Why Is Indiana So Different From Illinois?

by Dave Schuler on January 27, 2013

Dana Milbank muses over the way Congressional Republicans (mis)behave compared with the way that Republican governors perform:

For a dozen years, Paul Ryan and Mike Pence were Republican colleagues in the House of Representatives and fellow soldiers in the conservative movement. This week, they parted ways: one toward temperance, the other toward extremism.

Pence chose the sensible path. Elected governor of Indiana in November, he delivered his first State of the State speech Tuesday, describing his proposed budget that, though a fiscally conservative plan, increases funds for education, job training, transportation, veterans, child-protective services, and health care for the poor.

Perhaps the answer lies where where Milbank places it: a party in power behaves differently from the same party out of power.

I’m actually more interested in something that’s only peripherally related to Mr. Milbank’s ponderings. Why is Illinois so different from Indiana? Of Illinois’s last six governors, four, three Democrats and a Republican, have been convicted of crimes after serving their terms of office or, in Rod Blagojevich’s case, having been removed from office. You have to go back to 1924 (Warren T. McCray) to find an Indiana governor convicted of a crime. Illinois governors tend to serve longer than do Indiana governors. Indiana has had ten governors over the same period during which Illinois has had seven.

Illinois’s credit rating is the lowest of any state. Indiana’s finances are on surer footing—possibly the soundest in the nation.

Illinois has the largest number of independently taxing government entities of any state. Nearly all taxes in Indiana are state taxes or, at least, specifically authorized by the state.

Geographically, economically, and demographically the two states are quite similar. Their histories are quite different.

Why is government in Indiana so sound and government in Illinois so awful? I don’t think party politics can be totally to blame. Chicago?

I’m hoping that someone who lives in Indiana or who formerly lived in Indiana can chime in and comment on the remarkable difference between the two states.

{ 60 comments… read them below or add one }

Dave Schuler January 29, 2013 at 4:22 pm

One small example of the Yankee settlement that PD mentioned. Chicago suburban Evanston, largely settled in the 1850s by New Englanders and incorporated as a town in 1863, closely resembled a small New England town for its first century. Evanston’s Northwestern University was originally founded as a Methodist seminary. It’s home to the WCTU.

Dave Schuler January 29, 2013 at 4:23 pm

One more point on the role of recent immigrants. Immigrants tend to bring their ideas and preferences about politics and the role of government with them.

Janis Gore January 29, 2013 at 5:18 pm

So “The Great City” does have a few angles, even if they aren’t mine.

Icepick January 29, 2013 at 7:09 pm

Oftentimes the people with a high intellectual IQ also have a lower emotional IQ, in relationship to their coping abilities. It can be quite paradoxal.

You know, that’s a stereotype that I don’t thing is all that true. But a few exceptional cases tend to color the public imagination. (Examples given: Paul Erdos, Bobby Fischer, Ted Kaczynski.) For most bright people I don’t think there’s any more incidence of bad coping skills than for most people.

However, when you get up to the 4 sigma and above crowd, it does start changing a little bit. But you have to remember, too, that if you’ve got an IQ of 160, talking to someone with an IQ of 125 would be like a normal person speaking to a moron. Speaking to a normal, 100 IQ person would be like speaking to an imbecile. I can’t even imagine what it must be like for the five and six sigma crowd. Von Neumann always sounded like a fairly well-grounded guy to me, but what must it be like to be the only person that’s fully awake? When even the other Martians are a bit in awe of you?

Dave Schuler January 29, 2013 at 7:13 pm

that if you’ve got an IQ of 160, talking to someone with an IQ of 125 would be like a normal person speaking to a moro

You know, that hasn’t been my experience. The very smartest people I know, people with IQs north of 160, are also the mildest and most understanding. Tout comprendre rend très-indulgent. To understand all is to forgive all.

Something that would make a good addendum to my recent post on the Bill Gates op-ed: smart people can be jerks, too.

Icepick January 29, 2013 at 7:31 pm

You know, that hasn’t been my experience. The very smartest people I know, people with IQs north of 160, are also the mildest and most understanding. Tout comprendre rend très-indulgent. To understand all is to forgive all.

I didn’t say they’d be jerks about it. I said it would be like a normal person speaking to morons and imbeciles. just look at a bell curve distribution on intelligence, find out where the four sigma folks start, and look at the graph. Just about the entirety of the human population is slooooooow to these folks. They get a lot of practice dealing with such. They don’t have to be all that forgiving, they just have to be smart enough to realize there’s no point in raging against the tide.

Like I said, I think most of these people are as well balanced, on the whole, as the general population (excluding them). I do think there’s a bit more variation on the downside when you get to the very brightest people.

Icepick January 29, 2013 at 7:32 pm

You know, that hasn’t been my experience.

How have you met them? Was there some selection bias at work?

Dave Schuler January 29, 2013 at 7:37 pm

just look at a bell curve distribution on intelligence, find out where the four sigma folks start, and look at the graph.

Believe me, I know. Once you’ve reached a certain level of intelligence except in certain very rarified environments nearly everybody you meet isn’t quite as smart as you are. Or significantly less smart than you are.

Most of the extremely intelligent people I know I’ve known for forty or fifty years. Met ‘em in high school or college or when I was, essentially, living in the middle of a university campus.

And, yes, there may be selection bias at work.

On the other hand most of the real jerks about intelligence I’ve known have been two=three sigmas who’d made a lot of money, didn’t run into people as smart as they were very often, and were really full of themselves.

Icepick January 29, 2013 at 7:42 pm

And, yes, there may be selection bias at work.

Given the environment you describe, I would say there isn’t that much. If you had told me you had met them all in the course of your business career, that would have been selection bias at work, as I assume you have only worked with companies that were successful at some point in time.

Dave Schuler January 29, 2013 at 7:48 pm

Most of the people with whom I deal on a daily basis (other than my wife—who’s 3-sigma) are probably slightly below average to, maybe, 2-sigmas.

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