Letters to the editor for June 10, 2018

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Teachers to put down erasers & pick up guns?

Along with the overall rise in stock values enjoyed since the DJT election, so too is the sudden unsuspected value placed in America’s classroom teacher.

Had I not retired a scant four years ago and recognized this shift in teacher merit, I’d have considered extending my stellar career from nearly 40 years to perhaps a five-decade employment as a cherished public servant.

We have now shot holes through the long-held corporate theory of “Those who can, work, and those who can’t, teach”! For, today, we see the fresh logic of arming instructors to deal with miscreants seeping into our hallways, threatening our most valued natural resource.

Time truly does alter the cultural landscape. Not so long ago, one impactive means of classroom control was to stock my podium with an ammunition dump of woolen erasers. When a particularly annoying child interfered with another’s sacred right to learn ... breaking pencils, touching others rudely, whispering jokes, or passing misspelled notes ... I just reached into that cavity and clutched that soft projectile and drilled the rascal with an explosion of chalk dust. For many years, it quelled the rare desires to disrupt my class and kept wordless order. No screaming, phone calls to parents, nor silly noon detentions.

Sadly, one grim day when too many cups of coffee influenced my timing, a sweet girl with Coke-bottle glasses raised her head unexpectedly, like a field gopher, to ask a question, and her forehead intercepted the intended target. It was an end to a productive run at classroom control.

But now ... the guild of teachers are afforded the responsibility to bear arms and judiciously fire rounds among the innocents to disable the intruder.

Progress marches on. And I cannot be a part of it. —Gary Vinson, Kalispell

A fond farewell to Kalispell

We are leaving our beautiful Montana and will miss it and the wonderful people.

We came here 11 years ago from the Deep South and made it our home we have never asked you to change. We came to be part of your world in that time while working with the youth of this valley. We have taught your kids to throw a football, catch a baseball, even helped some learn to read while being part of our school system. We have spent countless hours with the homeless because they are part of our community. We have been blessed to volunteer often with our church to help where needed.

I don’t tell you all this looking for a pat on the back. I love you all and say these things for the reason of letting you know that everyone that comes to Montana is not looking for a free ride or to change your way of life. As the area continues to grow, remember that a lot of your new neighbors are here just to enjoy life with you, not to tell you how to do it. Be kind to one another.

We are leaving this month for a three year mission trip to the Czech Republic with Easthaven and will miss you all. God bless the Flathead. —William Michael Blue, Kalispell

Be wary of effect of GOP tax cuts

Republicans tell us their tax bill will spur enough economic growth to negate the $1.5 trillion deficit predicted by the CBO. I have heard this promise before, most notably following the Reagan tax cut. Remember that under Reagan the deficit grew by 186 percent. This is called “supply side economics.” Its most recent debacle was in Kansas, where Gov. Brownbeck’s heavy tax cuts provided no economic growth and disastrous cuts to schools, roads and other services.

We see this tendency occurring in our own state. Republican lawmakers have reduced taxes to the point that there is not enough revenue to fund many state functions. Their solution has avoided any search for increased revenues, but to cut state programs they consider disposable, like education and support for mental health services.

The consensus seems to be that the current tax cut will help the upper middle class a little, and benefit corporations and the rich a lot. It will most likely increase the deficit. This, on the face of it, would seem like a failure, but I am afraid that to the libertarian-leaning politicians like Paul Ryan, it would be a wonderful opportunity. In order to counter this continuing disaster, the U.S. government would have to severely reduce entitlements — Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Of course we all have the right to pursue happiness, but if bad health or lack of a retirement safety net interferes, that is our own fault: so say the dominant congressional voices.

These entitlements — Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security — are effective, and are necessary for providing the aging and disadvantaged in our society peace of mind and quality of life. Can we afford them? That is the wrong question. The proper question is: How can we protect them? —Samuel Neff, Whitefish

Voters teach officials value of water resource

Elected officials in Flathead County and Helena had an opportunity to address the concerns raised by rural Flathead County residents about the prospect of a water-bottling plant near Creston. Instead, those officials ignored, derided and even scoffed at those voices.

Those concerned citizens — and the county voters — took matters into their own hands and showed those politicians what democracy looks like. The zoning triggered by threat of a water-bottling plant won in a landslide. Those politicians, who out of apathy or cowardice did nothing, woke up with a carton of egg on their face.

Think about it. When companies come to pull oil from the ground, they go through regulations and pay royalties to mitigate public impacts. Why should out-of-state companies who come for our water be given a green light when there are legitimate local concerns? If you think water is somehow less valuable than petroleum, go spend a day in the sun with nothing but a quart of motor oil to drink.

Flathead Valley voters know — even if politicians forget — that Flathead Valley is blessed with abundant and clean water and we share a responsibility to use it wisely and keep it clean. That resource is precious and getting more scarce throughout the American West. Big corporations will continue to come for that water, whether they send it out in a pipeline or on trucks.

At very least, Flathead Basin and the state of Montana need to address this issue with a credible, system-wide plan for developing our water resources that protects the rights of all parties and safeguards our lakes and rivers. Our water should not be put at risk of plastic residue pollution and our aquifers, lakes and rivers should not be blithely handed over to the whims of Nestle, Coca-Cola or whoever else grabs it first. Future generations may need that water far more than we do today.

Our elected officials should listen to the voters. Who knows, if they manage to do something right, maybe those voters will even reward them for it. —Ben Long, Kalispell

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