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.

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.

Too many people of power in government and big business deny humanity’s influence on climate change, so the continent’s biggest progressive forces are stepping up their involvement and a best-selling author is encouraging that interaction. According to a new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – its fifth such assessment – there’s no doubt that Earth is warming at an accelerating rate, human activity caused it (with 95 percent certainty), and the last 30 years have been the hottest decades since the mid-19th century,

Rich Egger

My family and I have spent the past couple of weeks visiting our doctors. All four of us have had our annual physicals, eye and dental exams. Each time I enter a doctor’s office I am grateful that we have access to affordable health insurance. There was a time not long ago, when I was a graduate student and my husband was working full time, that we were uninsured. Like many people in this country, our monthly income barely covered the rent and groceries, let alone “luxuries” like health insurance.  

Washington, D.C., Mayor Vincent Gray recently vetoed that City Council’s passage of a living-wage ordinance -- the Large Retailer Accountability Act, which would have required District big-box retailers such as Walmart to pay workers a living wage of $12.50 an hour, but it renewed debate about at least raising the minimum wage and revived conversations about a living wage.

Timing is everything, sometimes. A couple of days after Pope Francis’ interview was published in which the pontiff stressed helping the poor instead of “obsessing” about abortion, birth control and gay issues – the same day the House voted to cut food stamps by $40 billion over 10 years – church readings seemed to address the subject in plain language.

(Were Tea Party types sitting in pews uncomfortable hearing that God notices those “who trample upon the needy and destroy the poor”? Amen.)

Mars Bars and Macaroons

Sep 25, 2013

I'm no "foodie," but I'm fond of certain treats and, even when I don't buy something regularly, they remain a favorite.

Most people know that most corporate CEOs are paid a lot -- the ratio of CEO pay to average-worker pay is 273 to 1, compared to 20 to 1 in 1965, reported the Washington Post. But what does all that money buy?

Some 25 years ago, NBC-TV’s popular “Hill Street Blues” series featured a character, Sgt. Phil Esterhaus, warning the street cops, “Hey, let's be careful out there.”

It’s crazy, the gleam in the eye and zeal that the powerful have in sending everyday people into harm’s way.

This Labor Day during the 50th anniversary year of the publication of the landmark “Feminine Mystique” by Betty Friedan, one wonders, “What if?”

This week’s commemoration of 1963’s March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom should note that on the 50th anniversary of that occasion, one of the most effective demonstrations for human rights in the planet’s history is unfinished.

As the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom is celebrated, Americans increasingly are forced to surrender one of freedom’s most basic rights: the right to their day in court.

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.