The system is working

EDITORIALS

BY ART CULLEN

Over this holiday weekend we give thanks for many things. We are able to publish a newspaper in our hometown of Storm Lake, Iowa, an amazing place of abundance, goodwill and community cohesion. We count our blessings for that every day. We live among friends old and new. We’re always learning.

Mainly, we are thankful to live in this great experiment in self-government, the longest in world history, where freedom is our guide. It makes this space possible, where facts and opinions can be freely shared and debated in a civic spirit of good faith. Everything about America flows from freedom endowed by democracy, governed by the rule of law.

We are especially thoughtful of it this year enmeshed in impeachment of a President who threatens those values — of a free press that is never threatened by the government or its leaders, of an independent judiciary whose judgements are respected and followed, and of a Congress with equal authority to and oversight responsibility of the executive.

The news so far is good. Never has a free press risen to its responsibility like it is today, labeled an “enemy of the people” by a President who talks like a totalitarian. The courts continue to contain our nation’s worst impulses and continue to hold authority. The people elected a Democratic majority to the House knowing that it would lead to the ultimate confrontation with a corrupt President, and it has.

It’s working. The Constitution is intact. The nation is vigilant, if conflicted. In America, the truth will prevail and freedom will continue to be our light. It is playing out before our eyes in ways we could not imagine, and for that we are thankful to live in a democracy that can correct itself and, ultimately, be better for it. That’s what this election cycle in which Iowa plays a central role is all about. We should be thankful for all of this — that our democracy can withstand what it has, and become more perfect.

Iowa lags its neighbors

Iowa’s economy and job growth has lagged all its neighbors in the Midwest since 2011. Minnesota leads the Upper Midwest states by a longshot, with its high taxes and regulations. Iowa lags with a minimum wage that has not been increased since 2007, repeated income and property tax cuts for corporations, gutting of essential services like Medicaid, and ripping apart collective bargaining laws.

Illinois is supposed to be such a mess but its economy has grown faster than Iowa’s.

We have among the highest student debt loads in the nation as the legislature has steadily starved funding to state universities, private colleges and community colleges. Our most innovative young minds that could contribute to Iowa’s economy are forced out of state to find employment that can service their debt. Rural housing is stunted without much state assistance, which limits employment growth. Labor unions, which promote higher wages and more stable communities, have been under assault in the legislature.

Iowa’s race to the bottom in every respect is not helping us. Neighboring states that invest in themselves and their people are out-performing Iowa.

Cutting taxes for commercial apartment building owners does not create more housing. Taking Medicaid private has hurt health care providers that provide some of the only jobs in rural communities. And, embracing anti-immigrant rhetoric is scaring young people out of western Iowa who think they don’t belong here. There are better ways to build an economy, and the answers are close by.

Congratulations to Cole

Congratulations to Assistant Police Chief Chris Cole, who was promoted to Storm Lake police chief to fill the vacancy left with the retirement of Chief Mark Prosser. Cole is a professional lawman with decades of experience in Storm Lake who has worked closely with Prosser to build a well-respected department. He will have the respect of his officers, city management and the council earned from his service to date. Chris and his wife, Stacey (superintendent of schools), have dedicated themselves to service to this community. We are certain Chris Cole will continue to make Storm Lake a model for community policing.

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