ARDEN ANDERSEN

For

Kansas Governor

 

Colonel, U.S. Air Force

Reserves, Farmer, Educator, Family Doctor

 

Working to Heal Kansas

 

Paid for by Arden Andersen Campaign, Arden Andersen, Treasurer. PO Box 274 Olathe KS 66051

 

The Big Issue: The Economy

Every social / government program we have, or propose to have, is dependent upon public tax revenue, even if it seems like the Federal government just prints money out of thin air.  The State of Kansas, however, must balance its budget. As this happens, the stronger our State’s economy will become and the greater our State tax revenue.

A Little History

The economy is simple while at the same time very complex. There are many players, considerations, and circumstances that factor into economic success.  We in America claim that a free market, capitalist society is our foundation, beginning with our Declaration of Independence from England. Milton Friedman is credited with the modern day version, implemented by President Reagan in the 1980’s.  

As true as it is that the free market, capitalist system has granted America millions of millionaires and hundreds of billionaires, its inherent unsupervised flaws have also created a greater divide between the haves and the have-nots. A good example of this is the continued death of the middle class.

Woodrow Wilson championed the free trade mantra in the early 1900’s at the behest of J.P. Morgan, William Randolph Hearst, and J.D. Rockefeller.  As unfettered, free market, capitalistic expansion progressed, with it came unprecedented corporate abuse of labor in the form of low wages, workplace squalor, danger to body and life, and environmental rape and exploitation.  Lost limbs and lives, mangling work accidents, infections, lung diseases, and poisonings were commonplace, largely ignored by the profiting aristocrats. Raw sewage, poisonous chemicals, and dead carcasses were routinely dumped into waterways. Accounts of raw slaughter house waste completely covering the Chicago River were common place. In 1919, labor rebelled in all sectors of the country and went on strike.  

The President ordered Federal troops to intervene.  The FBI appointed an up and coming agent, J. Edgar Hoover, to target labor leaders and put a stop to their opposition of Big Corp.

Labor eventually gained some ground, but like Big Corp, was tainted with corruption and organized crime. A very good book to read on this subject is The Redeemer: It Is Written by Mark Moran, a fictionalized account of the Designated Lawyers Mafia with the International Railroad Union from the 1960’s onward.

Working conditions gradually improved, eventually leading to OSHA legislation, workers compensation insurance, and more reasonable working expectations.  Still today, if untethered, Big Corp will seek slave labor conditions and locations where few or no environmental safeguards exist.

There’s a pervading mantra that we are either pro-capitalism or anti-capitalism, and being pro-capitalism is pro-American, pro-progress, etc. etc.  However, we must have the consciousness to realize that we are in a State, National, and Global community. We must recognize that progress from capitalism must have discipline, compassion, and control so that the profit of the few doesn’t literally kill or maim the many.

The Real Deal

We must understand that every aspect of the economy affects everything.  If we allow one business sector to pollute the ground water, that affects the health and productivity of the citizens using that water.  The payment for that pollution will come due by someone in society, and unfortunately, it is usually the consumer, not the perpetrator. For those readers not familiar, I suggest watching the Erin Brockovich story regarding the 1993 PG&E scandal.  

Additionally, environmental cleanup is expensive and slow, usually runs over in costs, and typically happens only after someone or some group has been harmed.  It is much more economically sound to prevent the contamination up front, and we have the technologies to do so, but many big corporations – run by people who just leave their conscience at the door – choose to not use it. Collateral damage of the public and environment are inconsequential in their mind as pure profits are their god.

Andersen Has Answers

It is mocked by many pundits that we need to run government like a business.  I guess if you desire Soviet or Chinese style government, that works. People are in business to make a living.  They may provide a service or product to get that profit, but ultimately, profit is the payment.

Our government is not a business, but instead is there to serve the public.  If you want to compare it to a business, you could say its product is service in some form or the other and its assessment is determined by what is provided. The government is not to make money from withholding services. In other words, being of service to the people is the payment.

