Thank you Kim Barker and ProPublica for shining a bright light on the political sewage that surrounded the 2012 election cycle. And thank you Billings Outpost for printing it here in Montana [Jan. 3]. Politics and money bring out the worst in people. It has always been so, and it always will be.
Although the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United only made things worse, nearly two centuries of legislation in the U.S. has not changed human nature. The only way to blunt the corrosive effects of crony capitalism is to keep shining a light on it, as you have done and need continually to do.
Last Updated on Thursday, 14 February 2013 19:37
I would like to compliment Lauris Byxbe on the most excellent letter regarding gray matter on gun control (Outpost, Jan. 24).
It is horrible having these mass shootings! And something needs to be done to make sure those risky people do not have access to firearms. It is impossible to keep all weapons out of their hands.
After each tragedy there is an outcry for more gun control. Some of the states which have the strictest gun control laws also have the highest death by gun rates. Something is wrong.
I believe we need to focus on the real issues concerning gun control. To do so we have to get some history behind the men who wrote the Bill of Rights. In feudal England only the knight class and those higher up were allowed by law to possess weapons. They fought the wars and the common man was not involved. Military service was a matter of land ownership and position. This arrangement gave the peasant no means of self protection and no political power.
Then came gunpowder, which foretold an end to feudalism, and things began to change. No longer were weapons of self-defense limited to the upper classes. The “commoners” began to be conscripted into the military because they had the means to fight, accompanied by their legitimate demands for political involvement. Eventually the common man demanded the right to vote and got it because he now had the power and the upper class could not enforce its will upon the common man because he could resist effectively. Revolutions and constitutional monarchies began to emerge.
Now there was migration to the new world composed of these men who had been involved in the new order and realized that political power belonged in the hands of the people. When the King of England became too much for them, they rose in armed revolution and they had the firepower to resist.
The founding fathers understood completely this principle of tyrannical governments being brought down by the power of the people. These very wise men wrote the Constitution and included the Bill of Rights to ensure that the people had the power to keep their vote.
They included the Second Amendment to insure a militia composed of “common” men to keep enemies of the state and the government in check. Some “forget” that this amendment says “the rights of the people shall not be infringed.” Some believe that this militia was the National Guard, but there was no Guard then.
So, we have the same issue now confronting the people. Gun control is basically about political power and the right to vote and have input into the political process. We have the elite, who keep their guns and have heavily armed bodyguards who want to strip the law-abiding citizen of his right to defend his life, his family and his property.
The downside of this also is that there will be groups who have weapons that the government can never get: gangs, other criminal elements, military, law enforcement, foreign gun smugglers, so there will always be those with guns and a law-abiding populace helpless against the negative forces.
If interested in these concepts, a very good place to begin would be the writings of Professor Carroll Quigley in his book “Western Civilization to 1914.” One might also begin by researching the relationship between political process and gun ownership in Switzerland.
Last Updated on Thursday, 07 February 2013 19:04
President Barack Obama, a former college professor, believes that wealth redistribution will lead to fairness and happiness. Taken to a logical conclusion, absolutely equal outcomes will lead to absolute fairness and happiness.
The college campus is a perfect place to experiment. Take the current salaries, total them up and divide equally by the total number of workers. The administrators and the professors will probably take a pay cut of between 25 percent to 50 percent.
Some professors may have borrowed as much as $100,000 for their educations, which they’re still paying off. They studied and worked hard and now have great salaries. They bought expensive houses with expensive mortgages in gated communities. They have expensive cars with expensive payments. And they take nice vacations to exotic places every year.
The cleaning crew will be happy. But the arrogance of great knowledge will result in bruised egos for the professors. When they see a worker pick up litter, and they realize they’re being paid exactly the same amount as the worker, they won’t be happy.
What will be the incentive to be educated?
Our lives are colorful and vibrant. The zealots behind the Socialist movement have an obnoxious desire for all of us to be indistinguishable and bland.
So, come on socialist-leaning college professors — put your money, and your lifestyles, on the line. Let’s see the fairness and the happiness then.
Last Updated on Thursday, 31 January 2013 12:53
The gun control issue has now taken top attention with the reckless shootings [at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., and another school across the country in Marin County, Calif. I am a firm believer in my Second Amendment right to bear arms. I want to be able to protect myself FROM my own government.
