- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Recent editorials of statewide and national interest from New York’s newspapers:

The Wall Street Journal on the German economic system

Aug. 15

Angela Merkel is a rare leader on the Continent in recent years to head into an election with a strong economy. She is the luckiest politician in Europe.

Germany’s 0.6% growth in the second quarter, according to data released Tuesday, was slightly short of what economists expected, but no matter. Year-on-year growth was 2.1%, and some reading the survey data think the country could approach 3% growth for the year. Mrs. Merkel is campaigning on the promise of “a Germany in which we live well” - yes, that’s really the slogan - and now she can tell voters she knows how to deliver.

But does she? What’s striking is how little Germany itself has to do with its own growth. Strong domestic consumption is one driver, and households support the economy to a greater degree than many foreigners imagine. But the main cause for the current growth spurt appears to be raising confidence in the prospects of the Eurozone economy as a whole, rather than any specific German policies. Investment, unaccountably low at 20% or less of GDP for 15 years, is also finally perking up. Here, too, the credit belongs to other parts of Europe. It can’t be due to pro-investment policies from Mrs. Merkel, since she hasn’t proposed any.

Today’s German economy shows how far you can get on a few modest labor reforms such as those passed 15 years ago by social-democratic Chancellor Gerhard Schröder. The French can take heart from this as they contemplate their own overhauls. Mrs. Merkel has prospered politically from the Schröder reforms, which have helped Germany ride out policy mistakes like the high cost of her green-energy projects. The Chancellor seems poised to win a fourth term next month but it’s too bad she’s missing an opportunity to build a more durable economy.

Online: https://on.wsj.com/2waOlHc

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The New York Times on educating the incarcerated in New York.

Aug. 16

Criminal justice officials across the country are struggling to break the recidivism cycle in which prisoners are released only to land right back behind bars. These prisoners are among the most poorly educated people in the country, and that fact holds the key to a solution. Decades of research has shown that inmates who participate in prison education programs - even if they fail to earn degrees - are far more likely to stay out of prison once they are freed.

That prison education programs are highly cost effective is confirmed by a 2013 RAND Corporation study that covered 30 years of prison education research. Among other things, the study found that every dollar spent on prison education translated into savings of $4 to $5 on imprisonment costs down the line.

Other studies suggest that prisons with education programs have fewer violent incidents, making it easier for officials to keep order, and that the children of people who complete college are more likely to do so themselves, disrupting the typical pattern of poverty and incarceration.

Findings like these have persuaded corrections officials in both Democratic and Republican states to embrace education as a cost-effective way of cutting recidivism. But Republican legislators in New York - which spends about $60,000 per inmate per year - remain mired in know-nothingism and argue that spending public money on inmates insults taxpayers. They have steadfastly resisted Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s common-sense proposal for making a modest investment in prison education programs that have already proved highly successful on a small scale in New York’s prisons.

The Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus Vance Jr., stepped into the void left by the Legislature when he agreed l to pay for Governor Cuomo’s prison education plan with more than $7 million in criminal forfeiture money secured from banks. Lauding what he described as a public safety measure, Mr. Vance said, “It makes no sense to send someone to prison with no pathway for them to succeed.”

The goal of the program is to expand the number of inmates taking college courses to about 3,500 across much of the system from 1,000. The curriculum will be broad, covering science, math, philosophy, the social sciences and art. Among the schools that will participate are Cornell University, New York University, Mercy College and Bard College, which has run a highly regarded program since 2001. The recidivism rate is 4 percent for inmates who participate in the program and a mere 2 percent for those who earn degrees in prison, compared with about 40 percent for the New York State prison system as a whole.

Prison education programs were largely dismantled during the “tough on crime” 1990s, when Congress stripped inmates of the right to get the federal Pell grants that were used to pay tuition. The decision bankrupted many prison education programs across the country and left private donors and foundations to foot the bill for those that survived.

Despite limited and unreliable funding, these programs have more than proved their value. New York lawmakers who continue to block funding for them are putting ideology ahead of the public interest.

Online: https://nyti.ms/2vJb0HH

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The Gloversville Leader-Herald on military intervention in Venezuela

Aug. 15

President Donald Trump is right to be concerned about what is happening in Venezuela. He is wrong to consider use of U.S. military force to correct the situation.

