News From Terre Haute, Indiana


June 23, 2013

READERS' FORUM: June 23, 2013

Walmart proud to contribute

I’ve lived in western Indiana for 12 years. When I walk around Terre Haute, I feel good about the people I see and meet knowing my company, Walmart, has helped many of them.

As a longtime employee (24 years), I’m proud my company provides meaningful employment to nearly 36,000 Hoosiers, with an average starting wage of $12.35. We provide career opportunities to those who earn their advancements, and 75 percent of our managers started as hourly associates.

But our responsibilities don’t stop at our store door. There’s something about seeing hungry kids at Terre Haute Catholic Charities eating a nutritious meal that was assisted by Walmart; or knowing Vigo County people sustain themselves with good food with contributions from Walmart makes me feel good, too. In fact, in 2012 Walmart contributed 16 million pounds of food to food banks and food pantries around Indiana providing 13,700,000 meals for hungry Hoosiers.

Walmart has begun a new advertising campaign and has a new website, www.therealwalmart.

com. I hope you will view the commercials on TV and online and see the Walmart I know and better understand why I’m proud to be an associate.

— Russ Koenig

Walmart Market Manager for West Central Indiana

City should crack down on slumlords

I would like to just say that Terre Haute is such a nice place to live. Here is my complaint and I am sure I am not alone, because many cities and towns have the same problem.

My problem is slumlords. They buy up houses, let them go and there goes our neighborhood. Why can’t they be held to the same standards as homeowners?

The one next door to me, the landlord has several houses, same disrepair, nor does she seem to care if it makes our homes look bad. She needs to be fined, all of them need to be fined. They make our city look horrible.

— Elizabeth Asay

Terre Haute

Oil companies simply serve own interests

I have considerable concern about the big red numbers up high at the entrance to the gas station and what they indicate. Adding insult to injury are the paltry and redundant reasons for the recent rise given by economists and others.

The usual official reason given is supply and demand. In this case, there is doubt for either a gas shortage or a rise in demand. Gas is still available for sale.

Travel to places of employment, for educational purposes, delivery of goods (count the semi-trucks on the highways), medical appointments and the usual errands all take gas. Compare all that necessary travel to the occasional vacations taken.

Supply shortages can and may be manipulated. A look at just the past two years will show a pattern we’ve been enduring for several years.

In June 2012, gas in Indiana had risen to $3.78 per gallon, the highest in the nation. Illinois, Michigan and Ohio had high prices also. Attorney General Greg Zoeller blamed the rise, in part, on the closing of an Illinois refinery for planned maintenance. The reduced operations at three other refineries in Illinois and Indiana contributed to the spike.

In July 2012, a refinery fire occurred in Richmond, Calif., and pipelines in Wisconsin and Illinois ruptured, plus equipment malfunctions in Illinois and Indiana caused problems.

In April 2013, a Detroit Marathon refinery caught fire and other refineries had some glitches as well. BP at Whiting had decreased to two-thirds production capacity, and in Joliet, Ill., there was a maintenance slowdown.

Recently, the attorney general’s office’s chief economist said he believes Indiana’s spike in gas prices is being fueled by production delays at seven of the Midwest’s 10 largest refineries.

We now export oil to Mexico, Canada, Brazil and the Netherlands. It was reported in March 2013, that the U.S. was forecast to overtake Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest crude oil producer by 2020.

Oil companies cooperate with each other, creating terminals where transport trucks can fill up with any one of a variety of brands. Why don’t they cooperate on maintenance schedules? Maybe they do — to our detriment. With today’s technology, there should be few problems maintaining a consistent supply.

Why do we subsidize oil? Why not use that money toward development of renewable resources? In 2011, the U.S. gave $13 billion to the fossil fuel industry via tax breaks and other production subsidies to the oil companies. It’s probably more now. Many countries subsidize gas at the pump. We tax it. Gas was $1 per gallon in Qatar last year.

It was reported in April 2012 that Exxon Mobile sold oil for higher prices around the world. Profits rose for its international refining operations.  It also planned to boost its quarterly dividend by 21 percent, the largest increase since 1975, making it the biggest corporate dividend payer.

Contrary to what we’ve been led to believe, it isn’t simple supply and demand causing price increases. Oil is sold in dollars on the global markets and its current value bears considerable weight. Speculators, playing their gambling games on the markets, matter as much as anything.

Our government hasn’t done anything of note to curtail big oil since it established anti-trust laws in 1892 and 1911 in order to keep John D. Rockefeller and his Standard Oil Co. from monopolizing the oil industry.

The only power we, as citizens, have to change things are the powers of speech and the vote. How do our individual legislators vote on issues concerning big oil? How many of them and their staff members own oil stock? How much money in campaign donations (bribes) do they receive from oil companies?

With today’s technology, it isn’t hard to find out such information and to determine who is not acting on our best behalf. We need to learn, to speak up and then to vote.

By the way, where are all the investigative journalists?

— Patty A. Wright


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