Follow The (Lack Of) Money

When conversations turn to questions about suspicious public policies, a favorite explanation is “well, follow the money.” The implication is that people who will benefit have “purchased”(or at least influenced) the policy in question.

We very rarely follow the lack of money, although underfunding government agencies and efforts is a time-honored way that lawmakers can pretend to be addressing issues that the public cares about–issues that they (or their donors or supporters) wish would go away.

This tactic is more obvious at the federal level, but it characterizes state politics as well. Recently, I attended a small meeting of professional women–including a few lawyers–who were concerned about the inadequacies of Indiana’s Civil Rights law and the state’s underfunding  of the Indiana Civil Rights Commission. The meeting was called after several attended a recent speech by a law school professor; she had enumerated the provisions of Indiana’s Civil Rights law that make it difficult or impossible to punish discriminatory behaviors–especially (but certainly not only) sexual harassment.

When I practiced law, the few discrimination cases I handled were filed with the EEOC–a federal agency. The EEOC has jurisdiction over workplaces with 15 or more employees. I was unaware that Indiana’s Commission has jurisdiction only over companies with 6 or more employees–if you are harassed or discriminated against in a workplace with 4 or 5 employees, or fewer, you are just out of luck. No remedy exists.

In cases of sexual harassment, even people who are “covered” under Indiana’s law have no incentive to bring a complaint, since our Commission can award only back pay–if the complainant was fired. No punitive or other damages, and thus no incentive for an employer to “straighten up and fly right.”

Not only that, but in order to have a case adjudicated in state court, the employer must agree to be sued. In writing. And religious employers (including religiously affiliated organizations like hospitals) are exempt. (Given the number of news stories about preachers who prey while they pray, I found this rather astonishing.)

A recent Law Review article put it bluntly:

Deviation from the administrative process is uncommon because the Indiana Code requires written consent from both parties before the civil suit commences. Nonetheless, in the unlikely event that a complainant obtains the respondent’s consent, another provision of the Indiana Code mandates that the case be tried by a judge, not a jury. Even if the employee wins the case, his damages are limited to “wages, salary, or commissions.” Furthermore, he cannot recover his attorney’s fees. Thus, the combined effect of these statutes unfairly biases state civil rights proceedings against complainants.

As appalling as I found these elements of Indiana’s law–inadequacies which evidently place us among the four least-protective states in the country–what really focused my attention on Indiana’s lack of commitment to nondiscrimination and fundamental fairness was the agency’s funding. The Commission is one of the most poorly funded state agencies, and its employees are among the most poorly compensated. If our state law were to be improved, and the Commission’s jurisdiction expanded, it simply wouldn’t have the capacity to hear the additional complaints. It can barely cope with its workload now.

What I learned at that meeting was that the persistent refusal of Indiana’s lawmakers to pass a hate crimes enhancement law is part of a larger pattern. Not only are we one of only five states without a hate crimes law, but previous efforts to add “four words and a comma” to our civil rights statute–to include sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of identities protected against discrimination–have also gone nowhere.

Our civil rights statute is among the four least protective in the country, and we significantly underfund the agency that is charged with enforcing the few protections we do offer.

Welcome to Indiana, the Mississippi of the North….


  1. If the Governor supports hate crimes legislation, perhaps he could be convinced to support protections against sexual harassment and a fully funded Civil Rights Commission. The Governor’s phone number is 317-232-4567.

  2. Now that the Kavanaugh SCOTUS nomination is heading for confirmation, it is timely that Donnelly supporters be reminded of Mark Small’s tears in July:
    Now that this posting by Mark Small is almost two months old, it is certainly not stale especially that Joe Donnelly is running for re-election for a 6 year term.

    “mark small July 17, 2018 at 7:38 am
    ” Last , year I represented voters from several States who sought, through a petition for writ of mandamus, to have the 2016 presidential election declared void due to Russian interference. I received positive feedback from lawyers I previously had not known (thanks, Marv) and also was hit by trolls and Russian bots. The United States Supreme Court dismissed the petition without comment. Everything alleged in the petition either has been confirmed or confirmed with (metaphorical) steroids. Yesterday, I spoke w/someone in Senator Donnelly’s office to voice my opinion that nominees of the person who currently occupies the Oval Office should not be confirmed and that proceedings for impeachment (and I know the House first has to pass articles of impeachment then the Senate tries the case, but still there is footwork in preparation). As I was about to finish the call, I started sobbing. I never thought I would sob for the United States – my country.”

  3. Thank you Sheila, again you are spot on, not only with this article but with every article I have had the privilege of reading that was written by you. As informative as they are, it appears that they dosen’t bode well for the future, if changes are unable to be implemented.

