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.

Many more Americans work for a living than are criminals or their victims, but the consideration of a new FBI director last week got much more attention than the federal agency that sets standards for 80 million workers. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) traces its history to 80 years ago this month, when the National Labor Board was established. It was dissolved the next year after the Supreme Court declared it illegal, but it became the predecessor to the NLRB founded in 1935.

Eventually, employers will have to abide by health-care reform, but President Obama last month said he was giving an extra year to comply to health-care requirements for business, which said it needed more time to comply with the overhaul. U.S. businesses that had been looking at possible penalties if they didn’t provide health insurance to their employees by January are getting another year before they must comply with the law. The requirement affects companies with at least 50 employees.

The Obama administration listened. Labor leaders wonder: Did anyone listen to them?

Tax collectors were so unpopular for so long it took the Son of God to demonstrate that it was alright to forgive them, and who knows whether some modern St. Matthew works at the Internal Revenue Service.

The war against Americans’ voting heated up this summer when the U.S. Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision struck down a formula to ensure access to polls – even as it affirmed the 1965 Voting Rights Act’s goal.

Labor is leading the fight to keep the Chicago Tribune newspapers free from overt partisan control, using their financial clout as well as their street presence.

When the statue of Frederick Douglass was unveiled in the U.S. Capitol on June 19, Vice President Joe Biden quipped that Douglass was “one of my favorite Republicans.”

DC Comics

When “Man of Steel” opened, the latest re-booting of the Superman story was met by indifference, relief or scorn, but change is one of the few constants in the universe of heroes, especially the comic-book variety.

Illinois’ legislature on May 31 signaled that fracking can begin, overwhelmingly approving a plan to regulate the high-volume gas and oil drilling despite considerable testimony in opposition, hundreds of people rallying and protesting at the Capitol and Gov. Quinn’s office, and five southern-Illinois counties and four cities, including Carbondale, voting to wait.

This month – the 125th anniversary of the publication of Ernest Thayer’s poem “Casey at the Bat” in the San Francisco Examiner, and mere weeks after the Cubs “swept” the White Sox in interleague play – is a perfect time to recall Garrison Keillor’s alternate perspective, first produced for “A Prairie Home Companion” in 1994: “Casey at the Bat (Road Game)” –

In the last year progressives such as Independent U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders from Vermont and Tea Party-endorsed U.S. Sen. Rand Paul from Kentucky have blasted the Federal Reserve, the United States’ central banking system. If Tea Party and progressive types are truly independent and populist, they should support the new bill by Massachusetts’ Democratic U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren that would ensure that college students get equal treatment under the law for borrowing and make the Federal Reserve contribute to society, not just the rich and powerful.

Your Lyin’ Eyes

May 29, 2013

More and more, so many media so deftly defy logic, the smooth-talking liars on radio and cable seem like the man in the old joke by the late, great comic Richard Pryor. His wife catches him betraying her and he coos, “Who you gonna believe: me or your lyin’ eyes?”

Adventures with Jake

May 22, 2013

A handsome two-year-old British lab barreled his way into my heart after I resisted our getting another dog. It was a relationship made in heaven.

The April explosion at the West, Texas, fertilizer plant that killed 14 people, injured about 200 others and destroyed dozens of homes was so powerful it could be felt 50 miles away, registering as a 2.1-magnitude earthquake. The blast should continue to rumble throughout the country since its owner apparently didn’t disclose the dangers there, and the government agencies responsible for protecting the area also failed.

In the last 30 years, CEOs have gone from being well-paid (more than 40 times the pay of everyday workers) to being ridiculously enriched. CEO compensation now averages hundreds of times the pay of regular working people.  

Is it worth it? To their companies and shareholders? To their industry and the economy?  To the country?

I was a youngster when the first funeral I ever attended was a schoolmate who’d died in a grain storage bin, where he’d slipped and suffocated. I went to the open-casket services with buddies, and we were shocked and silenced by the appearance of a kid like us who’d essentially drowned in corn.

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