Where do we start with all of our issues in Kansas?  We start with the State itself. We must change the current environment of misuse and the attitude that government money is “free” money.  We must clear out the culture of government wasteful spending, starting with the State prison system and the deprivatization of Medicaid.

Prisons

We must stop rewarding private industry for denying prisoners rehabilitation, job training, medical care, and mental healthcare.  We must stop the practice of arresting and incarcerating Kansans as a means of income – where the more recidivism we have, the more profitable the prison.

Healthcare

By overhauling Medicaid, we can extend it to twice the number of people without raising taxes. This will increase the demand for healthcare workers, support urban as well as rural clinics and hospitals, address mental health, and help tens of thousands of Kansans be more productive. (See more Medicaid numbers on several of my FaceBook posts).  

Next, we address affordable healthcare for the remaining middle class.  Integrating the Direct Primary Care (DPC) model can provide people with additional options.  This model should help people get their routine and acute care addressed with a DPC doctor, only needing insurance for catastrophic medical treatment.  DPC clinics also employ more healthcare workers, which helps the community economy.

Education

Next, we fund education appropriately so teachers have a living wage and sufficient classroom funds to do their jobs.  When teachers are able to teach as they intend, students learn and society benefits from having educated/trained new workers.  Our economy is dependent upon this cycle.

Education funding must include expanding the technical education training program in Kansas and growing more employer partnerships in local communities.  Doing this can help us achieve lowered or even no tuition community college education. I also suggest a sliding scale for in state four year school tuition, based upon income.

Businesses, Infrastructure, and Technology

At the state level, I am not a fan of giving large corporations special tax breaks in order to bribe them into coming to Kansas.  It always ends up costing the local people more in taxes to make up for what was given to a big corporation.

We must rebuild our infrastructure.  It is our civic duty. Businesses and industry depend upon it.  The process of rebuilding provides good paying jobs and tax revenue back to the State, especially when we put emphasis on hiring Kansans to do Kansas road building.

We must help industry to provide internet and cellular services to all of Kansas in a responsible, safe, and open structure.

We must work to declassify technologies that have been taken out of the public sector in the name of national or state security when, in truth, they were classified at the behest of big enterprises to maintain the status quo.  This ranges from energy generation technologies to cancer treatments, from water and waste management to robotics and communication design, from infectious disease treatment to agricultural production. These unused technologies are more efficient, cleaner, safer, and would make Kansas more independent.

Agriculture

Agriculture is our biggest industry when we factor in all the ancillary and indirect economy generated as a result.  The old model of agriculture depends upon international commodity markets and, essentially, four major corporations: ADM, Bunge, Cargill, and Louis Dreyfus.  These companies make money regardless of the commodity prices and place farmers in the position of being price takers; meaning the farmer takes whatever these mega-corps set as the price, having nothing to do with the cost of production for the farmer.  Because they control over 70% of the worldwide commodities, these enterprises buy and sell in the commodity and futures markets to further their profits and control pricing. This is why we hear repeatedly from farmers, Farm Bureau groups, and politicians that we must promote more international trade to help float or improve the prices offered to farmers for their commodities.  In Kansas, that is mainly wheat, corn, soybeans, sorghum, and cattle.

The problem with this model is that it is the same model adopted by Canada, Brazil, Argentina, Australia, Russia, Ukraine, Europe, China, Africa, and Mexico. Yes, all our competitors view it the same way – they must do whatever necessary to compete and win commodity contracts given to the lowest bidder.  It is a race to the bottom. I remember doing consulting in Mexico several years ago on a 5000 acre citrus operation growing oranges for concentrate. The owner told me it was challenging for them to compete with Brazil, who was able to land citrus concentrate into Florida for a third less than the farmers in Mexico could, with only 1/5 the distance for freight.  At this time, the average Mexican worker on this farm was paid around $10 PER DAY. This model does not help the farmer, and this “free trade” certainly doesn’t help the poor.

