The things that keep a community a community (5 x 8 – 10/30/13)

1) THE LITTLE STATIONS THAT CAN

The Pioneer Press’ profile today of Hastings radio station KDWA is enough to bring tears to the eyes of anyone who grew up listening to the radio as a primary source of news in a small town, and then went on to spend a life working in the business. Trust me: There’s only a handful of those people left.

The station, family owned, occupies a spot on the main drag, and covers local news and sports. It even carries church services, a blessing, no doubt, for the elderly who can’t get out.

There was a time when America was covered with radio stations just like this, and it’s no coincidence that when the FCC changed rules to allow big companies to own as many radio stations as they could gobble up, the small-town station disappeared along with the sense of community that they helped maintain. They provided the training ground for broadcast journalists; few entering the business now come from a radio background.

Once they’re gone, they don’t come back.

Related radio: The Feldman File: The future of public radio isn’t its past.

More media: Sports Illustrated has honored 25 people or institutions under the age of 25 who are making a difference. The staff of the Minnesota Daily made the cut:

The Daily — and its 21 and under staff — has established itself as one of the top student publications in the country. MNdaily.com has claimed the Society of Professional Journalists award for Best Affiliated Website among student publications for two years running. The print side is no slouch either — in 2009 and 2010 The Daily took home SPJ Best All-Around Daily Student Newspaper Honors. In 2012, the paper scored another win in Sports Writing for the piece, “The Economics of Athletics,” by Derek Wetmore, and was a national finalist in the Sports Photography category.

(h/t: Jonathan Foster, Tom Johnson)

2) RATE SHOCK IS GOOD?

You’ve read the stories about people having their old insurance canceled because of the new health care law which mandates minimum services to be covered — mental health care, for example?

Is it fair?

Yes, argues Josh Barro of Business Insider who says rate shock is part of changing the system since some people are getting tax breaks that others aren’t getting. He notes Obamacare opponent Sen. Ted Cruz doesn’t take government sponsored health care because he’s covered by his wife’s plan. She’s a high-ranking exec with Goldman Sachs.

Health care economist Austin Frakt ran the numbers on that Goldman plan. As of 2009, Goldman’s health insurance coverage for employees at the managing director level and higher cost a stunning $40,000 per family. (The typical cost for a family health insurance plan in the United States is around $16,000).

Health insurance benefits are not taxable income, so Cruz and his wife get a big tax break on that plan. The break cut their tax bill by about $15,000 as of 2009, the last year for which we know the plan’s value. The Cruzes aren’t alone; every American who gets health insurance coverage through work gets this tax break, but the Cruzes enjoy an especially large one because their plan is so expensive and their tax rate is high.

For comparison, Medicaid coverage for two adults and two children cost about $11,000 in 2010, meaning (unless Goldman has radically changed its health benefits since 2009) Cruz is getting a tax break worth more than the benefits a family on Medicaid gets — even though he is a Senator and his wife is a highly paid investment banker and they have no need for subsidies to obtain health coverage.

This is insane health policy, and the Affordable Care Act changes it.

It addresses it with the “Cadillac Tax,” which goes into effect in 2018. It taxes “high-cost” health plans and uses the money on things like expanding Medicaid and offering subsidies to low- and moderate-income Americans who buy health plans in the Obamacare exchanges, according to Barro.

But that’s different than the individual policies that are getting canceled and replaced, a problem that has replaced the healthcare.gov website in the eye of the storm, the New York Times says today.

“We knew that they would have to sign up again,” Senator Jeanne Shaheen, a New Hampshire Democrat up for re-election, said of constituents on the individual insurance market who might face changes under the health care law. “But obviously I don’t think anyone thought people would be kicked off their health insurance plan.”

Then there’s health care, Beltrami County style. The Star Tribune reports today an inmate at the Beltrami County jail was badly beaten last month and needed medical attention. So a judge released him so the county wouldn’t have to pay for it.

3) WHO’S IN THE WALKER’S AUDIENCE?

If you’re going to talk about slavery, shouldn’t African Americans be part of the discussion?

Publisher and poet Chaun Webster has penned a letter to the Walker Art Center over the showing of the film, “12 Years a Slave,” followed by a discussion with the film’s director. He and others who signed the open letter say African Americans will be underrepresented in the audience:

Representative audiences insure that narratives are not placed in a vacuum where art institutions can be absolved of responsibility to the cultures and traditions that those stories come from.

When white-dominated spaces, often of a homogeneous class, bring work like McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave in, they in many ways manage the narrative and the way that it gets interpreted. In these spaces the participant/viewers are freed of any responsibility, social or otherwise, to historically marginalized groups and in so doing re-inscribe the roles of colonialism in art production, distribution, and consumption.

