Why you should sign my petition

We live in a supposed democracy. Except- when the cost of running becomes too high- we start to get people beholden to their supporters- or some other organization that is backing them.

It doesn’t matter who gets on the ballot- what matters is that you have a choice. No choice- why bother even holding elections.That’s why I’m circulating Mark Manovich’s petitions along with my own today. It’s important to have primaries- and have a choice.

Dayton City Commission elections are set up to keep people off the ballot. Besides having the required number of signatures being 10x that to run for Congress- the partisan Board of Elections does everything they can to disqualify signatures.

When I come to your door- or one of my supporters, it’s so you can have a choice- even if it is to vote against me.

So sign- or you may as well just give up your right to vote- because, in this town- the candidates are still chosen in a back room without your input anyway.

To the lady who told me she was supporting “who we have”- I asked her to name one piece of legislation that Matt Joseph had introduced in 7 years. She came up with him going on a junket to commemorate the Bosnian Peace Accords signing- that’s not legislation.

Go look at his website- I’m sure you’ll get a feel for his deep thinking: http://www.mattjoseph.com/

I can’t find a site for Lovelace.


Gas prices got you down? Solutions to our oil addiction

Gas shot up this week because another country with a huge spread between its haves and its have nots decided to try to equalize things by having a little revolution. Libya produces around 2% of the world’s oil- and very little of it reaches the U.S.- but, we’re going to pay, and pay, and pay.

I’ve said before that while everyone blames the banking industry for the financial meltdown- with their slimy secondary market junk paper- the final nail in the coffin was gas at $4 a gallon. If you believe in a “double-dip” recession- get ready for a second bottom falling out- as gas prices continue to skyrocket- thanks in large part to speculators playing games with futures.

Of course, the federal government refuses to start forcing people who trade on commodity markets to actually  trade only in what they will actually buy and take delivery of (that would be too sensible)- and we’ve already decided that mass transit and high-speed rail are not good investments- instead pouring billions of “stimulus money” into roads so the few remaining rich people in this country can drive their luxury cars in luxury.

Once again, I bring up the change that Ohio could make to its motor vehicle licensing laws- and exempt 50cc scooters from any special licensing:

In many states (note, I can find a definitive list for mopeds, but not for scooters) two-wheel vehicles under 50cc don’t require anything but a valid driver’s license – and if they have pedals, may not require a license at all if they can’t go over 30 mph.

In Ohio we’ll allow a 14- or 15-year-old on the road with a moped- with a “probationary license.” Yet, we don’t require a motorcycle helmet or completion of a motorcycle-safety course for adults, we require a motorcycle license to ride anything without pedals. This adds a level of bureaucracy that severely hampers sales of the most energy-efficient scooter- the 50 cc- which all get over 90 m.pg.. Buyers realize that if they have to get a license- they may as well opt for a 125cc or larger scooter.

It also changes insurance costs- lumping the two types together in one category- motorcycle.

It’s time to make a uniform law across the nation that allows 50cc scooters to be ridden by any adult with a valid driver’s license with a helmet to encourage use of these energy-efficient vehicles.

The quickest and easiest way to reduce the need for foreign oil is to use less of it. Inexpensive, quick, fun, 50cc scooters are a huge step in the right direction.

via The 50cc answer to dependence on foreign oil.

I called for a national uniform policy on these highly affordable and efficient forms of transportation in that post- and reminded everyone that this is a matter of national defense. We can’t afford to run out of oil- because we’re far from being able to isolate ourselves from what happens in places they don’t like us very much.

But I’m also going to throw in another aspect to the 50cc solution: it’s a liberating form of transportation for the poor. The ability to get to work for pennies a day – cheaper than public transit by a long shot, 50 cc scooters could transform the mobility of the working poor. To use a line that Dayton City Commissioner Nan Whaley likes to throw out in defense of bicycling and “complete streets” (streets with bike lanes) – “it’s a social justice” issue (argh- quoting Whaley is painful). For less than the price of a year’s bus pass, people could be on a scooter- and not be limited to bus routes and destinations (they could even make it into the forbidden land of Greene County where a lot of entry-level retail jobs sprang up in former farmland).

