The events at Charlottesville are challenging us to take another look at traditional concepts of freedom of speech. As we think about what happened, many questions arise, such as: -Can cities set conditions for free speech rallies, such as where and when they can take place, and whether weapons can be carried?
In my column two weeks ago, I made the case that our nation was in trouble because Congress was not working properly. Though the Constitution is a magnificent achievement produced by the great political leaders of 1787, I argued that there were omissions which are partly responsible for the current dysfunction of Congress. In thinking about what was not working, I concluded that the causes were excessive partisanship and excessive concentration of money and power in a few hands.
Several weeks ago I was on Mike McNamara's radio show (mactalklive.com, 1-3 p.m. on the internet). We got to chatting about how things don't seem to be working very well in America. We speculated that money was distorting politics, that party loyalty was trumping loyalty to country. The result was that gridlock—the refusal to compromise—has held America back for the past decade while other countries have forged ahead.
The Republican health care bill being considered by the Senate is so devastating to millions of people that some Republican senators are reluctant to vote for it. Having heard from the North Dakota medical community how destructive the bill would be to Medicaid recipients and rural hospitals, even John Hoeven, who usually goes along with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, is a provisional No vote. McConnell has threatened that if he can't get 50 Republican votes he may have to let Republicans work with Democrats
It may be time to reevaluate what we mean by "a healthy business climate." Some 35 years ago, economist Arthur Laffer developed the theory that cutting taxes would put more money in the hands of wealthy people who would then invest it and create jobs. The theory was that expanded economic activity would bring in more revenue than the original amount of the tax cut. The theory became known as supply side, or trickle down, economics.
Several weeks ago, the Grand Forks Herald printed remarks on higher education that Gov. Doug Burgum made to the editorial board. The essence of what he had to say was that (a) "knowledge transfer" could take place on-line on any device and (b) that most college students would be better off taking a four-week coding class and going to work for $70,000 rather than getting a four-year degree with liberal arts classes.
On Tuesday, June 20, the people of Grand Forks will vote on whether to preserve Arbor Park or develop the lot for condos and retail space. You can vote at the Alerus Center on the 20th or get an absentee ballot during business hours at the Grand Forks County Courthouse and vote there. The conflict is between two strong visions of the best use of the lot at 115 S. 4th Street.
The official story of North Dakota's 2017 Legislature is that the Republican majority balanced the smaller budget with the least possible harm. It's a great bedtime story. But it isn't true. The harm done by the Legislature can be clearly seen at UND. Small programs phased out, many dozens of faculty pushed out, departments merged, the liberal arts downgraded, women's hockey cut—all resulting from a 20 percent cut in the university-system budget. The damage will take a decade to recover from.
Last Saturday, more than a million Americans participated in the People's Climate Change March in some 300 cities across the United States. With climate change in the news, several local people shared their unscientific observations with me: One friend who has fished the Cass Lake area for 50 years reported that walleyes, a cold water fish, are disappearing and being replaced by bass, a warm water fish. Another friend complained that it's been too warm recently for some Minnesota ski resorts to open on Thanksgiving.
To counter President Trump's preference for fiction over science, patriotic Americans will take to the streets this Saturday, April 22, to celebrate our own Founders' deep commitment to science, in what is being called "The March for Science." In Grand Forks, the march will take the form of a rally in University Park, held between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m., wIth more than 300 people expected. Nationally, it is estimated that millions of people will be in the streets in some 400 cities to speak out about the importance of science and scientists to the nation.