Opinions

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.

Wed
12
Jun
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You Won’t Even Know You Are Being Manipulated

By Reed Anfinson
Publisher, Swift County Monitor-News

Less than two years ago, researchers at the University of Washington used computer technology to produce a fake video of former President Barack Obama giving an address. With a sophisticated program, they had a computer view 17 hours of his speaking on a variety of topics in different places at different times in his presidency. The computer learned how his mouth moved as he spoke the words of a speech.

Those researchers were then able to literally put words in the president’s mouth. They were able to take words Obama had spoken, create a sentence he had never uttered, and have it appear that he was, in fact, delivering a speech with those words coming from his mouth. The effect was so realistic that most people couldn’t tell the video had been fabricated.

Wed
05
Jun
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Bilingual Means A Better Opportunity For Students

By Reed Anfinson
Publisher, Swift County Monitor-News

Among the regrets we have when we travel around America, or to foreign countries, is that we don’t know a second language. We’ve picked up a smattering of words to get by in Spanish, but the ability to converse is far beyond our skills.

In Benson High School, we took a couple years of French, which was followed by three quarters of college French. We still recognize words, but the verbal skills have faded away. It is difficult to maintain knowledge of a language when no one around you speaks it. Inevitably, what was learned fades from disuse.

Wed
29
May
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Facebook And The ‘Poisoning of Information’

 By Reed Anfinson
Publisher, Swift County Monitor-News

“Wherever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government... whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them to rights.”
Thomas Jefferson to Richard Price, 1789

 “(You believe) the fastest way to destroy democracy is to poison the information,” CNN Reliable Sources host said to guest Scott Pelley Sunday morning in an interview. Pelley was the CBS evening news anchor and is a host for the CBS 60 Minutes program. Stelter was interviewing him about his new book, “Truth Worth Telling.”

 “This is the thing that worries me most about our beloved country,” Pelley replied. “We have gone from the information age into the disinformation age….

Wed
22
May
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Listening To Our Youth Could Bring Them Home

By Reed Anfinson
Publisher, Swift County Monitor-News

Too often, we define our efforts to attract people to the community by what we want when we should be defining it by what those we are trying to bring here are seeking.  In looking to fill our needs, we pass by the needs of those we want to keep or have return, to our rural town.

Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Kentucky and many other states with large rural areas are all trying to figure out a way to keep their young people around, as well as for ideas in bringing them home.

A recent study completed in New Hampshire spent 10 years following a group of nearly 900 young people from a small rural county, questioning them through the years about their attitudes toward their hometown. They watched how their answers evolved and at the common threads that ran through their replies.

Wed
15
May
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Rural America Needs Investment To Stop Polarization

By Reed Anfinson
Publisher, Swift County Monitor-News

America is becoming ever more polarized. We see it in the dysfunction in Washington and St. Paul. Moderate elected leaders are rare as the fringes of their parties control elections by dominating candidate selection in primaries while the majority of the electorate sits on the sidelines.

The internet, with is ability to learn what we like and don’t like in the news, feeds us with information that reinforces our prejudices. Rather than a source of trusted news, it is known for spreading rumors and intentionally false and misleading information.

Social media that consumes our online time end up not being very social at all. In fact, they have us in bitter disputes, raging at one another with diminished tolerance for those with differing opinions. Rather than unite us, it divides us.

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