I started riding the Trail just over a year ago, after I got kicked off a local unused parking lot, so maybe my sampling error is large. But what appears to be a Trending Trend is this year's rash of informal drink stands, mostly, but not entirely, of the kid-run type. I never saw a one last year. They started popping up about six weeks ago, usually announced by childish chalk scrawls on the trail itself, with arrows, occasionally by Signs Stuck Everywhere. (Full confession: I'm the guy--one of 'em--who stops and destroys every last sign left on the trail unless it involves missing pets. It's enough for me that this stuff--it's not just neighborhood crap of the sort often duct-taped to telephone poles, but also commercial advertising--is invading a public park, but the fact is that I'm entitled to ride a bike on the thing at 20 mph in most places, and, believe me, there are enough pedestrians on it who stop dead and/or spin 180º for no discernible reason, and without an apparent inkling that anyone else shares the trail, that adding Impromptu Phonetics Practice is contraindicated.)
I wasn't playing close attention at first. Some chalk scrawling, here and there. But since it hasn't rained here roughly since Herman Cain suspended his campaign operations, I've eventually read them all about twenty times over. Then, three weeks ago, I ran into my first physical manifestation (not literally), in Westfield. The next week there was an obvious charity-scam sponsored one in Carmel; they had carefully located their table a good six inches off the trail, so that the two-deep crowds, and not they, were the ones technically causing the accidents. I'd seen two more--one was more like a mini-convenience store--before Sunday's encounter.
I was nearly home, creeping through the Broad Ripple village section, because it's heavily trafficked and much favored by parents who imagine it's just the place for their three-year-old to learn independence, even before she learns balance. I'd done 31 miles by this point, which had included more encounters with the oblivious than you might prefer. I've been breaking in two saddles, and was riding balls akimbo because the Adult Onset Diaper Rash (taint funny) I was fighting was hissing at me like Summer's Last Charcoal Ember. I was not in a cheery mood. I'd just survived yet another intersection when there loomed in front of me--standing on the trail--an eight-year-old huckster for "Lemonade! Ice Tea! Wadder!" There was a metal cooler next to him that must've weighed twice what he did, and, behind that, some greasy character with a porn 'stash. The involvement of an adult overcame my natural reticence.
I slowed to Trail Normal Speed ("Fat Guy Walking"). Two feet past Harry Reems I hocked up a theatrical loogie. "No thanks," I said. "Still got plenty of saliva."
This, of course, is the opposite direction bodily fluids generally travel in larger, more official commercial interactions.
Witness, then, the Indianapolis Star telling yet another tale (Caution: vapor link) of how the Indiana Economic Development Corporation….
Okay, let's just pause here and enjoy the incessant sunshine for a moment. The "Indiana Economic Development Corporation" is a Mitch Daniels creation. It replaced the Indiana Department of Commerce, because "Indiana Department of Commerce" just didn't have the ring of massive venality disguised as mindless civic boosterism that the early Daniels administration wanted to showcase. Of itself this should have been enough for every news-gathering operation in the state to smell what was up. "We" kept the title of Indiana Secretary of Commerce, but added "CEO of the IEDC" because, well, you already know. The first of these was Daniels henchman and former Eli Lilly crony Mitch Roob, who several years later, and reportedly chaffing that he couldn't get a raise, was shuffled over to head the Family and Social Services Administration, where he promptly gave a billion-dollar contract to a former employer, spoke the sacred name of Ayn Rand, and watched the whole thing turn into the greatest shitpile in state history. He was replaced as Commerce Secretary by Daniel Hasler, a Daniels henchman and former Eli Lilly crony. Why fuck with a winning formula?
Anyway, this whole rotting swamp should have caught everyone's attention. It didn't go completely unreported: the fact that the IEDC was touting thousands of jobs "brought to" Indiana, jobs which never, somehow, reached the stage of, you know, actually being filled by people, has gotten some attention, but it escaped the voters' notice in 2008. So I'm not complaining that the Star finds--now that Daniels has publicly announced he's out of politics--the latest example of CEO Hasler's group pushing a business plan on an Indiana municipality (Madison) which was, fortunately for them, smart enough to actually vet the thing, and discover that it was, oh, let's call it a fabrication. And one which about one hour of diligence would have uncovered. And let's go ahead and forgive the fact that the coverage asks "How could this come to be?" and not "Why isn't everyone involved in this, up to and including Purdue's new President, in the dock?" Because it wouldn't do any good. Let's just enjoy a couple of things.
First, that the Business Plan sold to the IEDC was lifted from bplans.com, a site that reportedly features hundreds of the things. This is the use the once-celebrated English language is put to by these types:
Using Global Energy's own manufacturing facility as a model and test bed for our products, Global Energy will provide the mid- to large-sized corporate market with new and exciting ways to cost effectively manage all external vendor and customer transactions, yielding continual savings for the users of our products and services. Our manufacturing partners will also add value to our offering of services, further allowing Global Energy to grow into a high-quality, long-term growth corporation.
The second goes uncommented, despite the fact that it is the key to understanding the Daniels administration:
You can see the incentives for the IEDC, [economist Morton] Marcus said. Gov. Daniels has made a point of trying to lure California companies.
And Illinois companies, when that state responded to its budget crisis with a two-year tax surcharge, much like the one Daniels proposed for Indiana, for about fifteen minutes in 2005.
All of these shenanigans were about creating positive economic statistics, not real economic growth. The intention was to erase Daniels' disastrous record at OMB so he could become a national figure again. If jobs could be lured from "high tax" states, so much the better. Didn't even matter that they weren't real.
I do hope that someday we'll hear a full accounting. Might become necessary as Governor Pence beholds his inheritance. But Mitch Daniels has spent the last four years, at least in Republican/Beltway circles, as the Messiah of Economic Supernaturalism, and never has anyone asked him how come it won't work without a stacked deck.