Of course, we’re still hosed by rising oil prices because about 25% of our fuel consumption goes into producing our food supply (from fertilizer to farm equipment to the trucks to ship our vegetables ridiculous distances) so scooters won’t save us – they are only part of a possible solution.

I do have a tad of good news in that Motoscooto on Wayne Avenue isn’t dead as previously reported here and elsewhere- he’s decided to re-align his business to selling closeout scooters and low price only (subject to change- knowing Mr. Liff).

Of course, unless you’ve got your head hidden somewhere the sun doesn’t shine- you would realize that Libya won’t be the last oil-producing nation to take to the streets in the coming years- and even with new rulers in the oil breadbasket of the world, there is no guarantee that oil prices will stay either stable or denominated in dollars (when the real bottom falls out).So to further speed up the adoption of highly efficient 2-wheeled vehicles and other high-efficiency vehicles- how about eliminating the sales tax and making the registration costs for these vehicles reduced to a nominal cost nationwide?

To put it in bullet points:

  • No more sales taxes on bicycles, electric vehicles, scooters and vehicles getting more than say- 60 mpg.
  • Nominal registration fees for such vehicles.
  • Low-cost insurance for all scooter and motorcycle riders who have taken the Motorcycle Safety Foundation course and passed.
  • Require all pay parking lots to set aside spaces for high MPG vehicles at a fractional rate- and allow scooters to park on sidewalks free as long as they aren’t impeding the flow of pedestrian traffic (see how they do it in Europe).

The looming crisis requires some kind of response and solution- and invading more oil-producing nations hasn’t exactly solved the problems in the past.

Just as our economy started to show signs of return from the dead- we’re quickly reminded that America is nothing but an oil junky dependent on a fix of cheap oil and bountiful expanses of oil-based asphalt. If we don’t learn to kick the oil habit, we’ll never be safe or stable again.

While our legislators continue to fight over issues that they have no legitimate business in- like gay marriage and abortion- the wheels on our collective bus are about to fall off again.

And no matter how many times Sara Palin screams “Drill, baby, drill”- at some point the supply of oil will not meet demand. The country that solves this problem first will be the next superpower. Yep- gas prices should get you down.

South Park as the Catalyst for a Greater Dayton?

It’s nice to see a good news piece about our neighborhood , Historic South Park, as the cover story of the Dayton City Paper. Despite what you may think about this neighborhood from reading the uncensored stories here- of my recent break-ins (which can almost all be connected directly with just a few bad actors).

The piece is written by one of our own- it’s PR for sure- but, it has the facts straight, unlike what you’d read in the Dayton Daily.

I particularly liked this quote- which if extrapolated- is also the answer for Dayton- greater Dayton, not just the city of…

While the physical layout of South Park contributes to its neighborliness, and an active neighborhood association aids its development, no single entity is strong enough to lift up a community on its own, according to urban historian Alexander von Hoffman. “For successful and sustained renewal, communities need a cadre of leaders who can change the perceptions and actual conditions that affect the reputation of their neighborhood,” von Hoffman said. “Leaders must coordinate the actions of its residents and create innovative alliances between local government, private investors, realtors, individuals, non-profit groups and law enforcement.”

via Building a better South Park : Dayton City Paper.

Note the part about “changing perceptions and actual conditions that affect the reputation”- it’s what’s missing in Dayton. We don’t have the vision- coming from a cadre of leaders- in fact, one would question if we’ve elected leaders at all in Dayton- we seem to have mouthpieces committed to the status quo. Find an elected leader having a conversation about change online- in public- or even mentioning things we could do.

It doesn’t take a whole lot of people to form the core cadre- but what it does take is a concerted effort to show a vision of where we could be- and how we’ll get there.

We’ve got too much dead weight in elected positions throughout “greater Dayton”- with all of our fiefdoms- it dilutes the strength of leadership and lends itself to largess and laziness.

But, back to the South Park article- we’ve seen a huge shift from around 70% rental properties to 70% resident-owned properties in the last 25 years I’ve been here. Because of a shared vision- we’ve seen neighbor after neighbor not only take care of their own houses- but, invest in others. The confidence in our shared vision has made the neighborhood vital and confident investment has followed.

