Recent editorials from Florida newspapers:
The Sun Sentinel, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on voting:
It's time to face reality: There's no significant problem with voter fraud in Florida. If it does exist, highly trained investigators with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement have been unable to find it.
Late last month, the law enforcement agency quietly closed two high-profile cases, having found no fraud of any significance.
The first case involved a group called Florida New Majority Education Fund, which sought to sign up voters in under-represented groups that tend to vote for Democrats. In this case, no arrests were made.
The second case involved Strategic Allied Consulting, a vendor for the Republican Party of Florida. In this case, one arrest was made. A man admitted to stealing the identity of a former girlfriend's ex-husband and filling out two false registration forms.
While other cases are pending, there's nothing to suggest the epidemic of voter fraud trumpeted by Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature in advance of the 2012 presidential election. At the time, the governor and state lawmakers played up fears to pass a law that reduced early voting days from 14 to 8, restricted voter-registration drives and created long lines on Election Day — six hours long at some Miami-Dade precincts.
Fortunately, some of those "reforms" were undone in last spring's legislative session. ...
Elections in Florida may have problems. We'll never live down the butterfly ballot of 2000 or the last-in-the-nation vote tally in 2012.
But rampant voter fraud is not the problem we've been led to believe. The results of the FDLE investigation confirms this reality.
The governor and legislative leaders should focus on real problems that need fixing, not a political gambit meant to help them retain power.
The Tampa (Fla.) Tribune on vexing U.N. vetoes:
Many Americans may be infuriated that Russia and China have signaled their readiness to veto any United Nations Security Council resolution that calls for intervention to punish Syria's use of chemical weapons in its brutal civil war.
According to U.N. rules, adopted in 1945 when the international organization was created, any of the five permanent members (the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, China and France) of the Security Council may veto any resolution brought before the council, thus preventing any action the other members may favor.
Critics believe that the U.N. founders made a terrible mistake in granting that veto power, and perhaps they're right. But it would be a serious mistake to think that the veto power doesn't serve American interests as well as those of our adversaries.
Over the years, the American ambassador to the U.N. has frequently exercised the right to cast a veto. ...
The first United States veto came in 1970 and dealt with a major crisis in what was then Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). The United Kingdom, of which Rhodesia was once a colony, vetoed seven Security Council resolutions on that subject. Two years later, the United States cast the only veto on a resolution that was critical of Israel.
In fact, since 1972 the United States has been by far the most frequent user of the veto and nearly all the vetoes involved resolutions that were contrary to Israel's political interests. ...
Benjamin Ferencz, a prosecutor at the Nuremberg war crimes trials after World War II, suggested (in a recent letter to The New York Times) that in this case the Security Council should refer the matter to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, "which is competent to penalize crimes against humanity." What he didn't say, however, is how the Syrian leader, Bashar al-Assad, could be forced to face that court.
Still, the U.N., for its faults and machinations, does provide a useful if imperfect global platform for maintaining peaceful relations and providing humanitarian aid, as world leaders envisioned when it was formed at the end of World War II.
The United States should never allow its involvement to diminish its security or sovereignty, but the United Nations, vetoes and all, does serve a valuable purpose.
The News-Journal, Daytona Beach, Fla., on how the state economy needs improvement but not more mandates:
A recent report from the Florida International University's Center for Labor Research and Studies paints a bleak picture of the Sunshine State economy, especially in terms of wages and personal income. But there is a brighter side to the state's economic picture, and it can be seen emerging in Volusia and Flagler counties.
The report, produced by the center's Research Institute on Social and Economic Policy, found that 22.6 percent of Florida's residents can be considered poor, in deep poverty, or near the poverty line. It also found that wages for Floridian households have declined since 2000 by more than 11 percent.
The report says there is a structural problem with the Florida economy that predates the beginning of the recession in 2007.
The center recommends better access to "living wages." Florida's minimum wage is $7.79 per hour. Some advocates on the left want to substantially raise the minimum wage.
But raising the minimum wage often makes entry-level jobs harder to get. It also destroys a certain number of those jobs. That tends to hurt the poorest workers who are looking for low-skill, entry-level jobs.
A better solution to the problem of low wages is to create, attract and retain high-paying jobs across all industries. On this front, Florida economic development officials are trying hard, with Gov. Rick Scott leading the push to bring in new businesses. Officials in Volusia and Flagler also are working to diversify the area economy and create more jobs outside the tourism and construction industries. ...
The FIU Research Institute on Social and Economic Policy is right about the general state of wages in Florida. Part of the problem is the prevalence of low-paying tourism and retail industries. Seeking to "cure" the low wages of those industries has long been a goal of some policy think tanks, yet government "solutions" to low wages can unintentionally wreak havoc.
The tourism and retail industries must be part of the base of the growing and diversifying Florida economy. They provide many jobs and serve a huge demand.
So what's the best way to increase wages in Florida? The best solution is to expand the state's employment base. That means attracting employers from outside the state and helping homegrown businesses that are not focused on retail, tourism or construction.
This task is getting more attention locally and statewide, and that's a hopeful sign for the future.