Indiana Tax Reform: We Must Identify the Sellouts

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With So Much at Stake, Hoosiers Must Be Vigilant With Tax Reform

Muncie, Indiana – We expect more from our neighbor, Dr. Michael Hicks with Ball State’s College of Business and Economic Research, than laying down a bed of free market propaganda for Governor Mike Pence’s tax policy recommendations. Having access to a tremendous amount of statistics and research data, we’d expect a smart academic to use those tools to inform Hoosiers. Instead, he’s promoting a public narrative which further hurts hard-working Hoosiers while benefiting those who’ve prospered from favorable treatment by republican legislators over the past two decades.

When Dr. Hicks moves from his comfortable place of analyzing statistics and economic trends, we mostly get an awkward blend of free market buzzwords meant to appeal to poorly informed Hoosiers who are being tricked into supporting conservative policies causing Indiana to dive further down the charts as the most polluted state with underpaid workers and a crumbling infrastructure.

In short, he’s promoting propaganda the far right peddles on Fox News and other conservative media programs. Does Ball State’s College of Business and Economic Research want to be a legitimate resource for government leaders and business owners or is it aiming to be another front group for the Koch brothers and ALEC – the corporate bill-mill for state legislators.

They can’t ride the fence on this one in Indiana – the stakes are too high.

In his latest article, Dr. Hicks uses a complicated issue like ‘corporate inversions’ and global taxation to take shots at liberals and a president who is tired of working with an obstructive congress. It’s also clear that his hidden agenda is setting up Governor Pence’s tax policy proposals coming our way to shift taxes from Indiana’s corporations to hard-working Hoosiers.

Over the past few years we hear a great deal about the evilness of corporations, and how they should not be treated, in law, as people. The latter idea deserves some modest discussion. There is symmetry in the law. If we wish to hold corporations liable for infractions of a law, we must also permit them to speak out against laws they judge wrong, or support those they judge right. It is a simple matter really.

We’ve already pointed out in Muncie Voice where Governor Pence and Mike Hicks got these bright ideas – Art Laffer, ALEC’s new economic stooge brought back from the grave.

Yes, the very same Art Laffer who engineered Reaganomics, or the false theory that giving more money to the wealthy and their large corporations will benefit all of society. Most notable economists and leaders across the globe have told us income inequality is the number one plague on society and is strangling our economic recovery. They were pointing this out before the 2008 financial crash.

We also reported that Michael Hicks was invited by Governor Pence to the private Indiana Tax Summit put on by ALEC. Apparently, he’s decided that working for Governor Pence is more profitable for his “college” than protecting Hoosiers from faulty tax proposals made by Laffer and ALEC.

Laffer has literally been laughed out of serious economic discussions. The only people giving his ideas merit are the Koch brothers, ALEC and Fox News – red flag. Here’s what the reputable Center on Budget and Policy Priorities wrote about Art Laffer and ALEC:

In their analyses, ALEC and Laffer make many exaggerated claims, present misleading data, commit basic statistical errors, and do not control for other factors known to affect economic growth.  They use techniques that manipulate data in ways that violate accepted standards of research.  ALEC related writings that experts have strongly criticized include a report by Laffer and his consulting firm for the Florida legislature on property taxes; a study by Laffer’s firm on the state income tax in Oklahoma; a study by Laffer and a colleague on the estate tax in Tennessee; and an op-ed by Laffer for the Wall Street Journal on states with income taxes, among others.

In Thomas Piketty’s 2013 book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, he went back 250 years to show the divide in wealth and current income inequality and he specifically noted Laffer in the books ‘Foreward’ and the damage his faulty theories caused America. In summary:

From about 1980 onward, the divergence of capital – that is the growth of inequality – became more pronounced to the point that today, the concentration of capital in the upper classes is almost as high as before World War I; as it was during the Gilded Age. Piketty explains this as being primarily political in its inception. Owing to the initiation of policies by people like Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, (p. 42) inspired by Laffer’s curve, a derivative of the Kuznets curve.

Hoosiers are starting to wake up to how the republican party operates and how the news media contributes to the damage caused by bad policies and laws. We know who is getting rich and who is getting shafted. We know who is doing the polluting and who is getting sick.

We know landlords were the big winners on property tax caps and local government services and schools got stiffed. We are learning about the Astroturf organizations hired by the wealthy to create junk scientific reports for these anti-environmentalists and climate deniers fighting EPA requirements meant to protect the environment and our public health.

As our natural resources get polluted so others can make a profit, we know who pays the high price for contaminated drinking water and the inability to enjoy our lakes and rivers.

We also know the media in Indiana isn’t protecting us, but they are paying the price – expect thinner newspapers and higher advertising prices with even less investigative journalism. With all this taking place, you’d think our public universities would be standing with the people, but it’s looking like they’re selling us out to monied interests by peddling whatever they’ve been paid to sell.

Since we’re not getting much help from our free press or academia in this state, Hoosiers will have to be extra vigilant as ALEC and Laffer’s tax reforms are rolled out to Hoosiers over the coming months. We must take note of who is being paid to write for the monied interests and who is actually holding them accountable.

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Todd Smekens

Journalist, consultant, publisher, and servant-leader with a passion for truth-seeking. Enjoy motorcycling, meditation, and spending quality time with my daughter and rescue hound. Spiritually-centered first and foremost. Lived in multiple states within the USA and frequent traveler to the mountains.

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