By Nita Johnson
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — The Christmas wish list is now history and as the new year is just days away, the time has come for setting new goals and dreams for the upcoming year.
While most realize that a new year symbolizes a new beginning, the past events continue to play a prominent role in what the coming year brings.
As with every new year and throughout that year, the focus of most citizens is their immediate family. Whether the primary concern centers around financial and spiritual stability, or the many who deal with drug abuse and other personal problems, a new year always ignites a spark of new hope.
As of late, concern for the state of the state and state of our nation takes precedence beyond immediate personal issues. The past several decades have brought despair to the citizens of this state, beginning with the elimination of tobacco production during the Clinton Administration. Such action, although warranted due to the rising rates of cancer from tobacco use, put many Kentuckians in a lower financial brackett as a major source of revenue was eliminated from their annual income. While the financial settlements paid off many farmers, this secondary — and sometimes primary — source of income was terminated, leaving many families struggling to replace this income in order to support their families.
The recent “War on Coal” launched by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has further attacked the resources and income that many Kentuckians depended on for revenue. The stricter regulations on mining efforts not only thwarted coal miners, it also affects those in the construction business as new roads through the mountain area of the state were stopped or delayed while the EPA conducted its investigations into the waterways along those areas. Many construction workers were unemployed until these investigations were completed — once again leaving many Kentuckians standing in the unemployment line while the governmental support of stricter regulations and inspections placed the state’s progress in precarious positions. As the demand for elimination of coal as a source of electricity continues, there is almost a guaranteed jump in the costs of electricity for the majority of Kentuckians.
That, coupled with recent statistics that more than half the state’s population receives government assistance in some form or another, additionally complicates the state of our state. Toss in the mandatory insurance from the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, and the outlook for 2014 for Kentucky residents becomes even bleaker for the future. Many honest, hard-working employees are faced with reduction of work hours so employers can side step the costs of this required insurance. That places these working people in yet another dire financial position. Those persons who have maintained health insurance over the years are also challenged financially, with their own premiums to nearly doubling in order to offset the new costs of the ACA for the uninsured and uninsured.
Although Laurel County has experienced business growth, especially over the past year, such is not the case across the state and nation. The continuation of “big government” control over issues that should be managed by employers has placed this country in a near state of despair by the employed population who continue to foot the bill for those who lack the education, work history, and ambition to contribute their fair share to the overall success of the economy.
Although the 2014 elections in this state focus moreso on local officials, there are a few Congressional seats up for grabs. The selection of our Washington D.C. representatives should reflect the issues of our state and our nation’s struggle to provide the freedoms and rights that we the people are guaranteed by our founding fathers. If we can continue that effort, there may be a “light at the end of the tunnel” for the upcoming national elections in 2016 that will return this country back to the people and restore values, morals and inspiration to the upcoming generations that will further dictate the future of this nation.