‘The Richest Man in Babylon’: Real wealth creation in Ohio won’t be possible until it’s a ‘Right to Work’ state

Whenever I go to Columbus, Ohio, I have a few bookstores that I go to every time. I consume a tremendous number of books, about three large books a week. If they are smaller, under 200 pages, I read five or six. It’s probably my favorite thing to do in the world, and I often read very early in the morning, between 3 AM and 6, and after the hours of 7 to 11 PM. Between those hours, I work hard, really hard. And reading settles my mind and keeps everything from fragmenting. On the weekends, I usually read for around 8 hours daily, starting around the same time and ending around noon. Then I spend the rest of the day with my family doing whatever comes up in those engagements. But it had been quite a few years since I last read The Richest Man in Babylon, published in 1926. I read it in my twenties, so I thought it was odd that while I was talking to people at the Capitol during the Governor’s State of the State speech for 2023, I was sitting in the gallery waiting for everything to start when a person made a great effort to sit next to me and ask me to sign a copy of that book. It was a nice paperback copy that  was a miniature version that could fit easily in the jacket of a nice suit. This person told me he was a fan of my blog, recognized me because of my big white hat, and wanted me to sign his copy of the old George Clason book. So I signed it, and he was very happy about it. He sat down near me, and before we all left after the speech was over, he came over to shake my hand again enthusiastically before departing back downstairs, where all the members of the Representatives and Senate were gathering in the rotunda to have lunch with Governor DeWine. 

I’ve signed many books over the years, but they are usually the ones I have written; it’s not usual to sign other people’s books. But the more I thought about it, the more it made sense as I talked to various legislators at the after-event. Once I left the Ohio Statehouse later that day and visited my bookstores, I bought a modern copy of that book and reread it later that evening to connect with that enthusiastic personality. After my talk with everyone that day, it all made sense. If you have not had exposure to that very famous book, The Richest Man in Babylon, it’s typically found in the business section of a bookstore and is a foundation for how wealth is created. It takes place in Babylon to take the edge off any modern references, but the idea is that wealth is created by effort, and it is beneficial not just to the people who have the wealth but to their community as well. If we have a society of many people who have created wealth for themselves, we will have a better society. It is very much the opposite of this “tax the rich” culture that we get from the various socialists and communists embedded in our American culture these days, which has become much worse under the economic policies of Joe Biden and Democrats in general. And when you get behind the scenes, away from the cameras and newspaper reporters who never cover significant political events correctly like a Governor’s State of the State speech, wealth creation is the number 1 concern because it’s the thing that makes everything in society go. 

One of the big topics that emerged from Governor DeWine’s State of the State speech was the effort to bring businesses and jobs to Ohio and that there would be spending investments to do so. But on the checkered floor of the Statehouse were lots of discussions about how exactly to do that. And I love these kinds of discussions. Some people see lobbyists, corrupt politicians, and maniacal lunatics when they talk in those places. Yet, I generally see the kids all these adults grew up to be trying to do something good from their own perspectives with the same enthusiasm that kids build new things with Lego toys. No matter the political ideology, I find everyone eager to conduct some version of a childhood dream of saving the world one law at a time. And you don’t get that unless you get the chance to be behind the scenes and talk to people who are actually making the sausage. I usually come away from those events encouraged. But the efforts typically fall short because the real problems never get dealt with.

And regarding Governor DeWine’s efforts to bring more business to Ohio, the truth is that we can spend all the money we want. But until Ohio is a Right to Work state, the big multi-billion-dollar investors will not bring their big corporations to Ohio because of their fear of labor unions taking over the management of their facilities. Ohio will continue to lose opportunities to South Carolina and other places until we join them in becoming the Right to Work states that protect business investment from the socialist encroachment of the labor union movement, which never should have been allowed in American politics. To understand these basic economic truths, I would recommend everyone to read The Richest Man in Babylon and come to your own conclusions. But until people have a basic understanding of wealth creation, it’s a pointless debate with the kind of communist labor union advocates who think that the value of labor unions is in more sick time, the 40-hour work week, and weekends and holidays off. All those things mean less productive work, less output, and more paid time off for a company trying to make things.  

The sum of many conversations on that topic was that Right to Work was dead in Ohio until President Trump returned to the White House, and likely longer because Trump likes labor unions. In his big MAGA party, labor union members have been voting for Trump. So suddenly, we have friends in the Republican Party from the labor movement, and nobody was going to dare push those friends away at the expense of dividing voters away from Trump. And Governor DeWine, for all those reasons, had no stomach at all for Right to Work discussions. But eventually, and not decades away, but just three or four years, Ohio will have to be a Right to Work state if it wants to be the next Silicon Valley in a 21st-century economy, which I think is entirely possible. Ohio is a great place to live and work. The business corridors between Cincinnati and Columbus, and Columbus to Cleveland, especially on the east side, and even all the way up from Cincinnati and Toledo, are some of the best in the world. There is room for plenty of country living and rock-and-roll businesses that create vast wealth for everyone involved. But what’s preventing that investment isn’t a lack of input from the state to develop the infrastructure to do it; it’s the protection of investment from those looking to do so from the greedy hands of the communist labor movement. Nothing kills wealth-building faster than a labor union. It might get union members paid off days where they don’t have to work, but it doesn’t help a country be competitive while the rest of the world in Asia is working seven days a week, 24 hours a day, for a rice cake. And that is what we are competing with. Ohio needs to be a Right to Work state, and the sooner it is, the quicker real investment into Ohio can begin. Until that happens, speeches like the Governor’s State of the State are just enthusiastic dreams that are held back by reality. 

Rich Hoffman

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