Let’s acknowledge farmers’ real issues. They are fed up, spending more per acre for licenses, seed, chemicals, fuel, equipment, and taxes yet, continue to have increasing problems with everything from weeds to finding markets that will pay fair prices, or at least enough to cover production costs. If we factor in the environmental damage caused by this current technology, we find continuing with the standard model of production results in a very negative future for both farmers and consumers. 

We need to diversify Kansas agriculture.  We need to add more crops, starting with hemp and medical marijuana. We need to encourage more greenhouse and aquaculture businesses.  The knowledge for such crops can begin at our community colleges with training programs and then to industry for apprenticeships. These diversifications helps enthuse and entice young people to stay in the community to work and build their own small businesses.

Further, we can’t continue letting this roller coaster movement of international commodities leave Kansas agriculture at the beck and call of international marketers. Over the past 5 years, the U.S. has imported 37% of its organic corn and 73% of its organic soybeans.  The value of the imports equates to 600,000 acres of production. Demand continues to outpace supply: domestic producing of organic corn and soybeans increases about 12.7% per year while demand increases 34.6%. 2016 prices for organic soybeans averaged around $19.00 per bushel and organic corn $12.39 per bushel.  The big driver for organic corn and soybeans is the increasing public desire for organic chicken, beef, and dairy products. Many major retailers such as Walmart, Costco, Kroger, Kellogg’s, Coco-Cola, Pepsi, and Doane have taken to the organic market.

More and more retailers and restaurant chains are going non-GMO and / or labeling their products. General Mills, Chipotle, Target, Whole Foods, Trader Joes, and Ben & Jerry’s are just a few notables.  Farmers can get between $0.50 and $1.00 per bushel premiums for non-GMO corn and soybeans, which comes in handy during the 3 years transition to organics. Done well, organic production is equal to or greater than conventional production, with better weed and pest control.  

So why isn’t everyone doing it then?  More and more farmers are seeking alternative answers and solutions, but often are at a loss to find dependable, repeatable information. Few land grant universities provide alternative information as their funding largely comes from the chemical industry. There’s also a lack of dependable training and mentoring on the farm, which is fixable, but will require leadership to make it happen. I have taught sustainable and biological farm management for over 30 years. I bring this know-how to the governor’s office. It is a 3-5 year plan for most farms, others may require 5 to 10 year plans, such as in drylands /grazing country.

We must get back to solid science. Together, we can revitalize Kansas agriculture, farm viability, sustainability, and rural health. The time is now.

Building a Robust Economy Requires the Involvement of Everyone  

It requires a cooperation between government and society, between education and business.  We must set a 20 year plan, a 10 year plan, a 5 year plan, and yearly plans for achieving the longer term goals. We must employ CPI (Continuous Process Improvement) at every step in order to keep on track with improving ourselves and achieving our goals. Our future depends upon our success.  

Jobs

Small businesses are the primary employers, not large corporate behemoths. Therefore, our legislative policies must make it easier for small businesses to start and succeed in Kansas.

Every employer knows equipping people with employability and skills through education is the foundation to stimulating the economy, and the key to success for both the employer and employee. Does this education and training cost the employer? Yes, and it is an investment that employers can earn back with profit. Under and uneducated workers cost more and take longer to train.  

 

Education

Education is the foundation of a free and prosperous society. It directly relates to health status, job employability, social responsibility, cultural appreciation, and societal contribution. Think of it like this – one way or the other, we will pay; either by way of more crime, more jails and policing costs, lower employability, and higher health care costs, or by appropriate educational funding.

Education level correlates to earnings potential and taxes paid back to society. We must revitalize Kansas public education through appropriate funding, classroom equipping, staff maintenance, and program goal setting.

