Letters to the Editor

Dear Senator Daines

Dear Editor,
I urge you to not support the House Republican’s disastrous plan to deny health care to millions of self-employed people like me. It is a total and bald face lie that the Affordable Health Care Act (“Obamacare”) does not work. I have purchased health insurance through the Montana Exchange for four years and prices have not increased.
Why the House Republicans want to force millions of self-employed Americans like me back into the pre-Obamacare, non-insured system is beyond me. In that so-called “free market system,” millions of people’s only access to health care was through the hospital emergency rooms, the most expensive and least effective place to provide care.
I have a private mental health counseling practice. Because Obamacare insurance covers mental and psychiatric counseling, tens of thousands of Montanans have the opportunity for consistent mental health services for the first time ever. The magnitude of the need is tremendous. Too many critically mentally ill people live homeless on the streets, jails are overfull of people whose only crime is mental illness, hospitals cannot cope with the numbers of people in crisis, there is a critical shortage of psychiatrists in Montana, and countless others with less severe conditions suffer silently and alone at home.
Access to affordable health insurance is the only logical way to provide the critically needed mental health services. The House Republican plan guts mental health coverage that will result in fewer mental health services and more mental illness. Why that should be good for our communities and the people whom you have sworn to serve, is beyond me. I urge you to reject the House Republican plan to destroy our – for the first time ever – functional and affordable health insurance system.
Nona Stockton, LCPC
Grass Range

Turn on the lights
of Main Street; buy local

Dear Editor,
On a fairly popular social media site, I’ve seen recently many photos posted of what Main Street looked like in the first half of the last century. While I wouldn’t exactly embrace a return to much of the attitudes of that time, I like a lot of what it had to offer.
If I had a zillion dollars, I’d go back in time and buy all those incredible old neon signs that lined Main Street and re-install them on the increasingly empty store fronts up and down that once-vibrant business district. There might still be emptiness behind the doors, but at least downtown would look really great again.
It’s good to read, though, that there are some businesses attempting to begin and grow in Lewistown. A dubious thanks not withstanding to Amazon, Costco, Home Depot and other big-box stores in bigger towns in Montana, Main Street in Lewistown will never be the same as it was until the 90s, but evolution of all things is possible. Many smaller towns have re-invented themselves and are the butterflies of their former caterpillar selves: Bigfork, Red Lodge, Boulder (Colo.), Leavenworth (Wash.), Ashland (Ore.) and other smaller towns in the Pacific northwest and Rocky Mountain inland empire have all made names for themselves and show only positive signs of growth in both population and businesses.
Only two things are really necessary: a good product or service and a public willing to explore them. Giving people a good reason to stay and shop locally is not the challenge; it’s creating a viable business plan, and then solid communication with the financial team in the banks and credit unions in Lewistown that will bring an interesting idea into ideal enterprise.
A dollar spent in Lewistown instead of Billings, Great Falls or anywhere else in the world (again, Amazon) not only buys one what is necessary, it feeds, clothes and mortgages the home of another person who lives there. We are all in this together, and we help each other out; sometimes that’s as simple as buying that rake or shovel, microwave oven or car, dress or suit, in 59457 instead of 59401.
I live in Seattle now, but I’ve often told the owner of the company I work for, whom is planning expansion: Move some of this operation to Lewistown. I’ll move along with it. I know there’s a citizenry of good workers in Lewistown, and services there that would support them. I wish she would. Maybe I just need to take her on a road trip into Fergus county and cruise from the top of Main Street to the Dash-Inn. That’s all it takes for me to fall in love again with Lewistown, each time I return.
Please, buy locally and speak well of the experience to everyone you know. Together, you can turn a cute caterpillar into a beautiful butterfly, and it’ll begin with spending your money in Lewistown. Cool, old neon lights on the outside of Main Street buildings or not, we can turn the lights on inside – and keep them on. It begins with a road trip, right into downtown Lewistown.
Jeph Fleharty
Seattle, Wash. (formerly of Lewistown)

Montana’s waterways
need our protection

Dear Editor,
I am grateful to Senator Tester’s recent vote in favor of the Stream Protection Rule, a law that protects clean water in our nation and has profound implications for Montana’s farming, ranching and recreational industries. Without this protection in place, Montana’s waterways are rendered defenseless against pollution discharges that bring insidious and ubiquitous harm to them.
I grew up on a family farm in Montana, a farm that remains in our family today. We enjoyed, and still enjoy, the privilege of having ready access to clean water for consumption, irrigation, and recreation. Senator Tester had the courage and conviction to support the Stream Protection Rule in the Senate, proving again that he is a friend to agriculture and that he has all Montanans’ best interests at heart.
Unfortunately, Senator Daines – by way of the questionable Congressional Review Act – chose to align himself with the polluters, abandoning the safety, health and employment opportunities of future generation Montanans. As Steve Daines has, no doubt, visited small family farms across Montana, I wonder if he has paid attention to those whose ancestors worked there; whose children and grandchildren hope to continue working the land with unpolluted waters and healthy families. I wonder whom Senator Daines is referring to when he says that he represents all Montanans.
Peggy Barta
Billings

Our tax dollars
could be better spent

Dear Editor,
My gas-powered equipment (snowplow, Ford 8N, baler, rake, wood-splitter, roto-tiller, lawnmower, chainsaw and weed-eater) has never seen the black top.
They have dyed diesel for off road use only. But they tax gas equally for off-road or highway use. Unjust enrichment for the government.
If they spent our tax money without so much waste, they would not even need to raise our gas tax. We choose to grow our own food and heat with wood, so you will unfairly and disproportionately raise the price of our food and heat.
If the government quit spending billions on government subcontractors to ship people here from foreign lands, or testing to see if shrimp can walk on treadmills, our tax dollars could be better spent. There is enough waste in the 2016 Congressional Pig Book/Pork Barrel Spending list that we the U.S. citizens/tax payers could have the world’s best health care, almost as good as the corrupt few in Washington, D.C.
Just an idea; let’s all vote on their health care?
Don’t take the smaller farmer off his land.
Joe and Barb Stoltz
Heath, Montana

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