GBNR ... I'm Lee Schultheis, and I'm running for Governor ... But Not Really. So ... what's it all about? It’s a full blown campaign for the Maine Governor’s Race in 2014 in the sense of looking to get on the ballot, in the general debates, and campaigning thru November of 2014. The ‘But Not Really’ part is about realistically not expecting to win, but rather wanting to focus on improving the dialogue of our broken political process without being a ‘spoiler’ in the general election. Getting voters out of their 'ideological foxholes' and spending more time looking at potential solutions that may not have fit into their prior comfort zone of political beliefs. The world is changing at an ever accelerating pace, and we cannot likely go back to the ‘good old days’ and the things that used to work … but under very different conditions.
I want to provide a forum for the many non-ideological solutions that are already out there but ignored by traditional political parties. Focusing on the ‘how’ of getting them enacted within the current political climate. Unique open-architecture, interactive campaignwhere those with solutions that cannot find sponsorship can go. The only screen at GBNR2014 is whether or not something is ‘practical’ and ‘sustainable’. If it’s already worked somewhere else, I’m interested … much more than in some elaborate ideologically based rationale on why it 'should work'.
There are far more questions than answers at this point in the campaign. But it does provide an opportunity for those with expertise and interest in key issues to weigh in and help to improve the conversation. You will find some issues with concrete positions on this web-site, but none of it is carved in stone. Help us to get to a better solution, and we'll change it in a heartbeat.
“The contents of this Web Site are paid for and Authorized by the GBNR 2014 and its Candidate”
"Nostalgia for a misremembered past is no basis for governing a diverse and advancing nation.”
- David Frum
1. Perhaps our largest problem we face is the ever accelerating pace of change and increasing complexity in life generally, and at times our inability or unwillingness to deal with or accept the change that is irreversible:
o Globalization is here to stay – we have to acknowledge what is and isn’t within our control.
o Science and technology aren’t slowing down.
o Scarcity of resources in certain areas.
o Changing demographics of our population.
o Some may feel that their ‘freedom of choice’ is being infringed, but others may wish for a less dizzying array of choice to have to deal with.
2. Taking the time to first truly understand the problem is the best way to find the right solution:
o Don’t rush to ideological talking points for answers. Answers may not be simple, but a little logic and common sense goes a long way. ‘Practical’ and ‘sustainable’ are more important than ‘Left vs. Right’. Personally, I sleep better at night knowing a problem has been solved vs. the problem remains but I have maintained ‘ideological purity’.
o Be willing to be surprised at where the facts may lead you.
o You can usually find one anecdotal case or set of statistics that will ‘prove’ your conclusion, especially if you are willing to overlook the greater weight of more compelling data. Even citing a single anecdote consistent with the broader evidence can help the other side. Examples: Super Storm Sandy and climate change or Newtown and Gun Control (It’s easy to find an equally bad storm 50 years ago, or look at any gun control measure and say “Well, that one wouldn’t have prevented Newtown”).
o Simply extrapolating past trends is often a poor way of predicting the future, especially when the trajectory of those trends have undergone fundamental change in recent years. Example: Economic principle of ‘elasticity of demand’ (e.g. oil prices can’t climb forever at a steep rate or other energy sources will draw off its demand as they become cost competitive by holding steady or dropping in price due to new technology).
3. In idea doesn’t have to be 100% fool-proof to be worthy of consideration or even implementation – it just has to be better, all things considered, than what we’ve got:
o One anecdotal instance for or against a proposition does not prove or disprove the point. You need to look at the weight of all the evidence before drawing a conclusion.
o “That won’t fix every instance of ‘X’ so forget it” should never be an acceptable argument.
4. “Where we are” and “how do we get there from here” are equally important as where it is we want to get to:
o If our demographics were better, if our finances were better, if our infrastructure wasn’t in disrepair, if our geography and climate were more ‘business friendly’, if we didn’t have to compete with the whole world, etc. … we could look at things completely differently. We need to accept ‘what is’ and move forward from there.
o We may want to work toward lower levels of Government spending and tax burden over time, but just like a patient that is sick, if you give the patient all of the medicine that should make them well all at once, you can kill them. Balance in approach is extremely important.
