Open Letter to Hillary

Dear Secretary Clinton,

I and my wife are supporters. In fact, we financially supported your effort, me having maxed out and my wife nearly so in 2008, and we continue to financially support your effort this year, although because we’re now retired with less financial robustness. I tell you this to let you know that we’re on your side.

As a supporter, I am urging you to do that which you so far haven’t and no doubt hate to do – publicly and openly confront and put to bed the issues regarding your State Department emails, and now alleged conflicts of interest involving  your family’s Foundation.

I have been involved in the study of and participation in campaigns throughout my life, and I’ve learned that in instances where a candidate’s actions or character are attacked there are two response choices: either to hunker down in the belief that the storm will blow over, or confront the issue head on.

Clearly you and your campaign have chosen the former. I get it. For nearly three decades, you’ve been the target of some of the most vicious allegations ever directed toward a person in the public arena. You have many enemies, even more than does your husband who was a two term president and who also withstood an impeachment trial. It’s no revelation that your husband has enemies, but to no level does he have the enemies that attack you. To put it another way, although he was impeached by the House and tried by the Senate, he was never accused of murder as you’ve been – once regarding Vince Foster and a second time, more recently, regarding the sudden passing of Mark Weiner.

Now that’s cold. And it’s no wonder you don’t want to engage in the daily exercise of political battle with those whose hate is so deep and so profound that they will never let go. I get that being in Theodore Roosevelt’s arena that has made you “marred by dust and sweat and blood” as a result of specious attacks delivered by those timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.  But then you have entered that metaphorical arena of your own volition.

While many of the political and personal attacks have been delivered by knuckle-heads, recently arrived from Fantasyland, or Trumplandia if you prefer, the emails and Foundation attacks are different.  These cut to the heart of your public performance as Secretary of State, coupled with the perception of public corruption.

Aside from the occasional denial or a brief public comment to the media, your campaign has decided to basically hunker down and wait for the storm to blow over. Aside from a brief meeting with the FBI in July, some of which has been either leaked or made public, you have said nothing. I’m certain that it hasn’t escaped your notice that after one year of constant speculation and comment on these “damned emails,” and statements by FBI Director Comey that you did not commit any offense meriting prosecution, the storm of this issue still rages.  I know you’ve got a lot of smart people advising you on how to handle this so I have one question – exactly when do they think this will blow over?

Add to this is the whole ruckus about the financial contributions to the Clinton Foundation and allegations of play-for-pay.  At minimum, these recent allegations plug into pre-existing narratives about how the “Clintons” (it’s always the “Clintons,” never just one of you) play by their own rules, that they engage in public service in order to enrich themselves, and that they always manage to escape responsibility because of…well, you get the idea.

There’s no evidence of wrong-doing mind you, but this stuff just won’t go away. The media clamors for answers from you and absent a response is free to speculate. And you know that any speculation of your actions will never inure to your favor.

You’re a lawyer, no doubt well aware of the definition of an adoptive admission. If, as I believe they are, these allegations are baseless, why not say so? Why not confront these allegations head on? To do otherwise is being viewed more and more as an adoptive admission in the only court that a person running from president should care about – the court of public opinion.

To put it another way, politics is perception, and in politics perception is reality. Your continued silence is being viewed more and more as confirmation that you have something to hide. And absent a direct comment, fielding questions by the media, the public is left only the accusations and speculations of those who mean to do you political, if not legal, harm.

This letter is being written with 70+ days left in the campaign. There’s much that can happen in that time frame. What happens if there’s a third allegation leveled against you and your family? Each layer of controversy only serves to validate the layers that came before.

Only you can put to rest the concerns of those who perhaps are not solidly wedded to your campaign. Those who are still undecided are less likely to move in your direction over the next two months without an assurance by you that there is no substance to the allegations levied against you.

As someone who has also been in a public arena, albeit differently than you, I have learned that the best way to deal with an attack on your actions and character is to meet them head on. Any occupant of the arena knows that s/he will be bloodied. The only question about this is how to respond? I think the best way is to confront the allegations and those who make them, head on.

The key thing to understand is that if you’re in the arena, you’re going to take a beating. The key question is how you take that beating: either passively, waiting for the opponent to tire; or actively, making a defense and controlling at least part of the action and narrative? You are doing the former; you should do the latter.

