Critical Issues in Need of Address

By Daily Editorials

May 8, 2019 4 min read

President Trump comes to Northwest Florida with issues like disaster aid and trade deals hanging in the balance.

We've already made clear our stance on disaster aid — both here in the Florida Panhandle and other American communities devastated by hurricanes and other natural disasters in the past few years. The money is beginning to trickle in, and we welcome the news. Keep it coming.

But there is another financial matter gathering steam in the marble, polished halls of the world that has the potential to spread its misery from the grocery aisles and financial nest eggs to portfolios throughout the West: the United States' trade war with China and the inward turn by the Trump administration.

It's clear we should look after our own first, especially with vital programs like Medicare and Social Security in need of financial infusions or drastic cuts over the long term. But the Trump administration's erratic messages regarding the continuing discussions on trade with China have unnecessarily flared the markets in a trajectory that leaves multinationals on edge as they await news on official policy.

This week marks a critical turn in those talks, and we are hopeful that if President Trump addresses these matters while stumping at a rally in Bay County, he will do so with the mindset that the world is listening to every word — and that a stray, irresponsible utterance can swing the markets in a negative direction that could embolden the bears and silence the bulls.

Congress intended the presidency to be a weak office, as they feared a repeat of Britain's dominant monarch in the twilight of this nation's founding. Unfortunately or not, the media — and now social media and the spread of mobile phones — has rendered that battle nearly moot. With one tweet, the president can swing the markets or provoke a response from an adversary. Congress can barely keep the government from shutting down, so the world, and especially the markets, look to the president at least as a gauge of the political mood here.

Freedom of speech is essential in upholding the sanctity of our nation, so any attempt to put a bit in the horse's mouth would be foolish and no doubt unconstitutional. People will say what they want to say and we have the freedom to think what we want to think.

The freedom of the press, meanwhile, provides an amplifier for those whose voices are not always heard. That is why we print letters to the editor. It is why we attend and cover important public meetings. It is why we post snippets of our stories on Facebook and invite community comment.

But all freedoms require a tradeoff, and as boring (or comic book) as it may sound, with great freedom comes great responsibility. And when you're standing on a ledge and can spike a deal with one errant word, you realize that there's a thin line between the freedom of speech and the realities of incitement.

Our economy is in great shape. The markets are frothy but mostly had been headed in the right direction.

Let's keep it that way. Our nation has a strong position — in all aspects — but we mustn't be arrogant in our demands when an agreement is best for all parties.

REPRINTED FROM THE PANAMA CITY NEWS HERALD

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