University Of Iowa Should Include Public On Closure Decisions

The University of Iowa announced last week that it will close seven academic centers, shrink three others and eliminate 33 jobs. The reductions will save $3.5 million, officials said. The announcement should come as no surprise if you have been paying attention to events in our state. The university has been caught in a vice — squeezed between public pressure to hold down the size of tuition increases and the Legislature’s desire to hold down government spending. University officials have been telegraphing for months that cutbacks would be coming if the Legislature reduced state appropriations for the three state universities. […]

Is This How Iowa Wants To Save Money?

Don’t be surprised if a guy named Jamie Campbell turns out to be one of the key players in the 2018 race for Iowa governor. Campbell’s name will not be on the ballot in November. He will not be crisscrossing the state, appearing at one campaign event after another. But don’t let anyone kid you. Campbell will be talked about, either by name or indirectly. His experience with state government will be an important factor as Iowans decide whether they want Gov. Kim Reynolds or retired Des Moines businessman Fred Hubbell to lead our state for the next four years. […]

First Amendment And Reporters Deserve Our Respect, Too

Sunday morning, government officials gathered in Des Moines to brief journalists about the storm that swamped the city and surrounding area with between 5 and 10 inches of rain Saturday night. Among the reporters there was William Petroski, who has covered state government for the Des Moines Register for 37 years. Even on a weekend, a normal day off for him, Bill was wearing his uniform — a coat and tie. The no-nonsense former Marine dresses the same way as he works: like a professional. Although I was his supervisor for years, I could not tell you whether he is a liberal, a […]

Trump’s Dangerous Vow To Eliminate Due Process

If you go out East this week and swing by places like Mount Vernon, Monticello and Montpelier, don’t be surprised if the soil has been disturbed over the graves of our Founding Fathers. Those founders of this beacon of freedom known as the United States of America surely have turned over in their graves following the weekend news from President Donald Trump. The president announced that he wants to eliminate due process and access to the courts for people accused of entering the United States without government permission. “We cannot allow all of these people to invade our Country,” the […]

The Whirlpool/Maytag Deal Has Foreign-Trade Lessons

Whirlpool’s $1.7 billion acquisition of Maytag, a storied Iowa brand of home appliances, offers a fascinating window into international trade and tariffs. At the time of the 2006 deal, Whirlpool was the largest appliance maker in the United States. Maytag was its biggest competitor. Together, they built about half of all washing machines sold in the U.S. Federal regulators worried about their new dominance, but the company said foreign competition, primarily from South Korea’s Samsung and LG, would keep Whirlpool’s market clout in check. That certainly occurred. Samsung and LG have outmaneuvered Whirlpool for laundry equipment sales since 2006, building […]

Tariffs Aren’t As Simple As Trump Believes

The school year is finished, but whether we like it or not, Iowans have been sent to summer school this year. The subject for our summer education: the economics of foreign trade and tariffs. Professor Donald Trump assured us this would be really simple to master and wouldn’t take very long. But Iowa farmers and the owners and managers of many businesses are now realizing the professor might need to brush up on the subject material before he teaches more lessons. The president’s tariffs have been imposed on goods produced by many of our overseas trading partners for sale to […]

Tax Cut Effects Go Far Beyond Our Pocketbook, Governor

When Gov. Kim Reynolds signed the large tax-cut bill into law last week, she talked about how the legislation will allow hard-working Iowans to keep more of their paychecks. What the governor did not mention was how there are other real-life consequences for the people of Iowa that go beyond paying less in state income taxes. One such consequence comes to a head on June 25. That’s when a 20-year-old Des Moines man, Jessie Teah, goes on trial on charges of second-degree sexual assault and invasion of privacy. He faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted. Teah is […]

How Will History Judge Us On Immigrant Children?

I am surely not the only person who has wondered what it was like to live through various big events from history, events that occurred long before I entered this world in 1950. This curiosity has led me to contemplate events like the Civil War, the growing tensions in Europe and America before World War II, the lynching of black people by vigilantes in the South during the first half of the 20th Century, the internment of Japanese-Americans in the Western United States during the 1940s, and the various waves of anti-Jew, anti-Catholic, anti-Italian and anti-Irish thinking in our country. […]

Don’t Hide Government Officials From The Public

I sometimes think government officials overlook the important role the public plays in our system of government. That was my takeaway last week from the monthly meeting of the Iowa Public Information Board. When Mrs. Gentry lectured in my high school government classes 50+ years ago, I remember her talking about how American government is participatory. The public can attend meetings of government boards, she told us. People are free to express their opinions to government leaders. Mrs. G’s explanation doesn’t quite square with the legal analysis laid out by the Iowa Public Information Board’s lawyer last week. I think […]

The Fundamental Balance Of Iowa Is Slipping Away

I’m sure you have heard the old tale about Iowa’s bountiful cornfields — about closing your eyes in the summer, listening carefully at night and being able to hear the corn grow. Here’s different image to ponder: If you open your eyes and look around carefully, I think you can see our state changing right in front of us. And I’m pretty certain we are not going to like where we end up. Through the years, Iowa has been the geographic and sociological equivalent of Baby Bear’s porridge. We have not been a state that is as well off economically […]