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Open Forum: Our war budget must be trimmed

The dictator of Libya is holed up in Tripoli. “From the Halls of Montezuma to these Shores of Tripoli.” Our Marines have fought gallantly for centuries. Today’s news reports that tanks are circling Gadhafi’s hideout. Earlier we learned that armed Libyan helicopters and fighter aircraft were firing on protesters in the streets.

Since the United States has been the world’s largest manufacturer and exporter of weapons for decades, it is no surprise when we learn that overseas tanks, aircraft, bombs, bullets, and even tear gas canisters are made in the USA.

The American gunman in Pakistan who killed two alleged assailants on the street turns out to have been a former employee of Blackwater and currently is working under contract for the CIA, in “protection.”  He has diplomatic immunity according to our government. It says so on his passport. We also heard reports that more than one passport was on his person. Is “Mr. Phelps” on a Mission Impossible?

Should you choose to believe our story, there still remains this question for America in the 21st Century: “When will we learn to live in this world as force for justice, equality, and peace, without war?”

It is time to disarm ourselves of the unnecessary 20th Century weapons for wars we will never fight again. It is time to stop building a military global empire with American weapons assistance and military training of foreign personnel.

Our trillion dollar annual war budget must be trimmed, if we are to afford a decent society within our own borders. A society with justice and liberty for all Americans. 

Gordon Prickett


Public workers are scapegoats

The political right’s unconscionable demonization of public workers is doing  what they intend. The corporate giants and their right wing cronies want to  turn the middle class against itself. They want division; union vs. non-union  workers, public vs private employees, all the while powerful corporate  interests keep getting richer and share non of the sacrifice. Public employees are being blamed by the right for a financial crisis created by corporate special interest that defied and still defy regulation and accountability. Public employees did not create this mess but they are being  scapegoated by powerful corporate interests. Americans for Prosperity, the group lobbying for passage of the union-killing bill is funded primarily by Koch Industry money.  Corporate America would like nothing better than to destroy the only safety net for workers; their unions. That is what this fight is all about. Public employees have become the scapegoat for the financial woes of state governments across America. They do not deserve this treatment. We do not deserve this deceptive behavior of our elected  officials.

Marian Severt


The moment of truth

The guest column in the Feb. 22nd Dispatch written by Bill Sanford, general manager of Lakeland Public Television, outlines genuine and valid reasons for continued federal funding of Public Radio and Television. I watch Public TV from time to time and the programs are interesting and informative.

In the whole mix of things that the federal government does, there are many good and valid programs. At some time in the past, Congress has passed laws that allowed each and every program to come in to existence.  Then money has been appropriated to fund the programs. 

The end result is that we have an over-extended budget and, while each manager, like Mr. Sanford, puts up a good defense of their particular program, we as a nation, have to decide when enough is enough. Instead of saying that we can’t afford all the goodies we have repeatedly borrowed money to pay for them. Seems like the moment of truth is upon us. It is time that we put things in perspective and own up to the fact that we must make cuts or drastically raise taxes. 

When we think about it, there is really no reason why the federal government should be in the radio or television business. Since it is a choice of raising taxes, or eliminating funding for public TV and radio, the choice should come down on the side of not raising taxes.  

Chuck Hagberg


A radical minority is in charge

A radical minority has seized control of this country and is undoing what is left of any safeguards and programs that help the ordinary citizen survive against huge financial institutions and corporations.

The cells and cadres of this radical minority have been quietly at work for a long time but have grown markedly stronger in the last four decades. As the enemy within has infiltrated the government, they have slowly reduced oversight, regulation and accountability within the society, freeing the rich and powerful to control and corrupt democratic institutions and weaken citizen control.

They have changed the tax structure from progressive to regressive ... the more you make the lower your effective tax rate becomes. The tax burden shifted from those with the most to those with the least.

They have gambled away our futures with their get-rich-quick schemes and destroyed the economy in the process, only to be rewarded by being refunded by taxpayers and receiving new safeguards against future losses. They have financed it by cutting jobs, lowering wages, raiding pensions, slashing home equity, foreclosing on homes and cutting services.  All to keep the rich from having to pay their share of the upkeep on a society that has rewarded them so well.

You cannot sustain even a semblance of democracy when the rich take most of the wealth generated by the hard work of the citizens and then refuse to participate in keeping that society viable. No democracy has ever existed with this kind of income gap, and it is not surviving here.

This radical minority wants to take us back to the corrupt period of robber barons and Daddy Warbucks, now adding the new dimension of Big Brother surveillance to control the people.

Perhaps the time has come to stand up and say “Enough.”

Bob Passi


Planners’ decision disappointing

I am disappointed by the County Planning Commission’s decision to press new ordinance changes further.

Their meeting was packed with people, the majority speaking in opposition.

Forget the fact that this was done in the dead of winter when seasonal property owners were not present. Forget the fact that the basic assumptions and data driving the changes were fundamentally flawed. Forget that the county did not do it’s homework to investigate costs or prove any tangible benefit. 

The Land Services Department and Planning Commission  were determined to make these changes. Period.

“Clean water” like the phrase “for our children,”  has become the mantra of bigger government supporters. And they are not above deception to get what they want.

So, the experts rolled out their presentations, and that was that.

One of the most distressing and shameless moments came when the DNR consultant attempted to draw a moral equivalency between those opposing the change to drunken drivers, “who killed thousands of people” before the government stepped in and showed us what was best for us.

Remember, these are the same “experts” who would have us believe that the more we spend, the richer we’ll become, and the more we extend unemployment, the faster the economy will recover.

Impervious surfaces? The commissioners ignored the fact that the entire county is “impervious” 50 percent of the year. We call it winter. The earth is frozen. Two university studies showed that more than 75 percent of unwanted runoff pollution occurs when the ground is frozen. But who needs facts when you have experts?

When we see no impact other than the loss of property rights, where will these experts be? And then what new ordinances will they dream up to blame things on in their quest to control other people’s  lives?

Tony Bauer


And they call us greedy

While giving a speech former Sen. Alan Simpson called seniors the greediest generation.

Though he spoke the words, the rest of these 535 self-proclaimed “public servants,” that we elected to represent us, are equally guilty. They sat there on their self satisfied, spineless posteriors and not one corrected him. What the good senator did not mention is that most of the seniors currently drawing Social Security spent 45 to 50 years of their working life paying federally mandated FICA to prepay our pension. We paid this under federal law, and have a right to expect what the government promised us. The penalty for not paying this tax was, and is, arrest, fine and/or imprisonment.

Now to qualify for their pension all these 535 worthies have to do is get elected and sworn in. That’s it, they are set for life. When the rest of their cohorts vote themselves a raise all of the retired ones get that also. They contribute not one cent to this pension, they just vote it in for themselves out of our tax money.

They say that Social Security is in danger of going broke; well I have a solution for that. All they have to do is return the money that the Democrats stole from our, up until then “dedicated” fund, to pay for Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society.

And they call us greedy. Thank you.

Clyde DeBolt


Becca Clemens
After graduating high school in 2004, I attended Central Lakes College in Staples, MN for 2 years where I got a diploma in Communication Art and Design. I then transfered up to Bemidji State University in, you guessed it, Bemidji, MN. In the spring of 2009, I graduated from BSU. Then in the fall of 2009 I got a job at Echo Publishing, a sister company to the Brainerd Dispatch.