You can take little solace from the fact that you’re still “winning.” In this election, you are running against the living physical manifestation of an existential political evil. Every minute spent by the media reporting on your issues and lack of response is a minute not spent on your opponent’s glaring lack of knowledge, political competence, along with his personal and business character. And we both know that there’s enough there to consume the next two months, sending this evil to oblivion on November 8.

We both know that the first question posed to you on September 26 will be either about the emails, the Foundation, or both. You’re going to get it, with another month of non-response baked into the political atmosphere. By sitting down with members of the press, you can at least change the arc of that first question, if not effectively take it off the table.

In this election cycle, as much as people are looking for programs and policies to better there lives, they are also looking for political and personal accountability and transparency. Without the latter, the impact of the former – no matter how well thought out they are – will be reduced with the public.

And you’re good at meeting allegations head on. Remember your response to assertions that you benefited by several financial dealings involving commodity investments and the famous Whitewater “scandals”?  You put yourself in front of the press and told them that you’d be there until there were no more questions. Aired on four networks, people got to see you, your body language, and your demeanor. They heard your responses and most determined that those scandal could be relegated to the dustbin of history.

And who could forget your attendance before Trey Gowdy’s Bengazi committee? Eleven hours of testimony and responses to questions coming at you from all angles, and you didn’t even break a sweat. When it was over, Gowdy basically cried the political equivalent of “uncle.”

In both instances, you were able to demonstrably show that when it came to the allegations against you, there was no “there there.”  You have to do this one more time for yourself, for your supporters, for those who you seek to convince before the election, and most of all for those who you seek to lead beginning on January 20, 2017.

Only you can dispel the clouds hovering over your campaign and possibly over your administration. From what I’ve seen you’ve got the facts on your side, you’ve got the ability to handle these allegations, and to do so now can pave the way to election day. Sure you will take some hits and you might be bloodied a little but which would you rather do; mend a bloodied nose or die of a thousand paper cuts?

I choose the former and urge you to do so, too.

Respectfully,

Geoff Schoos

 

 

 

Don’t drink the sand…

Before I go any further, please take a few minutes to look at the snippet from the 1995 movie, The American President:

In this election of 2016, life imitates art. In this election, we have the human incarnation of the fictional character Bob Rumson, a hyperbolic, mean spirited, conniving megalomaniac whose only ambition and concern is that he be elected President, no matter the harm to our political system.

Donald J. Trump has debased our democratic processes. The heir to the party of Lincoln, Roosevelt, Eisenhower and Reagan performed a hostile takeover of that proud political party, and in so doing callously defamed its legacy. Once a home to reformers, the Republican Party under Trump is now a party of hate.  As one of the two major American political parties, the Republican Party thrived on consensus, inviting divergent views to join in common purpose. Under Trump, this proud party is relegated to one narrow purpose: electing Donald Trump to the presidency.

Once a conservative home, home to a conservative philosophy of limited government and self-reliance, of free markets and strong communities, and of an abiding patriotism in its zeal to engage the world in order to ensure our national security, it is now a home to Trumpism. Trumpism is a “philosophy” of no substance, no consistency, no governing focus but instead is nothing more than the celebration and aggrandizement of its leader, a virtual captive cult of personality.

Who could have guessed that June day of 2015 that the optics of Trump descending down an escalator to make his announcement that that image would be later seen as a metaphor for his campaign.  Trump’s campaign has dragged us all down in a continuing spiral with no bottom in sight. We continue to be sucked into the vortex of his black heart and inexorably pulled into the black hole of his mind. We are all damaged by the actions and antics of this most damaged man.

Trump’s entire campaign is predicated on exploiting the fears of good people. There is no doubt that many of our family, friends, and neighbors are confronted by forces unseen and by a world that appears to be spinning out of control. All of us, no matter who we are, seek answers and explanations for the events that impact our daily lives. We want to know if we’ll have jobs, secured savings and pension plans, will continue to live in safe and secure communities, and leave this place better for our kids. It’s what most of want and we work hard to get it. We play by the rules, pay our taxes, obey the law all in the expectation that those we charge with serving us will do their best to look out for us and act in our interests.

There is no question that we don’t always get the government or leadership that we hope for. Whether at the federal, state or local levels, office holders and government employees fail in their duties. That’s life. All of us, in spite of our best efforts, fall short of our goals or responsibilities. But in a democratic society, the remedy is available and our duty clear. We, the voters, have the ability to replace those who have failed us with those who will reflect our values and aspirations.

