Archive for the ‘Important Voices’ Category

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Important Voices: JohnsonForAmerica.com interviews Kamal Jain, candidate for MA Auditor

In 2010 elections,Economy,GOP,Government spending,Important Voices,Interviews on May 10, 2010 by Josiah Schmidt

This is interview #33 in JohnsonForAmerica.com’s “Important Voices” series, where we talk with key figures, such as elected officials, candidates, authors, commentators, and policy experts, about the issues of the day.  A new interview is released every Monday, so check back often!

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Our guest for today’s Important Voices interview is Kamal Jain.  Kamal Jain is a Massachusetts native who’s been paying taxes since he was 14 years old. He has performed volunteer disaster relief, community activism, and search and rescue work, worked as an emergency medical technician and security guard. Most of his career, however, has been working in high-tech in a variety of roles, predominantly for start-up companies in technology operations and customer service management roles. As a businessman, he has worked extensively with budgets and the challenges they present.  Kamal is presently running as a Republican for Auditor of the State of Massachusetts.

Josiah Schmidt: What compelled you to enter elective politics?

Kamal Jain: I’ve run for office in the past to give voters a choice, and to educate them on the issues, but this is the first time I’ve been able to run to win.  After speaking out about out-of-control government growth in terms of size, spending and authority for nearly all of my adult life, and having been a political activist for 14 years, it became clear that running for office was the best way for me to help bring about the changes we need in Massachusetts and across the nation.

Josiah Schmidt: What issues are most important to Massachusans?

Kamal Jain: The biggest issues facing Massachusetts residents are a lack of private sector jobs, especially in industries that are not heavily subsidized by government.  Massachusetts is a very unfriendly state to businesses, with constantly changing rules around taxation and regulations, and a government with a very greedy hand.  To make matters worse, most voters are unaware of just how truly out of control state government spending and debt are, which are what drive the high cost of doing business and living in Massachusetts.

Josiah Schmidt: What do you offer that your opponents do not?

Kamal Jain: I am the only candidate for State Auditor who has a plan and a vision for Total Transparency.  I am the only candidate who will give the people the ability to see for themselves the details of all state financial transactions and contract activity.  Every dollar and every dime will be online for all to see — for free.  I am also the only candidate for State Auditor who has pledged to refuse to take a government pension and serve no more than two terms in office.  In addition, I have pledged to give myself a 10% pay cut on my first day in office.  These are things that I bring from the private sector, things that businesses must do in tough times.  I bring over 21 years of business and technology expertise to the race, and am the only candidate who has the proven leadership and management skills necessary to bring Total Transparency to the people of Massachusetts.

Josiah Schmidt: How did you come to hold such a liberty-oriented philosophy?

Kamal Jain: Growing up in Framingham, Massachusetts, I heard stories from my parents about their struggle for independence from British rule in India.  As I went to school and got involved in Scouts, I learned about our American ancestors’ fight for independence as well, and I fell in love with the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America.  I carry a pocket Constitution with me every day, and I often give them out as gifts.  There is great wisdom in these documents, which has been passed down by our forefathers.  America truly is a great nation based on noble ideas, which has been and continues to be a gift to the world.  Sadly, we have had too many politicians who neither understand nor respect that, and are busy undermining all the things which made America great.  I will never stop fighting to preserve and protect America.

Josiah Schmidt: What does the job of state auditor entail?

Kamal Jain: Let’s start with what it does not entail.  The State Auditor’s office is not responsible for financial audits — those are handled by the State Comptroller’s office.  The State Auditor’s office is responsible for government auditing, which generally means auditing agencies and vendors to seek out waste, fraud and abuse; look for proper controls; and check compliance with laws, regulations and policies.  The State Auditor also has ruling power over privatization and outsourcing of functions if a complaint or request for review is filed.  Lastly, the State Auditor’s office works with cities and towns to be their advocate when it comes to dealing with unfunded or underfunded state mandates.  The State Auditor is an executive role which is responsible providing leadership and vision to a department of over 300 employees, most of whom are professional, credentialed auditors, who already know how to do their jobs.

Josiah Schmidt: What is the first thing you will do as Massachusetts Auditor?

