Policy Positions

Policy Positions

 

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Policy Positions

Creating and living our best lives — that is the unifying theme in these policy positions below.

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In 2010 when I ran for Governor of Maine (and before this and after) I published 13 Op-Eds across Maine’s three largest newspapers (The Portland Press Herald, The Bangor Daily News and The Lewiston Sun Journal) which collectively describe some of the key principles and subjects that I most strongly believe in. Here are a couple of examples:

1) Portland Press Herald
2) Bangor Daily News

If you wish to see more of my Op-Eds published throughout Maine, then please Click Here and then on the book image.

SAMPLE POLICY POSITIONS/CORE PRINCIPLES:

SUSTAINABLE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT:

To live a better life, one needs better practices.

A consciousness of sustainability and sustainable economic development is slowly taking hold in our world, but remains still in the early stages. Maine, with its natural based strengths in its economy is poised to economically benefit from these forces and potentially even leapfrog the economies of other states if we can successfully harness and leverage these strengths.

I have written about sustainability and sustainable economic development rather extensively in my books, if you’d like to hear more about it, but let me say just a few very basic introductory things here.

Think about this in regards to changing economic paradigms: The success of agriculture made hunting and gathering societies largely obsolete. The industrial revolution supplanted agriculture as the prime economic activity. The information age, bits and bytes (including the financial markets) have greatly impacted manufacturing etc.

Economic development and the environment have traditionally been seen to be at odds, and they certainly can be. But not necessarily. More and more we are learning that sustainability efforts lead to greater economic output in the long term. And increasingly in the shorter term as well.

When we manage our resources in a sustainable way we nurture them for increased profit and use.

When we are innovative and use the tools of the information age in a sustainable way, we have economic tools by which to leverage traditional strengths and values.

Historically we have had a narrow definition of profit and loss on the balance sheet. But increasingly we are coming to realize as a society that profit and loss is much broader. How much water and other resources are used in the production process? Can this be more smartly managed? What are notions of reusability in both packaging and energy production? How can smarter cities connect people more, increase mobility and lead to less anxiety, depression and better overall mental health?

We get better answers when we ask better questions, and we ask better questions when we have better dialogue among more people.

In Maine we have always worked hard but we also need to be sure that we are working collectively just as smart. It does not make sense for us to work two or three jobs in many cases but still fall behind.

We are often concentrated on the number of jobs, but not often enough on their quality (maybe because we see little way out in that regard).

Jack Welch famously removed GE from industries in which they were not first or second in the world, or did not have a clear path to becoming so.

The remaining players behind market leaders are increasingly commoditized.

Maine has natural strengths that are in major and increasing demand worldwide which can lead to economic prosperity (forestry, climate change solutions, agricultural science and maritime science as only the tip of this important iceberg) but we’ve operated as a state in too much of a piecemeal non-integrated basis, so our solutions have not been attractive to global players eager to pay large sums for comprehensive solutions

EDUCATION:

I believe that Education policy should be a balance between:

“If you think Education is expensive, try ignorance”

and

“Any expenditure without demonstrated ROI is in reality only an expense”

Both of the above statements have some truth in them, and balance each other. If we were to rely on only one of them then we would be extreme in either direction in regards to education funding decisions.

EDUCATION CORE PRINCIPLES:

Education is a lifelong activity. Never is this more true than in today’s global marketplace.

Education is most effective when it taps into intrinsic motivation. Yes, there are things that we all need to learn and master that we may or may not be interested in, but if you can tap into and foster a love of learning in one’s education efforts, you are way ahead of the game. Towards this end, rigorous but individualized personalized approaches (sometimes known as student centered approaches) fostered by technological educational tools and advances, put students in a position to identify, develop and maximize their inherent talents, interests and skills.

Education should largely reflect locally driven interests and strategies. This ties into inherent interest above and making education most relevant for each student and community. HOWEVER, there is a role, and an important one, for state and national standards to insure that students are performing at optimized levels and immersed in sufficient curriculum rigor.

Towards the point above, testing is important but it is important that testing reflect important skills rather than merely being an exercise of teaching to, or performing to, the test.

Towards this end we need to attract the best teaching and administrative individuals into the field. We have to understand that a poorly or even moderately educated workforce has little chance of excelling in today’s highly competitive world.

Some of this comes down to dollars in education spending, but there must be a greatly heightened focus, awareness and concentration around the area of education spending ROI. Let’s face it, we don’t as a state and a country have a clear collective understanding of what education ROI measurement in spending looks like (our best efforts as a state so far notwithstanding). That does not mean that we are going to study the problem to death without action. But it does mean that we need enhanced state and national dialogue in which enough of our citizenry participate in terms of reaching shared understandings of basic education and education ROI principles which we wish to adopt.

