Archives Random Junk — 08 May 2014
Why I Left Ohio

I haven’t written anything in a while, and maybe this post is just for my own catharsis, but here it is.

For those who don’t know, I recently moved away from Ohio – a place where I graduated from high school and college, and like many Ohioans stayed because of friends and family. We left an amazing neighborhood, tons of great people and a significant personal investment into Ohio politics, a personal passion. Needless to say, this was an incredibly difficult decision, but one many people in their 20s and 30s have been making the last 20 years.

Our primary reason for the departure was that we had no immediate path to a financial plan which supported our life goals. Our kids are still very young, and the real estate market was up, so the stars aligned to pull the trigger on a major life decision like moving to Tennessee, which we had been considering for some time.

Tons of people have asked why we moved, and the financial answer actually begs significant clarification, so here it is – 5 reasons we left Ohio for Tennessee.

1. The propaganda of the education system…that we have been funding.

Yes, I know the propaganda happens in every state, but with the absurd local taxes we pay in this state (one of the highest in US), my wife and I pulled the kids out of the private school we’d been sending them up to this year (because of the cost) and decided to try the highly rated school district where we have paid tens of thousands of dollars over the years.

It was an abysmal failure. Disjointed, hop around math that isn’t even math, the abandonment of true history and geography to embrace “social studies” and the constant attack on oil and the free enterprise system as a whole.

Yes, this all before 3rd grade, as my oldest child is just 9 years old.

Bottom line -I have no desire to continue funding this mess, only to rob our kids of the education we really want to provide for them. The move to Tennessee allows us to put the kids back into an amazing private school and ensure they have an environment that is both academically rewarding, and void of anti-freedom propaganda.

Within one week in the new school in Tennessee, we saw the gaping holes in the kid’s studies we knew existed. They were immediately doing work they hadn’t even started in their last school, and it actually made sense – real math and homework, not pointless dribble. It was SO refreshing. This new found academic focus along with teachers and curriculum without an agenda…oh my gosh, we’d died and gone to heaven.

What breaks my heart is that Ohio parents don’t know how bad things really are, because they have no point of reference for something better. There is no basis for comparison because almost everyone is experiencing the same thing at the same time. We saw private vs. public, and knew we had to get out.

There is no other way to say this – Ohioans are funding failure, and have no way to opt out. I have no doubt Tennessee public schools push a lot of the same garbage, but with no income tax and property taxes near 1/4th of what we were paying in Ohio – we can now afford to opt out.

In Ohio, as is needed in every state, tax dollars should follow the child or parents who don’t send their kids to the local public school. At bare minimum, tuition at another school become tax deductible. This would help create the free market of education that is desperately needed to compete with government schools who essentially have a monopoly on education, unless you can afford the ever increasing cost of private schools – no easy task.

Keeping more of our money to invest into our children’s future – not too hard to see that upside.

Ohio lacks economic freedom.

2. Union owned politics

Imagine any level of government in Ohio, and unions own it: school boards, city councils, the state legislature and the overall political calculation that even Congressman and statewide elected officials have to consider.

Good people at all levels are scared to do what they know is right because they are petrified of unions.

I’m not “anti-union.” I’m anti-forced unionization. I simply think people should be able to choose whether they pay fees to a union or not. No one should be fired just because they don’t pay a union fees.

But in the forced union state of Ohio, my own money is used to support every imaginable policy or position on which I disagree. At one time, unions tried to protect and support workers, but now they have just become political bullies to which Democrats can’t break loose and Republicans fear for their lives.

Forced unionization deters investment in the state, drives up costs of every imaginable part of public life and attempts to preserve a way of life driven by entitlement, not achievement. Forced unionization does not benefit a single facet of life in Ohio.

This is no world in which I want my children to ever grow comfortable or embrace.

Ohio is trapped.

3. A culture of despair

I’ve lived in a number of states since I graduated from Ohio University: Ohio, Missouri, Rhode Island, Maryland, Kentucky and Texas. Prior to that, our family had been in New Mexico, South Carolina and Guam. Each place has wonderful people, and are very special in their own way. Combine travel to a wide variety of other states with those states of residence, and I’m pretty confident when I say – Ohioans lack hope.

In Texas, for example, the average person was free thinking and ready to take on the world. They looked at life by saying, what can’t I do. Bring it on – I’m a Texan. I can do anything.

