WSU columnists: We need to address race, the ACA, infrastructure, tolerance in 2018

Friday , December 29, 2017 - 4:00 AM4 comments


2017 might be best remembered for its tumult: political contention, hurricanes, fires and mass shootings. The Weber State University columnists who write for the Standard-Examiner say they hope 2018 brings restored calm with leaders who look to the long-term good for the greatest benefit to citizens of Northern Utah and the world.

Adrienne Andrews, Weber State’s Chief Diversity Officer:

In 1903, W.E.B. Du Bois wrote, “The problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color line.” Entering 2018, it seems not much has changed. As we experience a national cultural crisis with issues involving race, class, sexuality and gender (to name a few aspects of identity) we must reconsider what access, opportunity, power and privilege mean to us and how they will help define a future where everyone is equal under the law.

Jeff Steagall, dean of the John B. Goddard School of Business & Economics:

The key economic story from 2017 is the strength of the American economy. Unemployment is extremely low at 4.1 percent for the U.S. and 3.2 percent in Utah. Job growth is strong at 1.4 percent in the U.S. and 2.7 percent in Utah. Inflation remains at bay at about 2 percent. The dollar’s value remains moderate, despite the relative strength of the American economy, as compared to other industrialized nations. Thus, U.S. exports continue to be affordable for citizens of other countries.

The economy is likely to continue to be strong during 2018. The most significant area of concern is health insurance. With the massive funding cuts and decreased access to the Affordable Care Act, millions of working-class Americans, including the self-employed entrepreneurs who form the backbone of new U.S. job creation, are facing huge increases in health care costs. Many people’s premium increases will more than offset any minor tax cuts the current tax bill will provide. Congress must either reinstate ACA in its entirety or implement a new health insurance model that will enable working class Americans to afford quality health care.

Michael Vaughan, economics professor and director the Center for the Study of Poverty & Inequality:

Jon Huntsman Jr. once told me that the key to running a chemical company is to understand business cycles. During good times, successful companies invest and set aside cash to weather future downturns. The same is true for the overall economy, and Huntsman’s observation is especially relevant for 2018. It is critical to make prudent investments during prosperous times. Currently, the Utah economy is doing great. A big question for 2018 is whether Utah’s leaders have the foresight to invest in public and higher education, implement programs to help the less fortunate, and build infrastructure. If the foresight is lacking during the good times, there won’t be enough money to address the problems confronting the state during the bad times.

David Ferro, dean of the College of Engineering, Applied Science & Technology:

Individuals of all political stripes and companies large and small are in the majority in protesting the FCC’s recent removal of two-year-old net neutrality rules designed to maintain some semblance of the web as originally conceived. Mostly telecom companies champion the removal. It allows them latitude in controlling content and creating variable speed lanes for both consumers and companies providing content. This coming year will see much conflict on this issue. Attorneys general will sue the FCC. The FTC will review potential monopolies. States will promote their own neutral nets. The public’s distaste for modifying what most view as a utility may drive bipartisan congressional action. The majority of consumers and companies in Utah and beyond should prevail upon their representatives.

Robert Hunter, director of the Olene S. Walker Institute of Politics & Public Service:

Tolerance is a critical key to civilized society. We are all different. And the world is getting smaller and smaller. So, instead of looking for the negative ways we connect, we must seek to understand and appreciate the positives. In that search for broader understanding, we can enrich our own lives with new discoveries in culture, food, relationship, and knowledge.

The great Mahatma Gandhi once said, "I am a Muslim, and a Hindu, and a Christian, and a Jew, and a Buddhist, for those are the faiths of all my brothers and sisters."

It is always a pleasure to hear people say, "I am a proud citizen of the United States of America." It is also heartwarming to hear people say, "I am a proud citizen of the world."

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