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Uncommon Ground

Uncommon Ground

Gender Profiling

For nearly three decades Montana has banned the practice of basing insurance premiums upon a person’s gender. Last year, a new brand of lawmaker nearly repealed Montana’s unisex insurance laws. Unisex laws are gender-blind. In 2005, Senate Bill 351 by Duane Grimes, R-Clancy, was tabled by a Democratic-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee. In 2008, when running […]

By Mike Jopek
Uncommon Ground

Tax Freedom

The conservative Tax Foundation is a Washington, D.C. based think tank with a long history of publishing research studies and comparing state tax policy. The foundation receives funding from big corporations and far-right political groups. Tax Freedom Day is the foundation’s point of the year when Americans have earned enough money to pay for taxes. […]

By Mike Jopek
Uncommon Ground

Obamacare Mimics Romneycare

In the next couple of years, middle-class Montanans are eligible for a sizable tax credit from the Affordable Care Act. It is refundable so taxpayers who have little income tax liability can still fully benefit. The credit can be paid in advance to a taxpayer’s insurance company to help cover the cost of premiums. All […]

By Mike Jopek
Uncommon Ground

Out of Touch

Title X is the federal grant program that provides comprehensive family planning and other health-related services to people. Two-thirds of the patients live in poverty and have no health insurance. In 1969, President Richard Nixon said, “It is my view that no American woman should be denied access to family planning assistance because of her […]

By Mike Jopek
Uncommon Ground

Serving Montana

President Franklin Roosevelt created the Civilian Conservation Corps for millions of youth to serve and restore America’s parks and stabilize the economy. The Going-to-the Sun Road could not have been built without the CCC. CCC served in Glacier National Park and Yellowstone National Park. From reforestation to campground development to trail building to fire hazard […]

By Mike Jopek
Uncommon Ground

Farm Bill for Eaters

Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow from Michigan announced that the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry will begin public policy hearings on the next Farm Bill. Luckily for Montana, Sen. Max Baucus sits on this committee that encourages farms to produce good food. Montana ranks fifth in the nation for producing wheat. Counties like Chouteau and Hill […]

By Mike Jopek
Uncommon Ground

Whitefish’s Economic Engine

During the past decade, the tri-cities of Flathead County were the fastest growing places in Montana. Propelled by record growth, property valuations skyrocketed. The 2009 worldwide credit-fiasco depressed the valley leaving middle class prospects dismal. Three years later, Whitefish is trudging back. Median home values again hover around late 2009 levels, which ballparks the pre-bubble […]

By Mike Jopek
Uncommon Ground

Montana’s Political Courage

In one of the first initiatives Montana voters passed, the 100-year-old Corrupt Practices Act prohibits direct corporate campaign contributions. Montana’s state and local elections are still transparent by mandated disclosure laws. The U.S. Constitution never gave person-rights to corporations. The activist U.S. Supreme Court reopened those floodgates with Citizens United. Justice John Paul Stevens said […]

By Mike Jopek
Uncommon Ground

Food Fight

Most in Congress ignore the growing hunger for better food. Today a budding constituency is fed up with the quality of our school lunches and the laboratory modifications made to real food. Food has become a social movement. It makes sense: people make eating decisions three times a day. And eaters do not like all […]

By Mike Jopek
Uncommon Ground

New Year’s Miracle

Christmas season offers joy, a time to reflect on our lives, and a resolve for the New Year. To people worldwide Christmas miracles are everyday possibilities. Miracles grow from natural dirt. Dr. Terry Wahls is a professor of medicine in Iowa. She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis a decade ago, for which there is no […]

By Mike Jopek
Uncommon Ground

Real Politics

Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer is nationally recognized for his plain talk and good ideas. The Democrat selected a Republican running mate by allowing Montanans to mail in their nominees. He used the same strategy to trim the state budget and to select the design for the state quarter. Schweitzer is frugal with the Montana budget, […]

By Mike Jopek
Uncommon Ground

Something has Changed

It was the conviction for social justice that drew former Philadelphia Police Captain Ray Lewis to Wall Street to join activists at the Occupy movement. Lewis was arrested by New York police as protests entered their third month. “The fact that they were not doing this for themselves; they were doing this for all people […]

By Mike Jopek
Uncommon Ground

Political Capital

Leftist journalist Naomi Klein wrote the books “No Logo” and “The Shock Doctrine.” The social activist spoke at the Occupy Wall Street movement indicating that they can fulfill on the promises of the 1999 global trade action in Seattle. That was the last time a global and youth-led movement took aim at corporate power. Asked […]

By Mike Jopek
Uncommon Ground

The Ballot Box is Open

Middle America knows it is getting squeezed. A decade after the 1999 repeal of the Glass-Stegall Act, greedy Wall Street firms made too many irresponsible bets that collapsed the housing market, sending unemployment skyrocketing. Plenty of politicians insist that government should not create jobs by spending public money to fix bridges, hire teachers, rebuild roads, […]

By Mike Jopek
Uncommon Ground

Flathead: Worth Saving

Hey townies, please vote for a change. Municipal turnout is typically very low with most locals not voting. But local races offer townies a big vote on the type of community they want fostered. When it all boils down, the deciding factor for most votes is still trust. Who do you trust as advocates for […]

By Mike Jopek

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