Finance is Destroying the Economy

“In recent years, annual trading in stocks — necessarily creating, by reason of the transaction costs involved, negative value for traders — averaged some $33 trillion. But capital formation — that is, directing fresh investment capital to its highest and best uses, such as new businesses, new technology, medical breakthroughs, and modern plant and equipment for existing business — averaged some $250 billion. Put another way, speculation represented about 99.2% of the activities of our equity market system, with capital formation accounting for 0.8%.” – John Bogle, founder of The Vanguard Group

What this means is that the financial sector (banks, hedge funds, brokers, etc) does not do it’s job and it has a very basic job: to productively invest the nation’s savings, our savings, to create wealth. Instead it speculates, creates bubbles, and causes financial crises like the one that caused the Great Recession. As a reward for so poorly managing our savings and recking our economy, the financial sector takes home something like 25% of all corporate profits while representing something like 4% of employment. This is a sector that produces nothing, extracts wealth, and employs very few yet it is sucking up all the profits.

Worse yet is what the financial sector has done to the rest of the economy. Obsessed with the mantra of maximizing shareholder value (which somehow has translated into raising the immediate stock price even if it kills the company 5 years later), finance has taken hold of American industry. Our largest businesses no longer invest in research and development to remain competitive, they no longer invest in their workers, they no longer invest in capacity and efficiency.

Instead wages are stagnant, we have mass layoffs, off-shoring, extensive lobbying to accrue government handouts, selling off assets to temporarily boost profit margins, assuming massive debts to fund stock buybacks, all to raise the stock prices in the short term (so CEO’s and corporate raiders can sell off their stocks at the artificially created high and leave the company to flounder). It’s not just limited to those who work for a living though, all consumers suffer at the hands of an out of control financial sector, the financial sector was responsible for the spike in the cost of food around the time of the 2008 financial crisis for example (which partially led to the Arab Spring and the crisis in Syria and rise of ISIS, demonstrating how ludicrously connected the modern global economy is).

And most egregious of all is that we’ve been made complicit in our own destruction. Many people have a 401(k) or pension or other savings plans. These are typically invested with some hedge fund or other that manages your savings. Your savings gives these fund managers additional clout to buy larger percentages of shares, to become “activist investors”. And they’ll use this clout to demand the companies act to provide better returns and I’ve already mentioned what that means (layoffs, downsizing, off-shoring). Theoretically your retirement savings could be used to put you and people you know out of a job, in fact they most certainly have.

When the inevitable fallout comes, when the speculation and bubbles and deconstruction of the American economy becomes too much, we have recession and financial crisis like in 2008. But then what happens? Millions of regular people lost their jobs, millions of people had their savings wiped out, houses were foreclosed, small businesses shut down, factories closed their doors, immense wealth was wiped out in a matter of days. And then the United States government and the Federal Reserve bailed out the banks, they bailed out the financial sector with trillions of dollars (yes, TRILLIONS, it sounds absurd, but horrifyingly true), and everyone else who suffered at the hands of the financial sector’s gross negligence got NOTHING.

Is this how we want our country and our economy to be run? Is this what we believe to be right as a society? Fifty years ago this behavior was not tolerated but were we any less successful as a country, were our markets any less free, was our economy any weaker? Finance is not the economy, finance is meant to keep the economy running smoothly. It is time we took our country and economy back from the financial sector, back from the corporate raiders, back from absurdity of neoclassical economic theory! We survived the last crash but fixed nothing, every aspect of financial sector resilience is now worse than it was in 2008, can we survive the next one?

This is a disaster waiting to happen or more likely in the process of unfolding before our very eyes. My intent is not to fear monger or to drum up votes but to raise awareness of the serious problems we face as a state and a country, I care not at all if I win so long as someone is doing something to fix this. I believe Mark Romanchuk and Lane J. Winters will act when the seriousness of this issue becomes apparent but someone needs to make this clear to them now. If you care about Ohio, if you care about your neighbors, go tell your preferred candidates and your representatives in whatever district you live to act now! We need reform, we need alternatives, we need action, and yes, there are solutions we can take at the state and local level because we all know the federal government won’t do anything about it. The Ohio Investment Bank might not be the best solution but it’s the best I’ve got, what do you have? Seriously, I’m asking, everyone reading this, let’s figure something out to save Ohio.

The Ohio Investment Bank

What’s so great about the Ohio Investment Bank, the poorly named idea that I have put at the center of my campaign? Well I’ll tell you in 500 words or less!