Because I’m running for office- I’ll also point out, that I served as President for 2 years- and cultivated a successor- who was then followed by Karin Manovich. I took over a neighborhood that had been divided by the previous president- who liked to foster a class divide- I brought the neighborhood back together, mended fences and brought structure and order to meetings that had been running many hours- and got them under control. I was also the innovator who suggested the for-profit development corporation- South Park Social Capital, which was instrumental in transforming Skinner;s bar- a trouble spot, into the South Park Tavern.

None of the South Park miracle would have been possible without some of the things that I believe have been key to our success:

  • Definite boundaries with good natural divisions.
  • Historic zoning which has helped standardize expectations for repairs- and differentiated the neighborhood from others.
  • An amazing variety of housing stock, with something for everyone.
  • The central location with excellent highway access.
  • Good corporate neighbors- UD, MVH, NCR
  • A wide cross section of people in the community, from diverse professions, backgrounds and socio-economic diversity.
  • And most importantly the investment of MVH in supplying Community Based Police officers over the last 15 years. Without improved perception of law enforcement- none of this would have been possible.

There is one thing I’ve learned in the 25 years of being part of this organized community- is that we can’t take our eye off the ball. We have to keep our citizens engaged and working together. I’ve seen blocks rise and fall and rise back up again- all based on the people who are living there. I’ve seen houses rehabbed- sell high- and then fall into disrepair only to be picked back up. There is no finish line in this competition for a quality neighborhood- only a journey that can be progressively more enjoyable if the community chooses to work together.

If there has been one factor that has slowed us down more than anything- it has been the loss of so many young families over the years who leave as their kids hit school age. If we don’t have confidence in our community schools, it severely hurts our community. I’ve been trying to work with Dayton School Superintendent Lori Ward to find ways to reconnect neighborhood kids who could be attending as many as 30 different schools- hopefully, soon, we’ll have an initiative in place to solve this major problem and start keeping our best social capital in our community- in our community.

We are what we eat

Dayton- and all my readers: meet my girlfriend, Teresa Whitley.

She’s going to make an impact on Dayton- one way or another- and I’m letting you in on her contribution to the conversation about something we need to work on- that’s as important (or maybe more important) than UniGov, Economic Development- it’s our health- and what we eat.

Her site is RootED Nation- and here is the lead of her most recent post:

At the end of the month Montgomery County will be releasing a Community Health Assessment that says black people are more likely to be overweight and to have diabetes.

via Will Montgomery County step up and give us real solutions?.

I’m not going to tell you where she goes from this opening shot- I hope you jump over and read- and comment- and add her to your feed reader.

There is a crisis- and it’s one that we could collectively work together to solve- if we want. We live in the breadbasket of America- we should have easy access to the highest quality, fresh, safe foods – but unfortunately- we don’t. She’s gathering resources and people- and ideas- on how to take back our waistlines- and our health issues and our quality of life- by changing the way we think- and eat.

I hope you enjoy her site- and her thinking as much as I do.

And if you want a second post to peruse- how about one that has this in it:

What if I told you that the statements made by the Surgeon General and National Institute of Health were not only wrong, but complete nonsense? Would you think I was crazy?

OK, fair enough – I won’t take offense.

What if an expert in the field that has spent his entire career following the scientific research of why we get fat, a contributor to Science Magazine, someone who has won multiple awards for his Science journalism, a man who has an undergrad in Physics and two masters degrees from Harvard, Stanford, and Columbia said this very same thing -” not only is it wrong, it’s actually nonsense”. Would you believe him?

via Not only is it wrong, it’s nonsense..

I guarantee- you can save a lot of time reading the material that she’s been gathering by reading her site. Soon you’ll wonder if our government isn’t in the process of killing us off… but, go read it there. It’s good stuff.


Funny, the description of Jordan sounds just like here.

It’s time Americans paid attention to our future- as played out in the Arab republics. While we wave the flag and claim ourselves a “democracy” there is very little democratic process in our elections which generally provide power to the highest bidder.

