Friday, April 30, 2010

The story behind the column

From the 03 May 2010 Greater Niagara Newspapers

By Bob Confer

This week’s column is a milestone. Not only is it the 250th column that I’ve written for the Greater Niagara Newspapers, it also represents one more week that the GNN hasn’t been sickened enough by my bombastic rants to cut me.

Even though we’re nearly 5 years into this column, there are still a few readers who are new to – or still trying to figure out – this whole Bob Confer thing. They wonder what drives me to write every week.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy writing op-eds, something which almost never came about despite a longtime desire to do so. In my days at Royalton-Hartland during the 1980s and early 1990s many teachers admired my writing skills and the zeal that I put into turning out documents. They pushed me to develop it into an art and gave me the encouragement and intellectual nourishment to do so. In my senior year I wrote a few opinion pieces for the school newspaper, the Echo, which I found to be pretty invigorating. It was something that I knew I wanted to pursue later.

Should things have gone as planned, I would have written columns for the school newspaper as a student at SUNY Brockport. But, I found myself in a program for nerds that allowed me to graduate in only 3 years. Looking to save money and rarin’ to get into the Real World, I did just that. It came at a price: Taking the largest course load possible every semester, I found myself without the time to write for the Stylus.

Missing out on that was something that left me feeling unfulfilled. Then came 2002. Wanting to improve my knowledge of accounting I started taking night classes at Brockport. While doing so, I thought that I should make up for what I missed and write a weekly column for the Stylus (ironically, I was busier than I was during my first stint as a college student). That brought me lots of fame – or rather “infamy” - on campus as my tirades did not gel with the stereotypical-but-true liberal ways of the college environment. I aggravated a lot of students and professors.

Looking to take those pleasures - the joys of writing and upsetting the apple cart – to the masses, I used the Stylus as a sort of resume to share with Lockport’s editor, Tim Marren. I thought the newspaper needed a regular columnist as, at the time, the only columnists were the newspaper’s reporters and editors. Many months earlier the newspaper lost its only “outsider” columnist (and the community lost a great man) when Clip Smith passed away. In my column proposal to Tim I noted the huge void that needed filling and that I would do as the Clipper did: Write for free. Tim either liked my work or the concept of no-cost filler and he welcomed me to the paper in 2005.

Since then, I’ve tried to stir the pot and educate the readers from my point of view. As much as I enjoy writing it pales in comparison to the joy of enlightening others. Government analysis dominates my topics and some folks consider me a conservative. More accurately, I approach the issues with a Libertarian mindset, demanding less government intrusion into our lives and pocketbooks. I strongly believe that if you take away the barriers to liberty you will allow our society and economy to flourish. I can’t help but attack our state and federal governments with vigor because they are holding us back. We face unsustainable growth in government spending, deficits and control. I worry about what my America will be as I age. I worry about what my kids’ America will be.

Some readers may find my approach to be a little hard-nosed. One fellow from Niagara Falls often tells me he thinks I hate our country. On the contrary; I love it. I understand what made it great, what could make it greater, and what is preventing it from becoming great. It’s that greatness, dear readers, that motivates me to motivate you.

1 comment:

Mark Weber said...

Bob- congrats on #250! I remember when you first started out-- Gosh, has it been 5 years already? Wow, time flew. Keep upsetting the apple cart with your Libertarian ways-- I enjoy reading what you write! -Mark Weber,