Uncommon Ground

Uncommon Ground

Congress on Recess

After crafting a lackluster compromise to retire national debt obligations, Congress is on recess. Lawmakers will return to Washington in September for another couple weeks of work. But if the 1st Session is any indication of accomplishments, the public should not expect much help from the 112th Congress. Americans are hungry for work and better […]

By Mike Jopek
Uncommon Ground

GOP Seal of Approval

The debt reduction compromise puts a balanced budget Constitutional amendment to a full Congressional vote this year. Montana would ratify the leftover idea from the “Contract with America.” A balanced budget has plenty of populist appeal. “That is not fair to the American people to hold out and say we won’t agree to raising the […]

By Mike Jopek
Uncommon Ground

Do Something Congress

In politics the Senate acts more civil than the House. Both chambers are needed since compromise moves the nation forward. Lawmaking is an ugly and painful process to watch, but it works. Though distasteful to party bases, compromise does advance the people’s interest. The lack of progress in 2011 Congress is stifling to the small […]

By Mike Jopek
Uncommon Ground

Compromising Debt

As President Barack Obama was sworn into office, America had an annual unbalanced budget deficit of $1.3 trillion. This was the result of previous years when Congress did not pay its way, including a Wall Street bailout. America has never been out of debt, except once. Former President Andrew Jackson holds the honor for detesting […]

By Mike Jopek
Uncommon Ground

Social Security Solvency

Joseph Dixon was the seventh governor of Montana. In 1923 the Republican enacted the nation’s first old-age pension program. Twelve years after Montana passed a safety net for seniors, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Social Security into law as part of the New Deal. Even as we face $14 trillion in national debt, Social Security […]

By Mike Jopek
Uncommon Ground

Personal Responsibility Principle

In February 2008, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney carried Flathead County and won Montana’s GOP caucus, earning all 25 of the state’s delegates to the Republican National Convention. Former Secretary of State Brad Johnson was part of the Romney team and said, “Governor Romney has the right values and priorities for voters not only in […]

By Mike Jopek
Uncommon Ground

Betting on Food

Last year was a bumper crop in commodities like wheat, corn, soy and rice. Production was up, demand stable, but food prices still skyrocketed. Early this year, governments across the world began stockpiling food staples in an attempt to contain panic buying and social unrest. Algeria bought nearly a million tons of wheat while Saudi […]

By Mike Jopek
Uncommon Ground

Founding Farmers

More than 200 years ago, the political convictions of our founding politicians were based in agriculture. Not only did former Presidents George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison all believe that farming was a noble occupation, they were also avid food growers. The first presidents helped craft a nation of laws but were […]

By Mike Jopek
Uncommon Ground

Ending Medicare

What Congress chooses to debate sets a political tone for the nation. Today, elder statesmen must speak to middle class values if people hope to protect programs like Medicare from the U.S. House. President Lyndon B. Johnson’s single-payer health care insurance plan provides health care coverage for people over 65, nearly 50 million seniors, including […]

By Mike Jopek
Uncommon Ground

Legislative Recess

Politics today is more about ideology than hometown representation. A legislator blindly following party bosses and not listening to constituents is wrongheaded and indicates that the middle is losing ground. The budget debates in the Montana Legislature and the U.S. Congress have been transformed into social engineering classrooms. In Helena and Washington D.C., the new […]

By Mike Jopek
Uncommon Ground

Forgotten Homeowners

The days following the 2009 Legislature, editorials noted the failure to reform homeowner property taxes. The observations were spot-on, judging by the homeowner outcry. But anyone paying attention could see it coming. Property taxes are directly tied to the free market growth of a locality. And the Flathead’s market was hopping for much of the […]

By Mike Jopek
Uncommon Ground

Failed Rhetoric

It becomes more and more apparent that corporate politicians are doing the bidding for multinational corporations. Our political landscape has drastically changed, with middle class workers left on the sidelines. The debate appears less about Democrats versus Republicans, though there are plenty of glaring differences between the parties. Today’s debate is historically reflective of middle […]

By Mike Jopek
Uncommon Ground

Economics of Food and Farm

You can smell the scent of spring in the air, see it in the yellowing willow, and hear it in the chirping birds. Spring signals a turning point in life and growth of all things renewed. The produce at the local grocer suddenly looks smaller. This is an indication that newer crops are being planted […]

By Mike Jopek
Uncommon Ground

Halftime Shows Leadership Void

“Theatre of the Absurd” was coined by Martin Esslin to express senselessness and the inadequacy of any rational approach by the abandonment of sensible policies and discursive thought. Politics has long been viewed as a mix of comic and tragic theater, with public debate seldom moving a vote. If the first half of the 2011 […]

By Mike Jopek
Uncommon Ground

Montana’s Positive Returns

“We conclude first and foremost that this crisis was avoidable,” said Phil Angelides, chairman of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC). In last month’s report the FCIC said the financial crisis that spread to Montana could have been avoided. The FCIC contends that the causes of the crisis lay with the federal authorities, under presidents […]

By Mike Jopek

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