I’m generally not very keen on endorsing incumbents for the General Assembly, even within my own party. If anything, I’m looking forward to a time when voters will “clean house” with by electing politicians who aren’t seeking long political careers. “Cleaning house” would mean selecting politicians that seek laws that are fair to everyone, not laws that are favorable to campaign contributors to the detriment of those who didn’t donate to the campaign.
I do, however, endorse Jeff Wagner for state rep in Ohio House District 81. If elected, Wagner will serve his 4th 2-year term. After that, he would reach the end of his term limits. I caught up with him at the Seneca County Republican Party Lincoln Day Dinner just this past spring and asked him what he’d do once he reaches his term limits. His response? Perhaps nothing political at all. Just farming. I find that refreshing.
The kinds of measures Wagner has been vocal about in the Ohio House of Representatives have been more humanitarian than they have been mercenary, which is why he’s one of the few incumbents I favor. His hallmark, perhaps, has been his attempts to improve the foster care system in Ohio. Most state reps wouldn’t care to investigate such an issue because well-heeled PAC’s aren’t lined up to donate campaign funds to the politician that tries to iron out such wrinkles. He’s been responsive to the concerns of local law enforcement and safety forces, too.
The Tiffin Advertiser-Tribune offers a snapshot profile of Wagner and his Democrat challenger, Andrew Kashmer.
There’s a lot to like about Kashmer. I see similarities between him and myself. He’s been an Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts, and so have I. He’s worked in the public schools, and in special education classrooms, and so have I. He’s got a platform geared toward improving public education, and so do I. So Kashmer has some positives that would rank him ahead of a number of incumbent state reps around the state.
He is weak, however, on economic issues. As we know, the economy is issue number one.
One of the economic issues that Kashmer is most outspoken about is the minimum wage. It wasn’t long ago that Ohio upped its minimum wage requirements. The Ohio economy didn’t blossom as a result. Kashmer points out that the current minimum wage is $6.85 per hour, but says that in order to obtain a living wage, one must earn $13.50 per hour. He says he wants to correct that discrepancy. Let’s think about that for a minute. Even if ratcheting up the minimum wage didn’t cause any job losses in Ohio, employers in the private sector may face sharply higher overhead costs, which they would have to pass on to consumers, which would raise the cost of living higher, which would mean a “living wage” would turn out to be more than $13.50 per hour. Taxes might have to be raised, too, in order to increase the minimum wage for public sector employees, thus taxes might take a bigger bite out of the minimum wage paycheck, too. So then what? Raise the minimum wage again? And then again? And then again? And keep on going until wage increases eclipse any globally competitive advantage our workers may have had in terms of productivity? Of course, we know that jobs would leave Ohio if the minimum wage was almost doubled.
I can think of better ways to help workers earn a living wage. In many other states, the wage rates are being eroded by the labor of illegal immigrants. Securing our borders and enforcing immigration and labor laws would help shore up wage rates. Policing and eliminating any underground market activity, thus protecting the above-ground market economy, would help. A large part of the cost of living is housing costs, yet the government is trying to intervene with bailouts to prevent a correction in the housing markets. Let supply and demand determine what these housing-based assets are worth. The markets won’t be able to stabilize until true housing values are known. If home prices are permitted to decline, then perhaps it wouldn’t be necessary to earn $13.50 per hour to obtain a living wage. Perhaps it would be less. Also, schoolchildren have to be pro-active about their future. Do they think that they have a bright future if they leave high school for minimum-wage job opportunities? Or are they going to blaze a way for them to earn much higher incomes? Despite unemployment figures, there are careers that pay much better than minimum wage that fail to draw sufficient numbers of job applicants, thus creating demand for workers from overseas to fill those jobs. There are enormous opportunities in nursing, engineering, the sciences, and information technology, to name a few. Are we paving the way for kids to follow those career paths? Or are we going to allow them to think they can make do as a drug dealer, street thug, rap-star-wannabe, local skateboard champion, reality TV show personality, porn star, pimp, or tattoo artist (or full-time blogger–LOL!)?
There are a number of things that can be done to ease our population out of poverty. There are even measures that can be passed into state law by state representatives that would improve our economic outlook. Arbitrarily raising the minimum wage just won’t cut it, I’m afraid. Sorry Kashmer.
The 81st Ohio House District is comprised of Sandusky County, the western two-thirds of Seneca County and a chunk of southern Ottawa County.