Will Junk Economics Drive the Indiana Chamber?

July 26, 2012

“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.




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:

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.


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