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Louisiana editorial roundup

September 4, 2019

Recent editorials from Louisiana newspapers:

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Sept. 3

The Houma Courier on a University of Louisiana program to help residents finish their degrees:

The University of Louisiana System has come up with a great program to help Louisiana residents who started but never finished college get back to school and earn their degrees.

Compete LA ... is so brilliant it’s hard to believe nobody has done it before.

An estimated 653,000 Louisiana residents have dropped out before completing a college degree, state statistics show. The program aims to make it as easy as possible for them to enroll in one of the UL system’s nine regional universities, including Nicholls State in Thibodaux.

“For Louisiana to be competitive in the economy of the future, we have to develop a more educated workforce,” says Jim Henderson, president and CEO of the UL system. “Compete LA is designed to cut through the red tape of returning to school and provide supports at every step of the student’s educational journey.”

The program aims to improve the state’s second-to-last ranking for adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher, he said. About 31% of U.S. adults have a bachelor’s degree or higher compared to Louisiana’s 23%.

Compete LA will pair returning students with a coach who will evaluate the applicants’ completed courses to devise a way for them to finish college as quickly as possible while working around their schedules. Businesses can partner with the program by offering employees tuition reimbursements or help repaying college debt, providing internships or donating money to Compete LA.

This is a win for everyone involved. The state gets a better educated workforce that can help grow and diversify its economy. Businesses have a better-prepared pool of applicants from which to hire. But those who stand to benefit most are the students who finish their degrees. Numerous studies have shown that one of the best things people can do to improve their quality of life and employment options is to further their education.

Men with bachelor’s degrees accumulate about $900,000 more in median lifetime earnings than high school graduates, Social Security Administration figures show. Women with bachelor’s degrees earn $630,000 more. Men with graduate degrees earn $1.5 million more in median lifetime earnings than high school graduates. Women with graduate degrees earn $1.1 million more.

Locally, those who work in the oilfield, Houma-Thibodaux’s main industry, know jobs are becoming more specialized and complex, requiring more training. Certification from a community college like Fletcher in Schriever or a degree from a university like Nicholls can lead to greater opportunities for the kinds of jobs a person can get and his or her ability to advance.

This is a great opportunity for students who started college to finish with a degree. Anyone can apply at CompeteLA.org or by texting CompeteLA to 58052.

Online: www.houmatoday.com

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Aug. 31

The Advocate on the effect of tariffs on Louisiana’s oil and natural gas industry:

Louisiana’s key role as an energy exporter, including both oil and natural gas, is a matter of record.

We hope President Donald Trump doesn’t mess this up with a tariff war that serves no national interest and is particularly harmful to the resources that Louisiana is bringing to the world. China’s latest round of retaliatory tariffs include a levy on imported oil, of which the Asian giant is a big customer.

Enough is enough.

The earlier tariffs imposed by Trump have not always been as damaging as first thought. The administration’s trade policies have wobbled between aggression and accommodation, and the threatening early-morning tweets have, in some cases, softened in the light of day. The national economy is healthy, although the weakness in the economies of European allies is made worse by tariff wars kicked off by Trump. Maybe this too will pass.

But there is no question that the president remains committed to trade disputes — and particularly tariffs — as a clumsy instrument for getting his way. Louisiana’s farmers and ranchers, among others, have suffered from this China-bashing.

Predictably, mainland China has retaliated. Not only has that hurt America’s economy — let’s face it, a tariff is a tax increase on imports, paid by consumers — but the disputes are shelving indefinitely the more detailed and less dramatic negotiations that over time will make a lasting difference for American companies.

We do not defend the Chinese government’s trade abuses. Nor should the president. But the economic consequences of Trump’s actions are becoming increasingly obvious in a world in which oil and gas from Louisiana can be a trade commodity good for both producer and customer.

The president has himself visited the energy export sites in Louisiana. He should be particularly aware that provoking Chinese retaliation with tariffs isn’t in the interest of either country.

We doubt that the president is that familiar with the history of Louisiana, although he certainly had a personal interest in casino development here some decades back, though he was ultimately unsuccessful.

One historical fact is that Louisiana is named for Louis XIV, the Sun King, who centuries ago the world thought had cornered the market on arrogance.

“L’etat, c’est moi,” he is said to have declared, asserting his personal caprices as state mandates.

Is that much different from “Our great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China,” as the president tweeted last week?

The beginning of wisdom is a recognition of limits. Louis did not have it, and it hurt France for decades if not a century.

Online: www.theadvocate.com

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Aug. 31

The (Lake Charles) American Press on the impact of agriculture on the state’s economy:

The Louisiana State University research station in central Louisiana has found that various varieties of sugarcane survive in chilly weather. It is a good reminder of what a large and powerful part agriculture plays in our state’s economy and culture.

The research done at the Dean Lee Research Center showed steady yields and prices have prompted some Louisiana farmers to push the limits, planting sugarcane in what has traditionally been corn and soybean country.

“This is a farmer-driven project,” AgCenter sugarcane specialist Kenneth Gravois said. “The cold tolerance work in variety testing and weed control work done by Dr. (Al) Orgeron,” an AgCenter pest management specialist.

According to Dr. Mike Strain, DVM, the commissioner of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, agriculture is the largest industry in the state.

Our state’s agriculture products include cotton, soybeans, cattle, horses, sugarcane, poultry, eggs, dairy products, rice, forestry and aquaculture (seafood).

Louisiana’s farmers, foresters and fishermen contribute some $10 billion annually to the states economy.

Among the state’s many seafood products is crawfish. Louisiana is the biggest producer of crawfish in the world. And what would Louisiana be without its incredible world-famous cuisine and famous restaurants?

In addition, forestry is a massive industry in Louisiana, with 48 percent of the state comprising forest lands, or 13.8 million acres.

According to the Dept. of Agriculture, forestry is a renewable resource that provides the raw material for the second largest manufacturing employer — the forest products industry — with over 900 firms in 45 parishes directly employing over 25,000 people.

An additional 8,000 people are employed in harvesting and transportation of the resource. Other benefits of Louisiana’s forests are clean air and water, wildlife habitat, recreational opportunities and scenic beauty.

Beyond the economic impact, agriculture has always been a big part of Louisiana’s history, heritage and culture, with many of our most famous and important people coming from rural backgrounds.

Our state is truly blessed to have such an abundance of natural resources produced by farmers, foresters and fishermen, as well as agriculture’s contribution to our very unique Louisiana culture.

Online: https://www.americanpress.com

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