News From Terre Haute, Indiana

December 16, 2012

READERS’ FORUM: Dec. 16, 2012


---- — Is U.S. heading for another Depression?

Have you noticed the length of unemployment cycles is increasing?

In 1957, a major job loss of 4.4 percent recovered in only 24 months and the 1981 drop of 3.0 percent recovered in 27 months. Since then, a modest drop in employment of 1.5 percent in 1990 and in 2001 required 31 months and 45 months, respectively, before full employment returned. The current cycle started 63 months ago and only 2.3 percent of the 5.4 percent drop has been recovered.

One may speculate the longer unemployment cycles are caused by loss of our manufacturing base or a new willingness of the unemployed to remain unemployed; equally important reasons began after World War II.

World War II encouraged women to enter the work force and created a baby boom, surprisingly not mutually exclusive events. America’s economy has been feeding off these two events since.

In 1948, there were only 27 percent women in the workforce, but by 1990, 45 percent of our workers were women. Clearly, replacing one family worker with two boosted the economic growth rate. This economic “booster” ended in 1990 with little change in percentage of women in the workplace since.

The same may be said of baby boomers, perhaps the greatest bunch of consumers known to mankind. This economic growth “booster” is about to become a Social Security and Medicare “buster.”

The current economic growth rate, like 1933-1940, is so small that, without deficit spending, it would be negative.

Are unemployment cycles, loss of postwar stimuli and low economic growth suggesting a forthcoming return to the Depression?

— Ron Gore


Wowed by Cross Tabernacle’s hospitality

I was recently invited to Cross Tabernacle, by my son’s principal, to participate in the Single Parents Banquet. I wanted to publicly thank Cross Tabernacle and everyone involved with the banquet and the church.

I had no idea what to expect, and was more than wowed at the hospitality they showed my children and I. We were treated to a nice lunch, amusing singers, a wonderful speaker, and were treated like honored company in someone’s home.

They helped numerous, like a lot, of single parents be able to not only be able to have some things for their children for Christmas, but they also made the parents feel very important and pampered, and were given gifts and well wishes as well. It was a very nice event, almost overwhelmingly so, and my thanks can not be said enough. Thank you Cross Tabernacle and affiliates.

— Tisha Schnellenberger

Terre Haute

Inmates with jobs would benefit all

In a recent paper (Thursday, Dec. 6, Page A6) The article titled “Inmates should pay own way” by Miss Vicki Rainbolt, I have to say that I support her opinion 100 percent.

Currently there are approximately 2.3 million people (2.4 percent of the U.S. population) incarcerated in federal, state or local prisons. Indiana incarcerates approximately 28,887 inmates (as of October 2012). With a state budget of $691.6 million the average cost of housing an inmate in prison is $54.28 per day. I agree that inmates should pay their own way, but what would be the best way? Here is my idea to make the DOC (at the federal, state, and local levels) self-sufficient.

First, make all inmates that are physically able to work have a job. These jobs are paid at the current minimum wage and subject to federal/state/local taxes as well as social security taxes (this would provide additional tax dollars for our government to spend by adding an additional 2.3 million to the tax roll paying their “fair share”). If the inmate is charged with a crime involving a victim, then a percentage is deducted which would go into a victims’ assistance fund and paid monthly to the victim. If the inmate has children then additional money should be deducted for child support, thus reducing the amount of state/federal assistance the family receives (if applicable).

Second, deduct the cost of being housed in prison (clothing, room/board, etc.) from the inmates wages as well as increase the inmates deductible for medical and dental visits (when I worked for the DOC it was a $5 co-pay per visit for the inmate).

Finally, return the prisons to providing for themselves, reducing the amount of materials that would need to be purchased. For example, Putnamville Correctional Facility is known as “the Farm” because it used to grow its own food. Each facility should begin growing their own foods, raising their own sources of meats (cattle, pigs, chickens, turkeys, etc.) this would serve multiple functions, provide foods that inmates could eat reducing food purchases, teach inmates work ethics, teach inmates new skills (agriculture, how to care for animals, vet tech “hands-on” experience, etc.) that would help them obtain a good job upon release, and mainly, reduce the overall costs of running the facilities.

In conclusion, these ideas would help reduce the costs of running the facilities, increase revenues of federal/state/local governments through additional tax dollars from inmate wages, and provide a means for inmates to learn skills that would allow them to re-enter society and be able to support themselves and their families.

