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The state Board of Regents decided in favor of Commissioner of Higher Education Sheila Stearns’ recommendation to give retiring University of Montana President George Dennison a very big raise (March 6). I think it should be called something other than a raise. I think it should be called a retirement bonus because to me it looks like a smaller Montana-sized bonus payout similar to what we saw at Wall Street.

I won’t rant because I only do that with people who know me well enough to realize I wouldn’t fly an airplane into a government building. I will ask the question to people who consider themselves “working class,” what do they think of this proposal?

It is ironic that on the same front page of the Missoulian, a headline, “Legislative panel urged to limit human services cuts,” was showing everyone how serious things really are in the state for the most vulnerable people. Our society is complex and some use that and a kind of trickery to take advantage, especially those who feel that taxpayers are a money tree. Fairness is the argument for having UM’s president’s salary the same as Montana State University or similar regional universities. What about the fairness of giving the top 1 percent a raise when others are just struggling to keep their heads above water in this economic climate and when people at the bottom 1 percent are just struggling to get necessities like food, medicine or housing?

The governor has done many things lately to show he is trying to be fiscally responsible in this trying economy. I appreciate that and it makes me have more faith in our state government. However, Stearns made me think of the French Revolution and the peasants’ response when they were starving and had been told, “Let them eat cake.”

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Glen Bumgardner, Missoula

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