MARCUS: Daniels ignores deficit of neglect

Morton Marcus
January 15, 2011
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share
Morton Marcus

When Mitch Daniels speaks his mind, he usually thinks through his positions carefully. It was no surprise, therefore, that he thanked Illinois for considering higher taxes to combat its financial difficulties. Higher taxes in our neighboring state, the governor contends in an interview with the Northwest Indiana Times, will drive residents and businesses to Indiana.

Daniels believes, if I may speak for him, that government needs to moderate its programs in times of economic distress. He proudly holds the line on taxes and cuts spending in order to sustain Indiana’s good fiscal condition.

He recognizes our financial problems. Unfunded pensions remain a liability for state and local governments. We are in debt to the federal government because of an underfunded unemployment compensation fund. Our local infrastructure reveals serious neglect.

To balance the Hoosier budget, we (yes, you and I are as culpable as the governor and the Legislature) have cut services to those who are in serious need and often have no voice to object. One example will do: The Bureau of Developmental Disabilities Services has cut funding for people who require 24/7 supervision and assistance. Often, their emergency needs cannot be met adequately. It may be good fiscal management, but it is heartless, dangerous neglect.

Nonetheless, this is the Indiana to which we hope to attract Illinois residents and businesses. Our workers struggle to receive justified compensation for injuries on the job. Our unemployed must make do with less generous payments than similar people in other states. Our schools are inadequate by most measures. Our local streets and roads are in poor-to-dismal repair. Our highway program is more than a generation behind. Ancient sewerage systems all over the state are in need of modernization. Public transit is on life support where it still exists.

All these deficits, but we have a balanced budget!

Do Hoosiers have such low opinions of themselves that they truly condone such neglect? Is private household consumption for Valentine’s Day and Halloween so important that we are unable to raise annual taxes by the amount we spend on those blatantly silly events?

To attract more businesses to Indiana, we could accelerate depreciation on capital investments. That is, if a firm makes an investment in Indiana, the company could recoup that expenditure faster than allowed on the federal return. This would make Indiana a more attractive place for business location and create better jobs for our citizens.

In the long run, a place (city or state) will attract households and businesses through the services it offers, not the taxes it does not collect. Our political leadership knows this, but ignores it. Most public officials focus on election rather than service.

When pandering to the worst aspects of public opinion, elected officials say things like, “My job is to protect the interests of the taxpayer.”

This is sad. The statement presumes that citizens think of themselves only in terms of taxes paid and not services enjoyed. Yet, that is how citizens think, because public officials constantly address us as taxpayers and not as consumers of government services—clients of government agencies.

Language shapes thought. It is time to recognize that we are much more than just taxpayers. Perhaps that is happening in Illinois.•


Marcus taught economics for more than 30 years at Indiana University and is the former director of IU’s Business Research Center. His column appears weekly. He can be reached at mmarcus@ibj.com.


  • unacceptable
    The elderly and disabled had equal civil rights last time i checked and infringing on those rights to balance the budget is unacceptable. A culture that treats certain groups of citizens as acceptable collateral damage is NOT good enough! Sometimes the truth is ugly but that doesn't mean it's biased. p.s. The Asian coutries treat their elders with much more respect and reverence then we do.
  • Article
    I think folks in Indiana are getting what they ask for -- low taxes and low services. Indiana folks are not into govnt providing much of anything. And so they see no value in most new services proposed. And so Mitch seems to be catering to what the people desire. And regional mass transit will be a great litmus test to check on our collective attitiudes. I think mass transit would be great. Most people I know think I am crazy for having such a notion. Also, tell me what govt hasn't cut services for the disabled/poor? Our society historically treats the disabled/poor better than any place in the world, yet we do not do near enough. I think this article is somewhat biased against Mitch, as has been the IBJ.

Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. Hello Dear Are you tired of Seeking Loans and Mortgages,have you Been Turned down constantly By your banks and Other Financial Institutions or Micro Finance scheme. This is let you know with 100% guarantee that we Offer loans ranging from $1,000 Minimum to $1,000,000.00 Maximum at 3% interest rate per Month. We give out LOANS for developing business. a competitive edge/business expansion. email address: michealscottloan124@gmail.com We offer the following kinds of loans and many more; * Personal Loans ( Unsecured Loan) * Business Loans ( Unsecured Loan) * Consolidation Loan * Combination Loan * Home Improvement * Xmas Loans for contact to seek for loan email this email address: michealscottloan124@gmail.com Thanks

  2. My name is Mr Henry Josh and i live in the USA California and life is worth living right now for me and my family and all this is because of one man sent by GOD to help me and my family, i once had a life filled with sorrow because my first SON needed a kidney transplant and all our savings were going towards his medications and this normally leaves us with no money to pay our bills or even put enough food on our table and our rent was due and no funds to pay these bills and life felt so unfair to me and every night my wife will cry herself to sleep every night until one day, i was browsing through yahoo answers and i saw a striking advert of a man that gives out personal loans and that the offer is opened to all and i have heard so many things about internet scams but at this point of my life, i was very desperate and ready to take any risk and at the end of the day, i applied for this loan and from one step to another, i got my loan within 12 hours through bank transfer and you know, it was all like a dream and i called Mr Daniel Jones A Man who is the GOD sent lender i found and said, i have received my loan and he smiled stating that to GOD be the glory and i was so shocked as i have never ever seen anyone with such a GOD fearing and kind heart and today, i am the happiest man on earth because by GOD’S grace, my SON kidney transplant was successful and today he is healthy, i and my family are living very comfortable and happy and if you are in my former situation or in serious and legitimate need of a loan, you can reach this GOD sent lender via fidelityloanfirm@outlook.com

  3. Greetings to everyone reading this comment!!! I am Greg William by name. I am out here to recommend the effort of Mark Oscar,I was in need of a consolidation loan amount of 50,000 and as soon as I got in contact with Mark Oscar Loan Firm on Wednesday last week and on Friday last week as well I receive an alert from my bank(Royal Bank of Scotland Group) that the fund was transferred,I want everybody on this site to contact Mark Oscar now via email on how to get a loan because I got my loan from them and I am very happy,so contact them now. Oscarloanfinance@hotmail.com Thanks!!!!!!

  4. Elected officials, like Mourdock, get vested in 8 years. It takes 10 years for all other public employees, most of whom make a lot less money. So much for the promise to finish out his term.

  5. Great state treasurer and a good man!! Just curious if the folks who didn't quite understand his quote would like to tell my daughter-in-law that God didn't intend her! Mourdock's comment was correct but twisted and the article didn't mention that his opponent and the press let the impression stand that Mourdock meant that the rape was intended. Stupid people!!