(Nov. 1, 2004) — Emotions heading into this presidential election are incredibly high.
Here's an example: Last week, we ran a Page 1 story revealing that Teresa Heinz Kerry donates millions of dollars to groups involved in issues that are very important to the plastics industry.
You might think that plastics executives would want to know that sort of information. But we immediately got feedback from some readers blasting us as a mouthpiece for the Democrats.
We do not believe the story was biased. It was a balanced and straightforward look at where Heinz Kerry's foundations give money. To us, it's interesting and newsworthy that she gives money to environmental groups involved in plastics-related issues, and also to manufacturing groups involved in plastics-related issues.
The story lays out those facts. People can decide for themselves what they think. If the industry doesn't read about that in Plastics News, we don't think it will read about it elsewhere.
Everyone, it seems, is paying particular attention this year.
For manufacturing executives, it's obvious why. The plastics processing industry remains down about 100,000 jobs from a high of 750,000 in 2000, and while the economy is showing signs of picking up, the industry continues to face a sluggish forecast for domestic manufacturing and concerns about global trade. It all combines to make the choices on the Nov. 2 ballot particularly important.
There have been massive get-out-the-vote efforts from everyone. The National Association of Manufacturers, for example, said it has registered 711,000 new voters, and labor groups have mounted similar campaigns. Plastics trade groups like the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. have gotten into the voter-education act as well.
It's not our policy to make endorsements. We know that many readers have very strong feelings about the election. We respect the opinions of our readers, and we're happy to hear from all sides of this debate. While we're happy to encourage readers to vote, we won't pretend to instruct them how to do so.
We wish the candidates would devote more attention to the federal budget. Neither candidate is speaking honestly about the difficult choices they will face if they win. Yet keeping the federal fiscal house in order is one area where the president legitimately can influence the economic health of the country, more so than phony debates about job creation.
Peter Peterson, former Nixon commerce secretary and chief executive officer of New York investment firm Blackstone Group, has been on a book tour arguing that neither the Democrats nor the Republicans are talking seriously about the situation. He laments the lack of high-minded business people willing to step forward and talk about the country's unsustainable deficits, both in the budget and the trade balance. They have to be dealt with for serious long-term growth.
Peterson is not alone: Former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker said there is a 75 percent chance of a crisis in the next five years.
So, yes, the choice is important. The next president will have to make some hard decisions, on fiscal issues, on Iraq, on national security.
We don't want to recommend who to vote for, but it's important to get out and vote.