How about a little policy with your coffee?

What could be better than getting policy experts together, cranking them up on coffee and letting them talk? That’s the idea behind “Public Policy Caffeinated,” a Web-based video series from the IU Public Policy Institute and WFYI Public Media in Indianapolis.

And it works — or it does for those of us who are interested in policy questions like the importance of infrastructure and the value of making public investments now to reap benefits later.

coffee beans“So many policy discussions are either politically spun or so confusing that they offer little in the way of useful information to the general public,” PPI Director John Krauss says in a news release introducing the series. “We want these short videos to help people understand the issues and options facing the state.”

Shot in a Mo’ Joe Coffeehouse in downtown Indianapolis, the seven- to eight-minute videos feature Krauss and PPI policy analysts John Marron and Drew Klacik volleying ideas and perspectives about issues facing Hoosiers. The conversations are coherent but sound unscripted. The three experts do come across as a bit energized by caffeine — they even interrupt each other, as in any coffee-shop discourse.

The first video focuses on infrastructure, with Krauss, Marron and Klacik discoursing about broad and narrow conceptions of the term, the idea that it may mean one thing in Indianapolis and something else in Rising Sun, Ind., and generational attitudes toward building and maintaining the interstate highways.

In the second video, the experts weigh in on the risks and rewards of public investments. Krauss offers up the example of the Hoosier Dome, built under the leadership of Indianapolis Mayor William Hudnut during a time of rampant inflation and economic uncertainty — and with no Indy team to play there.

“And if he hadn’t done that, we wouldn’t have the Colts and Indianapolis wouldn’t have had the Super Bowl,” he said.

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