Letters published Dec. 15, 2017

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America needs to confront its gun problem

Guns! The problem is so enormous that it is difficult to know where to start. It begs the question — is it OK that more than 30,000 Americans die from gunshots every year in the U.S.?

We have 5 percent of the world population and 31 percent of the public mass shootings. The recent mass shooter in Sutherland Springs, Texas, killed 26 people in their church with an assault rifle before he committed suicide. The murderer in Las Vegas claimed the lives of 58 and wounded over 500 at a concert. The weapon in this killing was a semi-automatic rifle modified to shoot like an automatic rifle. Armed citizens could not have prevented these murders.

These killings were reported and viewed with shock throughout the entire world. However, in the U.S., they will be forgotten and put aside. If the slaughter of 20 elementary school children and seven teachers and adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School didn’t prompt the legislature to address the problem, nothing will. Most of these atrocities were committed by domestic terrorists with semi-automatic rifles and handguns.

Our freedom to safely attend church, go to a movie, send our children to school, attend a concert and many other private and public places without the fear of being shot is greatly threatened. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to determine what the common denominator is in all the shootings by domestic and foreign terrorists in the U.S. The answer is obvious, EASY ACCESS TO ALL KINDS OF GUNS.

The NRA followed by the White House and Congress have agreed that regulating bump stocks would be acceptable. This fake effort is only a smoke screen in an attempt to deceive the citizens into believing that some action is being taken to address this epidemic of gun violence. Their hope is that it will stop any legislation, investigation or research into solving the problem. Without formal legislation the NRA and congressmen can stop gun control without identifying who voted against it. Thus the millions of dollars from the NRA will continue to roll into the coffers for election campaigns. Obviously, these politicians care more about being reelected and their lavish lifestyle than about the safety of our citizens. Who among them dares to put forward legislation to study the problem and make some laws? —Jerry Reckin, Kalispell

Warning about compromise hit the mark

Though he did not mention Frank Garner in his column printed Sept. 24, Managing Editor Frank Miele addressed the false premise of those who defend “Gas Tax” Garner based on his ability to make concessions and compromise. Frank Miele said, “Does anyone believe that concessions are ever made short of a political bribe? ... The compromises and concessions that previous generations of politicians made on our behalf have led us into mortal peril.” Mr. Miele discussed nationalized health care and the importance of acknowledging “the fact that the national economy is a finite system and that we will bankrupt ourselves long before we eliminate the human pain and suffering that comes from human mortality. So how did we get here? Compromise. Concessions.”

Flathead legislator Frank Garner voted for Medicaid expansion in 2015. Prior to Medicaid expansion, Montana had a surplus budget. Now Montana is in the red, and the taxpayers will be further punished for the legislators’ mismanagement of tax dollars.

Frank Miele included a quote by Winston Churchill. When Churchill was confronted by Nazism, he said, “Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never — in nothing, great or small, large or petty — never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.” But Frank Garner did “give in” to serve his own agenda. There is nothing honorable about Frank Garner campaigning on tax relief, then compromising his campaign promises by doing the opposite once in Helena by voting for tax escalation — and even boasting about it on his Facebook page. “Gas Tax” Garner and other compromising tax-raising Republicans need to be rejected from any level of position in government.

Thank you, Frank Miele, for expressing so well the peril of compromise in the column aptly titled “How do you compromise when you are falling off a cliff?” —Julie Dockery, Kalispell

State economy won’t recover without natural resource jobs

After paying my new property taxes which increased by 28 percent ($629), I want to congratulate our local state legislators for leading the way to balancing our state’s budget with no new taxes. Thank you! However, the shortage of revenue for our state in these good economic times is troubling and shows a lack of leadership from our current governor. It also shows that for all the hype, the tourism industry is a poor economic model for prosperity for our state.

Gov. Bullock has silently stood by as our natural resource businesses and jobs within our state have been eliminated and/or shut down. It seems he wants to rely on the tourist industry as his favored economic model. However, with fewer good manufacturing businesses and fewer good-paying jobs we necessarily have fewer taxes for our state’s coffers, which means government services and employees must be cut back. It certainly would be wrong to try to tax our citizens more and more for the failing economic plan emanating out of our state’s current administration.

Also this situation dramatically shows that the tourist industry, which is at record highs, cannot lead to a vibrant economy. Even though lots of dollars flow, the majority of jobs created are low paying and seasonal, with minimal dollars flowing to our governmental entities. On top of that, tourist jobs are costly to the public as they are subsidized by a variety of handouts: unemployment insurance, food stamps, Medicaid, health care, and affordable housing to name a few. Seldom are these hidden costs explored and explained when evaluating the tourist industry as a whole.

Montana tax revenues are down because of Bullock’s poor economic plans and his refusal to support good-paying jobs in our natural resource sectors. His dependency on tourism has fallen as flat as his revenue projections. If he and those who agree with him don’t want good-paying natural resource jobs, they should quit complaining when state government services and jobs are downsized. After all, without good-paying jobs there are no other reasonable options. —Mark Agather, Kalispell

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