Something I don't currently talk much about (because there is so much else to discuss) is my deep love of technology. I am currently obsessed with AI and what it means for the future of humanity.
Here is an image I created with an AI image creator called Midjourney.
The prompt I gave it was: "show a desolate scene where a freighter holds the letters "HOPE" as some sort of beacon of light."
This is pretty close to what I was feeling after reading this seemingly hopeless article about the state of Akron and what it means for our new mayor:
The general gist of the article is:
Gun violence is out of control and the ideas for fixing it are everything from having more police to having no police.
Among the nine largest cities in Ohio, Akron has a faster growing rental market, in terms of the portion of all housing units, than all but Canton, Toledo and Mansfield, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.
We lead the state in evictions.
There were 48 new housing permits pulled last year in Akron. 45 of them were for houses above 2000 square feet and are selling for $300,000.
64% of homeowners reported incomes of more than $50,000 while 77% of renters said they earn less than $50,000.
We are losing 1000 residents every year.
We have $1.23 billion in debt which is $7000 for every man, woman and child in Akron.
I feel like Akron could appear as the poster child for the "Cluster Fuck" wikipedia page.
What a mess.
No wonder Dan Horrigan is bailing on being mayor of Akron (and I'm sure his wife is totally over having SWAT teams need to protect their house from angry protestors).
But here come a bunch of mayoral candidates promising that they hold the answers to all of Akron's problems.
But they have to pretend they do because we are all looking to them to get us out of this mess.
I assure you that in 6 months or a year we will be swearing at the new mayor for not doing enough to get us out of our problems.
We are in a flat bottom boat going down a river without any paddles. We're all sitting in the boat watching one person (the mayor) desperately paddling with their hands to hopefully move the boat slightly to one side or the other. The stronger the current, the less likely this person is going to have any success in making anything happen at all. (And of course, there is always the possibility that they will paddle us in completely the wrong direction.)
Here's the truth:
Most of these midwestern cities are declining in population because wealthy people are sick of the high taxes, the problem of economic diversity in the schools which leads to very challenging education situations, gun violence and having to look at homeless people begging for money on every street corner. It's too much.
Suburbs are more peaceful in every possible way. Go ask Medina or Copley or Bath how many murders they have had in the last 5 years.
Shammas Malik is rightfully focused on education and violence as his main initiatives. But you know what is easier than hoping Shammas Malik will fix our problems? MOVING OUT OF AKRON. If you move to Bath you have instantly solved the problem of education and violence (and gotten lower taxes to boot).
Cities have a high population of people who are experiencing the most extreme effects of income inequality. It's making these people insane. Drug overdoses, gun violence, homelessness, increased mental illness... it's all a product of decades of global political decisions. First we gave all our jobs to Mexico and China. Now we are giving the jobs to the machines. It's only a matter of time that truckers (a huge employer in America) will lose their jobs to AI.
If you really want to see change in Akron, don't look to the new mayor to somehow magically get us out of this mess. LOOK TO YOURSELF.
Does your friend have roaches in their apartment? Go help them get rid of them.
Does your road never get plowed in the winter? Get a truck and plow it yourself.
Is your neighborhood filled with illegal guns? Pool money and buy the guns.
Is there a person living in the abandoned house down the road? Help them keep it clean.
YOU are the answer to our problems. Not the next mayor.
Is this going to be easy? HELL NO! "No good deed goes unpunished" is a very real thing. The minute you dip your toe into helping fix the situation you are going to wonder what you ever were thinking. Helping is hard and messy. But it needs to be done. And it needs to be done by YOU. Not me. Not your neighbor. YOU!
We have gotten in this mindset that the government is the solution to all our problems. We have seen very clearly how wrong that thinking is.
I'm not saying we should get rid of any services the government is providing. We need to keep every last nickle of human services the American government is giving us with our own money. But we need to go the last mile. We need to pick up the slack.
I don't see things getting better for cities like Akron any time soon. In fact, the trends appear to me that they are going to get worse.
But as an entrepreneur and innovator, that doesn't get me down. The more problems there are the more opportunities there are for coming up with cool and innovative ways to fix them.
One thing is for sure though: the government can be accused of a lot of things. But no one EVER has accused the government of being "cool and innovative." Those characteristics are only ever found in one place: THE PEOPLE.
Fix the problems of Akron yourself.