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Short takes on veterans, fracking, military equipment and Spider-Man

They served the nation in Afghanistan and Iraq. Now today’s military veterans may help today’s college students get better breaks on tuition.

In 32 states, including West Virginia, military veterans can get the lower in-state tuition rate at public universities. The rules vary from state to state.

Instate tuition averages $8,893 across the nation while the out-of-state rates average $22,203, according to the College Board.

This summer, Congress passed bipartisan legislation that opens the lower in-state rate to veterans in all states. Congress used the G.I. Bill as leverage. If a college wants the G.I. Bill to cover tuition, then it must offer the lower rate.

Congress could use student loans in a similar manner. Under this plan, if a college wants federal taxpayers to guarantee their loans, then it must lower its prices.

In putting tuition on a credit card called “student loan,” young people do not bother shopping around. It’s up to the old people who are underwriting those loans to do so.

This new twist on the G.I. Bill shows Congress how to do it. If tuition drops in the next few years, thank a vet.

Even if it doesn’t, thank them anyway. They risked their lives for us.

***

Hydraulic fracturing as pioneered by Mitchell Energy 16 years ago has helped North Dakota become the Saudi Arabia of the Northern Plains.

Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia also revived their oil and gas industries with this technology.

California may be next on the list.

Its state Senate voted down a proposal to ban fracking for two years. Given the once-Golden State’s chronic 8 percent unemployment rate and high electricity rates, California can use all the help it can get.

Development of the Monterey Shale formation could create 195,000 jobs in the San Joaquin Valley. That would mean $22 billion in payroll annually by 2030, Heartlander magazine reported.

Fracking is the new casino gambling, offering even better-paying jobs with the hope of better tax revenues. It is heartening to see some economic sanity seep into the California state Senate.

***

The purchase of surplus military equipment by local law enforcement agencies in the United States has disturbed many citizens in recent years. They fear that someday we will have a paramilitary police force.

Some have pointed with trepidation to the images from Ferguson, Missouri, of police battling looters.

But others see the riots as proof of the need to arm the police. Do we really want law enforcement officers without adequate equipment to be exposed to dangerous mobs?

Following 9/11, the federal government amped up aid to local law enforcement. For example, officials in Cabell and Berkeley counties now have grenade launchers so they can safely disperse tear gas in case of an emergency.

Officers of the law are willing to take a bullet for any citizen. The nation has an obligation to reduce the chances of that occurring.

***

Add being accosted by Spider-Man demanding money to the list of things West Virginians do not have to worry about.

In Times Square, New York, costumed characters are a big hassle. They make money by posing for pictures with tourists. When a tourist did not pay a man dressed like the Spider-Man got angry. He punched a police officer.

That was a ticket to jail.

Now the costumed people want to unionize claiming low wages. But many of them are in the United States illegally and the money often is under-the-table -- meaning untaxed.

There is an easy answer: Enforce copyright laws. Without permission from the copyright holder, a person should not profit from being Spider-Man.

And even with permission, he should not accost tourists.


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