The Governor’s trip: An improved itinerary


As I write, our governor is winging his way to the Mideast on a visit that he believes will somehow advance the interests of Hoosiers.

Eric Holcomb’s press release announcing the trip to Israel “at the request of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu” included the customary disclaimer that no taxpayer funds will be used.

That may only mean that the trip cannot withstand taxpayer scrutiny. But let us assume that the governor is honest in his intent if only wishful in his promise. Let us assume Netanyahu is in need of his counsel, that this isn’t just another summer vacation — a “junket” as they were known before they became so routine.

You might remember that the governor’s last such trip found him in China immediately before the pandemic accepting gifts from high officials of the Chinese Communist Party.

In any case, he is on the move again and I have begun a list of foreign ports that would be beneficial to us poor zeks left behind here in Indiana.

Lima, Peru — Here the governor could meet with the economist Hernando de Soto Polar. This extraordinary man, the author of “The Mystery of Capital,” is in demand in nations throughout the world advising them on how to . . . well, become more like the United States before it forgot who it was.

De Soto’s work focuses on the protection of private property and the honoring of contracts between individuals. “There is no such thing as an investment without property rights that are negotiable and transferable,” he would tell our Governor Holcomb who blithely canceled landlords during the Covid year. “The question is: do people own things in such a way that they can be brought into the global market and make us wealthier?”

Appenzell, Switzerland — Here, as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn so wonderfully described, the governing body meets but one day a year to block any harm the executive might be planning for the coming year. Its delegates, honoring tradition, arrive for the meeting wearing swords at their side. Here is Solzhenitsyn’s summation of the day’s events:

“Having unanimously re-elected their beloved Landammann (mayor), entrusting him with the formation of the kind of government he wanted, they immediately rejected all his major proposals. And now he is to govern. I had never seen or heard of such a democracy, and was filled with respect. This is the kind of democracy we could do with.”

Gurgaon, India — This is a city that forgot to form a government. Gurgaon had a population of about 173,000 in 2001. now it has nearly 1 million. The growth began in the 1950s when Delhi in its socialist heyday banned private real-state development. In reaction, a private company, Delhi Land and Finance, quietly bought cheap farm land south of Delhi, attracting developers by providing the services of the missing government (roads, sewage systems, public safety, fire departments, etc.).

“While Gurgaon isn’t exactly crime free — the crime rate is on par with Phoenix, Arizona — it doesn’t lack for protection,” reports Todd Krainin of Reason Magazine. “There are 35,000 private security guards keep a watchful eye on the city, compared with only 3,000 public officers.”

Krainin reports that once the land was converted from farmland to commercial use, it remained classified as rural and therefore pretty much unregulated due to the bureaucratic oversight. Thus Gurgaon ended up as a city without a city government:

When General Electric (once an Indiana mainstay, if Governor Holcomb has forgotten) moved into Gurgaon in the 1980s hundreds of multinationals followed. “Soon Gurgaon was generating middle class jobs by the hundreds of thousands. Today, it boasts an absurd 30 percent annual GDP growth and the third highest per-capital income in India,” says Krainin.

Hey, putting our man Holcomb in touch with Gurgaonian thinking might be worth a few taxpayer dollars.

Craig Ladwig is editor of the quarterly Indiana Policy Review. Send comments to awoods@

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