The 21st Century is a salvage operation

Junk is all over the news. Steel companies are buying scrap at big prices. And yet, recycling loses money for local governments across the country. The climate crisis is running headlong into our desire for more and more stuff. Worse, our economy currently depends upon us making and buying that stuff. My latest column for… Read More →

Labor navigates northern Minnesota political crosswinds

My latest column for the Minnesota Reformer is out today. Let’s call it a Labor Day think piece. Northern Minnesota has been a wellspring of the American labor movement for more than a century. However, in more recent years, organized labor has shifted into the role of mature old power, increasingly wedded to politics and… Read More →

‘Generational amnesia’ helps us forget a past we would do well to remember

My latest for the Minnesota Reformer is out today: The piece, entitled “These Old Timers Have Nostalgia All Wrong,” takes you on another of my journeys between past, present and future. This one explores what we forget. Our boundless ability to shed the past causes us to fear the future far more than we should…. Read More →

Truth about past nothing to fear

My latest column for the Minnesota Reformer is out. In “The history of what is not true” I add an entry to the recent debate over how Americans understand our past. Avoiding the well-worn tropes of the political controversy, I instead focus on my own research experience. About 100 years ago, powerful men created a… Read More →

Latest Reformer column explores collapse of local news

The Minnesota Reformer published my latest column today, this one about the collapse of local newspapers. Last week the International Falls Daily Journal announced it would cease publication later this month. This comes after other small weeklies have closed while other papers have either merged or reduced publication. It’s not just happening here, but across… Read More →

Drawing lines won’t solve problems

This week we learned that Minnesota would keep all eight of its Congressional seats after the federal government released the results of the 2020 Census. Good news for our state. We almost lost a seat. Nevertheless, this political analysis will now fixate on maps and lines as demographic change shapes new maps. Political districts are… Read More →

Legislative ‘bluff and bunk’ no different after 100 years

Just when did politics get so … weird? When did politicians become sociopathic performance artists, huffing their own vapors long past the point of inebriation? Of course, we begin by blaming the other party, whoever they may be. But then, upon sober analysis, we might conclude that it’s the internet’s fault. The answer, however, is… Read More →

Future of Hibbing mine tied to rapidly changing steel industry

Today, the Minnesota Reformer published my new column, “The clash of two big steel companies will help shape the future of the Iron Range.” The piece explores the issues behind Hibbing Taconite’s need for a new iron ore supply. I’ve written before about Cleveland-Cliffs’ new position in North American iron and steel. Now we’ll see… Read More →

Community police challenges not just a metro issue

My latest column for the Minnesota Reformer, “Law and Order starts with peace,” weaves stories from my Iron Range grandpa’s time as Keewatin town cop with the unsettling trends in community policing today. This is a problem for all of us to face, not just the metro area. This piece refers to the killing of a… Read More →

Legislature, mining & police

This year I’ll be offering occasional news analysis on WDSE’s Almanac North as part of the station’s “Voices of the Region” segment. My first segment was Jan. 8. If you missed it, here it is: I reviewed three topics. First, the legislature is in session now. Northeastern Minnesota lawmakers of both parties find themselves in… Read More →