By Evelyn Pyburn

Evelyn Pyburn
Evelyn Pyburn, Big Sky Business Journal

The coronavirus is a scary thing.

Not so much because of the threat of the disease but for the demonstration of how easily an entire population can be whipped into hysteria that far exceeds the reality of a threat.

Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has called the panic “dumb.” And, it is.

It’s not that the coronavirus (CORVID-19) isn’t a serious issue that needs to be taken seriously but it isn’t a crisis that should make people terrified to come out of their houses.

We the people of this country deal with problems and issues of this magnitude — and in fact much greater magnitude — every day, folks!

Usually, we take for granted that we can deal with the problems. Perhaps we shouldn’t take so much for granted, but we do have a great track record and we should be far more confident than what the current panic would indicate.

Why is everyone freaking out?

For all the world it feels a great deal like political correctness gone amuck. Is it somehow cool to lose your cool? Leaders of businesses and organizations are making decisions and taking actions that seem more directed toward public perception than dealing with a real problem.

So far 39 people in the US have died of this virus. 39.

Of the thousands of people who come down with the regular flu every year, 57,000 people in this country die from it. And it’s not just the flu; a similar number die from tuberculosis each year. Why aren’t people hysterical about these health threats if it is health threats they are really concerned about? They could be in panic-mode every year.

Back in 1918 we had a real flu epidemic. A forerunner of COVID-19, the Spanish Flu, swept the planet killing between 20 million to 50 million people worldwide, including some 675,000 Americans. It happened during World War I and many US soldiers fighting on European battlefields were left wondering why they no longer heard from home, only to return home and discover all their family had died from the flu.

But that has not happened since because, we the people, have done many things to mitigate such threats. From greater education about why it happened, to better hygiene, better medicine, better technology and medical facilities and smarter and more talented medical professionals. We took care of things, and so we will this time.

The problem with the panic is that it is creating other problems—really serious problems that are causing far greater harm than the disease. The panic is putting large companies into bankruptcy which creates far more job casualties. Jobs lost mean lost income, lost health insurance, leaving families unable to meet other health care needs.

Small businesses too are being pushed out of business, destroying the livelihoods of many others, not to mention the destruction of life-long investments. Lower returns on savings destroy the capital for future businesses or the viability of retirement funds for thousands or millions of people.

As distribution lines close and manufacturers shut down, all kinds of parts and components and materials needed to produce other important life-sustaining, business sustaining, job sustaining products are not available.

The impact of panic is immense and long –term and will never be fully measured.

It all makes so little sense, once one considers all that we have going for us.

And, have you talked to a little kid lately? All the crazy so-called adults are scaring them to death. Little kids shouldn’t be scared in such ridiculous ways.

Perhaps there is one positive thing that might emerge from all the extreme caution and health care prevention. Maybe fewer people will get the regular flu and fewer than 57,000 people will die this year. That would be one  every big positive.

Science News reports that ice walls along the outer edge of coastal glaciers help protect inland ice from warm ocean currents.

The report says that “… while Antarctica’s coastal glaciers have experienced accelerating melt rates over the last few decades, the continent’s interior ice remains relatively stable.”

This stability isn’t well understood.

Using data collected by an array of instruments deployed along the coast of the Getz glacier in West Antarctica, scientists at the University of Gothenburg, in Sweden, were able to gain new insights into the influence of warm ocean currents on the continent’s ice shelves.

The research … showed the walls at the edge of ice shelves are surprisingly effective at protecting inland ice from warm water.

The Getz glacier has a floating section measuring several hundred feet thick. ..The end of this floating section features a vertical edge that plunges roughly 1,000 to 1,300 feet beneath the ocean surface… the new data showed most of the warm ocean currents are blocked by the vertical edge.

By Evelyn Pyburn

A few months ago, I encountered a news story about a recent court decision that was at once heartening and disheartening.

A federal judge ruled that children do not have a fundamental right to learn to read and write. A surprising ruling, given the state of our judicial system, but a wonderful ruling for freedom.

The ruling essentially addresses a claim that is also in the Montana Constitution – that everyone has a right to an education.

It’s an absurdity that this should be found in a document that ostensibly supports freedom, because government cannot promise something to one without obligating another – obligating them against their will – the antithesis of individual freedom.