Kamal Jain: The first thing I will do is bring in volunteer experts from a variety of backgrounds to help design a transparency website for the people.  The first version of such a website would be online within 6 months of me taking office, and in addition to my own extensive technology background, I already have a team of world-class experts lined up to help make this happen on a volunteer basis.  The goal of the website is to give the people the tools and information they need to understand where their hard-earned money goes, and how their government is spending it.  In parallel, I would commission an all-volunteer group made up primarily of private sector experts and other citizens who would become the Massachusetts equivalent of the Grace Commission.  The Grace Commission was chartered in the early 1980s by President Reagan and led by J. Peter Grace, the namesake of the group.  Reagan knew it would take a business leader to identify waste in the Federal government, and I know we need the same thing here in Massachusetts.

Josiah Schmidt: Which area of government spending would you most like to see cut?

Kamal Jain: I would like to see waste, fraud and abuse cut first and foremost.  But that exists in varying measures across ALL government departments, agencies and functions.  The government itself, even through the State Auditor’s office, is not equipped with the right incentives to truly identify all the waste, fraud and abuse.  We must bring the people in to scrutinize their government.

Josiah Schmidt: Which area of the Massachusetts state government is in the most dire need of transparency and accountability?

Kamal Jain: The need for transparency and accountability runs across the entire state government.  It would be inappropriate to single out specific parts of a government that is fundamentally opaque and unaccountable to anyone.

Josiah Schmidt: Anything else you’d like to say to our readers?

Kamal Jain: Please support my campaign by telling people about it, donating and encouraging others to do the same.  If they are in Massachusetts, please get involved by volunteering for the campaign.  Help us bring Total Transparency to Beacon Hill.

Josiah Schmidt: Where can people go to find out more about you and contribute to your campaign?

Kamal Jain: Go to MassTransparency.com to find out everything you need to know about the campaign and how to help us bring about Total Transparency.  No state does this today to the level it is needed and to the level that is possible.  My goal is to make Massachusetts #1 in government transparency and accountability.  What we do here will be a model that can be used in other states.

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Important Voices: JohnsonForAmerica.com interviews Pia Varma, candidate for US Congress, PA-1

In 2010 elections,Economy,Education,Entitlements,Foreign policy,Free trade,GOP,Government spending,Health care,Important Voices,Interviews,Tort reform on May 3, 2010 by Josiah Schmidt

This is interview #32 in JohnsonForAmerica.com’s “Important Voices” series, where we talk with key figures, such as elected officials, candidates, authors, commentators, and policy experts, about the issues of the day.  A new interview is released every Monday, so check back often!

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Our guest for today’s Important Voices interview is Pia Varma.  Pia is a firm defender of free market capitalism, in her words, “the economic system which best allows man to create, trade and prosper.” She is twenty-seven years old. Her grandfathers were both freedom fighters in the Indian Independence movement, so being a firebrand is in her genes. Her parents grew up in England and came to the United States in the early 80’s, at a time when entrenched socialism had made living and thriving in the UK virtually impossible.  Pia is now running for US Congress in Pennsylvania’s first district.

Josiah Schmidt: What compelled you to enter elective politics?

Pia Varma: Honestly, it was a nagging feeling I have had for a long time. I think I always instinctively knew I should be involved in politics but I ignored that feeling because I wanted to make a lot of money first. My passion would have to come second. At some point I decided that the “when, then” way of thinking just wasn’t working. And even though there isn’t a lot of money in politics, I feel very wealthy because I love what I am doing.

Josiah Schmidt: What issues are most important to Pennsylvanians?

Pia Varma: The same issues that are important to every state in the country and every person in the country. How are you going to put food on the table? How are you going to thrive? How are you going to send your children to a good school? How are you going to pay for your retirement? I think we are at a fork in the road. And we have to decide whether or not we want to continue down the path of excessive spending and excessive engineering of society. At some point, the government decided it had a right to be in every industry in this country: from education, healthcare, and retirement, to the financial sector and real estate. As a result, we are all going broke, which is creating more problems for the government to solve. 

Josiah Schmidt: What do you offer that your opponents do not?

Pia Varma: My ideas aren’t new. They are the same ideas on which this country was built. What I offer is the drive and relentlessness to implement them.

