In large part due to the recent conversation on this blog, I find myself engaging people about Great Falls, its government, its future and, invariably, its attitude. In the last 48 hours I have had detailed discussions on these issues with two established local professionals (a CPA and an engineer), the president of a local bank and a very well-established local government official.

Some themes surfaced consistently. First was the negative attitude this community has about itself. A couple of people commented that, while Great Falls suffers from problems endemic to most communities, the locals tend to view such problems as continuing proof of our town's inferiority, rather than recognizing that we are experiencing the struggles that most of our fellow American citizens endure.

The second point raised several times was our community's antipathy towards wealth. There were a variety of comments suggesting that those who acquire wealth are viewed with distrust or animosity (Um, Larry...?) rather than respect. Those who commented thought this was curious because ours is hardly a community of 'old money' (think "Boston") so that most people here who have wealth have probably acquired it rather than inherited it. One gentlemen thought it unusual that locals tend to resent those who have earned a good life through hard work and clean living, since that seems to be what "Montana values" are all about. Another man (ok, this one was me) commented that Great Falls doesn't need fewer rich people, it needs more rich people.

I don't have any great insights to take away from all this, other than we have a variety of difficult problems facing our community. I am not nearly presumptuous to think this blog can help, but maybe, just maybe, the difficulties facing our community can help us coalesce into something just a little bit more positive.

It's also reasonable, I think, to recognize these obstacles when considering the hard work put in by our Commission and staff. It's easy to throw bombs; we should also remember that our public officials operate in a difficult environment too. Maybe the governors and the governed need to find a better way to work together.


Anonymous said...

Gee Guy, you wound you old amigo too deeply. When did I ever say that I have "animosity" towards rich people? I don't. Hell, if it weren't for my vow of poverty, I'd LOVE to be rich. But my old friend Mahatma said it better than I ever could have. He identified the Seven Deadly Sins. And I agree.

1. Wealth without work.
2. Pleasure without conscience.
3. Knowledge without character.
4. Commerce without morality.
5. Science without humanity.
6. Worsip without sacrifice.
7. Politics without principal.

Yep. That pretty much covers it. Ya see, me and Ghandi are tight!

But here's my number eight.

8. Economic development MUST make economic sense!

Oh sure, I'm sure you banker friend probly thinks I'm nuts. But then, bankers make pisspoor mystics!

GeeGuy said...

Why do I think you have animosity towards rich people? Hmmm. How 'bout this:

What do LAWYERS charge per hour?!! Oh, you FORGOT?! Well, let me help you out there a leetle, pal. Last time I checked, it was bout ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY BUCKS AN HOUR! So, tell us. Can you spell "hypocrite"! And by the way, how in the HELL do you sleep at night?! Is there some kinda narcotic designed to assuaged the guilty conscience enough for lawyers who take ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY BUCKS AN HOUR from a working stiff making about six?!! What a JOKE you are!

Is that 1, or 4? :)

Anonymous said...


It seems class warfare is entrenched in Montana's political process just as it is throughout America.


"There are two lively political traditions in Montana today. One draws on its heritage of class warfare politics, radical miners and angry labor unions, which made Montana for many years the most Democratic of the Rocky Mountain states."

Quote: George F. Will, noting one example in the difference between the old liberalism and a new liberalism:

“The old liberalism delivered material advantages that were intended to enable people to live the lives they had chosen. The new liberalism, typified by forced busing and affirmative action and the explosive growth of regulation, administers ‘remedies’ to what society’s supervisors consider defects in the way people live.” (Newsweek, 23 Jan. 1978, p. 88; italics added.)

C. S. Lewis once wrote to a protesting near-believer as follows:

“You say the materialist universe is ‘ugly.’ I wonder how you discovered that! If you are really a product of a materialistic universe, how is it you don’t feel at home there? Do fish complain of the sea for being wet?” (From Sheldon Vanauken, A Severe Mercy, Harper and Row, 1977, p. 93.)

Anonymous said...

It's never what a person has, or doesn't have, that causes problems. It what they do and how they treat others.

Old or new money, when they put on airs, treat others poorly or indicate that people with less in their bank accounts are are less savvy, aware, knowledgeable, intelligent, worthwhile or incapable of making decisions, they've set off a negative chain reaction.

Most of what I observe with negativity in GF is that growth is wanted, but without any pain or sacrifice of what is valued. Economic development without the influx of people. Increased personal income without the crowds and accompanying crime and deterioration of environment, social connectivity, and peace of mind.

Mostly, people just want. They simply haven't defined what they want, if it's needed and if it can be balanced with what they already have.

Economic development for its own sake is not wise. Stagnation because of fear of growth is detrimental, too.

GF may not have a great income base, but neither do we live in a bowl of smog. It may not have all the chain restaurants, but we know our neighbors, our kids can play safely and we can still stroll streets at night. It may not have booming housing and business growth, but we are still able to meet political candidates out and about and make a personal assessment of their values or clearly see what we don't approve of.

The community, as a whole, needs to decide in what direction we wish to grow. This means we need to remember to make this town as livable, in as many ways as possible, for all. Not a town divided by a self-created insurmountable gap of "haves" and "have nots."

