By Joe Rector

I intentionally waited to write this until the day of July 4th. It’s not so much because I am lazy, but in the world today, things occur so quickly that I’m never sure whether the events on which I comment will prove to be true or false. At this point, however, I feel safe thinking that these things are real, at least for today.

To begin with, it’s hotter than a $2.00 pistol. The whole week has been crammed with days in the 90’s, and someone said yesterday the temperature, not just the “feels like” temperature, hit 100 degrees. Here’s a new flash: it’s summer and supposed to be hot. Humidity can also be added to the mix here in East Tennessee, and that makes for sweltering summer days. That’s why plenty of folks spend their days at the pool or lakeside. Some are even lucky enough to make it to a stream in the mountains where the real cold water is located.

We’re celebrating Independence Day, and the economy is humming along. Employment is at record low levels, and companies are beginning to run out of folks to work. It wasn’t too long ago that people had to scramble to find part time work, but now things are much brighter for Americans who need a job.

I’m not so sure how the economy will be affected by the dump truck load of tariffs that we are imposing on friends and enemies alike. Those measures are being met with tariffs by other countries, so the prices of goods will begin to climb. That means the tax cuts that we might have seen in our paychecks won’t offer extra savings or more purchasing power; instead, we’ll wind up shelling out the money in an effort to at least keep even. It seems to me that we might aim any tariffs at enemies and not at our friends with whom we have small or nonexistent trade deficits.

Immigration is causing problems for the entire country. I certainly agree that we need to develop a workable immigration policy. That would include an orderly flow of immigrants into the U.S. and a workforce to fill some of the positions that are dependent on migrant workers. However, this country cannot continue to take children from their parents when families cross the borders. Yes, in some situations, those folks are breaking the law, but we are a nation founded on immigrants. Taking children from moms and dads is an immoral act that defeats the ideals upon which the U.S.A. was built. In short, we are better than that.

The news outlets of the nation are not enemies of the state. If that were true, then The Knoxville Focus would be your enemy. Do you feel that way about this paper? Sure, some outlets report things I don’t like, and I’d rather not see the spin put into news stories. The reason for so much conjecture and opinion in some places is 24-hour news cycles. Really, how much can a cable news say about the same story? To keep the cameras on and the ads selling, networks must add stuff. Hey, we’re supposed to be an intelligent citizenry, so we should be able to tell the difference between fact and opinion. However, we need a free press; it’s one of the most crucial elements to a democracy. If you don’t like what an outlet says, don’t listen or watch, but at least recognize its right to exist.

I’m worried about the days ahead. We are fighting with friends, dealing with countries that tried to influence our elections, and cutting deals with regimes that have lied for years. Polarization stifles the government’s ability to work for the people. My wish for this Fourth of July is that common sense and love of country replace such adversarial roles. How about we all try to meet in the middle and moderate our views for what’s best for the country? It might work since nothing else seems to have.