U.S. is losing its competitive edge
I am as disappointed as most people about Boeing’s decision to close its Wichita plant. But I find it hard to believe the decision was vindictive or made intentionally to hurt Wichita or its employees. We should be asking what we need to do to ensure businesses are attracted to Wichita and Kansas and will stay.
What happened with Boeing jobs is happening all over the nation, because we are losing our competitive edge in the world.
There are two factors making us less competitive. Both involve our government.
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First, the politics of class warfare pit employees against business. We should strive for an atmosphere of employees and employers working together. Any politician who says workers are the problem or business is the problem is the real enemy to both workers and businesses.
The second factor is overregulation. While we can agree that some small percentage of the existing regulations are necessary, perhaps 80 percent are not. How can we compete with other countries when they don’t have to follow tens of thousands of pages of regulations?
As soon as the American voter wakes up to the real causes of job loss, we will become more competitive and more efficient, and all buyers will get more and better products for their money.
I have been amazed to see, on the heels of the Boeing announcement, letters to the editor opining, in essence, that if Kansas just had a lower income tax, Boeing would have stayed and other businesses would come. Their number and similar tone almost make me wonder if they are “plants.”
It seems to me that it might be just as plausible that no self-respecting executive would have relocated here or moved a business here because of the hard-right political atmosphere of this state. Because of this, and with some help from the good folks of Westboro Baptist Church, our posture, as seen elsewhere, is anti-arts, anti-education, anti-progress. This has made us a laughingstock.
While it probably will turn out that Boeing’s decision to leave was tied to its being allowed to operate its new South Carolina plant, this kind of negative image would not have been a motivator to remain if other factors were neutral.
On Dec. 9, the National Labor Relations Board announced that the Machinists union in Seattle had withdrawn its complaint against the Boeing Co. opening a 787 Dreamliner assembly plant in the “right to work” state of South Carolina. Ostensibly, the extension of the union’s contract in Seattle was the catalyst that triggered the withdrawal of the complaint.
With solid backing of the White House and a NLRB stacked with administration appointees, along with the number of future jobs at stake, it staggers the imagination that the Machinists union in Seattle would roll over for a simple four-year extension of its contract without some other big quid pro quo. Meek acquiescence is not an inherent characteristic of these guys, who earn their keep playing hardball.
The past week’s announcement by Boeing that it is leaving Wichita and sending the plum tanker contract to Seattle should settle any doubts as to what the Machinists union, with the backing of the NLRB and the White House, managed to extract from Boeing with its blackmail efforts.
PAUL V. SCHMIDT
Regarding “Kansas House speaker sorry for offensive e-mail” (Jan. 6 Local & State): Rep. Mike O’Neal, R-Hutchinson, is getting off too lightly. His apology should be directed to first lady Michelle Obama and not the general public, as she was the one most affected by this childish prank.
Freedom of speech is a right. However, it should be used properly, especially by mature adults. It does not justify such actions as calling the president a liar in front of the Congress. This president is not given the respect that his position deserves. Obviously, neither is his family.
I do not believe O’Neal’s excuse that he missed the text of the original e-mail. If he did that, is he reading the bills he has backed in the Legislature?
Cost to vote
A portion of the state’s new voting law requires that each voter show a government-issued ID at the polls in order to vote. It also states that these IDs may be obtained at no cost through the local Division of Motor Vehicles. In addition to concerns about whether the DMV is prepared to perform this service, I have another concern I’d like to see addressed. There are two area DMV offices: one in Twin Lakes shopping center and one at Andover. What happens to those individuals who want to exercise their right to vote but have no vehicle and no driver’s license, and cannot afford bus or taxi fare to either office?
Under the 1965 Voting Rights Act, any expenses entailed in the process of registering to vote are in violation of the law. Is Kansas planning on enforcing this law? I’m terribly concerned that we’re on our way to disenfranchising some of our citizens.