Local Commentaries

The opinions expressed in these commentaries are not necessarily those of Tri States Public Radio or Western Illinois University. Diverse viewpoints are welcomed and encouraged.

For organized labor: If the environment deteriorates, where will we work? For that matter, for environmentalists: If work is unsafe, how can society be sustained?

Single-issue activism can be focused, but it also can be ineffective, and this month that’s especially worth noting. April is when people commemorate both Earth Day and Workers Memorial Day, sensibly urging prevention as the best course against trouble – on global and personal scales.

The tax code has eroded over the years so it’s no longer progressive – in the sense that more affluent citizens and profitable businesses pay more (what they have left is still a fortune). Now, tax law is filled with loopholes, exemptions and allowances that let some successful corporations pay less to the treasury than they pay their own CEOs.

Minority Health Month

Apr 9, 2012

From guest commentator Byron Oden Shabazz:

As the US Supreme Court deals with President Obama's health care plan, here in western Illinois we are celebrating Minority Health Month as a reminder of our community's -- and the nation's -- commitment to educate all people about the need for comprehensive health care.

 Recording artist Bruce Springsteen talks about his new album, “Wrecking Ball,” in a conversation with The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart in the current issue of Rolling Stone magazine, describing the record as featuring characters who are regular people who “just want a job.” In cuts such as “Jack of All Trades” and “Death to My Hometown,” Springsteen’s newest record depicts the country at odds with itself.

 “The banker man grows fat,” he sings, “Working man grows thin.”

The mere title of Larry Bloom’s decent trade paperback – The Cure for Corporate Stupidity: Avoid the Mind-Bugs that Cause Smart People to Make Bad Decisions – might attract anti-corporate types tempted to accumulate more ammunition to bolster existing attitudes against the powerful business structure. But its contents would most benefit business managers who want to prevail and do good work while avoiding mine fields. Or, “mind” fields, with a “D.”

The term “collateral damage” seems insidious, somehow making less meaningful the notion of “innocent bystanders.” However, some say that Americans may prefer the impersonal reference, which also could be why remote-controlled planes provide a level of comfort to a nation at war.

 If so, it’s time for us all to shake ourselves awake, and perhaps the recent tragedy of an Army sergeant apparently killing 16 unarmed Afghan civilians is a horrific alarm to stir us to consciousness.

Bill Knight - March 15

Mar 14, 2012

Most journalists occasionally are confronted by angry newsmakers (usually powerful ones). Some journalists get threatening calls or emails, rude posted comments or letters to the editor, and that’s about it. But this week, as the seventh annual Sunshine Week is underway, it’s appropriate to also note that some journalists are killed for being part of the handful of human beings whose job – whose calling – is to run toward danger.

Bill Knight - March 8

Mar 7, 2012

As gas prices ignited, a visit to New Orleans raised almost as many questions as Republican presidential contenders’ accusations against President Obama. (“Stop,” they scream of the far-from-perfect chief executive, or, “Start”, apparently willing to blame Obama for everything from Gary Oldman not winning an Oscar and tornados hitting downstate Illinois to Google’s new privacy policy and Los Angeles acquiring a “nuke” – Albert Pujols.)

Bill Knight - March 1

Feb 29, 2012

General Motors in mid-February announced its highest annual profits ever -- $7.6 billion in 2011 profits on revenues of $105 billion. That’s not only an increase of 62% from the year before, it’s just two years since GM reorganized under federal bankruptcy law – helped by $82 billion in taxpayer money.

Churches help people worship God, not institutions. States help people serve communities, not bureaucracies.

More than 100,000 people in all 50 states already have signed an online petition as part of a grassroots campaign on Change.org that demands Sallie Mae stop charging unemployed college graduates or other student borrowers a $50 fee for forbearance on their student loans.

Borrowers who can’t pay the extra $50 fee are put into default.

If people are in need - starving, say, or in a burning home - it’s crazy to check IDs of those trying to help. And if you want to assist the rescue, you aid the rescuers, whether they’re Klan members or Sierra Clubbers. If you want to hurt the rescuers, you attack them - especially in the pocketbook - and ignore the people who need help.

Until leaders at Susan G. Komen reversed course last Friday, they’d planned to ignore women benefiting from Planned Parenthood exams they help underwrite because they’d rather hurt Planned Parenthood.

Unexpected alliances are possible when people look beyond “bi-partisan” confines and seek common ground, and this winter, unlikely allies re-formed to help save the Internet.

Conservative and liberal interests unified against Congress’s bills to regulate the Internet, reminiscent of an effective trend that grew out of the same dispute a few years ago.

Bill Knight - January 26

Jan 25, 2012

 A large and growing number of Americans are poor or at risk of becoming poor as a consequence of the Great Recession, and many will struggle during a recovery, according to a white paper released last week by the national broadcaster whose appearance last week at the 20th annual Martin Luther King luncheon in Peoria was cancelled after some people complained that he’d criticized President Obama.

Occupy Peoria protestors were starting to assemble on Main Street one Saturday in October, when I was reading a magazine, eating an omelet and drinking coffee at a nearby café. A dad at an adjacent table looked out the window at the dozens of demonstrators, turned to his daughter, and said, “What are they complaining about? Half of the country pays no taxes at all!”