INDIANAPOLIS — One of the strangely brilliant slogans of the Bush II administration’s wars in the Middle East was “the Alliance of the Willing.” This came to mind when I read the recently released Indiana Chamber of Commerce report, “INVision-2025, 2020 Snapshot.”
       
The report is a wonderful agglomeration of statistics concerning Indiana and its workforce regions. It is a task well-conceived and skillfully executed. The Chamber’s report is very informative about where Indiana stands among its neighbors and its peers. I urge you to examine it online. It spells out many of the inadequacies of our state and a few of our better metrics. It’s not the standard fluff you might expect from the Chamber.
       
But something was missing. There is nothing I recall seeing about the level of taxation. There are specific suggestions to remove nettles in the corporate corpus. Yet, with the level of taxation not addressed, the level of expenditures is ignored. Thus, raising the question of how willing are Hoosiers to support the Chamber’s goals?
       
I might not have noticed this without the sharp eyes of Chester Chuck, of Alert in Decatur County. “You know, sonny,” he says to me, “the reason Indiana is so sleepy is we have low taxes, which means we have low expectations of quality public services.”
     
“Are you telling me the people of the Hoosier Holyland are being deceived?” I ask.

“No way, young fella,” he says. “We willing accept poor roads, inferior schools, horrific mistreatment of children, limited health care, and over-crowded jails/prisons, which cannot be called ‘correctional’ institutions.”
       
“I know,” I say. “We’ve got the capacity, but our state and local taxes combined are 14th lowest in the U.S. when measured against our personal income.”
       
“Right,” Chester says. “Folks here are no way heavily taxed on their income compared to other states.”
       
“Then too,” I continue, “we have the seventh lowest in taxes compared to GDP of all 50 states.”
       
“GDP?” he asks. “What’s that? Never had that in Alert.”
       
“It’s the value of all the goods and services we produce in our state,” I answer.
       
“Yes,” he says with a sigh. “We do have real low taxes for business. It’s why businesses wanting only low taxes knock at our door. They don’t give a you-know-what about schools, air, water and land qualities, jails, or our druggies, as long as they get whatever concessions they want,”
       
“You’re upset about this,” I say.
       
“You’re darn-tootin’ right,” he says. “Folks like me grew up in Alert real concerned about what we didn’t have. Other folks, they don’t get excited about nothing beyond basketball, football and the price of beer. You ask me, folks not from Alert are oversold on contentment and Hoosier Harmony.” 

Mr. Marcus is an economist. Reach him at mortonjmarcus@yahoo.com. Follow his views and those of John Guy on “Who gets what?” wherever podcasts are available or at mortonjohn.libsyn.com.