Whether it is education, health care, food, housing, or a cell phone, to declare some “thing” as a “right” for some people is to immediately enslave others. Who is to be enslaved to provide the promised goods, by virtue of nothing more than the fact that they were born? Is there some group within our society that is undeserving of freedom, while another group, superior to them, is deserving of the unearned?

It is a lack of understanding about this issue that leads so many people down the road to socialism. With better understanding of what they are really asking for, they would know that freedom is not about free stuff, but about freedom of action, something that socialism sets out at the very beginning to quash.

A “right” is not a gift card. Rights, as set up in the Bill of Rights, are about being free to act. You don’t have a right to education, you have the right to try to obtain education. You don’t have a right to a job, you have a right to try to get a job, to earn a living, to earn the food and housing you need.

Rights are about being able to live as you choose. They are not without obligations. Your primary obligation is to negotiate and navigate through society in such a way as to gain what you need WITHOUT using FORCE against another person, as becomes necessary if one group is enslaved to provide for another.

(The only justifiable use of force is in self-defense, and that includes the purpose of the government of a free nation. And, this is a moral issue that is not suspended because government is conducting the theft on your behalf. For the government to force one group to provide free education to another, is just as immoral as a student mugging a businessman in a back alley.)

For individuals to function as they choose in a moral society, while most often means to act to earn the things you need, and to be free to barter and to make voluntary exchanges  . . . it also means being able to voluntarily help one another. To voluntarily donate to a cause that helps others, to form organizations that voluntarily provide support to those who need it, which would include supporting free education because they believe it to be vital to a strong economy and enjoyable society. They could also voluntarily fund research and exploration, and civic activities that improve society and advance civilization.

The disheartening thing about the report on this court decision is that it was immediately followed (in a not so objective way) by quotes from teachers denouncing it as outrageous.

“The message that it sends is that education is not important,” said the President of the Detroit Federation of Teachers.

This person – involved with the education of our children – does not see that the decision is underscoring the importance of freedom. What this teacher fails to understand is that without an environment that assures freedom, no true education is remotely possible. You end up with exactly what we see happening in our colleges today – where students are without the intellect to ponder differing points of view. . . where the only way they can dispute ideas with which they disagree is to silence those who present them, and to insulate themselves from the adversity of new ideas or people who are different.

It is disheartening that we have teachers, who are teaching our children — not about the profound underpinnings of the Bill of Rights — but to demand the unearned and to advance an enslaved society.

The court case was, of course, not quite as clear cut as this. Fundamentally, this case was about the fact that government is collecting people’s taxes with the commitment to provide their children an education. The case was brought on behalf of students who failed to get an education. Parents claimed that government was obligated to provide it – a claim that in a sense cannot be denied given government’s excuse for the process of seizing taxes.

Government makes commitments all the time that it fails to keep, but it seldom causes anyone to rethink their expectations. These parents were not arguing that they wanted to change that. They were not demanding the freedom to pursue their own educational choices.

And, while this judge declared that the children do not have a right to expect government to provide an education, he said nothing about the fraud perpetrated upon the parents and students by a government that failed to live up to the commitment it made. At least in the private sector, purchasing the education they wanted, the parents would have had a case.

By Evelyn Pyburn

One of the greatest travesties of political correctness is the degree to which it cripples productive efforts in addressing serious problems.

It stands in the way of truly and honestly dealing with the very real problems afflicting various minorities, or in dealing with some medical, religious or cultural conflicts, as well as in dealing with political and economic problems.

It is a fact that a problem cannot be addressed until it is accurately identified – no matter where that leads. The survivability of human beings has always been our ability to rationally analyze a situation and identify what needs to be adjusted. The degree to which we fail in that endeavor is to diminish our success at survival. At what point did we begin to sabotage ourselves in that process?

The bullying of politically correct thought is intended to short circuit reality – of being able to accurately identify reality – of zeroing in on the crux of problems.

If the source of a societal, economic or political policy problem stems from something pre-determined as not SUPPOSED to be true, then observers, leaders, academics, politicians, bureaucrats, etc. bend themselves into pretzels trying to avoid seeing it. What that boils down to is that the problem is never addressed and those who suffer from it are condemned to go on suffering so others don’t have to endure the discomfort of disagreeing with those whose admiration they seek – or worse, so they can perpetuate a problem that gives them some kind of political clout.

One of the most immediate examples that comes to mind is the fact that homelessness, unaffordable housing and all the social and economic problems that stem from that, are primarily the result of over regulation. That’s an indisputable fact, challenged by almost no one, and yet it influences absolutely no local or state solutions attempting to “solve” homelessness or the problem of high-cost housing.

