A Question for Governor Kasich

john kasichMy Question to Governor Kasich at Media Briefing on His Budget Proposal for the Coming Biennium

Recently, I used my genuine Press Pass to gain access to the unveiling of Ohio’s new budget proposed by Ohio’s new Republican Governor, John Kasich. It was the first time I had attended so important an event, and I was determined not to draw attention to myself, as I worried that such behavior would provide the Governor with a pretext for avoiding my question which I hoped I could formulate in such a way as to take away his more routine ways of avoiding the question, and hopefully compel him to move into less familiar terrain from which to answer. (Foreshadowing: I don’t think I succeeded.)

So, I wordsmithed for more than an hour… in my head, as Parkinson’s makes my writing illegible, even to me. I fretted about another Parkinson’s-related hurdle: the Governor had not provided a microphone for questioners. So I had to concentrate on projecting my voice, extra effort that took its toll on my capacity for listening to the Governor’s response. And I had to do all that while posing a question that linked the budget to its supposed goal, increasing employment

Fortunately for my purposes, though certainly for his own purposes, the Governor was still projecting his “The Jobs Budget” slide onto the wall behind himself. Pointing to his slide, I said:

This is obviously a “budget”, but it’s contribution to job creation remains to be seen. I brought along a prop, the first issue of Harvard Business Review for 2011. The cover article was written by the highly-regarded political economist, Michael Porter, and a co-author; and they titled it, “How to reinvent capitalism—and unleash a wave of innovation.” Implicitly accepting the notion that capitalism needs to be reinvented, the authors called for creating “shared value”, by which they meant “Connecting company success and community benefit”.

Meanwhile, Fareed Zakaria, writing in TIME (3/3/2011), drew on the work of Mancur Olson, also a highly regarded political economist, to argue that, in effect, Americans had painted themselves and each other into different corners—from which they no longer can or care to budge: just the sort of social clash that has dominated domestic news for week.

Here’s the point: such clashing would seem to preclude, or at least confound, the sharing of values that Porter argued is necessary for successfully reinventing capitalism.

And here’s my question: do you, Mr. Kasich, have an approach in mind for getting people past the bitterness that divides them, so that they can reinvent capitalism together; or, do you think that Porter is wrong: that capitalism doesn’t need reinventing, and Americans don’t need to learn sharing?”

robert letcher[Note: In my view, success of his “The Job Budget” hinges on how he goes about responding practically to this question.]

As I’ve hinted along the way here, just formulating and asking the question wore me out. I don’t know what his answer was. But I did get the distinct impression that he knew that I was trying to put him in a bind. I have to keep working on that.

Bob Letcher

Published by the LA Progressive on March 22, 2011
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About Robert Letcher

Robert A. Letcher, Ph.D. is a political economist who describes himself as "an academic without portfolio, writer, political activist, and Qigong practitioner who tries to help people learn".