to learn to think like a lawyer. Another thing learned early on in law school is that there are no wrong answers but there are simply good arguments to prove or disprove a given point. Interestingly the major premises of these arguments never contain what could be considered an absolute truth.
I understood that this lawyer that I was supposed to think like was certainly not a person like say a Thomas Aquinas. It did not take me long to understand that this lawyer was really the ultimate relativistic thinker. It was then I realized that law school was not really an academy of sophisticated learning but merely a trade school specialized in training clever relativistic thinkers. After I figured that out I was able to play their game competently and I actually graduated with distinction.
How did law school become this hot bed of relativism? I believe the answer to this can be found in the relationship between law school and the political science major. What you will find when you attend law school is that many of your fellow students were political science majors in college. Also you will discover that a majority of your law school professor have political science backgrounds.
An individual named Frank Goodnow is considered the father of the modern day political science major. He and Woodrow Wilson were considered some of the leading progressive thinkers of their time. I understand that they were friends for many years.
Most political science majors that I have met believe there is something special or even sacred about democracy. I believe the ultimate heresy of democracy is that today people buy into the principle that "Vox populi es vox Dei", that is the voice of the people is the voice of God. The real problem with this heresy is that today the voice of the people is not an informed voice, but it's really the emotions of the people that are considered the voice of God.
I believe that both Frank Goodnow and Woodrow Wilson would be very proud of what present-day progressive thinkers such as Hillary Clinton have been able to accomplish in just a few generations. There is really no difference between relativism and today's progressive thinking.
W. David Herbert, Billings
Police pay query
Police pay query
A question for the Chief Executive and Council of Commissioners – Are the median pay numbers for the being proposed for the police force been adjusted to account for cost of living differences in those cities and Butte?
If not, then the analysis is flawed. Assuming housing costs constitute the bulk of the cost of living differences between Butte and the comparison cities, the median police pay in the comparison cities needs to be $4.56/hour greater than the police pay in Butte, just to cover the difference in home prices.
Using realtor.com current figures (11/29/2018), the median home price in the comparison cities is $300,855. The median home price in Butte is $155,000. Using a conventional 30-year mortgage rate of 4.75% and assuming 20% down, the median monthly mortgage cost is $1,255.52 in the comparison cities, $646.84 in Butte. Add in property taxes (assume 1% of Median Home Value) and the total monthly housing costs are $1,506.24 and $776.01, respectively.
So unless the median salaries from the comparison cities have already been adjusted downward to reflect the housing cost differences, I believe the Butte-Silver Bow police officers are already being compensated in line with others departments. I want the police to be paid fairly, but they should not get paid Bozeman wages to live in Butte.
Jim Williams, Butte