EYE ON THE PIE: News offers savory opportunities

October 29, 2007

I save newspaper items thinking they will make good columns. But with only one column per week, I end up with piles of good ideas. Here are four items I found interesting:

Another sports opportunity: The National Lacrosse League has canceled its season. I didn't know there was a league of 13 professional lacrosse teams. This was another instance of players and owners not being able to come to agreement on salaries. Both of those groups and the fans are the losers.

Thousands of fans from Toronto to Phoenix will be disappointed. Perhaps we should start an Indiana Lacrosse League with headquarters in the town of that name in LaPorte County. We could bring thousands to see the Goshen Gobblers play the Hammond Hammers. Elsewhere, the Princeton Puritans could face off against the Portland Porkers, while the Winchester Weevils take on the Crothersville Creatures. Six teams doth a league make. Economic developers, take note of this opportunity.

Suburban squabbles: Both East and West Geist are in an uproar. It does not matter that these two towns do not exist. When has existence been necessary for an uproar?

For those not familiar with the real world (as defined by the residents of Geist), there is a reservoir northeast of Indianapolis where people with enormous amounts of money play weekend sailor, docking at their McMansions. Nearby are people of extraordinary income who may be socially deficient because they do not live on the lake.

The town of Fishers, which is not known for its poverty, wants to annex the Geist area. In response, the residents of the "endangered" area want to form two towns. This is a major stupidity based on cupidity. The Geisters don't want to pay taxes to Fishers because not all the money would go for the benefit of the Geisters. Do we need two more towns in Indiana? Isn't this just a fight over money by people who already have plenty? If the courts don't stop such silliness, the Legislature should.

Daring design? Das Mall, a century-old downtown building in Frankfort, is likely to be torn down. Since it sits on a prominent corner, the replacement structure will make a statement for decades to come.

What will that structure look like? Will the owners blend it into the neighboring architecture of yesterday or will they have courage and erect an attractive, functional, modern building? Today, many new buildings look old, but have paint and trim haphazardly thrown on the exterior to hide architectural cowardice. "Modernism" overlaid on tradition is just a stylistic jumble.

Does anyone in Frankfort have the daring to construct something of grace and utility that is not a mirror of yesterday?

Lacking in green: Want to change Indiana's image? Then change its reality. According to Forbes.com, Indiana ranks 49th of the 50 states in greenness. We rank above only West Virginia. Our score was 15.3 on a 50-point scale; Vermont was first, with a score of 43.6. If New Jersey can be in the top 10, why can't we? Indiana's polluted rivers, air and land can only deter responsible people from locating here.

When the federal EPA repudiates Indiana's Department of Environmental Management, all we can say is that things are better now than in the past. When will Hoosier administrators be able to say, with honesty, that we have achieved longterm environmental goals? That day will come when we recognize that the economic benefits realized by polluters impose greater costs on the rest of us.

Note: The national agency is the EPA accepting responsibility for protection; our department is the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, assuming management. There's a difference in attitude for you.

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. To comment on this column, send e-mail to mmarcus@ibj.com.
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