Editorial voices from elsewhere

March 28, 2014

Excerpts from recent editorials in newspapers in the United States and abroad as compiled by the Associated Press:

Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch

You really need to know only two things about the federal flood-insurance program to evaluate its wisdom. First, many owners say they couldn’t afford to have homes so close to the shore without the substantial subsidy. Second, the Obama administration considers it too socialistic.

Last year, Craig Fugate, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency that runs the program, said the administration wanted to move away from “subsidizing rates” to “a capitalist, private-sector model of managing risk.”

Two years ago, Congress considered legislation that would have raised rates rapidly to market levels. Beneficiaries raised unholy heck. The other day, President Barack Obama signed legislation to increase rates more gradually.

Those hikes are still steep – as high as 18 percent a year. But their very steepness testifies to how out of tune the subsidized policies had become. Washington – meaning the taxpayers – is $24 billion in the hole because of them. In essence, that means the federal government has spent $24 billion encouraging riskier choices than people would otherwise make.

Homeowners faced with whopping premium increases deserve sympathy. Politicians put down a rug and are now pulling it out from under them. That is the painful price of correcting a policy that never should have existed in the first place.

Deseret News, Salt Lake City, Utah

The rising rate of unemployment among teenagers is the perfect storm of social and economic trends that is clouding the future for American youth, particularly young men. Jobs are harder to come by. This scarcity is likely to continue as technology and automation replace jobs traditionally held by those first entering the workforce, and as long as government tinkers with policies that make it harder for companies to hire young people.

In Utah, the rate of teenage employment is relatively high, according to an analysis by the Brookings Institute. The Provo area enjoys the nation’s highest rate of employment among 16-to-19 year olds, at about 49 percent. The national rate is around 26 percent, down from about 45 percent in 2000. The higher job rate in Utah is attributed to several factors, primarily the influence of an overall low unemployment rate, a higher-than-average number of youth per capita, and a culture of attaining part-time employment at an early age.

Both local and national policy-makers must remember not to do harm to teenage employment prospects. Specifically, raising the national or state minimum wage laws are certain to narrow the opportunities available for younger workers.

The Jerusalem Post

Last week, an exultant Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas returned from Washington to Ramallah and was received by cheering crowds. He came carrying a decidedly rejectionist, triumphalist message.

“I have honored my pledge and kept my promise,” Abbas declared to the thousands who had gathered at his Mukata headquarters. It quickly became clear what the celebrating was all about. After eight months of negotiations, Abbas was proud to announce that he had not budged on any of the divisive issues preventing the creation of a Palestinian state.

This is not to say that there are within Palestinian society voices calling on its leaders to be more flexible and accommodating to Israeli demands. Eight months ago, Abbas had almost no support inside his Fatah party and among other political parties for his decision to renew negotiations with Israel. The situation has not changed since.

The peace talks seem on the verge of falling apart. Can the relative stability that we have grown accustomed to in the West Bank no longer be taken for granted? Unfortunately, a Palestinian political leadership capable of making the sorts of concessions necessary for a peace agreement has failed to materialize. As a result, we are fast approaching a dead-end.



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