It’s time for separation of politics and medicine

Meme about narccicism posting practices on facebook

Reading Facebook isn’t the same as reading the New York Times

The first amendment to the Constitution dictates that politics in America stay out of the church. Maybe it’s time for a 28th amendment for politicians to stay out of medicine.

Refresher:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Lately, we’ve had politicians practicing medicine without a license, which is illegal by the way, as is practicing law without a license. The problem may stem from the fact that to practice politics in this country, there is no competency test, no requirements other than residency, age and sometimes to be free of a criminal conviction. Need proof that anyone can get elected, look at Dayton’s Mayor or 45.

In fact, we’ve almost created a catch 22 system for politicians in this country. Catch 22 refresher:

A catch-22 is a paradoxical situation from which an individual cannot escape because of contradictory rules.  The term was coined by Joseph Heller, who used it in his 1961 novel Catch-22.

An example would be: “How am I supposed to gain experience [to be hired for a job] if I’m constantly turned down for not having any?”

Catch-22s often result from rules, regulations, or procedures that an individual is subject to but has no control over because to fight the rule is to accept it. Another example is a situation in which someone is in need of something that can only be had by not being in need of it. (A bank will never issue someone a loan if they need the money.) One connotation of the term is that the creators of the “catch-22” situation have created arbitrary rules in order to justify and conceal their own abuse of power.

Source: Catch-22 (logic) – Wikipedia

Final 3 words are relevant here: “Abuse of power.” Which is often what we have when politicians try to play doctor for the television cameras. Until the last year, most of this posturing circled squarely around one medical procedure, abortion, or as Republicans would re-phrase it, “the death penalty for the unborn.” Note, while most of them are very anti-abortion, most of them have no problem with the death penalty, as long as it is handed out inequitably to poor people and minorities. And, God forbid, we talk about contraception to teenagers, because that would also be morally wrong. Don’t talk about sex with children because, well, they might start doing it after they hear about it.

The new big thing for politicians to talk about is actually an old thing, “the war on drugs”- specifically the “opioid epidemic.” First, lets be clear, we had the “war on poverty” and it got worse, then we had the “war on drugs” and it got worse. We went to war in the Middle East and it got worse, when people have that bumper sticker “War is not the answer”- they are speaking the truth.

And by the way, war, when entered into correctly in this country, is an act of congress- a thing politicians do (to others). War is the last resort, it is a tool for those who failed at statesmanship, which, despite the non-gender neutral insertion of man in the middle, is the art of the deal (so sorry, I had to stick that in) to broker a mutually acceptable peaceful resolution to a perceived inequity.

That last word, “inequity” is important, since the next civil war, the next uprising, or the next collapse of our country- will be centered around that very concept- the un-equal sharing of the collective wealth of this nation. And why do our politicians fail to see the coming storm? Because our election system isn’t rigged by the Russians, it’s rigged by the wealthy who discovered with subtle manipulation over time they can game the system to elect puppets, or as I like to call them, “the best politicians money can buy.”

Onto what our bought politicians are doing by meddling in medicine without a license.

It’s big news when a local “leader” comes up with his baseball solution to heroin overdoses- a three strike rule, where on your third OD, no Narcan. Local Sheriff Chestpuffer decides to go one step further- his deputies won’t carry Narcan. Sidenote to idiot sheriff, we have an average of 2 children a week treated for coming into contact with heroin- and some have died, so now, your deputies without Narcan will be performing abortions on actual children instead of future children, oh, and btw, we also have officers of the law who need to be revived with Narcan after contact with junkies- so it’s OK for them to die while performing their job in your department.

Note, I’m not linking to either of these idiots, they don’t deserve the link juice, just take my word for it. It’s out there, and you know how to google. Besides by the time I publish this, there will undoubtedly be copycat morons in communities across our great nation. Guaranteed. Ohio is not the only incubator of elected idiots.

Next up comes local laws concerning the banning of medical pot dispensaries in our state, long before they are even done writing the rules for how these facilities will be licensed and monitored. We used to call this NIMBY- not in my back yard, and it applied to other necessary evils of society, junkyards, landfills, toxic fume spewing factories and power plants, prisons, you name it. Hell, life would be so much better if I didn’t have to have a bathroom in my house where my roommate stinks up the place- but, well, I poop too, and so do you. The true meaning of your shit doesn’t stink as applied to politics is NIMBY- a failure to understand that collectively, we have to have bathrooms and landfills (but public bathrooms, that the homeless can use…. no, we don’t need those- or park benches they can lie down on…. the list goes on).

