Looking at Mitch Daniel’s Single Organizational Goal

by Mike Kimel

Looking at Mitch Daniel’s Single Organizational Goal

So I took a break form useful work and wandered over to a few right wing blogs to see what’s going on at that end of the world. Here’s how the latest post at Betsy’s Page starts:

Andrew Ferguson profiles Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana. I think I’ve found a politician I could support whole-heartedly. Daniels is described as the un-Obama because “he seems to have sunk into a black hole of personal magnetism and come out the other side, where the very lack of charisma becomes charismatic.” If he’s the un-Obama, it’s because of his understanding of the role of government and his dedication to achieving that goal.

Daniels gathered his agency heads on his first day and told them they were henceforth to pursue a single organizational goal—all successful businesses unite their efforts behind a goal, he said. His was this: “We will do everything we can to raise the net disposable income of individual Hoosiers.”

From here, we get a tour of this and that – things that Daniels has done or supposedly has done or wants to do or whatever. But by then I had tuned out. Because after Betsy’s start, my first thought is: “That’s a fine goal. How is it coming?”

My second thought was how I could check this in a hurry. Now, raising the net disposable income of individual Hoosiers (or anyone else, for that matter) is, to be honest, relatively easy. In general, incomes, net disposable or otherwise, tend to rise. A more useful question is the net disposable incomes of Hoosers are doing relative to the incomes of similarly situated people – say those in neighboring states.

Getting the net disposable income of Indiana and its neighboring states isn’t straightforward – I don’t think its directly reported anywhere, and one has to track down the components separately. But FRED will give you the per capita personal income in Indiana, and each of the other states as well. And the main component of net disposable income is…. income. Data runs through 2009.

Now, my man Mitch became governor on January 10, 2005. FRED reports figures as of January 1 of each year, so we can show incomes in each state over a four year period, indexed to 2005. Its only four years, but that’s a full term. We judge Carter and Bush Sr. on precisely that, right. So here’s what things look like, in Indiana and the surrounding states:

Figure 1

Now, perhaps you’ve spotted the problem with the Daniels hagiography. And as a bonus, I’ll let you on a secret… in the prior four years, from 2001 to 2005, Indiana beat out Ohio. And the difference between Indiana and Michigan was bigger in 2001 than 2005. And the difference between the growth rates in Indiana and Michigan is greater from 2001 to 2005 than from 2005 to 2009.


Now maybe things will change going forward, but so far, on what Daniels considers the the single organizational goal of his administration, Indiana has moved in the wrong direction since he’s taken office.

If by some chance Daniels becomes a more prominent character in national politics, I’ll take a look at some of how he’s done on secondary issues. But I’m not all encouraged, especially since I remember his performance as OMB Director very well.