Developmental delay and special needs education funding is rarely discussed, except by myself, nor is the continued expansion in the number of ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) diagnosed children and other developmentally delayed / special needs children.  Federal law requires IEP’s (Individual Education Plans) for all special needs children, which currently is about 26% of all school aged children –  BUT THAT NUMBER IS INCREASING!  Special needs education plans cost 2x to 5x more per student than what non-special needs education costs. Some autistic plans cost as much as $100,000 per student.  The Kansas education budget is already near 50% of the total state budget.  Consider for a moment that in 10 -15 years, with current trends of increase in developmentally delayed children, the education budget would have to double or triple, beyond the normal increases in cost of living, to cover the FEDERALLY MANDATED IEPs.

And what are we going to do to address the lower job skills and employability of this larger percentage of young people?  Currently, only 27% of developmentally delayed people ages 24 to 65 are employed, many are unemployable.  This means these people are all now or will eventually be directly cared for by the State.  Where’s that money coming from?

We have to provide sufficient special education teachers and paraprofessionals to teach and train these children.  Most importantly, in my opinion, we must act to stop the growing trend of more and more developmentally delayed children.  We have the medical science identifying that environmental factors ARE the genetic triggers leading to developmental delay, ranging from autism to attention deficit and everything in between.  I am the only candidate for Governor, of any party, engaged professionally in this issue with the answers to solve it. And solve it we will.  Autism in non-partisan.  Republican and democratic, unaffiliated and libertarian parents alike have autistic children.  It is the greatest threat to growing our economy and a balanced state budget.

Specifics:

Form regional teacher advisory councils to determine school funding needs.

Replace “assembly-line” education with a customization per student needs approach.

Increase teacher salaries to regional norms and fully fund classroom paraprofessionals.

Revitalize urban and rural education, starting with school lunch/food.

Environment

It is not a matter of having either a prosperous economy or a pristine environment; it’s a matter of simple math and chemistry.  Both sides of the equation must be balanced for the process to work properly. Edison fought Tesla tooth and nail to prevent alternating current electricity from becoming standard, because Edison had a financial interest in his own invention of direct current. Likewise, we have the ability to operate a much cleaner society with technology that has existed for decades, but the standard industrial complex lacks social responsibility. 

Appropriate technology leads to higher paying jobs, cleaner businesses, a healthier environment, lower healthcare costs, and ultimately, a flourishing society.  We can have it both ways.

Specifics:

Assist and promote regional or township electrical generation systems with State supported bonds, using the latest in sustainable and smallest footprint generation technology.  That may include high tech natural gas run jet turbine generators that capture exhaust heat to generate steam, which in turn runs a steam generator like those being used in Tampa, Florida.

By teaching agriculture to sequester carbon appropriately, Kansas could be carbon neutral in 5 years, even with current emissions.

Of great concern environmentally is the water and air pollution from pesticide and industrial evaporation, drift, and runoff. It pollutes lakes, rivers, and underground drinking water aquifers.  We will teach regional workshops and seminars from the Governor’s office on better, more efficient, cleaner replacement technologies as well as abatement/clean up processes.

 

Pregnancy Termination

As a physician, I took an oath to first do no harm. In emergency or combat situations, that sometimes means choosing between one life or another. I believe that a woman, like a man, should have right of say over her body, and if she decides it is in her best interest, to terminate a pregnancy. I think there are legitimate human rights limits – pregnancy termination at and after 24 weeks must have a compelling reason, such as in the case of rape, incest, severe birth defects, or safety of the mother. Contrary to some pundits, pregnancy termination is not regularly used as a means of birth control. I’ve never met a women who had a pregnancy termination say she saw it in that way. The procedure itself is painful, invasive, and traumatizing. Most women who have had abortions did so because they didn’t feel they had an alternative. It was a heavily weighed decision, not taken lightly or cavalierly.  

To think that poor, addicted, enslaved mothers have the resources to care for themselves and their unwanted babies is not reality. Cocaine and meth babies born to addicted mothers often become wards of the state. And, unfortunately, the state of Kansas currently has more foster kids than beds to place them in. All of this is a social cost. We must deal with the reality we have in front of us at the present moment and stop sweeping the underlying issues under the carpet labeled “people should be more responsible.”

