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The OH-3 dem candidate forum recap

If Dayton had fiber for internet service, I’d have the video up from last night’s debate already- however, because our country thinks building schools, hospitals and roads in Afghanistan is more important than the critical data infrastructure for the new economy- uploading 90 minutes of compressed video will take all night tonight.

Since you can’t watch the video yet- you can read the DDN piece- which is guaranteed to take the thing that makes me look the most radical of the three (which isn’t hard- considering the candidates) and try to paint me as some kind of rogue. The reality is- my views on Afghanistan haven’t changed much since my days in Special Forces where the plight of the Kurds is the main case study. Afghanistan is a conjured-up country- that contains vastly different tribes who don’t like each other- where the main source of revenue is the drug trade.

You want to fix Afghanistan- you decriminalize opium [1]– and let Halliburton start peddling it (they have no morals) and Afghanistan will be a peaceful country with a higher standard of living (until Halliburton starts buying elections like they do here) and the people catch on to it (something people are slowly catching on to here).

The cave comment wasn’t my finest- far from it-but, after listening to Roberts’ plans to spend your money to build a modern country in Afghanistan while people are losing their homes, their jobs, and their country to the corporations pisses me off. To hear Fogle talking about counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency as if he understands how we take care of terrorists (trust me- Special Operations Command is perfectly capable of doing the job, without the giant corporate investment in a country) was as if I was listening to Mike Turner try to explain away the billions we’ve wasted on trying to fix a whole country because 20 Saudi’s attacked us (and yes, Bin Laden still hasn’t been caught or killed despite the giant drain on our economy).

Here’s the DDN re-cap:

The three also differed on the war in Afghanistan.Fogle supports reducing troops involved in the counterinsurgency, while continuing to fund counter-terrorism efforts, arguing that the main goal is to fight the Taliban, not try to create a democracy.Roberts said building schools and infrastructure would keep Afghans from turning to the Taliban and other militants.Esrati opposes such spending.“It’s time to stop building schools, hospitals and roads in Afghanistan,” Esrati said. “People are used to living in caves in Afghanistan and building them schools is not going to change things.”

via Three Democrats in primary express contrasting views [2].

When I first told you about the DDN editorial board meeting [3] and then provided the podcast [1]– I made an observation about the other candidates- it still holds true. Yet last night, I was truly blown away by Mr. Roberts giving a new definition to the idea of a tax-and-spend liberal- he was proud to talk about how he planned to make former U.S. Rep Dave Hobson- our former pork king- look like an amateur. His ideas of buy now- pay later were so far away from what I believe is needed to fix this economy that it actually scared me. Yet, he still believes that “the stimulus is working, just not as fast as we’d like it to.” When there are 5 job seekers for every job, that’s not working very well in my playbook- especially while the people who tanked major corporations weren’t sent to prison for securities fraud, racketeering, theft, etc.- and in fact were still paid millions of dollars.

Here is the DDN recap- but, I think you’ll find the video WAY more telling:

Esrati said government should give no tax incentives to businesses and should not be in the business of economic development.

Fogle called for reducing the business tax rate, giving tax breaks for research and development and a one-year moratorium on the payroll tax for small and mid-sized businesses. Those contributions to Social Security and Medicare would be replaced with stimulus money.

“We need shock therapy,” Fogle said. “We need to put the paddles to the chest of the Miami Valley and shock the dickens out of it.”

Roberts said stimulus money should be used to retool plants to build fuel cells, wind turbines and solar panels.

“The job of government is to bring jobs,” Roberts said.

Several times during the evening Guy Fogle followed me- and graciously said he agreed with me. But, his rhetoric on taxation was the same kind of stuff you hear on right-wing talk radio- as if taxation is the only thing stopping small businesses from succeeding. And although it’s not my style to give the other guy credit in a debate/forum, I will say that in the whole evening Roberts did make one very good point- one which I’d actually planned to write about last month and didn’t- that a mortgage should still be able to fit on one sheet of paper. I’d been cleaning and organizing the house in preparation for my new family to move in and found a note I’d signed with Gem Savings for a second mortgage on this home in 1987 or so- one page. It was awe inspiring… (there I did it- said something nice about Mr. Roberts).

The reality is- Roberts kept saying that the stimulus was working and that we just have to give it time. I say when the homes in our neighborhoods are being sold at 40% or more off what we thought they were worth- and not just one, but 25 hedge fund managers pocketed a billion or more [4] for a year’s “work”- the stimulus is working for someone else- the people who buy the people who represent you. Roberts cites the Roosevelt solutions of spending to end the first great depression- yet doesn’t acknowledge the key part was new banking industry regulation (including Glass-Steagall [5] which I’ve been calling for reinstating) and that the government created jobs through the WPA to make sure people were doing something instead of starving and then rioting.