Josiah Schmidt: How did you come to hold such a liberty-oriented philosophy?

Pia Varma: I think it just hit me. I was reading something by a conservative author when I was in college and it just made sense!  Once I realized there were answers and truth, I became voracious for more.

Josiah Schmidt: What is the first thing you will do as a US Congresswoman?

Pia Varma: Get together with the other liberty-mided legislators and figure out how we can turn this country around as quickly as possible. There are many people in government who don’t want that and that is our biggest obstacle.

Josiah Schmidt: Which area of government spending would you most like to cut?

Pia Varma: The biggest areas of spending are in the entitlement programs: Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. We have to put these programs on a path to privatization.

Josiah Schmidt: What will you do on the issue of health care?

Pia Varma: Repeal! Get the government out of the business of health. In a free market economy, price goes down and quality goes up. Unfortunately, we have never had a perfectly free market system. We need to ask ourselves, why is healthcare so expensive? Tort reform is vital.

Josiah Schmidt: How would you like to see the War on Terror carried out more effectively?

Pia Varma: I think that there has to be major spending cuts in Homeland Security. We have hundreds of bureaucratic agencies and it’s just not efficient. Our national defense has to be smarter and leaner. Also, the best foreign policy is one that centers around free trade.

Josiah Schmidt: Anything else you’d like to say to our readers?

Pia Varma: This is a very unique time in our country and we all have to make a decision. Are we going to become complacent or are we going to take action? I am so excited to see how many Americans are taking action, and this is only going to grow, but we need to send a clear and unified message to Washington.

Josiah Schmidt: Where can people go to find out more about you and contribute to your campaign?

Pia Varma: You can check out my website www.votepia.com, and there is a donate button on the page.

Articles

Important Voices: JohnsonForAmerica.com interviews Stephen Bailey, candidate for US Congress, Colorado-2

In Deficit,Economy,Foreign policy,GOP,Government spending,Health care,Important Voices,Inflation,Interviews,Taxes on April 22, 2010 by Josiah Schmidt

This is interview #30 in JohnsonForAmerica.com’s “Important Voices” series, where we talk with key figures, such as elected officials, candidates, authors, commentators, and policy experts, about the issues of the day.  A new interview is released every Monday and every Thursday, so check back often!

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Our guest for today’s Important Voices interview is Stephen Bailey.  Stephen is a veteran of the US Air Force.  He received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Chapman University in California.  Stephen has a career in engineering and marketing, and he and his wife Reiko have been married for over 20 years. They reside in Niwot, Colorado with their three children, Edison (Eddie) who is 17, Justine who is 13 and 9 year old Jade. The family enjoys the company of their 2 dogs, Lisha and Crystal.  Stephen is running for US Congress in Colorado’s Second District.

Josiah Schmidt: What compelled you to enter elective politics?

Stephen Bailey: It was a combination of events.  At the personal level, our children are at an age where they are progressing well down the road towards independence, which frees up time for my wife and I to be active beyond raising our family.

At the national level, the election of Obama and strong majorities of progressive Democrats in Congress has created a direct and immediate threat to our liberties and the U.S. Constitution.  I received great personal motivation from the numbers and principles of Tea Party and 9-12 participants who also value freedom and constitutionally-limited government.

At the level of our congressional district, we are represented by a progressive socialist — Jared Polis.  The objectives that Mr. Polis seeks are detrimental to our country and our freedoms.  The people of the 2nd Congressional District deserve a choice between Mr. Polis who will use the power of the government to initiate force against its citizens and someone who reserves governmental power for use in retaliation against those who initiate force and violate the rights of others.  That is, a choice between Liberty and Serfdom.

Josiah Schmidt: What issues are most important to Coloradans?

Stephen Bailey: The economy, jobs and deficit spending are all very important to Coloradans. We also understand the connections between our freedom and economic prosperity.  Prosperity is not possible without freedom.  Our economic collapse and the continued stagnation of our economy are directly related to the increase in the size of government and its interference in our lives.

Josiah Schmidt: What do you offer that your opponents do not?