To attract the brightest to the education field we also need better shared narratives of what education means to us and why it is valuable. People understand the prestige, remuneration and status of being a doctor or lawyer, but an education professional, not so (as) much. We need to understand collectively why education professionals are rock stars in society and reinforce this.

Education’s focus needs, while personalized, to be sufficiently adaptable and global. We live in a global and complex world. Overly narrow specializations have predominated too much in education in the past, especially in academia. I do understand the value of basic research, but more of education needs to be sure that it can be applied. It is true that we are not only solving problems but also learning how to think and reason, but the two, while not the same, are linked. We think and reason not only in the abstract, but in the world. It is important to remember this in our education focus.

I believe that extensive use of internships, practicums and field placements, etc. from a young age can help students test out career choices in practical and interesting ways. Too many students make career choices in isolation, not really understanding what their field is actually about in a real job, and then if they do not like it later when they find out they need to backtrack and start again.

HEALTHCARE

How do you take the advantages of a market based system, without the dangers of rationing healthcare etc. from a profit driven motive?

By incentivizing healthy outcomes.

We need to pay for performance, but the right type of performance. If patients are healthier we pay more, when they are less healthy we pay less (and we have controls to make sure that data is not manipulated to gain greater financial rewards).

Here’s the deal on healthcare: The healthcare and insurance lobbies are so powerful, you know it, I know it, everybody knows it, that we are not going to get meaningful health care reform which is first and foremost focused on the individual until we get lobbying under control.

No small task I realize.

So that is the backdrop and important to remember, but at the same time we must also focus efforts within healthcare itself.

Again, I believe that market based choice is healthy and leads to better healthcare options and reduced costs BUT ONLY WHEN THE RIGHT OUTCOMES – HEALTHY OUTCOMES are incentivized. Otherwise you only get rationing and a healthcare system that is focused on denial for the motive of profit.

I believe that universal healthcare is a right, not a privilege, but on the opposite side of the coin I believe that the individual (in consultation with their healthcare professionals) is ultimately responsible for one’s good health overall (realizing also of course that some health conditions can’t be helped) and that we should both empower and hold accountable the individual in regard to health care decisions (but much more of the carrot than the stick, I’ll get into that).

I am not talking about going to the extreme in which obese or drug addicted individuals can’t get the best healthcare, but I am talking about incentives for healthcare funding based upon basic common sense factors and decisions.

I know I know you’re going to say that the government has no role to play in how I make my health decisions, and also that people will be stigmatized if this is the case. No, and let me explain.

I believe in this regard much more in the carrot than the stick, as mentioned. Everyone should have basic good healthcare, but like in any aspect of society, those who work the hardest (in this case on their health) should be rewarded with extras.

What you measure gets done, and what you incentivize you get more of. We’re not going to shame anyone. Healthcare data will remain private. But I would like to see more incentives for citizens to have more skin the game in regards to their own health and the decisions we collectively and individually make.

Towards this end, to make better choices, we need better information. Hospitals for example should be mandated to report fatality rates for procedures, and this information should be easily accessible. Of course we will have to factor in for severity of illness of the population treated, to make sure that in such data comparisons we are comparing apples to apples (and not apples to oranges)

FOREIGN POLICY PRINCIPLES

I believe in a respectful and practical America-first agenda which is infused by common interests and collaboration.

We are not the world’s police force but we are a moral force in a globally connected world.

First, we need to understand the rest of the world better. American education is focused too much just on America. Yes, it is important to know what the war of 1812 was about, but it is just as important to understand what is going on in different countries and regions of the world.

We must open our eyes and become more educated about the rest of the world if we are going to be most productive in our foreign policy efforts.

We must take a very strong stand on terrorism, but we must avoid demagoguery.

I believe in a strong military because I think it is a necessary deterrent in a dangerous world. But I also believe in soft power and that there is an advantage to winning, as they say, “hearts and minds”. Having a strong military allows us to employ soft power practices more effectively.

Foreign policy power is increasingly as much economic as it is military. Multinational corporations are as powerful or more powerful than many nation-states, and flout economic wishes of individual countries in doing what they want or don’t want to do.

Global forces such as global warming and other environmental factors and threats require cross national dialogue and solutions. My campaign is based upon the notion of sustainable economic development and that increasingly we will be understanding profitability by a broader measure of outputs than is currently contained in the balance sheet (e.g. total cost of ownership over the lifespan, environmental impacts, societal and material costs of production, etc.). I am not an environmental zealot, far from it, but I know that even if Elon Musk is successful in his quest to colonize Mars (and we’ll see how that works out) we still have to live on Earth in an economically sustainable and livable way.

In regards to trade, our trade agreements must be fair first and free only second.

Crony capitalism effects our foreign policy just as it does domestic policy. Eliminating crony capitalism is no small task, but will be an important focus of my tenure as United States Senator.

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