In a pluralistic democracy such as ours, there are numerous and divergent values and aspirations. In order that we all progress, we need to blend these values into a workable whole and develop policies and programs that reflect our shared values; for the one thing that keeps us “united” is a recognition and honoring of our shared cultural and political values.

Chief among those values is having respect for those with whom we disagree. This, of all our values, is the one that Trump blatantly disregards. There is no individual or group that he will restrain himself from attacking. Women are targets of his scorn; political opponents who have the temerity to suggest alternatives to Trumpism are liars, crooks, low-energy, and just today, the devil; officeholders are stupid and losers; ethnic groups are rapists, drug dealers, and criminals; immigrants are suspect and millions are to be denied entry to the United States for the sole reason of their religion; and a Gold Star family, Muslims who immigrated from Pakistan and became naturalized citizens, are vilified because they dared question Trump on his immigration policies.

Trump is the ringmaster of a three ringed circus of hate. Never was there heard chants at major party’s nominating convention chants of “lock her up” referring to Trump’s opponent; a chant that has carried over into his “rallies” and one he last week endorsed. Never has a president’s qualification to hold office questioned because of his citizenship status, an attack Trump led for many years. Never has a major party candidate placed our national security in jeopardy by raising the specter of not meeting our NATO obligations to member nations due to that nation’s non-payment of dues, a base mercantile approach to our treaty obligations.

Trump’s ignorance of the world is exceeded by his ignorance of policy, both foreign and domestic. He neither knows nor cares whether Russia has annexed the Ukraine; he glibly argues that Japan should have nuclear weapons, and perhaps South Korea as well; he has a secret plan to defeat ISIS, a reminiscence of Nixon’s secret plan to end the war in Vietnam. He doesn’t know anything about economic policy, trade policy, employment policy or else he’d disclose them to the American people to be read and judged. Instead, we’re asked to trust and believe him.

We would do well to remember the old adage, “trust everyone but cut the cards.” It’s hard to cut the cards when the dealer won’t show the deck.

Each week is some new outrage. Does Trump have a relationship with Vladimir Putin? Either we take his word from over the past three years that he does, or the more recent assertion that he doesn’t. Do we accept that he is a mult-billionaire who can’t show his tax returns because he’s being audited, or do we accept his assertion that there’s nothing unsavory or incriminating in those returns?

Do we accept the notion that he’s the smartest and strongest among us, the only one who is able to lead us, to “make America great again?” Is he the quintessential man, uniquely qualified to be President at this time in history, and without whom we will further descend into the dystopian hell he outlined in his acceptance speech?

Because in the end his swagger and bluster is only designed to stoke greater fear among those whose world is rapidly passing by and who fear change of any kind. Trump promises that which he cannot deliver, a world of fifty years ago when the rules were better defined, change occurred much more slowly, and the American economy was the envy of the world. Bear in mind that America of fifty years ago wasn’t good for everyone; if you were a person of color, a woman, gay, or the wrong religion things weren’t so good. But if you were a white male, coming of age at that time, could you be blamed if you were constantly told that the life you knew was taken away by selfish people for their own gain?

Donald Trump is the most dangerous candidate for the presidency that has ever run in my lifetime, and maybe for all time. Each day brings new outrage, worse than those of the previous day. His bigotry is only exceeded by his self-absorption. He has no loyalty to anyone or anything but himself and his business and brand. His lack of knowledge about anything having to do with any public policy is staggering. Donald Trump is the playground bully that we all have met at some point in our childhood, the kid who has nothing to offer but fear.

Trump runs for the presidency as the star of his own “reality” show, spewing hate and fear in order to establish himself as the strong man whose ascension to power is the last gasp we can take in order to preserve and protect our way of life. That isn’t leadership, that’s demagoguery. History teaches what happens when people like Trump attain power, which afterwards becomes absolute power in order to protect the state. In the 1930’s, Sinclair Lewis wrote a book entitled It Can’t Happen Here, a cautionary tale about a totalitarian regime ruling on the basis of fear and division, promising a return to American values.

To those people, those good people, who support Trump, please understand that he is not a leader, rather he’s a demagogue. If you love your country as I know you do, if you treasure our cultural values as  i know you do, if you care about the future of your families as I know you do, then please do not vote for Donald J. Trump.