Stephen Bailey: The incumbent supports the policies of Obama, Pelosi and Reid — continued deficit spending, higher taxes, inflation, greater regulation of individual and business activity and further economic decline all in the name of social justice.  We cannot tax, borrow and spend our way to prosperity.  Nor can we achieve prosperity by inflating the money supply and devaluing the dollar.

My Republican competitor is a typical mixed set of floating principles.  For him, government should be limited except when it should initiate force against its citizens to support causes he deems worthy — he supports government funding of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).  He also fails to understand the source of economic prosperity as he has stated that our welfare state is what separates the U.S. from Mexico.

I am the only candidate in this race that understands that the proper and moral purpose of government is the protection of our individual rights as Thomas Jefferson stated in the Declaration of Independence.  In support of moral government and our rights, I will work to restore constitutionally limited government, reduce government spending to functions that protect our rights, reduce taxes to the minimum necessary to support these government functions and eliminate the regulatory state.

Josiah Schmidt: How did you come to hold such a liberty-oriented philosophy?

Stephen Bailey: My political ideas began to form as a teenager when I noticed that every time, which was annually, my home town had a budget crisis, it was the police and fire departments that were the first and only threats for budget cuts.  It became very clear that the politicians were extorting taxpayers by holding hostage the services the government is morally obligated to provide in order to maintain funding for programs which were beyond the proper function of government.

I subsequently refined my political ideology through reading the works of Ayn Rand and free-market oriented and classic liberal academics such as Milton Friedman, von Mises, Hazlett, Ridpath, Reisman, Binswanger and Peikoff in the areas of economics, philosophy and politics.  I subscribed to the Wall Street Journal while taking an economics class in my early 20′s and have been a continuous subscriber since.

In my career in high technology, I have been able to travel to many countries around the world.  I have seen the low standards of life & living in 3rd world countries such as Thailand and Malaysia.  I have seen the ecological destruction of communism in China first hand.  And, I have seen the destructive toll that a moribund labor market such as France’s has on the soul of its workers.  French workers are essentially locked into jobs whether they like them or not.  Labor laws make it virtually impossible for employers to eliminate positions due to economic/business conditions or fire the incompetent or lazy.  Workers of ability have few opportunities as employers are extremely reluctant to take the risk of hiring a new employee. Employers also take advantage of the static labor market by taking employees for granted instead of ensuring their happiness through a good work environment and job satisfaction.

The vast majority of Americans have no appreciation for their high quality of life.  Although the pollution problems of China are obvious to any visitor, how many Americans have been to China?  A typical holiday in Paris provides no visibility into the quality of work life for the average French worker.

Americans have had the highest quality of life ever experienced by humans. That quality is the result of our prosperity which depends on our freedom and liberty.  The level of a culture is the sum of its parts and each individual in a culture can maximize their quality and standard of life only if they are free to act in their own rational self-interest and fully enjoy the fruits of their labor.  Prosperity does not come from theft or serfdom.

Josiah Schmidt: What is the first thing you will do as a US Congressman?

Stephen Bailey: So much to do and so little time!  We are in a lull between economic storms. Obama and Congress have made it very difficult to ride out the coming storm. Facing an impending flood, they have limited our mobility by chaining us in place with increased regulation and handcuffed us by maxing out our national credit limit.  When the waters begin to recede, they will have hindered our ability to recover by burdening us with massive tax increases and inflation which will rob us of our savings and slow our re-building.

We cannot escape the storm.  It has been building for years and Obama and Congress have increased its strength by feeding its fury.  We will better survive the storm if we are free to move to high ground and fortify our shelters.  We can rebuild quicker if the government stays out of our way and protects our savings for the post-storm reconstruction.

Therefore, my priorities are to reduce government spending as quickly as possible with reductions in taxes in appropriate relationship to the reduction in government.  We cannot underestimate the benefits from reducing regulations and the intrusiveness of government in our private and commercial lives.  Finally, we need to reform the processes of Congress and the Federal Government to make it as difficult as possible for a return to such profligate, immoral government operation into which our devolution has led us to our current state of affairs.  We need to restore the checks and balances between the branches of Federal government as well as between the states and the national government.  We need an enumerated powers act, single subject legislation requirements and zero-baseline budgeting reforms. We must forever make entitlement spending unconstitutional.  Every dollar spent by the government must be approved in a recorded vote every year.  We need to restore rationality and complete sunshine to the operation of Congress and the executive branch.

