This is in response to two letters in the Oct. 9 Minot Daily News. One referred indirectly and the other referred directly to columns of mine.
Richard Birdsall wrote of a recent traffic fatality due in large part to the high speed limit and inadequate warning lights and signs on U.S. Highway 2 west of Minot.
Some years back in the Bismarck Tribune and more recently in The Minot Daily News, I expressed concern about high speed limits on state highways, particularly 70 MPH on four-lane non-freeways, like 83 and 2.
One halfway plausible reason given for these speeds was the light traffic in North Dakota. This reason obviously no longer applies on Highway 2 between Minot and the oil fields.
As I asked in previous columns, what's the big hurry in an area of heavy traffic where a large vehicle may be stopped right on the highway? Actual freeways are designed to prevent such collisions.
Maybe the fatality and Mr. Birdsall's letter will move the DOT to lower the speed limit and increase warnings at dangerous spots.
Jeff Fox wrote in response to my October 2 column on "class warfare." He overlooked my main points to make his own main points. It was the all too typical case of different perspectives passing each other in opposite directions without recognizing any points of agreement.
It's probably futile to attempt some coming together, but here goes. Fox and I do agree that job creation is a major task to be undertaken. He suggests trimming and cutting entitlement programs as a way getting people back in the workforce.
A problem with this, though, is that we've already made significant cuts over the years in funding for public colleges and for student aid. Now it's no longer financially possible for almost anyone to attend a state school. As a result, our population is increasingly under-educated and under-qualified for today's higher tech jobs.
In contrast, an example from the olden days: When I went off to college in 1958, it was possible to work your way through school, graduate in five years and, with no financial help from parents, have a total student loan bill of $300.
Now the average number of years to get a degree is six and the student loan bill is in the many thousands, often for both the student and the student's parents. And it's gotten worse since our daughters graduated from school.
And we should make this even worse with more cuts?
A main point in my last column was how the Greatest Generation gave rather than accumulated. Their wealthiest paid very high taxes for an investment in the common good which included the GI Bill that sent millions of veterans to college free, covering their tuition and room and board. This created millions of educated persons ready to step into the workforce.
Yet some no longer see investment in people as worthwhile. They seem alright with more and more money piling up in Wall Street where it has created no jobs, even with two big bailouts, one from Bush and one from Obama. At least Detroit has created jobs with their bailouts, getting our auto industry back on its wheels.
Cutting investments in people does not create jobs. The Greatest Generation has shown us that investing in people does. By doing so, they gave us the middle class we are now squandering.
Yet some want to ignore this, ignore a generation whose wealthiest paid taxes at 90 percent for twenty years, for the common good. In this time of gouging, on Wall Street and even in Minot, it's hard for us to admit this reality or even to imagine it.
The Greatest Generation weren't saints, but they did allow morality and concern for the common good into their fiscal policies. It helped that they didn't have a Supreme Court who decreed that corporations are persons and money is speech.
(James Lein is a community columnist for The Minot Daily News)