Opinions

Wed
07
Apr
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Remote work provides opportunities for rural America

‘Opportunity knocks but once. Taken at the tide, t'will lead to fortune. If denied, t'will never return.’

 

Attributed to William Shakespeare.

 

“In the midst of every crisis lies great opportunity,”  Albert Einstein observed. America and the world have faced the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic crisis for more than a year now. We’ve witnessed incredible loss in lives and devastating financial loss of some.  But out of this crisis also comes opportunity that could finally lead to the resettling of our rural communities.

“Pre-pandemic, Americans were tied to and lived where the jobs were — mainly in big cities. The pandemic and increasing acceptance of remote work is causing people to question why they stay tied to a location where they don’t want to live,” Maria Leonardi writes in her blog La Vita Libera (Live Free.)

Wed
31
Mar
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We Must Be A Welcoming Community To Grow

Column: A Drop of Ink

By Reed Anfinson-Publisher

Afghanistanism.

It’s a term we learned early in our journalism career that meant writing about subjects other than those that were strictly local and important in the lives of your readers. You weren’t supposed to do it unless there was a direct connection – a soldier coming home from war; a student studying aboard.

It was at a time before the internet when metropolitan and regional daily newspapers were strong and widely circulated in rural America. Over the past 20 years, the news environment in which we live has changed dramatically.

Wed
31
Mar
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Rural housing shortage frustrates growth

 

Column: A Drop of Ink

By Reed Anfinson

Publisher

 

Among the most challenging and potentially expensive economic development efforts all rural communities face is providing adequate housing for employees of local businesses and industries.

That problem has worsened dramatically in the past year in many ways due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Historically low mortgage interest rates and the pandemic caused single-family housing starts to increase by 30 percent in 2020 over 2019. However, housing starts have hit a hurdle that not even low-interest rates can deal with easily.

Wed
03
Mar
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State Shouldn’t Tax Funds That Saved Businesses

By Reed Anfinson
Publisher
Swift County Monitor-News

Minnesota received some very good financial news Friday with the new budget forecast. However, over the past several weeks, the news hasn’t been so good for some of the state’s business owners.

Minnesota was expecting to see a significant hit to its revenues due to the COVID-19 pandemic’s severe impact on the state’s businesses. But when the new budget forecast was released Friday, rather than the $1.3 billion deficit that some projected for the next two years, a surplus of $1.6 billion was forecast.

The increase in revenues is due to better than expected tax revenues and lower state costs of operations in some areas during the pandemic. Also, Minnesota avoided the post-holiday surge in COVID-19 cases allowing the gradual reopening of businesses giving the economy a boost.

Wed
24
Feb
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Striving For A More Educated Electorate

By Reed Anfinson
Publisher
Swift County Monitor-News

“We can’t afford to lose this as a teaching moment,” President of the Council on Foreign Relations Richard Haas, who served in the George H.W., Bush Administration, said of the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S Capitol. “Countries need history. We need narratives. We need stories.”

He also said those words in response to a comment made by Pennsylvania’s Washington County Republican Chair Dave Ball who was angered by his U.S. Senator’s vote for impeaching former President Donald Trump. Pat Toomey was one of seven Republican senators who voted in favor of impeachment. The vote was 57 to 43, 10 short of the required 67. Toomey voted for Trump in 2016 and 2020, and voted for his proposals 87 percent of the time.

Wed
17
Feb
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Focus Of Voting Reform Must Be Inclusion

By Reed Anfinson
Publisher
Swift County Monitor-News

“Who are to be the electors of the federal representatives? Not the rich, more than the poor; not the learned, more than the ignorant; not the haughty heirs of distinguished names, more than the humble sons of obscurity and unpropitious fortune. The electors are to be the great body of the people of the United States.”

These words written by founding fathers Alexander Hamilton and James Madison in the Federalist Papers were meant to gain approval of the U.S. Constitution then being debated. We know from our history that we have often failed miserably to live up to these ideals.

Wed
10
Feb
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Take Care In Restricting Emergency Powers

By Reed Anfinson
Publisher
Swift County Monitor-News

As worldwide attention was transfixed by the rapid spread of COVID-19, Minnesota Democratic Gov. Tim Walz weighed the authority vested in him under the state’s Constitution for emergency peacetime action. When those powers were written, they envisioned natural disasters like tornadoes, floods, and forest fires. Would they apply to a disease? The answer would come quickly.

March 6, 2020, the first case of the deadly disease was identified in the state. Seven days later, with 14 confirmed cases, Walz declared a peacetime emergency. March 15 schools were ordered closed to prepare plans for reopening safely. March 16, Walz signed an executive order “requiring the closure of bars, restaurants, and other places of public accommodation.” Over the next week, orders would follow that postponed elective surgeries and for stay-at-home orders.

Wed
03
Feb
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Refusing Vaccine Will Extend Pandemic

By Reed Anfinson
Publisher
Swift County Monitor-News

In an ominous early scene of the movie Jurassic Park, a cow is lowered into the velociraptor pen at the main compound. As it happens, archaeologist Alan Grant asks the game warden about deadly prehistoric predators’ intelligence.

“Do they show intelligence?” Grant asks game warden Robert Muldoon. “Extreme intelligence. Problem-solving intelligence,” he replies. He then goes on to explain how they are continually looking for ways to escape. “They were testing the fences for weakness systematically.”

While the coronavirus doesn’t have the intelligence “to test the fences” of our immune system, it has the sheer numbers to bring them down. Give it a million tries, a billion tries, and one of the hundreds of mutations will “learn” to get around our vaccinated immunity. It will learn to evade the antibodies our own defenses create when we contract the disease.

Wed
27
Jan
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What Biden Should Do For Rural America

By Reed Anfinson
Publisher
Swift County Monitor-News

Three Three law professors who have studied rural issues for years have suggested five initiatives the Biden Administration could take to improve life in our small town and rural communities. They saw their recommendations “would go a long way toward empowering distressed rural communities to improve their destinies, while also helping bridge the urban/rural divide.”

They point out that despite the conservable power rural states have with each having two U.S. Senators, little has been done to turned the tide of economic and population decline.

Here are the recommendations of professors Lisa R. Pruit of California, Jessica A. Shoemaker of Nebraska, and Ann Eisenberg of the South Carolina, with a few edits and observations, to make them more meaningful for rural Minnesota.

 
High-speed internet for everyone

Wed
20
Jan
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Restoring Democracy Through Civic Literacy

By Reed Anfinson
Publisher
Swift County Monitor-News

Many years ago, we were standing by a friend in the church at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter. He was in the college choir and had a beautiful tenor voice. As the congregation began singing a hymn, we remained silent. He turned to us asking, “Why aren’t you singing?” We replied, “You’re so good we would be embarrassed singing next to you.” His reply, “If the only birds that sang in the forest were those that sang best, it would be a quiet place.”

Through the harmony of many voices, America has created a nation that has been the envy of people across the world. In Washington, D.C., Jan. 6, the world saw that already badly frayed harmony shredded.

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