Josiah Schmidt: Which area of government spending would you most like to cut?

Stephen Bailey: Given current circumstances, I believe it is clear that no area of government spending can be protected from cuts.  Priority must remain in the areas authorized by the Constitution and directly related to the protection of individual rights.  All other programs need to be transitioned to an end with the length of the transition correlated to the ability of the citizens dependent on those programs to become independent.  For example, foreign aid and corporate welfare (subsidy) programs need to be eliminated immediately while programs for retirees (Social Security and Medicare) will require longer transitions as current retirees cannot become independent in their lifetimes.  Remaining welfare programs for the small percentage of the population that do not have the mental or physical ability to become independent need to be transitioned to the states as required by the Constitution.

Josiah Schmidt: What will you do on the issue of health care?

Stephen Bailey: ObamaCare is about government control and not reform of health care.  It cannot be reformed.  It needs to be repealed in its entirety.  Free market reforms of the health care system are desperately needed.  These include:

1.  Elimination of tax code bias that encourages employers to provide health insurance.  This will have the following positive secondary changes:

a.  When individuals purchase health insurance instead of businesses, the portability issue is eliminated.  You cannot lose your insurance because you change or lose your job.  The problem of pre-existing conditions is a problem of portability.

b.  Elimination of “Cadillac” health care plans.  When individuals purchase health insurance, they will buy “major medical” insurance products and not pre-paid medical care with 1st dollar coverage after a co-pay.  Why? Because it makes no sense to pay a 3rd party for routine care that should be part of the family budget.  Involving a 3rd party only adds to the cost. Individuals will instead use insurance to cover major health costs as a hedge against accidents or illnesses creating financial catastrophe.

c.  Significant reduction of “evil” insurance companies from interfering with the patient-doctor relationship.  The interference occurs today because the insurance companies are providing pre-paid health care and their profits are directly related to their ability to keep costs low.  With major medical, the insurance companies involvement in health care matters would occur only for major procedures significantly reducing the involvement (or interference) of insurance companies in patient-doctor relationships.  This would also reduce the huge administrative overhead staffs common in doctor and medical facilities.

d.  Clearer and open pricing of health services.  With individuals directly involved in health care and health care cost considerations, hospitals and doctors will need to provide simple, clear and open pricing of services to satisfy market demands for such information.

2.  Elimination of the federal mandate that doctors and hospitals treat anyone that comes to an emergency room regardless of their ability to pay. If you are a baker, how would you react if the government dictated that you must provide bread to anyone who comes to your bakery regardless of their ability to pay?

a.  This would eliminate the cost shifting that occurs today as Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements are generally below the costs of providing the services.

b.  It will re-establish the fact that we are all free people, including doctors, nurses and hospital staffs.

All of these reforms together will address the affordability issue.  When individuals make decisions, it is no one else’s business how much of their annual income they are willing to spend on health care in any given year!

Josiah Schmidt: How would you like to see the War on Terror carried out more effectively?

Stephen Bailey: If we are to fight wars, we must have a Congressional Declaration of War as required by the Constitution.  This provides our fighting men and women with the moral authority and backing they deserve when they risk their lives on our behalf.  It also forces the President to justify the Declaration by providing Congress with his plan for executing the war to victory.

Without a Declaration of War, I would work to block further funding and conduct of war operations.

National Defense is covered under the enumerated powers of Congress in the Constitution and it is necessary for the protection of our individual rights.  I will support war and other military operations only if they are conducted with the clear, unobstructed and unhindered objective of vanquishing our enemies (where an enemy is a country or terrorist group that has violated the rights of U.S. Citizens or taken objective steps to do so). Currently, our military is being put at extreme risk because the rules of engagement prioritize the lives of non-U.S. personnel over U.S. personnel.

It is important to note that there are multiple ways of responding to acts of aggression and objective threats.  Since we have yet to address the first 2 criteria — declaration of war or similar constitutional authority and clear objective of vanquishing our enemy at minimal cost in lives and treasure to the U.S. — there’s no reason to debate specifics of how a war or military response should be conducted.  It is the responsibility of the President to develop the specific military plan.  My comments clearly indicate that the President’s current plan is inadequate.

