We start the new year with an advantage. Just the word “new” gives us the idea we get “do overs” or at least “do betters” in the year ahead.
A post on social media recently read, “It’s all about progress, not perfection. New year resolution — a better me.”
That sounds like a good plan for our county as well as us personally.
So, what should be our priorities for 2018?
Two come to mind immediately.
The first is employment.
We have written about this repeatedly. The problem isn’t lack of jobs, it is employers finding qualified people to fill the jobs that we have.
The local economy won’t improve until more local people have more discretionary income.
People won’t have more discretionary income until they are paid more money.
They won’t be paid more money until they can do the job and the company makes more money because of their service.
This is true on so many levels but so many employees seem to not understand.
We trade in cars and trucks to get a vehicle that performs better than the clunker we are trading in. We trade in clunkers because it costs less to buy a new car than to keep maintaining the old one.
I hesitate to compare employees to cars but in this case the comparison holds true.
Companies won’t hire and retain people who can’t do the job. Companies won’t come to Brazil unless there are capable people ready to go to work and help the company make money.
What’s the solution?
Jim Coffenberry of West Central Economic Development Inc. shared part of the solution with the Clay County Redevelopment Commission last month. It is educating people who want to work and are ready to be educated (trained) in the skills sought by the local companies.
In one case, companies are turning to penal institutions for future employees. Why? Unlike too many people walking the streets, inmates get off drugs and receive counseling on how to live productive lives after they are paroled.
At least some of these inmates, soon to be paroled, have decided it’s better to have “decent money” in their pocket than to give everything they have to pushers and steal the rest to feed their drug habit.
Next comes training to do the job to be valuable to an employer.
So, motivation coupled with the tools to perform good jobs equal a good employee who is rewarded for being of value to a company.
The second priority we must address is supporting our community’s children.
So many people volunteer in so many ways to feed and clothe the poor children of our communities. These children come from homes where mom and/or dad are in jail or are on drugs and the children suffer.
Some homes in Brazil, we are told, do not have running water.
When people attempt to help these children, there is an immediate push back from others who say, “By giving to those families you are just prolonging the problem. How will children ever learn to be productive members of society if you hand them everything?”
Our answer to that is, yes, the people who are caring for deprived children need to get off drugs, become valuable employees who can provide for their families. No doubt about it. But in the meantime, the children must be cared for.
No one would let a wound bleed without applying a bandage and then seeking a means to promote healing. The many people who seek to help our poor children are applying bandages and every one of them would prefer the day come when these bandages of food and clothing are no longer needed.
It would seem the State of Indiana needs to do a better job caring for our poor children and getting them into temporary or permanent homes where adults model responsible behavior while caring for the children.
Gov. Holcomb’s announcement on Thursday that the State is going to investigate the Department of Child Services seems to be a step in the right direction.
No one expects to live in a perfect community. There will always be challenges and turning the calendar from December to January will never change that.
But we can do all that is possible to make progress in the year ahead.