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Articles written by Jim Elliott


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  • Montana Viewpoint: You go to your church, I'll go to mine

    Jim Elliott|Jun 20, 2024

    A few years ago I was talking with a man who raised an interesting question: “There’s only one God, why do we need so many different churches?” I let that one slide right by because I like to limit my controversial discussions to politics, for better or worse. But I was curious as to why he belonged to the church he did and not another one of the some 200 Christian denominations in America. I didn’t raise that point, either. Religion is a serious topic in America and has been ever since the Pil...

  • Montana Viewpoint

    Jim Elliott|Jun 6, 2024

    I don’t know when the Merriam turkey was introduced to Western Montana, but it was and they have prospered. I can vouch for it. In the 1980s and 90s I broke out about 65 acres of timberland into cropland and I planted a lot of oats to “tame the soil”. I put up a lot of the oats as hay and word spread fast in turkey-dom. In short-order my haystacks began to look like the rear end of a threshing machine because the turkeys scratched the bales to get at the oat kernels and popped all the strin...

  • Montana Viewpoint - Politics... as usual

    Jim Elliott|May 23, 2024

    The furor over immigration is an issue that won’t go away – can’t go away – because once it does it will no longer provide political ammunition for Republicans to use against the Democratic Party. The easiest way for Republicans to win politically on that issue is to propose solutions that – at least to Democrats – defy logic and are unrealistic. Why? Because Democrats are suckers for logic and reject solutions that don’t make sense “logically”. Years of failure by Democrats to deal with thei...

  • Montana Viewpoint: The rube sits and smiles

    Jim Elliott|May 9, 2024

    After having unloaded all my farm equipment from the railcar that had brought it from my late father’s farm back east and knowing that I had come to the right part of the world when Dude and Shorty, who had helped me unload it, looked at the wheels on my hay wagon and pronounced them “high-speed” because they actually had ball bearings instead of old-fashioned babbitt bearings, I felt accepted by my new neighbors. A person with less class than Shorty and Dude might have rightly said, “What...

  • Montana Viewpoint

    Jim Elliott|Apr 25, 2024

    By now most Montana homeowners and business owners have gotten a new and unexpected tax bill from their county treasurers. Here’s why. Due in equal parts to Covid and to the TV series “Yellowstone,” Montana real estate became a hot item and the value of Montana property was bid way up in the process. Out-of-state buyers were calling up Montana realtors and buying homes and acreage sight unseen and paying for properties worth hundreds of thousands of dollars with their credit cards. This incre...

  • Montana Viewpoint: 'Welcome to the end of democracy'

    Jim Elliott|Apr 11, 2024
    1

    “Welcome to the end of democracy. We are here to overthrow it completely,” said conservative activist Jack Posobiec at the February 2024 meeting of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). To which Steve Bannon, former Trump advisor said, “Amen.” (The New Republic, Feb. 23, 2024) Well, maybe they were just kidding, but let’s pretend they weren’t. After all, America is the birthplace of modern democracy, and we’ve got a lot invested in it. There was the Revolutionary War in which a bu...

  • Montana Viewpoint

    Jim Elliott|Mar 28, 2024

    The ability to have a say in government by voting is the bedrock principle of democracy. Because of that, every vote should be of equal value and carry the same weight. That is true for every political office in the United States except for the office of the Presidency where some people’s votes carry more weight than others depending on which state they vote in. Within the boundaries of a statewide or regional office all votes are equal. They are tallied up and the person with the most votes w...

  • Montana Viewpoint

    Jim Elliott|Mar 14, 2024

    I wrote the following article 9 years ago, on February 23, 2015. Some of the terminology is outdated, but the thoughts are not. My father and his brother, younger by 20 years, were both ardent Republicans. They came from rural poverty, worked hard, and became successful, each in his own fashion. Along the way, they got an education in public schools, went to taxpayer supported land grant colleges and worked for the privilege of an education. In the summer, after the farm work at home was done,...

