Government and Economic Development and Manufacturing & Technology

EYE ON THE PIE: Tattoos aren't only things we hide

July 3, 2006

I admit I don't understand the world in which I live. For example, a study in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology

reports that 24 percent of Americans age 18 to 50 have one or more tattoos. That rises to 36 percent when we look at just those 18 to 29.

I don't get it. Is this body art, a message to the world, a commitment to oneself or someone else? Tattoos do fill in all that empty space the Almighty left on our bodies. Perhaps a tattoo is no different from wearing a Rotary pin or a religious medallion, except that you cannot take the tattoo off at night. In an age where everyone wears the same jeans and T-shirts, the tattoo is the differentiating aspect of personality.

Some wear their tattoos proudly on their shoulders, arms and other normally exposed areas. A growing number of tattoos are found in places one normally would not have seen in years past. These tattoos are like little surprises to accompany visual visitations to the pathways of private parts.

To be sure, there is much more I do not understand. For example, Gov. Mitch Daniels and his associates have been traveling in Asia to bring home investments for our communities and more for our workers. This is a good thing to do. The investments will increase the property-tax base and the jobs will increase income- and sales-tax revenue, plus provide income for housing and all manner of consumer spending.

Skeptics will be picky about the details. Old-timers know this is neither a partisan nor a new thing. Hoosiers have been sending out business-hunting parties for more than 100 years.

Let me try to understand one deal recently announced by the governor and the Indiana Economic Development Corp. According to the press release with a June 23 Tokyo dateline, Keihin IPT Manufacturing will be adding 70 jobs at its Greenfield plant while investing $5 million for a building expansion and $55 million for new equipment.

What's interesting is that, back in April, a $60 million Keihin investment program was announced in the Greenfield Daily Reporter. Is this the same $60 million investment being reannounced, but in a more exotic setting?

How much does this $60 million increase the property-tax base in Hancock County? The newspaper said the $5 million would be subject to property-tax abatement. I'm not against that, but I'd like to know if this deal is going to help finance local schools.

That $55 million investment in new equipment-do we tax that? Aren't there efforts to reduce or eliminate the tax on business personal property? With all the machinations of the General Assembly, I just cannot remember what is and what is not subject to the local property tax anymore.

But, hey, 70 jobs and all the state is offering the company is $800,000 in tax credits. Now stop it! Don't go grabbing your calculator to figure out that it comes to $11,428.57 per job. We don't know enough about how to evaluate the deal. For example, if the company has to make a five-year commitment to increased employment, then it might be that it will get $160,000 per year in credits and the annual subsidy per job could be figured at $2,286. Is that too much of a subsidy for 70 jobs that average $47,000 per year? I don't think so.

The Governor's Office and IEDC are out doing wonderful things. It is here in Indiana that they are messing up. They fail to give Hoosiers enough information about their many deals so we can come to our own conclusions.

All over the state, Hoosiers feel the administration shortchanged them on the details of the toll-road lease. It is not good for a government to keep its people either uninformed or misinformed. We are getting enough of that at the national level and do not need it here.



Marcus taught economics more than 30 years at Indiana University and is the former director of IU's Business Research Center. His column appears weekly. To comment on this column, go to IBJ Forum at www.ibj.comor send e-mail to mortonjmarcus@yahoo.com.
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