How we have a congress full of millionaires is one of the mysteries that voters ignore. We’re being gamed- and we refuse to acknowledge it. But- listen to this conversation from American Public Media’s Marketplace- and replace Jordan with here and the monarchy with our political class: (I’ve put the key phrases in bold)

Oraib Al-Rantawi, a political commentator says, most of the Arab world’s been infused with a new spirit.
Oraib Al-Rantawi: We are living in the Tunisian, the Egyptian moment. This is the spirit. Nobody will stop it!
It is, he says, a spirit of rebellion against state-sponsored theft. Across the Middle East, many people believe their autocratic leaders have been robbing them blind.
Labib Kamhawi: When you don’t have democracy, you have no accountability, no transparency and then you have corruption.
That’s Jordanian businessman Labib Kamhawi. He says that like most Middle Eastern countries, Jordan is run by a clique of wealthy families and individuals — politicians in cahoots with business people. Kamhawi says many of them plunder the public purse, hog the best jobs and try to skim a bit off every government contract.
Kamhawi: The corruption really covers all aspects of life which left people who don’t belong to this class helpless.

Not everyone agrees that Jordan is a hotbed of corruption. Local economist Yusuf Mansur.

Yusuf Mansur: There is corruption, there is corruption. However, as an economist, I don’t see it as massive or as widespread as in other countries.That does not reassure critics of the system. One of them claims there’s an unofficial poverty line for corrupt individuals: If they don’t manage to rip off more than $50 million during their careers, they’re not doing well.

But Jordan is an undemocratic monarchy. King Abdullah hires and fires his governments. Critics like Labib Kamhawi do have a question to answer:

Beard: Is the king and his family profiting personally from this corruption?

Kamhawi: The law punishes anybody who talks about the king or the royal family. So we cannot talk. You ask the king. You don’t ask me.

The king declined an invitation to appear on this program. But one expatriate Jordanian journalist is not so reticent. He’s been circulating over the Internet an open letter addresses to Queen Rania.

Letter, read aloud: What gives you the right to celebrate your birthday with a party costing $15 million? And for the king to give you a yacht costing $83 million in a poor country that has no oil, lives off aid and cannot buy milk for its children?

Around half the Jordanian population lives on less or little more than $2.50 a day.

via Jordan’s elite stifles economic opportunity | Marketplace From American Public Media.

How is it not “State-sponsored theft” when the checkout girl at the Piggly Wiggly in Atlanta, making minimum wage who pays her taxes- has those hard earned tax dollars siphoned off to NCR and Bill Nuti- who has routinely made over $4 million a year- for losing 2/3 of the company’s value?

How is it that so many members of Congress are now millionaires- despite- a life of “government service”- does anyone really want to look at how John Boehner pays his tanning bill? The cost to run for office is soaring- and the only way to reach elected office is to raise huge sums of money- typically from wealthy special interests- and then to serve your money masters.

Is this country run by a clique of wealthy families? The recent events in Wisconsin- where the Koch brothers are funneling money into Governor Walker’s campaign and his attempt to dismantle organized labor? Or are the families who are so worried about the “Death Tax” which affects so few Americans- yet gets so much press? Or- let’s talk about the guys on Wall Street making $5 billion plus a year (over 25 of them in ’09)- yes- that’s with a b- by packaging our home loans- and playing financial roulette with money that’s not theirs?

Let’s look at how many billions we’ve had to spend to bail out Wall Street- yet- we still see crooks like Countrywide’s Angelo Mozilo walking free with a multimillion-dollar golden parachute- instead of prison time.

There is a political disconnect in this country- as great or wider than that between the rulers of these Arab oil republics, yet, we still believe that because we are free to discuss things without the threat of imprisonment- we’re somehow better off.

The reality is- this country is becoming one huge prison- both the literal kind- where we lock up petty criminals by the boatload, and one where the working class has the odds stacked against it. However, as the plunder continues- and our housing values and our currency continue to drop- and our unemployment rate stays high- and decent jobs continue to get replaced with minimum wage jobs– we will eventually see another American Revolution (and it won’t just be the Tea Party people.)

