Of Death, Politics And Economics

The other morning, I read two completely different columns, on different subjects, that came together in a surreal sort of way.

The first was from The Atlantic, titled “The Anti-Vaccine Right Literally Brought Human Sacrifice to America,” and it began with a collection of quotes comparing Republicans’ reality-denial and elevation of economic concerns over public safety to human sacrifice.

The immediate panicky focus on resuming business as usual in order to keep the stock market from crashing was the equivalent of “those who offered human sacrifices to Moloch,” according to the writer Kitanya Harrison. That first summer, as Republicans settled into their anti-testing, anti-lockdown, anti-mask, nothing-to-worry-about orthodoxy, Representative Jamie Raskin, a Democrat, said it was “like a policy of mass human sacrifice.” The anthropology professor Shan-Estelle Brown and the researcher Zoe Pearson wrote that people who continued to do their jobs outside their homes were essentially victims of “involuntary human sacrifice, made to look voluntary.”

(Parenthetically, I will note that every time some pundit tells us that Americans are “losing faith in Biden’s handling of the pandemic,” I want to scream that the f**ing anti-vaxxers who are sacrificing the lives of their own voters are to blame for derailing his efforts. But I digress.)

The author of the article noted that the original concern about economic damage was “at least fundamentally rational, a weighing of social costs against social benefits.” But that original concern should have abated.

Today, however, the economy is no longer in jeopardy; unemployment rates and salaries have returned to pre-pandemic levels; GDP per person is higher than it was at the end of 2019; personal savings are growing, and businesses are starting up faster than ever; corporate profits and stock prices are at record highs.

The recitation of current economic realities was meant to emphasize the fact that the  “ongoing propaganda campaign against and organized political resistance to vaccination… has been killing many, many Americans for no reasonable, ethically justifiable social purpose.”

Almost immediately after reading that article, a reader sent me a column by Ball State economist Michael Hicks. It had nothing to do the political insanity surrounding COVID–it was instead an explanation of why Indiana’s economic future is grim.  Compare the Indiana data to the relatively rosy national picture relayed by The Atlantic.

Hicks began by noting that Indiana’s relatively good recovery from the effects of the pandemic, particularly in manufacturing and logistics, was largely due to the fiscal policy interventions of the Trump and Biden administrations, and that the state’s current, flush fiscal condition is “wholly a consequence of COVID stimulus.”

Otherwise, not so hot.

In 2000, Indiana ranked 24th in average wages nationwide, with the typical worker earning almost 88 percent of the national average. By 2019, we’d dropped to 35th in average wages per job, or just over 85 percent of the national average. In just the decade of the longest economic expansion in American history, Indiana’s per capita income relative to the rest of the nation saw its biggest 10-year decline in history. This sort of rapid declines in job quality and earnings are catastrophic for Indiana’s long-term prosperity, and addressing the decline is the number one policy issue facing the state.

To the extent that Indiana’s economy has grown, it is due to the performance of Indianapolis–the city our legislators love to shortchange.

Just to clarify this point, from 2000 to 2019, Indiana created 154,000 new jobs, but 195,000 of these went to the Indianapolis Metropolitan Area. No, that is not a math error. The non-Indianapolis portions of the state had 40,000 fewer jobs in 2019 than they did at the turn of the century, while Indianapolis grew much faster than the state as a whole. Only the highly educated, high-tax parts of Indiana are growing.

And how about that GOP fever dream that cutting taxes will fix anything and everything that ails you? (Probably including thinning hair and genital warts…)

Our overall business taxes, as reported to the Federal Department of Commerce ranked 8th lowest in 2000, dropping to 6th lowest by 2019. However, our taxes on manufacturing dropped from 25th to 4th lowest over the same period, while we shed 120,000 factory jobs.

No one can construct an honest argument that this has bettered the Indiana economy. This is mostly because cutting taxes on manufacturing necessarily means spending less on key public services, while shifting the tax burden to households and other businesses.

Indiana’s Republican super-majority (courtesy of gerrymandering) is pursuing both kinds of death addressed by these articles: anti-vaccine policies that will kill real people, and demonstrably stupid economic policies that will depress economic growth while making Indiana a less attractive place to live and work.

All while waging war on education and the urban areas that are critical to the state’s economic well-being.

Talk about sacrificing human and economic health to ideology!


