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Kentucky editorial roundup

September 5, 2018

Summary of recent Kentucky newspaper editorials:

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Sept. 2

The Independent of Ashland on legalizing sports gambling in Kentucky:

Times have certainly changed when it comes to sports betting in the United States.

We remember the day when there were only a couple of places to put down a bet on a sporting contest. One was Vegas. The other was with some shadowy figure in the alley.

Today, it is far different.

The unspoken reality in recent years is that anyone with a laptop and Internet service could bet themselves all the way to the poorhouse if they wanted to. Online gambling options have been, and are, unlimited in the largely unregulated world of online sports wagering. If you’ve got the money and the Internet, you can bet. Yet, in just the last year, sports gambling has gone truly mainstream in America in the aftermath of the Supreme Court decision that flipped a longtime ban on sports betting. Several revenue-hungry states are now rushing to the proverbial goal line to get the sports books up and running. ...

There is now a very significant push to legalize sports gambling in Kentucky. ...

Any discussion about sports gambling must first start with the societal ramifications. We think there are a lot of comparisons in our mind between alcohol and sports gambling. Both can be intoxicating. It is also possible to do either responsibly. However, for some, either can be profoundly destructive. To accept legal sports wagering, society must also accept the ugly reality that a percentage of the population will destroy themselves with it. There is no way around this. It is a known fact. To us, then, if the Commonwealth is going to consider legalizing sports gambling, there should be a requirement that part of the revenues be assigned to preventing and treating those with problem gambling addictions.

We are, generally speaking, free market thinkers. We believe that humans are born of their own free will. We have choices. We can choose to be productive or we can choose to be self-destructive. ... With that belief system we see this largely as an individual choice. If you are a responsible person and you want to place a bet on a sports contest, you should be able to do so. Is it a good idea? Probably not. But when push comes to shove we believe on endeavors like this, in a free market, you should have the option.

With this said, there are limitations. Some endeavors are so harmful to society that they should not be legalized. Illicit drugs is one example.

Government has a responsibility to look out for the greater good on these types of issues. On one front government has a regulatory responsibility to make sure contests are fair, legal, and like we said earlier, always mindful of the societal impact. The other place where government fits in is in providing the infrastructure and public safety necessary for the free market to function properly. This requires revenues, and everyone knows Kentucky is well short of revenues these days. One could argue that this proposal to legalize sports gambling makes sense on the monetary front alone considering how much revenue Kentucky could bring in. We think it is a part of the equation, and that any legislation legalizing sports gambling should make sure the revenues generated for the state are specifically designated to what needs funding. It could be education. It could be pensions. It could be infrastructure. It can’t, however, be the general fund. There has to be a purpose in mind if this is legalized.

In conclusion, we are not opposed to legalizing sports gambling in Kentucky if it is done thoughtfully, with purpose, and with the greater societal good in mind. If that is not possible, then we shouldn’t do it.

Truth be told, Kentuckians committed to gambling on sports are going to do it whether Kentucky legalizes it or not. If we do legalize it, it needs to be done right.

Online: http://www.dailyindependent.com

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Sept. 2

The Daily News of Bowling Green on the decision to block tariffs imposed on imported Canadian newsprint:

Action by the International Trade Commission on Thursday to block tariffs imposed on imported Canadian newsprint was a huge win for newspapers, other printers and their vendors - and equally importantly, a win for the flow of information to American citizens.

The ITC’s action reversed tariffs imposed months ago by the Department of Commerce of up to 28 percent. Because the tariffs were imposed in the face of an already very tight newsprint market, newsprint buyers were caught in a perfect storm and watched in dismay as their cost increased by $150 a metric ton over a 12-month period.

Newsprint, the majority of which is imported from Canada, is typically the second-highest cost for a newspaper, exceeded only by wages and salaries.

An increase of this magnitude in such a compressed time frame is obviously not sustainable for the longer term. Across the country, the top source of information and news in many communities was put at risk. The higher cost of newsprint led a number of papers to reduce staffing, which in turn impacted the number of stories and events that can be covered. We know of at least two newspapers in Kentucky that dropped a publication day as a result of these tariffs, while others reduced the number of pages.

The ITC in its finding unanimously determined that newsprint producers in the United States were not being harmed by imports from Canadian newsprint mills.

Prior to the ITC decision, congressmen from both sides of the aisle had testified against the tariff before the commission. In another show of bipartisan support, bills were pending in the House and Senate that would have put the tariffs on hold until a study could be made on the economic impact.

In response to the ITC decision, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer tweeted, “These tariffs were extremely harmful to our regional papers — the lifeblood of our local communities.”

STOPP, a coalition of printers, publishers, retailers, paper suppliers and distributors, called the ITC decision “a great day for American Journalism.” Amen to that.

Online: https://www.bgdailynews.com/

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Sept. 4

The Independent of Ashland on encouraging business growth in rural America:

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A lot of the headlines these days — rightly so — highlight the growing pressure on rural America economically. It is no secret one of rural America’s greatest challenges is keeping youth in our communities. The high paying jobs more often than not are found in big metropolitan areas. Of course there are exceptions, but if you are a college student who has tallied up tens of thousands of dollars in student debt, there is the cold hard reality that one must chase money in order to get back to even. This, in turn, leads to a lot of young people leaving rural America.

Also, with the evisceration of a lot of the traditional manufacturing sectors, local, good paying jobs are harder and harder to find.

But these are all generalizations. And, what can combat all these economic outflow trends, in our view, is entrepreneurship. The ability of individuals to find a business area that needs servicing can create a successful business, and it is possible to do it here. Graf Bros. is now an international supplier of white oak and other lumber. The owners took their experience in the family lumber business, set up shop in South Shore, Kentucky, and proceeded to create a business model that now — through its multiple business endeavors — employs hundreds of people. The commitment to creating a business and seeing it through right here in rural Eastern Kentucky shows us the many benefits of entrepreneurship for rural America.

Another example to be found is in Carter County. Robert and Jane Coleman created Smokey Valley Farm on Ky. 2. The gorgeous rural scenery provides a backdrop for the farm to breed gaited horses and to also set up a very picturesque Airbnb outlet that can draw horse enthusiasts from across the nation to the region.

The Tri-State needs to be thinking ahead on this front. What can we do to encourage more entrepreneurship like the examples cited above? Sizable sectors of Boyd and Greenup counties have been designated new business investment Opportunity Zones by the federal government, meaning those who invest in, start up or expand business operations in the zones will be eligible for significant federal tax breaks. Are there local resources that can be tapped to help facilitate such entrepreneurship and compliment the opportunity zones?

Part of the battle when it comes to growing a local economy is the belief that it can be done. Graf Bros. and Smokey Valley are reminders that, with some resources and commitment, the opportunities are right here waiting for us.

Online: http://www.dailyindependent.com

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