For decades and decades, with ever mounting fervor, centralized planners, building coders, municipal administrators, and utopian visionaries have imposed arbitrary and relatively unnecessary costs on development and construction that prohibit lower-cost processes and products, innovations and market alternatives in the realm of housing, unlike almost any other realm of endeavor in our country, except for perhaps education.

Seldom ever has anyone stood to reject the conclusions of the economic studiess – they just ignore them.

For the past 50 years, the observations of analysts   have been promptly relegated to the backwaters of public discussion, academia, politics, and media. Thr evidence does not support the prevailing wisdom that only government – not markets – are capable of shaping the housing market, so the evidence has to be rejected because it does not advance the politically preferred policy of growing bureaucracies and government control.

Besides the availability and cost of housing, over regulation also results in empty storefronts in downtowns across the country, which is most especially true in Billings. This has been a fact made clear to city council and other civic leaders over the past few years, with absolutely no response. Every single over-reaching, arbitrary and capricious regulation imposes costs on maintaining and updating properties. At some point that cost exceeds what the market of a thriving business in the downtown can endure, forcing them to find a less costly location or to not open at all, which leaves no market for property owners to lease or sell. And, that leaves dark, looming empty shells of structures in downtown that only drag down further the value of adjacent properties, creating a downward spiral. Believe it or not, the processs is reversable.

But, so long as leaders and decision makers avert their gaze when it comes to looking at the reality, it will indeed continue to appear that there is no solution but to appeal to government. With market forces curtailed, there will be greater appeal for gargantuan projects, tax funded subsidies, giveaways, and faux economic solutions that in the end will fail.

 With the facts rejected and warnings unheeded, more and more mandates are piled on, crippling the market’s  ability to meet the true needs of consumers. The results are exactly what we see. No solution will be forthcoming until the problem is identified.

After work, tonight, take a walk – around your neighborhood or through a nearby park. It’s a simple way to claim your neighborhood and discourage mischief, vagrancy, and crime.

Unused neighborhoods can easily become targets for mischief makers. Vacated or empty areas that become overrun by criminals or vagrants can be reclaimed by citizens simply by using and caring for them. Such responsibility falls to everyone in a community, residential or business.

Some years ago there was a neighborhood park that had been taken over by hoodlums who hung out destroying property, threatening and even attacking lone wayfarers. By the time cops arrived the culprits were gone. Nothing seemed to be resolving the problem, until people in the neighborhood decided to make a statement. Large numbers of them just simply began walking around the park. They spent time visiting and getting acquainted, and in general disrupting the sense of anonymity or invisibility that the vagrants and trouble makers had come to count on. Suddenly it was not an empty unclaimed space, but a neighborhood park which was unconducive to criminal activity.

Such is essentially the bases of the strategy that city leaders are pursuing to improve the level of safety in Billings. It’s an approach that costs very little, if anything; and everyone can play a role.

As one businessman explained, at a public meeting that was hugely attended by concerned citizens, it has been easy and inexpensive for him to make a difference around his place of business – – a place that, at first, he thought was just fine. Taking a critical look at it at night and walking around himself, he realized improvements could be made. He has made changes and can already see a difference.  What he did amounted to little more than cleaning and sprucing up the perimeters and extensively improving lighting. If every property owner did the same, the difference would be dramatic.

But it is more than just business owners. Residents in their neighborhoods can and should do much the same.

Walk around your property during the day and at night, asking yourself what could be done to make it look like someone is aware and what would make it is safer.

Remove any trash, and as much as possible items that create clutter or that seem to say, “no one cares about this place.” And, understand that it isn’t just your property that makes a difference, but that of the entire neighborhood, so pick up the trash at the corner of the block, too.

Keep windows clean and uncluttered  to improve visibility.

Keep weeds cut down, trim shrubbery along fences and around buildings. Remove weeds from planters and perhaps (here’s a novel idea) plant planters with plants. Remember, unattended planters outside of a business, and weeds in boulevards or in corners, convey a message to customers, as well as mischief makers. What message does the exterior of your property convey not just to villains, but maybe prospective customers, as well?

Replace burned out bulbs and if necessary increase outdoor lighting to discourage people seeking an opportunity to obscure themselves, and to allow good visibility for passersby and yourself.