  1. I wouldn’t be giving Hicks any accolades since his shilling for the Koch brothers has gotten us into this mess in the first place. I just about lost it when I saw one of his “studies” in Brookings. He was bragging about it on LinkedIn.

    His point of emphasis was quality of place attracts new residents yet he’s kept his Koch-sucking mouth shut in Muncie while his employer pays a mere $250,000 toward public safety via a PILOT fee. They actually got applause from our FD Chief.

    However, in 2021, Ball State added $70 million in new buildings. Had they paid their fair share at 3% in property taxes, our community would see over $2.1 million in revenue to enhance the quality of life.

    When you look at their total real estate holdings, the annual nugget would be closer to $14 million.

    However, we can’t get Mike Hicks to open his mouth at a City Council meeting about his employer being a freeloader.

    Trust me, we have lots of freeloaders in Muncie, Indiana. Ball State isn’t the only one, but it just shows the cowardice of these tenured academics who talk/write/talk/write/talk/write…but make no impact in their own backyards.

  2. This may, on the surface, make no sense to you – but I suggest reading: https://annebonnypirate.org/2019/09/23/the-roots-of-sexual-violence/ – “The Roots of Sexual Violence” – related to what you are talking about. The authors’ foci on: classism, systemic racism/ sexism / homo-trans phobias – particularly with how – the upper- one percent – manipulate is highly relevant here. I would note – that one “exploiter” noted – was Hillary Clinton – who hardly is a “rapist”. In Indiana – Republican leadership – includes – the wealthy – as well as a lot of foolish – “leaders” – who “ain’t too bright”.

  3. Well we’ve all known for years that Indiana was in a race to the bottom. The competition being Mississippi, I’m certain the legislature felt this would be an easy win. Maybe it’s time for a tax rebellion in Indy!

  4. Do you people NOT realize we are living inside an active coup? We have seen the results in other nations but didn’t see from the inside through the action as it happened…until NOW.

    It began in 2015 when “The Donald” slithered down that escalator to announce his campaign for the presidency; unbelievable, a sick joke, an impossibility, it will never happen! Well, people, believe it, it is no longer a laughing matter and it DID happen and continues happening and escalating. Economy and jobs may be improving but…Hitler brought about a rising economy and more jobs in Germany which led to WWII and the Holocaust. The Trumpist Republicans are citing President Biden and the Democrats for all problems they created and are managing to maintain as democracy is slipping from our grasp and Fascism is creeping in. Like cockroaches which have been with us reportedly for thousands of years, there seems to be no roach motels to eliminate them and Trump’s Hotels and Towers are standing strong.

    “(Parenthetically, I will note that every time some pundit tells us that Americans are “losing faith in Biden’s handling of the pandemic,” I want to scream that the f**ing anti-vaxxers who are sacrificing the lives of their own voters are to blame for derailing his efforts. But I digress.)”

    We are digressing into the past century when democracy was available to the white majority; which is no longer the majority. Except for the old white men dragging us back into “Death, Politics And Economics” only being the right of the current white minority…that vaulted 2% with their vast wealth maintaining corporations and the Stock Market.

    As this nation is losing democracy we watch as Dictatorships in Russia advances on overtaking another country based on democracy and North Korea goes it’s merry way setting off nuclear weapons…SEVEN in the past month. Wake up, people, and smell the coup!!!

  5. The dismal science of economics isn’t science at all, but it has its uses. It’s just dismal. It depends on an important assumption called “homo economicus” – the existence of idealized persons who act rationally, with perfect knowledge and who seeks to maximize personal utility or satisfaction. It turns out there are large swaths of humanity to which this assumption does not hold.

    Hundreds of people gathered in downtown Ft. Wayne yesterday for their annual “March for Life”. US Rep and neo-fascist Jim Banks even gave a little speech. But I doubt if there was one person in attendance who has ever voted for political candidates who stand for policies to move Indiana out of the bottom 10 states on virtually every measure of child health and welfare. It’s the same problem as the anti-vax crowd’s commitment to ritual self-sacrifice.

    “It would be illogical to kill without reason.”

