Articles

EYE ON THE PIE: We need better number-crunchers

Quietly, the Daniels administration is doing something that may be a historic first: It is trying to improve the information available for administrators, legislators, analysts, scholars and ordinary citizens. It’s a big task, with many barriers to success. Typically, units of state and local governments don’t share data with one another. They think narrowly about what they have to do today and don’t consider the needs of anyone else. The Indiana Data Initiative-which involves Indiana University, other state universities and…

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EYE ON THE PIE: How home buyers step off a cliff

Why does Indiana have such high bankruptcy and mortgage foreclosure rates? No one knows. Many say the economy in Indiana has been responsible for our troubles, but other states have been hit as hard and not had the same bankruptcy and foreclosure problems. Perhaps we are a state of dreamers, people who want to own a home but do not understand the obligations we assume. Our dreams are encouraged by the federal government, which allows mortgage interest and property tax…

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EYE ON THE PIE: Prison reform is off state’s radar

What do the following cities have in common? Auburn, C r aw f o r d s v i l l e , Greenfield, Griffith, Huntington, Logansport, New Castle, Seymour and Shelbyville. Each has a smaller population than the number of people in Indiana prisons. The Indiana Department of Correction reports we have more than 19,600 adults in our prisons at an annual cost in excess of $21,500 per prisoner per year, for a total of $420 million. According to…

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EYE ON THE PIE: Let’s turn our children into assets

Could we reduce some of the major costs in our society if we had fewer children and more immigration from abroad? Think about it. Children, particularly those 15 to 19 years of age, are a major disruptive and expensive aspect of our nation. They establish behaviors that lead to lifelong misery for themselves and expenses for the rest of us. Teens get into all sorts of costly trouble. They lead police on dangerous chases because they will not obey the…

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EYE ON THE PIE: Democrats’ rebirth depends on Lake County

It may not have been a major headline in your local newspaper, but Stephen “Bob” Stiglich died last week at age 70. He was the Lake County auditor and a longtime major figure among Lake County Democrats. His passing may be an important part of the necessary regeneration of the Democratic Party in Indiana. Robert Pasterick has been deposed as mayor of East Chicago. Scott King, mayor of Gary, has separated himself from the Democratic Party and now calls himself…

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EYE ON THE PIE: Your call is important to someone

I’m on hold after calling Wishard Hospital’s Adult Medicine Clinic at 7 a.m., as instructed, to get an appointment with my doctor. My call is very important, the recorded message says, but no one is responding. First, I am told that if this call concerns a “life-threatening situation,” I should hang up and call 9-1-1. That’s really helpful. Maybe other, more sophisticated patients can identify a “life-threatening situation.” I am always reluctant to make such a determination. Then I go…

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EYE ON THE PIE: Brothers set example for today’s execs

Most of us know the fabled heroes of Bean Town. They include the Adams cousins (John and Sam). Paul Revere. The Kennedy brothers (John, Robert and Edward). Ted Williams, Carl Yazstremski, Bobby Orr, Bob Cousey, Bill Russell, Larry Bird and Tom Brady. Yet Boston’s most significant business heroes are not well-known today, at a time when their example could be most useful. Two brothers, Edward and Lincoln Filene, inherited their father’s department store in 1890. They spent the rest of…

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EYE ON THE PIE: Nation forgets how it achieved prosperity

“How do you do it?” The question came from Mumbles Marcus, my talk-showhost cousin. “Every week, another fresh, insightful column addressing one of our nation’s leading issues.” Since we were onair, I kept my reply polite: “Actually, Mumbles, I write the same column almost every week. I change the clothing, but the body remains the same. I am obsessed with the many choices we must make to satisfy private interests today and meet the needs of ourselves and others in…

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EYE ON THE PIE: Can policymakers take the truth?

We met across the street from the Statehouse, a place where smokers are still welcome. In a deep doorway, unseen from office windows or by pedestrians, stood my friend, Sore Throat. “After Deep Throat was unveiled, I didn’t know if you would show up,” I said. He gave a guttural laugh. “Hey, I’m still here. You can change the parties, but the Webees remain.” “The Webees?” I queried. “Yeah,” he growled. “They put in their new people at the top,…

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EYE ON THE PIE: Court decision opens barrel of worms

The U.S. Supreme Court has now ruled again that the public good supersedes conventional private property rights. Some critics have argued that this is something new. It is not, but this decision is a major extension of existing government powers. The case in question, if you missed it, involves seven homeowners in New London, Conn., who refused to move so their land can be part of an urban redevelopment effort. The city wants to transfer the properties to private firms…

