Rep. Denny Rehberg is running for senator on the slogan “get the federal government out of our lives.” I’m sure the taxpayers in the rest of the nation would appreciate his efforts, since Montanans receive $1.47 back in federal dollars for every dollar we send to Washington. And Montana’s rural communities, Rehberg’s core supporters, get an even larger per capita percentage of the federal largess, including things like federal highway funds, federal fire fighting, federal flood insurance and disaster relief, FAA’s Airport Improvement Program for rural communities and many other federal programs worth cutting.
However, the greatest percentage of federal dollars on a per capita basis goes to Montana’s welfare farmers and ranchers, who have received $5.89 billion in subsidies between 1995 and 2010. To name a few ag subsides and not give a comprehensive list, there are federal price supports for wheat, corn and other crops, the Market Loss Assistance Program, loan deficiency payments, Hard Winter Wheat Incentive payments, the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payment Program, hail insurance, drought insurance, the Livestock Compensation Program, the Emergency Livestock Feed Program, the Livestock Indemnity Program, the Livestock Emergency Assistance Program, wool subsidies, the Milk Income Loss Contract Program, Dairy Market Loss Assistance, the Milk Income Loss Transitional Payment, the Dairy Economic Loss Assistance Program, the Sugar Beet Diversion Program, the Sugar Beet Disaster Program, the Wetlands Reserve Program, the federal Conservation Reserve Program, the Livestock Forage Disaster Program, federal marketing support, ag research stations, the Conservation Security Program, Counter Cyclical Payments, the Marketing Loan Program, export subsidies and the Risk Management Agency.
The best way to save money and get the government off our backs is to stop government assistance to Montana’s welfare ranchers and farmers.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is reported to be running out of money because of decreased hunting license purchases, and is considering asking the legislature for license fee increases. This is the first obvious symptom of something known as agency “death spiral” for FWP.
Over the past two decades, FWP has come to focus on wildlife and biology when it should have been focused on fish and game. This includes FWP’s shocking tolerance and support for large predators. FWP’s total, willing, even eager cooperation with fostering excessive populations of large predators has long been predicted to end in a financial crash for the agency as word unavoidably spreads that there is no game left to hunt so there is no reason to buy a license.
For too long, FWP leaders have leaned on the scales of public policy by making excuses for the devastation wrought upon game herds by large predators, by fudging game counts and census numbers and by blaming any game population declines that could not be covered up on climate change, sunspots, lazy hunters or aliens—anything but the truth. This cover-up culture has been fostered by senior staff, always near retirement, who knew they’d be long gone from the hot seat when the FWP financial bus blundered off a cliff.
If the overall FWP attitude had not been so hell-bent on “ecosystem management,” “biological diversity,” “natural balance” and other similar catchy but terminal “green” ideas destined to end hunting, FWP managers would have predicted the current agency financial crisis years ago. Nobody at FWP noticed or cared several years ago when the editor of the NRA’s nationwide American Hunter magazine published a feature article about his fruitless elk-hunting trip to southwest Montana, a trip where the only tracks he saw were wolf tracks. Nobody at FWP noticed or cared about the other hundreds of warnings from Montana citizens. Worse, those warnings were even ridiculed by FWP in mad pursuit of its own agenda.
The stock mantra from FWP managers has been: “We’re the professionals. We know best. The outcome that concerned citizens predict will never come to pass.” The “evidence” of crashing game herds that citizens offer is just “campfire stories” and is without merit because it doesn’t come from paid FWP “professionals.”
Yet when retired FWP employees, freed from the institutional FWP muzzle, tell that FWP-tolerated wolves are turning the Montana landscape into a “biological desert,” FWP dismisses such comments summarily.
For the last two decades, FWP has been busy digging a hole for itself. As it sees daylight disappearing around the edges of the hole, it still won’t quit digging.
