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The Ohio Investment Bank and Why We Need it Now

I ran for state representative in 2018 on the premise that our government and policy makers were trapped in the 20th century and required new economic thinking to build a 21st century economy. That new economic thinking manifested itself in one ambitious policy proposal, the Ohio Investment Bank. I’ve spoken of it at length throughout the campaign but I don’t think I ever did it justice, I failed to articulate its potential as well as the urgency of Ohio’s economic situation. We have a problem in this country wherein we seem incapable of confronting a crisis before it manifests itself.  The election has come and gone with no significant change in Ohio’s government but I do not believe it’s too late for action. Even if our elected officials refuse to act now, when the impending economic crisis hits, it will be invaluable to have a plan like the OIB waiting in the wings.

Why is it Necessary? 

It’s not a secret that Ohio has been left behind by quickly changing national and global economies. Forty years ago manufacturing and heavy industry began to disappear in Ohio and the region became known as the Rust Belt. Our population has fallen as our best and brightest fled to better jobs in warmer climates. Economic despair as much as anything else led to the conditions in which the opioid epidemic boomed.

This is a path we will continue to progress toward unless there is a significant change in our way of thinking about the economy. Government and businesses operate within the same, flawed intellectual framework of neoclassical economics. Neoclassical economics came to dominate economic theory and policy in the 1970s as a response to stagflation. It propagated ideas like humans being perfectly rational, self-interested creatures, that markets move into equilibrium, that the only role for government is in market failure and otherwise should get out of the way, and that corporations have an obligation only to shareholder profit. This is wrong which I suspect much of you know. Economics is not a science no matter how much it pretends it is. Very little of economic theory is backed by empirical results.

The end result of neoclassical economics was the 2008 financial crisis that nearly plunged the world into another great depression. Neoclassical economics created the intellectual justification for the financial sector to dominate all aspects of the economy and, through regulatory capture, the government. This is a process called financialization and it is the biggest threat to the American economy, already it has laid waste to much of it.  I’ve spent much of the last few years campaigning against financialization and written at length on the subject and if you’d like to know more of how finance has had a hand in damaging every aspect of the economy Change Finance gives a comprehensive description.

To solve these problems we need a seismic shift in society, a reevaluation of our approach to economic policy, to business, and to education. The Ohio Investment Bank cannot possibly achieve this, instead what is required is for people to learn and understand what is wrong. Inform people, show them it’s financialization and flawed economic theory at the heart of our economic woes. It’s not immigrants and foreign countries, it’s not politicians and political parties, it’s not greedy corporations and billionaires. We’ve created an environment for poor decision making and we all share considerable blame. What the Ohio Investment Bank can do is demonstrate good economic policy and financial practice while repairing the damage done to Ohio’s economy.

How It Works:

The Ohio Investment Bank is a source of capital dedicated to meaningful investment that creates productive capital and drives further innovation. Innovation and productive capital accumulation are the main drivers of the economy. Private finance has not made these investment as it became more profitable to make money off of money. These are investments, not loans or grants, the OIB is buying a share of the business it is investing in and is looking to see a return on that investment. The OIB will never have a controlling share in any business.

The OIB offers a number of resources and services through its municipal partners/branches for entrepreneurs to build a successful enterprise and vibrant economy including:

  1. Seed and venture capital to help startups get off the ground.
  2. Business management services so that you have the expertise necessary to build your business right.
  3. Export and supply chain services and connections 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)
  4. 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.
  5. 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 jump-start 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 and fewer Ohioans will need to rely on government assistance.

What Else It Could Do:

  1. Provide student loans at reasonable rates.
  2. Provide responsible mortgages.
  3. Provide business loans.
  4. Provide basic banking services.
  5. Absorb the Ohio Infrastructure Bank and take over its responsibilities.

These are not necessary for the OIB’s success and may not be the best role of the OIB. These are merely possibilities to consider.

How to Pay for It: 

Currently very little of the government’s budget goes to capital creation or investment. Much of it goes to servicing debt, managing the welfare system, or wasteful corporate giveaways designed to attract jobs. The Ohio Investment Bank is a much better use of the government’s money and much less costly in the long-term. The OIB would not need immense funding to be successful, the $2 billion in Ohio’s rainy day fund would be much more useful at the OIB.

