Thursday, February 24, 2011

on more idiocy in Helena

Someone would think that the Legislators meeting in Helena don't read history. Oh, that's right, they don't consider education relevant. A couple of instances

--Dating from the early days of this state, the extraction industry has proved that it cannot be trusted to regulate itself. From the Anaconda company with its pit in Butte to the coal mining companies in Eastern Montana, the extraction industry has left a mess wherever it goes. We still face cleanup from old-time mines up near Cooke City. And now one legislator wants to let new cyanide leaching miners into the state if they use two mines grandfathered in to process the ore. The industry tried once to overturn the ban we (the people) voted in several elections ago and lost. Now its going for an end around by probably paying for one legislator's campaign.
--A few years ago, a Billings legislator introduced a bill that passed during its session to lower breathing standards in his city. Excuse me, to lower the amount of ugly smelling and ugly health reactions in Billings, allowing more sulphur dioxide in the air of downtown, all in the name of jobs. It took us several sessions before we could get that law changed and be able to breathe safely in downtown Billings again. And we didn't get any jobs out of it.
--Those of us who have been around for a while don't want any more promotion of boom and bust extraction and agriculture economies. If we look back at the history of this state's economy we can see that more bubbles have burst over the years leaving open mines and wind-blown topsoil in their wakes. Housing in our bigger cities goes up when the economy does and when the bust comes people walk away from their "new" homes and head for Denver or LA.
--The legislators also don't seem to realize that cutting taxes, an easy way to claim they are doing something about any deficit (which Montana does not have), particularly the taxes of small businesses does nothing for jobs and only enables business owners to sell out and buy the biggest houses in town. Jobs come only when customers are overwhelming the store counters to the point where more hands are needed.
--And the legislators don't seem to believe that the people of this state know what they are voting on. At least two voter-approved measures are up for gutting by legislative actions this year The aforementioned cyanide lead referendum and the medical marijuana issue. Both were approved by the people by a large percentage. In fact, when one would-be miner sought to overturn the leaching ban by public vote, the percentage against it actually went up. So what gives legislators the idea that they have the right to overturn what the people have approved in this democracy? Oh, yeah, maybe the voters don't know what they are voting on. Last November they elected the scariest Legislature since the one that elected Clark to the U.S. Senate. And then they elected a leadership that believes in one case that advertising can outsell a cure to problems and another who has the brains of an ostrich and doesn't think science is a viable source of information. His only issue seems to be putting roadblocks in front of divorces. A stupid, stupid MAN.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

on Montana and global warming

A Montana legislator who shall remain nameless (because I don't have his name right in front of me now but who represents to a great extent the general thinking of his party in Helena), has introduced a bill to proclaim global warming a benefit to the state and would order the state to cease all effort to combat it. An in-state scientist has said, in essence, that the legislator is blowing smoke,that scientific studies have basically proved that humans are directly responsible for the current global climate. However, it is true that over the past 2,000 years there have been significant climate changes so that at one stage glaciers spread out again in Europe and in another people were able to live in Greenland and grow crops there for several centuries before the cold returned. What those people who accept that thinking are rejecting are numerous studies reported in scientific journals that point out that the carbon dioxide content of the air is the largest that has been seen in 30,000 years (from ice and ocean coring). In the middle of the 1980s, which the anti climate change people claim to have heard predictions about an upcoming ice age, I remember an article in, I think, Science 86, which predicted the actual changes we have seen in Montana, longer but drier warm periods and warmer winters. And the big question again this year is Are we out of the drought yet?

The unmentionable legislator cites global warming as having beneficial effects in increase crop growth with the additional carbon dioxide. Yet, it will. But what he doesn't say is that the bulk for the crop growth will go into the body of the plant and not the seeds and roots that are so important for human development. Scientists have made some experiments which indicated that the grain may be more plentiful but the loss of nutrient value will make that a negligible effect and may mean that that there will be even more widespread hunger than already exists in this world. The U.S. has a rather high percentage (for our wealth) of hungry people and Africa is starving in almost all its equatorial areas. But again, the people of Montana, those who have moved into the state within the past 100 years, don't seem to have enough between the ears to realize that their livelihoods may hang on curbing the warming effect. They don't seem to realize that this part of the country was so dry it was virtually uninhabitable before about the 17th Century. That's why the land was empty when the Crows, Cheyenne and Blackfeet were able to move into it.

