Mississippi editorial roundup
Recent editorials from Mississippi newspapers:
The Greenwood Commonwealth says Mississippi is letting hospitals fall:
In the last month, four more Mississippi hospitals have filed for bankruptcy — in Magee, Batesville, Amory and Clarksdale. This is just the latest in a list of dozens of Mississippi rural hospitals that are either closing, filing for bankruptcy or, like Greenwood Leflore Hospital, becoming steadily unprofitable.
Local hospitals have been a mainstay of small towns and cities in Mississippi, often the largest employer in the area and a source of great community pride and support. It is a sad day to watch their slow destruction.
The cause of this is simple: Mississippi, like 16 other Republican-dominated states, continues to turn down federal money for Medicaid expansion, thus denying coverage for 167,000 working poor. The Medicaid expansion is supposed to cover cutbacks in federal hospital reimbursements for uncompensated care, but in states that have turned down the federal money, the hospitals are out of luck.
Bear in mind the feds are paying for nearly all the money required to expand Medicaid. Mississippi is turning up its nose at a billion dollars a year, money that is sorely needed by rural hospitals serving the rural working poor. As a result, Mississippi is shooting itself in the foot and losing population as workers flee to neighboring states, such as Louisiana and Arkansas, where they can get medical coverage.
Why is this so? It’s because the expansion of Medicaid to the working poor was part of Obamacare. Republicans don’t want to be seen as supporting anything to do with Obamacare, no matter how much fiscal sense it makes to a poor rural state such as Mississippi. In a word, it’s politics.
The irony is that Medicaid remains for those in Mississippi who do not work. But why accept a lowpaying starter job in Mississippi when you will immediately lose your medical benefits? By refusing to expand Medicaid, our Republican leadership is making sure those who don’t work will never try to get a job. It is a classic case of using public policy to ensure the continuation of a cycle of poverty.
Obamacare was not the best way to fix America’s medical coverage problems. Health savings accounts and a variety of free market reforms would have been far superior. But that battle was lost years ago. Mississippi should accept the law of the land and quit turning down a billion dollars a year. This exercise in ideological purity over commonsense practicality is a monumental error on behalf of our Republican leadership. It is hurting our state in very obvious ways as these new hospital bankruptcies and our state’s population decline attest.
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal on James Meredith being the first African-American student to gain admission to the University of Mississippi and a donor’s Facebook post that drew backlash as being racist:
Much has changed at the University of Mississippi since a young James Meredith became the first African-American student to gain admittance to the all-white school on Oct. 1, 1962.
As history has it, Meredith’s coming to Ole Miss was not met with warm wishes and welcomes.
In fact, the Battle of Ole Miss, as it came to be called, was fought in the waning hours of Sept. 30, 1962.
The riot was fierce. White segregationists, who were determined no black man would integrate Ole Miss, pitted themselves against federal officials tasked with making certain Meredith was safely enrolled and admitted.
Two civilians were killed during the night ... and more than 300 people were injured, including many of the U.S. Marshals who were sent to keep order.
Heroes were made that long-ago night. White men who fought for the right of a black man to get an education at a place not open before to people of color.
Two Mississippi ministers - one Baptist, one Episcopalian - were among those who fought on the right side of history.
Will Davis Campbell and Duncan Gray Jr. dodged bricks, bottles, even bullets to ensure the upholding of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1954 ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, which stated segregation in public schools was unconstitutional.
Though it is uncomfortable, it is a part of our history and, thus, a burden we are bound to bear.
But in the decades since, university students and officials alike have worked diligently to pull Ole Miss out from under the pall of racism. In ways, large and small, the university has taken positive steps forward.
Still, as is often the case in life, there are incidents and individuals that force some backward steps from time to time. When that happens, history rears its painfully ugly head, and we are compelled to remember.
This month, Ed Meek, who began working in public relations at Ole Miss in 1964 and whose name appears on the university’s journalism building, posted on Facebook photographs and words that were, to many, not only offensive, but racist.
The photos of two African-American women wearing short dresses were accompanied by Meek’s thoughts that a decline in enrollment “is nothing compared to what we will see if this continues ... and real estate values will plummet as will tax revenues.”
One of the women photographed has responded in a guest column that appeared in The Daily Mississippian, the university’s newspaper. Mahoghany Jordan is a senior at Ole Miss who, like many other young people on a post-ballgame Saturday night in Oxford, was just having a good time with friends.
Meek’s words were swiftly condemned by Ole Miss Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter and Will Norton, dean of the school of journalism, and that is a good thing.
We must be zealous in our fight to continue to move Mississippi forward.
Like it or not, we still have a long way to go to move past our past. But it can be done.
The Daily Leader on a statistic saying that more Mississippians were on employer payrolls in August than ever before and keeping smart Mississippians at home:
A surprising statistic was reported this month: More Mississippians were on employer payrolls in August than ever before.
The number of people on payrolls is a good indicator of the labor market’s health. No doubt, many in the state will brag on those numbers.
But it’s not all good news. The state’s economist have told lawmakers that while Mississippi’s economy is growing, it’s lagging behind the rest of the nation.
“Mississippi’s growth will not catch the national growth” in the near term, Darrin Webb said. “That is not likely to happen.”
Webb said the state has struggled to fully recover from the 2008 recession. He said “the state’s ‘real’ gross domestic product, the total of everything produced in the state, is lower now than it was in 2008 before the Great Recession,” The Daily Journal reported.
Webb pointed to the slow growth as a reason state tax collections have been lower than expected in recent years. State agencies have been forced to slash budgets due to state revenue problems.
Hundreds of millions in tax cuts have not helped. Webb has called those cuts “lost revenue due to legislative changes.”
So why has Mississippi struggled to keep pace with the rest of the country?
Part of the reason may be that the state’s best and brightest do not always stay home to contribute. Census estimates show that nearly 10,000 more American-born people left the state than moved here from July 2015 to July 2016, offset some by the roughly 2,000 people who moved to Mississippi from a foreign country, The Associated Press reported.
Between 2000 and 2015, Census figures show that Mississippi had the highest outmigration rates in the South for people younger than 40 with a college degree, according to a New York Times analysis.
While the high payroll number is a positive sign, state leaders shouldn’t ignore the obvious problems holding the state back. We have to find a way to keep talented, smart Mississippians at home. The future of the state depends on it.