Will Junk Economics Drive the Indiana Chamber?
“Capitalism works better from every perspective when the economic decision-makers are forced to share power with those who will be affected by those decisions.” — Barney Frank
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WITH THE ECONOMY the overriding political issue, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce next session arguably will be the most powerful force at the Statehouse — the question is a force for what?
As suggested in our summer 2011 journal, Reawakening the Chamber, a free-market legislator would score low on the far-flung issues that make up the Chamber’s annual Legislative Vote Analysis, a key mover of Indiana campaign donations.
“That leaves us without a voice to defend or restore the principles that would return the Indiana economy to greatness,” we wrote at the time. “We have only a Barney Frank amalgam of corporate and banking interests.”
Now the Chamber is reportedly studying same-sex marriage, yet another issue that would seem to be outside the world of profits and jobs. Nonetheless, some inside the business organization think there is an economic connection. You be the judge of whether it is a credible one.
by MICAH CLARK
The Indiana Chamber of Commerce recently made known that it had considered, and may reconsider, weighing in on the same-sex marriage debate in the Indiana General Assembly. Elli Lilly and Cummins Engine have lobbied the Chamber to oppose allowing Hoosiers to vote on the issue even as 31 states have moved to protect their statutory definition of a man and a woman with a marriage-protection amendment.
You may wonder why the Chamber would want to see marriage destabilized. Strong marriages, after all, are such a key part of adult health, stable employment, successful schools, lower crime and other benefits to society. That, however, is not how some inside the Chamber see it; they overlook centuries of wisdom, decades of social research and the devastating impact of marital devaluation in segments of our society.
The hip way to look at this is based upon junk economics, or “economic snake oil” as the Wall Street Journal called Richard Florida’s Creative Class Theory. Mr. Florida contends that social liberalism, particularly being pro-gay, creates an environment that attracts businesses and employees. Going from odd to offensive, his followers claim that cities and states must have pro-gay policies to “attract and retain the best and the brightest of employees.” It is as if to say that married men and women with traditional values cannot be the “best and the brightest.”
The Indiana Chamber need not look far to see through this; the data is easily accessible:
- The U.S. Chamber’s survey, “Enterprising States,” includes a ranking of middle-class job growth, presumably those jobs fostered by Mr. Florida’s “creative class.” Four out of the top five growth states from 2002-2009 have passed marriage-protection amendments. None have same-sex marriage or civil unions.
- The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis has looked at states’ growth in per-capita personal income from 1999-2009. Eight of the top 10 states have passed marriage-protection amendments. None have same-sex marriage.
- CEO Magazine conducted a survey of 543 chief executive officers in 2009 asking them to rank the best and worst states for business and job growth. Texas, North Carolina, Florida, Georgia and Tennessee were ranked as the best for business. All five have passed marriage-protection amendments. At the bottom, with the worst business environment, were California, New York, Michigan, New Jersey and Massachusetts. Four of these are arguably the most socially liberal, pro-homosexual states in the nation.
- Kiplinger Financial Magazine recently named its top 10 states for predicted job growth in 2012. The top five have marriage-protection amendments and seven of the top 10 states have amendments. Two others (Minnesota and Indiana) are in the process of letting voters decide if they want to give the next generation the best shot at having both a mom and a dad in the home.
- A study from CNBC called “America’s Top States for Doing Business” uses data from the National Association of Manufacturers and the Council on Competitiveness. It finds that nine of the top 10 business-friendly states have marriage-protection amendments; none have same-sex marriage or civil unions.
- Forbes Magazine in May released its list of top job-growth rates in large American cities. The top five “best large cities for jobs,” and nine of the top 10, were in states where voters had approved marriage amendments.
All of that said, if the Indiana Chamber were to side against proven jobs data, not to mention the traditional values of most Hoosiers, it would be both divisive and unfounded. Members may want to ask their leadership to stay out of the issue this next legislative session and let Hoosier voters have their say in 2014.
Micah Clark is the executive director of the American Family Association of Indiana. This is an excerpt of a longer article originally appearing in the association’s Call to Action Weekly Email.