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Thumbs up: Jeremy Efroymson wins ARTI

At the annual Start with Art luncheon at the Marriott on Sept. 3, we were pleased to see arts philanthropist Jeremy Efroymson win the Volunteer/Patron award from the Arts Council of Indianapolis. Each year, the ACI awards various individuals, organizations and businesses for their ongoing support of the arts. And, of course, we were good with the accolade as we'd published a long feature on Efroymson by visual arts writer Dan Grossman that very week, extolling Efroymson's efforts at backing the arts in Indianapolis — not only with financial help, but also by guiding organizations like iMOCA with his artistic vision. Another ARTI winner we were happy about: The IMA's 100 Acres: Virginia B. Fairbanks Art and Nature Park received the Artful Impact Award. For more on the ARTIs see: www.indyarts.org

Thumbs down: Daddy, what's Labor Day about?

Around the country, America celebrated its workers and their struggles to organize for livable wages and good benefits. But enthusiasm seemed a bit muted this year: In downtown Indy, Saturday's Labor Day parade drew plenty of marchers, but only a handful of onlookers – an all-too-visible symbol of organized labor's waning support among the American public, and its waning influence in the face of decades of stagnating wages and anti-union policies. Amid rising unemployment, lost wages and lost benefits, speeches around the state struck a tone at once defiant and pleading: "Stop outsourcing our jobs! America needs to build things again!" Republicans are already rejecting President Obama's call for infrastructure spending that would put Americans back to work. Here's hoping they enjoyed their Labor Day hamburgers: likely made from meat produced by non-union, immigrant workers.

Thumbs down: Recession-proof politicians

Business is booming for America's politicians, thanks in part to the Supreme Court's decision to relax restrictions on corporate campaign donations. A recent Associated Press article revealed that "House and Senate candidates in this election cycle raised nearly $1.2 billion, well ahead of the pace for contests in 2008, 2006 and 2004." In Indiana, the most recent data shows nearly $4 million was raised in the race between Democrat Brad Ellsworth and Republican Dan Coats for U.S. Senate by the end of June – a number that's sure to have increased substantially since. Meanwhile, a piece on NPR this week reported that a full two-thirds of U.S. Congress members are millionaires. Government by the people, for some of the people.

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