Economy

The Ohio Investment Bank

I propose the establishment of a state owned investment bank for the advancement of Ohio’s economy, ideally kept as separate from political machinations as possible while still providing democratic oversight.

The purpose of the investment bank is to offer a source of capital for the long-term investments necessary for the growth of Ohio’s economy. These are investments in infrastructure projects for the future like smart electric grids that work with renewable energy sources, sustainable housing development, greater access to internet, new transportation infrastructure, etc. These are also investments in new technologies and the Research and Development that the private sector has been reluctant to do in the face of a financial system that incentives stock buybacks over investment.

The bank will also offer capital for Ohio based start-ups, and the small and medium sized businesses so often ignored by large private banks and venture capital. These are not grants, this is not yet another government giveaway. The Ohio Investment Bank is expected to show a return on investment that will eventually cover its initial costs.

Branch Banking and Export Services

The bank will have branches at the municipal level or will partner with existing banks at the municipal level. These branch banks will foster relationships with the community and the businesses they are investing in. They will have a great deal of autonomy in determining what types of businesses to invest in to best suit the needs of the community but be within a certain set of guidelines to meet the investment bank’s goal of sustainable development and investment in the future. These branches will also offer technical support to businesses to give them a better chance at success. This structure will help ensure that decision making is being done by those best positioned to understand the local economy while maintaining the goals of the Ohio Investment Bank.

These branches will also offer export support to help connect businesses to clients in different countries and to build the supply chains necessary for the construction of a successful business. This is difficult for start-ups and small businesses and it is to the benefit of the Ohio economy to offer these services. If Ohio is to build a booming economy it must have strong connections to the global economy. The branches of the investment bank near universities may partner with their technology transfer office to facilitate the movement of new technologies from the research lab to the market.

The Ohio Investment Bank and the services it will provide will make Ohio an economic and technological leader and it will do it with limited cost to the taxpayer. The Ohio Investment Bank makes the government an active partner with businesses, entrepreneurs, and industry.

Ohio: An Agricultural Giant

I believe Ohio is well placed to be a leader in agriculture. We have extensive farmland, experienced farmers and cultivators, research universities with great agricultural departments, and the resources to make the next great leap forward in agriculture. The world’s population is only going to grow for the foreseeable future and supporting that population requires a great deal of agricultural resources beyond just food. While I don’t think we’ll be feeding the world any time soon, we can be leaders in the new technologies and techniques that will be instrumental in feeding the world. Below I’ll outline a few proposals I think both achievable and productive in accomplishing this goal.

Investing In New Technology and Techniques

Through the Ohio Investment Bank and partnering with Ohio’s many universities we will invest in new agricultural technologies and the businesses that will innovate and take them to market. These businesses will range from direct suppliers of these new technologies to the businesses and farmers will put them to use. We will also invest in developing new farming techniques which cannot be directly monetized but can be shared with farmers to increase outputs and lower costs.

Some of these technologies could be genetically modified organisms or the production of new strains by other means. These would be designed for higher yields, greater nutritional value, greater diversity of environment, diversity of crops, and sustainable farming practices. There will also be development of vertical farming techniques and related technologies such as environmental controls systems.

I believe Mansfield could benefit greatly from an investment in vertical farming to produce fresh, nutrient rich food locally and then selling to schools, restaurants, and grocers in Mansfield and the surrounding area. New farming techniques and new technologies such as GMO’s not controlled by monopolistic conglomerates like Monsanto will go a long way for Richland County’s farmers to produce more efficiently and keep more of their profits.

Industrial Hemp and Legal Marijuana

I don’t see any good reason not to allow for the growing of industrial hemp for industrial purposes like the production of paper. Industrial hemp is more efficient, cost effective, and environmentally friendly than lumber and has low THC so isn’t viable as a drug. Blocking the production of industrial hemp can only be the result of intense lobbying in the lumber industry. That’s just ridiculous. I am intent on ending crony capitalism and rent seeking in Ohio’s government, it’s just a disgrace.

