We are a society with many ills. There is violence, there is depression and despair, there is an opioid epidemic, there is human trafficking, there is poverty, food insecurity, homelessness.
Deaths from drug overdoses are on the rise. Suicides are on the rise. Deaths from alcohol related diseases are on the rise. Collectively these are known as Deaths of Despair. They are called Deaths of Despair because people in despair are more likely to die and to die of these causes (statistics of these deaths would also include people not in despair). For many people there has been a growing feeling of alienation, isolation, and insecurity.
We have a homicide rate that is substantially higher than other rich countries and is not far behind that of countries suffering from extensive drug trafficking and internal strife. We have an epidemic of school shootings and mass shootings. The number of women killed by intimate partners has also been on the rise. We are an increasingly violent country. On top of this is a recent rise in political violence and tolerance, even support for political violence among political partisans.
This is by no means a complete catalog of our afflictions. In many respects we have made great strides in improving our collective wellbeing. In some we are sliding backwards. The causes are many, oftentimes overlapping, and not always easy to identify. Addressing the suffering in our society is a perpetual project, work we’ve been doing since before the founding of the United States. The unfortunately ambitious aim of the Dark Horse Campaign is to, by the end of the decade, have a state in which no cry for help goes unanswered. To accomplish this we will seek to build a more effective system of policing in Ohio, strengthen the social safety net, expand programs that provide aid and intervention, and build dedicated and responsive government institutions.
Policing and Criminal Justice:
A proper criminal justice system protects the innocent, respects civil liberties, punishes and reforms criminals, and meaningfully prevents crime. Ours doesn’t do that very well. We have an incredibly high incarceration rate, poor prison conditions that offer little hope of reform and betterment creating high recidivism and taxpayer burden, criminals who can act with impunity, low clearance rates, and too many citizens being killed by police. Reforming this complex and overlapping system of local, county, and state justice is a challenge but it must be done now and in earnest in the interest of liberty, justice, and public welfare.
- Expand the number of state troopers in Ohio.
- Institute a system of state oversight over local police forces and federal oversight over state police. Transparency and accountability is the key. No cover ups.
- Significantly weaken the power of police unions (because police have to be accountable to the community).
- In Ohio, Sheriffs should be appointed by County Commissioners rather than being elected directly. There is a lack of accountability and too much room for corruption.
- Raise base salaries for police officers while increasing the mandatory training and education of the officers.
- Pay for higher education in criminal justice under the terms police remain within the state for a term.
- Professionalizing the police force.
- Reduce recidivism in the criminal population and lower the burden incarceration places on society both fiscally and morally.
- Provide for more educational resources within prisons.
- Attempt to reduce employment and housing discrimination against former felons.
- Release non-violent drug offenders and expunge their records.
- Decriminalize most drugs and redirect users to drug treatment programs.
- Legalize recreational marijuana and flood the market with legally produced marijuana to damage cartels and illegal drug organizations.
- Provide for more judges and more public defenders to meet our obligation to provide everyone with a fair and speedy trial with effective representation.
Domestic violence is a terrible and persistent scourge in our country. Many people who find themselves in such a situation and have the desire to leave find they cannot because they lack resources, knowledge and support. We can and should do more to make sure that anyone who finds themselves in such a situation is able to find help and is able to act to protect themselves and others.
- Expand domestic violence shelters with state funding.
- Work the non-profits and local government and police to provide timely legal resources and the services of an advocate.
- Pass “Red Flag Law” legislation in Ohio to allow for the temporary removal of firearms from individuals who pose a danger to themselves or others.
- Some who have a misguided but also absolutist interpretation of the 2nd Amendment might not care for this but basically the justice system should have means to intervene in what is potentially a highly dangerous situation to protect the lives of its citizens when it would not be necessarily justified to resort to imprisonment.
- [Longer term] Provide for a form of a universal basic income so that people always have the resources to walk away from an individual who is abusive and dangerous but also the main source of income.