Please, don’t drink the sand….

102 Days….

Tonight the democrats conclude their convention. After two weeks of sometimes carefully orchestrated events, other times not so carefully orchestrated events, it all comes to an end.

Beginning Friday, July 29, there are 102 days until the election. We have already seen numerous twists and turns in this year’s election process. On the republican side, we saw the most unlikely candidate, a “businessman,” devour sixteen other candidates, many of whom had previously been successful and experienced politicians. On the democratic side, an “independent socialist” nearly wrested the nomination from the odds on favorite. Both the businessman and the socialist tapped into the broad unease of many voters.

But now it’s done. The businessman won the republican nomination, the socialist lost in the democratic primaries. On to the election…

On the republican side we have Donald J. Trump; leading the charge for the democrats is Hillary Clinton. With respect to Gary Johnson and Jill Stein, Trump/Clinton is the main event; Johnson/Stein are at best the under-card, the warm up as it were. So I’d like to take a minute to recap where we are.

Clinton is a flawed candidate. She is guarded and calculating in public, lest she again become a target of baseless accusations from those who hate her, or who hate her husband and take it out on Ms. Clinton. Over the years she’s been accused of everything from fraud to murder. Her opponents become increasingly and relentlessly more shrill in their hate with each passing week. But she keeps coming, no doubt in pursuit of what she sees (and rightly so) as her historic mission, and in some measure fulfill her desire to serve. She’s served most of her adult life, often in anonymity and sometimes publicly, to try to make life a little more gentle for those with the least among us.

Is Clinton calculating? Sure. Does she have an out-sized ego? Absolutely. All politicians are. Even President Obama. You have to be that way in order to even think about running for the presidency. Running for office, any office anywhere, in 2016 is tough business. It’s expensive, exhausting, and a daily struggle to fend off opponents and gain supporters. It is the ultimate personal exposure – all a candidate’s warts and flaws exposed for all to see and jeer. Because in modern America, we love to jeer.

So here’s my message to those who sit back in the cheap seats and jeer and ridicule those in the arena – put your names on a ballot; hold yourselves open to the often brutal inspection of your personal, family, and business histories; formulate and communicate coherent positions on often complicated and nuanced public issues; and be prepared for the election to become your life at your families’ expense.

And be negatively portrayed as a person unrecognizable to family and friends. Be prepared to be the target of the scurrilous lies about your character. I don’t care how thick your skin is, these things hurt, as too often the cut runs deep.

As the saying goes, it’s easier to destroy than it is to build. This is as true in politics, both the electoral and governing politics, as it is in anything else. Those who stand in the arena pay to cost for that destruction. So give these folks a little credit – it takes guts to open yourself up for brutal personal inspection by the public.  My hat is off to three out of the four candidates with any shot at making the presidential debate stage. I’ll deal with the fourth guy another time.

First, a message to the Bernie or Bust brigade, and to all the other Sanders’ supporters. Congratulations – you won. You pulled your candidate, a virtually unknown senator, and almost knocked off a colossus of the Democratic party. You got  most of your policy proposals incorporated into the party’s platform. Due to your efforts, the character and culture of the party will change going forward, unless….

… you sit on your hands and pout until November 9, the day after the election. As Sarah Silverman  said at the convention, “you’re being ridiculous.”  I say this as a friend but let me give you some of my bona fides:

In 1964, I participated in a debate with my best high school friend about who would make the better president, Lyndon Johnson or Barry Goldwater. I took Johnson’s side. In 1968, I worked on Bobby’s campaign and after the events in Los Angeles, McCarthy’s campaign. Over the years I worked on campaigns and supported McGovern, Pell, Udall, Mondale, just to name a few, along with several candidates on the state and local levels.

In 1980 I ran for the democratic nomination for Congress from my congressional district. Central to my “platform” was public financing of campaigns, for it was evident then that increasing amounts of large sums of money, cleverly targeted, could irreversibly damage policy outcomes and as a result, the country. I also advocated for the expansion of Medicare benefits to include prescription medicines because it was evident in 1980 how difficult paying for life sustaining medicines was to those on modest fixed incomes.

In 2006, I ran for the state senate in large measure because of the tax structure implemented that year favoring high income earners at the expense of middle and low-income Rhode Islanders.

