Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Business

November 17, 2013

Now's not time to emphasize negatives

What is the No. 1 complaint of Hoosier employers? The labor force is outdated. We do not have enough workers with the training and experience to compete with other states and nations. Some employers would supplement that concern with the high percentage of applicants who cannot pass drug tests.

Our schools, by virtually every measure, are inadequate. They have produced a generation of ill-equipped, under-educated adult workers.

There is an epidemic of obsolescence in our towns and cities that is easily seen in downtown areas, roads, bridges, civic and governmental organizations. It is as though we are still in the 20th century fighting to retain the conditions of the 19th century.

When we have a chance to join with progressive movements, we resist. Instead, we embrace regressive initiatives. Examples:

• replacement of property tax revenues by an increased sales tax that helps the wealthy,

• a repressive voter registration law and rejection of improved voter access methods,

• antiquated child care oversight and child protection services,

• rejection of expanded Medicaid for approximately 300,000 Hoosiers,

• acceptance of a “right-to-work” law.

Now a group of companies and institutions have the courage to come forth and say: “Enough is enough!” Led by Eli Lilly, Cummins, the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce and Indiana University, a coalition formed to block legislative passage of a resolution to put a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage on the ballot in 2016.

Indiana already has a law that bans same-sex marriage. Proponents of that measure want to make it harder to repeal the law by placing the ban in the state’s constitution. Worldly-wise companies and institutions have said, “No!” They know how Indiana is viewed from elsewhere already. Why make things worse?

From outside the Hoosier Holyland, we look like a retrograde southern state. We were late to integrate our schools. We opposed (and still do) federal aid for a long list of infrastructure and social projects. We celebrate an agricultural heritage that has been in relative decline for 100 years.

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