Home > A-to-Z Challenge, Free Speech, Geek, Politics > A-to-Z Challenge Day Eighteen: Running

A-to-Z Challenge Day Eighteen: Running

No, I’m not talking about jogging, sprinting, or dashing. I’m talking about running for a public office in an election. I’ve been doing my homework on the issues that are affecting the 93rd Congressional District and the State of Michigan, and I’ve been compiling information in a binder to keep it organized.

This is the easy part; the part I’m good at. I can absorb and synthesize information at a quick rate. The tricky part is going to be the campaigning. I enjoy meeting new people and talking with them, and part of the reason I decided to do this was so that I could get more involved with local issues. So I’ll be knocking on doors and going to public festivals in the district and hopefully participating in rallies with other Democratic candidates as the election draws near.

I would be remiss if I didn’t think that my stance on religion was going to be a bit of an issue. It has been suggested that I hide it because the implication is that a non-believer is somehow not worthy of being elected to an office. But this betrays a rather important ethic for me: honesty. If asked, I would answer honestly and detail my position, and listen to what anyone had to say on it.

I’m always willing to be convinced I’m wrong, and I will admit when I have been convinced so. And this applies to anything: religion, epistemology, politics, philosophy, morals, ethics, art–everything. I’m not as knowledgeable on all of these topics as I would like to be, but I try to hold my own.

So I’m going to be honest: I won’t hide anything pertinent to this run. My politics: liberal-leaning with some conservatism. I come from a family with a history in labor. My grandfather worked at GM and my father was employed at Woolhert (I can’t remember how it is spelled, I was very young) before the factory closed. I am very sympathetic to collective bargaining and the ability of workers to unionize. I was not impressed with the way that the Michigan State Legislature passed the right-to-work legislation, and even less impressed with the law itself.

I also believe that the government doesn’t have any business getting involved with people’s private lives. I, along with many of my friends, celebrated Judge Bernard Friedman’s decision overturning Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage. I’ve read his decision (which can be found here) and found it to be conservative and very well-reasoned in nature. The State produced a surprisingly weak defense with a few of their witnesses being dismissed. I await the appeals decision, hoping the ruling is upheld.

From one point of view it can be seen that this is overturning the “will of the voters.” To that I say that our government is a Constitutional Republic. It protects the rights of minorities against possible oppression by a majority, so that rights can’t be voted away or denied. As our history has shown us, this isn’t a perfect system. Systemic oppression of minorities has occurred in our history. One of the most visible instances is Jim Crow. If we are truly law-abiding, then we have to acknowledge that Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution clearly says that

No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

That’s pretty powerful and intentional wording.

Study after study after study shows that homosexual parents raise children that are equal to the children raised by heterosexual parents. The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychology states that

Current research shows that children with gay and lesbian parents do not differ from children with heterosexual parents in their emotional development or in their relationships with peers and adults. It is important for parents to understand that it is the the quality of the parent/child relationship and not the parent’s sexual orientation that has an effect on a child’s development.

There is very little or no convincing data which shows that children of homosexual parents are in any way disadvantaged by their parents’ sexual orientation.

As with everything, my approach to these issues is based on honest observation of the data. And the data says that homosexual parents raise good kids. Denying homosexual couples with children the right to marry is therefore harmful to the families because it removes the stabilizing element that marriage has on child-rearing.

I also support raising the minimum wage. Look, I’ve been there. When I first started working in high school I made $6.00 an hour. It sometimes barely covered the expense of fueling my vehicle, but it was good to have money for lunch and help my parents while I could. Now, however, I see news that the people who fill these minimum wage jobs are trying to raise families. I can’t even imagine how they try to do that on $7.40 an hour. Further complicating this is the difficulty in finding full-time employment, and thus creating a need for finding multiple jobs.

According to the CBO, the number of workers estimated to be displaced from their jobs if the minimum wage is raised to $10.10 would be 500,000. However, the CBO report further states:

Of those workers who will earn up to $10.10 under current law, most—about 16.5 million, according to CBO’s estimates—would have higher earnings during an average week in the second half of 2016 if the $10.10 option was implemented.

