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Kentucky editorial roundup

April 3, 2019

Summary of recent Kentucky newspaper editorials:

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April 1

The State Journal, on handling stress:

After the rollercoaster ride the Cats hoops team led fans on Sunday afternoon — falling to Auburn in overtime to miss out on a Final Four berth — is it any wonder that Kentucky ranks as the fourth most stressed state in the country?

The Bluegrass State finished behind only Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas and just ahead of West Virginia in a new WalletHub report measuring average stress levels in all 50 states. Using 40 key indicators — from job security and affordable housing to crime and divorce rates — experts issued their findings in conjunction with Stress Awareness Month in April.

Unfortunately, for Kentuckians, the numbers aren’t good. The commonwealth attained a third-from-the-bottom ranking for “family-related stress” and “health- and safety-related stress”; ninth in “money-related stress; and 23rd in “work-related stress.”

Kentucky is second in the country in percent of adults in fair or poor health with many — regardless of income level — citing the cost of health insurance as a major stressor. It may even be keeping us up at night.

According to the findings, we aren’t getting adequate sleep, with the state placing third in fewest hours of sleep per night. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7-9 hours per night for adults ages 18-64 and 7-8 hours for those 65 and older.

With more than 17 percent of the state’s population living below the poverty line ($24,860 for a family of four) in 2017, Kentucky is the fourth-worst state in the nation behind Mississippi, New Mexico and Louisiana.

The state also cracked the top 10 among states with highest divorce rates, coming in eighth with 3.7 divorces per 1,000 people.

While we all experience stress, it doesn’t need to control our lives. Experts recommend exercise, even a short walk around the block, listening to music, meditating or praying to help reduce stress. Of course, UK’s elimination from the NCAA Tournament may also lower local stress levels.

Online: www.state-journal.com

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March 29

The News-Enterprise on using compassion to promote community development:

The fire which destroyed Kentucky Cardinal Inn last week was celebrated by some.

It’s important to celebrate the fact there was no loss of life, but it seems a bit callous to rejoice in the misfortune of others.

For employees, this residency hotel was a source of livelihood. It’s loss displaces them and brings about uncertainty for the future.

For its owners, who recently had invested in painting the facility, leveling an unused portion of the structure that once had been a restaurant and making improvements that upgraded the facility’s health score, it’s a loss as well — regardless of any insurance claim or their financial wherewithal.

But for its 30 or so residents, including many families, it was a loss of their home. No matter how temporary or how small, this is where they took shelter from the world and laid their heads at night.

People living in residency hotels likely are not there simply by choice. For most, it’s the best they can do for themselves and for their children — and just a small step away from homelessness.

Certainly, no one aspires to living in a residency hotel. The pay-by-the-week rental for an outdated room becomes a necessity for some who find low-cost rent or utility deposits beyond their current means.

Some people arrive there based on their own poor choices, often bringing along their family members and innocent children. Others, tripped up by the complications and pitfalls of life, unwittingly experience detours along the poverty line.

Whatever the reason, these 30 or so renters were displaced abruptly and many lost the clothing and possessions stored in their rooms.

There’s not much to laugh about in that circumstance. Grace, support and caring would be a more humane response.

Elizabethtown’s southern exit on Interstate 65 was developed in the 1950s. The community once took pride in big-name companies such as Holiday Inn and Ramada operating there. Kentucky Cardinal Inn was a showcase in that era where the community’s leading civic clubs held their luncheon meetings and local residents recommended it to guests.

Certainly, those days are long past. When it comes to buildings, the primary difference between old and historic seems to revolve around when someone decides to tear it down.

In general, this area is seen as old and outdated, if not a blight. And city government rightly has declared a need to upgrade the southside of town.

Counting this fire, four of the six southside hotels have been closed in recent years. But that alone will not improve the area.

Sadly, what we have at this point are empty lots, vacant buildings and displaced families with fewer options.

It’s appropriate to express our care and concern about the community’s development. Doing so with compassion is the best means to move forward.

Online: www.thenewsenterprise.com

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March 28

Bowling Green Daily News on campus speech:

One of the greatest defining aspects of this country is our freedom of speech.

As citizens, we have the right to say whatever we want to others. In some cases, some will agree with our views and opinions, and in other cases they won’t. Hate groups, pro-life and pro-choice groups, people who burn our flag, pro- and anti-gun protesters, protesters marching in a town to support a cause and many other groups are all afforded the right to speak their minds because of the First Amendment.

College campuses, where many different ideas and opinions exist, are places that should afford the greatest respect possible to the First Amendment. Sadly, over the past few years, we have seen universities erupt in protest - more often than not when primarily conservative speakers are invited to campus to speak. One doesn’t have to think back very far to remember the protests at the University of California at Berkeley, where students broke out windows and caused chaos and destruction simply because a conservative - ex-Breitbart writer Milo Yiannopoulos - was going to speak on a taxpayer-funded campus.

These protesters might not have liked what the speaker had to say, but they should have at least respected his freedom of speech and his right to be there, since he was, in fact, invited there to speak to students. Colleges such as this and other very liberal campuses that receive federal funds have a segment of their student population who want their voices to be heard and respected but don’t want to hear or respect others who simply have a different opinion.

University administrators should know better than to let students intimidate speakers and riot on campus. It appeared that administrators at UC-Berkeley actually somewhat condoned the illegal activity by those who broke laws by destroying public property when Yiannopoulos tried to speak there. This is a real shame, because as administrators, they should realize that all voices should be heard on campus, not just some, and there should be consequences for those who use intimidation to silence others.

Universities that won’t protect the right to free speech on their campuses don’t deserve to receive federal funding, and we are glad President Donald Trump feels the same way that we do. On March 21, Trump signed an executive order requiring U.S. colleges to protect free speech on their campuses or risk losing federal research funding.

The new order directs federal agencies to ensure that any college or university receiving research grants agrees to promote free speech and the exchange of ideas, and to follow federal rules guiding free expression. Under the order, colleges would need to agree to protect free speech in order to tap into more than $35 billion a year in research and educational grants. For public universities, that means striving to uphold the First Amendment, which they should already be doing.

Trump made a very good point on this most important issue when he made the following statement at a White House signing ceremony: “Even as universities have received billions and billions of dollars from taxpayers, many have become increasingly hostile to free speech and to the First Amendment. These universities have tried to restrict free thought, impose total conformity and shut down the voices of great young Americans.”

Colleges and universities that don’t allow all voices to be heard on their campuses should not be allowed to receive one dime of federal funds.

“We will not stand idly by to allow public institutions to violate their students’ constitutional rights,” Trump said. “If a college or university doesn’t allow you to speak, we will not give them money. It’s very simple.”

College administrators must ensure their campuses are a marketplace of ideas, where all shades of political opinion - even unpopular ones - can be expressed and protected.

Online: www.bgdailynews.com

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