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.

Work Remains for the Feminist Revolution

Mar 4, 2013
Rich Egger

“The Feminine Mystique,” by Betty Friedan, was published 50 years ago last month.

Rich Egger

(Editor’s note: due to a technical glitch with this week’s recording, we are presenting an encore presentation of an earlier commentary by Bill Knight)

The recent release of a government report regarding the numbers and percentages of U.S. employees belonging to unions or working where unions represent them made headlines but most newscasts or stories lacked context. It’s an occasion for a statistical “status report.”

The percentage of the U.S. labor force belonging to unions fell 0.5% from 2011 to 2012, according to the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The drop went from 11.8% to 11.3% – from 14.8 million to 14.4 million Americans.

Guns, Words, and Ideas

Feb 18, 2013
Rich Egger

We are engaged in a debate over guns and gun control. Some of the voices that we can hear, are telling us that the government wants to take away all of their guns, while others tell us that they need their guns to protect their families from the eventuality of a government that has gone mad, and wants to take away their freedom. These voices are passionate about their guns and maintaining the right to own and to use them.

On this Valentine’s Day – still celebrated in some churches as a Feast day – it might be instructive, or reflective, to tie romantic love to brotherly love. In public affairs, that’s difficult.

Ninety-two years ago this week, the author of “The Feminine Mystique” and cofounder of the National Organization for Women, Betty Friedan, was born in Peoria. Decades later, working women are more financially vital than ever to families, but they continue to struggle at inferior wages, and single moms are especially hard hit, according to two recent studies.

U.S. households increasingly depend on wives’ income – at the highest level of reliance in years, according to research from the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire.

When the movie “Promised Land” came out this month, one was tempted to repeat the tagline from 1972’s horror flick “The Last House on the Left”: “It’s only a movie... It’s only a movie...”

But … it’s worse. People on both sides of the fracking debate cringe at “Promised Land,” the Matt Damon drama about fracking advocates trying to get a depressed rural area to sign over drilling rights. Fracking supporters say the film’s unfair; fracking opponents say it doesn’t go far enough.

Fighting the Flu with More Than Vaccines

Jan 28, 2013
Rich Egger

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past month, you are probably aware of the flu outbreak in the United States. Schools, offices and hospitals are all feeling the effects of the scourge. I know this well, as I work in a hospital which has been full for weeks. Even the nurses are calling in sick in record numbers.

The Servant Economy

Jan 23, 2013

When President Obama delivers his 2013 State of the Union address, remember a comment he made at last year’s State of the Union speech: "Our workers are the most productive on Earth, and if the playing field is level, I promise you: America will always win.”

Illinois has one of the strongest laws in the country with its Wage Payment and Collection Act, which helps workers recover pay withheld from them in so-called wage theft cases and discourages employers from breaking the law. The wage-theft law lets current or former employees file claims against employers for disputes ranging from a last paycheck, earned bonuses or commissions to illegal deductions or lack of compensation for required work.

Rich Egger

The Macomb Community Unit School District 185 Board of Education recognizes there is no current issue in the State of Illinois that has greater impact on all citizens than pension reform legislation. The topic of pension reform reaches all counties in our state and will ultimately impact each and every citizen. Therefore, we believe it is important for us as citizen leaders to participate in this debate and work towards a reasonable solution.

Most working people routinely tip servers at sit-down restaurants, but after considering a recent list of the dozen U.S. companies that pay employees the least, consumers may want to start tipping fast-food workers and clerks at familiar department stores, too.

Maturity and Gun Laws

Jan 2, 2013

A New Year’s letter to my son –

Dear Russell:

When I started writing these annual notes to you in 1994, I imagined your maturing into a young man, but I never imagined a lost opportunity to mature, like at Newtown, Conn. I can’t imagine if you’d had to grow up without your pals from sports or Scouts, without Matt, Cole, Joe, Dax, Nate, Nick …

Illinois’ pension-reform issue seemed to make some progress this month, but labor and legislators still question the latest, bipartisan proposal addressing the state’s $95 billion pension problem, and as of press time the state’s We Are One coalition still plans a rally at the Illinois Statehouse on Thursday and Friday, Jan. 3-4.

Eighteen lawmakers appeared with HB 6258 Democratic co-sponsors Elaine Nekritz of Des Plaines and Daniel Biss of Skokie at the measure’s introduction Dec. 5.

All the yakking about a fiscal cliff seems to fall somewhere between mistaken Mayan prophecies about Doomsday and hypersonic skydiving from space.

The lame-duck 112th Congress – hamstrung by Tea Party Republicans in the House and filibuster-happy Republicans in the Senate – is proposing to Democratic President Barack Obama that Social Security, Medicare and other social services be cut. Meanwhile, the Economic Policy Institute has released a report with a solution: Cut the deficit by growing the economy.