It is sad that the group who is the most anti-termination is also the same group calling for the greatest cuts in social programs, such as Medicaid and public health, both of which care for pregnancies and children, including those in foster care.

It’s too bad many people, left and right, want to make elections about a single issue, which is exactly why we have the state debt problems, healthcare chaos, education fallout, crime, and social unrest.  If you really want to address unwanted pregnancies, then we must address these other issues. Actually, we must first FIX these other issues. Every birth rate study in the world shows that as women have more education and, thus, better socioeconomic opportunities, the unwanted pregnancy rate goes down. If we really want to support women’s rights and their choice to become mothers, we must support and fund women’s healthcare, pregnancy prevention, prenatal care, infant care, daycare, and domestic abuse shelters.

 

Marriage

It’s easy for people to inject religious beliefs and prejudicial biases into the discussion. Though our founding fathers based many of their decisions on Judeo-Christian thought, they specifically and purposefully excluded religious law from the Constitution. In every state of the U.S., marriage requires a license, which is a contract for purposes of ownership, responsibilities, taxes, inheritance, and government adjudication. A LEGAL marriage is administered by a licensed agent of the State. That might be a religious clergy, but can equally be a Justice of the Peace or other non-religious designee. Likewise, to get out of a marriage, one must have the contract adjudicated and terminated by a court of law, not a church or religious court.

The Constitution guarantees EVERY person the right of contract, therefore, marriage by the State is an issue of contract law, NOT religious law. What one does in his/her church is his/her business. What one does with the State is an issue of the Constitution, specifically Right of Contract Article I, Section 10. Everyone is to be equal under the law.

 

Taxes and Budget

Though the national economy went up, Kansas state revenue went down the past several years until the 2017 legislative veto override, leaving us with a nearly $1 Billion deficit last year.  Even with increased revenue in 2018, the State is significantly behind in funding the State workers’ retirement funds, infrastructure funding, mental health funding, and adequate education funding.

Our two biggest state budget items to address are healthcare and education. We first must overhaul some of our public programs, such as Medicaid, as they are terribly wasteful, and restore sufficient state revenue to the budget.

We must have equitable taxation, meaning we cannot continue to place the greatest burden on Kansans with the lowest incomes. Sales tax, gasoline tax, and real estate taxes are the most commonly raised and the most unfair to the poor.  But in order to do all of this and so much more, we have to mend party antagonism, negotiate, find common ground, and engage all Kansans.

Specifics:

Full audit of the State agencies and operations.  If my business is in the red, the bank will not loan me more money until I audit and prove I have a plan to improve management and revenue. 

As governor, I am also the chief negotiator and chief peacemaker.  I understand, as a Colonel in the Air Force Reserves, that one great way to bring people together is to focus on the mission.  We must write the mission of balancing our budget in such a way that both sides agree on the mission. Then, and only then, can we begin to find the solutions to complete the mission – balancing our budget and taxing in a fair way.

 

Child Health and Child Care

Beyond developmental delays, we also must address other physical and mental health issues. Of those not classified as developmentally delayed, per Lt. General Mark Hartling (see TED talk), only 25% of all 18-24 year-olds qualify to join the military; 60% of new recruits cannot pass the Army physical fitness test.

Day-care is a critical issue for the lower socioeconomic people of our state who make up essentially one-third of the population – everyone below $40,000 annual income.  Many pundits will say the parents just need to figure it out and act responsibly, which is fine for those that make plenty of money. But these lower-income parents aren’t lazy or irresponsible, they are simply stuck between a rock and a hard place, trying to decide what is the best option for child care with the limited income they have available.  

And the reality is this: about one-third of children are in one-parent households. If that single parent works, who is going to care for the children? The majority of those parents are working in hourly jobs that are non-union, don’t provide healthcare coverage, and pay at or close to minimum wage. Frequently, the total take home for the single parent is less than what full time childcare costs.