Of course, the obvious solution for the bureaucratic-bound and reality-disconnected FWP will be to announce, “We’ve been managing wildlife for the general public (including the non-Montana public) for years. Now we need the general public to pay the bills.” FWP has so fouled its nest by wasting the Montana hunting resource on predators and inadvisably removing hunters from the economic equation that it will now go to the legislature asking for relief, including increased fees that hunters simply won’t pay to access a vanishing resource, and, ultimately, tax increases on the general taxpayer, seeking a bailout from the results of its bad decisions.
You can bet that when FWP approaches the legislature demanding an allowance increase as a reward for having flunked Econ 101, the Montana Shooting Sports Association and thousands of Montana hunters will be there to say “Absolutely no way.” FWP has not only ignored the many warnings from Montana hunters, it has mocked and disrespected them. Also ignoring a state law requiring it to control large predators to protect game herds, FWP has bulled its way down a path surrounded with warning signs.
What FWP needs are not more or alternate sources of money, but a total change in attitude and culture. Until that happens, let FWP starve. It is not serving Montana.
Montana Shooting Sports Association
The Forest Jobs and Recreation Act balances timber harvests with conservation of the most scenic and wild places in Montana. Intended to promote cooperation and collaboration in the management of national forests, it is the result of just that.
The bill already has the backing of timber interests from the Montana Wood Products Association to the Montana Logging Association, as well as local timber mills like Sun Mountain Lumber and RY Timber. It also has the backing of conservation groups, from Montana Trout Unlimited to the Montana Wilderness Association.
For seven years, these partners and many others have worked tirelessly to balance their interests and create more certainty for all. Rep. Denny Rehberg has been in office the entire time. Now, in the eleventh hour and in an election year, he is proposing massive changes that would replace certainties with contingencies. With so many Montanans in agreement, why would Rehberg not support a bill that accomplishes so much?
The idea that the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act won’t create jobs is absurd. It requires the government to sign logging contracts for at least 7,000 acres in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge and Kootenai national forests every year. Most of the areas proposed as wilderness are already managed as wilderness, and these exceptional places will entice people to live, work and play in Montana for many generations.
Creating opportunities to responsibly harvest timber while ensuing that our most scenic and wild places remain vibrant is a step in the right direction, and one that I urge Rehberg to take with us.
Jason T. Brown
Recent news about victims of forced sterilization in North Carolina during the 20th century should give us pause as we commemorate another anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion. From the 1930s to the 1970s, more than 1,000 women in North Carolina were inhumanely sterilized without their consent or knowledge in some cases, an atrocity depriving them of the chance and joy of children. Shockingly, at least 30 other states conducted forced sterilizations, including Indian boarding schools in Montana.
Whatever side you take in the vicious debate over abortion, consider this: Roe v. Wade gave women free will over our own bodies. While the decision did not specifically address forced sterilization, it marked a milestone for reproductive justice.
No one likes the idea of abortion. I serve on the board of NARAL Pro-Choice Montana not because I advocate abortion but because I promote reproductive justice, which assures women the right to choose what happens to them. While I believe that every woman has the right to access a safe, legal abortion, I believe strongly in reducing the number of abortions, to live in a world where they’re not needed. This is a goal shared by all sides of the abortion debate.
Imagine no division, just a sure way to reach our collective goal. The way to get there is through prevention and comprehensive health education, access to contraception and family planning clinics, funding for it all and choice.
Mary Ann Dunwell
I don’t mind saying that we’re in the “Dawg House.” Our family was transferred from Texas to the Flathead Valley last June. Prior to our move, I spent a week here, driving the valley, wondering where we were going to settle. My husband works on Reserve in Kalispell, leaving north Kalispell and Whitefish as our options. I decided to let the choice in high schools be my deciding factor. I went to Glacier High and was shown the campus by a student who did a great job. I was only somewhat impressed with the school. We came from a school district that boasted state-of-the-art facilities. My bar was set pretty high.