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. If the OIB is successful in creating a private sector and economy that adequately provides for the needs of Ohioans, many of Ohio’s largest expenditures would disappear requiring fewer taxes. If the OIB’s revenues are large enough and the Ohio government’s expenditures low enough, taxes could be completely eliminated and the OIB could fund the government’s operations.

Values

One would expect a candidate for office to have a clear understanding of their own values system. And often times, when we cannot be bothered to learn all there is about a candidate personally or politically, identifying them with a specific values system like Christian values, conservative values, liberal values, or what have you, can be a convenient signal of how they’ll act once in office. You can’t know exactly how they’ll respond to every piece of legislation, every unpredictable event that occurs while they’re in office, but if they share your values, they’ll do what’s right. Right?

But I’ve found that most philosophies mean different things to different people. That won’t be a surprise to you, we’ve all seen ruthless party primaries where candidates contend over the title of true conservative/liberal, we’ve all heard people quoting from the same books or sources in ever escalating attempts to discredit the other. I have, in the past, struggled to find a political philosophy that I can identify with, usually bouncing somewhere between classical liberalism, radical centrism, and progressivism. Unfortunately for me as well as clarity everywhere, what those terms mean to people is constantly and rapidly changing as evidenced by the fact I must call it classical liberalism and not simply liberalism.

I still consider myself to be all those things. But ask people what they think any of these terms mean and they’ll tell you something else entirely. I’m done having semantic fights trying to justify my terminology, I’d much prefer to have fights justifying the content of my philosophy. So rather than providing you a short hand to see if my values match yours, I think instead I’ll tell you as clearly and directly what my values are. Actions, of course, speak louder than words, but as I’ve never held office you have no record to hold me to. Fortunate for me, not so much for the voters. Let’s begin.

I’m a radical in that I seek swift and comprehensive reforms, I’m a radical in that I will fight fervently for what I believe to be right, and I’m a radical in that I remain uncompromising in my core values. I’m a centrist in that my policies fall somewhere in the center of the political spectrum because I do not see the community and the individual as being at odds, because I see a role for the government, markets, and commons in building our future, and because I believe in a pragmatic, experimental approach to policy making. I am a progressive like the progressivism of Theodore Roosevelt ready to fight for democratic reforms in government and trustbusting. I am a progressive because I wish to see society progress and push the frontier. And I am a progressive because I see it as an imperative that we make tremendous investments in our future. I am a liberal in that I am unsatisfied with the status quo, I am a liberal in that I am forever distrustful of the concentration of power in any form, and I am a liberal because I fundamentally believe in securing liberty for all people, for all individuals as only a free people can ensure all else that I believe can come to fruition. And, of course, I’m classical because I am simply classic.

That’s a little unsatisfying, I know. None of this is really telling you whether I share your values or not. But do you really care? Do you know what values you hold and how dearly you hold them? I’ve followed politics most of my life and made it my mission to understand the nature of society. Being twenty-two that’s not saying much and I welcome your disagreement with my next point because I so dearly wish to be proven wrong. I’ve asked this before and I’ll ask again because it’s a question we need to grapple with as a country. Do you know what America stands for anymore? I don’t think we stand for anything anymore. Sure, there are those things we claim to stand for but there isn’t a national consensus on what that is, and actions speak louder than words. What do our actions say about us?

On the world stage we bomb, invade, withdraw, and invade again. We routinely hold other countries to a higher standard than we hold ourselves. We’re for free trade when it benefits us, then we’re against it all together. We push for treaties and international law and refuse to ratify it at home. We’re for the liberal democratic order (as in democratic government and free markets) and then we’re best friends with autocrats and dictators when it’s convenient.

At home we claim to love small business then we give institutional advantages to the largest oligopolies. When the recession hit we gave trillions of dollars to the banks that caused it and abandoned the millions of Americans who lost their homes, their savings, and who the banks defrauded. We claim to value liberty and justice, yet we have the highest incarceration rate in the world and a justice system that favors the powerful and the well off. Every politician campaigns on the exploding debt, our crumbling infrastructure, and fixing the welfare system. But in office they spend most of their time on political grandstanding, the bills they do pass are corporate giveaways. The debt continues to grow, infrastructure continues to crumble, and the welfare system continues to be an inefficient, bureaucratic nightmare bankrupting the country without delivering results. More than anything else, fighting the culture wars is what defines our political parties, pandering to the single-issue voters and identity politics. Rarely what decides our vote is what is best for the country or our fellow Americans.