5. We need more ‘practical’ and ‘sustainable’ solutions and less of those that spring almost exclusively from ideological dogma:
o We need to recognize what ‘works’ and what doesn’t, even if it runs counter to how we feel things should work. We need to avoid the ‘surge’ mentality that says, “My ideology is always right, so if it isn’t working it’s obvious we simply need more of the same, and to just ‘double down’ on our original idea.”
o An idea or potential initiative may be ‘noble’ yet unworkable (or at least not a viable job for the Government to take on).
o Most political issues have elements of expected human behavior resulting from Governmental actions taken. Developing policy through an ideological prism can be circular logic as ideology always points to the ‘hoped for behavior’, and often overlooks the more likely expected behavior consistent with ‘human nature’.
- Example: cutting taxes before figuring out how to pay for it (or just assuming your ideology will be proven right and you’ll get more growth and thus more revenue) is like jumping out of an airplane hoping to be handed a parachute. At a minimum, one needs to assess the overall national/global economy that Maine operates within to see if we are in a growth upswing that may be the only chance for this working out.
6. Our complex and highly specialized Economy runs on Business and Consumer ‘confidence’:
o Not ‘Stimulus Spending’.
o Not ‘Tax Cuts’.
o Both sides’ ideological ‘solutions’ are at best short-term fixes, and it’s really the endless arguing/stale mate over which of these is right, that has both business and consumers acting like ‘deer in the headlights’. Just let me know what to expect, and I can develop a plan on how to act (as a business owner or consumer).
o A compromise solution (no matter what it is) would do more to boost confidence and allow consumers to spend and business to invest, if it was viewed as ‘durable’.
7. The Middle Class and the 1% (more like the top 5-10%) are really each other’s ‘Golden Goose’:
o The Middle Class needs a healthy Private Business Sector to have ‘full employment’ (which historically is really 5% unemployment), at living wages.
o The Private Business Sector needs a health Middle Class to supply the aggregate demand for its products and services.
o All ‘class warfare’ rhetoric from both sides is wholly counterproductive.
8. Not all of the problems facing a State like Maine are within our control:
o The Maine Economy exists within the overall National Economy, which in turn, exists within the overall GlobalIf the Global Economy is reeling, our National Economy can’t thrive, regardless of decisions made in Washington, D.C. Maine is not some ‘tail that wags the dog’ relative to the National Economy. We can do our best, but recognizing facts will mean that we deploy our limited resources most wisely.
9. It’s not Government’s job to guarantee ‘equality of outcomes’, but rather provide as close to ‘equality of opportunity’ as is possible:
o 3 basic kinds of jobs, where you get paid for: What you do, what you know, or who you know. Government can only try and level the playing field a bit for the first two.
10. Most successful institutions come into being for very valid, altruistic reasons, but many outlive their original “reason to be”, and then focus on ‘perpetuating the organization’ as its primary mission. Question everything.
11. We have to have a better Political Process to get better results:
o We need a more ‘democratic’ (small ‘d’) process vs. one skewed toward supporting a 2-party system. Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) is a must.
o We need to get money out of the process as much as possible. Money almost always expects something in return. Also, in the interest of full disclosure: GBNR will not accept any money from the State or individuals for this campaign. It will be solely funded by the Candidate, and at a modest level.
o It is unreasonable to expect that the side that won the most recent election by a few % gets it all their way, and the other side, even if just below 50%, gets nothing. Are we a nation of ‘sore losers’ who do not recognize the winning side’s right to get to try things at least ‘more their way’ for awhile? Rather, the process of undermining them begins immediately following each election, resulting in a truly toxic political environment.
o Can we really wait too many more years to effectively address our looming problems where two polar sides struggle to get it ‘all their way’ and when they can’t, default to being obstructionist and immediately pointing the inevitable ‘next election’?
o Two opposing sides, willing to get ‘something’ vs. ‘nothing’ and working cooperatively, might even come up with more practical and sustainable solutions. It’s a ‘balance’, more like the Yin and Yang in eastern religions. “Everybody thinks they’re right” … yet by definition they can’t all be.
o We need to attract politicians that are true ‘public servants’ and not ‘career politicians’ in search of power, influence or driven by ego.