In 2008 I formed a legal services organization dedicated to serving poor and near poor Rhode Island individuals, families and seniors. In 2016 we had to shut down for lack of funding.

I go through this brief resume merely to point out that I’m well aware of losing, or coming short of your goal. Losing is painful, it sucks, and it stays with you for a long time. And there are some other things I’ve learned over the years, chief among them is that change is hard, if not impossible.

At its essence, change is really about a power shift from those who have it to those who don’t. As Saul Alinsky once said in an interview, “power is never given, it must be taken.” Those with the power will never relinquish their power – you must be willing to change the power paradigm in order to effect the change you advocate.

That struggle in a democracy is a daily struggle. You can anticipate, if not expect, major push back from those who seek to defend the status quo. At this juncture you have several choices: one is to continue to adopt an “all or nothing” strategy, which almost ensures that you will lose; you can go home and sulk; or, you can strategize by building support and finding common ground with others in order to move your agenda forward.

This last choice is the one that works. It’s tough, largely unsatisfying to those who seek the all or nothing outcome. Even when you come away with something, anything, there will be those who will second guess the outcome and argue that you should have gotten more. You may even be accused of “selling out” and get booed like Warren and Sanders were by their own supporters and friends.

Welcome to the arena where the first truths are that while your goals may and should be comprehensive, implementation of those goals is always incremental; and where in a democracy the struggle always continues, no matter the outcome of the previous struggle. Change is hard – you really gotta want it. For 240 years, the story of America is a story of progress. I’m not going to sugar coat our history and tell you that the virtual genocide of native Americans was progress, or that the internment of American citizens solely based on their heritage and ethnicity was noble. They were neither progressive nor noble and remain a stain on our history.

But we cannot ignore that due to the ceaseless efforts of reformers along with the expense of blood and treasure, millions of people were freed from bondage; one-half of our population were finally permitted to vote; and recently the law recognized that we are free to marry whomever we love, irrespective of gender or orientation. Until recently we had the most vibrant middle-class, which was the envy of the world. And throughout our history, America has been the beacon of hope and the melting pot for millions who come from elsewhere to make this country, our imperfect country, their homes.

Yes, America is a flawed country. We have many things to do and much to accomplish. Individually and collectively, we are all flawed and can all do better. That’s why Hillary Clinton is the perfect candidate for these times. Like us, she is flawed. And like us, she seeks to do better, and seeks to make this country a better place to live for all of us. If elected, she won’t get to where she and all of us might want to get to, but she’ll move us forward, closer to our goal. I do not base this conclusion on her past public record, but rather on her prior history before the bright lights of scrutiny and fame were directed toward her.

So the question to the Bernie of Bust brigade is simple: what do you do? Do you continue to engage in the fight, not only up to November 8 but thereafter? Or do you continue on well after election day? Do you take the easy way and jeer at those in the arena or do you climb in and engage in the struggle?

Theodore Roosevelt’s “Man in the Arena” quote has been bandied about several times over the week and is worth repeating here:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

So it comes down to this, are we to be the critic, the cold and timid soul who points out failings of others, who “neither know[s] victory nor defeat”? Or are you, we, to be the strong man, the doer of deeds, who while daring greatly sometimes falls short of the goal? For as true as it was in 1910 when Roosevelt in delivered his speech “Citizenship in a Republic,” participation in this election season is a worthy cause. 

For all of her faults, Hillary Clinton at least gets that there are millions of people ignored, marginalized and forgotten. She has at least acknowledged that income inequality not only exists but is a social evil. And she has more than an appreciation for the complexities and nuances of the world and is unlikely to recklessly engage in armed conflicts. The reality of her career is more important than the comic caricature that becomes the object of her opponents.

And what’s at stake here? Who is her chief opponent? I’ll have more to say in a future post, but at this point suffice it to say that he is the embodiment of existential evil. I promise all of you who will either sit out this election or participate in campaigns of fringe candidates that you will not want to live in a country with Donald J. Trump as your President, along with Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell leading the legislative branch.

This isn’t a partisan piece. This is a simple explanation of our civic duty to preserve at minimum a semblance of the societal and cultural values that have moved many of us to engage in the work of improving our communities. This is a close race, with the outcome in doubt. So the final question is, do you want to sit on the sidelines, or do you want to get in the game? I hope you join all of us who care about the outcome in this election and get in the game.