  • Montana Viewpoint: Laws, compassion and common sense

    Jim Elliott|Feb 29, 2024

    Remember the Biblical story of the Judgment of Solomon (I Kings 3:16-28)? That’s the one where two prostitutes, living together, have babies three days apart. On waking one morning one of the women finds that her baby has died and places her dead infant next to the other woman who is still asleep and takes the other woman’s live baby as her own. Wanting her live baby back, the woman asks that King Solomon make things right. Solomon listens to the women, each of them claiming that she is the chi...

  • Montana Viewpoint: Acting like a nation

    Jim Elliott|Feb 15, 2024

    I am reading a history of George Washington and Benjamin Franklin and their role together in the creation of America. It depresses me greatly. It depresses me because of the stark contrast with the caliber of people we now elect to office. The Senate recently created a bi-partisan bill to address the border issue. It was spearheaded by one of its most conservative members, James Lankford of Oklahoma. It addressed issues of great concern to Republicans and did not address issues of great concern...

  • Montana Viewpoint: A rube arrives in Trout Creek

    Jim Elliott|Feb 1, 2024

    I had been eyeballing a piece of property in Trout Creek for about a year. It was cheap enough, I had the money, why not? So, I bought it. It was what around here people generously call a stump farm—stripped of timber, and in this particular case, filled with two-foot-deep ruts from logging equipment. A strip of land that could only generously be called a road led a half-mile to the property from the county road. When the seller’s son heard his mother was putting it up for sale, he and a fri...

  • Montana Viewpoint

    Jim Elliott|Jan 18, 2024

    As I write this, it is Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. We have holidays to celebrate great people and great accomplishments. As time passes the great people seem to become even greater, but the magnitude of the great deeds, having been accomplished, seems to shrink as time passes, memories fade, and the participants die. As great as Martin Luther King was, there are so many others who made sacrifices of time and life whose names and deeds should also be celebrated on this day. There are...

  • Montana Viewpoint: Happy face history

    Jim Elliott|Jan 4, 2024

    Laws in several states have criminalized criticizing American history, even when that history contains criminal acts. It is sort of like putting a happy face on American history. Look, I love my country, warts and all. I love it because, since her inception, she has offered the promise of hope, a promise of a better life for her citizens, a new way of treating citizens. She still offers that promise and, in fits and starts, fulfills those hopes, but to imagine that you can have a great nation, i...

  • Montana Viewpoint: A way to address high property tax

    Jim Elliott|Dec 21, 2023
    1

    I just read an editorial called “Let's end the property tax blame game” by Kendall Cotton in which he begins by blaming local governments for property tax increases, echoing Governor Gianforte’s attack on greedy county governments. For their part, Democrats are saying that the Gianforte administration ignored the advice of the DOR to implement a revenue neutral tax rate. That’s the rate at which the state would have received the same amount of money after reappraisal as it had before. It was...

  • Montana Viewpoint

    Jim Elliott|Dec 7, 2023

    Four times in my life, after I have been working a job for months or years, I have had a small revelation that says to me, “Hey, I know what I’m doing, and I am doing it well!” It only came once per job, but it’s enough. The first time occurred when I was a donut maker in an all-night donut shop in San Francisco. A group of Hell’s Angels had just come into the shop and were later joined by the Oakland Outlaws. (This was not a high-class place.) A fight broke out which I hadn’t noticed bec...

  • Montana Viewpoint: Critical Rage Theory

    Jim Elliott|Nov 23, 2023

    Earlier today I thought I would study up on Critical Race Theory—which I have to admit I know little about—but I made a typo in my search query and I entered “critical rage theory” by mistake. The search didn’t find anything, but based on that result I realized that I had this concept all to myself and could define it as I pleased. This event came within half an hour of my having to install a new LED light bulb to replace an old incandescent bulb that had burnt out. It was one of those new...

  • Montana Viewpoint: A bad recipe

    Jim Elliott|Nov 9, 2023

    Well, the local elections are over in Montana, and I’m sure there will be some controversial results, even if there are not any. I mean, it just seems that somebody’s got to find fault with something even if it’s imaginary. I’ve been thinking about this column for over a year, ever since the Montana Election Integrity Project (MEIP) came out with their “canvass” of 4,347 Montana voters to show how screwed up our elections are. (Go to mtelectionintegrity.org/canvas) It’s taken me that long to...

