Letter: America on its way to losing best, brightest

From: Richard Gold


Our Washington representatives – Vice President Mike Pence, Representative Luke Messer and Senator Todd Young — don’t understand our local economy. Actions, and inaction, are cooking the golden goose of local high-paying jobs. Should you care? I think so.

The Wall Street Journal on March 8 featured a research-based advertisement reporting that Latinos represent 12 percent of the U.S. economy. Separately, the American Immigration Council data says Latinos and Asians (foreign and native-born) wield $14 billion in purchasing power in Indiana. That same buying power has boosted home values by thousands. Their report says Hoosier Latinos paid $1.4 billion in federal and state taxes in 2013. Given our manufacturing-based economy in southern Indiana, the impact here might be proportionately greater.

We are already quite challenged to find workers to feed our robust manufacturing economy. That economy drives local taxes, which fund our schools, city, county and municipal assets. It drives increased retail activity and home values. If companies are forced to shrink local footprints or invest elsewhere because of employee shortages, the flywheel of prosperity reverses –- we each shoulder more of a tax load; and local funding of schools, our city and county declines. Home demand shrinks and retail sales drop.

The failure of current politicians to legislate balanced, responsible, legal pathways for desirable immigration is a disaster. We stand to lose some of the brightest talent available to us – whose education is complete and whose potential is established. Some of these are DACA students – future doctors, engineers and nurses.

The fog on where immigration policy is headed is alarming, both documented and improperly documented local employees. As they leave our places of employment, the flywheel slows or stops.

The Make-America-Great administration recently doubled down on legacy industries – steel and aluminum – by imposing tariffs that raise the price of many basic goods from beer cans to automobile wheels (made locally). This same approach has done nothing for coal; and laws of economics suggest aluminum has little chance of resurrection in the USA.

The administration’s approach to H1B visas of choking the pipeline of the best foreign minds available also reverses our economic engine. The future belongs to the innovators of the next stage economy, not trying to resurrect coal and aluminum.

Efforts by Eco15 and the Education Coalition to prepare our young adults to work in local manufacturing are truly valuable. But the reality is that our local economy and our country count on immigration.

Today alone, Gov. Erc Holcomb advises we have 85,000 Indiana jobs unfilled.

Tariffs pose a significant threat to our largest local employers as other countries retaliate and material costs rise, undercutting the continued high level of exports from Columbus and Seymour and threatening local jobs.

The tax cut? It does corporations no good if they can’t invest tax savings in more capacity due to employee shortages. It may create the cruelest tax of all – inflation.

We need representatives who understand and care about our local economy.

There’s no greatness in understaffed local businesses, higher prices, increased local taxes, exports lost and jobs threatened.