The Outstater

June 22, 2019

OK, ERIC HOLCOMB is not my type of governor for a dozen reasons, none of which is particularly fair or kind. My criticism, therefore, can be dismissed as heckling.

That said, and absent serious statewide media, someone must point out how out of touch this man is. Does he have any clue what working-class Hoosierdom cares about? I submit for your review an example to the negative.

It is rare to find a government program that in itself, in its best explication and most enthusiastic promotion, screams “superfluous nonsense.” They are usually at least mildly deceptive. But to these ears, the governor’s description of what he calls “the 21st Century Talent Region” sounds like something the Politburos’s Under Secretary for the Five-Year Plan might send to the assistant manager of the Red Banner Tractor Factory.

On my desk is a clipping from the dependably soft-headed Fort Wayne Journal Gazette describing the governor’s visit there last week. He was in town to laud his latest economic development program, or at least that is what he seemed to be lauding. The newspaper’s report is quoted at length to avoid inadvertently omitting some enlightening bit of government-speak:

“Gov. Eric Holcomb today designated northeast Indiana as the inaugural 21st Century Talent Region. At the Regional Chamber of Northeast Indiana’s (RCNI) annual meeting, Holcomb, Indiana Secretary of Career Connections and Talent (CC&T) Blair Milo and Indiana Economic Development Corporation (EDC) President Elaine Bedel, presented the region with its official 21st Century Talent Region designation. In partnership with CC&T, IEDC and with technical assistance from CivicLab, the 21st Century Talent Region initiative encourages local governments, businesses, educational institutions, nonprofits, and economic and workforce partners to create and implement a plan to increase educational attainment, raise household income and grow the population in a region. By taking a comprehensive, systems approach, a participating region will identify strategic priorities and projects aimed at helping its communities create a better quality of place, develop and skill up its workforce, and connect talented Hoosiers with businesses seeking to fill high-demand, high-wage jobs. ‘Regional and local collaboration is key for Indiana communities when it comes to attracting, developing and connecting talent,’ Milo said in a statement. ‘Northeast Indiana is a leader in cultivating 21st Century Talent by seamlessly connecting community team members together to grow the population, increase educational attainment and raising household income.’”

Skill up? Systems approach? Quality of place? Seamlessly connect? My neighbors are worried about bending a rim, breaking a ball joint or cracking a strut on the state highway pothole system.

And if their car is already in the shop, they worry about confiscatory taxation and regulation that make starting a business a fool’s dream, about an uncontrolled wave of illegal immigration that amounts to social invasion, about not knowing where they will get their next job if they lose this one, about economic-development schemes that threaten to leave Indiana cities in the hands of political machines, about a national campaign to politicize our local prosecuting attorneys, about corn that will be only ankle high by the Fourth of July, and so forth.

So, governor, fire off a letter in any of those directions and, agree or disagree, I will commend the effort. Spare me, though, the official gobbledygook and tortured, narrowly fashioned homiletics. — tcl


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