The following day, I went to Whitefish High. Wow, anything I had ever seen that looked like the high school was torn down. I prayed that what I was to find on the inside betrayed what the outside revealed.
Was it the beautiful entry/cafeteria that betrayed its façade? No, it was the people, the front office staff, the student guide, the athletic director. Clearly, Whitefish was our home. I am not an analytical person; I married an engineer for that. I go by feel. And, despite the low ceilings, the poor lighting and the out-of-date everything, the “Dawg House” was where our six children were to attend. I can’t help but think how amazing that new school is going to be when you combine the fabulous teachers, the hospitable office staff and the excellent coaches with a school building that exceeds every academic, technological and physical need of our students and athletes. The word “unbeatable” comes to mind!
Molly Laich is funny, fearless, honest, original and always interesting (see “Abracadabra,” Jan. 5). What more could we want from a writer than that? And Jonathan Marquis’ illustrations are, well, magical. Let us know when you get that ukulele, Molly.
I would like to apologize for my comments made in the “Street Talk” segment in the most recent edition of the Independent. There was a lengthy dialogue that took place with my friends and me and the compressed dialogue, out of context, may give an inaccurate presentation about the establishment Charlie B’s. I have never been, or witnessed anyone being, “over served” at the establishment. Its employees conduct themselves with a high sense of professionalism, responsibility and genuine care when dealing with their customers and when interacting within the community. All comments about drinking were about myself personally and were not meant to be connected with the establishment. Charlie B’s is one of the greatest bars in Missoula. Its philanthropic efforts, long history and character make it so. I apologize for any and all comments that would make anyone think otherwise.
Douglas K. Shappee
Ari LeVaux’s column [“Milk is murder,” Dec. 29] appears simultaneously schizophrenic and intentionally provocative—but his apparent ignorance of any milk other than animal-derived calls for a response. Why should humans steal animals’ milk and lives when delicious, nutritious, plant-based options exist—coconut, rice, soy, and almond? Answer: Because the dairy industry has been brainwashing consumers and raking in subsidies for decades.
True, factory farm-produced milk is murder, and cows and calves grieve when separated. Not only do animals lead emotional lives, they also value their own lives. In fact, our forebears, the animals, want pretty much what we human animals want—life, liberty and the pursuit of their own interests. The doe and fawn wanted that, but LeVaux was okay blowing them away because they were “spared the grief of losing one another.” An ounce of compassion doesn’t negate the forcible robbery of life—call it murder if you want.
“The inherent tragedy of consuming animals”? Oh please! Since consuming animals isn’t necessary for human health (despite decades of the livestock industry brainwashing consumers and raking in subsidies), it’s an elective tragedy of human appetite. I agree with LeVaux that meat-eaters who kill their own are more honest about the violence and death they’re consuming than are those who eat factory-farmed misery (letting Tyson Foods do the dirty work). But “more honest” is damning with faint praise. Total honesty would be admitting that you’ve made a decision of conscience to submit to “savage hormones” and kill for mere appetite.
A belated congratulations on “The invisible man” [Dec. 22]. Jayme Feary and the Independent bring up the important issue of homelessness at the perfect time. It’s January. Everybody knows what that means. The recession has caused more homelessness than people realize—after all, not all homeless people panhandle. I’ve never been homeless myself, but I know many people who are and many more who are close to being so. I commend Feary and the Independent for bringing a compassionate perspective to the panhandling debate. And kudos to the awesome cop who pointed the way to the Pov—which is virtually the only shelter in town, by the way. Also big thumbs-up to the kids (and dogs too, I guess) who still see and pay attention to the world around them. And to the adults who cared: good for you for seeing outside the bubble most of us travel in.
Speaking of the Poverello Center, please support them in their vital work. Also the YWCA and Missoula’s Family Promise faith-based program (I’m not religious myself, but I deeply appreciate Christians who walk the talk). If you shuffled by a panhandler today, for whatever reason, please give the money you might have given him or her to one of these laudable programs.
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