- Create a fund which can be drawn on to provide housing, food, and stipends for victims who are making the choice to leave their abusers.
- Train police officers on identifying the signs of abuse and identifying when abuse is likely to escalate into homicide.
Deaths of Despair
Deaths of Despair, deaths from alcohol, drugs, and suicide, are on the rise. While not all associated deaths are based in despair, such deaths can and should be prevented. We should be doing more to help people, help our fellow citizens, our friends, family, and neighbors, out of situations in which they feel that they are in despair, that they are without hope, that they have no path forward.
- Decriminalize drugs so that people are directed into treatment and not prison. So that there is no stigma or threat of legal action for seeking help with addiction.
- Expand addiction treatment centers.
- Slightly raise the tax on alcohol (sorry, sorry, but really we have to address this, again, sorry, very sorry, it’s actually a huge problem and alcohol is considerably more dangerous and destructive than most other drugs and we have to find ways to address it).
- Suicide is often times an impuslive thing, based on opportunity. Which is why the proliferation of firearms causes more suicides than there would otherwise be. That’s not actionable, just should inform people that easy access to firearms increases suicides.
- Increase the number of therapists and lower barriers to accessing therapy and mental health.
- Provide funding to maintain a sufficiently staffed suicide hotline.
- Provide more funding for mental health resources.
- Put a higher emphasis on mental health in public schools and provide additional funding for schools to offer mental health services.
- Facilitate community time banking to allow members of communities to interact and help each other in a rewarding and mutually beneficial way.
- Reduce stigma in seeking help.
- Structure the economy to be dynamic and high growth, to value people and communities and provide opportunity for everyone to participate and contribute to economic growth and mobility. (details on transforming Ohio’s economy can be found elsewhere).
- The signs are there. We just have to be aware and we have to be there for each other and we have to know that it’s up to us to act, to help, because it will not solve itself.
Poverty, Opportunity, and Wellbeing
The economy can be harsh. As technology and industry changes in the process of creative destruction, people will often find their lives and livelihoods have been destroyed along the way. We talk about retraining but we don’t really know how to retrain people from one industry to another. There are many situations in which people find themselves unable to provide for themselves and their families which are not the fault of anyone. We have to build a stronger economy that is more capable of providing for those of us with the least. And to do so, we also have to provide a sufficient safety net that makes sure no one falls through the cracks.
- Our current safety net fails to make sure everyone who needs help can get it. We’re actually quite terrible at using resources effectively.
- Universal Basic Income
- We should eventually be able to send everyone in Ohio an amount of money monthly that they will always be able to pay for necessities. This is a long term plan and will require many reforms expanded on elsewhere in this policy.
- We can afford to send every Ohioans $300 a year to start. This is not nothing.
- Minimum income to eliminate child poverty.
- We will send $2,000-$6,000 to every Ohio family below the poverty line.
- This will significantly alleviate or eliminate child poverty in Ohio.
- The returns on eliminating child poverty are considerable and greatly benefits the child’s ability to perform well in school and receive a higher income in adulthood.
- Redesign the welfare qualification system so that it always pays to work in Ohio. Eliminate welfare “Cliffs” where recipients find they lose more in government benefits than they make working.
- Adequately fund programs so that everyone who qualifies is able to receive aid.
- Universal Basic Income
- Lower the cost of living by making sound investments in innovation and new technology.
- Lower the cost of housing by investing in new building materials and construction techniques.
- Eliminate legal barriers to building new and dense housing.
- Eliminate homelessness by directly providing housing as well as one time cash payments.
- Invest in Ohio’s economy through the OIB and BOO.
- Expand Ohio’s educational system and work closely with employers and industry to create a skills ecosystem where everyone can easily acquire the skills necessary to find work in Ohio.
- Expand apprenticeships.
- Separate health insurance coverage from employment so people can make employment decisions based on what is best for themselves and employers are not limited in their hiring practices by the need to provide insurance.