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EYE ON THE PIE: BMV closings raise bigger issue

The closing of several offices of the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles involves serious issues that are worth attention. Just after the end of the legislative session, the BMV commissioner announced that a few smaller offices would be closed. The number of patrons these offices serve was deemed insufficient to maintain and staff the facilities. In an age of increasing use of electronic transactions, this makes sense. One of these facilities was in Hope, a small Bartholomew County town in…

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EYE ON THE PIE: Our state has twisted priorities

No recent column has aroused so much outrage as my remarks concerning our state government’s investment in tourism. I argued that it was a waste of money and that, if such expenditures are to be made, they should come from the private sector exclusively, not from tax dollars. Kaboom! An entire industry wants to educate me, if they cannot eradicate me. At the same time, a worthy landmark is about to disappear. The Randolph County Courthouse, in Winchester, is scheduled…

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EYE ON THE PIE: Columnist ignores the good news

“Bad news, the downside, grousing-that’s all you ever offer in your column,” Fred Fetid declared. We were sitting on his deck enjoying the songbirds and the new green of the trees about us. Fred and I have been neighbors nearly 20 years. He is the greatest complainer I have ever met. “There’s lots of good stuff out there to talk about, but all you do is moan about the world,” Fred persisted. “Just look at the Indiana General Assembly this…

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EYE ON THE PIE: Party loyalty is ruining Congress

“Congress is the root of all evil” is a line from the delightful musical comedy built on the characters of Al Capp’s “Li’l Abner.” I always saw that as an exaggerated point of view coming from the far right or the far left. But today, I am beginning to believe it. I am neither far right nor far left. Yet I cannot understand how our society could be sustained without an independent judiciary to protect us from Congress and their…

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EYE ON THE PIE: How fast are housing prices rising?

Dear Jane Bryant Quinn: I apologize for writing so long after your March 28 column was published in Newsweek. You may have already addressed the issues that concern me. I don’t get to read that magazine until it has been around our house for a while. However, several other tardy readers have asked why housing prices in Indianapolis are falling. They all have the same source: your column. You wrote: “Prices dropped 4.2 percent in Charleston, W.Va., where the median…

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EYE ON THE PIE: Indiana needs action, not analysis

Indiana and other states have economic incentives for businesses. We try to attract new businesses, to keep businesses here, and to encourage existing businesses to expand. Yet we do not feel sufficiently successful. Often, we are told that our failing is the inadequate development of entrepreneurial firms. The guys and gals with bright ideas just don’t get going in Indiana. Does our culture stifle creativity and the innovative spirit? Do our institutions make us docile and repress our flowering potential?…

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EYE ON THE PIE: Lessons from a low-profile death

Worldwide, about 57 million people will die this year. Few will make headlines like Pope John Paul II and Terri Schiavo did. Many will die as did Kianna Rowe Karnes of Indianapolis, attended by family but abused or neglected by the health profession. Karnes was 44 when she died a few weeks ago from kidney cancer. She was not brain dead. She was not at the end of a long life, but in the rich, middle years where she could…

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EYE ON THE PIE: What politicians don’t know can hurt us

Last week in Jefferson City, I heard Missouri’s governor outline his economic and budgetary concerns. It sounded very much like a speech I could have heard in Indiana. His speech went something like this: Medicare is about to eat up the state budget. We have to find ways to use school funds more effectively because our education system is not sufficient for the needs of our citizens. We have to protect taxpayers from the burdens of new taxes. We need…

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Income tax neither simple nor fair EYE ON THE PIE:

It’s that time again. You do your federal income tax and then you do your Indiana income tax. Ah, the Indiana income tax. We are so proud that we have only one tax rate (3.4 percent) instead of an evil graduated income tax. This, we think, makes our tax simple and equitable. Yet the Indiana individual income tax is neither simple nor equitable. It is a complex mess of special treatment based on arbitrary and inconsistent sentiment. Some examples: Indiana…

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EYE ON THE PIE: Care-giving could be competitive edge

Joe Gomeztagle and I were having delicious but illicit desserts at Steak n Shake in Merrillville. Joe, you will recall, is the guy who was the force behind getting the state’s former property-assessment practices declared unconstitutional. This day, Joe was telling me that we’re on the wrong track in Indiana again. What I like about Joe is that he is often out ahead of others who are labeled “thinkers.” While others are pushing for government efficiency, Joe is talking about…

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