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Kentucky editorial roundup

June 21, 2018 GMT

Summary of recent Kentucky newspaper editorials:

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June 15

The State Journal says consumers lose when tariffs enter the equation:

It seems there’s no doubt about it. The tariffs are coming.

And the result is simple: When tariffs come, consumers lose.

We’re talking about tariffs on foreign goods as well as other countries imposing tariffs on American-made products. Of greatest interest to Kentuckians, bourbon and other whiskeys are in the package of tariffs other countries plan to impose on America.

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While there’s good news in the fact that Buffalo Trace plans to continue $1.2 billion of capital investment over the next decade, the total economic output of the distilling industry in Kentucky — estimated to be $8.5 billion — will surely take a hit if several countries implement tariffs. Ranked by value, whiskey is the commonwealth’s ninth largest export. The industry has been fortunate to see a sharp uptick in demand and, therefore, revenue.

Tariffs threaten to halt or slow that progress.

Mexico, for example, has implemented a 25 percent tariff. Imagine if similar tariffs go into effect by July 1 from countries like Canada and China.

The Kentucky Distillers Association’s latest economic impact study states the largest purchasers of Kentucky whiskey are Canada ($7.26 million), the United Kingdom ($2.56 million), Mexico ($2.3 million), China ($1.93 million) and France ($1.773) million. Review a list of the countries where tariffs are proposed and you’ll see many similarities to the list of top importers of Kentucky whiskey.

If that tariff is 25 percent, for example, a purchaser in that country would pay 25 percent more.

A $50 bottle of bourbon might suddenly cost $62.50 for no other reason than the country is retaliating against President Donald Trump’s tariffs on foreign steel.

The result? Faced with steep price hikes, consumers may choose to skip purchasing Kentucky bourbon and try another liquor.

Protectionism may be President Trump’s approach to trade, hiking the price of foreign-made goods in an attempt to make them more expensive than American products, but it may come with a cost that will spell trouble for sectors of the economy. America doesn’t consume everything it creates and, if foreign consumers choose to stop purchasing products subject to retaliatory tariffs, our country may see some companies cut jobs to compensate for a loss in profit.

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Tariffs may seem like a good idea in theory, but they often create a lose-lose situation for consumers across the board. Americans will pay more for products made with foreign goods and those abroad will pay more for products like Kentucky bourbon.

Online: https://www.state-journal.com/

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June 19

Lexington Herald-Leader on why Donald Trump’s administration scrapped a study of how surface coal mining affects the health of those living nearby:

Remember when the Trump administration last year scrapped a long-awaited study into the health effects of living near surface coal mining?

An inspector general’s investigation concluded that the Interior Department could not explain its decision and had “wasted” $455,110 that already had been spent on the study “because no final work product was produced.”

“Departmental officials were unable to provide specific criteria used for their determination,” the IG’s office reported in response to an inquiry by Rep. Raul Grijalva of Arizona, the top Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee.

Contrary to an official explanation at the time, that the savings were needed to make up for expected cuts to the Interior Department’s budget, the remaining $548,443 will be returned to the Treasury in 2021, the IG reported.

If it wasn’t already clear, the IG’s report should eliminate any doubt about the real motive for ending the review by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine: The coal industry didn’t want the findings to be known.

Pacific Standard magazine recently reported that an Interior Department official, Katharine MacGregor, prodded an official in the Office of Surface Mining and Reclamation to end the study after meeting at least six times with representatives of the mining industry, including the National Mining Association and Arch Coal. The magazine obtained MacGregor’s calendar and emails through the Freedom of Information Act.

Until the study was scrapped, an expert panel put together by the National Academies was evaluating sometimes conflicting research into the health effects of living near surface mining. Appalachian residents, including West Virginia’s public health commissioner, had asked for such a study.

People who live near large strip mines, where mountains are blown up and headwater streams buried under the debris, are exposed to dust and particulate matter in the air, diesel exhaust and water pollution. Some studies have concluded that, even when other factors such as poverty and high smoking rates are accounted for, living near surface mining increases the risks of cancer, birth defects and shortened life expectancy.

As a new epidemic of black lung disease among miners, including those who work above ground, hits the mountains, it’s only logical to ask about the health effects on residents.

But powerful interests might be held responsible. And they don’t want to know.

Online: http://www.kentucky.com/

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June 20

The Daily News of Bowling Green on a man being sentenced in the attack on U.S. Sen. Rand Paul:

What happened to U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., in November should have never occurred.

He was violently attacked from behind without warning by his neighbor, Dr. Rene Boucher. The attack became national news, and media outlets from across the country gathered in Bowling Green to get a glimpse of Boucher and ask his local attorney, Matt Baker, questions.

As the months passed, we heard differing accounts about what led to the attack. Some claim it was over a brush pile or a property line dispute, that some limbs were cut down and placed adjacent to the property line. We have heard that there was an ongoing dispute between the two men, while other reports suggest that the two men had not talked in years. It’s hard to know what to believe. All we know is that, whatever the reason, Boucher had no right to attack Paul as he was minding his own business mowing his yard in Rivergreen last fall. As a result of the surprising attack on Paul, the senator suffered six broken ribs and recurrent pneumonia.

Boucher was arrested after the incident and Paul was hospitalized for some time before returning to Washington, D.C., to continue his Senate responsibilities. Several court hearings were held, and the prosecutor recommended Boucher be sentenced to 21 months in prison for attacking Paul. We previously editorialized that we believe Boucher needed to do some time to send a message to him and others that it is not OK to attack an elected federal official, or any elected official for that matter.

Considering what happened to him, we believe Paul has taken the high road, stayed below the radar and let the legal process play out.

We didn’t necessarily agree that Boucher should serve 21 months in prison, but we do believe he needed to serve some time for his crime. We believe the sentence handed down to him last week of 30 days in prison, a $10,000 fine and an order to perform 100 hours of community service following his release from prison - while on supervised release for a year - was certainly appropriate.

It was also appropriate for the sentencing judge to take into account that Boucher had, before this incident, been a good citizen with no serious criminal history. That being said, we take issue with Baker’s argument that incarceration would serve no useful purpose. On the contrary, if Boucher’s sentence deters any future attacks on members of Congress, it will have served a clear purpose. To his credit, Boucher took responsibility at his sentencing for his action and expressed remorse. His remarks certainly appeared sincere.

We are certain there is some relief in our community that this matter, which attracted media attention our city would rather have not had, is now concluded.

Online: http://www.bgdailynews.com/