There are always simple answers…

… but never any easy questions to complex problems. I recalled that bit of wisdom when I read today’s news that Rhode Island evidently has won the economic race to the bottom. Rhode Island, it is reported, has a worst in the nation business climate.

To those who read from the gospels of Hayek and Friedman, the answer is simple. In the Field of Dreams school of economics, all we need do is lower taxes on corporations and “job creators” (e.g. the upper 1 percent), reduce those pesky government regulations, and all will fall into place. The sun will shine, birds will sing, children will laugh, and all will be right with the world. Except…it won’t work. How do we know? Because it never has.

Now I know that I’m opening myself up to an attack on this last point but that’s an issue for another day. What’s important is that our business and governmental “leaders,” along with those groups and advocates with vested interests in promoting this policy of trickle-down voodoo economics are advancing a single variable approach to a multi-variable problem.  As anyone who has made an even passing study of public policy design knows, this approach leads to disaster. Ignoring this simple truth has led to some of this country’s epic policy disasters such as Viet Nam, our current policy in the middle east, and the economic decisions that led to the financial meltdown that resulted in the Great Recession to name only a few.

So let’s take a look at some facts: income inequality in Rhode Island is a fact. According to the Economic Policy Institute, the average annual income for those in the top 1% is $884,609, or 18.6 times the average annual income of the remaining 99 percent. If this appalls you, then a little good news – Rhode Island is not as bad as the rest of the country as a whole, although that is a small consolation.

Add to this imbalance is the fact that in 2015 CEO compensation was 276 times the compensation of the average worker. Put into another context, from 1978-2015, CEO compensation grew by 940.9 percent, adjusted for inflation. This growth rate is 76 times more than the growth rate of the stock market (think about that when you get your next 401k statement) and dwarfs the 10.3% growth rate of the average worker’s income over the same time frame.

You don’t need an advanced degree in economics or study at the feet of Thomas Piketty to know that there’s something wrong here. That said, it certainly begs the question about why we feel the need to lavish scarce public financial resources, at the expense of vital public goods (you know, those roads and schools and public parks that we used to care about) that we once valued and all supported, on those who don’t need the enticement to relocate in our state. It would seem that the upper 1% and their supporters have forgotten, or are just ignoring, the old adage, “pigs eat, hogs get slaughtered.”

And we haven’t even mentioned wealth inequality. This is the part of Jeopardy where the scores can really double. But I digress…

Compare that to the rate of poverty in Rhode Island, which sat at 14.3% in 2014. There’s always a dispute about the accuracy of that number derived from census data, and in full disclosure I’m one who thinks the number is too low, but let’s assume that it’s dead on accurate. This number means that there are 143,000 Rhode Islanders living at or below 100% of the federal poverty level (FPL). Additionally, again according to the same census data, there are 60,000 Rhode Islanders living at or below 50% FPL, in “extreme” poverty.

These numbers don’t reflect the number of “near” poor who live between 100% and 200% of FPL, for if we did include this group, the number of Rhode Islanders living at or below 200% FPL would number somewhere around 280,000 people. Anyway you slice it, this is a significant drag on economic activity, and is something that needs to be factored into any economic development effort in Rhode Island.

There is no question that we didn’t get into this fix overnight, and that we won’t get out of it in a day, or a year, or one or two terms, or one or two decades. But that is a political truth that our elected “leaders” don’t want to speak, and one that most of us don’t want to hear. However, elected officials need to speak truth to us and we, as a body politic, need to respond. Happy political talk and pie-in-the-sky discredited economic fantasies will no longer suffice. We must recall the rule that when you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.

The policies proposed by the governor, with the complicit support of the legislature, will ensure that we will continue digging. Blithely ignored are the realities of economically distressed communities, poor public schools, the fact that too many people still do not have easy access to even modest health care, insanely expensive housing, low unmarketable job skills in the new global “knowledge” economy, and the one economic development principle that is ignored by all who formulate our policies and impact our futures – economic development must first focus on those who live in the community and not on those who are targeted by enticements to relocate to our state.

If we are to right this ship of State, we will need to make focused and sustained investments in areas that need to be strengthened. But this will call for a comprehensive approach to deal with the multi-variable problem that threatens to take many of us down. Such an approach will make for boring and risky politics for those who seek office. But on the plus side, such a long overdue comprehensive approach may just ensure a better life for our children and grandchildren.

I have a few suggestions if anyone’s interested….