Often, this difficulty keeps parents from working outside of the home – what is that parent to do? If we had a system of public daycare, these parents could work, and possibly be that much closer to getting more education, usable skills, and higher paying jobs.

It is easy to say that having such a high number of single parent families is due to the breakdown of the family and, again, people need to be more responsible, etc. It might make for good talk radio rhetoric, but the bottom line is that punishing present day single parents is not going to fix this situation.  It will take a generation of socially supported people to perhaps change the dynamic. Meanwhile, let’s take care of the children of today.

 

Child Support

This system needs revision. There are dead-beat dads and moms not paying child support, and we must address this problem. I personally know people whose ex’s have left the country in order to avoid taking care of their children. With that said, the majority of non-custodial parents are honest, hardworking, reliable parents and should not be penalized because of the few “bad apples” in the bunch.

There are some custodial parents that abuse the system.  Support paying parents get frustrated with ever-increasing child support that doesn’t actually benefit the children.  These custodial parents, like the deadbeat parents, are in the minority, but we should still have a mechanism for dealing with them.  Perhaps we mandate a percentage of payment over a given amount to go for trade school or college, perhaps matched by both parents. I don’t profess to have all the answers in this area, but I see this problem in my patient population regularly.  It is an issue for which we need open discussion involving those communities and people that feel disenfranchised.

 

Native American Issues

We must address the grievances of our Native American population in Kansas. Water rights, child custody/adoption rights, economic rights and criminal jurisdiction are all issues in continuous conflict between the State of Kansas and Native American Tribes, primarily because the State of Kansas frequently fails to acknowledge or respect Federal treaty language.  As in the past, the conflicts most often arise when there are natural resources (water, land, minerals) on tribal land that the State or private businesses want and the tribes, rightfully, desire to reserve under their own management.

I propose forming a Governor’s advisory committee made up of representatives from every tribe in Kansas. This committee will directly advise the Governor on all issues of tribal concern in the State.  Further, I believe this committee should be directly chaired/attended by the Governor, not a representative of the Governor’s office.

 

Marijuana

The war on drugs has been waged for several decades.  Like prohibition a hundred years ago, it has created three outcomes. 1 – It has created one of the largest, most profitable, and violent organized crime networks in history. 2 – It has also created one of the largest, most profitable, and violent organized taxpayer funded counter-drug networks in history. 3 – It has created the greatest, most prevalent public health crisis in history – more people are addicted and harmed than ever before.  What’s the point? Like all other wars, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer; and the poor die in droves. The war on drugs is not working to reduce crime, violence, or addiction. It is prejudicial, both racially and by class. We must try a different tactic.

The opioid crisis is the latest catch phrase for regulators and the physicians are the scapegoat toward which new legislation is aimed.  But we have alternatives. We should legalize medical marijuana as the first step in Kansas. It will help to relieve the opioid crisis. I didn’t say it would “cure” it, but legalized medical marijuana will help with pain management.  Recent research in the International Journal of Internal Medicine showed that medical marijuana reduced opioid use in the elderly and with fewer side-effects.

Are there consequences? Yes, as there are with every other medicine we have on the market, over the counter or prescriptive.  For heaven’s sake, we have benzodiazepines, sleeping pills, stimulants, and antidepressants, all of which have equal or worse side-effects as marijuana. Alcohol accounts for half of all traffic fatalities, causes fetal alcohol syndrome, causes cirrhosis of the liver, alters mood and behavior,  is possibly involved in two-thirds of domestic abuses – and is legal for everyone over 21. However, most who partake in drinking alcohol have few issues because of regulation and common sense use.

Legalizing marijuana will not heal our state’s financial problems, as full legalization will only bring in about $100 million in tax revenue, looking at Colorado and Washington tax revenues for comparison. But it will save us another $10 to $20 million in arrest and court costs and it will allow us to focus more on treatment programs rather than incarceration programs.