Articles

EYE ON THE PIE: Let’s revisit the State of the State

Quite appropriately, Gov. Mitch Daniels did not make any claims about “a revitalized Indiana economy” in his recent State of the State speech. He stuck to the theme that we are on track to turning the economy around rather than proclaiming any victory. This restraint was well-warranted. Indiana ranked 45th among the 50 states in its rate of employment growth for the past year (November-to-November figures). The nation added jobs at a 1.5-percent rate. Our 0.3-percent increase beat out only…

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EYE ON THE PIE: Indiana turning toward Houdini plans

“What should the Indiana General Assembly do during this session?” The question came from Ralph Write, a newly minted reporter. “I’m glad you asked,” I replied. “Simple solutions from simple people would be simply spectacular. But the issues are complex and I don’t know if the legislators have the information they need to decide intelligently any of the major questions before them. “For example,” I expounded, as Ralph took more notes than were warranted by my remarks, “there is the…

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EYE ON THE PIE: Making money by neutering history

I drove north last week from the Caesar’s gambling facility in Harrison County. Instead of taking the usual roads, I twisted up the cliffside overlooking the Ohio River via Doolittle Road. Then I went through New Middleton to Corydon before I joined the state highway system. It was a delightful drive that I never would have known about from anything on the state’s tourism Web site. Yes, I can hear the usual lament: “Wait, we’re working on improving our materials….

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EYE ON THE PIE: Cost-of-living is with us, not in the stars

“I saw your column last week about the cost of living and I think you are a fool.” That was among the kinder messages on my mental answering machine, the one that records the thoughts I imagine readers have after reading my columns. All I had done was explain that the major differences in living costs in different places are related to housing. Housing prices reflect income levels, the benefits of living in different places, and the limitations on building…

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EYE ON THE PIE: Cost of living depends on how you live

“You can find warmer,” I said, “but I’m not sure you’ll find nicer anywhere.” “Well, if you don’t want to go, I could go myself,” Myrtle pouted. “I could be a muse anywhere; it’s a transferable skill and I don’t need a license to practice. I’d just find some nice writers or artists in another place, or even offer inspiration over the Internet.” “How much do you make a year, Myrtle?” I asked. “None of your business,” she said curtly….

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EYE ON THE PIE: Did you miss this last week?

Congratulations to the Crothersville Times on the occasion of its 25th anniversary. In today’s world, most newspapers are declining in circulation. When a weekly newspaper, in a town of 1,500 people, survives 25 years, the owner-publisher-editor deserves our applause. Curt Kovener fills all these roles and more with passion, humor and grace. Not commendable is the new Indiana license plate for the Indianapolis Colts. Has the Bureau of Motor Vehicles forgotten that the Colts are not a public institution but…

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EYE ON THE PIE: Security depends on flexibility, not stability

In one word, what do we want? I suggest that word is security, physical and financial security. We want to live without fear for our lives or our livelihoods. The atrocities of 9/11 made Americans more fearful about their physical security than they had been since the early days of World War II. Our economic condition feels insecure as jobs drift to other nations, as health care costs soar, and as both public and private pension plans are threatened. To…

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EYE ON THE PIE: WestClay, prepare for some competition

U.S. 20 is one of our lesser-known t r a n s c o n t i n e n t a l highways. It starts at the Boston Commons, about two miles from the Green Monster of Fenway Park. The route then winds west to a few blocks from the Pacific Ocean at Newport, Ore. U.S. 20 runs through Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming and such cities as Albany, N.Y.; Erie, Pa.; Toledo, Ohio; Rockford, Ill.; Sioux City, Iowa;…

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EYE ON THE PIE: Growth disparity challenges Indiana

But to understand, we need to do some work, to dig into some numbers. How is Indiana’s economy doing? In May 2000, we had 3.01 million jobs in the state, an all-time high, according to the Indiana Department of Work Force Development. This number bottomed out in July 2003 at 2.89 million (a loss of 4.3 percent). This September, we had 2.97 million jobs, so we had regained 65 percent of what we had lost. But we are still 45,000…

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EYE ON THE PIE: Should we save ailing manufacturers?