This is already at 1000 words and has taken 45 minutes to write. This is the kind of dedication and communication my readers are used to seeing. There may be others of you- who are finding this for the first time. This is the kind of communication- with the ability to comment – and discuss- that I would continue to deliver if you deliver me to Congress. Try commenting on Mr. Roberts’ site, [6] or Guy Fogle’s [7]– or even Mike Turner’s [8]. In fact- note that Mr. Roberts’ site main function is a plea for cash- while mine is to inform you.

If you are wondering why there was always a bunch of applause after everything Robert’s said- it was from his family and friends he brought down to pack part of the house. All three candidates had handouts- I’ll add pdf’s of them later today- and the video as soon as it is uploaded.

I had some people come up to me after- and tell me that they didn’t think I was anything like what they thought I was from the media coverage- thank you. And, quite a few said that I’d won them over. I’m asking people who were at the forum- to put their comments on this piece.

Lastly- I’m not perfect. I sometimes attack people instead of gracefully attacking the idea. I’m working on it. Yes, I started out attacking Ellen Belcher at the DDN for her perennial leading question to me:”Why do you keep running and failing”- to which I wouldn’t dare ask Thomas Edison [9] or Michael Jordan [10] (failing is as big a part of learning as succeeding). I shouldn’t have made it personal- I could have blamed the whole DDN editorial board for their annual hanging of Esrati in their “endorsements [11].”   And yes, I was a little harsh on Joe Roberts (the crack about him talking about Chuck Whalen- Tony Hall’s predecessor- being out of office before Roberts was born [12], which was true). But, the purpose of primary debates is to inform voters- and to prepare candidates to face the enemy. As the only candidate who has beaten Mike Turner [13] before, I know exactly what I signed up for. I’m not sure the others do.

I’ve now invested another 20 minutes filling you in. If you appreciate this kind of communication from a candidate- please consider making a donation: www.electesrati.com/donate [14]

Here are the three candidates handouts in PDF form:

There was the question about what book made you tick- my answer was the free book I offer on this site- written by my father: “Dear Son: Do you really want to be an American” [18] It’s a PDF- about 70 pages, well worth reading.

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed [19]! If you wish to support this blog and independent journalism in Dayton, consider donating [20]. All of the effort that goes into writing posts and creating videos comes directly out of my pocket, so any amount helps!
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I’ve been reading your blog since your run for council last year. I still think you would have more success politically if you would only behave slightly more conventionally. But there is no question in my mind that you are the best qualified candidate of the three. I’ll be voting for you.

John Ise

The reality is that the stimulus is working.  Not great, but in perspective without it, things would have been much worse (I know, not a politically winning message).  This is from the Washington Post’s Ezra Klein:
One dollar of stimulus gets you $1-$1.50 of economic activity. That gets taxed at between a quarter and a third. So even if you take the highest stimulus impact ($1.50 per dollar of borrowing) and the highest tax rate (around a third), that’s still only about 50 cents of tax revenue on each borrowed dollar. It doesn’t pay for itself.

But you also see conservatives say, as they are in this comment thread, that high unemployment rates prove that the stimulus didn’t work. As Louisp3 puts it, “12.4% unemployment in CA. The stimulus is working?”
The question is not where unemployment rates are today. It’s where they’d be without the stimulus. If California would’ve been at 16 percent unemployment without the stimulus, then the stimulus might well have worked. The fact that unemployment is bad now doesn’t mean it couldn’t have been worse, and it doesn’t mean that stopping it from being worse isn’t a policy accomplishment.
As it is, the firms that try to estimate these things for private-sector clients — so they have an incentive to get it right — say that the stimulus created about 2.5 million jobs. Then there are a lot of non-job creation activities, like funding Medicaid costs in the states and actually building a bridge, that the stimulus also funded. You can quibble with those estimates and argue about the program’s design, but the fact of high unemployment rates can be used to argue for either a bigger stimulus or a smaller stimulus, and that’s because the absolute level of unemployment doesn’t tell you anything about the stimulus. The question is what the level would’ve been in the absence of the policy. This graphic from the New York Times tells the story well:

Ice Bandit

(Joe) Roberts cites the Roosevelt solutions of spending to end the first great depression-…. yet doesn’t and that the government created jobs through the WPA to make sure people were doing something instead of starving and then rioting.(David Esrati)