Medical pot is not recreational pot. Sort of like Morphine isn’t the same as Heroin, well, wait, it really is, except one is administered by professionals and the other is amateur hour. There are people who could benefit from medical pot, including my mother. She’s an 89 year old woman with dementia. She’s lost 20 pounds since my father died, has problems sleeping (I had to ween her off ambien, after the episode where she walked across the street in her nightdress at midnight, to pound on my door to demand I give it to her- 4 hours after I’d given it to her.) She gets agitated, she forgets to eat, she has difficulty sleeping- the only danger in medical pot/edibles- is she runs out of ice cream/chocolate/or Trader Joe’s Triple Ginger Ginger Snaps (try them, they are the bomb). While medical pot would, and may have helped her  right now, thanks to our political geniuses playing doctor, it won’t be available legally until 2018. Mom would say thanks, but, well, she’s not really with us fully these days.

What makes a local council person an expert in medical treatment of dementia with medical marijuana? Not a damn thing. In fact, when have politicians actually come up with any law that provides us for better health care? (I’m leaving this one open- trust me, there isn’t one that everyone will agree on). From abortion, vaccinations, to what goes in our food, to mental health care, to death panels and assisted suicide, our entire premise of enacting laws to cover health care, by people who have no credible expertise on any of the above, is a prescription for malpractice.

And what is the problem with us? In order to run for office in our current political client, you probably would receive the following medical diagnosis:

Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for admiration and a lack of empathy for others. But behind this mask of ultraconfidence lies a fragile self-esteem that’s vulnerable to the slightest criticism.

Source: Narcissistic personality disorder – Mayo Clinic

Hell, I’ve been told I have it- and the nerve of me, writing this blog about all of this, what are MY qualifications? I’ve got a degree in marketing.

At some point, and I’m seriously afraid of this, we may need to turn to the military for a solution. No, not shooting people, but, adapting a standardized test for job qualifications. The military uses their ASVAB test-

The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) is a multiple choice test, administered by the United States Military Entrance Processing Command, used to determine qualification for enlistment in the United States Armed Forces.

Source: Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery – Wikipedia

Imagine all politicians having to pass a test, including a basic understanding of actual civics, to be taken before running for office? There are members of the State Legislature that recently had to be schooled on the laws they created about school busing for charters and who pays for it. Sad, but true.

And, before you wonder what this veteran’s ASVAB score was, the lowest was a 113 in clerical, the GT was 128, and I think they give you 30 for just knowing how to use a pencil and fill in the dots. You needed a 32 to be a truck driver, 25 to be an 11B (infantry, bullet-stopper) when I took it in prosperous peacetime. The top scale not being 100 is one of those things with the military, I don’t know what the highest possible score was, but, my scores put me in the 99th percentile at the time. Continuing with my narcissism, I also had a high enough score on both the DLAB (Defense Language Aptitude Battery) and the FAST test (Flight Aptitude Selection Test), in basic training I was selected as a potential candidate for West Point prep as well.

And, while we’re at it, maybe the idea of testing voters needs to be considered as well? Dayton sends slate cards to all the polling places, so even the functional illiterates can vote the party ticket by cross referencing names to the ballot (even those who can’t read, can shape associate).

It’s time to re-evaluate not only our laws, our law makers, but the process of a democracy in a world where Facebook has become a credible news source- or this blog.

For our elections to be truly certified, we need to make sure, we as a country aren’t certifiable (crazy).

Let’s pass a constitutional amendment limiting public office to people who aren’t morons. It may or may not solve a lot of our problems.

The problems with property taxes- an opening discussion

Beauty is only skin deep.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

When it comes to property tax appraisals in Dayton- both of these come into play. However, neither is helping us.

I’ve heard people say: “I don’t want to fix up the outside of my house because the property taxes will go up” and they are perfectly right. However, their home values may drop in the meantime.

I’ve heard people complain that their neighbors fixed up their houses and it cost them more, because their property taxes wend up, and they’re right too- but, their home may have appreciated thanks to their neighbors’ work.

Right now, with property values in a state of flux due entirely to factors beyond our control (thanks to the “casinoization of Wall Street”) an appraisal of your home value for sale or for tax value is as accurate as a corporate valuation by a rating service just before the crash- remember that 2 weeks before AIG folded, someone gave it a premium rating.