It’s not that our representatives are incompetent or that our government is corrupt. It is like this because there is nothing that unifies us anymore as a country. The government carries out the will of the people, it is beholden to us. But we don’t know what we want, every two or four years we give the other party control, Congress’s approval rating is consistently in the low teens, and a majority of Americans always think the country is on the wrong track, no matter who is in charge. Without core values we have become fickle, easily swayed by a cult of personality, the latest social trends, or whatever our preferred media tells us to want.

Yes, the American people have totally abandoned their responsibility as citizens of this country. And if we aren’t giving our representatives orders, who do you think they’re going to be taking them from? Anyone who can sway the outcome of their next election; the special interests, big donors, talking heads, and their party bosses. We put them in charge of our government, they didn’t have to conspire to take power, we made this happen. I think we might just be lazy idiots, we totally squandered our opportunity as the oldest democracy in the world, probably because we got complacent with it. You want to know my values? Figure out your own first.

But I’m an optimist and still a politician so I’m not going to end this by saying I have no faith in voters and America has no future (Prove me wrong voters, prove me wrong). We need to have a discussion of our values and now that I’ve finished insulting you, your loved ones, and this country, maybe you’re feeling up to it. I will lay out the values and ideals I believe America should stand for, drawing on my previously stated values (convenient that America’s values should agree with mine) and my (selective) reading of history. At the end, I encourage you to disagree, to debate me, to denounce me and everything I stand for, but then you have to stand for something, find the values you truly hold dear, that you can articulate, and that you’re willing to fight for.

 

Liberty

Liberty and freedom are terms that are bandied about quite a bit because of course, who doesn’t love liberty? But at some point we must stop and consider what liberty is and what it means to live by it as a guiding principle. Liberty, in simplest terms, is choice. The greater your ability to choose how you live, how your country is governed, and what you consume, the more liberty you have. That’s not going to be the most common definition, but that’s my definition. Most things in life are out of our control, so those choices we do get to make, while not always important, define who we are. And on a large scale, the choices we make define our future.

Every day we must make choices, small choices like what we have for breakfast and bigger choices like what religion to practice and which political system to support. These choices help us understand the world, they teach through trial and error, what works and what doesn’t. The better our choices, the better our lives. It is then in our interest as individuals, as a country, as a species, to have the most and best choices available to us as possible.

That choice is so important to a better world is not something everyone has always understood and many still do not understand today. It is why, in the long run, dictatorships and planned economies tend to fail. These systems of government were choices we had and choices we still have, but we do not choose them because we’ve learned from the mistakes of others and the past. Yes, there are still people in this country who would advocate for those forms of government and we must guard against that. One way to achieve this is to remember what liberty stands for, hold liberty as a guiding principle, and be wary of those who claim to stand for it when their actions speak otherwise.

In practice, what does it mean to be a country that values liberty? I think first and foremost it is about preserving our democratic institutions: ensuring all Americans their right to vote and participate in our democracy, rooting out corruption and making government responsive to the people, and limiting the growth of the bureaucracy. America was founded on the idea that a free people could best govern themselves. Our ability to govern ourselves is what makes us great.

A country that values liberty would strive to protect the liberties of people, of individuals. For America to be a country that values liberty we must end our practice of mass incarceration. We can not claim to be a free country when we have the highest incarceration rate in the world. A country that values liberty would have a justice system that protects all people from wrongful imprisonment, that does not place one person above another, that does not criminalize behavior that harms no one, and that does not seek to turn its people into modern day slaves.

To be a country founded in liberty we cannot empower the state to invade the lives of its people. We must not be a police state, we must not be a garrison state, we must not be surveilled by the state. Liberty is distrustful of power. Liberty cannot be exchanged for security and still be liberty. We cannot claim to be for liberty and then celebrate when we take it away from those we see as opponents.

To value liberty must mean more than just political liberty, it must extend to economic liberty. This means the ability to participate fully and freely in the market. A choice made in desperation is not a true choice. Often, people attempt to claim economic liberty means government has no place in the market. That is incorrect. The government can have a place in the market and often should. A free market means fair and equitable exchange, otherwise one would not freely participate in it. A choice made in desperation is not a true choice.

I’ll say it again, liberty is about choice. It is about being able to choose how we live without being unfairly punished or unduly burdened. Where there is not choice there is not liberty. Put bluntly, you should have a choice in your government, in who represents you, and who you do business with, and if they screw you over, you should have a reasonable alternative.