Is it possible that raising the minimum wage would result in lost jobs? Yes, it is. But it seems that the benefits outweigh the potential downsides. However, the report notes that these things are notoriously difficult to predict. I can imagine that a similar argument was made when they raised the minimum wages previously.

Paul Krugman, a Nobel laureate in economics, disagrees with the CBO’s findings. In an op-ed column he lays out several good reasons to raise the minimum wage (focusing on a $9 an hour figure with subsequent increases to match inflation), writing that

the current level of the minimum wage is very low by any reasonable standard. For about four decades, increases in the minimum wage have consistently fallen behind inflation, so that in real terms the minimum wage is substantially lower than it was in the 1960s. Meanwhile, worker productivity has doubled.”

He asks, “Isn’t it time for a raise?” And I say yes, yes it is time for a raise. Krugman further writes that “the great preponderance of the evidence from these natural experiments points to little if any negative effect of minimum wage increases on employment.” If true, then raising the minimum wage would have very little impact on employment. But what we can surmise from this data is that since the wages haven’t been keeping up with inflation, and workers making minimum wage are making less than they did in the 1960s; real earnings have actually been decreasing. Sure, the number of dollars may be higher, but the dollars buy less than they did then. So, in effect, people are working just as hard or in some cases even harder and able to buy less.

Needless to say, I find this arrangement appalling. I learned that if I won this election my annual pay would be around the $70,000 range. I don’t get why the people in charge of the laws that govern minimum wage make this much while so many in the State of Michigan are struggling to make ends meet. And I, like many, found Governor Snyder’s declaration of only accepting $1 a year for his first year was insulting. Reports show he made $1.9 million from other sources, so he didn’t actually need that income to survive. I don’t think he can empathize with people who live from paycheck to paycheck.

There are many other issues I shall be writing about as the year unfolds. There are many concerns that need to be addressed with the state government and how it operates, relating to issues ranging from education to maintenance of roads.

By the way, tired of all of the potholes? Where is the money to fix the roads? Read on! I can’t fathom why they’re allowing this to drag on while our state infrastructure deteriorates to the point that Michigan now ranks as one of the worst states in road condition. And, according to the article, pushing back action on repairing them will only further increase the cost.

In 2011, Gov. Rick Snyder asked the Legislature to increase highway funding by $1.2 billion a year through a combination of higher fuel taxes and vehicle registration fees. But those requests did not pass the Legislature. Each year lawmakers delay, the cost of repairing the roads rises by an estimated $100 million.

Every year it increases the cost by $100,000,000. This is not something that we can just indefinitely push aside. If we do not address this problem now it will only grow more and more expensive. And what’s worse is that the costs of delaying are foisted on us in car repairs and accidents because of the bad road conditions. It’s economic loss, there in black and white.

So why isn’t this being addressed now?

Snyder’s latest proposal is for $1.3 billion a year in higher fuel taxes and vehicle registration fees, but, so far, not a single legislator in the Republican-controlled House or Senate has agreed to introduce the bill.

In what’s become a common refrain, Republican Rep. Lisa Posthumus Lyons recently told a Grand Rapids gathering the state Department of Transportation had not made its case for more money.

The case has not been made? The condition of many motorists’ vehicles tells a different story.

The Republican-controlled House and Senate has not acted on it or has been slow to act on it. If the most recent efforts fail it will only delay the much-needed action and increase the cost of fixing the problem in the future.

When I was growing up I worked a few part-time jobs that convinced me to go to college and get educated, so I worked hard in high school to rise above my station and I was awarded with a full-tuition scholarship from the University of Michigan for academic achievement and because I displayed scholarly potential. I’m a hard worker and one of my life’s goals is to help improve the lives of others. It’s why I’ve decided to go into medicine. If I can help people in the Michigan State government, however, by getting elected then I will fight to ensure that the people get a fair voice for their concerns.

And maybe my personal views don’t match yours. I do not consider this a problem as a free exchange of ideas is what makes a democracy function. Tell me your concerns, convince me that your argument is correct, and I’ll work to improve the state of the Michigan government and the state of the the State. The legislature we have elected now is clearly not working in the best interests of the people of Michigan.

It’s time for a change.

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