Walk frequently throughout your neighborhood to get acquainted with what is normal, so as to be able to easily spot something that is out-of-place or suspicious.

Get acquainted with your neighbors. Explain to them what you are doing and why. It may encourage others to do the same.

Who knows it may all become an enjoyable experience, and for businesses, it might even improve business.

Take advantage of the Chamber’s offer to have a free Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) assessment done of your property.

There may be more to be achieved by this kind of community engagement than just crime prevention.

by Evelyn Pyburn

Someone must come to the defense of business following what is but a veiled attack upon decades of how business has been successfully conducted.

It was recently reported that Business Roundtable, a lobbying group composed of people like  Apple’s Tim Cook and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, is changing the definition of the “purpose of a corporation.” Rather than just making a profit for shareholders, they believe a company or corporation or business must be involved in making social change and environmental activism and community improvements.

They state, that the “standard for corporate responsibility…. has changed — and now demands that companies benefit ‘all stakeholders,’ including customers, employees, suppliers, and communities.”

The group of 181 chief executives announced that it has redefined their “Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation” to include the promotion of “an economy that serves all Americans.”

There is surely a bit of elitism and hubris in this group, to imply that they are the ultimate authorities in defining business and setting acceptable standards, even as they seem to have no understanding or appreciation of the history of business and the long-standing dynamics of business.

Almost all businesses do serve everyone in their realm. That’s the little understood fact about capitalism – about the role of a business in a community. Big or small — selling magazines or automobiles or lending money — like ripples in a pond, in the process of just tending to business, the activities of a business support and improve its community.

Anyone looking at investing in a business that is making decisions based upon wanting to impact community welfare or environmental activism should give such a business a wide berth. The business is almost certain to eventually fail. Not that community and environmental impacts don’t play some role in how a good business functions, but when a business establishes as its goals the changing of society or agitating for environmental goals, those activities defray business resources, as well as diverting the attention of administrators from making a profit. All of which will eventually spell the demise of the business.

A business is a process that functions very much like a machine. It is not meant to have a heart, soul, personality, social conscious, or spiritual calling. Those are human attributes.  A business is a machine structured to function in a very specific way to achieve very specific outcomes. How well it functions to that end is measured in terms of profit.

There are many other mechanisms and organizational structures that have been devised and can be used to pursue societal or environmental goals, which are exactly what many, many businesses and corporations have utilized in the past. They set up foundations or donate to non-profit organizations  that pursue philanthropic goals the company sees as worthwhile. In doing so, the company owner or stockholders do not compromise the process of making a profit, by keep separate the decisions about how they choose to use those profits.

To give them some credit, these business sages do seem to recognize that doing the “right thing” can be the “best thing” for a business.  They state, “Major employers are investing in their workers and communities because they know it is the only way to be successful over the long term.” 

That is true for all businesses, not just “major employers.”

If paying employees well, training them and making them happy working for the business, keeps good employees, then business managers are paying attention to business, and they are doing the “right thing” for the business, and they are more likely to succeed. Just as, to the degree the company functions in an ethical and responsible manner, it will be respected and trusted by their consumers, which again will contribute to the bottom line.

A business almost can’t avoid doing the “right thing” if they hope to be successful, and in so doing they can’t avoid benefiting the community.

So, it is not that these issues do not play a role in the operation of a business, but they must not be the goal of the business. Such expenditures and attention must be justified by how much they benefit the business – you know, how much they contribute to that horrible thing called “making a profit.”

Despite their narrow mission, every well-run business – of any size – delivers many very positive side benefits to the community.  Besides the obvious jobs and livelihoods and products and services they provide, and the taxes they pay and the contributions they give to civic causes – it is through businesses that all new wealth is created, and that advancements in the standard of living are generated.  And,  most amazing, all of these great benefits happen incidentally to the operation of the business.

We do not need to redefine corporations.

The reality is there is nothing that serves human beings, the environment or society more than people tending to business.  They have always been “serving all Americans.”

Modern doomsayers have been predicting climate and environmental disaster since the 1960s. They continue to do so today.

None of the apocalyptic predictions with due dates as of today have come true – but that is never reported, complains the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Failed predictions are never reported upon by a media that enthusiastically reports on anticipated failures of society, markets or institutions. Nor do such failed forecasts cause a moment’s hesitation for media in reporting on the next round of doom and gloom predictions – often claiming instead that it is an absolute certainty because “experts” are making the claim or that it is “settled science.”

