There have been three really good blog posts in recent days, playing off of one another, and emphasizing some points I think are of value in planning strategy for Indiana’s future.
The first was Aaron Renn’s comparison of Gov. Daniels’ economic strategy versus Mike Pence’s. The second was Richard Longworth’s “Debunking St. Mitch.” And the third is Just Harter’s “I was emphatically wrong about my political beliefs.”
My take away, which isn’t really surprising now that they’ve spelled it out, is that racing to the bottom probably isn’t going to work for us. I’m sure there are places willing to go a lot further in that direction than I want to. Cutting fat is fine. Cutting bone is counter-productive. And, if I might mix my metaphors, you don’t want to eat your seed corn. And, again, as Mr. Renn says, you don’t want to live in the cheapest house or the cheapest neighborhood. And, I’m not sure we want the companies that want the cheapest house; at least not if we can figure out a way to attract other types of companies.
As Justin puts it:
[G]iven the obvious reference points we have of spectacular places to live with growth, economic stability, and social mobility like the Netherlands and even Canada and, here in America along the coasts, the trick to making life better is to make your people better and treat them as assets and not operating costs. You race to the top, not the bottom. The bottom is for commodity markets, and I don’t want to be a commodity.
He even has what strikes me as a pretty likely suggestion on what might be driving some of our present decline:
It seems more likely to me at this point that America’s problems are caused by a death spiral of employers withholding exorbitant profits from employees in favor of dubious managers and executives who don’t drive that much value in most places, which reduces consumer spending power around and around.
As Aaron pointed out, Governor Daniels at least had the nominal goal of raising the the net disposable income of individual Hoosiers. Had he succeeded in that, it might have reversed the downward spiral described by Justin. But, he didn’t, and Mike Pence doesn’t even have that as a goal. Pence just wants Hoosiers to have jobs. Working harder without ending up with more money in our pockets isn’t going to fix anything; it’s just going to mean we’re working harder. Work is a proud thing; but it ought to have a purpose.