In Ohio, far too many people say – well, that’s the way it’s been for years. Nothing we can do about it.

You see, the people of Ohio have been the frogs in water being slowly brought to a boil. They haven’t realized that the decade’s long loss of economic opportunity has developed a culture that accepts mediocrity and stagnation as the norm. Think of being a Cleveland Browns fan for every part of your life. You learn to live with the pain, and you abandon true hope. Sorry to my Cleveland friends.

People somehow assume things will get worse, and take some perverse pride in just surviving.

But, I don’t want to survive, and I don’t want my kids to just survive. I want them to thrive. My wife and I will always encourage them to be the best they can be at whatever path they choose in life, but I have no desire to surround them with a culture of despair. This helps no one.

I want to surround them with people who are defiant, independent and tenacious. They will blaze their own trails, but we’ll do everything we can to point them in the right direction.

Ohio lacks hope.

4. Opportunity, opportunity, opportunity

About a year ago, I put my resume and background into a variety of job sites. I was receiving solicitations from all kinds of companies, but rarely were they in Ohio.

I tweaked some of the searches, always leaving Ohio as a possible state, but the same thing was happening in almost every state in comparison to Ohio. The stagnation was palpable.

And the stats prove this wasn’t just an anecdotal experience. College grads are fleeing Ohio in huge numbers to follow the opportunity elsewhere. Big companies rarely consider expansion or investment in this state, and it all adds up to mean – commiserate to the rest of the US, we are bleeding people, jobs and companies.

We have record lows of workforce participation (total % of the population in the workforce) and record highs of under employed people (part time jobs they settled for to make ends meet).

Ohio has been like this for years, and with public policy changes showing absolutely no deference to advancing economic freedom, the only cure for what Forbes called our “death spiral state,” why would things get any better?

Politicians haven’t learned from Einstein’s common sense definition for insanity – doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results. The same bigger government policies will yield more stagnation over time.

Ohio lacks opportunity.

5. There is no change on the horizon.

My good friend Matt Mayer said it best with his book title, in Ohio “Taxpayers Don’t Stand a Chance.

When you combine increasingly burdensome marginal tax rates with union ownership of politics and policy, a decade’s old culture of despair and the abandonment of economically free public policy that is the only path to opportunity – you have a recipe for long term disaster.

And, the sad part is – we know what it takes to fix this state. We just refuse to do it. The politics are too difficult, and the people are too beaten down. In fact, we are watching states like Indiana make these changes right before our eyes, and it’s working. Even that state up north is doing a number of the right things to get back on track.

But not Ohio.

Maybe something changes, but I seriously doubt it. My wife and I have taken our children somewhere we can live with hope on the horizon. I once thought that I could stay and fight for an Ohio that could live up to its potential, but the reality is – I’m not that strong. The last few years have crushed me in more ways than I care to write about it. I’m war weary, and ready to move on. But beyond the difficulty of fighting a difficult battle, it just comes down to a better future for my kids. We believe that future exists in Tennessee, and we took the plunge.

So, goodbye Ohio. You’ll always be in my heart. For my friends and family who remain, I hope I am wrong about every bit of this. I would take absolutely no pleasure in being right. We love you, and we’ll miss you. We’ll visit often, and you have an open invite to do the same.

O-H….

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chrislittleton

(12) Readers Comments

  1. Are you pleased with your move to Tennessee? My family and I have lived in Ohio for six years and hate it here. We just don’t know where to go. Thanks.

    • Yes, we love it. We are in the Nashville area, so plenty to see and do. Great people as well.

      A little more humid than ohio during the summer, but we also won’t be at -20 at any point this winter.

      Low cost of living, low property taxes and no state income tax don’t hurt either.

      All in all, loving life.

  2. Can’t take you seriously when it’s not even based in fact:

    http://taxfoundation.org/article/state-and-local-sales-tax-rates-2014

    You just moved to the #1 state for highest average S&L tax rate.
    Ohio is only the 17th “most unionized state” by percentage.
    You just moved to a state with a worse unemployment rate than Ohio.
    Your other points are pure conjecture and opinion and not based on any facts, other than how you perceive people’s mentality of living in Ohio.

    • You are looking at just the sales tax rate, and Tennessee is higher than most states because they draw their tax revenue from consumption – the most moral type of taxation.