    – Dr. Spock, Star Trek

  6. To better understand the Republican “mind”, one must read George Lakoff’s great book, “Don’t Think of an Elephant”. In it, he describes in detail how Republicans are wired and validates the seemingly insane topic of today’s blog. If Hoosiers want to see the end game for the embrace of Republican politics, all they have to do is look at the horror of Kansas when they embraced Republican “governance”. All the tax cutting and the rest caused them to plummet into the basement economically. Then, typical of Republicans they trotted out their mantra.


    Well done, Hoosier Republicans. You’ve signed your own death warrant.

  7. My brother was a victim of the virus before there was any hope of the vaccine. I would give anything to have him back. The people still refusing to follow protocol and get vaccinated are on the wrong page of history and subject to death for themselves or their loved ones.

  8. In a recent blog post I commented that almost all new high wage businesses brought to IN have landed in and around Indianapolis. The rest of the state is always left out. To my knowledge Fort Wayne is the only other city growing economically, but this is due to local businesses expanding rather than bringing in new employers.

    The governor and legislature have chosen to focus on spending tax dollars to educate the workforce to create employees that meet the needs of manufacturers in the state. However, those manufacturers still don’t want to pay good wages. They may increase hourly wages by less than a handful of dollars which still doesn’t raise their employee’s standard of living to what it should be. The winners are the manufacturers that get taxpayers to train their specific workforce for free. They’ve been whining for years that no one wants to work or they can’t find people with the skills their business needs. These companies don’t want to pay a cent towards training their workforce, so what is their solution? Put some cash in the politician’s pockets to entice them to force the taxpayers to subsidize their businesses even more than we already do via extremely low tax rates.

  9. Just a side note,

    I had the pleasure of having a conversation with individual standing outside of planned parenthood praying for the end of Planned Parenthood.

    Only the second time I’ve engaged in conversation with them ever. And never at this location.

    my query was What Would they plan to do, or how would they plan to help the young ladies who are going to plan Parenthood for information and possibly to get an abortion.

    I pointed out that people are not going to stop having sex, because sex is a poor man’s hobby. So, why are you so dead set against contraception? Couldn’t answer!

    Now I could tell who the boss was, because he was the one that tried to tell me how wonderful my engagement was but they had to get back to praying. I said why do you have to stand outside in the freezing cold in front of all of this traffic to pray in front of Planned Parenthood? Didn’t Jesus Christ say to pray in private? Well, That went well with some of his underlings, but he didn’t appreciate the input. I said the Pharisees and Sadducees of the Sanhedrin used to stand in the public square to show their piety praying out loud so that the masses could actually see and here them. But Christ said to Pray in secret. To do for those less fortunate in secret and then the father who looks on in secret will reward you.

    The discussion then revolved around or gravitated towards The supposed sin of contraception. And I asked him where He had gotten that idea from. He said it was in the Bible! And I said well you must be referring to Onan where he was struck dead for practicing “colitis interruptus.” but, If you’re a student of this train of thought at all, You will know that it wasn’t because of colitis interruptus and spilling his seed on the ground That was NOT a sin, it was disobeying The law of brother-in-law marriage or being somewhat of a repurchaser by impregnating his dead brothers wife and keeping that lineage going. Onan wanted the wealth for himself, instead of it going to an offspring of his with his sister-in-law, so he Pretended to do the deed but violated that particular LAW of brother-in-law marriage and impregnation therefore he was struck dead, it wasn’t that contraception was a sin. He violated a sacred law at that time.

    That’s what I mean about having some knowledge concerning What those others are being misled to believe. it causes a great deal of conversation amongst those who have beliefs that are not appropriate or that go against scripture.

    Also, I asked that if a woman is having difficulty deciding whether she should Have a child or having an abortion, it would be easier for that woman to Have a child if she knew that child could be taken care of. That child could have a bdecent education, if that child could have enough food to eat, if that child would have love! If that child could have appropriate shelter, In other words, the quality of life for that family. and this day and age, people are not going to stop having sex, but pregnancy could be stopped without abortion. contraception is not a sin.
    At that point, Tim I believe his name was, the boss man of the group, I believe he was a preacher, Tried to rush me out of there by telling me what a great conversation it was but they had to get back to praying, lol, The hypocrisy at its finest I would have to say. Then I mentioned, I see You want me to leave, But I enjoyed speaking to those who had an ear that wanted to hear. And then I ask him, when they ask you to leave from in front of Planned Parenthood do you agreeably leave or do you argue and curse those who are working there? Which basically he said I needed to mind my own business. So, there you go, if you know how to talk to folks You know what their beliefs are and you know how their beliefs are convoluted, it’s easy to put doubts in the minds of those who are actually listening to the debate or conversation.