The people in Washington should be worried. Because unlike Egypt, Tunisia and the rest of the monarchies that will soon fall- our people have access to something that isn’t readily available in Turban land- guns.

When the riot comes- it won’t be as easy to write off as the riots we’ve had in the past- LA’s back in the eighties was just a street brawl compared to what’s coming.

Just wait.

The political grandstand and Senate Bill 5

Actions speak louder than words and a position on Senate Bill 5 is one of those galvanizing quiz questions candidates will be asked for years to come by union bosses to decide who to lend their financial muscle to.

So, we’ll hear lots of postures by candidates- who have zero influence on the issue, but will use it to get in good graces.

Like Dayton City Commissioner Matt Joseph- who has been nearly silent on the City Commission for seven years- but now has a voice as election time rolls around:

Dayton City Commissioner Matt Joseph stood in solidarity with members of the city’s four unions at the rally. Joseph, a Democrat, called this a time to work with public servants, not against them. Collective bargaining, he said, is an incentive for labor and management to communicate.

“In times of economic crisis you’ve got to encourage people to work together,” he said. “The City Commission hasn’t always agreed 100 percent with our unions, but we’ve always been able to talk about it.”

via Lehner asks teachers to help lawmakers ‘figure out a system’.

Has Joseph done anything or said anything at all to try to solve some of the issues he was elected to solve? In the midst of the “times of economic crisis” he sat idly by as former City Manager Rashad Young passed a back dated pay raise for City Management- and himself- without three votes on the City Commission. Joseph did nothing.

Joseph has been nearly silent on how to solve the Civil Service disaster that is putting our entire city in jeopardy by not being able to hire safety forces- and yet, he has time to come out and talk in support of collective bargaining?

This is a nothing but a photo-op, money grab by a politician with zero track record to stand on. Yet, he’s already endorsed by the Democratic Party– and has union backing.

If we took the campaign money out of the hands of special interests- maybe we’d have politicians who worked for us instead of these powerful lobbies. I’ve never accepted money from corporations, special interests, unions, PACs or political parties- because I want to represent the people who elect me. Sadly- that message doesn’t seem to have the ability to get out without a lot of money- and I’m not very good at asking people to buy true, honest leadership.

SB5 is a bad idea for many reasons- but, the solutions have very little to do with collective bargaining. Unlike talking suits like Joseph, I have written my position on it for all to see and discuss: The collective bargaining clusterduck

Try to find that- or anything resembling an idea on Matt Joseph’s website: Matt Joseph “A New Leader for a better Dayton” which quite appropriately has this on the welcome page- “The Issues…. Under construction.”

Seven years in office…. all one big political grandstand- and zero action.

Yet, that’s what we’ve elected, not just once- twice. Don’t let it happen a third time.

The collective bargaining clusterduck

There is a problem with what unions have come to represent in this country. No longer are they the voice of the workers- they’ve become a cash cow for Democratic lawmakers- the same way Wall Street has done for lawmakers willing to look the other way on regulation.

The real issue isn’t workers’ rights to strike, or the deals- it’s political Neanderthal thinking – using a club instead of diplomacy.

It’s also a bit of resentment thrown in. Unions have gotten a bad rap for adding in protections for people who suck, and refusing to accept what the normal world outside their political playpen preaches- pay for performance is the norm.

Public employee unions are the last bastion of union strength right now- and they should be looking closely at what happened to their auto worker brethren. From today’s New York Times on Hyundai in Alabama:

For more than a year, workers at the Hyundai plant have been putting in 10 hours of overtime a week as part of their regular schedule, plus occasional Saturdays. With an average regular wage of about $20 an hour, the additional overtime hours mean workers here are earning more than many workers at the unionized plants up north. The United Automobile Workers union has long tried to organize plants in the United States operated by foreign carmakers, most of which are in the South, but has yet to succeed anywhere.

via Hyundai’s Swift Growth Lifts Alabama’s Economy – NYTimes.com.

