Strange, but moments of clarity seem harder to find now than ever.

For those who were not listening at 5:30 a.m., WLPO's Rod Thorson said something quite interesting, original and thoughtful yet blunt last week.

Illinois legislators, at the urging of Gov Pat Quinn and all public colleges in Illinois, had just approved spending $200 million to restore certain grants for students.

They did so while not providing a revenue source and while not having an immediate way to pay for it.

"This is one of our challenges," Quinn told the press last week, implying it was an absolute necessity.

He signed the legislation to restore second-semester Illinois Monetary Award Program grants this past weekend.

Thorson, like many radio personalities, doesn't need publicity, but his relevant comment on MAP grants deserves to see the light of day.

He contended while the grants help some low- to moderate-income students stay in school, they wouldn't be needed if the schools didn't cost too much and didn't continue to increase tuition and fees because of spending and high salaries.

When everybody else is tightening the belt, people who work for tax-funded colleges must do the same, he continued.

As I heard it, he said the grants are simply a tax that passes directly through students back to the universities and colleges, helping subsidize public entities that, without scrutiny, continue to become more and more costly to students and taxpayers.

His words, including something about ivory towers, were less polite than mine, but you deserve to get the gist.

And the thoughts were his alone.

Too much calculated, totally conservative or totally liberal commentary crams newspapers as well as radio and television time.

Take television. Say you get 100 channels and 2,400 hours a day of programming. On many of those channels, everything is one-sided, or almost as bad, two-sided.

The Daily Show produced the most astute minute of television I saw recently. It was a quick parody of the way many television outfits handle controversial topics.

They mention the news, then get comments from people or political flaks who have juxtaposed, radical views on the topic, and, voila! "There you have it: balanced reporting."

What we have more of on major topics, actually, is mass confusion.

Take the health-care debate.

Radical opponents who seem to say and write the most words for the public say a public option for insurance would turn the United States into a socialist republic.

Proponents say a public option or even socialized medicine are needed because insurance companies and hospitals otherwise will continue ripping off the middle class.

You hear that the insurance lobby is fighting heal-care reform tooth and nail, and I find it hard to defend insurance companies. They force me to pay ever-increasing rates for rainy-day insurance I'm not yet using, mostly to help pay for people who don't have insurance.

I don't appreciate insurance companies raising rates because you make a claim, because the whole reason you put your money into insurance is in case you have an emergency someday.

But I do have some concern for insurance companies, mainly because so many Americans have their retirement plans wrapped up with those companies.

There has to be a middle ground, and Congress needs to find it.

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