- Some limits on spending for ‘self-nominating candidates’ may be in order.
- Lifetime term limits in addition to current consecutive term limits might help.
12. Above all else, we need to protect Maine’s “brand":
o “Maine, the way life should be” isn’t just a slogan - it’s our niche in the global economy.
o It’s our biggest potential “job creator” – we’re not going to ‘out-Alabama’ Alabama in attracting business and industry, no matter how low our taxes are or how cheap our labor is (nor would we want to).
o Anecdotal rankings/surveys that don’t balance a range of factors are short-sighted.
o One thing Government can do is a whole bunch of PSA’s to ‘promote’ things to benefit the State:
- Local crowd-sourcing for entrepreneurs and non-profits.
- Resources for out-of-Staters with key job skills needed here to find jobs and demystify the relocation process.
“The problems are real. The solutions are painful. There’s no easy way out.”
1. Ranked Choice Voting (RCV):
o This might be one of the best reasons (the current lack of RCV) for the ‘But Not Really’ part of GBNR.
o Our current situation amplifies the ‘sore loser’ mentality we seem to have these days of not conceding the ‘legitimacy’ of election winners. Less than 50% is clearly not a mandate.
o RCV should be a future ballot initiative, because it is likely both Democrats and Republicans would oppose it, as it tends to undermine politics as the exclusive domain of the 2-Party System.
2. Health Care:
o Health Care is actually a misnomer. As currently practiced, it’s really more like “Disease Care”. We need to make it more a matter of “Wellness”.
- “It’s the cost, Stupid.“ Why are we arguing about the method of paying for health care if year after year the total cost of services goes up at alarming rates?
- Even private group health insurance is viewed as an ‘entitlement’ or maybe more accurately as an ‘all you can eat buffet’. If I primarily pay once per year, when in doubt I would tend to over-consume.
o Until we become ‘smart shoppers’ for health care, like any other line item in our budget, we won’t effectively solve this problem. Currently, we don’t even ask “how much?” when ‘purchasing’ our health care services. We don’t even get ‘rung up’ and a receipt for our ‘purchases’ on the way out of the ‘store’.
3. Is it time for Radical Change in Education?
o As our Economy is undergoing radical change, should the role of both Teachers and the whole education process designed to prepare our children for the workplace be reengineered in light of technological advancements?
o “Digital Aristotle” – teaching kids not just ‘what they should know’ but ‘how they are best able to learn’ on an individualized basis.
o More time for teachers to inspire/connect with kids vs. just deliver the canned lesson?
o Public/Charter/Private Schools – how to best balance the 3 approaches.
o First we have to recognize that Capitalism is by far the best economic system the World has thus far come up with.
o Second, we have to recognize that this ‘best system’ creates some pretty substantial income and wealth disparities.
o Third, we need to recognize we have a ‘progressive’ (i.e. graduated) tax system because flat taxes can’t pay for the full freight of Government. What we’re arguing over is the slope of the tax curve.
o Fourth, we need to realize that the top 1% (or maybe more like the top 5% that own most businesses, the economic engines) needs a healthy middle class (to not just work for them, but to be the aggregate demand their products/services need to be successful) and the middle class needs a healthy and incentivized top 1-5% to maximize growth and productivity (the two keys to increasing everyone’s standard of living).
o Finally, we have to recognize that changes in tax policy, like many Government initiatives, is designed to modify people’s behavior and it is crucial that we carefully weigh the likely outcome of new initiatives, and not be blinded by ideology that assumes it will turn out as we hope. Example: It’s fine to have incentives in the tax code for ‘job creation’ but it needs to be truly targeted to that which will spur growth, and not just the wealthy as a whole class, when many in that category have no ability to affect job creation.
o Work requirement.
o Training necessity.
o Inspiration imperative (Tony Robbins Org. has done something like this in England) – how to we get people to not think of themselves as ‘disabled’ or ‘unemployable’ and rather focus them on all that they can achieve with a different mindset.
o Let’s not spend all of our time arguing about who the ‘makers and takers’ are, but rather put into place the best chance for individuals to succeed and let the chips fall where they may.
