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Wayne’s Words: Gov. Pritzker’s Local Journalism Task Force and the blame game

Wayne Horne | 8/26/2021, 6 a.m.
About four months ago, U.S. News and World Reports released its Overall Best Countries Rankings. The United States moved up ...

About four months ago, U.S. News and World Reports released its Overall Best Countries Rankings. The United States moved up this year from seventh to sixth. In 2016, when Donald Trump became President, the U.S. was ranked fourth. By 2017 we were ranked 8th. Perhaps we’re on the way back up. The five Countries ahead of us are Canada, Japan, Germany, Switzerland and Australia. There are a variety of metrics used to determine the overall rankings.

The U.S. Ranks number one in Power and Agility. We rank 45th for being open for business. Switzerland ranks number one and Canada is number three by comparison. Amid the 50 states, Illinois ranks number 30. Our highest ranking using the same metrics to rank the positions on the list is number 11 for education. Illinois is dead last among the states for fiscal stability. Will County didn’t do very well among the 500 counties that were ranked. Will County came in at 483.

Beyond using this info for trivia purposes, the above information probably doesn’t have much value to most of us. But you can be sure it will prompt units of government to initiate a study to determine how we can improve the situation. Maybe a study that determines how local journalism can do a better job.

That must be what prompted Illinois Governor Pritzker to sign a bill creating the Local Journalism Task Force. Apparently, a study is needed “to review all aspects of local journalism including, but not limited to, the adequacy of press coverage of communities, print and digital business models for media outlets, the impact of social media on local news, strategies to improve local news access, and public policy solutions to improve the sustainability of local press business models and private and nonprofit solutions…” Findings and recommendations will be submitted to the Governor and General Assembly by January 1, 2023.

Wow! Do you suppose they ignored or didn’t know about the above rankings and decided this is a vital necessity the government needs to study? Do the elected officials in Illinois know we rank 50th in fiscal stability and 39th out of 50 states in our economy?

Really, Governor and General Assembly members, is this a vital priority for you? No wonder our ranking is so abysmal.

One last thing…the debate over who caused the chaos in Afghanistan should not be puzzling to anyone. It’s easy to blame just about anyone you choose, depending on your own political agenda. About the only people who are basically blameless are those in the military who had the job of physically confronting the military mission in Afghanistan.

The exodus from Afghanistan eerily mirrors the exodus from Vietnam in spite of the efforts to portray it as different. The biggest difference is everybody in the world is watching the withdrawal and paid little attention during the conflict. Did we learn nothing from past incursions into other countries?

The war in Afghanistan is one of several conflicts the United States chose to engage our military in a mission without clear objectives and without a clear definition of when victory could be declared. The U.S. slowly increased troop strength in Vietnam with the promise that a little more time and a few more troops would make the difference in preventing Communism from consuming South Vietnam. The idea of training and supplying the Army of the Republic of Vietnam was supposed to shift the ground war fighting from American troops to the South Vietnamese troops. We were told it was working until the shift was complete and it became obvious it wasn’t working. We withdrew in chaos and vowed such a debacle would never happen again. It’s a familiar scenario.

Now the blame game is on.

Stay tuned…

Contact Wayne at wayneswords@thetimesweekly.com