It is well worth noting that all of their solutions have always to do with eliminating the free choices of people living in a free society, the curbing of wealth generation, and/or reducing the standard of living for the common folk.

What follows is a collection of notably wild predictions from notable people in government and science.

More than merely spotlighting the failed predictions, this collection shows that the makers of failed apocalyptic predictions often are individuals holding respected positions in government and science.

In 1967 newspaper headlines such as the Salt Lake Tribune forecasted “Dire Famine” by 1975. The prediction came from the much heralded Paul Ehrlich who said “the time of famines is upon us.” It is too late to do anything to avoid the catastrophe, “the population of the United States is already too big, and birth control may have to be accomplished by making it involuntary and by putting sterilizing agents into staple foods and drinking water, and that the Roman Catholic Church should be pressured into going along with routine measures of population control.” He made his predictions at a science symposium at the University of Texas. There was apparently no presentation at a later time to explain why his prediction was so far off base.

The New York Times reported on August 10, 1969 that because of pollution the population was doomed – again the soothsayer was Paul Ehrlich.  Ehrlich said that while his lab at Stanford University was collecting the data to prove the case, he was wasting no time waiting for the evidence. “…by the time we have enough evidence to convince people, you’re dead,” he said. He predicted, “…unless we are extremely lucky, everybody will disappear in a cloud of blue steam in 20 years.”

In 1970, publications like the Boston Globe, were predicting an ice age by 2000, caused by air pollution which would “obliterate the sun” … if population continues to grow and electric power generation continues. This expert was James P. Lodge Jr. who claimed that “the demands for cooling water will boil dry the entire flow of the rivers and streams of continental United States.” He said we would deplete our oxygen supply. Lodge was a scientist at the national center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, CO. Population control, a less wasteful standard of living and a major technological breakthrough  “in the way man consumes resources,” were the only ways to prevent the catastrophe, said Lodge.

Again in 1970, Dr. Ehrlich was predicting that Americans will be subject to water rationing by 1974 and food rationing by 1980. The University of California Extension and the World Affairs Council in Southern California were all buying into Dr. Ehrlich’s credibility, who was of course peddling a book “The Population Bomb.” They touted him as “the hero of the ecology movement.”

A Washington Post Article, July 9, 1971, reported that Dr. S. I. Rasool of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and Columbia University predicted that an ice age would be upon us in 50 or 60 years. That’s just a couple years away now, so it will be just in time to counter the perils of global warming about which we are now being warned.

Strangely, the ice age was going to be the consequence of “fine dust, man constantly puts into the atmosphere by fossil fuel-burning” (– essentially the same thing that will bring us global warming). The dust would block out the rays of the sun and drop temperatures by six degrees, he said.

Rasool’s predictions were printed in the publication “Science” and presented at the international Study of Man’s Impact on Climate in Stockholm.  Dr. Gordon F. MacDonald, scientist-member of President Nixon’s three-man Council on Environmental Quality said that the issue was “one of the serious problems” the US and other delegates must address in the next year.  MacDonald called Rasool a “first-rate atmospheric physicist” whose “estimate” is consistent with “estimates I and others have made.” His conclusion was that men must quit using fossil-fuels and switch to nuclear energy.

In December 1972, Brown University’s George J. Kukle at Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory and R. K. Matthews, Department of Geological Sciences sent the President of the US a letter stating that at a scientific conference, 42 “top American and European investigators” had concluded that “a global deterioration of climate, by order of magnitude larger than any hitherto experience by civilized mankind, is a very real possibility and indeed may be due very soon.” They were talking about a significant cooling of the planet, but conceded that a lack of data prevented “the precise timing” or to what degree mankind was responsible. There appeared to be evidence that the cooling had already started and they urged the president to take “decisive action.”

And so the predictions continued. The Guardian, January 29, 1974, reported that space satellites showed an ice age was coming fast. Scientists were observing that snow and ice cover of the earth had increased by 12 percent during 1967-1972. They said that the earth had reached a “climax of warmth” between 1935 and 1955, “and world average temperatures are now falling.”

Aerosol sprays was the concern that prompted testimony before Congress in 1974, as reported in TIME. The earth appears to be “on the verge of a period of great peril,” said Professor T. M. Donahue of the University of Michigan, in two days of hearings before Congress on whether Freon, the gas used in aerosol sprayers and a coolant in refrigerators and air conditions had been eating away at the ozone layer at the top of the earth’s atmosphere. It may be too late to head off the increase in skin cancer that is sure to come as a result, said one congressman. The destruction of the ozone would reach its peak in 1990, it was predicted. But no such ‘great peril to life’ has yet been observed and the ozone still remains.

