Two articles have come across my laptop screen in the past week that reminded me of the old observation that what you see depends on where you sit.
Morton Marcus’ “Eye on the Pie” column stuck basically to statistics, sharing data that suggests our state is not faring well economically. Private sector jobs remain stubbornly below pre-recession levels, despite growth in population; and although wages are up, they aren’t up enough to have kept pace with inflation, so real wages (buying power) actually declined in all but five metropolitan areas.
The result is that the average Hoosier has $30 less a week than she had six years ago.
The job picture is similarly uneven. Elkhart-Goshen has lost 8.8% or 10,600 jobs; Michigan City-LaPorte is off 4,400 jobs, or 11.2%.
In the Northwest Indiana Times, Rick James focused on the contrast between Indiana lawmakers’ solicitude for business and our abysmal social safety record. Indiana is 45th among the states in infant mortality–more babies die here before their first birthday than in 44 other states. Public school teachers have been under relentless attack for deficiencies in our education system, despite the fact that our problems are systemic, complex and frequently exacerbated by clueless ideologues at the statehouse.
As James notes,
“Pence can boast about the business climate. He can also talk about the $2 billion the state has in the bank while babies are dying, roads are crumbling and schools are cutting staff and programs because of lack of funding. That, my friends, is Honest to Goodness Indiana.”
The evidence demonstrates rather forcefully that being a low-tax, “right to work” state has failed to create jobs or contribute to prosperity. To the contrary, our obsession with tax-cutting has degraded the quality of life that–according to research–is what actually attracts new businesses and residents.
Meanwhile, our political spin-doctors continue their “happy talk.”
I don’t know what state the administration flacks who issue those glowing media releases live in, but the rest of us would sure appreciate getting directions to that Indiana.