I support the legalization of recreational and medicinal marijuana which will is outlined more in the Crime section of the platform. I do not support assigning monopoly power to a handful of growers and sellers. It is a money making crop with significant tax value. I am for growing the economy while simultaneously reducing crime and addiction.

End the Commodification of Agriculture

This isn’t an investment proposal, more of a regulation, part of my ongoing fight against the financialization of America. Commodification is basically the financial sector creating futures markets for products so as to bet and speculate on them. This has caused instability of food prices and has drained money away from farmers and consumers and gave it to the middlemen, traders manipulating the markets they create to profit regardless of anyone else involved. The commodification of agricultural products and other important resources led to the massive global increase in food prices before and after the recession. Perhaps the only good thing to come from the recession is that low employment and low incomes counteracted rising food prices so that prices did not rise too much. I support action to end this commodification. Ending commodification will keep prices lower and stable, responding to actual production changes, and keep more money in the hands of farmers rather than speculators.

 

Health Care Technologies

This issue is addressed in the Health Care section of my platform but I’ll address it again here. Ohio already has leaders in the health care industry. We must leverage this and invest in new health care technologies and businesses. This investment will be done largely with the Ohio Investment Bank. This will not only create jobs and boost the economy but will also make health care cheaper for everyone.

Direct Assistance and The End of Poverty

10 years into “recovery” and Ohio’s poverty rate remains higher than it was pre-recession. This has been the most sluggish recovery in decades, perhaps in history. A true recovery must not only bring us back to where we were before the recession but make up for the lost growth. The former has yet to happen, the ladder isn’t likely any time soon. Richland County and Mansfield have seen real increases in poverty over the last two decades. Richland County’s poverty rate is greater than Ohio’s poverty rate and Ohio’s poverty rate is greater than the United State’s poverty rate. Our leaders have failed, we’ve failed at a local, state, and national level to fix this problem. It has been over 50 years since the War on Poverty was declared. I think it’s time it was won.

Ending poverty is something we can and must do and it is absolutely within our reach. My entire platform addresses the issue of poverty in some way or another and will contribute to its elimination once implement but here I will discuss the most direct ways we can eliminate poverty. I know how stupidly obvious what I’m about to say is and how meaningless it may seem but it is actually a very important point: poverty is fundamentally a lack of money.

Thus, the task at hand is getting money into the hands of those in poverty. This can be done by improving wages, creating new jobs, and lowering costs of vital goods and services so more money can be kept in the pockets of working people. Methods for accomplishing this are outlined elsewhere in this platform (everywhere really). Another way of getting money into the hands of those in poverty is to give it to them directly. I think this second way, particularly when coupled with the first, will absolutely eliminate poverty in Ohio and grow the economy quickly. I don’t claim to know the best way to do this but I’ll outline a few proposals I think will succeed.

Ohio Income Credit

I think giving all Ohioans $500-$1000 a year is attainable and will provide a significant boost to the economy as it grows demand, increases spending power, and gives many the small push necessary to lift oneself out of poverty. This isn’t enough to eliminate poverty, all things considered it isn’t much at all. But the important part is that it is universal, you receive it if you are rich or poor, working or unemployed. Existing welfare programs offer perverse incentives to not work. It is referred to as the welfare trap, when there is greater incentive to remain unemployed and stay on welfare rather than get a low paying job. This guaranteed credit means that people can seek work without losing the income boost, that people can seek higher paying jobs rather than take the first one that comes along, that people can take time off to seek an education or be a more active parent without worrying so much about money. The worry is of course still there, $500 isn’t enough to live on, but it makes a difference. One day, as Ohio’s economy grows as these policies are implemented, the income credit will grow while simultaneously becoming less important.