— Ron Taylor

West Terre Haute

Business side of higher ed is a problem

New York Times columnist Joe Nocera usually aims his guns at the NCAA when criticizing out of control college sports. Finally he takes on the core of the many, many problems rotting away at the Big Buck college sports programs dominating higher education establishments (see NYT, Dec. 10, 2012, Show Me the Money). Big Buck programs are captured in a squirrel cage and they’re all dizzy in pursuit of what? Yes, it’s the money. Few schools or their presidents and trustees like to “Show” this side of their business decisions to the public.

If you’re paying attention, you know about the University of Tennessee. You are a Peyton Manning idolater, right? So you know about his alma mater. Since 2008 the state has cut the U. of Tennessee budget 21 percent. This during a time when buyouts of U of T athletic coaches reached $9 million and the athletic department found it, well, prudent, to renege on a $6 million payment to the academic wing of the school. I love it that U. of T’s motto is “Veritatem cognoscentis et veritas te liberabit,” meaning “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” And their mascot is a bluetick coonhound named Smokey.

But why pick on the Vols and the smoke they send up. Closer to home, check out Indiana U. and Purdue on their buyout of athletic debts.

Does any of this have anything to do with little old ISU, a small- to medium-sized school with a relatively modest Big Buck athletic program? Of course it does.

ISU swims in the expensive sewage the system pumps into every college in America. Program costs escalate, coaches pay soars, student fees and taxes pay off yearly athletic program deficits, grotesque dreams of new stadiums abound, relentless tapping of donors for programs that have zilch to do with education and research accelerate. All of this washes up on the banks of the Wabash.

Current, misguided, thinking takes the view that institutions of higher education should be run along “business model” lines. So be it. Here’s a real time “business model” application for President Bradley and the ISU trustees to work on: ISU is searching for a new head football coach. Only two facts should be pertinent in regard to who the CEOs at ISU hire: the new coach’s salary and the buyout clause in his contract. Buy low and no refunds for work not performed. That’s the business ticket that makes sense.

Wins, losses, “building character in young men and women,” traditions? Fluff and stuff. Unfortunately, it’s far more comfortable and easily predictable that ISU will choose to just follow the money down Big Buck sport’s drains. Look for a new coach at ISU with a salary tied to a balloon and a golden parachute at the ready. Is this any way to run a business?

— Gary Daily

Terre Haute

Today’s world demands a broad view, awareness

In his numerous “letters to the editor” over the past several months, Mr. Abhyankar has polarized his venomous diatribes as anti-Obama ramblings.

He suggested recently that President Obama was anti-colonial. Wow, welcome to the 21st century where colonialism — the occupation and enslaving of land and people — is viewed as a historical “blackmark” on humanity. Please show factual documentation of the President’s “pro-Islamic” policies. Many of us see his administration view of a peaceful world, one in which open communication and continuous dialogue is maintained with all willing nations.

You suggested in your 12/12/12 letter that President Obama apologizes at every opportunity for Western colonialism. First, you offer no factual support; second, we do have a history of domination and arrogance that could use some compassionate contrition to ennoble our reputation in the 21st century world. To paraphrase an Oldsmobile commercial from the early 1990s, this ain’t your daddy’s global perspective and interpretation.

As for maintaining silence about mistreatment of women and denial of innate human rights, of course there is no outward condemnation for the world’s “news peddlers” to consume. However, with what little influence a nation can have with another’s culture and traditions, the U.S. (and President Obama) do work diligently for human equality and fairness wherever the United States has influence.

The freedoms and security of our America are not being jeopardized by our silence about the Islamic beliefs of “internal struggle” and “the inalienable words of God.” No individual, group, micro-culture, or society wants to be lectured about the perceived shortcomings of their values and beliefs. Differences must be discussed and solutions found, and that can only be accomplished in “quiet, respectful meetings,” not by blasting vitriol in the rapacious “world news media.” You, and unenlightened others, assume one view and beat it to its ultimate demise. In America, we encourage and respect open, critical, and reasoned dissent; and, in the 21st century, we have evolved to understand the difference between compassionate disagreement and passionate prejudice. Your letters reveal well-thought and concretely based beliefs and values. Now, if you could just find a pair of glasses without one white lens and one black lens. Today’s world is a “beautiful mess,” demanding a broader view and diversity awareness.

— Jim Camp

Terre Haute