The Billings Outpost

What about public interest?

Businesses complain about “uncertainty,” but they are just sitting on a trillion dollars instead of investing it in the future of the nation. They could take a chance and hire a few people with all that money. After all, thousands of Americans have given their lives to our country in wars, with no certainty of living through it. Now businesses demand “certainty” in order to invest in the future of this nation? Who has “certainty?” Do you? I don’t.

And, not only do they want “certainty,” but they attack the Environmental Protection Agency and want regulations rolled back as well, so they can pollute to any extent they think “necessary.”

The idea of “tax reform,” while really needed, makes me cringe, because nearly every effort at tax reform in the past has resulted in more tax breaks for those who can afford to make large contributions to elections. That is what complicates the tax code.

Now 1 percent of the population owns nearly everything and they are buying up foreclosed homes like greedy grizzlies. Coal companies are eyeing public lands. Corporations are taking over public schools. There is even the intention of privatizing postal service!

In this era of corporatizing everything, whatever happened to the concepts of “the public interest” and “the common good?” Gone with the melting glaciers.

Joan Hurdle


Last Updated on Thursday, 23 August 2012 21:51

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Concerned about Rehberg

I am really concerned about Rep. Dennis Rehberg. I’m afraid his rough ride in the boat accident affected his memory on our border problems.

Rep. Rehberg is sponsoring House Resolution 1505, giving our northern borders to the federal government, Department of Homeland Security and the Border Patrol.

He’s got Canada confused with Mexico.

Lloyd DeBruycker


Last Updated on Thursday, 23 August 2012 21:49

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Tongue River at risk

I recently read an opinion editorial by union representatives printed in several papers across the state. It is interesting that the focus of this opinion is that their jobs are more important than the agricultural jobs that now support many of the hardworking Montanans who live in the Tongue River and Otter Creek valleys.

The Tongue River is a pristine untouched valley. The agriculture production here is comparable to production in the San Joaquin Valley in California. That will all change with the development of Otter Creek Coal.

The Tongue River Railroad that must be built to transport the Otter Creek coal will devastate our valley. And, it (like all railroads) will cause fires. We have seen enough fires in Eastern Montana this year to last for several lifetimes. The railroad is proposed along the river where there is no road access. To be able to fight the inevitable fires, highways will need to be built.

These roads will be paid for by the hardworking taxpayers of Montana. When this railroad was first proposed, the coal it would haul was destined for upper Midwest markets. The coal is now going to Asia – mainly to China. I do not think it is in the public interest to use condemnation to build a railroad that will be used for Asia and China. The Otter Creek development is not about creating jobs, it is about securing more money for one of the richest corporations in America, Arch Coal (who has leased the Otter Creek coal and is also one of three owners of the Tongue River Railroad). Will we continue to step on the backs of the hardworking farmers and ranchers of Montana to bankroll the richest people in the world?

The railroad will transport the coal to ports near Seattle to ship to China. There are hundreds of railroad crossings across Montana, including in our cities and towns. Burlington Northern will not pay to upgrade these crossings if life, health, or safety issues make that necessary. It will be you and me - the taxpayers of Montana - who will be expected to pay for these upgrades.

The Otter Creek coal serves as an aquifer for water in the area where I live and ranch. That water will be pumped out of the ground to mine this coal and most likely discharged into the Tongue River. The Tongue River is already being harmed by coal bed methane discharges in Wyoming and discharges by the Decker mine that go into the Tongue River Reservoir. Our irrigation land is at risk.

Otter Creek development is not about jobs. It is about corporate greed, plain and simple.

Mark Fix

Miles City

Last Updated on Thursday, 23 August 2012 21:48

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Vote Bullock’s values

Sometimes the important things get lost in a campaign. “Issues” are easily manipulated by the press or partisans.

For 41 years I was associated with the American Legion Montana Boys State program; for more than half of those years, I served either as the program’s chief counselor or as its director. The program offers high school junior boys - the “cream of the crop” – an opportunity to learn about citizenship and leadership and much, much more.

Steve Bullock was one of the best counselors Boys State ever had. For more than 15 years, Steve gave up a week of vacation, for no pay, to come to the University of Montana-Western in Dillon and help young men formulate the principles of their citizenship and leadership. (Steve is a former Boys State governor elected by conservative young men from every town and city in Montana who trusted him to lead and represent them.)

As a counselor, every day at 6:30 a.m., Steve led 400 young men in singing the Star-Spangled Banner and “God Bless America.” (Neither he nor they were trained singers.) Also, because he is a Boston Marathoner, I asked him to “warm up” the delegates to get a good start on the day.

Steve is a patriot. He taught love of God and country. He explored the meaning of freedom. He taught respect for the American flag – stars and stripes forever.

Steve was effective because he not only taught these values, he lived them. No young man who became acquainted with Steve at our program has forgotten or will forget him. He is a patriot in every sense of the word. I do not personally know every candidate, but I do know Steve. He continues to live those Boys State ideals.

While issues are important, they change daily. What is more important is knowing a candidate’s values. My vote will be for a proven and practicing patriot who lives that value every day.

K. Paul Stahl


Last Updated on Thursday, 23 August 2012 21:47

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Health care charade

Some months ago we were treated to an example of government imposition of its will on religious rights and American women’s health decisions. In January 2012 I also feel my civil/health rights were ignored.

I attended a presentation by my Montana-owned Advantage plan provider. The insurance company representative told me that visits to Billings Clinic physicians were covered. I am very uncomfortable with traditional doctors who treat symptoms and do not involve the patient in the healing process.

I asked specifically about a naturopath and he repeated “services ... were covered.” Following my visit to the naturopath, the insurance company refused to pay, stating that “Medicare does not fund naturopaths.” They said that Billings Clinic’s policy is that it “always” warns Medicare patients that naturopaths are not covered. They did not warn me.

Eight months later I have finally received word that my appeal in the matter has been denied.

The government and New Northwest Insurance are determining for me who is acceptable and who is not. Worse, New Northwest did not stand by the word of its employee, while the government determines what is and is not valid treatment. This is not health care; it is a charade.

Mana Lesman Seward


Last Updated on Thursday, 23 August 2012 21:46

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Set medical funds aside

We hear about how everyone fears Obamacare. Yet I haven’t seen anything different in healthcare or the costs of both insurance as well as care. For example, insurance companies are still charging large premiums and/or requiring pre-approval for some surgery or some things just are not covered.

My wife had a job with benefits. She could keep the insurance for $600 or so a month. At $7,200 per year, that is a lot of preventive health care and doctor visits. But, even with insurance, we have community fund-raisers to help our friends and neighbors with their medical expenses.

Our government moves slow and most programs don’t help the people the programs were meant to help.

We need to set up a community medical fund at our banks and churches for emergency medical expenses. If everyone were to put in $15-$20 a month or more if they had a windfall, there would be a nice sum of money to help out others.

Who knows the day you may need help?

Lauris Byxbe

Pompeys Pillar


Last Updated on Wednesday, 15 August 2012 20:41

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