  4. Still with us are abounding rumors of an impending Bear Market. Lord, bring it on! It’s just what is needed before he Mid-Terms. Some will celebrate seeing the Emperor drop his britches!

  5. Indiana has long played the game of enacting strict laws and then not funding the enforcement of same. Like so much else in our society, hypocrisy is the name of the game, and the only winners are the greedy.

  6. It’s time to bring back the Equal Rights Amendment. If women were truly covered by the 14th Amendment, they wouldn’t have needed the 19th. It seems we lose ground every year.


  7. The solution to this and so many other unfair discrimination issues in both Indiana state government and our Federal government is to elect more women. Women have finally reached a breaking point and we are now stepping up to the plate to demand a seat at the table.

    I don’t think that the male dominance in this field will be able to stop this momentum.

  8. David,

    “Thank you Sheila, again you are spot on, not only with this article but with every article I have had the privilege of reading that was written by you. As informative as they are, it appears that they dosen’t bode well for the future, if changes are unable to be implemented.”

    Ditto. Implementation takes Civic Courage which, at the present time, appears to be too little and, probably, too late.

  9. Returning to the federal level for just a second; it appears Trump is attempting to have his name removed from the “Daniels case”. One report stated an attorney was attempting to get that $130,000 returned…not sure where it would be returned. Is this actually happening or is this more hacking and/or Russian intrusion into our political “affairs”…no pun intended. Just askin’

    “Our civil rights statute is among the four least protective in the country, and we significantly underfund the agency that is charged with enforcing the few protections we do offer.”

    I have no intention of filing a civil rights suit; although my civil rights have been infringed upon by the “powers that be” at local level here in Indianapolis /Marion County. It could be due to underfunding of local offices or greed upheld in violation of their own laws, rules, regulations and/or county ordinances. Here in Warren Township I was one among many whose property reassessment increases with property tax increases was unfairly assigned. I paid my full year, which was almost 50% more than last year, so there would be no question I was trying to get out of paying property taxes. My appeal was accepted, my property again reassessed and my tax rate lowered. I dealt with Marion County Assessor’s Office via E-mail due to my deafness; including questioning not receiving my over payment refund. Told I had to formally request the refund I filled out and returned the form I received, still no check and all E-mails were returned as “undeliverable” from Assessor’s Offices, ignored by Auditor and Treasurer. Took all paperwork to the local Marion County Assessor’s Office and told my refund request form was being held in the Treasurer’s Office and they had denied it with no notification. It was to be deducted from my tax statement in 2019. A 2nd call by the Assessor to the Treasurer’s office resulted in another form to go to another office with a copy of my cancelled check. Is all of this not violation of my civil rights as a tax paying Indiana resident and…does Marion County actually NEED my $49.68 over payment refund that desperately? Is the Marion County Treasurer’s Office actually that underfunded? Just askin’


  10. Back in 2010, a few months after my long-time companion died, I traveled to New York and stayed at Union Theological Seminary for about ten days to examine their archives concerning Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Bonhoeffer had attended Union as did my companion, Barbara.

    The following if from a recent post on the internet:

    After Ten Years — Civil Courage

    July 26, 2016 by mthayes42

    “Bonhoeffer addressed the question in 1942 of why it had seemed the German people had lacked the civil courage to stand up to Hitler from the beginning. He said it wasn’t as simple as saying it was simply a matter of personal cowardice.

    Rather, it was something in the shared cultural values of the German people. Here is the key paragraph:

    In the course of a long history, we Germans have had to learn the need for obedience and the power thereof. We saw the meaning and greatness of our life in the subordination of all personal wishes and ideas under the commission that came to be ours. Our gaze was directed upward, not in slavish fear but in the free trust that beheld a career in the commission and a vocation in the career. The readiness to follow an order from “above” rather than one’s own discretion arises from and is part of the justified suspicion about one’s own heart.

    Germans valued trust in and obedience to their leaders, to the exclusion of personal responsibility. Much of Europe and Russia has been inclined toward favoring a “Strong Man” type of leader who rules by the strength of his own will.* Since personal responsibility was at the heart of Bonhoeffer’s understanding of the normal Christian life, it was perhaps a bit easier for him to recognize Hitler’s evil than it was for others.

    He goes on the say the Germans had been naive and had failed to consider that placing blind trust in a strong leader made them quite vulnerable to an evil leader. And in Hitler Germany faced a man willing and able to exploit the worst in the German character.

    Just as we in America today face exactly such a man in donald trump. . .

    You must read Machiavelli and Nietzsche to be able to recognize Hitler and trump fully and clearly.”

    Here in the U.S. the problem is different.—- The obedience to Trump has come, for the most part, from the obedience to RACIST EVANGELICIAL MINISTERS, under the cloak of Christianity, over long periods of time. Until that fact is faced—-nothing can or will change.

