Tag Archives: Daniels

The Wrong Role Model

Let’s get real: if so-called “Right to Work” laws generated economic growth, Mississippi would be an epicenter of economic activity.

As Brian Howey notes, the current push for Right to Work is simply a continuation of the war on unions Daniels inaugurated soon after he himself was inaugurated; the sorts of jobs Indiana has been trying to grow–life sciences, biotech, etc.–aren’t union jobs anyway. But if we were to take Governor Daniels and Speaker Bosma at their word, their argument boils down to the contention that creating a “good business environment” requires that we be a low-wage,  low tax state.

A story may be instructive: Several years ago, Toyota was negotiating with three such states (all in the south) to locate a new plant. The states in question all had low wage workforces and low taxes; in addition, all were offering tax incentives. Toyota ended up going to Canada, and the economic development officers of the losing states were dumbfounded, because taxes were higher and no incentives were involved. Toyota’s explanation? The workforce was much more highly educated, and thanks to Canada’s “socialized” system, they wouldn’t need to provide healthcare.

When you look at independent research on right-to-work laws (i.e., research not sponsored by/paid for by either unions or Chambers of Commerce), there is absolutely no evidence that such laws affect job growth one way or the other. Once you control for the other factors that affect economic conditions, it appears that the only effect of such laws is to lower wages for both unionized and non-union workers.

The “liberty” argument for right-to-work is that no one should have to join a union in order to work. I agree–and under current law, they don’t. They do have to pay for services rendered by the union that benefit them–that is, their share of the cost of negotiation for wages and working conditions. That’s it. They don’t have to become a member, or support any other activities with which they disagree. The “liberty” argument against right-to-work is that employers should be free to bargain with whomever they choose–that the state should not have the power to dictate an owner’s otherwise lawful workplace policies and arrangements.

If we really want to promote job growth and a healthy economic environment, our focus should be on creating efficient, transparent state government, high-quality public schools, good public services (especially public transportation), and an improved quality of life.

Add in workers who have enough money to spend in the marketplace, and believe me, the employers will come.

 

Job Creation Delusions

Given the state of the economy, it’s understandable that candidates and incumbents alike would focus on job creation. It’s also understandable that the mayor and governor would make a big deal out of promises to locate new factories in Indianapolis.

But it’s beginning to look as if the “vetting” process could use some vetting of its own.

Yesterday, Mitch Daniels and Greg Ballard–along with representatives from Develop Indy–held a media event at a field in northwest Indianapolis to announce that a California businessman would be building a factory to manufacture huge TV screens mounted on trucks. (Reading the initial story, my husband opined that the business seemed goofy to him, but I reminded him that, at our ages, we’re tech dinosaurs, so what did we know?)

Turns out it isn’t just the business plan that’s goofy. First the IBJ ran a story noting that the owner of the enterprise lacked experience. Then this morning’s Star reported on the bizarre behavior of both the “entrepreneur” and a project manager from Develop Indy. The story also noted that Litebox, the company being applauded for bringing jobs to Indianapolis, had yet to purchase the land on which the factory was supposed to be built.

Economic development is never a sure thing. Well-conceived, well-financed projects may not make it. But surely, before they commit public resources to a project, the city and state could do a minimal amount of due diligence.

The media have raised questions before about the veracity of jobs claims made by both the state and city, and this embarrassing episode would seem to confirm their skepticism.

It’s hard not to to speculate over the timing of this announcement–apparently, it was rushed in order to help Ballard before the election. It blew up in his face, and didn’t add any luster to the Daniels administration, either. That’s what happens when people act out of desperation.

They Even Eat Their Own

As Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels considers whether to run for President, I can think of lots of reasons not to support him. Despite his focus on fiscal responsibility, he presided over the Bush Administration’s profligacy, helping fritter away the healthy economy left by Bill Clinton. While he’s never been a “hater,” neither has he demonstrated any moral compunctions against playing to the prejudices of the GOP base–if we had any doubts about his willingness to let personal ambition trump any tendency to do the right thing, those doubts were put to rest when he signed the bill de-funding Planned Parenthood, and effectively denied medical care to more than 20 thousand poor women.

What is certainly NOT a reason to oppose him, however, is his Syrian ancestry.

The same sorts of people who insist that Obama couldn’t possibly be a “real” American (he’s black, you know) are now throwing stones at Daniels because he received an award from an Arab-American group. Daniels’ family background is Syrian, and–like Jewish groups, African-American organizations, etc., this organization recognizes members of its community who have achieved. Bloggers have reacted by connecting the Governor to every anti-American act ever associated with any Arabs anywhere.

This has to stop. Being American means evaluating people based upon who they are and what they do, not on the basis of their “tribes”–their race, religion or national origin. Like Obama or Daniels–or dislike them–based upon their policies and behaviors, and cut the ugly crap out.