Venezuela appears to be on the brink of chaos as a result of action taken by that country’s leftist president, Nicolas Maduro. He is rewriting the nation’s constitution to ensure he and his cronies remain in power and any opposition is crushed.

Asked about the situation Saturday, Trump told a reporter, “We have many options for Venezuela and, by the way, I’m not going to rule out a military option. . A military operation and military option is certainly something that we could pursue.”

That should be considered only if Americans and/or American interests are jeopardized by the Maduro regime. Involvement in a Venezuelan civil war is the very last thing our nation needs right now, especially given the reaction that would come from others in the world community.

U.S. officials already have put economic sanctions in place against the Maduro government. For now, the only change in that should be to increase the sanctions’ severity and target them more accurately at Maduro himself. Using the American military to oust him would be a mistake.

Online: https://bit.ly/2vDtDhx

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The Press Republican on the threat of world war

Aug. 16

Those who give everything for freedom have long memories.

Take World War II pilot Earl Morrow, one of many veterans whose autographs adorn the bomb bay doors of B-17G Sentimental Journey, an aircraft the Commemorative Air Force had on display in Plattsburgh not long ago.

At age 93, he made note, too, of the date - Nov. 2, 1944 - when his B-17 came to grief over Merseburg, Germany.

It was 70 years later, but Earl remembered, and wrote down, the names of each of his crew members. After three of them - radio operator Charles Lindquist, left waist gunner Joseph Solerno and ball turret gunner Robert Kerner - he wrote: killed in action.

There were long lines of visitors waiting to tour the Sentimental Journey, among them many veterans and - it was good to see - parents with children.

The Flying Fortress’s nostalgic name reflects veterans’ respect and even love for the aircraft, however, serving on them brought many nightmare moments, much loss of life.

In August 1943, for example, 376 B-17s took part in the bombing of two German factories, and 60 of them - and some 600 men - didn’t make it back to England.

More than 2,000 fliers lost their lives when a total 244 B-17s bombed Nazi manufacturing in February 1944.

In Flying Fortresses, pilots stayed at the helm of dying aircraft to let crews parachute to safety. Gunners remained at their posts despite severe injury, keeping German fighters at bay, only to die of their wounds.

But Hitler had to be stopped; it was about the greater good.

For that greater good, in all, some 416,800 members of the U.S. military were killed in World War II.

From Plattsburgh, Sentimental Journey flew off to Maine, and the talk it generated about that war has since given way to current events not really so far removed.

Kim Jong-un, sometimes compared to Hitler, holds as threat his intercontinental ballistic missile with a nuclear warhead.

In response to President Donald Trump’s promise of “fire and fury,” the North Korean dictator said he was considering a target near the U.S. territory of Guam.

Trump’s belligerence and sanctions against North Korea have brought fear of that kind of reprisal.

But many feel past administrations only empowered Kim Jong-un by not standing up to him.

As the political back and forth continues on the tense world stage, we must hope our leaders act with wisdom, deliberation, diplomacy and determination.

And that they look back at the actions of one megalomaniac, at early missteps in stopping him, to better deal with the one who rules North Korea with a reign of terror.

It is said we must pass on the story of the world’s atrocities; otherwise, history will be repeated.

But terrorism and other violent conflicts dot the globe; millions of refugees yearn for safety and security.

It seems a losing battle.

But like those B-17s and the men who bravely carried on regardless of engines aflame and the enemy all around, we must keep trying.

Online: https://bit.ly/2wg67ba

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The Dunkirk Evening Observer on a New York state constitutional convention

Aug. 16

Last week, the Civil Service Employees Association made a stop in Chautauqua County. While meeting with members and residents took up a good portion of the four-day visit, there was one more thing on their agenda: recommending their members vote “no” on the state Constitutional Convention.

They are not alone. Last spring, both state Sen. Catharine Young and Assemblyman Andrew Goodell took the same angle when asked at the county Chamber of Commerce legislative breakfast in Lakewood.

That’s important to note - as well as the fact voters need to decide on this issue, which comes up every 20 years. The most recent convention was in 1967 and all the recommendations made then were later rejected by voters.

Residents need to begin talking about this issue - and raising questions. Big money, no doubt, will play a large role in what you learn about the convention, which could take on issues such as term limits, redistricting and campaign finance reform.

Have the knowledge of the issue when going to the polls this November. It will be on the ballot as a proposition.

Online: https://bit.ly/2wfxRga

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