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Recent Missouri Editorials

November 6, 2018

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Nov. 3

Editorial: Trump stumps in Missouri, oblivious to the pain his trade war caused

President Donald Trump ended his pre-election campaign blitz in Cape Girardeau Monday, highlighting the urgency of Missouri’s U.S. Senate race in the Republican Party’s quest to hold Congress in Tuesday’s midterm elections. Trump’s visit will also highlight, if unintentionally, the damage his unnecessary trade wars have wrought on rural America.

Cape Girardeau is surrounded by farm country that has been hit hard by China’s agricultural tariffs in retaliation for Trump’s tariffs. Cape Girardeau also is in the same southeast Missouri region as Poplar Bluff, where the nation’s largest nail manufacturer, Mid Continent Nail Corp., sits on the brink of ruin thanks to Trump’s steel tariffs.

Don’t expect the GOP candidates who join Trump in Cape Girardeau to make one peep about any of this. That would be out of character for today’s blindly Trump-enabling Republican Party. But voters who watch Trump’s appearance Monday should remember what’s not being said.

Trump’s tariffs on $250 billion of China’s imports were ostensibly a reaction to Chinese trade abuses that were real. But this president’s response was akin to responding to a flat tire by slashing all four of them. America’s agricultural community — which heavily backed Trump in 2016 — begged him not to do it. He did it anyway.

China, to no one’s surprise, responded with a 25 percent tariff on U.S. agricultural goods. These include soybeans, of which the U.S. is the world’s biggest producer and China the biggest market — a market in which Missouri and Illinois farmers can no longer compete.

Mid Continent, meanwhile, has been hit not by retaliatory foreign tariffs, but Trump’s protective ones. The nail factory is owed by a Mexican company that provides the factory’s steel. Its raw material now costs 25 percent more even though it’s coming from within a company that, until recently, had about 500 Missouri employees. With its product priced out of the market, Mid Continent has laid off or lost about 200 of those workers. The company warns it can’t survive much longer.

It all illustrates Trump’s failure to grasp the interconnected nature of global trade with his zero-sum, us-versus-them approach — an approach that runs counter to conservative values. Republicans, remember, were the party of free trade before Trump’s hostile takeover.

Now the administration’s solution to the damage done by its own trade policies is a $12 billion bailout for farmers and the possibility of granting tariff exemptions to companies like Mid Continent. What does it say about your trade war when the first thing you have to do is start making exceptions and passing out money to the economically wounded?

More to the point: What does it say about candidates whose party once prided itself on economic sobriety, and now they’re positioning for photo ops with a president whose reckless trade policies are hurting their own constituents?


The Joplin Globe, Nov. 1

Bring early voting to Missouri

The early voting period for next week’s midterm election is arriving for many residents in this region — but not for those of us in Southwest Missouri.

If you’re an Oklahoma resident, you’ll be able to cast a ballot beginning today. If you live in Arkansas, you’ve already had early voting options available to you for more than a week.

If you’re in Kansas, you’ve been able to vote for about two weeks now. And if you are lucky enough to live in Crawford County, you might have seen Clerk Don Pyle and his staff out and about this week, setting up satellite locations at the Homer Cole Community Center, Pittsburg State University and Meadowbrook Mall for you to cast your vote.

Crawford County is to be applauded for that initiative, which seeks to increase voter participation. Pyle says early voting eases accessibility for residents who might otherwise have a difficult time getting out to the polls on Tuesday, including those who work multiple jobs, those who lack transportation or those who can’t afford the time away from work to stand in line at the ballot box.

Unfortunately, voting early is a different case in Missouri, where residents must have a specific, designated reason — absence from one’s precinct on Election Day or incapacitation because of physical illness or disability, for example — to fill out an absentee ballot before the day of the election. If any of us have already decided how we want to vote and want to do so today for the sake of convenience, well, we’re out of luck. Or we must “make up” an excuse.

Expanding early voting in Missouri wouldn’t necessarily have to be extensive to be meaningful. Here’s one suggestion, adapted from Jasper County Clerk Marilyn Baugh: Open the absentee voting period to anyone who wishes to vote early and maybe add voting options at the county clerk’s office the weekend before the election. It could be as simple as that, without a lot of extra expenditures.

Research from the Brennan Center for Justice, a nonpartisan nonprofit operated by the New York University School of Law, suggests that early voting contributes to reduced stress on the voting system and shorter lines on Election Day, improved performance by poll workers, early identification and correction of system glitches and errors, greater access to voting and increased voter satisfaction.

Democracies depend on citizens being able to cast their votes in systems that are fair and accessible. Operating a more flexible early voting system in Missouri would support both, and we encourage lawmakers to revamp the state’s procedures to allow it.


The St. Joseph News-Press, Nov. 1

Halloween and sex offenders: A question of resources

On Halloween, true terror lies in the unseen.

A haunted house creates a creepy aura of suspense, until a dark corner reveals nothing more than a teenager in face paint. The best horror movies don’t show an actual monster; they provoke the unformed anxieties within our own minds.

Politicians, law enforcement and the media have joined forces to tap into something similar within all of us.

Once again, Buchanan County deputies spent Halloween night enforcing legal restrictions on the activities of sex offenders. These “no candy laws” include the posting of signs notifying children that no treats are available at a residence where a sex offender lives.

This is in no way a local phenomenon. Similar enforcement operations are conducted all across the country on Halloween.

We support efforts to protect children from sex offenders, but let’s be clear: There’s an air of theater to all this.

A 2009 study found that children are no more likely to become the victim of a sexual predator on Halloween than on any other day of the year. Government data shows that the vast majority of sex crimes against children are not committed by strangers, but by family members, acquaintances and trusted authority figures.

Local prosecutors and child protection officials confirm this.

Let’s assume that legislatures passed these Halloween laws and officers and deputies give up an evening with their families for the best of reasons.

This is really is an issue of finite resources in a world of infinite problems. Major law enforcement operations tend to involve overtime and the diversion of resources from one area to another.

We think it’s possible to tip our hats at the effort but also to ask if this is the best use of resources. Would the time and money find a better use in a push to serve outstanding warrants? Or how about simply increasing DWI and traffic enforcement on an evening when streets are filled with children and adults are attending drinking parties?

These are questions to consider before next year’s Halloween.

At the very least, we shouldn’t be lulled into a false sense of security just because the calendar has advanced to November. Halloween has passed, but sexual predators remain a real danger — not an imaginary one — 365 days a year.

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