Alabama editorial roundup
Recent editorials from Alabama newspapers:
Decatur Daily on the International Trade Commission’s decision to lift a tariff on newsprint:
In all the debate about trade between the United States and other nations around the globe, especially Mexico and Canada, it’s easy to forget that nations don’t trade with each other. People trade with each other.
The macroeconomic figures embodied in trade deficits and trade surpluses obscure the fact that every transaction comes down to businesses and consumers, and every transaction involves both sides getting something they want and coming out better for the exchange.
Everyone reading this has a “trade deficit” with their preferred grocery store, but rightly no one worries about that, even though everyone could create more “jobs” for themselves — that is, more work — if they grew their own vegetables, milked their own cows, plucked their own chickens and did all of the innumerable tasks necessary to put a plastic 2-liter bottle of flavored, carbonated soda water in the refrigerator. Going to the supermarket means less work and makes us richer, which is why people go to the supermarket and engage in all of the other economic transactions they do throughout the day, from buying a hamburger to buying a copy of the newspaper.
That is true whether you are doing business with someone down the street or someone on the other side of the world, which is why since the end of World War II and especially since the end of the Cold War, nations have worked to reduce tariffs and other barriers to trade, which raise costs for consumers and reduce choice. Imagine if everything at the supermarket suddenly costs twice as much and there were only half as many brands from which to choose? That is the net effect of tariffs and other trade restrictions, and the effect is the same on your pocketbook.
So, it’s easy then to imagine the sigh of relief that escaped the newspaper industry when the U.S. International Trade Commission voted to remove tariffs on Canadian newsprint, finding that Canadian companies’ pricing practices weren’t harming American paper companies, but the tariffs were doing great harm to newspaper publishers.
“Today is a great day for American journalism,” David Chavern, the president and CEO of the News Media Alliance, a nonprofit organization that represents nearly 2,000 news organizations in the United States, said. “The ITC’s decision will help to preserve the vitality of local newspapers and prevent additional job losses in the printing and publishing sectors.”
The ITC removed the tariffs after a July hearing during which a bipartisan group of 19 lawmakers spoke against them. Both Alabama Republican Rep. Robert Aderholt and Democratic Sen. Doug Jones opposed the tariffs and voiced those concerns with testimony in front of the ITC on July 17.
The tariffs had been put in place after the North Pacific Paper Company lodged a complaint against Canadian companies, claiming that Canadian government subsidies hurt profits. The paper mill testified the tariffs helped them re-hire 60 full- and part-time employees, but that number is just a fraction of the newspaper jobs lost because of the tariffs.
“Throughout this year, I have heard from publishers across Alabama that the significant cost increase of newsprint caused by these tariffs had placed a heavy burden on their already tight finances, forcing them to cut service or jobs, or both,” Jones said in a statement after the ITC’s decision to lift the tariffs.
Trade restrictions make everyone poorer. In the long run, that includes even those who lobby for them to obtain a short-term advantage over their competition.
The ITC’s decision to lift the tariff on Canadian newsprint is a welcome one. Returning to the post-Cold War trend of reducing all trade barriers everywhere would be welcome as well.
Dothan Eagle on the governor of Alabama pushing for participation in the 2020 Census:
It’s an election year, so nothing should surprise us, but it’s interesting that some are criticizing Gov. Kay Ivey’s decision to put her efforts into pushing participation in the 2020 Census rather than focusing on the November election and whether she should accept challenger Walt Maddox’s invitation to debate.
Ivey shouldn’t be faulted for taking the pragmatist’s view. While we, too, would like to see a rousing head-to-head comparison of ideas between the GOP incumbent and the Democratic challenger, Ivey has nothing to gain by squaring off with Maddox. In this deeply red state, her victory in November is assumed as a foregone conclusion by many. So why not focus on the Census?
Ivey obviously realizes what many people either don’t remember, or have forgotten - the U.S. Census is an important tool in the maintenance of our government. Census counts establish official data used to determine many things, such as the number of congressional seats in each state, representation in the U.S. Electoral College, and how federal dollars are distributed. An inaccurate representation of the population of a region can have a significant impact for years to come.
Ivey is putting effort into the Alabama Counts initiative to encourage Alabamians to participate in the Census when the time comes, even though many residents are sure to receive the “long form,” which requires a bit of time commitment. There’s another reason to plan to fill out Census surveys - doing so is mandated by law, although we’ve never heard of the Census police.
Gov. Ivey may well consider that an accurate Census count in our state in 2020 is more important to Alabama than the outcome of the November election.
She’d be right.
Cullman Times on Alabama being selected as the nation’s top state for manufacturing in a new ranking:
Alabama has earned an impressive ranking in an economic category that should mean continued growth for the state’s workers.
Global Trade, a publication focusing on international business, selected Alabama as the nation’s top state for manufacturing in a new ranking.
Global Trade cited the growth of Alabama’s auto manufacturing industry and its leadership position in aerospace production, as well as job training provided by AIDT (Alabama Industrial Development Training), the state’s primary workforce development agency.
While Huntsville’s aerospace industry has long been a noted jewel in Alabama’s economic picture, the emergence of the automobile industry in the state is the real turnaround in creating a more dynamic economy. In addition to the presence of auto manufacturing, a large community of suppliers, such as Cullman’s REHAU, Topre, Yutaka and others across the state have filled in workforce gaps with thousands of jobs.
In addition, the publication credited the AdvantageSites program for the state’s success in the manufacturing industry. This program pre-certifies sites for development and is known for rapid permitting, which is coordinated by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management to speed up projects.
Cullman has been the site of numerous success stories along the way, particularly with industrial expansions.
Dale Greer, director of the Cullman Economic Development Agency, focuses on the ability of the state’s workforce to adapt to a variety of needs as industries arrive or expand.
Training programs through AIDT and the community college system have been valuable in turning the spotlight on Alabama for developers.
Greer said the interest among developers in Alabama at this time is extraordinary. The ability of the state and community development agencies to react quickly are vital in the success that has come to the state.
Much of the strength in Alabama’s economic development has been the organization that exists between the state and local agencies devoted to expanding the economy.
Recognition from Global Trade is a high honor for Alabama, and it’s also a ranking based on measurable facts.
Alabama’s future for building a stronger economy is to continue diversifying what its workforce can offer. The organization in the state has been outstanding for welcoming new businesses.
We applaud the efforts that come from both the local and state levels in strengthening the economy. We hope this creative, aggressive approach continues to evolve for even greater success in the future.