In other words, in this case, African art can be present and maybe even a few “exceptional” African artists, but by and large African bodies are unwelcome

The Walker advertised the event on its website and other locales, but the letter suggested the methods weren’t where lower-income residents would see it.

It offered a statement, printed on the Star Tribune:

“The Walker’s retrospective of the film works of Steve McQueen launches October 30 with the first regional screening of 12 Years a Slave. This viewing will be followed by additional screenings of McQueen’s previous films Shame and Hunger and will culminate with a dialogue between McQueen and Stuart Comer, curator at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, on November 9 addressing McQueen’s renowned visual arts practice and his more recent feature films.

“These programs were announced broadly, and after a short presale to Walker members, the dialogue and 12 Years a Slave sold out to the general public in a matter of days. Tickets to Hunger and Shame are still available. Unfortunately the Walker’s agreement with the film distributor prohibits additional screenings of 12 Years a Slave since it will be released in commercial theaters in the Twin Cities two days later, on November 1.

“The Walker appreciates and respects the voices of concern expressed by members of our community regarding questions of access to and representation of diverse audiences. We agree that this is a worthy and important topic for broader discussion within our arts community and we welcome this dialogue.”

Full letter here.

4) THE WINTER COMETH

David Wilson shot this documentary for a film class which documents the life of a church in north Minneapolis, which opened up to the homeless as an emergency shelter. Only churches are allowed to be emergency shelters in Minnesota.

(h/t: Tom Weber)

5) THE GREAT AMMUNITION SHORTAGE OF 2013

There’s fallout from the panic caused by gun owners who thought the government was coming after their guns in the wake of the Connecticut school shooting. So many people stockpiled ammunition, the Fargo Forum reports, that deer hunters are finding there’s now an ammunition shortage.

“All I know is that we can’t get any more from our distributors. What we’ve got is what we’ve got,” one store owner says.

The conspiracy theorists are suggesting the government has been buying up the ammo, since it can’t get the guns.

Federal Premium, an ammunition maker in Anoka, has heard the allegations and has posted an FAQ on its website denying it:

The Department of Homeland Security contract makes up a very small percentage of our total ammunition output. This contract is not taking ammunition away from civilians. The current increase in demand is attributed to the civilian market. Our production volumes on government contracts have been stable since the mid-2000s.

Bonus I:Can you retire worry-free on $1 million? (Cincinnati.com)

Bonus II: Two Ways of Looking at a Landing . James Fallows takes Kai Ryssdal and the Marketplace team to Maine as part of its American Futures project. First of all, there’s a lot of pressure landing a plane when the guy in the right seat — Ryssdal — is a former F-18 driver.

TODAY’S QUESTION
Who should pick up the tab in the fight against zebra mussels?

WHAT WE’RE DOING

Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: While the Republican Party continues to reassess its outreach and messaging to embrace new voters, especially young voters, will it lose the young Christian voters who are or should be in their fold?

Second hour: The Buddha always looks so peaceful and serene no matter where you spot his image in this chaotic world. Just how can a person find the peace the Buddha projects in their busy daily life? Modern day Buddhist and teacher Lodro Rinzler is the “cool kids Buddhist” who offers practical advice for the young kids of Generation Y. His latest book Walk Like a Buddha offers advice for those suffering a hangover, gritting their teeth through a workday or navigating bad dates to good people.

Third hour: Do comments ruin science.

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): KPCC documentary “War on the Welles,” on the 75th anniversary of CBS “War of the Worlds.”

The Takeaway (1-2 p.m.) – Republicans have suffered a heavy blow in the polls since the government shutdown. What’s next for the GOP?

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - Texas voters must present an official photo ID and voter registration card. The names on both need to match. That sounds easy, but not for everyone. Just ask the many married women who have changed their name and now have trouble proving who they are at the polls. NPR looks at the new voter ID law’s impact on women.

A new, more difficult GED test goes into place next year, one that’s better aligned with national standards being developed for high school graduates. It’s also more difficult and will be taken entirely on a computer. Minnesota testing sites are expecting a crush of people trying to finish their GEDs in the next few months to beat the deadline. MPR’s Tim Post will have the story.

  • TJ Swift
    • Kassie

      A reasonable person might think $63 ($5.25 a month) isn’t very much for an EMPLOYER to pay (not me) for people who have had cancer or type 1 diabetes to be able to buy their own insurance and not end up on government funded medicaid.

      But reasonable people don’t consider the earned income tax credit a wealth transfer nor do they invoke it during conversations about Obamacare since they have nothing to do with each other.

