File Under “It’s Who You Know”…

Oligarchies work really well if you are one of the oligarchs. The Indianapolis Star recently re-engaged in something that used to be called “journalism,” and reported that the State of Indiana had intentionally misused federal funds during the Daniels Administration.

Federal auditors say Indiana intentionally misused federal funds when one of its contractors, operating with little state oversight, funneled nearly a half million dollars to a start-up business run by the nonprofit’s chairman.

Elevate Ventures, which was the subject of an Indianapolis Star investigation last year, was hired by the state to manage millions of dollars in state and federal investment funds. The federal audit concluded that the nonprofit should not have awarded $499,986 in federal cash to a start-up business called Smarter Remarketer managed by the firm’s chairman, Howard Bates.

The article was thorough, and drew a pretty damaging picture of the games being played with our tax dollars. State officials, of course, denied any intentional wrongdoing and attributed the “problem” to inadequate oversight.

Spoiler alert: I will now go into “broken record” mode. For the past quarter-century, citizens have been told that government can’t do anything by itself, and that privatizing–“contracting out”–is the way to deliver government services. Sometimes contracting makes good sense. Often, it doesn’t. See here and here.

When contracting is appropriate, government remains responsible for oversight and management. Even if the scam detailed by the Star wasn’t a case of cronyism (and if you believe that, I have a great bridge to sell you…), it points to one of the dangers of  contracting: government officials who lack either the will or the expertise to manage those contracts adequately.

Of course, the article suggests that the folks responsible for overseeing Elevate Ventures weren’t inept. They were cozy.

Ah, oligarchy….


  1. What I see is a FELONY. If 1/2 Million is not enough to be a felony, what is? I see young people charged with felony charges all the time for much much smaller issues.
    And what about the Drug folks taking cars and cash when they arrest someone one a drug charge? It is very common. Did the guy who plays with balls lose his car or cash in Carmel?
    How come only POOR people commit felonies? Do you think it is genetic?

  2. I have always found it fascinating that (some) people believe that those in the private sector are morally superior to those in the public. They’re more honest and fiscally responsible, they argue. It’s a con, pure and simple, based on a false belief and self interest. Humans do not change their skins when they change from one venue to another. I think that government regulations that the right so strongly oppose is a reflection of the power of money in government as the so called debate over whether convenience stores cal sell cold beer shows. Monied interests try to protect their assets whether through the electoral or legislative process. Money buys access and influence.

  3. Being old has advantages beyond just not being dead yet. One is cultural perspective. Having lived in multiple cultures over time and seeing the consequences of different ways to live.

    My parents were staunch proud Republicans. One reason is that they lived in a culture that had high expectations and regard for “professionals”, people whose education put them in a position to take monetary advantage but who chose to take oaths that they really believed in to put service ahead of reward.

    Lawyers, MDs, journalists, politicians, engineers, ministers, pharmacists and many others regarded themselves, and so behaved, as professionals.

    We have, God knows why, discarded even the pretense of that today. Today success is defined as wealth, not service. Perhaps Mother Theresa was the last professional.

    Of course we are reaping now what we have sown.

    And, on the average, staunch proud Republicans still consider an oligarchy of business with the same self serving regard as our founders did. I am rich and therefore deserve to tell those less so how to run their lives.

    It took we, the people, almost 150 years to vote ourselves into power. Democracy. The oligarchs would like to reverse that trend and restore the oligarchy of our founders if not the autocracy of Britain at the time of our founding.

    We must be astute enough to live and sell equality under the law as the definition of freedom. And freedom as the foundation of real progress. And responsibility as the price of freedom.

  4. What do you expect from the state that still doesn’t allow alcohol sales on Sunday?

  5. I worked for a company that was keen to do transportation projects. The way that works is the company is expected to make considerable political donations to become “eligible” to compete, aka Pay to Play. Once eligible you may be awarded a project, but the award process is also controlled politically. Look at the roads and other infrastructure; does it look like that model serves the best interest of the public?

  6. Nothing herein contemplated will, in the least be addressed, until the diversionary issue of racism in America is dispelled. Once that all consuming factor is removed from the equation, problems will shrink into the magnitude they deserve. Infrastructure? Hell, we can lay a railroad across the Rockies or put a man on the moon. But not while minds are on who’s sleeping with whom or how my Jesus is better than yours.

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