Thursday, October 28, 2010

Frank Wood for Florida House

Florida House candidate Frank Wood’s endorsement by Republican Frank Sargent, well-known and well-loved, was music to my nonpartisan ears.

My voter card over the years bore the stamp of the Republican, Independent, and Democratic parties. I disappointed party loyalists sometimes, but I always voted for the candidate, not the party.

In my political utopia, the state Legislature is half blue and half red because that’s about the only time those guys have to climb down and listen to regular people. Some people call it gridlock, I call it making them sweat.

Plus, when the parties are equally matched, they can’t do too much damage in any particular direction, which comforts me.

In good times, we don’t even need a state legislature. The best thing they can do then is go home. But Florida’s in an economic hole today. Good times seem like a distant memory.

Here’s where somebody like Frank Wood comes in.

Jobs. Most of us agree with Frank that government should not be in the business of adding more employees. I can think of some bureaucracies we could do without, and I’m sure you can as well. Instead, government can and should do all it can to stimulate job creation in the private sector where it belongs.

Florida sits there waiting for more business based on medical technology, alternative farming, niche farming, online communications, alternative energy, entertainment, the arts, green tourism, mass transit, hiking, biking, hunting, fishing, and camping.

Instead of using tax breaks aggressively to create these jobs and to build family business, the current team in Tallahassee gives away millions with little accountability. So we get a few low-paying or part-time jobs while profits go up and working families stay down. This happens when one party gets too powerful.

Frank Wood sends a much healthier signal to business:  We will give you tax breaks. But you have to earn those breaks by putting people to work. Not in China. Not in India. Here.

The beauty of this simple economic truth is that first, more people will earn paychecks, and second, since they’re earning those paychecks here, they are also spending those paychecks here.

Frank has been a Republican as well as a Democrat. He knows that the link connecting economic prosperity to education is bigger than any political party’s platform. It’s simple economics.

Execs of prosperous companies are too smart to build or relocate  in places like Florida where schools get neglected. Sure we have low taxes and that’s appealing. But without good schools forget it. Just about all you’re going to get is business with low pay, no or low benefits, and little job security. This weakens the economy and hurts working families.

Consider two points. First, a strong business needs smart, well-trained workers. Second, the execs want decent schools for their children, and the children of their employees. 

Why then, has the ruling party cut school spending to the point where Florida is now one of the lowest, if not the lowest, in per-pupil spending among the 50 states?

Why then, did the ruling majority neglect public education so much that they were sued by parents of school children?

Why then, in just the last three years, did the ruling party cut kindergarten through high school by more than a billion bucks?

While it was busy slashing school spending, the Legislature could have been - should have been - investing in the economic potential of technology. More high school graduates today should know key subjects such as information literacy, connectivity, game creation, and web-based business. More high school graduates should be receiving vocational training in school, so they can be self-sufficient and productive.

Instead of learning what will help them make it in the world, though, these students waste time taking an endless series of fill-in-the-bubble tests ordered by bureaucrats in the Florida Department of Education, which currently suffers under the delusion that testing is teaching.  

When it comes to basic issues like jobs and education – issues that affect all of us - it should not matter what party you belong to.

Frank and his opponent Larry Metz both seem to understand this very well. They deserve a round of applause for conducting clean, positive campaigns. Thanks to these gentlemen, we have a race that could set the tone for future campaigns in the region. They remind us that campaigns don’t have to be divisive and negative.  

We’re all in this together. If the situation were reversed and Democrats controlled Tallahassee, misusing their power to the extent the Republicans now misuse theirs, I would argue just as strongly for balance in the other direction.

Yes, Florida’s got problems. But everyone in Lake, Seminole, and Volusia counties who votes for Frank Wood in House District 25 can be part of the solution.

To learn more about Frank: YouTube videos

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