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  • Matthew Hook

Why In The World Would Anyone Run For Congress?

I have been extremely fortunate with careers as a CPA (eight years), a lawyer (11 years) and a private equity investor (17 years) before retiring a few years ago. So, people often ask why at the age of 62 would you decide to run for political office for the first time. The short answer is that down the road when the magnitude of the fiscal and environmental problems we are leaving future generations become even more evident than they already are today, I want to be able to say I tried to help address the problems. Some may ask why not start smaller? The truth is I did start smaller by joining a non-profit group called Citizens Climate Lobby that lobbied our representatives and worked to introduce them to climate scientists from Purdue. However ultimately the truth which I knew in my heart, but did not want to believe, was too difficult to deny anymore. You likely already know the answer but let me share it with you anyway.

Our representatives do not represent us, they do not represent future generations, rather they represent big business and individuals who provide the vast majority of campaign contributions. Why do you suspect the United States pays twice the percentage of its GDP (17.8%) on healthcare than the other 35 developed countries (8.8%) in the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) even though these other countries have longer life expectancies than we do? Because the healthcare industry donates huge amounts of money to our politicians -- over $250 million per year. That is why Congress passed a law that prohibits the United States from negotiating specialty drug prices with pharmaceutical companies and therefore pays much higher drug prices than other OECD countries. When over 80% of people in the United States favor universal background checks to purchase a gun, why are they not required? Surprise, the NRA, which represents gun manufacturers, spent over $50 million in the 2016 election. There is a reason capital gains (90% of which benefit the richest 5%) are taxed at a much lower rate than ordinary income and it is because the 132 richest people contribute over 60% of all contributions to Super Political Action Committees. As a result, the richest 400 people in the country have a lower effective tax rate than the middle class.

So why am I running, because I am willing to make sacrifices for future generations just like previous generations did for us and am sick of crony capitalism and politicians who care more about special interests than they do their constituents.

If you are still reading, there is one other thing I would like to share with you. While getting outside of your comfort zone isn’t always fun, it can be extremely worthwhile and educational whatever the result. If you are thinking of doing something a little different and outside your comfort zone, you might be pleasantly surprised down the road if you take the plunge regardless of the outcome. The only thing I can tell you for sure is you won’t know unless you try it.

May you find new challenges in whatever you do.

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