      • TJ Swift

        Kassie, perhaps your EMPLOYER is especially generous, but the vast majority of us will see that $63 passed along. I wonder if you’re opinion won’t change when and if you find that YOU will pay it…it certainly has swayed opinions elsewhere.

        http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-health-sticker-shock-20131027,0,4888906,full.story#axzz2iyDLHrVx

        Your definition of “reasonable” not withstanding, I mentioned the tax credit because the comment I was responding to mentioned tax credits to defend Obamacare. And really, at line 74A all tax credits become equal, aren’t they?

      • TJ Swift

        “your”, not “you’re”

  • John Peschken

    #5: I own guns myself, and know lots of others who do. The anti-government Tea Party leaning folks are over represented in the most strident members of this population. They work very hard to blame everything that’s wrong on the government and President Obama in particular.
    You will not change their minds on this any more than you can change the minds of those who believe in 9-11 or Kennedy assassination conspiracies. Any presentation of facts is just regarded as more lies and faked evidence.

  • BReynolds33

    1) Every year a group of us go up to Lake of the Woods, and pull in the stations out of Baudette. It is a fantastic adventure in radio. They have a daily feature where they list out the items left behind at local businesses (ie: There was a black glove left at the counter at McDonalds), there is another feature where people rush to call in and secure discounts at the local shops (ie: Get $25 at Bob’s Bait & Tackle for $15), and they have fantastic sports coverage where the local basketball game is called by a PxP guy who only calls when someone shoots (with full minutes of silence in between).

    It is fantastic.

    5) I was just at Gander Mountain, Capra’s, & Cabella’s a week ago, a shelves were full of all ammo except .22LR, which apparently is being bought up by the fistful by people with AR-15s that shoot the small caliber rounds. They do this because the ammo is cheap (when available), and they still get the machismo of owning an AR-15. People really need to take a deep breath. If you need ammo (other than .22LR), you should be just fine.

    • TJ Swift

      BR, the “AR-15″ is chambered for 5.56 mm.
      There are .22 that mimic the AR platform, but they are generally junk, and I certainly don’t think there are enough of them out there to account for the lack of ammo inventory. There are also “adapter kits” that allow a genuine AR to chamber .22, but I don’t know anyone silly enough to use them. After all, why water down your machismo, right?
      The most plausible explanation I’ve heard is “preppers”; people that are preparing themselves for the collapse of civil society for any number of reasons. There are more of these people than I’d ever have believed.
      Evidently “prepper” training focuses on the reliance on .22 rifles and pistols because the ammo and guns are light and they can be used for defense and hunting.
      .
      My local gun shop tells me these guys have rolled out the door with tens of thousands of rounds.

      • BReynolds33

        Correct. I should have said AR-15 style guns. That was the reason we were told at the three stores we stopped at, that people were buying the macho looking gun, but didn’t want to pay for the real thing, and the ammo to go with it, so they buy the cute version of it and pretend they are super cool anyway.

        Preppers is another reason, I would agree. Not to judge anyone, but those people are weird.

        • TJ Swift

          I hope, BR, “at the end of the day” we can all still agree they’re chasing shadows ;-)
          Just wish they’d lay off the .22LR’s for awhile!

          • BReynolds33

            Oh, we definitely agree. On both. My buddy would really appreciate being able to buy more than one box of .22LRs at a time for his 1950’s revolver his dad gave him.

  • Eric Chandler

    My grandmother was from Eastport.

  • Spike

    re: “Only churches are allowed to be emergency shelters in Minnesota.” (excerpt from The Winter Cometh) WHY?

  • Noelle Bakken

    Just one nitpicky comment – can we start calling Obamacare by its proper name, the Affordable Care Act?

    • http://blogs.mprnews.org/newscut/ Bob Collins

      I try to refer to it only as the “health care law.” That’s what it is, without the spin of names. http://blogs.mprnews.org/newscut/2013/09/obamacare-or-affordable-care-act/

      • Noelle Bakken

        Thanks Bob – I had missed that blog post. I’ve read so many negative comments referring to Obamacare that it feels much more negative in my mind.

    • Kassie

      The Obama administration and Democrats call it Obamacare. I use that because the largest number of people understand what I’m talking about when I do. To be very nitpicky, the actual proper name is The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Use that and no one will know what you are talking about.

  • eensRick Ellis

    Ah, small town radio. I started doing radio just out of high school at a local station in southern Indiana. Always loved it and when I watch “WKRP” all I can think of is that I would happy just working away at a station like that. Sigh. It’s really a shame those stations have vanished, with a very few exceptions.