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Column: Modern facilities send right message about values

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To begin the new year, I want to apologize for an error in last week’s column. There I wrote that the personal property of commercial and industrial firms was assessed at the state level. That is not true. County assessors remain responsible for such assessments.

That error was not commented on by any of my readers. This lack of response indicates:

  • I have no readers;
  • I have no readers who know anything about the assessment of business personal property;
  • I have no readers who care enough to put me on the right path;
  • Or your kindly local editor corrected my misstatement.

Times changing

On Feb. 9, Lake Central High School, in Lake County, will dedicate its new $120 million complex. This is a renovation and extension of its existing structure. The public will be invited to see what their money is buying and learn how education at Lake Central will be enhanced by the new facility.

For all of us, this is a good reminder that in some areas of the state progress is being made in reinvigorating education. Some residents do not see the need for structural improvements. They will testify that “What was good enough for me when I went to school ought to be good enough for today’s students.” At the other extreme are those inclined to say, “There is nothing too good for my child, and the school in my area ought to reflect my values.”

Between these extremes are the many who recognize the quality of facilities influences the education students receive. Further, school buildings are community assets that influence the location of families and businesses alike. The one-room, unheated wooden school with the two-seat privy has become a romanticized artifact of a time best forgotten. Structures and facilities adequate 20 year ago are out-of-date, as are teachers who have not modernized their methods and curriculum.

Every new education facility in Indiana should be the object of a community celebration. Given today’s financial puritanism, no district dares to spend too much on frills and fads.

Meaningless phrase?

“Indiana, the state that works” is the latest frivolous slogan used to attract capital investment to Indiana. No doubt you heard this slogan was on a sign above Times Square during the year just past. It may still be there if the state government does not have the good sense to take it down.

What does this assertion mean? Does it suggest Hoosiers work harder than those who live elsewhere? Does it signify the social and political mechanisms of Indiana are better attuned to each other than will be found in Ohio? What is the New York visitor to think upon seeing this meaningless fluff? Remember, this is only a 15-second message.

I was reminded of the Indiana works ad as I watched TV recently. There was an ad encouraging investment in Mongolia with essentially the same message. We have the people, the knowledge, the work ethic, the willingness to engage with business ... etc.

The ad agency for Mongolia missed its desired viewers, just as I suspect Indiana was taken by its ad agency with a sign in Times Square.

Morton Marcus is an economist, formerly with the Indiana University Kelley School of Business. Send comments to letters@dailyjournal.net.

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