  • Montana Viewpoint: My uncle John

    Jim Elliott|Oct 26, 2023

    When I was 45, I went to my family’s second reunion. The first reunion was for my grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary and I was five years old for that one, so at an average of forty years between reunions you might gather that we were not a particularly close-knit family, and you would be right. But at the second reunion I realized that I was related to some people well worth knowing so I made an effort to keep in touch, particularly with my father’s younger brother, John, and I went to see...

  • Montana Viewpoint: Francis

    Jim Elliott|Oct 12, 2023

    On a table in the front hallway to my house is a photograph of two men who look like they are enjoying each other's company. It's not obvious in the picture, but they are reclined on a short two-step stairway that leads to the rostrum of the Montana House of Representatives. For such an august place they are perhaps being disrespectful of the decorum that such places should engender. On the left in the picture is a much younger version of myself in my second legislative session. On the right is...

  • Montana Viewpoint

    Jim Elliott|Sep 28, 2023

    Last Sunday, September 17, was the anniversary of the signing of the United States Constitution in Philadelphia in 1787. I want to think of those giants of history, the founders of America, brave, wise, not perfect, but good, who compromised, not their principles, but their desires, in order to bring together a nation that has served as a shining example to the world of what can be accomplished for the benefit of humankind. I want to think of them, but what keeps intruding on my thoughts are sev...

  • Montana Viewpoint

    Jim Elliott|Sep 14, 2023

    In the 1970s you didn’t see many new pickups in Trout Creek, and when you did you knew who it belonged to. Now you don’t see many old pickups and when you do you also know whose they are. So times have changed, the parking lots in front of two of the bars and all of the stores are paved, and the single telephone booth that sat in the middle of a puddle in the middle of the mud parking area in front of the café is long gone and so is the café, as well as the puddle. You can’t stop change,...

  • Montana Viewpoint: A moral dilemma

    Jim Elliott|Aug 31, 2023

    I don’t know where to turn. Yesterday I saw a public display of what I am sure is gender related wrongness and think I need to report it, I just don’t know what government agency to call. Understand, I don’t really want to rat out the suspect involved, I just want to protect myself from being turned in for not performing my mandatory civic duty of turning someone in for something that I think other people think is wrong. If that sounds confusing the way I say it, well, I admit, I am confu...

  • Montana Viewpoint: Freedom has a cost

    Jim Elliott|Aug 17, 2023

    President Biden is asking Congress for $24 billion to support Ukraine. There will be a fight over this request, I am sure, and the reasons will be we are spending too much money, period, and if we are going to spend too much money let’s spend it on America. I offer one reason for supporting Ukraine: Putin. Like most despots, Putin has some—to be polite—mental health issues. OK, he’s nuts, but he’s a nut with nuclear weapons and needs to be dealt with in the strongest way possible, short of...

  • Montana Viewpoint: The goose hisses

    Jim Elliott|Aug 3, 2023

    (A French finance minister of long ago compared collecting taxes to plucking a live goose. The object was to get the greatest amount of feathers with the least amount of hiss. Dogs growl, geese hiss.) Because of the biennial reappraisal of residential property most Montanans are faced with huge increases in the values of their homes and the Montana Department of Revenue has done its best to get our attention. They got our attention by sending us a bill. Well, not actually a bill, they sent us...

  • Valuing the American worker

    Jim Elliott|Jul 20, 2023

    About once a year I deal with an outfit out of Boise called General Gear or tractorparts.com. I use them when I need parts to repair my crawler tractor which is almost as old as I am and a damn sight better looking. It’s a 1952 Allis Chalmers HD 6B which has served me well over the 45 years I’ve owned it both as a machine and an education. So, when I need parts I go to General Gear. Miracle of miracles they have new parts for my machine. They also seem to have a philosophical bent which inc...

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