on Rehberg and health funding

Our only Congressman was on the national news recently taking a stand that would eliminate funding for the new health program. He said it was not good for Montana. Well, I'm a Montanan. Without playing the more Montana than you game, let me add that my great grandfather was in this state by 1865. He, or a relative, is apparently responsible for Pattee Canyon over in Missoula. And one thing Rehberg, who has available to him a better health plan (at our expense) than anything the bill offers, forgets is that the greatest part of his constituency that will benefit from the health plan is the farmer and rancher who now has no plan or a very limited plan at very high cost. While those in Helena are trying to axe workmen's compensation in this state, they forget that the very jobs they are trying to grow in the state--mineral extraction and agriculture--are two of the most dangerous jobs in the country and the world. So they will try to add to the toll while cutting down the benefits to those who get hurt on the job. With that little side note out of the way, I'll add one last thought on the health plan that Rehberg needs to consider The only thing wrong with it is that it lacks a public option.

Friday, February 18, 2011

And then there's Rehberg Can it get any worse?

Let's stop and think about Denny Rehberg, scion of a family which has done well in Billings, Mont., so he's become the ninth richest person in Congress. But again, he's third generation and that means the blood is weakening as is the interest in his home town, witness his suit against the taxpayers of his strongest political base, Billings. For those who don't know, Denny is suing the city of Billings for leaving his land for other fires before, he says, the fire was really out. Then it flared up and took out some of the trees and sagebrush he owns on top of the Rimrocks. He is suing for damage. Since I almost set a nearby area on fire myself (by breaking a shovel handle many years ago), I am aware of about how much damage you can do up there. The land's worth very little unless there is a building on it. And some of the buildings in the area are worth very little themselves. So why doesn't he spend some of his own money to replace trees and grass instead of sagebrush instead of suing his constituents? Except for some trees, the land repairs itself in a hurry. I've seen some aftermaths of fire in the same type of land a few years later. People of Montana who would normally contribute to Denny's campaign might want to think about it. They may have to contribute to his land "repair" later if he gets an "activist" judge.

And then he goes up to the Legislature and tells his fellow stupids there that he favors eliminating activist judges. By whose definition of activist judges will he operate? I happen to think that the federal judge of a few years ago in Cheyenne (he may still be there) who bent over every time a right winger asked him to is just as much an activist as a judge who swings from the environmental side or the left wing pastures. Actually, the ones on the left may have a clearer view of the "general welfare" than the right wing. (For an explanation of the quoted material, read the preamble to the Constitution. You'll also find it in the body of that document.)

And while we're at it, let us consider the question of strict constructionists (which presumably would include those who would eliminate the 14th amendment to bring back slavery as well as the so-called tea party "patriots.") If we're going to go back to what they consider the strict construction of a document written in the 18th Century, then the Second Amendment gun slingers should beware. Seems to me (and not just me) that strict construction would limit them to the weapons available at that time.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Hello after a break

Seems like forever since I've posted anything but I'll try again to see if I can come up with some "brilliant" thinking to add to this universe.

At the moment I am more concerned with the state of Montana than any other issue. With the "Code of the West", the nullification idiocy, the attacks on women and on education and human services, if any of them passes, it will take the state at least a decade to recover from this legislature.

Ladies and gentlemen in Helena, including Peterson and empty-headed McGillvary: The answer is to raise taxes. Montana has always done well in balancing its budget and, strangely enough, we are among the lower states in total tax load. Our income and property taxes may be up there but we're not facing the deadly sales tax that puts the tax load into the stratosphere. Back when we had the 11% rate on high incomes, I had to laugh when a visitor from out of state called us a high-tax state. By now, I've seen enough returns to know it ain't true. What happened in response is we lowered the tax rates and then took it back from high income people by limiting their deduction for federal withholding to $5000 ($10,000 for a couple).

Reading the reporting from the legislature, in the members' own words, is like hearing Bob Hope's one liners, if he had ever joked about stupidity. People, read the history books. Read the Constitution. The best answer possible might be to eliminate the states as France did centuries ago and create provinces. The states just get in the way of "the general welfare", the reason for the Constitution in the first place. (Read the preamble.)

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