The real solutions to this perceived problem are more than health care, retirement, step increases, seniority, tenure- a rational approach to the problems would revolutionize our “capitalist” system and give it a chance to compete in the future:

  • Take the money out of politics. It’s time for real campaign finance reform. It would be cheaper for the taxpayers to pay directly for short campaign periods, with equal money for each candidate. We’d also need to institute Instant Runoff Voting to stop making this a lesser of two evils race every time.

I mean, if you look at the last election, 2010, the AFL-CIO spent $100 million and 90-some percent, 98, probably, percent of that money went to Democrats. You had the American Federation of State (unintelligible) and municipal employees spent $50 million electing Democrats. So the Democratic Party is very much beholden to these public employee unions.

via Week In Politics: Wisconsin Protest : NPR.

  • Retirement, except for highly dangerous public service like the military, police, fire etc. isn’t until 65. No pension payments until 65- no more double dipping.
  • Universal health care plan- and I’m not going to try to argue that one here- let’s just say that our health insurance industry is out of control and it’s time to go to direct pay health care.
  • Eliminate tenure except for college professors- who are supposed to be able to do research, publish, etc.- in addition to teaching. However- make it easier to fire for cause- and, compensation is no longer linked to seniority.
  • Eliminate “prevailing wage” from the vocabulary- competition is essential if we are to have free and open markets. I’ve also found this idea odd- in that some people are more productive- and prevailing wage takes none of this into account.

There are solutions to the issues. But striking out with a hammer when what is needed is some good diplomacy isn’t moving our state forward.

Maybe it’s because John Kasich is an idiot- to use the term he used to talk to a police officer doing his  union job– or maybe it’s just another case of Wall Street muscle screwing us again.

Either way- collective bargaining isn’t the problem- collective brainlessness is.

Unions began as a way to ensure equality- equal and fair pay for people doing the labor that produced profits. Our plutocracy in America would love to take out the last effective tool of leveling the playing field.

Don’t let it happen. Think of the three R’s: Resist, revolt, recall.

Esrati needs your help to win a fight fairly

A few readers have sent me messages asking why not as many posts of late? Did the Monarchy of Montgomery County stop being evil? Did your tax dollars all of a sudden just get diverted to providing actual needed governmental service? Did our political leaders all just wake up and realize that it’s not about politics- but community service? Hardly.

It’s called my-domestic-partner-is-in-Philly-on-business and I’m a single parent. Kudos to all single parents- it’s a huge responsibility and a lot of work. So far- no food poisoning thanks to my cooking, or injuries due to neglect.

I’ve also been collecting signatures for my City Commission run this year. Matt Joseph and Dean Lovelace are up for re-election and I believe you should have a choice in a primary- that means more than four candidates which will force a primary. Of course, I believe that the primary doesn’t serve the citizens- actually reducing choice- if we moved to Instant Run-off Voting– we could save an election, cut the campaign time- and give independents a better shot in this supposedly “non-partisan” election. It’s non-partisan in that party names don’t appear on the ballot- not that it matters.

I got a letter from the Montgomery County Democratic Party– of which I am a member- announcing that “This year. we ask your support once again as we work to keep Matt Joseph and Dean Lovelace on the Dayton City Commission” by buying tickets to their “Frolic for Funds.”

Note- the petitions aren’t due yet, the candidates haven’t filed- yet the party has already picked candidates.

How “Democratic” is that? In fact- is part of the cost of this mailing being borne by the candidates?

Shouldn’t it read “This year. we ask your support once again as we work to keep Democrats on the Dayton City Commission”

I have to collect 500+ signatures of registered Dayton voters by 4 March 2011 and turn in notarized petitions. If you’d like to help- please contact me at david (at) elect esrati dot com and I’ll get a voter list for your neighborhood- and a petition to you. It’s a great way to meet your neighbors.

I ask that each person get at least 40 verified signatures (one petition). For all the time I’ve spent supplying you with news and info for discussion on this site- this is one of the few times I’ve asked for something in return. Please consider helping me give voters a choice this May in a primary.

Thank you.

And a racetrack is not the answer.

Everybody is so excited! The announcement by Penn National Gaming that- if the state allows video slot machines- and ignores the 50-mile limit on racetracks- that they will bring the ponies to the corner of Needmore and Webster is a major “economic development” coup.

