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.

A Wall Street Journal writer, a trade representative and a Congressman walk into a Denver pot store and the clerk says, "What is this, a joke?"

The writer says, “I know I really shouldn’t, but I just NAFTA!”

In reality, WSJ writer Mary Anastasia O'Grady wrote about the 20th anniversary of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA): “A continental web of supply chains now supports production facilities and serves consumers in three countries with a combined population of 470 million.”

Differences on Capitol Hill have made recovery from the Great Recession difficult. Differences in interpreting what’s good and what’s bad in what’s happening with the economy have made recovery efforts worse.

As 2014 gets going, it’s revealing to see current public opinion and notice how Capitol Hill apparently pays more attention to Congress’ wealthy patrons than everyday Americans.

Dear Russell:

Here’s something very rarely mentioned in the same sentence: Prizefighting and parenthood.

Actually, parenting is less like prizefighting than watching boxers from a ring-side seat.

Life is not exactly a fight but it can sometimes feel like we’re on the ropes in a ring.

Alone maybe, or facing lousy odds.

Personally, I’ve been a spectator, trainer, sometimes a cutman in your life “matches.” It’s offered me a sense of pride, if not power.

I’ve always been proud of you. Conversely, I’ve never been ashamed of you.

Christmas is over, and with it, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday and the rest of the holiday-shopping gimmicks.

In Support of Working to the Rule

Dec 22, 2013
Rich Egger

On December 6, 2013 I brought my daughter to the Old Dairy for lunch. While eating, members of the MHS band filed in, some in holiday garb, and under the direction of Mr. Wetmore regaled us with music. Instantly my daughter asked if we could move closer to watch. We did.

Newspaperman Heywood Broun was one of the country’s top columnists in the 1920s and ’30s, when he also founded The Newspaper Guild labor union – risking his own financial position to help reporters paid 1 percent of his salary. Broun wrote about sports and books as well as current events and social-justice issues, but for years one of his most popular themes was Christmas, the subject of this sentimental piece from the defunct New York World:

Seeing contradictions instead of complexities in attitudes and preferences by the Millennial generation is perhaps why Big Business and the elite have started focusing on 18- to 34-year-old Americans in the newest scheme to cut Social Security. But 1 percenters have misinterpreted young adults as vulnerable, dumb or both.

As the possibility of a new government shutdown appears this winter, the lack of even superficial relationships on Capitol Hill makes one long for some positive parallel in constructive interactions – even connections that may be partly illusions.

The Prophets of Profits

Nov 27, 2013

This week we give thanks for what we have, even while recognizing the work ahead to achieve and accept other graces. As we celebrate Thanksgiving, counting our blessings, we may also take comfort in the action of a man whose business is blessings. And CEOs of U.S. corporations may also take notice.

Two months after a national strike against restaurants by workers demanding a raise, there’s a lot still left out of coverage of the disagreement.

Like most Americans, I’ve worked minimum-wage jobs. As an adolescent and a young adult, I worked on a farm, in a grocery store, and for a carpenter, and co-workers weren’t all teens. A grouchy guy in his 40s who smoked unfiltered Camels and swung a hammer like it was a Stradivarius pounded nails alongside me; a single mom was head cashier, knew the supermarket better than the boss, and mothered bag boys as well as ran the register.

At each workplace, the employer would’ve paid less if they could have.

One year from this week – on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014 – people will vote on all 435 Representatives in Congress, a third of the 100 U.S. Senators, and dozens of governors, and labor is choosing where to use its resources.

Pension foes have shifted public attention to accounting so retiree benefits might be shifted to protect or expand corporate subsidies, like the $24 million that Archer Daniels Midland demands from the state of Illinois, according to a new report. It says the anti-pension campaign blames state or local budget problems exclusively on public pensions – pensions that were underfunded by legislatures for years so the money could be spent elsewhere, such as on corporate subsidies or politically popular tax cuts.

When U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, the first-term Texas Republican, in the run-up to the Tea Party-engineered government shutdown included in his 21-hour filibuster a reading of Dr. Seuss’ “Green Eggs and Ham,” he may have been trying to show what he has in common with everyday Americans. He actually showed his ignorance.

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