The OIB is one stop shopping for all your entrepreneurial needs. Through an initial funding by the Ohio government, the bank provides seed capital to new businesses as well as existing small businesses not as loans or grants but as an investment which the bank aims to earn a profit on. So the bank has every interest in your business becoming sustainable and profitable.

The OIB offers a number of services through its municipal partners/branches for entrepreneurs to build a success enterprise including:

  1. Business management services so that you have the expertise necessary to build your business right.
  2. Export and supply chain services so you can navigate the complexities of the global economy in building your product or service and then find customers around the world and build Ohio’s export surplus (that’s how you do it without starting destructive trade wars!)
  3. Help you raise capital from outside investors so your company can grow to keep up with demand. This in addition to any investment from the OIB which will allow you to choose where your capital comes from so you don’t have to rely on any shady investors or corporate raiders who do not have your economic success at heart.
  4. The OIB partners with the technology transfer offices of Ohio’s many exceptional universities so that technologies and advancements developed in the lab can be quickly brought to market and start changing the world while earning additional funding for the universities to pursue their work.

Targeting the right businesses and industries, the OIB will jumpstart Ohio’s economy and make us a leader not just in the United States but around the globe. The OIB gives Ohio’s economy the initial kick but the economy will begin expanding rapidly as economies of agglomeration and clustering make Ohio a destination for skilled workers, new industries, and investment.

Gradually the bank will create the technologies to transform Ohio, to deliver energy, food, health care, and transportation cheaply and conveniently to all Ohioans without the government directly providing them through large spending programs or welfare. And as the economy grows, unemployment will decline and wages will rise. The Ohio government will have significantly lower obligations and the size of government and the welfare state will shrink allowing us to lower taxes significantly. Additionally, as the OIB earns returns on its investments it will be able to reinvest the profit in Ohio’s businesses or, if need be, transfer funds to the Ohio government. Ideally, within a few decades, Ohio’s government could be entirely funded by the profits of the OIB and taxes in Ohio could be completely eliminated.

Seems like a fantasy but it is entirely possible given the right circumstances and the commitment of all Ohioans to break the mold. This is the role for government in the 21st century, a facilitator of the market, an investor in our future. We can do this; the opportunity is now. Let’s put the state ahead of the pack, let’s fight for our future, let’s save Ohio! Vote for me, Tim Grady, this November and make this reality!

Please Do Not Allow My Levity to Undercut the Earnestness of This Campaign

Neoclassical economic theory is deeply flawed, at best it is woefully incomplete, at worst it’s most basic assumptions are so incorrect as to render it next to worthless. Neoclassical economics has fueled everything from neoliberalism to financialization, it has led to faulty approaches to education, health care, and basic business practices. This is the dominant economic school of thought for the last 40 years. How many of you knew it existed? Who knew economics has different schools of thought?

It seceded Keynesian economics in the 1970s when stagflation proved too great a challenge for it to overcome. Neoclassical economic theory stepped in to fill the void. It had been waiting in the wings for years, fostered in think tanks supported by big businesses. Arguably it restored economic growth to the world in the 1980s and 90s or more likely the economy adjusted and recovered over time. That’s probably what happened post Great Depression too, Keynesian economic policies did not, on their own, spawn the greatest period of global economic growth in history.

The Great Recession and the sluggish economic recovery that has followed should have broken the back of neoclassical economics. It certainly spawned some serious thought and criticism of neoclassical economics. But no theory was around to replace it and you can’t beat something with nothing. At least there was no theory with political support. Instead we got rehashed Keynesianism from the left in the form of democratic socialism and the right was happy to bring up the Austrian school again. That was futile of course because we continued to elect neoclassicists rather than bring back old economic thinking.

There are actually new ideas ready to take their place in mainstream policymaking but the institutional rigidity of neoclassical economics has warded them off (not that neoclassical thought acknowledges institutional power). You’ll hear many economists say economics is apolitical and amoral. I believe for many they try to keep it that way but I recognize that economics is tied invariably to how we organize ourself as a society be it through government, politics, morality, or what have you. For our future we must recognize the intertwined nature of economics and government. That’s actually why I am running.