Ohio Family Assistance Plan

Another direct funding approach we can take which I believe will have a greater long run effect is putting an income floor in place for families. I propose an amount ranging between $4000-$6000 be paid to all Ohio families in poverty annually. In many ways this is inspired by Nixon’s Family Assistance Plan which unfortunately was killed in the senate. In the announcement of his plan President Nixon said,

“The present system often makes it possible to receive more money on welfare than on a low-paying job. This creates an incentive not to work, and it also is unfair to the working poor. It is morally wrong for a family that is working to try to make ends meet to receive less than a family across the street on welfare. This has been bitterly resented by the man who works, and rightly so–the rewards are just the opposite of what they should be. Its effect is to draw people off payrolls and onto welfare rolls–just the opposite of what government should be doing. To put it bluntly and simply–any system which makes it more profitable for a man not to work than to work, or which encourages a man to desert his family rather than to stay with his family, is wrong and indefensible.”

These are indeed my sentiments. This plan would scale the benefits as family income increases so that the family always benefits and is never punished. This will help lift the 300,000 Ohio families currently living in poverty above the poverty line. It is our moral obligation to help end poverty but if morality isn’t exactly your thing, there are substantial economic advantages. By eliminating family poverty we greatly reduce crime, we greatly improve education attainment, it increases future hours worked and future incomes of the children significantly (not to mention future taxable income for Ohio), and it doesn’t reduce the incentives for parents to work while leading to better parenting as less time is spent worrying about how the family will pay the bills.

Energy Independence and Sustainability

Energy is one of the primary inputs for a growing economy and industry (the others being labor, capital, land, and production materials). Cheap and reliable energy makes a place desirable for energy intensive industries and manufacturing. It also greatly improves the lives of people, particularly as our world becomes increasingly reliant on electronic devices. It keeps the lights on, keeps us cool or warm, it does everything, you know this, so why am I explaining it to you? I don’t know either. Onto the policy!

My goal is the Ohio will become energy independent, meaning that it produces all the energy it uses within our own borders, and that we will do this in a low cost, sustainable way. This means investment in new energy technologies like renewables such as wind and solar, nuclear energy particularly 4th generation nuclear reactors, natural gas, and whatever other forms of energy we can develop. This means investment in related energy technologies like batteries capable of holding large charges and charging quickly, a smart energy grid, and increasingly efficient technologies. Much of this investment will be led by the Ohio Investment Bank. Not only will Ohio benefit from the cheap energy but also the development of new industries and new jobs producing the related technologies.

Some of these technologies are more long-term investments like 4th generation nuclear reactors while others are short-term and destined to be retired like natural gas or how coal has already become economically and ecologically unfeasible. Wind and solar are not likely to dominate our energy supply anytime soon as they are not entirely reliable like nuclear and fossil fuels, more investment in the grid and batteries is necessary. It is best that we increase the capacity of renewables while investing in clean, sustainable, and reliable 4th generation nuclear. After years of Republican domination of Ohio’s government our competitiveness in energy production has been substantially held back. No longer. Neither will we allow Democrats to hold back proven and sustainable technologies. In the end we must do what is best for Ohio, not special interests or political parties. Frankly I’m disturbed how politicized an issue energy has become. It is a basic, fundamental necessity for a 20th century economy, it will be all the more important in the 21st century. Don’t let old politics hold Ohio back from the future any more. Just join with me and we can make an energy sector that works and an economy that works.

Job Training and The Skills Ecosystem

In a swiftly growing and changing economy, people are our greatest resource. As our economy grows it will create new jobs and industries which will require skilled and specialized workers. At the same time global economic forces are rendering many jobs obsolete. What this means is we need a to build a complex and open system of education and job training to ensure no one is left behind and everyone has an opportunity to participate in expanding wealth.

This requires us to build a skills ecosystem where businesses, community colleges, and workers coordinate to fulfill the needs of a growing economy. Community colleges need to work with businesses to design fast paced training programs for specific roles in new businesses. Community colleges must work with workers to provide an affordable education that accommodates their needs and schedule. Concentration of new industries will create dynamic clusters of ideas and skills, a great deal of on the job training and apprenticing will characterize these new industries as formal training will not yet exist.

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