Stephen Schneider, climatologist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research wrote a book in 1976, called “The Genesis Strategy,” warning that present world food reserves are insufficient to hedge against future famines that would happen as a result of earth cooling. He quoted a University of Wisconsin climatologist as saying that 1930-1960 “was the most abnormal period in a thousand years – abnormally mild.”

And then there was the dire threat of acid rain, a hype that quietly went away once it achieved its aim of scaring Congress into passing the “Clean Air Act.” Newspaper stories in 1980 claimed that acid rain has already wiped out the fish in 10 of Yew York’s Adirondack Mountain lakes. Canada’s environmental agency deputy minister, Raymond Robinson, in a meeting sponsored by the US Environmental Protection agency blamed the problem on electrical plants burning coal.

But, 10 years later, a US Government $537 million study concluded that acid rain was no environmental crisis, which “reduced the scientific uncertainties” about acid rain, and determined that it was a long-term problem that could be addressed by reducing sulfur dioxide emissions.

Cooling of the earth was still a serious problem come 1978 and it wasn’t going away any time soon, said a Jan. 5, 1978 New York Times article, predicting a 30 year trend. German, Japanese and American specialists all concurred in a British journal that temperature data from oceans and air indicated that the northern hemisphere cooled from 1950 to 1975, 0.1 to 0.2 degrees Celsius, but they were uncertain as to why the planet was cooling.

But from 1979 NASA satellite data shows a slight warming trend.

In 1988 drought became the crisis, as experts predicted the hottest year ever. It was declared to be the cause of the “greenhouse effect,” according to James Hansen of NASA. He predicted an increase in heat waves through the rest of the 80s and 90s, but in reality 1988 was the last “really dry year in the midwest” and they have since had record wet years, according to

In the Lansing State Journal, Hansen warned on Dec. 12, 1988, that during the 1990s Washington DC would experience 85 days a year with temps over 90 degrees rather than what had been the average of 35 days a year – and that the ocean was going to rise one foot to six feet – and the frequency and severity of storms would increase due to the greenhouse effect.

DC’s number of hot days peaked in 1911 and have been declining ever since.

The Maldive Islands nation in the Indian Ocean was predicted in 1988 to be underwater within 30 years, according to The Agence France Press. They are not.

The June 30, 1989, Associated Press reported that “A senior U. N. environmental official says entire nations could be wiped off the face of the Earth by rising sea levels if the global warming trend is not reversed by 2000. Because of warming, melting polar ice caps will raise the sea level by three feet, said Noel Brown, director of the New York office of UN Environmental Protection . One sixth of Bangladesh would be flooded, displacing a fourth of its 90 million people. A fifth of Egypt’s arable land in the Nile Delta would be flooded, cutting off its food supply, according to a joint UNEP and US Environmental Agency prediction.

Shifting climate patterns will bring back the 1930s dust bowl to the US and Canada, said Brown, because of humanity’s use of fossil fuels and burning the rainforest. The world had only ten years to do something about it, according to Brown.

In 1989, New York City’s westside highway that runs along the Hudson River was predicted to be under water by 2019 – and tape would be on windows of buildings because of high winds. Jim Hansen made that prediction to a reporter from, who confirmed Hansen was still standing by the prediction in October 2001.

In 2000, it was also predicted that snow falls would be a thing of the pass and children would no longer know what snow is.

In 2002 global warming was predicted to produce famine in ten years. It could only be avoided if humans quit eating meat and fish, according to a report in the Guardian. The Guardian also reported in 2004 that Britain would have a climate more like Siberia by 2020.

In 2008, a NASA scientist predicted that the Arctic would be “ice free” by 2018.

Al Gore echoed the prediction but said the Arctic would be free of ice by 2013. On Dec. 14, 2008, Gore predicted the north polar ice cap would be gone in five years – “inconveniently, it is still there.”

On July 9, 2009, Prince Charles said we had only eight years to save the planet. “The price of capitalism and consumerism is just too high,” he lamented.

The journal Nature claimed in 2013 that the Arctic would be ice free by 2015, because of a “methane catastrophe.”