6. Minimum Wage:
o First, what is the ‘breadth and depth’ of this issue? 2011 – Bureau of Labor Statistics:
- 3K hourly workers in ME paid at minimum wage. 11K were paid under the minimum wage (likely food service that works for tips).
- Only 0.8% of hourly wage workers (less if you included salary workers).
o Second, we need to recognize that workers need to provide value commensurate with their wages over the long haul. It is incumbent on both employees and employers to make sure that the employee is in a position to provide as much value as possible (career path, training, customer service attitude, etc.)
o Third, we need to look at what raising the Minimum Wage has done historically to affect economic growth (the evidence seems to be that it does not stunt growth).
o Fourth, we need to look at the issue of exempting small business (<10 employees?, <25?, <50?). Especially look at mega-companies like Walmart that have employees below ‘living income’ standards in many states that are being subsidized by states via food stamps, welfare, etc. Also, should there be an initial hire period of a ‘training wage’ as employers are ‘investing in’ their new employees?
7. Energy - Future Cost and Self-Sustainability:
o It’s not a question of “What is the future of energy?” It’s clearly clean, renewable alternative energy sources. The question is “By when and how do we get there from here sensibly?” Cost of production and infrastructure required.
o In the interim, it’s easier to ‘save’ energy, than produce it:
- Conservation – treat these questions like a mortgage refinancing break-even analysis.
- Recycling – lower cost of energy requirements to replace resources.
o How does the Government encourage, without directly subsidizing or investing in alternative energy?
o What is ‘feasible’?
- Smart grid?
8. Balancing Gun Safety & 2nd Amendment Rights:
o It’s more than just this issue, as it is one that has many of the ‘red herring’ arguments of our time firmly embedded in the rhetoric. If we can reach a workable balanced solution on this, there’s hope for many other issues.
- ‘Slippery slope’ arguments.
- Anti-government sentiment.
o Rigid vs. flexible interpretation of our Federal and State Constitutions.
o First agree on “keeping firearms, especially high-power high-capacity ones, out of the hands of the ‘bad guys’ is the objective”.
o Ultimately, the pro-gun forces may have to choose between universal background checks and a registry (even for secondary sales), or bans on certain kinds of weapons/ammunition for everyone altogether.
9. Marriage Equality (I don’t think this issue is ‘fully settled’)
o It’s about more than just marriage (cue the ‘slippery slope-ers’).
o It’s the civil rights movement of our time.
o The ultimate goal is ‘acceptance’ on a broad level of society, which won’t happen overnight, and depends on how both sides are willing to conduct themselves.
10. Government PSA’s (Public Service Announcements)
Where are there areas where Government can 'influence' without 'mandating'?
o “Domestic Violence” – Gov. LePage has done a good job with this one
o “Add More Value” – encourage job training skills
o “Becoming a Smart Health Care Consumer”
o “Teen Smoking” – #1 in the Nation (in a bad way)
o How to: Eat Healthy, at reasonable cost
o Preventative Medicine
o “Buy Quality, Buy Local” – try to get consumers to buy fewer, higher quality goods from local merchants, vs. the ‘disposable’ stuff you get at Walmart
o “Save Energy” – conserve and recycle
o “Gun Safety at Home”
o “Avoiding Scams” – especially those that prey on the poor
o There are no dobut tons of others to consider
Lee W. Schultheis (age 57) is the candidate for the GBNR2014 effort. A resident of Freeport, ME for the past 22 years, he has no prior political experience. A graduate of Cornell University’s Industrial and Labor Relations school in 1978, he spent the bulk of his career in the mutual fund industry, until retiring in September 2012 from the company he co-founded in 2002, Hatteras Alternative Mutual Funds, LLC (formerly Alternative Investment Partners, LLC).