Marcus: Hoosier Pollack & Poverty

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Officially there are 838,000 Hoosiers (13% of the population) below the federal poverty level. But that’s not close to the full story. It’s the poverty of opportunity and the poverty of thought in our state that also deserves attention.

Poor quality of education, matched with poor expectations, results in a poverty of opportunity. The poverty of thought in our state administration and legislature, conjoined with the same in many of our local governments, is the seed corn for the poverty of opportunity.

To escape these depressing aspects of reality in Indiana, we do have thoughtful and inspiring work done by a number of institutions and organizations statewide. To highlight one is not to deny the others.

Traces magazine is published quarterly by the Indiana Historical Society. The Summer 2022 issue featured a biography by Wes Gehring (Ball State University) of Sydney Pollack, Hoosier-born and raised, film director.

If you love movies, you recall Three Days of the Condor, Tootsie, The Way We Were, and The Electric Horseman … all directed by Pollack. All movies with a message delivered without a sermon.

Pollack was born in Lafayette and grew up in South Bend. He escaped at 17 to New York City. Most of his brilliant work focused on characters oppressed by their social environment.

Ray Boomhower, Editor of Traces, opens the issue with a polite damning of Hoosier indifference to reality. He reminds readers that John Bartlow Martin’s Indiana: An Interpretation (1947) is still pertinent reading.

Martin, born in Ohio, was educated in Indiana and, upon graduation from DePauw and his first successful freelance work, left the state. The past is the present in Indiana.

If Indiana is to become more than the wastewater of the nation, it must educate it’s citizens. Yes, citizens! It’s no longer an issue to be brushed off as a failure of our public schools. Hoosier adults, by-and-large, are ignorant perpetrators of discredited political and economic thoughts.

Indiana will not attract the workforce it seeks with the beliefs of the bully boys from the boonies who populate our General Assembly. Even worse are the thousands of “community leaders” who will not oppose one-party rule at the local, county, and state level. Fair redistricting is not a 1950s Communist plot.

There are voices of reason in this state. There are thousands of people with good morals who understand that the rewards in life should result from what we do for others, not to others.

Our immediate need is to understand Indiana today. We play at strategic planning, but often we forecast a tomorrow like yesterday. As Pollack quotes Isak Dinesen in Out of Africa, “the Earth was made round so that we would not see too far down the road.” Many Hoosiers don’t even know where we are on that road.

Mr. Marcus is an economist. Reach him at [email protected] Follow him and John Guy on Who Gets What? wherever podcasts are available or at mortonjohn.libsyn.com

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