Excerpts from recent South Dakota editorials

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Aberdeen American News, Aberdeen, July 24, 2014

Leave lasting legacy without opening a pocketbook

Recently, CBS reported that 127 of the world's 1,645 billionaires have joined The Giving Pledge.

This is a campaign started in 2010 by Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett to encourage billionaires to make a commitment to give away at least $500 million to philanthropic causes. There are only two requirements to join this billionaires' club: be worth at least a billion dollars and be willing to give half of that away.

The philanthropic causes are up to the individual member. Once a year, club members convene to talk about and share lessons in philanthropy and the best strategies for giving away vast amounts of money.

The Gates, who are worth $80.3 billion, according to Forbes in 2014, have committed to give away 95 percent of their wealth and Buffett, worth $63.1 billion, 99 percent. When CBS reporter Charlie Rose of "60 Minutes" asked the three about leaving money to their families, Buffett responded: "I don't really think that, as a society, we want to confer blessings on generation after generation who contribute nothing to society, simply because somebody in the far distant past happened to amass a great sum of wealth."

Buffett added that, when he telephones fellow billionaires to try to convince them to join the club, results are mixed.

"I've been tempted to think that if they can't sign up for 50 percent, maybe I should write a book on how to get by on $500 million. Because, apparently, there's a lot of people that don't really know how to do it," Buffett joked.

The idea of encouraging the wealthiest among us to give away half or more, or most, of their money is a good thing. The money from this billionaires' club has improved the lives of countless people.

Better that they spend their money on doing the right thing rather than indulging in possessions or pastimes they and their families don't need.

And maybe there needs to be a club like this for the rest of us.

Anyone can leave a lasting legacy. And you don't need to spend hundreds, thousands or millions of dollars to do it.

What if we would all pledge to do one nice thing a day? The examples are endless:

— Give someone a compliment.

— Listen instead of talk.

— Pick up a piece of trash.

— When the opportunity to criticize someone opens, close your mouth and walk away.

— Be supportive of someone who is having a bad moment, experience or day.

— Volunteer your time.

— Be respectful of those around you and your environment.

— Readily admit your mistakes and shortcomings.

— Be real, be energetic, be positive, be brief and be gone.

We could call it the Humankind Club. The only requirement for membership could be a pledge to make more deposits in those around us than withdrawals.

Think of the impact we could have without ever opening our pocketbooks.


Capital Journal, Pierre, July 22, 2014

Archaeologists should take a look at Ree Heights site

It's about three years ago now that ranchers Dean and Candice Lockner of Ree Heights found a layer of bones exposed in a slide area on property belonging to Candice's mother, Kay Fawcett.

Presumably they're bison bones; and possibly, given what we know about what took place just a few miles away along the same line of hills, they might be evidence of another bison kill site used by Plains Indians in prehistoric times. It's already known from another Ree Heights site excavated by archaeologists in the 1960s that prehistoric hunters, perhaps 500 years before Columbus, ran bison over the edge of those hills and then killed the wounded animals and processed the meat with stone tools.

Is that also what happened on the land the Lockners manage? Very possibly; but no one knows for sure because the Lockners have resisted the temptation to go poking into that hillside. They want professional archaeologists to do it so that the history won't be lost. They're even open to the idea that if it is another kill site, there might be potential for an educational exhibit or center of some kind, no matter if it's an inconvenience to their ranch operation.

"Even if you own the land, you don't own the history," Candice Lockner told us.

To us, that sounds like the kind of invitation the state of South Dakota and any university should welcome. So where are the archaeologists? Isn't this what they're trained to do? Let's get some boots on the ground, some experts who know how to excavate a site and how to interpret what they find. We know enough about the way people in South Dakota value their history to think there would be plenty of volunteers to help out with the digging.

And if this really is another bison kill site, then let's talk to the Lockners about that great idea they have of making an educational center to study and interpret the work of ancient hunters. It's history that is valuable in itself, but it's also economic development.

People will come from far away to learn what has happened here in our part of the Great Plains


Black Hills Pioneer, Spearfish, July 17, 2014

Unaccompanied Child Immigration coming to a town near you

Why are we allowing government representative and political pundits to use innocent children as pawns in the perpetual political blame game?

Desperate families from Central America are illegally sending children unaccompanied by parents to the southern U.S. border at a rate of more than 1,000 per day — roughly 55,000 children since October.

Citizens in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras live with the threat of drug-gang violence and even death on a daily basis. Human traffickers are preying on these poor, anguished people who are willing to do anything to help their children escape to the U.S. Wouldn't you?

This is not somebody else's problem, nor is it a partisan problem. This is an American problem. The time to act is now. Young lives are hanging in the balance.

The Homeland Security Act of 2002 and the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act in 2008 have set forth the process and protections for how the United States legally handles unaccompanied child immigrants, but it isn't very flexible. This lack of flexibility only exacerbates the problem the Obama administration and Congress in facing in deciding how to handle this issue with prudence and compassion without trampling important immigration laws.

Officials say it may take up to two years to process the unaccompanied, illegal immigrant children already in the country.

This delay is due in part to the overload the U.S. Border Patrol is dealing with. Not only are the agency's hands full dealing with adults trying to enter the country illegally, now they're tasked with trying to handle processing the huge migration of unaccompanied children, stretching their resources to the brink. We need to put additional manpower and money on this problem promptly. We need to find any family members these children have that are already in the U.S. and get these children placed as fast as possible. We are dealing with a refugee crisis on our southern border and it is our obligation as a country to care for these innocent children.

Recently, more than 200 unaccompanied immigrant children arrived in Nebraska to live with relatives or sponsors. This was all done without notice or coordination with the local or state government. Communication is not only a good idea it's imperative to solving this crisis. Government agencies, President Obama, and Congress cannot handle this alone, and they cannot handle this in silence. We must all work together openly. It will take federal, state, and local government agencies and non-profit organizations working in unison, and pooling resources, manpower, and knowledge openly to address the problem responsibly and appropriately.

We are a country of immigrants that was built through innovation. Let's show the world that we can handle a humanitarian crisis with a tough yet compassionate approach.

This is not a partisan issue; it's an American issue. We must act now.

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