My name is Bill Krebaum and I am seeking the Democratic Party’s nomination for the office of State Representative from the 54th District of Michigan. The district is comprised of the City of Ypsilanti, Ypsilanti Township and Superior Township.
I’ve been inspired by the Democratic presidential candidate’s campaign to return the government of our country to the American people and to break the stranglehold of big banks and multinational corporations. We should apply a similar approach to the affairs of our own State of Michigan.
To achieve Lincoln’s vision of a “government of the people, by the people, for the people,” we must break out of our role as passive spectators, and start paying more attention to the issues that will profoundly affect the prosperity and happiness of everyone in our society, both today and for generations to come.
The vast sums of money used to manipulate public policy in favor of rich and powerful interests at the expense of the general interest is truly scandalous. It has become such a common feature of our way of doing things that it no longer seems to have the power to shock or shame us. This hijacking of our democracy must not stand!
When—to take just one example—the billionaire owner of the Ambassador Bridge attempts to maintain his monopoly on traffic across the Detroit River by making huge campaign donations to the Republican majority in the Michigan Senate, which then tries to block the joint efforts of Americans and Canadians to build a much-needed new publicly-owned bridge, we must not shrink from giving the practice its proper name: legalized bribery!
As American citizens, we have free speech rights, which include the right to spend our money to express our political and policy views. But big businesses, trade associations and other corporate entities are not American Citizens! We need to employ reasonable guidelines and disclosure requirements to limit the corrupting influence of special-interest spending on our political process.
The incarceration rate in our country is a national disgrace. We have the highest percentage of our population behind bars of any country in the world. Privately owned and operated prisons are a major growth industry. Lobbyists, hired by the prison-industrial complex work tirelessly to block criminal justice reforms that would reduce the number of non-violent offenders sent to prison.
Violent persons who pose a threat to others should be locked up. But a large portion of those in prison are non-violent offenders. We need to employ more intelligent, less destructive and less expensive measures for handling non-violent offenders.
If someone offered a proposal that would reduce the prison population, reduce violent crime, reduce corruption of police and other government officials, reduce the influence and the profitability of criminal gangs, and at the same time produced substantial new tax revenues for the State of Michigan, would you be interested? The proposal is a very simple one: legalize, regulate and tax the cannabis plant and its products (a.k.a. marijuana, hemp, etc.).
It’s time to follow the lead of Colorado, which has legalized marijuana for recreational as well as medicinal use. In the process, they are generating huge new tax revenues for the state. In Michigan, too, let’s take that cash stream away from criminals and funnel it into our public coffers, where it can be employed for worthwhile purposes such as drug education and rehab, mental health, education, infrastructure and tax relief.
Abuse of marijuana, as well as other drugs, such as alcohol and tobacco, pose public health and social problems. But, as we learned many years ago in the case of alcohol, prohibition is not the answer. Prohibition causes many more problems than it solves. The smarter and more humane (and much less expensive) approach to dealing with substance abuse is through education and treatment programs. Why on earth do we want to turn social problems and health problems into criminal problems as well?
When we simultaneously cut expenditures on prisons and dramatically boost tax revenues through cannabis legalization, we will have funds available to improve the lives of Michiganders. Besides having more funds available for useful programs, we will have an opportunity to reduce taxes in other areas. Tax reduction can provide relief for our families and provide a better climate for small businesses and a healthier economy for Michigan.
Concern for the environment and the livability of our planet requires us to increase the production of renewable energy and decrease our dependence on fossil fuels. We need to maintain incentives for decentralized production of electrical energy from sources like solar panels and wind turbines.
Clean energy produced by the investment and efforts of individuals, families and local cooperatives will be healthier, both for the environment and for our social fabric, than our current system of near-total dependence on massive and monopolistic companies.
Rules and regulations at all levels of government unfairly favor large corporations over small businesses, big banks over community banks, industrial-scale corporate farms over small family farms. A healthy society, based on democratic principles, calls for the decentralization of essential economic activities and the empowerment of citizens at the grass roots.
As a state representative, I want to do everything possible to promote the prosperity and well-being of all the people of Michigan, not just the rich and powerful. This will entail working to enact new laws. Just as importantly, it will mean modifying or repealing laws that unjustly punish our people, or stifle the creativity and productivity of our people and our businesses.
We should strengthen our efforts to overcome incompetence, cronyism and corruption at all levels of government in Michigan. Transparency and integrity must be the norm. We can’t afford to have public monies siphoned away for the private benefit of officials and their cronies. Our resources must be used efficiently and wisely so as to maximize the benefit for the people of Michigan.
Vast sums are spent on infrastructure, health, education and welfare, but are we getting a decent “bang for our buck?” Many of our hard-working taxpayers—workers, as well as business people—feel under siege from taxes and regulations. They wouldn’t mind paying the taxes so much, if they believed tax monies were actually used wisely. Tax revenues are precious resources that must used effectively for the common good—particularly for the needy and disadvantaged.
I think we need an Inspector General for the State of Michigan who will work diligently to root out waste, fraud and abuse wherever they exist; from the local school board to the Governor’s inner circle, from the State Highway Department to the local landfill.
In theory, we have protection for whistleblowers, those who report wrongdoing in their office or department. In practice, however, the whistleblower is often punished by his or her superiors, who manufacture excuses to transfer, demote or fire the person. I’d like to see better protection afforded to those who stick their neck out to do the right thing.
The Emergency Manager law must be revisited and needs to be repealed or modified. This provision allows the Governor to appoint an emergency manager to take over a struggling city or school district and rule with sweeping powers. By stripping away the authority of the locally-elected officials, it runs contrary to democratic principles. It has proven absolutely disastrous in the case of Flint, where the emergency manager’s decrees resulted in the poisoning of the water system with lead.
Please join me in the effort to rejuvenate the ideals of good government. Let’s rise above partisanship and work for government that consistently puts the common good above special interests.