Gibert: Time for Change in Mississippi
Some things are timeless and should not be changed. They should remain permanent because they cannot be improved. Our Bill of Rights, the Pledge of Allegiance, our National Anthem – all examples of items that I believe cannot be perfected. Because they already are.
I’ve been in the IT industry my entire 33-year professional career. In IT, we’re accustomed to change. In fact, we are arguably the world’s most prolific change agents. We are sensitive that our work is disruptive. But in IT, disruptive is good. Just look at how new technology introduced through the years has “disrupted” our world – for the better. We all walk around with a camera and video capture device that can also provide us access to virtually every fact ever recorded – instantly and virtually anywhere on the planet. And behind the scenes are complex networks and IT infrastructure that power that experience.
At my company, one of the core business principles that guides us is to “embrace change.” When I hear folks say, “We do things this way because we’ve always done it that way,” I think, tradition, is tradition, is tradition. Shouldn’t we be interested in the best approach – not simply that which is in place because nobody every bothered to explore whether it could be improved?
Here in the Magnolia State, we face a critical choice in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate on June 3. The choice is standing with our senior Senator of 36 years or opting for change by casting a vote for State Senator Chris McDaniel. So if you’re a Republican, you look at the candidates and probably think, why change?
Our senior Senator is a conservative Republican and has done much good for Mississippi. I would generally agree with that. And besides, if elected, his seniority would ensure that Mississippi gets its “fair share” of the federal bacon, agree? And we need all of the help we can get, and we need to get it while we can, right? Let’s examine the facts.
I have lived in Mississippi for nearly my entire life. For as long as I can recall, Mississippi has ranked at or near the bottom in every economic category. We’re number 50 in per capita income and have the highest percentage of citizens below the federal poverty level (FPL). We send roughly $11B in taxes to the fed and receive $32B – meaning we receive $3 for every $1 sent. We currently rank 48th in this metric.
Our state’s annual budget has risen steadily over the past few years to roughly $5B for 2014. A large driver of that is the continued increase in Medicaid spending. Mississippi has nearly 700,000 enrolled in Medicaid at an overall cost of nearly $5B, of which Mississippi’s share is $885M, while the fed (taxpayers in other states) pick up over $4B or nearly 80% of the cost of caring for Mississippi’s Medicaid patients. Yes, again, we rank dead last in this category. Or first – in terms of the fed’s share of this entitlement in our state. And this is without expanding Medicaid under the provisions for such under The Affordable Care Act, as Governor Bryant opted against.
I support care for all of Mississippi’s citizens, but just under a different approach than simply expanding Medicaid under the model proposed.
Recently, many members of Congress began calling for repeal of the ban on earmarks passed in 2010. Harry Reid is leading the charge. Members on both sides of the aisle say they simply can’t get anything done without it. This suggests that governance isn’t possible without the age-old status quo of quid pro quo. In government, earmarks are nothing more than bribes. You know, the infamous “Cornhusker Kickback” and “Louisiana Purchase” which moved Senators Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana to the ‘Yes’ column on ObamaCare. I simply do not accept that earmarks are a requirement to conduct the nation’s affairs.
Many opponents of Senator Cochran are critical of his record of supporting legislation fraught with earmarks. Those who support him maintain that Mississippi has benefited greatly from such practices. In reality, earmarks comprise a scant 1% of overall federal spending and are fractional component of the total federal dollars allocated to Mississippi. But it’s not the value of such earmarks that is worthy of criticism, it’s the process by which they materialize. This “process” results in enacting deeply flawed legislation solely on the basis of “what’s in it for me.” I would argue that this process is precisely what has ballooned our deficit and plunged us into nearly $18T of debt. It’s what folks of all political persuasions lament about our centralized federal government. I simply can’t reconcile staunch support for fiscal responsibility and unbridled earmarks and unlimited terms.
Let’s face it, Capitol Hill is ground zero for waste, fraud, abuse, corruption, incompetence and obfuscation. That’s why Congress has a deplorable satisfaction rating in the single digits.
Our nation is in deep trouble, beset with monumental challenges. And our state continues to tread water at the bottom of nearly every statistical category. Don’t get me wrong, I love Mississippi. I was born and raised here, and I intend to be buried here. But before I depart this world, I want to see our State rise up within the ranks.
But to do so, we must embrace change. Now is the time.
Gerard Gibert is founder and CEO of Ridgeland-based Venture Technologies, a multi-state IT solutions and managed services provider since 1986 with 109 employees in five states. Gerard is a frequent business commentator in both academic and media circles on the impact of Washington policy on employers and small businesses.
Alisa Butler Endorses McDaniel
For many elections I voted for Senator Cochran but when I needed the help of my Senator he did not come to our aid! I prayed for a solution to a very serious issue and Chris McDaniel announced he would be running for the Senatorial seat.
I didn’t question the pull I felt to meet him so I hosted a meet and greet so that I and others could have the opportunity to ask him what he saw for Mississippi’s future and the future of our Country. I was impressed with what he had to tell us and he answered every question we had.
For me, the very fact that he was so approachable and showed such concern for our constitutional America, I was almost brought to tears. He spoke of our rights as citizens to choose our Country’s direction and how we could regain its greatness!
I decided that day that continuing to do the same thing over and over again while expecting different results was indeed the definition of insanity! We must take our Country back and the establishment Politicians must be retired!
I believe you can not fix what is not acknowledged and our Country is faltering under its current leadership.
On June 3rd I am voting for Chris McDaniel because I love my Country and I want my grandchildren to be free of the enormous debt growing by the second.
I have no doubt my prayers were answered and I endorse Chris McDaniel for the United States Senate!
Alisa Butler is from Pearl, Mississippi, she is the owner of a small Business located in Pearl, Off the Beaten Path.
Richard Smith Endorses Chris
With all the dirty tricks and mud slinging I have seen from the THAD campaign, from the press, from radio, from newspapers. The campaign fund raisers done by democrats and liberal republicans, the false groups like Mississippi conservatives, is all the more reason to work harder to get Chris elected, I own and operate a cab company in Gulfport, Ms, and I am offering free rides to the polls in a 20 mile radius of Gulfport, contact me for a ride on June 3rd at 228-234-7433.
Richard Smith is owner, operator of Value Cab in Gulfport, MS