Just because someone is willing to pay a price for my home, according to an appraiser, it may not be worth it. There is no scientific system in place, it’s like arguing over who the greatest baseball player ever was- it’s all conditional.

How should we build a fair, honest, property tax valuation system? One that will do what the current system fails to do- namely, increase everybody’s wealth and make our community stronger.

Right now, we’re continuing to build new inventory, while our population is shrinking. This causes oversupply, and causes prices to drop. If we realized this, we’d put a cap on the number of homes that can be built when population is not growing, or require the removal of real estate from the market to allow new construction. Call it a cap and trade system for homes.

Secondly, what decides property value? Raj Soin has had a running argument with Greene County that his mansion isn’t worth that much to anyone but him- and he may be right. But, then again, the former Hook estate was looked at as a pink elephant when it was owned by the county- which gave it away, only to have a savior pump a lot of money into it and restore it- only to have its property tax go up (after the abatement ends). Should taxes penalize someone for fixing something up? Obviously not- since we want nice neighborhoods.

Since buildings are one of the leading consumers of energy, which is of finite supply, and has environmental consequences for all of us- maybe we should look at taxation based on energy consumption? Sound like the Fair Tax argument?

While we may want to look the other way about the cost of heating and cooling homes- in the long run, that’s what costs all of us. Wars are fought over fossil fuels (mostly oil) and with the environmental damage affecting everything from the oceans to our crops, we’ve got to start being proactive.

I had originally thought that an equation of square footage, year built, and condition of the home should be factors to use, but when I thought about age of homes- and conditions, value judgments came to play. I like old homes better- others like new. Where do we set the premium. From a basic accounting/depreciation standpoint, old homes require more upkeep- and the value over time decreases- but, then again, you have something like the Hook estate make it too complicated.

But, then again- does that mean an empty home, that uses little energy is a good thing? Not at all. We want people, preferably employed in our community- living in those homes. Without people, homes are worthless, they become a liability. Not only that, but higher density living (more people per square foot) is more efficient. The American dream of a single family home is actually hurting us because of the energy demands. So, the more people in a building, the better it is for the community- as long as it is still a useful steward of energy. Efficiency should be rewarded.

We also need to look at commuting costs- since transportation is another way we burn fuel. If we rewarded both homeowners with lower property taxes for living closer to work (or working from home- or using public transport) we’d burn less fuel. If we rewarded commercial properties based on the number of people they employ who live close- we’d incentivize Here In My Backyard as opposed to the Not In My Backyard type connections to the community. I proposed a “walk to work tax credit” idea long ago on this site, right after seeing “An Inconvenient Truth.”

Healthy communities in the future have to find different ways to do the things they’ve always done. Choosing how to tax people and their property has to be not only fair- but as a way to further goals of the whole community. Getting people to use less energy is critical to our nation’s survival and future growth.

While the condition of a home is all a matter of opinion, the amount of water, gas, electricity used, per person in a building- and their commutes to and from work, are all a matter of record- and it would put you in charge of what your tax impact will be, not some appraiser. All of a sudden, those new “Lite House” green homes on Patterson start to make a lot more sense.

I’m just starting my idea process on this matter, I’d like your help and input. Do you have better ideas on how to properly and fairly value real estate for taxation? If you do, please contribute to the conversation in the comments.

Thanks

Dayton insults business: kangaroo courts mock local investors

How long does it take to invest in Dayton? Two years and counting if you are Nick Keyes Jr. of Key Ads.

With a myriad of city, state and federal laws to maneuver through, he’s tirelessly worked to identify a worthless parcel of land left over from the US 35 routing that was created before he was born, rezoned many times in his lifetime, and now stands to become a piece of revenue generating land for the city by the building of a modern electronic billboard.

Nick is an oddity in his business- one of the few local owners in an industry dominated by three giant companies. He’s a homegrown, all-American type guy, who does the right thing like give space to local charities because, well, it’s the right thing to do.

"We are all witnesses" LeBron James ad specatacular in Cleveland

"We are all witnesses" LeBron James ad specatacular in Cleveland

He’s in a business that people love to hate. Advertising is intrusive, can be annoying, ugly and even crude- when done by amateurs (even the ones that pose like pros- see this years user generated commercials in the SuperBowl with snow globes being hurled at crotches) but it can also be beautiful, inspiring and part of the community (see the debate over the ad spectacular in Cleveland with LeBron James “We are all witnesses”). We buy DVR’s to skip TV ads, we listen to iPods to avoid the radio, we’ve stopped reading local newspapers as their news to ad ratio changed to more ads than content. The knee jerk reaction is “advertising bad, greenspace good.”

