Happy New Year

This time of year always causes me to reflect on the past as I look to the coming year. One thing that has struck me is the wealth of support and encouragement that I get from family, friends, and colleagues. I’ve also been struck by the tone over the past year of individuals or groups proclaiming to be independently successful and dismissive of those who do not possess, or outwardly show, the badges of success.

I do not believe for a second that any one person is a totally self made success. Each of us relies on the collective efforts of our society to fully realize the most benefit of our own innate talents and hard work. The innovators, business captains, and other successful individuals we see daily would not be there but for a teacher, clerk, mentor, employee, or some other person that provided a hand or service that furthered the efforts of the individual.

I have had successes (and failures) and I have enjoyed the rewards of those successes. I could credit my own hard work and determination as the sole source of my success. Likewise, I could blame others (taking no personal responsibility) for my failures or shortcomings. Both would be wrong.

This past year I have seen far too much of this approach. It has manifested itself in animosity towards immigrants, the poor, public institutions and their employees. We have seen calls to slash funding for public institutions that keep us safe, educate our children, or minister to our infirm. It has manifested itself under labels of tax reform and various “crack downs” on perceived systemic failures. It has been a concerted effort by those that have benefited the most to shift the financial burden to others under the claim that they achieved financial success all on their own and are somehow being deprived of their fair share.

To be sure, we must manage our public resources and institutions wisely. But we must also recognize and appreciate the part each of us play in the success or failure of our society. I stand upon the shoulders of those that have gone before me: the soldiers that risked or sacrificed their lives, the union members that fought for better wages and labor conditions, the working men and women that paid their taxes that I might be safe, secure, and well educated. God strike me if I refuse to give a hand up to those striving to improve, refuse to willingly contribute my share to provide essential services for all, or claim I owe no duty to our community at large.

This coming year, pledge to be the mentor to someone striving to improve their lot; be the volunteer that assists a family or individual in need; or be the person that seeks to understand those adverse to your personal interests so that you might find common ground. Be the person that understands our success or our failure as a society makes our individual successes and failures inseparable.

Make next year better for yourself and those around you.

Happy new year!

TAX REFORM or TAX ILLUSION?

There has been lots of news and lots of noise about the GOP engineered tax overhaul passed by Congress this week. Seeing the disproportionate benefits gifted to corporations and the very wealthy is discouraging. It makes most of us feel that any resistance by common people is futile.
The Iowa GOP is laying the foundation to attempt the same thing in the upcoming legislative session. The promise of paying less in taxes and keeping more of your earnings is very appealing. No one can object to keeping more money.

Here is the problem. Cutting taxes cannot be sustained without cutting expenditures. The promises of increased economic activity from tax cuts generating more revenue have consistently failed to come true. It’s time to step back and take a hard look at what we want from our government.

I believe our government exists to provide essential services. Government is here to provide public safety, law enforcement, education, a judicial system, and infrastructure. Solid infrastructure and a high quality of life provide the conditions to attract and maintain the kind of business growth that we want in our state.

Iowa must strive to be the quality state, not the cheap state. There are no winners in the race to the bottom.

While you might have felt your voice was lost in the national debate on tax reform, drowned out by the millions of dollars spent to buy members of Congress, you don’t have to feel that way here at home. Your state representatives and state senators live near you. Contact your legislators. Call, write, go to neighborhood meetings, or make a trip to Des Moines during the session. Make your voice heard. Tell them you demand that Iowa be the state of quality, not the state of cheap labor and failing services.

And if they refuse to listen, replace them with representatives that will listen. Support the candidates that will support high quality employment, high quality education, and an overall high quality of life for our citizens. Our tax dollars need to be spent wisely. It’s misleading to promise to cut taxes while destroying our quality of life.

I am running for the Iowa House of Representatives because I don’t believe our representative makes quality government a priority.

I’m asking for your support in the upcoming election in 2018.

Honoring Our Veterans

Today, as we pause to honor the men and women that have served in our military, let us remember not only what they have given, but why.

We are blessed with the right to participate in our own governance, the right to speak up and have our voices heard. Often this is equated with voting, but it is so much more. From neighborhood associations to legislative forums we have the freedom to openly  express our views to our leaders. I am forever grateful to our veterans’ sacrifices to maintain that right.

I urge you to show your support and gratitude to those that have served to maintain your freedom to participate and be heard.

SUPPORT THOSE THAT HAVE SACRIFICED 

Many veterans return with the unseen wounds and scars of PTSD. This leads to personal struggles, substance abuse, legal problems and, increasingly, suicide. These veterans need our support today.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

Speak up. Get involved. I urge you to get involved. Work with our elected officials to fund and implement programs to address the issues of mental health and substance abuse that haunt many of our veterans after their active service has ended. Support programs that foster treatment, not incarceration, of our struggling veterans.

Tell our veterans “thank you for your service”, then show them that you mean it. Tell your elected officials to support ongoing treatment and programs for the wounds that remain unseen.

Tell these honorable men and women:

You were there for me and mine. Today, and every day, we’re here for you. Thank you for your service .

Education is front and center!

Quality public education is the first, and best, investment we can make in Iowa’s future. Iowa has always prided itself on being a national leader in education. I support strong financial support to maximize learning opportunities statewide. If we want our state to keep pace with the changing technological and employment landscape we have to support an educational system that embraces the broad spectrum of opportunities. We have to support funding for up to date textbooks and multimedia resources for remote learning opportunities. We also have to trust and support our educators.

Our public education system must prepare our youth and young adults for further academic, trade, and technological education. This means coordinated programs between our schools, colleges, trade associations, and employers. A well-educated motivated workforce is as important as brick and mortar.

Educational investment is economic investment.