Then we'll have our own identity, not a copy of Billings or Missoula.
Which, by the way, if they are so great, why aren't most of the people from here, flocking to live in those town? S.O.

Anonymous said...

YIKES! Oh sure, take a passage outta context! A cheap shot for sure. Easy to dredge stuff outta the distant past. But OK, let's agree on one thing. Lawyers have done well for themselves as a profession BECAUSE they know how to jack up their fees! But that does indeed kinda bother people. Let's see, nurses with a similar amount of schooling, bout twenty bucks an hour. Teachers, even less. etc., etc. You see, you guys are lucky. Legal services are a necessary part of life. And unfortunately, they are becoming unavailable to many simply because they can't afford them. But does what I posted there mean that I'm against rich people? I don't think so. It's more like I'm against greed. Do I begrudge lawyers their fees? Not really. It's just that I couldn't charge someone making six bucks an hour a hundred and fifty for my services. Guess that my Christian heritage was a leetle too strong.


GeeGuy said...

Ok, LK, I admit. That was a cheap shot. I don't want to get too far off topic here, but let me offer a brief response to your fee statements.

First, what we charge per hour is not what we 'make.' If you think I charge $150.00/hr, 8 hours a day, you are sorely mistaken. In fact, my basic salary as an attorney would shock you, if at all, only by how low it is.

Second, the attorneys who you are most similar to philosophically make ten times or more money than the attorneys who tend to be more conservative. Nothing wrong with that, but it tends to be true.

Third, virtually every attorney does free work, both intentionally and unintentionally.

Fourth, in a situation where someone gets hurt, or really screwed over, attorneys will take those cases on contingent fees.

Finally, and I don't know this to be true everywhere, but I do know it to be true here, look around at your charitable boards and organizations. We don't get paid to donate our time to those things any more than the other volunteers do.

I hope that didn't sound too defensive. It is a very common misconception in this town, though, that all the lawyers are rich. Do we make a good living? Yes. Is it a rewarding and challenging profession? Yes. Does it require long hours of effort to succeed? Yes.

WolfPack said...

Fourth, in a situation where someone gets hurt, or really screwed over, attorneys will take those cases on contingent fees.

Isn’t there an attorney in Great Falls currently defending himself against a malpractice claim for charging both an hourly fee and a contingency fee for the same work? Is this included in what LK is talking about?

Anonymous said...

"Old or new money, when they put on airs, treat others poorly or indicate that people with less in their bank accounts are are less savvy, aware, knowledgeable, intelligent, worthwhile or incapable of making decisions, they've set off a negative chain reaction."

I admire the enire post of this person's insight. Quoted above however, in particular, conveys almost exactly what I have been unable to articulate myself in response to gee guy's curiousity regarding what it is about his political views that "hurts my feelings."

I outwardly expressed some small encouragement and some thoughts that Gee Guy should consider taking his expertise (gee guy responded that he was not qualified, and I actually disagree with that assessment, although I do find his apparent arrogance about wealth incredibly, and even nauseatingly outrageous) to the next level, and consider applying for the City Manager position.

I still feel that he really shoud give it some consideration, and that he would be an improvement and an asset for GF, but it would sure be even greater if Gee Guy could see things through the same lens of anonymous that posted earlier. Not just the part I have quoted, but the entire gist of what he/she is saying.

I realize that dedication, hard work, discipline and such has lead to the success of many of our more fortunate members of this community. However, some citizens less fortunate, at least in some cases, strive for the same level of success, and for this or that reason, cannot achieve that. Nonetheless, they too can,and in some cases, have a valuable contribution.

Maybe the attitude problem lies with the arrogance of the more wealthy. Anonymous posted a very well said comment. Hopefully some will contemplate it, particularly those who should consider taking a run at becoming the next City Manager....

Anonymous said...

I actually think we have had an improvement in our attitude. Ther was an "old guard" out there that is moving out of positions of influence-and that is a good move. I mean that this "old guard" largely hung it's hat on the base and gettng more federal money for the area though lobbying for federal funds. It was a great way for them to get to go to Washington and Smooze and have cocktails--but did little to devlop some of the areas greatest assets---All the while-other areas of the state were promoting themselves in different ways. The agricultural, tourist and logistical assets of our community were not developed.

We have a new guard coming on the scene. The Schlutz's, Haverlants, Flaherty's of our community are a bunch of new and energetic movers and shakers that are out there to sell this community on it's greatest assets. Not to put down the Base-or the Committee of 80 that always promoted it-but we have so much going for us outside of that that has largely been overlooked.

GeeGuy said...

First, Wolfpack, it's not really fair to state that an attorney who is charging illegal fees is an example of attorneys gouging clients. That would be like saying that an accountant who double-bills his clients demonstrates how accountants make too much money.

If anyone interpreted my comments to mean that I believe "people with less in their bank accounts are are less savvy, aware, knowledgeable, intelligent, worthwhile or incapable of making decisions," I have done a very poor job of communicating my thoughts. People with less are not less intelligent or the rest. Is it not fair to say, though, that if we are going to seek ideas about economic growth in our community, we might find more accurate and realistic ideas from people who have started and run businesses? Is that arrogant?