  11. Marv,

    Thanks for sharing that information on Bonhoeffer’s studies of Nazi Germany. It fits nicely with the studies of Pierre Aycoberry in his book The Social History of the Third Reich, 1933 – 1945. This book details the way in which every part of German society fell in with the Nazi government often telling themselves that “this Hitler thing will not last long”. Isn’t this exactly like what so many Republicans tell themselves today, “this Trump thing will not last long”?
    And Kavanaugh and the extremists on the Supreme Court will last how long?

  12. ML, I don’t expect Obama to come anywhere close to Bernie. He’s a likable ex potus but a spokesman for the corporate owned DNC. So far, he’s not endorsed any of the true progressives who’ve battled against the corporate controlled DNC picks.

    I’m surprised Sheila is surprised about the lack of funding for any department which supports workers. Indiana has become a slave state because it’s politicians are owned by ALEC/Koch.

    Their mission is plastered on the internet for all to see. The dark red states (all Nanny States) are controlled by ALEC. See Mitch Daniels with PU and Geoffrey Mearns at BSU. Look at the ALEC supported Michael Hicks, the faved economist of Gannett owned newspapers within our state.

    Mike is endorsed by the Ball Family descendants who fund our Chamber of Commerce along with Eli Lilly. Look at all the damage to our public schools done by the Lilly Foundation.

    When our local school system was starved out by state lawmakers and unscrupulous CFO’s, the Ball family did nothing until the state took over the school system and handed it to BSU.

    Then, and only then, did they write checks. And the school board didn’t even hire a lawyer to fight the takeover.

    Last week, the new “school board” announced there would be “no collective bargaining with teachers.”

    What we see in Muncie and Indiana should be a litmus test for what we see at the federal level from the GOP. It’s why Trump and the former Congress gutted the IRS and any other department which protects citizens, consumers, and workers from corporate abuse. Worse still, it ties the hands of our judicial system. “Justice” means nothing anymore under USA, Inc.

    Wait until the rebellion coming…then you’ll learn what our surveillance state has been working on for us proles.

  13. I found these parts above particularly repellent >> No punitive or other damages, and thus no incentive for an employer “straighten up and fly right.” Not only that, but in order to have a case adjudicated in state court, the employer must agree to be sued. In writing. And religious employers (including religiously affiliated organizations like hospitals) are exempt.

    Nonetheless, in the unlikely event that a complainant obtains the respondent’s consent, another provision of the Indiana Code mandates that the case be tried by a judge, not a jury.<<
    In a trend driven by a series of Supreme Court decisions dating back to 1991, American employers are increasingly requiring their workers to sign mandatory arbitration agreements. Under such agreements, workers whose rights are violated—for example, through employment discrimination or sexual harassment—can’t pursue their claims in court but must submit to arbitration procedures that research shows overwhelmingly favor employers.

    This study finds that since the early 2000s, the share of workers subject to mandatory arbitration has more than doubled and now exceeds 55 percent. This trend has weakened the position of workers whose rights are violated, barring access to the courts for all types of legal claims, including those based on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, and the Fair Labor Standards Act.

    Although seemingly voluntary in that the employee or consumer can choose whether or not to sign the arbitration agreement, in practice signing the agreement is required if the individual wants to get the job or to obtain the cellphone, credit card, or other consumer product the business is selling. Mandatory arbitration agreements are legally enforceable and effectively bar employees or consumers from going to court, instead diverting legal claims into an arbitration procedure that is established by the agreement drafted by the company and required as a condition of employment or of doing business with it.

    June 4, 2018, from the Nation Magazine: In a decision last month that will have widespread ramifications, the Supreme Court basically barred workers nationwide from launching class-action lawsuits against employers. In the ruling in the case, Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis, five justices made it that much harder for workers to collectively seek justice in court against employers’ abuses at work. The Court sided with the bosses, ruling that, outside of the union context, the nation’s central labor law doesn’t allow workers to band together to fight labor violations affecting a whole workplace.
    This neutering or elimination of civil rights for the individual is a part of the greater Greater Steroid Capitalism System. According to the Greater Steroid Capitalism System any attempt to impede Profits must be subject to legal speed bumps or road blocks.

  14. One connection to think about can, it seems, be made using Indiana as an example and that is states that have funding for competent government are states that have competent successful businesses financially supporting that government. They are ultimately the sources of all of the funding: the taxes that they pay, their workers pay, from the homes their workers own and the taxes on what the workers consume. This is why California can afford to be liberal and why the US was so successful so long as a liberal democracy.

    So as noted before the secret is balance. The middle of the road. The wealth that workers create through their labor shared by everyone fairly supporting a government that insures that everyone is treated fairly in all human transactions.

    The enemy of that is extremism; the thought that my interests are either more important than, or more compromised than those of others giving me priority in restitution.