      You have missed the fact that there is no state income tax at all, and property taxes are much lower than Ohio. Our property taxes are now 75% less than they were in Ohio.

      Also, Ohio has overlapping taxable authority, which most states don’t. This means they can charge you for working in a city, even though you don’t live in a city.

      This combination of things gives Ohio one of the highest marginal tax rates in the US.

      Of additional note since you reference the sales tax, Tennessee’s sales tax has been more than tolerable because cost of living is so reasonable. A big example is gas. On average, we pay 20 to 25 cents less per gallon in TN than we were in OH.

      This can be said of many daily purchases, so yes, we may pay 2% more in sales tax on an item, but the item is generally cheaper, so the tax isn’t really felt and often the item is cheaper than Ohio.

      As for unions, it’s not the rate of unionization – it’s the ability to force people to pay the union fees. TN gives workers freedom of choice in paying union fees or not, so the disproportionate control and power of unions does not exist here.

      Lastly, on attitude of people in Ohio – absolutely the comments are my opinion. They are backed by years of experience, but still my opinion. That said – Ohio is one of the fastest shrinking states for both population and wealth. These are hard facts confirmed by US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

      Ohio has led the nation in departures like mine for two decades, and we can see its decline nationally by looking at congressional seats. As population has shifted out of Ohio, the state that had 22 congressmen fairly recently now has 16. It has some of the fastest shrinking cities in America, and it all breaks my heart.

      • As subjective as many of the points you made are, so too is the “Happiness Scale.” The one released a few months ago has Tennessee all of 44th in the nation. I think you may overvaluing Tennessee a bit in your write-up, but again…”Happiness Scale” isn’t very scientific to me.

        Ohio isn’t shrinking, it’s just not growing at the rate of say, Texas.

        I agree with you on the cities – Cleveland, Youngstown, much of the northeast/eastern part of the state has failed to adapt out of the “Rust Belt” era. I would argue if you looked at Cincinnati & Columbus (more progressive/younger cities that ARE actually gaining population) as a separate state, you might think differently. The problem is that outside of a few city-islands (Columbus, Cincy, Cleveland, Toledo) Ohio is basically Kentucky. And of course the national trend is to move to more urban, or at least suburban, areas. When one to two of the major cities are doing well, that is a problem and many have opted for cities in other states. I don’t think the tax structure and unionization is much worse (probably better actually) than Massachusetts or New York, but those states can retain more citizens as those people are willing to deal with those issues, not to mention those two education systems, because the major cities have adapted to the 21st century, so there is some trade off there.

        Honestly, without central Ohio carrying most of the state (and a lot of the population increase is due to in-state migration), Ohio is basically Michigan, minus the lakes.

        After doing some further research, I agree that many may take the viewpoint you have if they don’t have some trade off for their taxes, union structure, etc. Parts of the state (Columbus, parts of Cincinnati) are doing just fine and those citizens have pretty good cities to enjoy, while most of the rest of the state does not.

  3. Chris

    Your post on unions obfuscates the issue. “Forced unionization” hasn’t been legal in the United States since 1947.

    You may have some valid points to make about union participation in the political process, but when the foundation of your argument simply isn’t true, it undermines everything else you say.

    Respectfully
    Tom

    • One cannot be forced to be a member of a union, but you can most definitely be forced to pay fees to a union just to keep your job.

      This is forced unionization, and a plague on Ohio. If this problem is not solved, Ohio will continue to decline.

  4. So sorry to see you go Chris. You were a great asset to Ohio conservatives & Tea Party groups. I wish you & your family the very best in your new endeavours. And you are correct in all your comments, especially about education. God Bless you & thank you for all you’ve done for Ohio. You are a true patriot.

  5. Good luck to you, Chris. Not sure who we have to fight the fight now. Wish you and your family the very best. Keep us up to date.

  6. Thanks for sharing. Best of luck to your new life in Tennessee, fellow OH patriots miss you.

    Glad to have worked with you on several projects.

  7. Hi Chris,

    You might add the huge pension liability facing ohioans and the screwed up state constitution that concentrates all the power in Columbus which gives the unions and lobbyists easy pickens.

    Bob

  8. Welcome to Musli-see. Common Core and Sharia law! Your war has just begun!

    Stand for what is right, even if you stand alone!

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