Based upon the US Department of Energy research, the US Navy predicted in 2013, an ice-free Arctic Ocean by 2016.

In 2014, the French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, in a joint statement with John Kerry, predicted “climate chaos” in only 500 days. But the planet is standing after much more than 500 days.

“If you observe a really happy man you will find him building a boat, writing a symphony, growing double dahlias in his garden,  or looking for dinasour eggs in the Gobi desert. He will not be searching for happiness as if it were a collar button that has rolled under the radiator. He will not be striving for it as a goal in itself. He will have become aware that he is happy in the course of living his life 24 crowded hours of the day.”

Dr. W. Beran Wolfe

By Evelyn Pyburn

Published Previously, August 1, 1989

(Even more true today.)

Not long ago a noted columnist, who had in mid-life left her career to devote more time to the role of being a mother, was being interveiwed on a radio talk show. She commented that she had, prior to her retirement, been criticized by a fellow columnist for writing too much about her children.

She retorted that he wrote too much about politics. After all, she said, raising children and living is what life is really all about – life is not about politics.

The point is well taken and too much overlooked, as our every waking hour is dominated with news of political battles and wars, Congressional actions, power grabs, charges of misdeeds and counter-charges, and the President’s latest sneeze.

While it’s commonly said that man is a political creature, a fully focused veiw on the breadth of humanity can hardly leave room to concur. despite the high profile of those involved with politics, they are but a pitiful minority. Most people are more interested in their children, their work, and their pasttimes – content to leave their neighbor alone, finding great joy and satisfaction in the daily challenges of living.

Frequently condemned as being apathetic, they most likely are not; at least not about thinga that matter the most to them. The fact that their interests are not shared by the politicians is not surprising considering the nature of politics. If one considers politics as the use of force to manipulate people and events, then indeed, such apathy seems wonderfully wholesome.

While the disruptive activities of politics do impact (usually negatively) the lives of average folks, it is nowhere near as great as the impact (usually positively) from those who create and produce.

Ninety percent of the scientists who ever lived are quietly living right now. What they do and learn will have far more reaching effects in history than the most powerful political body in the world. The knowledge that they are gathering will shape the direction of all human beings in the future – and most especially political creatures, who are wholly dependent upon the rest of society for innovation, as well as material support.

So, to leave in peace those who have nothing better to do than raise children, dahlias and bridges, should be the highest aspiration of civilization. 

By Evelyn Pyburn

If in no other way, the significance of the impact of drug abuse and the illegal trafficking of drugs, as well as related crimes, in Yellowstone County can be made clear by an evaluation of the budget for Yellowstone County. It would not be a stretch to conclude that as much as half of the $117 million county budget is in one way another spent to mitigate crime in the county, and without doubt a significant amount of that crime stems from drug abuse.

Given that, it would not be outlandish to declare that if one is interested in reducing taxes, one has to be interested in reducing crime and most especially curbing the use and flow of illegal substances.

So how much are we talking about? Dealing just with county taxes for one year: $34,261,059

But, before itemizing the budgets of county departments impacted by crime, we must give pause to the fact that the county has just completed a two to three year process of building an addition onto the jail, as well as refurbishing the 30-year old facility, to the tune of about $19 million.

Add to that the refurbishing of space in the courthouse to accommodate two new district court judges and their staffs, which cost $2.6 million, which the county is responsible to provide, for what is otherwise a state department. And, bear in mind, that does not include the $359,000 that the county is now paying to lease space in the Stillwater Building that was necessary to move some departments, to make room in the courthouse for the district court expansion. AND, further bear in mind, none of these figures include the state’s cost to fund District Court judges and staffs, and to fund the cost of defense attorneys for those who cannot afford an attorney.

Following are the current budgets for county departments that are largely, if not totally, impacted by crime:

  • Public Safety Mental Health Mill Levy           $1,254,585
  • Public Safety Mill Levy for County Attorney’s office                    $6,325,841
  • Youth Service Center                                   $ 2,915,052
  • Alcohol Rehabilitation                                 $    240,868
  • DUI Task Force                                          $    107,620
  • Justice Court                                              $ 1,605,110
  • Clerk of Court Department                          $ 1,419,490
  • Coroner                                                      $    513,575
  • Sheriff Administration                                 $    581,306
  • Detectives                                                  $ 1,409,532
  • Patrol                                                        $4,990,403
  • Records (law enforcement)                         $    850,166
  • Detention Center                                          $11,111,784
  • Detention Facility (maintenance)                 $     935,727

Of course not all of these departments deal totally with criminal issues, but there are other county departments not included here, whose services are used by these departments – such as technology, personnel, facilities, etc. And, quite often the county directs funds from the general fund to shore up a department when unexpected or special situations arise.