    It’s easy to call people morons or stupid, but then again, who really are the morons and who really are stupid? If you can’t engage those you don’t agree with on a level of knowledge or wisdom concerning their beliefs, then you never will have an opportunity to change any hearts or any minds whatsoever. a vast majority of women who are getting abortions at Planned Parenthood are conflicted about it. And unfortunately those who are out there protesting offer no real alternative to help The unborn to have a good life If it is actually born.

    concerning part of this thread this morning, Since when Did the United States not sacrifice humans? United States sacrificed humans at the start of this country’s history by annihilating Native Americans, They also engaged in human sacrifice by embracing slavery and treating people as commodities. They also engaged in hemispherical human sacrifice by spreading manifest destiny and enslaving or annihilating those who they considered inferior so they could acquire land and Even more slaves. Because you need that for the agrarian society that our found -ing fathers were seeing in their own minds spreading across the hemisphere. But hey, that’s history right? Where have we seen this sort of thing before? History is not linear. but history will reach a saturation point , because population will dictate it. When there is No more room to hide The truth, people will Suddenly be aware that the house of cards called our society and history was built on a rickety table.

  10. GREAT contribution today, John Sorg!! Your example underscored so many points that have been made by so many on this blog. Good for you to engage those who know not what they do…or why.

    Keep up the good work.

  11. Thanks Vernon my brother,

    I appreciate that! It means a lot because I respect your skill as a writer and what you prevay through those writings. Your writings have expanded my perspective, and they have made it easier for me to articulate certain points even though they tend to be long sometimes, lol. Thank you so much

  12. John Sorg is my hero today. Even if I had the knowledge I would not likely have the patience to carry on such a conversation.

    Nancy, it’s true that the Fort Wayne MSA has seen job growth but it’s concentrated in two areas: healthcare and transportation/warehousing. The former is having the effect of lifting the area’s average wage and education level but the latter is having the opposite effect. And, of course, its voting population is much more Republican that you would expect of an urban community of 250K-350K.

  13. John Sorg: good points.
    It’s “coitus interruptus”. Colitis is inflammation of the lower bowel.
    Thanks for engaging/enraging the sheep and their shepherd.
    Not enough of the human population has evolved yet.
    It’s a bitter fight between rationality and fear/comfort.

  14. Ormond; either fits if you think about it. Colitis interruptus could be a reference to the fact that they are all full of S*+t!

  15. Ormond, and JoAnn, lol, thank you!

    You are absolutely correct, and, once again, As you can see, I didn’t really proofread. I’m sorry about that. And thank you JoAnn, You pulled my fat out of the fire. And that’s a lot of fat to pull out of the fire, lol……….

  16. I think I let loose on what I think of the Republican Party and the Pandemic response.

    I read a good summary of what the Republican party stands for now days. What they do best is blend business interests with supporting racism and religion. The particular context of this observation was in privatizing schools so that tax dollars could be used to support segregated religious schools, but the theme of Shelia’s post leans toward propping up business interests come he!! or high water.

  17. John–I am going to copy and paste what you said in a msg to myself.

    The lack of job prospects in Indiana is what contributed to my husband and I having to leave there area 6 yrs ago. There hasn’t been any appreciable improvements. There are certainly a lot of empty Duke office buildings. Most of his friends who have stayed have had to take significant pay cuts to stay whereas others chose to leave the state.

    We laugh whenever we hear about Indiana’s continuous tax cuts to draw businesses. Shoot, it can practically give things away for free and the companies are not coming.

    Most of the CEO’s of companies refused to move to the state preferring where they lived because of better schools, better recreation, etc…One CEO was asked to move from Dallas to Indianapolis and he drove around the city and said he was not going to move there because he could tell by just a windshield survey that if he lost his job he would be stuck but losing a job in Dallas he knew he could have at least 15 interviews.

    My hubby started his career as a state financial auditor and then went into IT and so he can do financial and IT audit and when he lost his job at Herff Jones he exhausted his job prospects in the state– 6 jobs in 16 years because the companies Indiana. Sign of the Times–Indiana. Maybe its not about free taxes to businesses but maybe the culture that is keeping them away.

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