I am running to bring new economic thinking into politics, specifically Ohio politics because I think we can really capitalize on this before the rest of the country and world catches on. The type of economic thinking I have to offer is some mixture of complexity, evolutionary, and institutional economics. For simplicity I’ll refer to it as complexity economics. Complexity economics is how we beat the neoclassical paradigm and reverse our long period of economic and political decay. We can end financialization, make health care that works, revolutionize education, save the environment, and massively grow the economy all while making government leaner.

Yeah, that sounds like I’m promising a lot but clearly economics has a lot of power in the world, just look what neoclassical economics did to it. For a taste of how complexity economics can manifest itself in policy, I direct you to my platform. But that’s just a start. We need to bring complexity economic thinking to all levels of business and government. Truthfully this is what matters to me, bringing complexity economics to the mainstream.

I am so sick of hearing the same arguments between Democrats and Republicans that boil down to just how much or how little money we want to throw at failed programs. A bloated centralized government is not the answer and neither is a market society where the government is just a tool for cronyism and rent seeking. I would not be happier to lose if it meant that my opponents had adopted complexity economics. I mean good lord, talk about something new. You’ve had this argument for 40 years and we haven’t gotten anywhere! This is the future, this is what Ohio needs now. This is actually an urgent matter given that we’ve fixed nothing that caused the 2008 economic collapse and we’ve probably made it worse. Not to mention that budding trade war and a country that is so divided on partisan lines (lines drawn based partially on neoclassical economic theory) that it verges on sectarianism. I’m not saying I have the answer to everything here but I basically am.

 

The Next Recession

It is unusual for a bull market to last much longer than ten years. Increasing instability would suggest that this one is nearing its end. This has some important implication for the coming decade.
 
Since the financial collapse and the Great Recession we’ve seen little action by the government or anyone to fix the problems that caused the collapse. In many ways these problems have gotten worse; the Too Big to Fail banks are larger than ever, the shadow banking sector has expanded, private equity firms have caused housing prices to rise while homeownership has fallen, major US corporations have taken on considerable debt to fund stock buybacks (arguably stock market manipulation) rather than invest in R&D. Meanwhile government debt has skyrocketed and the Fed has held interest rates low for a decade. This means the government has little fiscal or monetary tools to counteract the effects of a financial crisis and ensuring recession.
 
Many households are in such a precarious economic position with debt and mortgages that the next economic downturn will lead to mass foreclosures and inability to cover both debt and living expenses. Considering rather stagnant wages the last decade, rising household debt, and the loss of wealth in 2008, most Americans are in a worse position than they were in 2007 meaning another recession has the potential to be considerably worse. Debt is dragging down growth and it has the potential to strangle the economy when the next recession hits. 
 
I am not fear mongering here, I am trying to properly express the urgency of the situation so that appropriate action can be taken while we still have the opportunity. Remember folks, before the Great Depression we used to call the depression of 1873 the Great Depression. It is a mistake to think the course of history is perfectly linear, that the present is a good indicator of the future. History has a way of taking sudden, unexpected turns.
tl;dr: The economy is going to slow down, the government and households aren’t prepared for it.

Health Care

It is no secret that the United States spends more on health care than anywhere in the world and has little to show for it. I would like to make it clear to everyone first that no matter the structure of the health care system in the country, health care as is, is prone to waste, high costs, and lacking service. There is not one way to make health care work, a market system or a socialized system doesn’t necessarily matter all that much in the end so long as it works. Below I outline several proposals I think will improve health care for Ohioans whether the policies are implemented all together or just one or two. These proposals are a combination of deregulation, market solutions, new regulation, and government solutions.

Interstate Health Care Standards

It is often said by Republicans that health insurance companies should be permitted to operate across state lines. This is already the case, what is actually meant is that Republicans want insurance companies to be able to operate in any state without meeting the requirements of the state so that they could offer junk insurance at a low cost. I propose something different, something that actually will offer good health insurance across state lines at a lower cost.

I propose we coordinate with neighboring state governments to standardize our health care laws. This will allow health care providers to operate effectively across state lines without the additional cost of trying to comply with the bureaucracy of multiple states while maintaining quality. The more states we have coordinating, the cheaper and more effective it becomes.

Delicensing 

I believe a simple step that could be taken to lower medical costs is for Ohio to allow nurse practitioners to operate their own practices without physician oversight. Many people see nurse practitioners for their primary care needs yet Ohio is one of several states that does not allow them to operate independently. By eliminating this regulation and allowing nurse practitioners to have their own practice we will improve the ability of Ohioans, particularly rural Ohioans, to receive primary care at a lower cost.