    Unfortunately doing that takes dedication and effort and intelligence and experience and education and a working system to allocate effort in that directions; balancing things.

    A gross oversimplification is that the change in the world that obsoleted our efforts to balance were computers and multi mode shipping containers that killed our manufacturing advantage. All of a sudden we were in competition with labor all over the world who were willing to work cheaper than we and there were no logistics any longer that prevented that competition.

    OK, we were dealt a bad card that we weren’t expecting. Our bad for not preparing for the deal better. The world, our environment, became unexpectedly different.

    So did the environment of the dinosaurs long ago. It’s a good thing that we are smarter.

    Or are we?

  15. Nancy

    “The solution to this and so many other unfair discrimination issues in both Indiana state government and our Federal government is to elect more women.”

    I think you are absolutely correct. I know there are exceptions, but as a whole women are less corrupt and more attuned to injustice.

  16. Wray,

    Yes, there can be exceptions and thank you for noting that we are typically less corrupt and more attuned to injustice.

    When women notice one of our own bending the rules or not playing fairly we are inclined to call out their behavior. Men seem to be much better at playing games and taking advantage of others in order to advance their own agenda.

    My above statement is not directed at any of the men on this blog.

  17. Peter – good observations! Your reference to the dinosaurs and how smart they were, however, yielded to an externality, to wit: an asteroid that wiped out dinosaurs some 65 million years ago. Perhaps the fall election will be the asteroid that wipes out the Republican dinosaurs and puts enlightened homo sapiens back in charge of their and their planet’s interwoven fates. (As an aside, though, I had a World Politics professor who refused to use the term homo sapiens in favor of the term homo saps.)
    In such connection and with the sham politics played today by Republicans via next to nothing appropriation of funds for selected statutory efforts, I found something from a random reading recently which I think applicable to such pretense, or for that matter, to any pretense visited upon us by politicians. The author noted that the difference between French and American politics is that in France the politicians are afraid of the people whereas here the people are afraid of the politicians. Why the difference? Perhaps the memories of 1789 and a blonde curly head rolling down from the guillotine to the basket is still within memory reach of present day French politicians, or perhaps the French Revolution in contrast to ours was about the rights of citizens rather than the rights of plantation owners to enslave cheap labor for the cotton that ran the looms of Leeds and Manchester in England – whatever. In France one need not look to a vote of no confidence amongst politicians – rather the citizens pull a general strike and rarely lose their objective in being for or against proposed legislation.
    Perhaps we homo saps here in America should try general strikes, since nothing else seems to work in translating election results with government of, by and for the people.

  18. My priority is to return to 2016 first. That’s a start. First lay siege to the Executive Branch by a decidedly hostile Legislative Branch elected this year. Paralyze government until we can fix it.

    Then it’s 2020 and we can restore functionality to government.

    Don’t get excited, it’s only a start. Lots needs to be undone to return to 2016. Say a decade? So by 2030 we can restore where we were in 2016. Sad but doable.

    I personally doubt is there’s even a chance to ever catch up to the global leadership position we left in 2017. Again sad but realistic.

  19. I really can’t understand how the Republican Party became so careless, reckless and unaware of America’s financial security, I know for 25 years there has been their theory of starve the beast among republicans, but at all levels of government that republicans control they have not only starved the beast but have become criminal in their responsibilities to manage America’s budget, spending, investments in infrastructures and addressing deferred maintence and most of all fairly tax all Americans and corporations.
    Republican reckless actions over the past 12 years is why I left the Republican Party after 45 years of active service to them. I believe they have betrayed the American people and until they come up with a platform that addresses America needs and responsibilities I refuse and incurage others to not vote for them until they show themselves capable of wiser decisions than they made for many years.
    Vote them out !

  20. Evolution and natural selection over the life of life have taught us that 1) the environment that we are one with changes precipitously and regularly and 2) the species which go on to flourish after change adapt to the changed reality rather than assume dominon over it.

    Sometimes species adapt by relocating to where the old environment can still be found. Others physically adapt. Some change their habits to what’s available instead of what’s not. But survivors adapt and the inadequately resilient go extinct.

    That’s the choice we face.

    Our environment is changing for two reasons. 1) our actions over the last 100 years are changing the distribution and energy level of our weather and the sea level and ocean chemistry and earth’s ice extent and we are 40-50 years away from stopping that force for change that’s obsoleteing much of our infrastructure and 2) we are at the limits of many natural resources.

    What used to work no longer will. Much of the civilization we are absolutely dependent on will be obsoleted. Many of the systems that serviced the past will no longer serve their intended and previously useful service.

    This leaves us the choice between problem solving or victimizing ourselves. Both are hard and traumatic and full of painful consequences. Problem solving has potentially a satisfactory future for our progeny.

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