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GUEST COLUMN

Where have all our state's jobs gone?

Friday, September 19, 2008 - 10:33 am

I propose we remove “public investment” and “job creation” from our political lexicon and political powers. These words amount to demonstrable lies; and the actions pursuant to these words have been an inexcusable, unconstitutional and immoral transfer of wealth and opportunity from citizens to a rising political class.

As a specific example, Hoosiers have been robbed of good-paying, high-tech jobs by politicians who serve lobbyists to the detriment of citizens.

I propose we as quickly as possible restrain political powers to only those authorized by the Indiana and U.S. constitutions; as applied to this proposal, particularly mindful of the restraints imposed by the Indiana Constitution's Article 1, Section 25, and Article 11, Section 12.

Politicians just love to talk about “job creation,” as if they have anything to do with it. More embarrassingly, they talk about “high-tech, good-paying jobs” as if they have any connection to reality in this matter.

I've made my living not in politics but in technology since 1979. That means I've been fighting politicians since 1979. Politicians have been driving away good-paying jobs, particularly from “high-tech” endeavors, and particularly from Indiana, for decades.

Before Detroit was Detroit, Indiana was the automotive superpower of the United States. Indiana-made Studebaker, Cord, Stutz were lauded worldwide — and, of course, Duesenberg (origin of the phrase “that's a duesy!”) was right up there with Alfa Romeo and Bugatti in terms of quality, power and prestige. We had the very best right here in Indiana; even in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing in the Indianapolis 500. That early technical prowess and notoriety solidified an engineering infrastructure that led to Indiana's ascendancy in electronics, the keystone to all we call “high-tech” today. Just after WWII, Indiana was the No. 3 state in the nation in electronics innovation and wealth.

Nationwide, electronics employment has doubled over the past 20 years.But in Indiana, electronics employment dropped by over 65 percent!

I don't have figures more recent than 2007, but from 2004-2007, we lost 72 companies and 11,000 jobs.

Mostly, we lose these jobs to other states like Michigan, Illinois, Tennessee and even Connecticut! Well over half the jobs lost go to other rust-belt states, many with higher tax/living/labor costs than our own. They're not leaving for the mountains of Colorado or even for the sun and palm trees of California. The No. 1 state destination for Indiana electronics companies is Ohio.

But it's not just electronics proper that's been leaving. Just as when an “anchor store” leaves a mall, lots of businesses ancillary or even incidental to our electronics infrastructure have gone or are leaving as well. We may soon have a vacant mall.

I've made my living in medical imaging technology; much of which was developed here in Indiana. The particular medical ultrasound and imaging companies that I'd worked for were bought out by foreign companies or conglomerates, but just as many similar companies moved to other states. Also, Indianapolis used to be the nation's insurance capital and was the third-largest state in international banking. These industries also moved to other states, not overseas.

But hey, how 'bout them Colts!

And how about our 1980s attempts to become the nation's amateur sports capital?

We have spent a lot of taxpayer dollars on mall builders, foreign auto manufacturers and, of course, professional sports. While we've made gambling illegal because it's a sin, we've poured tax money into it because it's what politicians think is a good investment.

Indiana's average personal income has dropped compared to the national average. Hoosiers once made 106 percent of the national average. Today it's 88 percent.

With all the talk of “job creation,” our unemployment rates have gone up.

Politicians have been cooking up “economic stimulus package” programs for the past 30 years at least. According to recently adjusted figures that account for dollar devaluation and true estimation of inflation, we've not only seen zero economic growth in that period, we've actually been in a decades-long, and now accelerating, recession.

Surprised? Why?

Since 1979, we're working 20 percent longer hours and are taking two weeks fewer vacations. We spend far less time with our families, and the voluntary/fraternal associations that once provided this nation's non-church-related charity, built parks and schools and ran many hospitals, are dying.

Despite the technology that makes life easier, life is getting more difficult, stressful and brutish. Our life/death statistics are getting worse and worse compared to other nations. In many cases, we look bad compared to even Third World nations. Americans are even getting shorter than other peoples of the world.

This is the nation, after all, that rose from the ashes of our war between the states to become a global superpower in a single generation. No nation ever did that before or since. The USA was the richest, to be sure; but mostly it was the nation that proved that liberty works better than anything else works; with the poor and recently immigrated rising to prosperity just by the ability to keep the fruits of their labors.

Here is something I know you do already know. Politicians often lie. Here's something you may not know. You don't have to vote for the ones who lied to you.

You should not believe their appeals to “update” government with more power in fewer hands. After thousands of years of proof, you should know that, still, the newest, freshest and best thing in human government is the rule of law under our constitutions, as written.

Voters and the media upon whom voters depend should consider the 100-year record of entrenched political party betrayal, and the means by which they have stolen our global pre-eminence, liberty, security, health and wealth and vote for the restoration of what has been proved to work.

Andrew Horning is a resident of Freedom, Ind., and the Libertarian candidate for governor of Indiana.