I feel the same could be done to an extent for dental hygienists.  You are not likely to see your dentist for more than a minute or two, it is the dental hygienist that does the greater deal of work. Allowing a dental hygienist their own practice would also improve availability of service and lower costs. For any issues outside a hygienist’s purview, they could recommend a patient to a dentist.

Those most likely to be opposed to this shift would be doctors and dentists, those who stand to lose money. It is simply the case that where there is money to be made there is lobbying to be done of government. I encourage policymakers to remain resolute and take the action that serves the public welfare, not their pocketbooks.

Investment in Medical Research and Development 

Ohio has global leaders in the health care industry like the Cleveland Clinic. We should leverage these existing institutions and invest in new medical technologies and new medical companies to grow this existing industry. This has two primary benefits with one policy initiative. First that advances in technology and a diverse market lowers medical costs for Ohioans as well as everyone in the world. Second that it grows Ohio’s economy and creates jobs. The health benefits of economic security are considerable after all. This investment can best be achieved by my major policy initiative of the Ohio Investment Bank.

Preventative Care for All

This policy is rather more ambitious than the others listed here and I am less certain of its effectiveness and its political feasibility. Nevertheless, I shall explain it to the best of my ability and open it up to discussion so that it can be improved or a superior alternative put forward.

As it stands now under the ACA all Ohioans must have health insurance and Ohioans have met this requirement from private insurance, employer provided insurance, government provided insurance, or simply failed to meet this requirement. First allow me to say I do not care for requirements on employers to provide insurance, I believe the point of so much government action in health care is to help alleviate the burden on employers. I would suggest a plan that eliminates this burden.

What I propose instead is that Ohio offer to all its citizens preventative medicine paid for entirely by the Ohio government. It would then be mandated that Ohioans purchase critical care insurance on their own. Preventative medicine is that which is meant to prevent the occurrence of illness rather than its treatment. This includes regular physicals, disease screenings, counseling, immunizations, birth control, and some prescriptions like insulin. I cannot at this time specify all that would be included, I think this would be a major policy that needs a fair amount of debate and consulting of relevant actors in the health care industry and the public.

This would improve the health of Ohioans over the long term because it would lower instances of more serious, more expensive illness. This improved health would, over time, lower costs for the government, Ohioans, employers, and insurance companies. Employers would not have to cover these costs anymore. Insurance companies would only have to cover critical care which are unexpected medical expenses and the instances of these unexpected medical expenses would decrease so insurance premiums would drop.

Market Application of Health Care Costs

This is a very simple regulatory change. Basically I support legislation that would require all health care providers to make all their prices for goods and services publicly available online in a searchable format. The expectation is that companies would quickly spring up to offer services that search this data and find consumers the best prices. Obviously in an emergency Ohioans aren’t going to search for the cheapest hospital in the ambulance but for every predictable medical cost Ohioans can plan ahead. This will steadily lower prices across the state as market forces will make health care providers operate more efficiently. Health care prices are inflated because insurance companies negotiate down prices for consumers, this is the primary service insurance companies seem to offer. With this service taken care of more efficiently by the digital age and market forces, one would expect insurance premiums to lower further as insurance companies focus on the primary task of collectivizing the risk of unexpected health care costs. It is a simple regulation that can accomplish much. Why hasn’t it been implemented yet? I don’t know, certainly one would hope it is not a result of nefarious motives of the health care lobby and our current legislators or the political parties that provide them their marching orders.   

Growing the Economy

That’s right, growing the economy as a health care policy. Eliminating poverty and economic security are tremendous in improving one’s health. Our problems are complicated and interconnected, fixing the economy helps fix health care. Eliminate the stress of not knowing how to pay for things, of having to work three jobs to get by, of having to work unpaid overtime to keep a job, and you have better mental and physical health. Give people more money and the ability to make good health decisions, to go to the doctor when they’re sick, to eat healthy, to live comfortably, and their health improves both mentally and physically. It’s not difficult to understand. If we’re going to fix things in Ohio let’s do it right, let’s attack all our problems on all fronts all at once. To fix health care we must fix the economy, fix education, fix government, fix the environment, fix agriculture. It can be done, we just require the grit and resolve to do it.

