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From the Bozeman Daily Comical comes this story about snowmobiles in Yellowstone/Grand Teton Parks.

The Clinton administration had instituted an outright ban of snowmobiles, which has been somewhat reversed by the Bush administration.

The Clintonistas caved to the environmentalist lobby without so much as a whimper (surprise!). There were, of course, the requisite public meetings, where people could give their opinion before the government did what it was going to do anyway.

Fortunately, this was done in the twelfth hour of the administration, so it wasn’t in effect very long before it was vacated.

In the Clintonistas decision-making process, it was never considered that banning snowmobiles would effectively wipe West Yellowstone off the map. Of course, after witnessing this and the suckerfish debacle in Oregon, we know that this was pretty much SOP for that administration. Environment over people, even when the actual science doesn’t bear it out.

I’ve had the good fortune to take a snowmobile trip through Yellowstone. It was magnificent. There are few sights to rival Old Faithful in the wintertime. Everyone should go see it.

I would suggest doing it in the next year or two, before you have to be “certified” to do it.

Note the $2.5 million price tag attached to the whole project. We’re from the government, and we’re here to help!

No one seems very happy about the plan, so maybe that means it’s the right one.

Bin Laden Alive?

If this is true, you can almost hear the wailing and gnashing of teeth from the liberals. “Failure! Doom! The war on Terror has failed.”

So what if we haven’t gotten him yet? We are slowly, but most certainly, taking out the infrastructure that supports him.

Once Iraq falls, we can concentrate on putting a choke hold on the House of Saud, and put an end to Wahabism once and for all.

How many strikes before you’re out?

The teachers strike >continues here in Billings.

Everytime I think about it, my blood pressure starts rising, so I try not to think about it. But, you can’t hardly turn around without it smacking you in the face.

On the opinion page of todays Guess-At-It, there is a letter from a 31-year teacher who only makes $45,000, which he snidely refers to as a “princely salary.”

In Billings, 45 grand ain’t bad wages. I can sympathize with the fact that it may seem paltry after putting in 31 years, but I’ve said it before: You don’t go into teaching to get rich. I can’t think of anything I’ve ever seen that remotely suggests that teaching is the way to wealth and glory. To be a teacher, you have to love what you are doing.

He goes on to complain about his retirement plan, and that he will only be receiving half his current wages. Wow, that’s too bad. I’ll bet the folks who aren’t even offered a retirement plan feel just awful about that.

Don’t get me wrong, many of the greatest people I know are or were teachers. The points he makes in his letter are valid. When my wife taught, we figured out that, when everything was said and done, she probably made $3.75/hour. It was worth a chuckle, but we also knew that it wouldn’t get much better.

If you want to complain about the hours you work, and the pay you get — you can get another job. We had a fantastic math teacher in high school who routinely turned down better offers. He kept at it because he loved what he was doing. He was the first teacher in the building in the morning, and the last one to leave. He and his wife attended almost every extra-curricular event where his students were involved. He never complained.

There is a sentence in there that is a little telling, though:

And I am ecstatic that we have teachers who will prepare children to be productive, tax-paying citizens.(emphasis mine.)

Interesting that he should mention “tax-paying” here. He also admits that he doesn’t whine about the taxes he pays. I’m only guessing that he equates productivity to paying taxes.

One thing that isn’t mentioned in the letter, either, is that he is making $45,000 for only 9 months of work. Granted, a lot gets crammed into that 9 months, but it’s still only 9 months.

I have to mention his gripe about insurance. I wonder if he’s been out in the private sector lately. Insurance plans suck, and they are getting worse every year — across the board. It’s not unique to the public sector. In my circle, I don’t know of anyone whose retirement plan (if they have one) includes insurance.

There’s a little fact that seems to be buried underneath the noise: last year, the school board closed 3 schools in a cost-cutting measure, yet I am somehow paying $100 more on my property taxes this year — most of it for the School District. It’s been proven ad infinitum: you can’t fix something by throwing more money at it. Yet, that’s what they are trying to do.

The school board doesn’t get a free pass, either. I’m curious as to the reticence of some of the board members, and why requests for meetings are going unanswered. The district doesn’t have a stellar record of money management in the past few years, having squandered $2 million by missing a filing deadline last year.

Still, that doesn’t excuse the teachers. If you’re in it for the kids, then you should be in the classroom. If you’re worried about substitutes taking your job, get back in the classroom where they can’t have it. If you don’t want the subs to be making that money, go back in and make it yourself. It’s that simple.

I can only hope that this will wake some people up to the necessity of school choice.

I shouldn’t have written that last sentence. My blood pressure is rising again…

Our Tax Dollars (not) At Work

There are few things that get under my skin more than a teacher’s strike.

“If the board would give me $1.2 million, I could probably get a deal,” he [mediator Paul Melvin] said.

Read that sentence again. “If the board would give me $1.2 million, I could probably get a deal. (emphasis added)”

Here’s the thing. The board doesn’t have the money to “give.” It’s the taxpayers’ money, and there’s only a finite amount of it. If you put $1.2 million into insurance, you have to take $1.2 million out of something else. Where should that come from? Teacher salaries? Building funds? Maintenance? The best place to get the money would be out of administration, but the odds of that happening fall somewhere between none and zero.

The teachers claim that they’d much rather be teaching. Well, then, why don’t you keep teaching while this gets ironed out? It’s not as if you can’t keep the issue at the fore. From the article: ‘The teachers said they were thankful the schools were closed. “It would be awfully tough to see the kids,” said government teacher and picket captain Bob Staley.’ In other words, it’s wrong, they know it is wrong, and they do it anyway, even though they would be unable to look the very kids they are supposed to help in the eye. A future Democrat voter says, “I’m into fighting the system if it’s unfair,” he said, adding that he looks up to “revolutionaries.” Not that it’s an unexpected sentiment from a product of a government indoctrination center.

Look, it’s not like I don’t know what teachers make. My wife taught for quite a while, and I considered doing the same. But, here’s the thing: You know what you are getting into. You don’t expect to make millions going into teaching. You know that the pay is low, and the hours stink. You make that choice.

Their ability to see the big picture stops at the ends of their collective (ha, collective!) noses. There are volleyball games being canceled, which the teams couldl have to forfeit, thus affecting their chances to get into the playoffs. (Other schools have proven to be extremely gracious, choosing to reschedule the missed games, rather than taking the forfeits.) That might not be a big deal, but it could affect some kids chances of getting scholarships. The state volleyball tournament was moved from here to Great Falls, which is an economic loss for businesses in the area.

That’s why our kids will be going to private school.