- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Here are excerpts from recent editorials in Arkansas newspapers:

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Oct. 25, 2016

What a turnaround

In a video call from the Chinese mainland, where he’s gone before to make an announcement that a Chinese company is investing in Arkansas, Governor Asa Hutchinson was able to break the news that a Chinese company is to be making clothing for the American market, and will be doing so right here in the Wonder State, which never ceases to be wonderful.

The Chinese will be in the market for some 400 full-time workers at about $14 an hour. The company, Suzhou Tianyuan Garments Co., makes clothes for Adidas, Reebok and Armani at five factories in China.

At a time when both American presidential candidates are making protectionist noises again, free trade is proving the best of deals for both buyer and seller. “In previous decades,” Governor Hutchinson noted, “we have lost manufacturing certainly to Mexico, we’ve lost manufacturing to China. Now we see that same manufacturing wanting to return to the United States of America.” And it should be more than welcome, rather than something to be afraid of.

Why did the Chinese pick Arkansas to invest in? For three reasons, in this order: location, location and location. Even though a stronger dollar these days makes it costlier to buy products made in the U.S.A. than back in Shanghai—or anywhere else in China.

To quote Kathy Deck, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville: “Companies are always looking to be in the right place, to have the best access to their market at the lowest cost. The Chinese consumer may not be the target demographic in the way that they have been in the past.” To translate that business-speak into plain Arkinsaw, it’s this state that offers the Chinese the best deal in sight, including tax breaks, subsidies and irreplaceable Southern hospitality.

The Chinese aren’t the only ones who recognize Arkansas’ potential. American companies can also see a great deal when they’re offered one. Mike Preston of this state’s Economic Development Commission noted that Wal-Mart’s Made-in-the-USA campaign is paying off. “That’s something that’s taking effect over here. It’s getting a lot of companies interested in doing business with Wal-Mart, knowing that Arkansas is a good place to have that manufacturing.” Why? Productivity.

According to Kathy Deck: “Any time you see job creation in the manufacturing sector, it’s very surprising because manufacturing has become so efficient—so amazingly efficient—that we just don’t create as many jobs even if manufacturing output is moved to the state. You just don’t see the investment dollars creating as many jobs any more because those dollars go toward these very high-tech machines.” That observation may hold up in general, but apparently not in Arkansas—which is enjoying the best of both worlds: more jobs and more automation.

“Bringing garment manufacturing back to Arkansas,” says Governor Hutchinson, “is probably met with some initial skepticism because everyone thinks, well, we’ve lost shoe manufacturing, we’ve lost some of our apparel industry in the past.” And how. Mena, Hot Springs, Salem, Gassville, Morrilton … you name it. But it’s all turning around now.

Clever people, these Chinese, and our governor is clever enough to join them when it comes to seeing that the Land of Opportunity is just that once again. The more things change, the more they remain the same. Again.


Southwest Times Record, Oct. 23, 2016

Fort Smith offers support all year long

Every month, it seems, is dedicated to drawing attention to something that requires attention. October draws our attention to many things, but two in particular affect women in disproportionate numbers: breast cancer and domestic violence.

In the Fort Smith region we have many women who face one or, God forbid, both of these issues. But in this area we are fortunate to have resources for those women that other areas may not have.

In the Fort Smith area we have top-ranked oncologists and medical support staff, and cutting edge screening, diagnostic and treatment equipment. Many breast cancer patients never have to leave the area as they move from diagnosis through treatment to remission.

Here we have the Donald W. Reynolds Cancer Support House, which offers services to patients with any type of cancer including breast cancer. Women with breast cancer can find help through weekly support meetings. Those who may lose their hair temporarily can find support it the house’s private, professional salon where wigs, turbans and scarves are available. They can find information on skin care during treatment and beyond, and even get products to take home with them.

And we have the great Paint the Park Pink event each October that gives expression to the support we want to offer survivors while keeping the needs of breast cancer research on everyone’s mind.

The experience is different for women who experience domestic violence. Although most people are no longer afraid to discuss their cancers and an event as colorful as Paint the Park Pink shows the community’s support for survivors, many women still guard their domestic violence experiences from the public eye, and no one is painting anything to shower support on domestic violence survivors. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t support to be had here.

The Donald W. Reynolds Crisis Intervention Center provides a refuge for women and children who have left their abusers but don’t know where they’re going next. At the CIC women get a chance to take a breath before they make any more decisions. Medical and sexual assault services are available, as are help with legal issues like securing an order of protection and with identifying community resources. Women do not need to move into the center to work with an advocate or case manager.

The public work of the Crisis Intervention Center includes educating the public about abuse and the people who experience it. And it works to help women, including teens, to recognize abuse and to get free of it. Young women and girls, especially but not only those who may have grown up with abuse, may not know what a healthy relationship looks like. They may know they are miserable, but blame themselves. Educating them on what’s healthy and what’s not may help them to break a cycle - or to prevent one from starting.

October is many things, but taking some time to remember those who experience breast cancer and those who experience domestic violence is good for the heart. Changing weather can mean changing circumstances. If you are facing one of these issues, know that you are not alone and there is support. It’s one of the many things that makes living in the Fort Smith region so rewarding.


Texarkana Gazette, Oct. 23, 2016

Don’t allow election arguments to destroy friendships, weaken family ties

This election is contentious, no doubt about it.

Perhaps more so than what most of us have ever seen.

We have two candidates with a lot of baggage. We have strong emotions on both sides. And while both have their die-hard supporters, we have a number of Americans who aren’t happy with either Republican Donald Trump or Democrat Hillary Clinton.

All that’s well and good. Emotion can spur voter turnout. And if more folks head to the polls this year that’s a good thing. Voter turnout in this nation is usually dismal, even for important national elections. Maybe this year will be different.

But emotion is a double-edged sword. And the other side isn’t pretty.

We see it most vividly on social media such as Facebook, which seems to be the way more and more people communicate these days.

Accusations. Allegations. Arguments.

But especially anger. Lots of anger.

Anger not only at the candidates and the parties, but at each other.

While many of us can discuss, even argue politics with some degree of calm and good humor, far too many can’t. They take any disagreement with their choice of candidate or stand on the issues very, very personally.

Lifelong friendships have been damaged by comments made, memes shared, questionable charges asserted or heated responses.

In some cases even family members are no longer speaking to each other.

That’s just wrong. Americans have the right to choose whom to support for president or any other office. They have the right to take any position on the issues.

And they should not be berated for their choices. They should not have to answer to anyone, no matter where their sympathies lie.

Thousands of brave service members died to give us the right to make those choices.

Nothing wrong with disagreement. But no one should let the political scene dominate their lives to such an extent that they bully others or break off relationships. That’s just foolish.

As Election Day nears, it’s important to remember that democracy demands respect and tolerance for opposition. If we expect others to respect our views, we must respect their right to decide their own views. If we ever lose that freedom, then we lose something much more important than the results of any one election.

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