Sunday, February 10, 2019 1:00 am
Letters to the editor
D.C. march reminder of remaining struggles
On the day Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed by the Senate to the Supreme Court after likely committing perjury and being accused of sexual assault, I bought a plane ticket to Washington, D.C., for the third annual Women's March.
While I stood in line at security at the Fort Wayne airport, being checked in by TSA employees who hadn't been paid in more than three weeks because of a shutdown caused by a tantrum by our president, the woman in front of me asked where I was headed. I told her. She grasped my hands and said sincerely, “Thank you for doing that.”
On Jan. 19, armed with extra layers and a poster, I took the metro to Gallery Place, where I was greeted by a crowd of roughly 100,000 people all there for similar reasons as myself, each with a story to tell. Together, the 100,000 of us walked and chanted our way down the crowded streets to Freedom Plaza, holding our signs in the air.
We were privileged enough to hear the voices of the marginalized, the women whose voices are not heard or are snuffed out. Abby Stein, a Jewish transgender rabbi, preached about intersectionality and how feminism was not feminism if it did not involve everyone of every color, creed, sexual orientation and gender. Native women reminded us we are all immigrants and highlighted the struggles they face. Native women continue to go missing, and our government continues to try to pry their land away for drilling and oil. Black women spoke about the hardships their community still faces in terms of gentrification, structural poverty due to redlining, racism, police brutality, gerrymandering and representation.
Together, we marched and peacefully protested underneath the banner of a president who brags about sexually assaulting women, who is openly racist and xenophobic, who has acted to strip transgender citizens of their rights, and who sees women as lesser. We stood in solidarity and reminded one another that our feminism is intersectional and that it benefits us all. And at the end of the march, I looked up to the sky and thanked the women who did this before me, the women who allowed me and the 700,000 of us across the United States to make our voices heard.
We will continue to turn out in huge numbers until our job is done, until we are not marginalized and dismissed, until we are paid fairly for our work, until one in six of us will not be raped in her lifetime, until survivors of sexual assault and domestic abuse are believed, and until we are fairly represented in government. As we shouted together at Freedom Plaza: We. Will. Not. Stop.
Chamber acts to boost workforce quality
It's impossible to have any business conversation today without the workforce issue coming up.
Results of the Indiana Chamber's latest annual employer survey highlight the challenges facing Hoosier companies.
For the first time, more than half of the survey respondents left jobs unfilled in the past year, citing underqualified applicants. The 51 percent total is the fifth consecutive increase, starting with 39 percent in 2014.
Another concern: A third responded that filling their workforce/talent needs is their biggest challenge. The total climbs to 80 percent when adding in those employers who cite workforce needs as one of their biggest challenges.
These alarming trends got our attention. The Indiana Chamber recently announced formation of the Institute for Workforce Excellence, which is dedicated to helping businesses attract, develop and retain the talent they need.
The institute has a number of offerings in place. An exclusive partnership with Ivy Tech Community College on the Achieve Your Degree initiative provides a 5 percent tuition rebate. The Indiana INTERNnet statewide internship matching program can lead to new hires, while Indiana Workforce Recovery guides employers on how they can help workers with opioid or other substance misuse.
Various employee education and training opportunities are also available, with additional strategic partnerships anticipated for 2019 that will lead to more statewide programs and initiatives.
The lost business opportunities from workforce deficits are real and have a negative effect on these companies, their existing employees and the overall economy.
The state must continue to develop, implement and communicate effective training programs, while employers have the responsibility to investigate all options for increasing the skills of their associates. Attracting more workers to the state is also paramount.
We hope the new Institute (www.indianachamber.com/workforce) will enable the business community to further engage and ultimately help move our workforce forward.
President, Indiana Chamber of Commerce Indianapolis
Net meter phaseout should be repealed
The sun is a clean, renewable energy resource we should all harness to help ourselves and our state. But when government picks winners and losers, almost everybody loses.
Two years ago, the Indiana General Assembly picked utilities over everyone else and passed a bill to phase out net metering. Net metering allows Hoosier solar power owners a fair exchange for extra electricity they generate: they receive as much power from the grid at night as they send into the grid during peak daytime demand. It's a good trade for utilities, but not as good as the law phasing out competition from net metering.
Home-grown solar power reduces energy demand so the power company doesn't need to generate as much, and that relieves the burden on all of us to purchase expensive electricity at peak times.
Net metering is a win-win for consumers and utilities, and it should be celebrated and optimized, not phased out.
That's why lawmakers should give a full hearing to Senate Bill 430, a bipartisan effort that would undo the net metering phaseout and restore a cleaner, more competitive energy market. Sen. Jim Merritt should allow a hearing on SB 430 in the Utilities Committee he chairs.
Fossil fuels essential to keeping world fed
I taught science in the public schools. In the late 1960s and early 1970s the world population was about 3 billion. Today we're at 7 billion. I taught that without using fossil fuels, we could produce enough food for 1 billion people on the earth.
When I listen to politicians such as Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (the green people) tell that we need to abandon fossil fuels in 12 years, I wonder how they plan to feed the 7 billion on the earth now (that number is expected to double to 14 billion by around 2064). It took till around 1850 of all recorded time to reach a world population of 1 billion.
At the recent farm show in Fort Wayne, I didn't see one electric tractor or combine. In the 1970s, the science book told us we were going to be freezing to death. Now we learn we're undergoing global warming? I guess they changed their minds.
So you see, we don't have a climate change problem. It's a population problem. The green people need to tell us which five or six billion people we'll let starve without fossil fuels. I'd like for a climate change person to respond to this question.