Opportunity

We have always prided ourselves on being a land of opportunity, so it seems right that opportunity should be one of our core values. Opportunity is the ability to improve one’s station with hard work, intelligence, or both. Opportunity is the American dream, the idea that we are capable of making something of ourselves, of giving our lives meaning. In the past opportunity has been evident in America’s social mobility, when people born poor could easily enter a higher class and achieve a higher standard of living. At present, social mobility is next to nonexistent as the circumstances of one’s birth is likely to dictate one’s entire future. Not only is that a land without opportunity, that is a land without liberty. If your life is determined entirely by events before your birth, you are not free.

What then, does a land of opportunity look like and how can we achieve it? Living in a land of opportunity means entering the educational system and coming out of it in a better position than you started. Where people can develop and nurture intelligence and creativity. Where that intelligence and creativity can be applied and combined with hard work and determination to achieve great things. It means a market, a government, a society where institutional bias and advantages do not exist. Where merit is the primary deciding factor. Our market economy must be as open as possible with free entry and exit. Innovation must be held in the highest regard, even above profit margins.

In many cases it’s a simple task to achieve opportunity, all that is required is an end to rent seeking, an end to crony capitalism. The government cannot be a tool for the wealthiest, the largest companies, and special interests to gain advantage above and beyond the rest of the country. A simple task but difficult to accomplish. A serious push for anti-corruption legislation is needed.

In other cases the task is more complex. Dismantling long standing institutional barriers, separating historical and geographical advantages from true merit is next to impossible and sure to anger those who benefit from those advantages. Opportunity means change and change is not always amenable to those in power, but it is necessary for success.  What is required is investment. Investment in education, in innovation, and in our communities. That is how we begin to build an opportunity society.

E Pluribus Unum

Present on the Great Seal of the United States, the phrase represents a clear founding ideal of the country, Out of Many, One. It is an ideal we would be well served to remember now, more than ever. We do not always agree with each other, in fact it is rare if not not impossible to see unanimity in America, but the design of our republic is such that it is a feature. We have great diversity in America. Diversity of cultures, diversity of people, diversity of politics, diversity of thought, diversity of religion, environmental diversity, diversity of goods, and even diversity of government. Diversity is perhaps one of our greatest assets. Yet it is undervalued and misapplied.

To succeed as a country, we must rediscover what “E Pluribus Unum” means. We must embrace our diversity. We cannot seek to destroy those whose ideas conflict with our own. We cannot seek to impose our will on the entire nation. We must recognize the potential of states as true laboratories of democracy and not an extension of Democrat and Republican national agendas. We must recognize the individual history and potential of our cities, towns, and rural communities. One policy will not work the same everywhere, our thinking must change to focus on bottom-up policy making, working at the lowest practical level. Every American has many identities, they are part of many groups, their country, their state, their school, their political party, their social clubs, their sports, their professions, etc. and they are individuals.

Out of all these differences, all these states and governments, cultures and communities, we begin to build a national identity. Our diversity, our eclecticism, our willingness to buck the trend is what defines us as a country, it’s what has made us so successful, and our ability to set aside our differences, no matter how large, how we can come together as Americans, as America, is what allows us to lead. Being part of something greater does not and must not diminish our individual identity. If we have to sacrifice who we are to belong, we have lost everything. Often times, people seek to hide from themselves, their past, their poor decisions, their responsibility, in the comfort of masses. Do not succumb to the allure of a mass movement.  That is not what E pluribus unum means.

Conclusion 

These values are not guarantees by the government, they are societal values. Government cannot and should not impose liberty, opportunity, and unity out of diversity. But if these are values we accept and strive to live by we can hope to be successful as a society and be better people for it. These are the values I see as integral to this country and its history, even when we have not adhered to them, even now as liberty, opportunity, and the spirit of “out of many, one” wane. And all three are deeply connected, I do not believe one can properly exist without the other two. I will fight for these values. I don’t expect you to vote for me, but I ask that you keep these values in mind when you consider your place in this country, when you participate in our democracy, and as you go about your life. Do not view all those who disagree with you with suspicion, do not disdain those who have lived a different life of different opportunity, and respect the choices of others. And spend just a little time thinking about what your values are, what our country’s values are, and what you stand for. This country is worth fighting for, but it has to stand for something better first.