Yessiree David, when it comes to mythology, FDR is to the American left what Odin was to the Vikings. Single handedly and from a wheelchair, FDR whupped Old Man Depression, Adolf Hitler and fear itself. But the operative word is mythology, dear David, for not only did those WPA  jobs and New Deal intiatives not vault the economy from the Depression, government meddling actually prolonged the misery. Downturns and recessions are a natural and necessary cycle of any vibrant economy, and left alone, market forces mend the economy in average of eight months, even for the worst crashes. And when Pearl Harbor thrust the US into a World War, the economy was in decade long funk. For the more a government abandons market forces and tries to micromanage, the longer and greater the malaise will be. Government can do very little to improve an ailing marketplace, but can do much to suppress and stifle a recovery. Sorry David, but the older third district voters who have been thru a dozen or so recessions in their lifetime are gonna’ find your FDR nostalgia and big government cures lacking………..


The multiplier effect is anything but fact.  It’s hotly debated in economic circles.  The main problems being that government doesn’t have any money so it has to take it from the private sector either in the form of higher current taxes or as debt (higher future taxes) and the government is incapable of spending based solely on effectiveness.  Politics almost always rears its head in making spending decisions which almost guarantees funds are not put to the best use.   Which leads to questions as to whether technocrats can spend money more effectively than individuals.  That’s a separate debate though.
Here is a great and entertaining synopsis of Keynes and Hayek’s opposing economic views.  Warning…you’ll likely be singing it the rest of the day.


The video is unavailable on youtube for me….I’m outside of the U.S., but I doubt that’s the problem. WOuld love to see it!


Gotcha. A bit large for youtube, no?
I guess I take living in Japan for granted…I’ve had a glass fiber connection in my house for several years and can download an HD movie in just a few minutes!

John Ise

A great on-line exercise to see if you, or readers, could balance the budget.  Eye-opening that our national deficeit/debt solution is…err.. a huge challenge.

David Sparks

Roberts sounds like a little kid.


David Esrati:

It doesn’t take F-35s people! […] We need to get rational on defense.

You speak the truth, but I’m not sure how well that will play in this town.


I thought that the whole debate was pretty lame in general. Naive Joe loving government with all his heart because HE can surely make it work right! Fogle’s infinite sob story, a la Gil from the Simpsons, and Pape Esrati lecturing us all with his all-knowing presence. Mike Turner might be a douche, but he at least knows how to connect with people and not sound naive or condescending.
Ron Paul does it right: Sticks to the central theme that the U.S. is broke, and then builds around it to focus on waste like the war(s), overspending, health care, etc. You guys are all over the place!

David Lauri

And if you call what my opponents call using the internet to communicate with voters- try commenting on their sites.
On June 29 someone posted the following comment on Joe Roberts’ Facebook page:

what’s your position on marriage equality? and the repeal of DADT?

and there’s been no response from Roberts whatsoever.  I’m not sure what the point is of having a Facebook page on which comments are allowed if there’s no intention of responding to the comments.

David Lauri

Well, I’m happy to report that Joe Roberts has posted a reply on his Facebook page saying that he

would fight for the repeal of DOMA and for meaningful equality legislation in Washington.

He’d messaged me on Facebook right away when I’d posted a question as to whether he was ever going to reply to that 6/29 question, and I told him that while I appreciated his prompt reply and his expression of support, it wasn’t quite the same thing as taking a public stand.  He replied that he had indeed taken a public stand, in the candidates’ forum (the 90-minute video of which I have to confess I had not watched in its entirety), but that he was willing to also post his support in writing on the same Facebook page where questions had seemingly gone unanswered.


John Ise:

The reality is that the stimulus is working.  Not great, but in perspective without it, things would have been much worse (I know, not a politically winning message). […] As it is, the firms that try to estimate these things for private-sector clients — so they have an incentive to get it right – say that the stimulus created about 2.5 million jobs.

The reality?

In testimony before the congressional Joint Economic Committee last week, George Mason University economist Russell Roberts made a similar point with regard to job-creation and the stimulus. “There is no reliable way of knowing whether the stimulus package has averted a worse situation — or whether it’s part of the problem. There is no consensus in the economics profession on this question, and no empirical evidence that can settle the dispute.”
Econ 101: How little they really know

Perhaps the reason that particular message is a hard sell has less to do with the unsophistication of the polity and more to do with the lack of empirical support for the bald assertion.  From the NYT article you linked:

Of course, no one can be certain about what would have happened in an alternate universe without a $787 billion stimulus.

John Ise, your story is plausible, but it’s one of many, and the folks telling it the loudest hold their politics prior to any economic analysis.