Don’t believe rhetoric of Trump on NAFTA

Don’t believe rhetoric of Trump on NAFTA

In preparation of North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations starting Wednesday, the Trump administration released an official list of objectives for the new agreement that has some senators saying it looks like a “watered down version of TPP [Trans-Pacific Partnership] proposals.”

The president even recruited the same corporate- trade advisers who developed the failed provisions of the TPP to consult on NAFTA. Instead of committing to crafting a new deal that prioritizes working people and families, Trump has given little indication that he will actually fight to improve labor and environmental standards that will boost our needs.

The president talks tough on overhauling trade policy, but it’s nothing more than leftover campaign rhetoric. We don’t want more of his empty promises that lead to the same devastating trade pacts.

NAFTA killed jobs in our communities and depressed wages for millions. The agreement also made it easier for corporations to offshore jobs and attack environmental, health and other safeguards in the United States, Mexico and Canada.

We must press our elected leaders to ensure that any update to NAFTA will benefit working people, and provide the freedom for all of us to create better futures for our families.

Robert March, Warren

Mill Creek bikers need to exercise more courtesy

I try to ride my bike on the Mill Creek Bikeway every day between Western Reserve Road and Interstate 80, and I have one complaint.

There are rules of conduct posted at every road crossing, but I suspect no one reads them. Bicycle riders should announce their approach from behind to walkers and other riders as they overtake them.

This is a courtesy and a matter of safety for all users of the bikeway. The really disturbing thing about this lack of courtesy is that the riders with the most expensive bikes, the latest gear and fanciest apparel appear to be the worst offenders.

To all my fellow bicyclists, please be responsible, and do your part to make the Bikeway safe and enjoyable for all users.

Dennis Opritza, Canfield

Outside money suppresses voice of people in Y’town; the time has come to act

Residents of Youngstown concerned about our community, our water and our health have tried for years to pass a local law asserting our right to do so. I am one of those residents.

Each attempt has been fiercely opposed by those who have much to gain, but little to lose because they don’t live in Youngstown. These opponents provide large amounts of money to defeat the people’s initiative. I mean a lot of cash, like 50-1 compared to what the people can raise and spend. This money and other support comes from unions, chambers of commerce and even political parties that do not want the people to have an equal voice in the election process.

In a way, it is a form of voter suppression because their paid messages can be so “loud” that the people’s message is suppressed. For every glossy color mailer you get telling you to vote against the people’s proposed initiative, to the dozens of robo-calls telling voters how to vote, to the people at every polling location telling voters to oppose the people’s initiative – the opposition buys the results they want.

This is why “we the people” felt it was time to level the playing field in Youngstown elections. Besides limiting how much can be donated to a local campaign, only voters of Youngstown can make contributions to campaigns. We also felt that in order to give more residents a fair chance at running for office and to allow all voters to choose who they feel would be the best candidate to represent them, local elections should be nonpartisan.

If we really believe that the people who live in Youngstown should be the ones making the decisions for Youngstown, then please support the People’s Bill of Rights for Fair Elections and Access to Local Government.

Randy Younkin, Youngstown

Use empathy to win war among ourselves

I’m in my 60s, and for my entire life we’ve been at war with someone or something. We’ve had numerous foreign wars, wars on poverty, crime, drugs, and anything else we can imagine.

I can’t point to very many positive outcomes of the wars. Now we are at war with ourselves. There are so-called “leaders” who are pointing to people they don’t agree with and saying that’s the enemy. These people, no matter what their politics, are not patriots. They are interested in their own egos and personal political futures.

The message of every major religion is that of peace. I have a good friend who tells me that the overwhelming message in the Quran is that of peace. Jesus preached to love one’s enemy. He also advocated peace.

How do we promote peace among ourselves? We can start with empathy. Just because we don’t agree with someone doesn’t mean that they have nothing to offer. We agree on more than we disagree.

Finally we can pray for peace. We can first pray for peace within ourselves. We can pray for those who don’t agree with us. We can pray for peace and healing in our country and its leaders.

Edward Alleman, Youngstown

Portman, Johnson, Trump turn their backs on Valley on the issue of health care

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, the president and Rep. Bill Johnson turned their backs on the Mahoning Valley

The moves to strip millions of people of health care and cause job loss in one-sixth of our economy have been blocked for now. This is due to the activism of people all over the Mahoning Valley, Ohio and this country for the past seven months.

Here in the Valley we marched, rallied, called, tweeted, wrote post cards, delivered postcards to Sen. Portman, held a town hall, a mock funeral, signed petitions, shared personal stories, got resolutions passed in Warren, Youngstown and Girard city councils. We also joined others in D.C., talked to neighbors, planned and strategized, stuck together, sat in and stood up with others throughout the state and country to demand that we do not go backwards on health care in this country.

Portman and Johnson turned their backs on their constituents by voting to strip health care and showed that they are more interested in wealth care (a huge tax cut for the wealthiest) than health and employment of families.

The president has repeatedly said he wants the Affordable Care Act to fail. In fact, he has acted to sabotage ACA by discouraging people from signing up for insurance and creating uncertainty in the market for insurers The president signed an executive order not to enforce the individual mandate to have health care insurance, canceled ads in the last few weeks before the annual sign-ups ended and threatened to withdraw funding subsidies to the exchanges. Anthem cited its reason for leaving the Ohio exchange as uncertainty that subsidies will be funded.

Shame on President Donald Trump, Portman and Johnson. Kudos to the people of the Mahoning Valley and throughout the country who didn’t let up and didn’t give in to the powerful interests that were determined to “win” at the cost of the people’s health and lives.

Karen Zehr, Warren

Karen Zehr is a member of Valley Voices United for Change.

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