Because of Covid-19, the Annual Indiana Convention for the Covens of Contentious Calculators met via Zoom this year.

Normally, the 13 Covens, each with no more than 13 members, will gather somewhere along I-69 (which looks like169, the total number of persons allowed at the Convention).

Why the limit of 13 members for the 13 regional or subject-matter covens? It’s a secret, but I’ll tell you if you swear to tell no others.

In the late 1960s, before my time, a researcher at IU, at the behest of the Legislature, divided Indiana into 13 regional groups based on counties. This was done despite disagreement among the number-crunchers from various parts of the


However, a member of the General Assembly did not like his county associated with a particular neighboring county.

Was this an ancient basketball rivalry? Thus was the Hoosier Holyland divided into 14 regions. Finally, contesting maps were resolved into 15 state planning regions.

Subsequently, the Governor of the day surrendered by declaring any two consenting, contiguous counties could form a region for any purpose consistent with regulations from

the funding govern-


This chaos, this administrative abomination led to economic regions, hospital regions, library regions, metro transit planning regions, and nobody knows how many others. For the latest configurations, spend some quality time on the internet.

But don’t expect to discover rational regional alignments today based on sound statistics.

No, regions are constructed for administrative convenience or transitory political purposes. Thus Jasper and Newton counties are affixed to Lake and Porter. Gibson is separated from Vanderburgh.

Marion and its surrounding counties are not compatible regardless of the bonds that bind them together.

Among the disgruntled number-crunching data-miners of the state, small groups (Covens) were formed.

Some were geographic, others centered on specific interests, all dependent for funds on the largess of the governments in power and the shifting philosophical tendencies of philanthropic entities.

How reasonable is this mélange of data? Consider this example: What are the Indiana counties of the eight Great Lakes states?

According to the Indiana Dept. of Natural Resources (DNR), there are just three, just Lake, Porter and LaPorte with waterways entering directly into one of the Great Lakes.

That is the answer also from the US Dept. of Environmental Protection (EPA) because (wait for it) the Feds let the states make their own determination of Great Lakes counties. Hence, Allen, Elkhart and St. Joseph counties, to name a few, are not Great Lakes counties despite each having rivers flowing through Michigan or Ohio to Lakes Michigan and Erie. And you wonder why we, who calculate the data, are contentious souls? Why we meet along I-69 in Oden or Angola to cast spells on bureaucrats and their political overlords?

We are the aggrieved, the unrecognized servants of the disinterested.

Mr. Marcus is an economist. Reach him at Follow his views and those of John Guy on “Who gets what?” wherever podcasts are available or at

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