Raise the standards for sediments
I find the proposals for where to place the sediments behind Milltown Dam rather amusing.
I had read that one proposal would place them out of the 500-year flood plain, and therefore, everything was fine. I recently retired from a federal agency where I was the geotechnical engineer concerned with the long-term stability of mine tailings from a proposed mine near a national park and adjacent to a wilderness area. All of our "cooperating" federal agencies including the EPA thought that the minimum criteria should ensure stability of the tailings for the probable maximum flood, which for our area probably has a nominal return period of 5,000 to 10,000 years - a slightly more stringent criteria than 500 years. Of course, failure of the proposed tailings dam would have affected the drinking water of wildlife instead of humans.
34 Brookside, Missoula
Mahlum doesn't speak for Milltown
In the recent Missoulian "Dam has to go" article, state Sen. Dale Mahlum, R-Missoula, said, "If I am representing these people …" regarding his support for removing the Milltown Dam. Mahlum should be aware that he is not representing the majority of his Milltown constituency. To have done so would have required a tremendous amount of courage on his part.
Two independent surveys revealed strong Milltown support for retention of the Milltown Dam. One, a University of Montana Bureau of Business and Economic Research survey, revealed 69 percent of Milltown residents want the dam kept in place with improvements. Countywide, the survey indicated that more people wanted it removed. Mahlum, who did you say you're representing?
8750 Zaug Drive, Missoula
Number crunchers ignore true costs
On May 8, the editorial board made some decent points about higher education in Montana. They pointed out that students' motivation is what drives higher education, not societal needs. The editorial also pointed out that students with college degrees make 81 percent more than high school graduates. Rather than pointing out something new or even factual (i.e., the 81 percent figure), the Missoulian used the same rhetoric that the Montana Legislature has been using for years when explaining cuts to higher education.
While tuition increases at the University of Montana are less than some peer institutions, they are on top of a 32 percent increase in tuition over the past two years! This was during an understood period of prosperity. The Legislature didn't blink an eye when it cut higher education then.
The Missoulian editorial board should know that higher education is not about numbers or state budgets. It is not about politics or the economy. Higher education funding is about philosophy. It is about the debate of who benefits the most from college; society or individuals.
Clearly the trend in this country is moving toward individuals. However, it is important to point out that while Montana graduates will be supposedly making more money, they are not doing it in Montana. The Montana Legislature has continued its trend of exporting precious resources to other states. That's right; Montana is a major player in exporting human capital. We educate some of the brightest students in the country. Yet, we price them out of staying here after they graduate. It doesn't take a college graduate to figure out that this is bad practice.
Jon O. Swan,
1211 S.W. Higgins Ave., Apt. E, Missoula
We're on the path to widespread poverty
The American elites believe imperial expansion in the guise of self-defense is justified. These same elites believe that economic health exists when the elites have more money to spend. This is an old story which old and wise people have observed for thousands of years.
Both beliefs are two sides of the same mistake.
"Those who try to control,
Who use force to protect their power,
Go against the direction of the Tao.
They take from those who do not have enough
And give to those who have far too much."
- Lao Tzu
Fortunately, understanding the mistake provides its own hope. Those who try to control life must become stiff and inflexible.
"Whoever is stiff and inflexible
is a disciple of death.
Whoever is soft and yielding,
Is a disciple of life.
The hard and stiff will be broken.
The first shall be last,
The soft and supple will prevail
The meek shall inherit the earth."
- God and Lao Tzu
I know that empire-building and tax cuts for the rich are signs of America's slow suicide.
In the long run, this is a good thing. In the short run, everyone will suffer.
No one will escape poverty, especially the rich.
233 S. Fourth St., Missoula