Crime

Eliminate Lead in the Water Supply 

There has been a substantial decline in crime across the country since the elimination of lead in gasoline as well as other efforts to control lead exposure in the environment. It is even possible to suggest that the majority of crime reduction we’ve seen is due to the reduction in lead exposure of children and not by any significant redesign of policing tactics or increase in police resources. Lead exposure at a young age causes neurodevelopment issues and neural damage which result in problems like ADHD, intelligence decline, and increased aggression and violent tendencies.

Though we have made significant gains in removing lead from our environment there is still considerable exposure risks left including in older structures like homes and schools where lead paint remains. An even greater consideration is lead in our aging water supply systems. This was in the news most prominently with the Flint water crisis. At the peak of the Flint water crisis 5% of children tested had elevated lead levels. As can be seen in this map of data collected by Reuters, all of Richland county has reported above 5% in recent years and parts of Mansfield have been at 30%.

lead in water Richland County

This is a travesty that must be rectified. By investing the resources in ensuring clean drinking water for our children we can reduce crime rates and increase our collective intelligence. This is my top priority for reducing crime especially since reducing lead exposure leads to a reduction in violent crime, particularly murders, which are not easily combated with other policing tactics. This is the richest country on Earth, the least we can do is ensure we have clean water and stop exposing our children to lead.

Problem and Community Oriented Policy

It is my belief that to most effectively reduce crime police should both work with the community and focus on dealing with repeated crime issues in a holistic, proactive manner. How exactly this is done I don’t intend to dictate, I devolve that decision making power down to the city and community level. What this does require is that more resources be made available to the police to reduce crime. This will be done with an expansion of budget but more importantly a reallocation of resources. Specifically, less resources will be wasted on the militarization of the police and less resources will be used fighting the war on drugs. As resources are put to better use and violent and property crimes are solved at a higher rate (did you know that these crimes are solved less than 50% of the time?) crime will be reduced as certainty of punishment increases.

Judicial Discretion

I am opposed to mandatory minimum sentencing. I believe one of the great things about the American justice system is its common law heritage. Our justice system is not entirely a top down directive from our legislatures but a bottom-up system influenced by lawyers, judges, juries, and cases of significance. Judges should be allowed to determine what punishment best fits the crime taking into full consideration the circumstances and the individual.

Decriminalization, Marijuana, and the Opioid Crisis

It is time something were done about the drug problem. It is clear that sending hundreds of thousands of people to prison for possession and use of drugs is accomplishing nothing but costing the taxpayers billions and ruining lives. Our prisons are full of nonviolent offenders. Police spend an inordinate amount of crime on drug busts which contributes to the low success rate in solving violent and property crimes. Our focus should instead be on treatment and ending addiction. All drug use should be decriminalized such that the possession of small amounts does not result in a prison sentence but instead treatment and community service.

Recreational and medical marijuana should be legalized fully. No more resources shall be spent enforcing its prohibition. Taxes will be levied on its sale. Medical marijuana will be used to treat a range of illnesses. Many of its uses are not in its THC and do not result in a high. It is purely for medical purposes and should be fully legalized. It will also be much better in treating pain than prescription opioids which have led to thousands of overdoses and the current opioid epidemic we’re facing in our homes and in our streets. Full resources should be made available in fighting the crisis, in reducing the supply of legal and illegal opioids (with a harsh crackdown on the pharmaceutical industry), and in proving care and treatment for those facing addiction and overdoses.

 

Economic Growth and Ending Poverty

The most effective and easiest path to reducing crime is in swift economic growth and eliminating poverty. Being raised in poverty and living in poverty is a significant source of criminal behavior. Evidence suggests that simply alleviating this poverty in children will greatly reduce crime rates and quickly bring children who had been living in poverty to the same criminal rates and educational achievement of their non impoverished peers.

A swiftly growing economy offers much more desirable alternatives to crime as a way to get by and reduces the recidivism. It is much better to bring people into the workforce, to make them productive members of society, than to send them to prison. Cynically, wages and unemployment are kept low by the prison industrial complex. Imprisoned people are not counted among the unemployed so when a prison is built in an area (and sentencing goes up to fill the cells that the government pays private prison companies to run) unemployment will fall. So too will wages as the prison system has been used as a reliable source of cheap or even slave labor since the abolition of slavery. This is bad for both the economy and society and must be reversed. Economic growth will lower crime and the prison population while lowering crime and the prison population will spur economic growth. It is a reinforcing cycle of progress. Our problems must be tackled simultaneously for us to reach our greatest success.

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.

Fight For the Future