Never mind that local businesses are running out of cost effective ways to spread the word, which is one of the beautiful things about outdoor electronic billboards- they are one of the last media options that can’t be ignored- allow time sensitive, geographically relevant advertising that doesn’t cut down trees, or require huge lead time. A local pizza place can be hurting for business in a snow storm, and throw up an ad from 5pm to 6:30PM that day saying “Fresh, Hot Now” Pizza Factory 224-4477- and see a bump in business.

Except in Dayton.

There will be a billboard within a hundred feet of the spot where Nick had artfully worked to put what could only be described as a work of art: a gateway board with architectural quality features and including the words “Welcome to Dayton” as a prelude to the spot where you will first see the Dayton skyline as you come West on US 35 into the city. Working with local architect Alan Scherr of ASA architecture, Nick presented a concept that was elegant, mindful of the site and the neighborhood. The competition, which will be a static old school poster owned by a carpet-bagger, had to do nothing, because his sign location happens to fall within the lines drawn on a map that make no sense (the “residential district” line falls in the middle of the Westbound lane of US 35- and ignores the fact you can’t build on the highway).

Nick offered concessions: removal of six non-conforming smaller boards in 5 different parts of the city, promised to donate a sizable proportion of his inventory on the board to local charity (including the City of Dayton- which rightfully declared they wanted no part of it- because it looks like a kickback) and entertained this kangaroo court of five local yokels who voted 3-2 against granting “3 variances/waivers” for this project to go forward.

Never mind that this sign can also be used in cases of emergency or Amber Alerts, which the static sign will not.

Please note: the investment in time, the willingness to make concessions, the requirement to prostrate ones business in front of this travesty of homegrown snootiness, in a time when most businesses are NOT investing in the city would not be a pretty sight if being done by this writer.

Nick brought a bevy of local business people to the meeting in support of his cause. Ignored.

There were citizens who spent 2+ hours in this session of comedic drama who spoke in favor of this project.

Then there were the NIMBY contingent, who in the end will lose at the next level, or in the courts (I would hope) who were saying that an electronic billboard will distract drivers and cause wrecks (of course ODOT electronic signs that are harder to read, with cheaper tech don’t do this).

Dayton, in it’s infinite wisdom, has once again shown itself to be a PITA.

While we have a City Manager form of Government that is supposed to provide for professional management of the citizens business, we have polluted it with this kind of amateur hour in the name of citizen participation. 3 people who were nominally selected (the priority board system has become an impotent circus for blowhards and diehards- with an ever increasingly insignificant mission- thanks to our declining population and net worth) chose to put another delay into a process that just shouldn’t be this hard.

Watching this travesty last night, I was embarrassed for Dayton. It’s a wonder that business even attempts to locate here. I faced the same stupidity when trying to transform a vacant boarded former corner grocery store into my “award winning” office over 19 years ago. The building which I bought for $2,200 and a promise to pay $2,400 in back taxes, had to recieve at least 4 variances to exist. People came out and tried to sabotage my plan as well, making my vision out to be a pox on the ‘hood. At one time I had to tell a city inspector to get out of my office when he came to threaten me with closing me down because a visitor to my business had parked on a public city street in front of a private home. This is the kind of BS that makes Dayton a laughing stock.

We have to do better than this. Our future depends on it.

And, as a note, Gary Leitzell, chairman of the SE Priority board and sacrificial candidate for Mayor, was one of those who got up and spoke against this plan.

You’ve read this far- do you care? One of the reasons I’m running for City Commission is that it’s time to end this kind of craziness. Of course, I must be crazy- because I’m willing to waste my valuable time sitting in on this bunk and reporting back to you. In the delivery of any product or service, it’s all the little “touchstones” that make or break a brand. It’s how they take your order at Burger King or what’s on the bag, in addition to the actual food that is being delivered. Companies that care, are tuned into the experience of the delivery of service, Dayton hasn’t a clue about this.

I hope businesses who can vouch for this like Pacchia, the 5th Street Wine and Deli, Thai 9 etc. weigh in on their past experiences in Dayton to substantiate my point. These are just 3 high profile cases where the process almost killed what has turned into success in spite of our bureaucracy.