All posts by Tim Grady

Believe in US

There is reason to be optimistic about the future. It’s true that the world is a safer place than it has ever been, that the world is a better place. Crime is down, the stock market is higher than ever, and the standard of living seems to just keep improving. To predict the next ten years on these statistics alone we’d say that things are looking up, the world is going to be better, and the good times will just keep rolling. But rarely is this not the case. When the times are good, why would anyone question that they will always be good?

The truth is the country can turn a corner and find itself in a very different place that no one would have predicted ten years before despite it being the path we were following all along. The truth is society is more than GDP and crime rates and people know this. People know that all is not well, that the country stands at a precarious point, that the worst is yet to come. The world is a better place but everything that helped get us to this point has crumbled. Like a business that fired all the employees and sold all its assets to report one last profitable quarter. How is it that the people know this when our experts and analysts and political leaders can’t even begin to comprehend it? It’s because the people are closest to the matter, they’re on the ground. You could call it intuition but the truth is we’re actually living it.

Over the last few decades we’ve lost our social cohesion, the fabric holding society together has been torn apart, and we’ve lost all faith in the institutions that used to hold the country up as they became gridlocked, corrupt, and unable to fulfill their duties.

Our public education is no longer an institution that seeks to improve the next generation, a grand effort to make the country better, instead it is a strict, bureaucratic system designed to push children through a series of hoops and tests. Our higher education is just as bad, a machine that profits off students and produces an abundance of worthless degrees.

Our criminal justice system is no longer designed to keep the innocent out of prison and stand up for society. Now it is a tool being run for profit and used to punish or threaten the innocent. Millions undeservedly have their lives and futures stolen from them. At the same time many are protected from ever facing justice by their wealth, corruption, or other influence. This is not justice and people know it. They know they live in a society that cannot be trusted to protect the innocent or stop the criminal.

Our government is run by lobbyists and party insiders with dedication not to the people or the country but to win elections, to win for their party, and to make money. We no longer have dedicated public servants, we no longer can elect regular people who just want to do good for their family, neighbors, and country. We elect politicians who work for corporations and interest groups, not the people. Politicians who would rather put the government in permanent gridlock than work together to pass laws that work. Our government is corrupt, it is gridlocked, and it does not represent us. How we believe in it?

Our businesses have changed their models away from innovation and building a lasting business to monopolizing industries and maximizing shareholder value. That is not how the free market works, that is not how capitalism should work, and that’s not good for business. People know this, they know businesses are as likely to cheat them as to benefit them. In the 2008 economic collapse people saw just how tenuous the new, global economy was, how insecure their investments, their jobs, their savings, their lives were and they have not forgotten. The bankers, the politicians, the economists can go on and on about how GDP is up, the stock market is soaring, and unemployment is down but the people know that nothing changed, the underlying problems were not solved, and the economy is one bad month away from crashing all over again. 2008 should have been a wakeup call, instead we glossed over it with bailouts and economic predictions of prosperity based on the same economic models that completely failed to predict the economic collapse to begin with.

Part of this is that we’ve conflated finance and business. Finance has grown over the last few decades to represent a much more significant portion of GDP despite not actually adding real value to the economy. Finance used to be properly regulated. Finance used to be a utility to spur the economy onward and to help businesses grow and expand. Now finance is the economy and the profits don’t extend beyond Wall Street.

Such degradation of our country’s institutions has a far greater side effect than just their own collapse. Social trust is at an all-time low. When social trust is low we won’t invest in each other, we won’t invest in our country, we won’t invest in our future. It all seems too complex, our problems are so monumental and so entangled that it seems no solution will ever present itself.

To accomplish great things, the things that we could not accomplish alone, we have to commit to each other, to our country, and our community. This point was in fact well made when our country began, in the words of Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence, “we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor”. I believe we will recommit to this pledge. I believe that when America faces its greatest challenges it digs deep down and finds what made it great, the commitment to the idea that collectively we are strong, that we were the first country to prove the people could govern themselves, and that the United States of America is greater than the sum of its parts. I believe in us.

Ohio’s New Frontier

What we need and what I am calling for, is nothing less than an economic and political revolution, a sea change in our society and institutions. Let us build a new economy for Ohio. We’re going to push Ohio into new industries and new frontiers.

Ohio will be at the forefront of new medical technology leveraging existing institutions like the Cleveland Clinic to bring advances in medicine and help lower the cost of health care for all. We will be at the forefront of new agricultural technology leveraging institutions like the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center and no longer will the greatest innovations in farming be monopolized by massive multinational corporations but instead be open to fair market competition so that the farmers of Ohio can truly benefit. We will be at the forefront in new energy technologies not just in their development but in their implementation in new smart electric grids across the state to power our new industries and new manufacturing with cheap, abundant electricity. We will invest in new communication and transportation infrastructure to bring our state closer together in ways it never has been before and bring the rest of the world closer to Ohio. We will grow Ohio into a major exporter not just to other states but to the world. We will invest in growing Ohio’s skills ecosystem working with businesses, universities, and community colleges to give our citizens the skills and resources they need to power Ohio’s economic revolution. We will invest in new industries and new businesses, we will give the entrepreneurs the capital and resources they need to explore and expand new markets, to unleash market powers on Ohio’s economy.

We will build Ohio into a state where economies of scale and economies of agglomeration create a positive feedback loop of growth and innovation. Productivity gains and gains from freer trade must no longer only accrue to the wealthiest of society but must lead to corresponding salary increases so that the cycle of productivity growth and economic development can continue. Ohio has a strong foundation for this future, we have the people, we have great research universities, we have resources and strong businesses and institutions to serve as a solid jumping off point. All we need is the political will to do so, a legislature and a governor ready to act, and more important the people of Ohio ready to stand up and demand a better future, who have an entrepreneurial spirit, who will work hard for that future.

This is the future I envision. This future will take time, it won’t be exactly as we imagine it, what businesses and what industries take hold will still depend on prevailing market forces; but we can harness the power of the market to build this future and that is exactly the point. Government and business cannot be antagonistic toward each other. As a state we are at our greatest when we are all working together. Government and entrepreneurship is a partnership that built America into an economic power since the time of Alexander Hamilton, the architect of the American system of economic development that has been adopted by Germany, Japan, South Korea, and China to revolutionize their own economies. We need experimental policy making, policy making that isn’t afraid to make mistakes, policy makers who recognize when they’re wrong and who will act quickly to fix it rather than zealously defend their mistake. We need policy making that tries a portfolio of policy experiments and scales up what works while shutting down what doesn’t. That is harnessing the power of decentralized governing. Through the coordination and cooperation of government, business, our universities, and our citizens at the local, city, and state level we can build a future for all Ohioans. It’s time to demand more from your representatives Ohio, it’s time to set aside the partisan politics and the ideologies for a pragmatic plan to revolutionize Ohio’s economy and system of government.