Indiana: CNBC’s Business Friendly States Reveals Failed Policies

Let’s Compare ‘Business Friendly States’

MUNCIE, Indiana BLOG – How would you like to make $365,000 for six weeks of work helping Governor Mike Pence shine up his tarnished reputation? Not a bad gig if you can get it. Well, this is exactly how much global propagandists, Porter Novelli, charged Hoosier taxpayers for repairing the damage done by Governor Mike Pence’s, Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). His Act was passed by state lawmakers specifically to avoid local laws protecting LGBT citizens from discrimination, and what followed, was sheer embarrassment.

Every Hoosier knows what kind of damage was done by RFRA and Governor Pence. His television appearances were horrible to watch. Connecticut Governor Malloy called him a “bigot” on national news. Original damage estimates were $250 million.

Even though Pence denies RFRA would be used to discriminate against other Hoosiers, he immediately fixed the law, and then hired an expensive shine artist called Porter Novelli to repair the damage. Under the original terms, Pence agreed to pay the public relations specialist up to $2 million.

The contract was cancelled this past week by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC), and endorsed by Pence, due to a recent CNBC article ranking Indiana as the 13th most friendly state and a separate report about record job growth for our state. Apparently, as a result of these business statistics, our bigotry no longer exists. Is there a mystery connection?

We’re not the only ones questioning this logic. Democratic Chairman, John Zody, issued a public information request to the IEDC, so the people could see exactly what Porter Novelli did for their $365 thousand during those six weeks.

Both Pence and the IEDC have hinted that all work completed by the propagandists is considered private since the contract was negotiated through the private corporation (IEDC). We’re sorry, but if our governor feels compelled to spend taxpayer money for public relations firms, Hoosiers deserve to know what services we received. Using the IEDC as cover for being non-transparent deserves a judges intervention.

Here’s what fellow writer, Rich James had to say about the exchange:

Abby Gras, IEDC spokeswoman said the agency would respond to state Democratic Chairman John Zody’s records request “in accordance with Indiana law.” Whether that is a “yes” or a “no” is subject to interpretation. What it sounds like is that the effort to fix the fallout from the religious freedom mess is taking on a life of its own.

Yeah, and what’s that thing about transparency in government?

CNBC Doesn’t Rank State’s Treatment of Gays/Lesbians

As we pointed out earlier, business rankings have nothing to do with discrimination or diversity, but we thought CNBC’s report deserved a look.

Here is the methodology behind the rankings:

States receive points based on their rankings in each metric. Then we separate those metrics into 10 broad categories. We assign a point weighting to each category based on how frequently it is used as a selling point in state economic development marketing materials. For example, if more states tout their low business costs, the “Cost of Doing Business” category carries greater weight. That way, our study ranks the states based on the criteria they use to sell themselves.

We repeat, none of the 10 broad categories have anything to do with how the state treats the LGBT population.

With that determined, why did the state cancel the contract based on our business-friendly rankings?

We suspect the only way we’ll be able to answer that question is by getting a copy of the documents between our state and the hired PR guns in New York. As a result, Pence will work overtime concealing the findings or recommendations. Let’s be honest, using “business friendliness” rankings was a sad excuse to use for justifying the termination of a multi-million dollar contract.

What Are the Sad Truths Buried in the State Rankings?

Despite lacking a logical connection, let’s take a closer look at what the CNBC report does tell us about Indiana’s business-friendliness. After spending several hours scanning the findings – CNBC confirmed what most rational Hoosiers have learned – we’re cheap. Our state government has done everything in its power to reduce workers rights so large corporations have access to cheap labor. Hoosier’s median incomes are stuck in the early 90’s – we make .86 of every dollar our national brothers and sisters make in this country.

Governor Pence wants us to compete with other Red States of the Deep South and Appalachia. No bargaining rights. No unions. Cheap energy. Low regulation. Low corporate taxes. Cut taxes on richest Hoosiers hoping it will “trickle-down” or stimulate surrounding communities. The exact same flawed “trickle-down economic theories” we’ve been dispelling for four years on Muncie Voice.

For comparison sake, let’s look at our progressive Blue State counterparts in Minnesota who received the Top Ranking overall for business-friendliness. How were they able to reach #1 while Indiana ranked 13th?

In Indiana, the cost of doing business was ranked #1 (cheap). For Minnesota, the cost of doing business ranked #35 (expensive).

Based on the logic of free markets and “trickle-down” theories, Minnesota’s strategy is destined to fail. Large corporations and rich people will flee Minnesota for surround cheap states like Indiana – right?

Despite being an expensive place to do business, Minnesota was ranked #1 for being business-friendly. Newsflash to Governor Pence and all Indiana lawmakers: You don’t have to be cheap to attract businesses to Indiana.

Well than, at least our 13th ranking has translated into a higher quality of life for Hoosiers, right?

In Minnesota, quality of life ranks 3rd. In Indiana, it ranks 46th. The trickling-down process is really slow, isn’t it?

We are a cheap place for large businesses, but it’s not helping Hoosiers one bit. In fact, it’s coming at a high price for people residing in Indiana, and those down stream.

Being a cheap place to do business should allow for greater innovation and with the “free market” in charge. We should thrive in technology, workforce education, and rebuilding infrastructure. Expensive places like Minnesota should be bottom dwellers in those categories, right?

As it turns out, Minnesota ranks higher in education, tech & innovation, infrastructure, workforce and overall economy.

Minnesota must have elected a socialist governor or a union boss. Actually, their governor, Mark Dayton, is extremely wealthy since his family owns Target. He raised taxes on himself because it makes good economic sense for workers and capitalists.

Hoosiers are victims of the flawed policies – old “trickle-down” economic theories which became prevalent in 70’s and early 80’s by Milton Friedman, Art Laffer, and the Chicago School of Economics. Friedmanites have wreaked havoc around the globe with their free market principles. What have we learned from four decades of these policies?

When you slash taxes on the richest people in your state or country, the government brings in less revenue, the rich get richer, and the working class suffers. Period.

It took forty years and we still have frauds like Governor Pence peddling these theories for Art Laffer, the new economic policy director for the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

From the Prairie Biz Magazine in Minnesota, “The 2016 race “is going to be ‘trickle down’ versus ‘middle out,'” said David Madland, director of economic policy at the Center for American Progress, a think tank in Washington with close ties to the Democratic party. “Minnesota is a perfect example of the middle class economics story.”

Minnesota ranked 3rd for quality of life, while Indiana ranked 46th. Being a cheap state for business comes at a high price for Hoosiers.

Bottom line – the business friendly status in Indiana has nothing to do with how our government treats gays and lesbians. Nor does it have anything to do with how our government treats workers, the retired, or our youth. We are well-known for having little or no regulatory burdens on businesses, busting unions, and low taxes on large corporations/wealthiest Hoosiers. Unfortunately, this does not increase our standard of living or improve our lives. Just the opposite. It also doesn’t elevate our communities or rebuild our infrastructure. You want to know why our roads and sidewalks can’t get repaired – after 40 years, we are waiting for it to trickle-down from above. According to Pence and our republican lawmakers, Hoosiers just need to be more patient.

In more simple terms, Indiana’s current leadership places low value on workers and environment. Even if the Chairman Zody gets his hands on Porter Novelli’s correspondence, it won’t change the unflattering truth about the Hoosier story.

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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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