• warning: Parameter 2 to ed_classified_link_alter() expected to be a reference, value given in /home/soloneconomist/www/www/includes/common.inc on line 2968.
  • warning: Parameter 2 to ed_classified_link_alter() expected to be a reference, value given in /home/soloneconomist/www/www/includes/common.inc on line 2968.

Indiana state of mind


Last week I traveled to Indianapolis to babysit my grandson while my daughter traveled on business.
He’s 11 and quite mature, so who babysat who is a bit of a question.
Either way, I traded one rural state that begins in I and ends in A for another. Similarities don’t end there. Both are choked with political ads dripping sarcasm and tattle telling in nature. “We saw this candidate say this five-second sound bite spoken in an unguarded moment, taken out of context and filmed on a cell phone,” the announcers state in essence with a voice dripping in mockery, “you’d be crazy to vote for him/her.”
By luck of the draw, Indiana does not have a senator or governor up for election this year, so the ads aren’t as pervasive, but the style is just as obnoxious. Iowa, however, is in the midst of a neck-and-neck race for an open senate seat and is being bombarded with media ads. As of Oct. 30, Republican candidate Joni Ernst had spent $7.7 million while Democrat Bruce Braley’s campaign topped $10 million. PACs have shelled out another $13 million. Any way you cut it, whichever candidate eventually wins, he or she is going to be beholden to more than a few special interests. And the level of intellectual discourse goes down as the spending goes up.
If there were a king of the world, this could be fixed with one simple edict: no political advertising can be purchased in a medium that didn’t exist when the constitution was originally passed. In other words, candidates could spend as much as they wanted but the ads would have to be in print. Think about it. Opinions would form based on what people read, and television could go back to selling beer.
Speaking of beer, I thought I died and had gone to heaven on a bicycle ride I got in while in Indianapolis. The trail was the Monon, an 18-mile ribbon of pavement connecting the heart of the Circle City with neighborhoods and towns to the north. The place was the intersection of the trail with Broad Ripple Avenue. From said point I was able to see three microbreweries, Three Wise Men Brewing, the Brugge Brasserie and Broad Ripple Brewing. Indianapolis has many more miles of trails and at least another dozen microbreweries besides the three mentioned.
So many beers, so little time.
Indianapolis gets it nickname Circle City from the large traffic circle at the heart of the town. It surrounds the Soldiers and Sailors monument finished in 1901, costing $600,000 at the time or about $500 million in today’s dollars.
Not far from downtown, the Lucas Oil Stadium is the home field of the Colts. Founded by trucker Forrest Lucas and his wife Charlotte in 1989, Lucas Oil grew fast enough to afford to buy the naming rights for the stadium to the tune of $120 million. The Lucases are also the founders of Protect the Harvest, a non-profit group that works in opposition to animal protection groups throughout the country. In Iowa’s 2012 elections, the special interest group paid for $200,000 worth of advertisements against Christie Vilsack, challenger of congressman Steve King.
King is the sponsor of the Factory Farm Protection Act, a bill that would benefit one of his constituents: Jack DeCoster. DeCoster owns egg factories in Iowa. In 2010, more than 1,900 people were sickened by eggs from his company. Even though eggs from his facility tested positive for salmonella 73 times, he sold them anyway. Eventually he paid $8 million in fines.
In and around the monument and the stadium, the office of the Eli Lilly and Company can be seen. A colonel for the North during the Civil War, he became a pharmacist and drug manufacturer afterwards. Lilly invented gel capsules to hold medicine and fruit flavoring for liquid medications. Using his wealth, Lilly engaged in numerous philanthropic pursuits. His sons and grandsons eventually created the Lilly Endowment, one of the largest charitable benefactors in the world. As of 2012 it is worth $7.3 billion.
With that kind of money you could buy the naming rights to 60 stadiums plus put the entire U.S. Congress in your hip pocket.