The Billings Outpost

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Crying foul

In the 2010 Citizens United case, the Supreme Court of the United States, by a partisan 5-4 vote, opened the door to unlimited corporate financial support of political activity. Some of this money is channeled through 501 (c) 4 “social welfare” groups, the number of which mushroomed after the court decision. The overwhelming share of this money goes to support conservative political messaging, even though 501 (c) 4 groups, like 501 (c) 3 “charitable groups,” must essentially abstain from political activity to merit tax-exempt status.

A unit of IRS, housed outside Washington and woefully understaffed with politically naive civil servants, is responsible for reviewing applications for tax-exempt status and deciding whether to extend this benefit.

This involves determining whether applicants disqualify themselves because of political activity. 

Only an idiot would deny that the Tea Party was established as a purely political group and has engaged in political activity from its inception. The IRS staff is simply doing its job to target and examine Tea Party applications for tax-exemption. They give the same scrutiny to left-leaning groups, although there are far fewer such applications. To deny tax-exempt status is not to deny an entitlement - it is to withhold a special benefit.

It takes enormous chutzpah for a politically active group to request such a benefit in violation of the law, and they to cry “foul” when it is denied. Perhaps burdening the IRS with a flood of groundless applications was a political strategy in itself?

Lawrence K. Pettit


Last Updated on Friday, 04 October 2013 19:53

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Flip interest rates

Progressives talk about fairness and ability to pay as they relate to taxes, but not interest. Why? Progressives want to run the government. They want to spend freely, and they want to pay as little as possible for their borrowing.

Progressives are capitalists. Who knew?

At least, they’re capitalistic about their access to funds. Don’t believe them if they tell you that they don’t want a free lunch with mandatory dessert, too.

Government, big business, and banks have squeezed the poor and middle class out of the financial marketplace. The federal government is the biggest financial entity in the country; it has the ability to pay. Multi-billion dollar corporations have the ability to pay, yet they pay the lowest interest mortgage interest on the biggest assets Americans have – their homes – and pay, on average, around one-half of 1 percent on savings accounts, one of the smallest assets Americans own.

Store cards are allowed to charge over 20 per cent annual percentage rate interest. Who allowed them to charge that rate? The government!

So, the answer is to flip the interest rate structure in America. The government should have to pay a minimum of 20 per cent interest on the treasury bonds they sell. Multi-billion dollar companies should pay a minimum of 20 percent on anything they borrow. If they borrow $1,000, they’ll only pay $200 interest a year. Fair is fair.

The middle class and the poor would love to borrow monstrous amounts of money, at one-half of 1 percent interest, which they would spend freely and stimulate the economy. They want a free lunch with mandatory dessert, too. If they borrow $1,000, they’ll pay $5 interest a year, and they won’t even gripe about it.

So, come on Progressives, back this plan to flip interest rates. Don’t you want to help the middle class and the poor?

Conservatives believe that if you want less of something you add cost or you add a tax. This wouldn’t be a bad plan to rein in government borrowing, except the government has the power to tax and the power to print money. But, even those powers will have a limit someday.

Jack Mackenzie


Last Updated on Friday, 04 October 2013 19:54

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Adding to pollution

Recently in the news was this fact. In 2010, 1.2 million people died in China from air pollution alone. The question is: Could that happen here in this country? Would our government allow such a devastation of human life to occur without trying to protect its citizenry? Or would corporate greed buy its way into the Halls of Congress even more to limit regulation? Much of this air pollution is from the combustion of carbon based fuels. In southeastern Montana there is a proposal to develop another coal mine called Otter Creek. This coal is designed to be transported to China as well as other Asian nations. Since coal burning in the U.S. is on the decline since 2007 by 14 percent, there is no need for the coal here. Not this coal.

Let’s think of the positive influence that Montana could have on meeting the world’s energy needs. Why should we sacrifice our own pristine land, water, air wildlife and lifestyle for such a dirty, needless, and unwanted alternative?

Clinton Nagel



Last Updated on Friday, 04 October 2013 19:55

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Help stop organ harvesting

The story, almost too dreadful to believe, was first revealed in 2006 when a woman claimed that as many as 4,000 Falun Gong practitioners had been killed for their organs at the hospital where she worked. Her husband was a surgeon and disclosed to her that he removed corneas from the living bodies of 2,000 Falun Gong practitioners. (Falun Dafa is a traditional Chinese self-improvement practice of mental and physical wellness through meditation and gentle exercises.)

In response, congressional resolution HR 281 was recently introduced by Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., and Congressman Robert Andrews, D-N.J. The resolution expresses concern over persistent and credible reports of systematic, state-sanctioned organ harvesting from non-consenting prisoners of conscience in China, including from large numbers of Falun Gong practitioners imprisoned for their beliefs, as well as numbers of other religious and ethnic minority groups.

Because killing of religious or political prisoners for their organs is an egregious crime, I ask Montana readers to contact our congressman to urge him to co-sponsor this resolution. The resolution is an important step to help put an end to this atrocity.

The resolution will also help our country’s doctors, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies and universities make informed decisions and take a righteous stance regarding illicit organ transportation, and stand up and speak for those without a voice. (For more information about Falun Gong and the on-going persecution, please visit

Katherine Combes


Last Updated on Thursday, 26 September 2013 09:13

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Why oppose Obamacare?

Most of the summer we have heard about the upcoming deadline for “Obamacare.” One of the complaints was about people in the age group of 20-55 who don’t have health insurance and have e good health. I once heard someone say they got pregnant to get a return on their insurance investment.

I have been in that age group, good health, an occasional toothache and some eye exams. Although dental and vision were not on many insurance plans for years, they were the one thing people need. For people working minimum wage or low income, housing, utilities and transportation consume most of their income. Insurance has always been a luxury.

My understanding is Obamacare will force people or their employers of this age group to buy insurance. So if you go 20-25 years paying into insurance pools with no claims, where does all that money go? The insurance companies reinvest that money until a claim needs to be paid.

Of course, it covers their employees, building and supplies. Yet, a lot of that money goes to Wall Street. Now force a few million people to buy insurance who will not likely have a claim for several years. How much money will hit Wall Street?

My question is: “Why would the Republicans be opposed to such a plan?” Taking money from the poor and giving to the rich. Maybe it is because they did not come up with the plan.

Lauris Byxbe

Pompeys Pillar

Last Updated on Thursday, 12 September 2013 11:34

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Who benefits from coal?

Arch Coal, one of the biggest and richest coal companies in the world, is currently seeking a permit to rip up a pristine agricultural valley in southeastern Montana to mine the coal underneath and sell it to China.

Coal markets in the United States are disappearing. Corporations looking for a fast buck are trying to ram through proposals to open the Otter Creek strip mine and expand ports in the Northwest so the coal can be shipped on rail line through Montana, Washington and Oregon.

Montana has little to gain from Arch Coal’s venture. Montana would lose a treasure. The Otter Creek Valley is one of the last undeveloped places in the state. Irreparable harm would come to the Valley if the mine and accompanied Tongue River railroad were brought to fruition.

Who would gain from these schemes? Arch Coal would get the profits. China would get the coal. Montana would only get the impacts.

David Steinmuller

Gallatin Gateway

Last Updated on Thursday, 12 September 2013 11:33

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