My own government acts as an invader and a murderer, steeped in and seeking out ever more violence in far-flung countries with cultural practices we believe are perverted. Violence has to do with the emotional, spiritual and physical state of mind, most of which has to do with examples set by the people around them. Big Business and the U.S. Government are prime perpetrators of setting an example to promote violence, regardless of their self-proclaimed cause of “American Values.”
When a government goes into another country and starts killing the citizens they find there because their governments or cultures clash, what is to stop me from doing the same because I don’t like my neighbors’ attitude or culture?
We need education and example, not more useless laws and regulations that no one follows or can follow. Here is how NOT to set an example: Recently, we had a neighbor who got into an argument with his mother and wife about whether the safety mechanism was on or off on a revolver. He held the gun to his head and said, “If the safety is off, would I do this?” And he pulled the trigger and died right there. The first tool of gun control is that gray matter between the ears of the person with the gun.
From the time of Cain and Abel, sibling rivalry and family feuds have been the norm. I don’t think Cain had a gun when he killed Abel. A person bent on killing will use any method available, be it a gun, sword, sling shot, knife, toxic chemical or gas or bare hands.
Where are the examples of peacefulness and coexistence we need to see?
Last Updated on Wednesday, 23 January 2013 10:26
There is no get-out-of-jail-free card for America’s small business owners — when times are tight they have to find new ways to stretch their resources in order to keep their doors open and stay competitive. Which is why it is so disappointing to see how our leadership in Washington is handling our current financial situation.
Instead of addressing the fiscal cliff by ratcheting back unnecessary spending and making government more accountable, some of our elected officials are looking to the taxpayers to provide them a get-out-of-jail free card. One way policy makers in Washington are looking to “increase revenue” — or in other words, ask you to bail them out — is by increasing taxes on American energy producers.
American companies that have operations abroad benefit from what is known as the dual capacity tax credit, which prevents companies from being double taxed on income earned abroad. It stands to reason that if a company pays income tax to a foreign country where they earned the income, they shouldn’t have to pay tax again to the United States on the same income. It’s a standard tax practice around the globe to ensure that foreign companies can compete abroad.
But now that our elected officials are facing down the fiscal cliff they want to exclude our domestic energy producers (and only them) from the dual capacity credit and force them to pay taxes on their profits, not just once, but twice. Under such an unfair tax regime, it’s hard to imagine how American energy companies would be able to compete in foreign markets.
This drastic increase in taxes on American energy producers would not only hurt small businesses, but would have a financial impact on individual consumers as well as the nation as a whole.
Small business owners are already having a hard enough time keeping the lights on and the doors open in our stagnant national economy, and increases in energy taxes would only worsen that problem by increasing energy prices for consumers. If our government really wants to spur economic growth, then they need to look towards cutting taxes and decreasing costs for businesses in a way that will allow them to grow and hire more workers, not increase the burden on America’s job creators.
Excluding our energy producers from the benefits of the dual capacity rule discourages companies from investing in expanding exploration efforts and innovative new technologies that would help American become more energy independent.
Forcing our producers to try to compete on such an uneven playing field would essentially be subsidizing foreign energy production, allowing our competitors abroad to surpass us even further in terms of the efficiency and cost effectiveness of their energy production.
Instead of looking to consumers and taxpayers to bail our government out of jail for their irresponsible financial decisions, I hope that they will look at the bigger picture and realize that increasing taxes on the businesses that can revitalize our economy will cause more harm than good and instead focus their efforts on conserving funds and cutting spending.
Rep. Mike Miller
Last Updated on Wednesday, 23 January 2013 10:24
As former chairpersons of the Heights Community Development Task Force and current City Council Members representing Billings Heights, we take this opportunity to express the importance of the task force and how vital these monthly meetings are for the future of Billings Heights.
Within this group, we envision new leaders stepping forward in our community and also offer the opportunity for residents and business owners to gather together and visit with city, county, school district and state representatives and take an active role in their neighborhoods. Important issues that face our Heights community are presented each month, including building, subdivisions, zoning, code enforcement, police patrol and road development.
Please join us at our new location, The Oasis, Conference Room, 543 Aronson, every fourth Tuesday. We look forward to seeing you there!
Angela Cimmino and Denis Pitman
City Council, Ward 2
Last Updated on Wednesday, 23 January 2013 10:24