Today, Delphi in Kokomo is the leading economic issue in Indiana. The resolution of its difficulties may foreshadow where we go as a state. Delphi is a major manufacturer of electronics for automobiles. As a former component of General Motors Corp., Delphi still depends on that struggling company for a large portion of its revenue. In addition, Delphi has pension and health care costs inherited from GM’s relationship with the United Auto Workers. Despite the fact that Delphi has been…

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EYE ON THE PIE: Economics and intelligent design

It felt strange sitting before an interim committee of the Indiana General Assembly. The questions were coming quickly and with a decided passion. “Mr. Marcus,” Rep. Rottweiler demanded, “did you teach economics at Indiana University between 1970 and 2003?” “Yes,” I confirmed. “During that time, did you teach the socalled ‘Law of Demand’?” he boomed. “If you mean did I teach that when the price falls, more will be taken, other factors being held constant, yes, I did teach that…

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EYE ON THE PIE: Don’t let a little suffering wreck holidays

I drove past the shrine at Clark and Addison in Chicago the day after the White Sox won the World Series. All was normal outside Wrigley Field. There was no evidence of the momentous event in Houston the night before. The White Sox and their fans do not exist for Cubs fans. There is an order to the world. For Hoosiers, people from Kentucky generally rank lower than folks from Pennsylvania. Yet we know Hoosiers don’t rank highly in the…

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EYE ON THE PIE: Writer blamed for promoting guilt

“See,” he said with rising voice, “that’s the snobbery, making other people feel guilty if they don’t value what you value. You do it all the time.” “Sir,” I said, disarmed by his rancor, “which of my columns bothered you?” “All of them, blast it, all of them,” he bellowed. “Last week you wanted us to enlist in the cause of property taxes. Before that, you insisted that cities and towns needed more taxing authority to stimulate economic growth. “Another…

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EYE ON THE PIE: Time to realign taxes with services

Many folks want to get rid of property taxes. They think property taxes are o l d – fa s h i o n e d , although most who think so have not thought through the issue. These property-tax abolitionists want to use income or sales taxes, which they contend are more “fair,” whatever that means. They forget that one aspect of “fairness” is to relate taxes to services received. This is called beneficiary taxation. An example of beneficiary…

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EYE ON THE PIE: Let’s put retail where we want it

Before we get into anything this week, let me clear up an error from last week. I wrote that Techpoint received $2.3 million in government incentives for locating at Indianapolis International Airport. The company was Transpoint. My apologies to all who have cause to be offended. Now let’s get on to the problem of the chicken and the egg. Many folks wonder which came first. When we have trouble identifying causality, we cite the chickenand-egg problem. Is the clothing store…

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EYE ON THE PIE: Let’s make Indiana a true hub

Sometimes, the obvious is ignored. It is obvious that, geographically, Indiana holds a central position in North America. But when we think about economic development, we take this obvious point for granted. As business grows and incomes rise across the world, the demand for transportation increases. The question for Indiana becomes, “How much does this increase in demand translate into jobs and income for our citizens?” Most people understand that Indiana does not gain anything by having airplanes cross our…

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EYE ON THE PIE: Is our child care ‘industry’ up to snuff?

Recently, I have been part of a study for the Indiana Child Care Fund. It has been a learning experience. The first thing I learned is that virtually nothing is known about child care. We do not really know how many child care facilities exist in Indiana. Data from the U.S. Bureau of the Census suggest there are more than 16,000. However, fewer than 5,800 are licensed or recognized by the state. In addition, there are informal child care arrangements…

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EYE ON THE PIE: Let’s close these BMV branches instead

Confused? Trying to figure out what time it is going to be where other Hoosiers live? Trying to know which license branches will be closed and which will be located in the nearest barbershop? Wondering whether you will get unemployment compensation before or after you find a job? Welcome to the New Indiana, setting its course for the 21st century. These are three public relations missteps of the Daniels administration. Let’s look at the license branch situation. Commissioner Joel Silverman…

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EYE ON THE PIE: Use property tax to boost investment

I walked a little more than two miles recently on the Monon Trail. This probably surprises those who know me. But even the most slothful will, on occasion, rise from the recliner and not go to the refrigerator. The Monon Trail runs from 10th Street in Indianapolis to 146th Street in Carmel. That’s about 20 miles. It follows the route the Monon Railroad abandoned in 1987. It has been identified as a model for other rails-to-trails programs. The trail is…

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EYE ON THE PIE: Let’s build a new New Orleans

At the moment, rescue and relocation are the primary concerns along the Gulf Coast ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. In time, restoration will become the leading issue. Most property owners from Mobile to New Orleans will want their buildings repaired or replaced. They will seek to recreate the past instead of looking to the future. A more comprehensive approach is appropriate. Let’s consider the Gulf Coast as a region, centered on New Orleans, that stretches from Florida to Texas. This area…

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