Which brings me to the poster who finds my arrogance "nauseatingly outrageous." I have to admit that brought a smile to my face. Why? Well, because I'm not wealthy.

Be careful, please, anonymous. While I put a lot of myself 'out there' on this blog, I don't put everything out there. Do not, for a moment, draw the conclusion that you know what the real me is like, or who I am as a person. I think that if you got to know me, you might find that your statements are not really accurate. If you do know me, then I find it "nauseatingly outrageous" that you would come here and take anonymous potshots.

Then again, maybe I am arrogant. If so, I apologize. I yam whatta yam.

Anonymous said...

I wasn't trying to take pot shots. Quite the contrary. I genuinely apologize and implore you take the comments in whole and not out of context. "nauseatingly outrageous" may not have been the best way of getting my point across, which is why..well, I'm generally a spectator of your blog, rather than a participating commentor.

Anyway, I do not assume to know who you really are as a person. My conclusions are drawn from your posts, which you do put out there. Generally, I think my conclusions are complimentary despite the aforementioned remark.

I'll add though, sometimes, and geez, please forgive me for saying so, but at times, even when some of what you are posting is the most sensible thing I think I have ever heard; you portray, at least to me, to think less of those that are not as economically/socially achieved as you.

However, at the same time, you seem rececptive to people's perceptions and at least some of the time, capable of objectivity.

Nothing personal.

Anonymous said...


What the hell are you talking about–people putting on airs. Quite frankly–I get treated in a rude fashion-by people that–appear to be both well to do and -not so well to do. I also get treated well by both....

I think I am generous to the community, and to individuals. Quite frankly-It disappoints me when I hold the door open for someone and they don’t say thank you. Does that make me a snob—or does it make them a snob? I go out of my way to be kind to people.

Now–What is my occupation —and how much do I charge per hour?

Get over yourself

Anonymous said...

I never thought there were all that many "rich" people in Great Falls per capita. A couple of people come to mind but I wont mention any names.

I suppose it depends on your perspective. Some people probably think an Internist who makes 140K a year or a self employed Veterinarian who makes 80K a year as being "rich".


a-fire-fly said...

Anon @ 3:53
I happen to agree that some of the posts come off as rather arrogant. However, I don't see it as anything really to do directly with money/social position, but more of an awareness of who you are. (And in fact, GeeGuy has called me arrogant! Can you believe that!)
But having pride in yourself and confidence in your abilitys and intelligence is not really the same as "putting on airs". I don't think you need money, or a degree, or social position to be treated with respect by GeeGuy.

And more on topic, people with financial security and social standing are more likely to be involved in things more in the public eye, which leads other people to resent those "with money" without even really knowing who those people are. If any of that makes any sense.

Anonymous said...

Class warfare or class envy is a form of pride.

Pride afflicts all kinds of people across the financial and humility spectrums.

“These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:

“A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,

“An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that are swift in running to mischief,

“A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.” (Prov. 6:16–19.)

“An honest man’s the noblest work of God.” (Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man, Epistle III, line 248.)

Where there is honesty, other virtues will follow. But first one must pluck out the beam from ones eye.

There is no difficulty in life that cannot be made worse by whining about it.

WolfPack said...

Geeguy- I think I missed my mark. I was trying to connect your second and fourth items. Most rich and excessively charging lawyers are people LK aligns himself with and I used local attorney and commission candidate Stuart Lewin as an example. Quit being apologetic for making a good living as a lawyer. We don’t live in a class society, law school is open to all who can make the grade even teachers.

Anonymous said...

Wow, wolfpup. You're OUT there!


Anonymous said...

When a person thinks "people with less in their bank accounts are are less savvy, aware, knowledgeable, intelligent, worthwhile or incapable of making decisions, they've set off a negative chain reaction," according to one poster.

That is the same liberal democrat tripe that brought us "diversity" and "inclusiveness." Everyone's got an opinion about everything, even on issues they are absolutely clueless about.

Sure, poor people have the same worth as human beings. But a 38 year old, high school graduate, who has never moved beyond fry cook? You're telling me that person has a lot to add to issues? If he even cares, he's probably completely ignorant.

I know, let's go pick our City Commission up at Walmart.

Anonymous said...

Slowly, Great Falls City leaders have to a great extent accommodated themselves to Communism—and are permitting us to become encircled by its tentacles.

Class envy is definitely part of that process.

Anonymous said...

"You're telling me that person has a lot to add to issues? If he even cares, he's probably completely ignorant."

You sound as if this "type" of person should not be allowed to share the same air as you.

Go crawl back under your rock.

Anonymous said...

That is the same liberal democrat tripe that brought us "diversity" and "inclusiveness." Everyone's got an opinion about everything, even on issues they are absolutely clueless about.

Nope, I think that's a bad response to the poster who was offering the explanation to the gated community of the "rich" in GF.

Why in G's name do WE need a gated community....OH, I know-egalitarianism.