But it’s not.

Jobs at racetracks and casinos aren’t the answer to Dayton’s problems. And although this is one of the few developments that makes sense right over the well field- this is yet another project that has no synergy. Like the ballfield- built away from the bars on Fifth Street, the Schuster built away from the convention center and the restaurants on Fifth Street, like UD Arena- built in the middle of  nowhere – but at least on an exit from I-75. Once again, we’re building a golf course where the tees and the greens aren’t in logical consecutive order.

Are there better locations for a Racino in Dayton? Is there a better location for the Fairgrounds? How would this track work over on the old McCall Printing site off 35W, or down at the old GM Plant off Edwin C. Moses?

The North East quadrant of Dayton has seen little recent development- and with the oddity of Harrison Township still there (for no good reason) are we about to build another entertainment island?

The whole idea of putting the locations for the casinos into the Ohio Constitution was stupid, and now, this slot machine paradise plus ponies is just one more odd idea of how to handle gambling.  Why video slots instead of just poker rooms? Why is horse racing OK- but baccarat is bad?

It’s time to deregulate the gaming industry- and let free markets take the premium of scarcity out of the picture. Then maybe we’ll see things go in the right places- and the wrong ones will fail through market forces.

The only gaming we’ve had in Ohio is by the politicians- who keep coming up with these limitations that end up messing up more than they help, but, then again- most of the time, government isn’t the answer when it comes to “economic development.”

Government as a co-op

If you think about how government grew- it was to join and pool resources for the greater good. At first we had mutual firehouses where you bought “fire insurance” from different private mutual groups- until we let government take over. It was the one-stop shop for public safety- and as a “public organization” we owned it- and it responded to our needs.

That all changed somewhere starting around the sixties- where politics and marketing started to raise the cost of politics to the ridiculous prices we have now. The same has happened with public education- trying to meet all these standards that have been established by lobbyists. In fact- the whole shooting match has been corrupted and tainted by the  campaign money monster.

We’ve also failed to change and adapt our political systems and jurisdictions that were set in place in some cases in the 1800s. Why hasn’t government adapted and changed? Simple- lack of competition if you believe the free market dogma.

We’ve seen moves to counter the idea of government as a monopoly- charter schools, outsourcing public services- and “privatization” with little effect, other than to make things a bigger mess. We’ve got more rules, more regulation, more bureaucracy- and no one working on the plain old idea of “how do we improve the lives of our constituents every day.”

And it seems to me- there are some ways we could bring the power of the group together to improve the quality of life. If we just did a few of these things locally- we could create competitive advantages for our region that could help grow it back to health. For instance:

  • With energy deregulation- we now have all these “billing companies” that promise lower rates- yet still deliver the same products from DP&L and Vectren. Somehow- we don’t trust any of them and both the big energy companies keep a majority of the business direct. Why isn’t there a public non-profit co-op to negotiate best rates for everyone? We’ve seen the municipalities cut their street lighting plans by joining forces.
  • With the virtual duopoly in both health insurers and health providers: United Health Care and Anthem, Premier Health Partners and Kettering Health Network- it would seem that there could be room for the local governments along with a few major employers- joining together to “self-insure” and provide- and open enrollment to small businesses in the region- to create a public health option- with our own doctors- and a county hospital- at more competitive rates. I’d rather pay the doctors directly a flat fee – than give it to insurers that are an unnecessary middleman.
  • We’ve also seen the inability of the private companies to get us up to speed with internet connectivity- while our stop lights are on fiber optic- very little of the rest of us are- this is a prime place to band together to connect everything as a public utility that is critical to the growth of our community.

I’m sure someone will claim this as socialism- but, these efforts would be entirely opt in. In Ohio we have a “Public Utilities Commission of Ohio” or PUCO- but- other than Muni light in Cleveland- there are very few true public utilities.

It shouldn’t cost millions a year to pay an executive suite to run a monopoly power company- a duopoly health care- or something as simple as an ISP. It’s time to start taking back the necessities for basic business in Ohio so we can be competitive.