Opinions

Wed
21
Aug
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Pushing Back Against Rural America’s Detractors

By Reed Anfinson
Publisher
Swift County Monitor-News

When you see a headline on a story like, “The Rural America Death Spiral,” it can be dismaying, make your blood boil, and create doubts about our future. Then you have to consider the source. Axios, the publisher of the story, is based in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., about as far removed from the extraordinary diversity of America’s rural landscape as you can get. Still, it stings.

“Many of the nation’s current pathologies are taking a heavy toll on the majority-white population living in rural America, which was severely impacted by the opioid crisis and has dealt with falling populations, job losses, and rising suicide rates,” Stef W. Kight and Juliet Bartz write for the news website Axios.

Wed
14
Aug
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Trust In Short Supply In America

By Reed Anfinson
Publisher
Swift County Monitor-News

 “Trust is an essential elixir for public life and neighborly relations, and when Americans think about trust these days, they worry.” That was key finding in a report written by Lee Rainie, Scott Keeter And Andrew Perrin for the Pew Research Center titled: Trust and Distrust in America.

Trust in our government is a near historic low, Pew’s study says. But that is no surprise when 76 percent of Americans think a low level of trust in the federal government is justified.

We are also less trusting of one another with Americans saying that people just aren’t as reliable as they once were. Pew’s study also found that those who don’t trust other people have less trust in our public institutions.

Thu
08
Aug
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Reaping What You Sow

By Reed Anfinson
Publisher
Swift County Monitor-News

“If I learned anything from 25 years in the F.B.I., including a stint as head of counterintelligence, it was to trust my gut when I see a threat unfolding,” Frank Figliuzzi, a former assistant F.B.I. director for counterintelligence, wrote in a piece published in the New York Times July 31 – four days before the shooting in El Paso.

“Now, instinct and experience tell me we’re headed for trouble in the form of white hate violence stoked by a racially divisive president. I hope I’m wrong.” He wasn’t.

Thu
01
Aug
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Got Milky Way?

By Reed Anfinson
Publisher
Swift County Monitor-News

When you wish upon a star
Makes no difference who you are
Anything your heart desires will come to you
From the Disney Movie ‘Pinocchio’

Meteors flaring across a night sky hold in wondrous delight a child lying on his back in the summer grass. Above is the Big Dipper and Polaris, the North Star, at the end of the handle of the Little Dipper. It’s nearing the middle of August and the Perseid meteor shower is starting to peak with as many as a dozen or more blazing across the backdrop of the Milky Way.

It’s an idyllic scene. Too bad most Americans can’t share it.

Wed
24
Jul
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Clear Strategy Needed To See Rural Minnesota Grow

By Reed Anfinson
Publisher
Swift County Monitor-News

At its meeting last week, Swift County’s commissioners were a couple question every leader in rural America is being asked: What are the most critical strategic challenges the county faces?

Dawn Hegland, executive director of the Upper Minnesota Valley Regional Development Commission, posed the question to our five county commissioners. The RDC serves local units of government in Swift, Chippewa, Yellow Medicine, Lac qui Parle, and Big Stone counties by assisting them with planning and economic development.

“What the RDC board is asking is, what are a couple of strategic issues in the region we can help with?” Hegland requested of commissioners. She told them the RDC was willing to allocate staff time to the priorities they identified.

Wed
17
Jul
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Pledge Debate A Time For Reflection

By Reed Anfinson
Publisher
Swift County Monitor-News

 

Few issues separate people’s core beliefs as to what defines patriotism at a visceral level than the subjects of burning an American flag, not standing for the National Anthem, or a city council deciding to drop the of Allegiance from the start of its meetings.

The St. Louis Park City Council learned this first hand in the past few weeks after considering dropping the Pledge of Allegiance from its meetings. Some citizens were outraged; others shrugged. But fueled by President Trump’s input, the outraged let loose on the council.

Wed
10
Jul
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Reality, Challenge, Set In With Fibrominn Demolition

By Reed Anfinson
Publisher
Swift County Monitor-News

A 12-year-old $230 million energy facility employing more than 40 people and paying $821,000 in real estate taxes to local governments would seem to be an economic plus for a community and have a bright future.

But times change and these days that change can be incredibly rapid. Biomass was the new power source of the future that was going to end U.S. reliance on foreign oil and gas in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Now Fibrominn, which later became Benson Power, is gradually being deconstructed by St. Michael firm Rachel Contracting. A friend told us he had talked with one of the workers who said it was the newest building he had ever torn down. The 55-megawatt power plant fueled by turkey litter and wood chips couldn’t compete on the open energy market.

Wed
03
Jul
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Coastal Media Create False Image Of Rural America

By Reed Anfinson
Publisher, Swift County Monitor-News

Rural America was labeled in the last presidential election as “Trump Country.” With that label came a pack of not-so-flattering characteristics and images applied to rural residents by many in the coastal press elites.

“Trump didn’t create the rural-urban divide…but he successfully exploited it,” Mike Cavender, the executive director of the Radio Television Digital News Association, says of our current president. That exploitation has accelerated the image of a rural-urban divide as the nation’s media avidly covers his rallies focusing on gun rights supporters, anti-immigration posters, combative personalities, and Make America Great Again hat-wearing acolytes.

Wed
26
Jun
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It’s Getting Much Harder To Have A Civil Talk

By Reed Anfinson
Publisher, Swift County Monitor-News

We were once told that you had to get the reader to agree with you three times before he or she would be willing to read the rest of what you had written. You had to create common ground to build mutual respect for a civil conversation. As a country, it appears our common ground is disappearing.

Political conversation in America is becoming more difficult. It doesn’t mater whether that conversation is with friends and family, acquaintances we meet from time to time, or a group of strangers.

Based on a recent survey by the Pew Research Center those conversations are becoming stressful “experiences that they prefer to avoid.” Pew also found that “large majorities say the tone and nature of political debate in the United States has become more negative in recent years – as well as less respectful, less fact-based and less substantive.”

Wed
19
Jun
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Americans Turning Off The News

By Reed Anfinson
Publisher, Swift County Monitor-News

“Who will govern the governors? There is only one force in the nation that can be depended upon to keep the government pure and the governors honest, and that is the people themselves. They alone, if well informed, are capable of preventing the corruption of power, and of restoring the nation to its rightful course if it should go astray. They alone are the safest depository of the ultimate powers of government.

Thomas Jefferson
Third U.S. President

Thomas Jefferson, along with his co-author of the U.S. Constitution James Madison, would be dismayed if they saw the state of citizen participation and interest in their government today. They would be fearful for the future of the Founders’ experiment in self-government.

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