Also – capital costs for additional facilities are almost certain to mount as the jail is already – despite its 100 bed addition – overcrowded. AND … while the state recently provided two additional district court judges, statistics justify the addition of six more. As caseloads only continue to mount it is almost certain the state will be forced to add at least two more judges and Yellowstone County and its taxpayers will be scrambling to provide more space for them.

And, there are more costs that are never calculated into these totals.

It was recently stated about the Yellowstone County Detention Facility, that it has come to a point that almost all inmates in it are being held on felonies. Misdemeanor charges are seldom incarcerated any more, but even more interesting, is that increasingly misdemeanor crimes are not even charged in order to avoid further burdening the system. That is one reason so little happens to discourage vagrants in downtown Billings, which is imposing a cost on downtown properties and businesses.

In fact, laws are being changed to redefine what is criminal. In the State of Montana it is really no longer a crime to shoplift – ie. steal — so long as the value of the theft does not exceed $2000 — in order to avoid having to put the perpetrators into the system. While that saves on costs for law enforcement, courts and jails, business owners are suffering the loss of millions of dollars to theft that is now legal and they have no recourse but to endure until they are forced to close their doors.

So if you are a taxpayers who doesn’t like to pay taxes, know from whence the problem comes, and know what must surely be the most serious problem with which we must deal.

By Evelyn Pyburn

Have you noticed how as soon as the true meaning catches up with some terms or words, the wording gets changed? There are dozens of words that were perfectly good terms at one point in time, and not only do they get changed but sometimes it becomes anathema to continue to use the old term.

Terms that have changed are things like employees becoming “associates”  or “staff”.  Now its  “team members” and a supervisor or boss becomes a “team leader.” One has to surmise that that change is to try to give stature to people who somehow felt being an employee or to be gainfully employed is demeaning, and at the same time it assuages any inner unease they might have about being a responsible individual, and affirming that they are part of a cozy collective.

No one is a sales person any more, they are marketing specialists or advisors or consultants. Heaven forbid that someone should actually “sell” something, it’s more socially acceptable to steal things than to persuade people to purchase. And, yet it is, that there isn’t a company out there who wouldn’t give their eye-teeth for a good salesperson. No one has a more guaranteed career path than a good salesperson – um, I mean, marketing specialist.

“Profitable” has come to be called “sustainable.” That name change is perfectly understandable in a day when capitalism has become the evil and yet making money is still the goal. The contradiction is missed by such politically correct individuals. There has emerged a lot of enterprises (wouldn’t want to call them businesses because they don’t like that term either), that refer to a customer’s payment for their service or product as a “contribution” – so painful it is, for them to come to terms with the necessity of making a profit to remain a functioning entity (again, not to be called a business). One can be assured when encountering anyone in BUSINESS who cannot come to terms with the reality of what they are doing – who accept contributions for the community service performed by their team in order to be sustainable – be assured they will not long be in “business” because their avoidance of reality will inevitably lead them to make serious errors in the daily decision-making that “business” requires.

But for all these instances of re-labeling – and there are many more, many which have nothing to do with business – there is a new one which is simply delightful. For the first time this week I encountered the term “social entrepreneurs.”

This is most surely a case of latching onto a term that has suddenly become more politically acceptable than ever before and very much in vogue. “Entrepreneur.” Business startups have always… ALWAYS … been vital to a strong and vibrant economy – but suddenly the fact has been discovered by the intellectually elite, and they are so excited about it, they are promoting it in every way. Not to take away from that, at all — because it really is a wonderful development, and it should be encouraged as much as possible, for as long as possible, because the day is surely coming when they will discover that entrepreneurs really do expect to make a profit and the gig will be up; but in the meantime this is a serendipitous moment to be enjoyed. 

But really! “social entrepreneur” sounds for all the world like “community organizer,” which of course was another surrogate term coined in place of the more accurate ,“political activist.”

I could be wrong, but giving me confidence that that is exactly what is meant, in the same paragraph that that term is used, it was further stated, “…and other changemakers (who) … launch new, innovative social change projects.”

I’m just saying…