Neil Jenson, Minot
Let me start out by saying that I don't have any animosity against wealthy people. For without those who are willing to take the financial risk, I and millions of other people would not be able to have a job and feed our families, and for that I am thankful.
But it seems to me that after you have accumulated wealth, a disconnect occurs. Mind you, I know a lot of wonderful people who have wealth. But this bond issue really brought the disconnect out.
I watched the commercials saying to vote yes on this measure. I believe that most, if not all the people, in the commercial make more than $50,000 per year. Then they had the one with the little girl pushing the wheelchair for the other girl. That was a nice touch. How do you spell, "Shame us into submission."
Here's the crux of it though. Those little kids have parents who probably make $50,000 and some work two jobs to get that. Here's my math. You have more people making less money then there are wealthy ones. Now when you are making $9 to $15 per hour, that was fine pre-flood and oil boom. We all know what has happened since. Because of everything, taxes at every level have gone up, real estate prices are over inflated (greed) and rents have gone through the roof (greed). When people were getting $9 to $15 per hour pre-flood they were comfortable but money was still tight. Post-flood and post oil boom destroyed all of that. There is no longer disposable income. People who owned their homes before are now swimming in debt. Because of the greed in the rental market the people are being force out. Where do they go? With the bond issue and a $200,000 home would cost another $400-plus. The general population of Minot are the same people who make $9-$15 and their property value within five years went from $85,000 to $200,000. We all know what happens to renters the costs are passed on through non-justified rent increases.
Those who had monies post flood and oil boom are making a ton of money and I applaud them for their foresight. But the rest of us are strapped right now. Those in the valley have been hit extremely hard. Their new debt is extremely high and their wages are still stagnant and taxes ever on the rise. It astounds me that those on the higher end of the food chain say shame on you for voting no.
Yes, we should have new schools, but you cannot expect people who are already pushed to the edge to step off the cliff. Schools in moderation. But to give the school board a $125 million blank check and then to give them a vote to increase their debt limit is just ludicrous.
They also talked about how our kids are suffering. I see laughter and joy on their faces. The ones suffering are the parents. Those with money because they have this idea that this is how the school system should be. Also, at the lower end of the food chain, because they can't afford to pay rent or give their children what they need. Go to the Lord's Cupboard food pantry Monday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Wednesday from 1 to 4 p.m. or Friday from 2 to 5 p.m. You don't have to go in but you will see a line of people in sub-zero weather waiting to get food. This, my friends, is a reality and a direct result of the economic situation in Minot.
Yes, we all would like shiny new schools. The reality is that two years ago we had the worst flood in this town's history. It was devastating on so many levels. Combine that with the oil boom and it has made Minot a very scary place to live if you are working middle class or poor.
Now don't take this the wrong way, but a lot of established businesses and new ones have made a lot of money from the flood and the oil business. There are people in town who are wealthy enough that they could put an addition on a school and name it with their name. Just another way to start something. There is another word called philanthropy. Our schools could use a shot of good old philanthropy. Just imagine what our schools could look like if the wealthy in Minot got together and said, "That is really a novel approach." Food for thought.