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Summary of recent Louisiana newspaper editorials


Recent editorials from Louisiana newspapers:

Jan. 13

The Advocate, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on community college:

"Skin in the game." That is the phrase that people ought to think about when liberals like President Barack Obama propose "free" community college tuition for more than 9 million students across the land.

The students paying little or no tuition don't have skin in the game. That is, we believe, a fatal flaw at the root of the Obama proposal.

The reasons that the Obama proposal is so attractive go beyond something-for-nothing populism of the left. College tuitions have been rising rapidly, in Louisiana as elsewhere, even for the community colleges that are supposed to be the low-cost alternatives to four-year institutions.

A huge percentage of jobs in America in the next few years will require more than a high school degree, and community colleges are the principal pathway to technical training that can pay off for the economy. Obama is not getting his ideas from nowhere; several states, whether under Democratic or Republican leadership, have toyed with this idea or something like it.

We hate to invoke human nature, but conservatives are right when they worry about not only the high costs of this kind of new entitlement. The notion that skin in the game is important.

Today's TOPS tuition vouchers in Louisiana provide, as per Obama's plan, "free" tuition. The program was signed into law by conservative Gov. Mike Foster, which makes it an example of something-for-nothing populism from the right. Students of modest academic achievements get the free ride, although fees can be quite costly and those are paid by students or their families.

A great many students don't make the grades to keep TOPS awards.

Before admission requirements at Louisiana colleges, any student with a high school diploma could go to college. Tuition and fees were minimal because the state budget was subsidized by "free" money from oil and gas taxes. Predictably, thousands of students flunked out every year because they were neither prepared academically for college nor motivated by skin in the game to work at it.

We strongly support community colleges and their missions. We believe that the cuts to state aid to community colleges in Louisiana are counterproductive.

A better plan is to increase state aid to community colleges so they have the money for high-quality programs that people will willingly pay for. That's a better agenda in the long run than "free" tuition.


Jan. 13

American Press, Lake Charles, Louisiana, on US dropping ball regarding Paris:

The White House dropped the ball.

Administration officials admitted as much Monday, saying they should have had a higher profile official in Paris on Sunday when the world came together in a show of support against terrorism.

"We should have sent someone with a higher profile to be there," Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Monday.

No kidding.

More than 40 world leaders were on hand in Paris for the massive rally against Islamic terrorism. The rally came at the end of a week that saw 12 people die when Islamic terrorists attacked a news magazine in the French capital.

While big names from all over the world were able to make the trip, the United States sent our Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and ambassador to France Jane Hartley as our representatives.

With egg on its face, the White House decided to backpedal after first sounding like children caught in a lie.

What makes this even worse is Attorney General Eric Holder was in Paris over the weekend for meetings but for some reason was unable to attend the historic event. Instead he left early after the meetings and before the rally.

Secretary of State John Kerry, who also did not attend, first called any criticism "quibbling." Proving they are followers and not leaders, the administration later announced that Kerry would be in Paris sometime this week.

In times of tragedy it is good to know that our leadership is ready to lead from behind.

Earnest said on Monday the United States stands "four-square behind our allies in France."

Well, at least two steps behind.

Granted it would have been a lot for President Obama to go, considering all the security concerns, but we need to send a better message than having Holder leave town early.

Perhaps the president has forgotten that we are at war with these terrorists, or at least they are at war with us. Having a big name standing with other leaders of the world and proclaiming we are not going to back down would have sent the right message to our allies.

It would have shown our actions speak just as loud as our words. Instead, we sent mixed signals to both our friends and foes — again.

It is a common theme with this White House, as they seem to try and please everyone at the same time. But this is a clear case of right vs. wrong. There is no gray area here. And we should know better.

It wasn't so long ago that the world came to America to show support when we were the victims of a terrorist attack. It was nice to know then who did and who didn't have our backs. Right now it is hard to figure out just where our leaders stand — or what they are willing to stand up for.

Perhaps there has never been a time when this White House needed to stand up against the evils of the world and not hide behind political correctness that looks an awful lot like fear.

Maybe it was fine when we were talking about the hacking of some company's email accounts, but people were shot in the streets of Paris and there can be no mistaking what that means.

What's cloudy is the way our president and his group answer that attack. It's time for us to show our allies we are ready to stand alongside them and fight for what is right. We have done it before, but we have never led from behind.

You can't win anything unless you are willing to take a stand. Let's hope the White House learned its lesson before it is too late.


Jan. 13

The News-Star, Monroe, Louisiana, on mental health:

Most of us went about our routines of getting ready for work and school on Tuesday morning.

Sadly, that was not the case throughout Monroe.

The peaceful pre-dawn hour at the elegantly refurbished Frances Towers apartments in downtown was shattered by gunshots.

At this stage, we know little about why this happened. One person lost his life.

We live in a gun-toting society, and we aren't interested in launching a discussion about second-amendment rights. We believe in a citizen's right to bear arms.

That's why, when the discussion turns to "how could this tragedy have been prevented?," we have to say no "gun" rule or regulation by the Monroe Housing Authority — which operates Frances Towers — could have stopped it.

The only thing that could have stopped this tragedy was for someone who knew Adam Spillman Jr. well, and who knew he was on the edge, to get him some help and to know how to do it.

The availability of that kind of mental health service and the appropriate mechanism to get someone help fast is a significant gap in our health care in northeastern Louisiana.

The true community examination that should happen after this horrible tragedy relates to the accessibility of mental health services and how someone who desperately needs this assistance is directed to them.


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