 

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.

 

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.

Education

I can’t say I have much to offer with regards to educational reform, I know we need it but that’s about it. When I have brought up my thoughts on what could make for better education I have been roundly criticized. It is possible that my negative experience in the public education system has left me too critical. Nevertheless as I am an independent minded individual constantly seeking to improve I cannot help but to offer an idea or two. Below I outline just a few of my thoughts but do not consider them policy proposals.

Standardized Testing

I think there is far too much testing in public education. Too much time is spent focusing on tests rather than learning or receiving an education. The world is changing quickly and people must learn to adapt to change, not pass a test.

Online Schooling

It is inevitable that education moves online in some format or another. THis does not mean entirely online schools, it simply means more and better educational resources will be available in a digital format. This could be incorporated into a physical school with more independent learning than strict lecture (well known to be one of the worst forms of teaching) or there could be entirely online schools. Whatever the case, the producer and purveyor of digital educational resources is going to be a big industry. I think Ohio should try and be a leader here.

Universal Voucher System

I support a system of universal vouchers for k-12 education in Ohio. What this means is that Ohio offers an amount of funding for every student. This funding will go with a student to whatever institution they enroll in be it public, private, or something else. The desire of institutions is then to attract and educate as many students as possible at the lowest cost. As part of this system it would not be allowed for anyone to charge for a k-12 education beyond the voucher. Thus it is a more equal playing field between public and private institutions. A private institution then must truly be better to attract more students rather than to offer the prestige or extras that private institutions currently do to separate wealthy parents from their money. Again, just expressing my thoughts, not a policy proposal.

 

Government

 

Decentralization 

I believe in devolving decision making to the lower practical level of government because those closest to a problem are best equipped to handle it. This means allowing cities and localities to pass their own laws on most issues without being overruled by the state. This also means providing more funding to cities and localities to use as they see fit. This is a reversal of the last 8 years of Republican government that has steadily increased the concentration of power in Columbus.

Ohio Anti-Corruption Act

One of my first priorities once elected is passing the Ohio Anti-Corruption Act which is based to some extent on the proposed American Anti-Corruption Act. This will include policies to limit the amount of lobbying that is done in Columbus and end the revolving door between elected representatives and lobbyists. This will also limit campaign contributions from unions and corporations and bring an end to PACs and dark money. I demand an entirely transparent government for Ohio and an end to the rent seeking and crony capitalism. The first step in solving Ohio’s problems and rebuilding our economy is cleaning up the government and removing the corruption in Columbus. Ohioans deserve a government for Ohioans, not special interests and those with the biggest checkbook.

Unicameral Legislature

I don’t see much point in the state senate. It is not like the senate at the federal level where each state is apportioned a set number of senators. The state senate is almost no different than the state house, it even has basically the same proportion of Republicans and Democrats. It is an extra an unnecessary step and an unnecessary cost to taxpayers.

Eliminate the Position of Lieutenant Governor

It is a pointless position that costs Ohio taxpayers $140,000 annually. If we are concerned about what will happen should a governor resign or die we will simply follow a line of succession of the other statewide elected officials.

21st Century Government

It is my goal that the government of Ohio be brought into the 21st century and be as fully digitized as possible. Within the next decade Ohioans should be able to vote, pay fines and taxes, participate in government, and handle nearly all bureaucratic nonsense from the convenience of a laptop or phone. This digitalization will save the government money and save time and costs for Ohio citizens. It is in fact possible, we just need the vision and commitment.

Enfranchisement

I am for democracy and greater enfranchisement. I want people to vote and participate in government because I believe that results in ultimately the best outcomes. To this end it should be as easy to vote as possible in a secure way. This means abundant polling locations open for extended periods of time, online voting, and the right to vote not being infringed. We should also lower the voting age perhaps to 17, maybe even to 16. The goal here is to get people active in government early. This will improve turnout and improve active participation in government. The usual arguments I see against this are that young people lack the mental capacity to make good choices and that they will just vote the way their parents do. It is already the case that people vote the way their parents do for decades after leaving their parent’s home, this is largely a result of genetics and the way one was raised, and I don’t think many parents would argue that their teenage children are anything if not independent minded. To the other argument I just point out that we do not require people to be of proven intelligence to vote and intelligence doesn’t necessarily correlate with who one votes for.