Josiah Schmidt: Anything else you’d like to say to our readers?

Stephen Bailey: Our Constitution has been under attack for a long time.  The erosion of the Constitution and our freedoms and liberty took a negative turn in the early 1900′s.  With the policies of the Bush and Obama administrations, we have seen a clear and very dangerous acceleration in statism and the decline of our liberty.

November 2010 will mark a very important point in our history.  The choice could not be clearer for the citizens of Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District and for the nation.  The United States was the only country to base its government on the moral principle of individual rights and the protection of those rights.  The power of our government was limited to the retaliatory use of force.  In November, we will decide the fundamental question:  Shall the United States once again restore itself as the shining city on the hill, the beacon of freedom for all mankind?  Will it once again limit the power of government to protecting individual rights.  Or will humanity lose its last and only protector of liberty?

The election in Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District provides the clearest choice between freedom and serfdom in the country.  I am honored and determined to carry liberty’s torch.  Will lovers of Liberty in Colorado and the nation help me carry it to victory?  Will we send a clear message, not just to Washington, but to the world that America has rediscovered its love of Liberty and the protection of individual rights?

Josiah Schmidt: Where can people go to find out more about you and contribute to your campaign?

Stephen Bailey: www.StephenBaileyForCongress.com and www.facebook.com/StephenBaileyForCongress

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Important Voices: JohnsonForAmerica.com interviews Robert Higgs, author of Crisis And Leviathan

In Economy,Foreign policy,Free trade,Important Voices,Inflation,Interviews on April 19, 2010 by Josiah Schmidt

This is interview #29 in JohnsonForAmerica.com’s “Important Voices” series, where we talk with key figures, such as elected officials, candidates, authors, commentators, and policy experts, about the issues of the day.  A new interview is released every Monday and every Thursday, so check back often!

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Our guest for today’s Important Voices interview is Robert Higgs.  Robert is a Senior Fellow for The Independent Institute and Editor of the The Independent Review. He received his Ph.D. in economics from Johns Hopkins University, and he has taught at the University of Washington, Lafayette College, Seattle University, and the University of Economics, Prague. He has been a visiting scholar at Oxford University and Stanford University, and a fellow for the Hoover Institution and the National Science Foundation.  He is the recipient of numerous awards, and has edited or written many books, including Crisis and Leviathan. He has contributed to more than 100 articles and reviews in academic journals, and his articles have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, and many other publications, television programs, and Web sites.

Josiah Schmidt: What is the Independent Institute all about, and what do you do as Senior Fellow for it?

Robert Higgs: The Independent Institute is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization that sponsors and publicizes research on public policy and related issues across a broad range of topics. My principal responsibility at the institute is to edit the institute’s quarterly scholarly journal, The Independent Review. I also write occasional op-ed columns for newspapers, and I contribute to the institute’s group blog, The Beacon.

Josiah Schmidt: How did you come to hold such a liberty-oriented philosophy?

Robert Higgs: My training in economics gave me an appreciation of the free market. After I finished graduate school and began work as a professor, I read more and more of the literature of liberty and found the ideas appealing.

Josiah Schmidt: Why is government so prone to growing, as opposed to shrinking?

Robert Higgs: The people who compose the government can get more of what they seek–power, money, and kowtowing by the public–if the government grows. Therefore, in general, they seek to make the government bigger whenever they see an opportunity to do so without excessive risk to their retention of public office.

Josiah Schmidt: Why is free trade better than so-called “fair trade”?

Robert Higgs: Free trade means an absence of government obstacles to trade. “Fair trade” is a slogan used by protectionists to argue that they should have protection if sellers in other countries enjoy protection. In reality, “fair trade” means that if other governments are hurting their countries’ consumers, then our government should hurt consumers in this country.

Josiah Schmidt: Do you see this current recession getting worse, and why?
 
Robert Higgs: It might worsen. I don’t know. I will be surprised if a vigorous recovery occurs. My best guess is that a long period of stagflation lies ahead of us, but I am only guessing. I’m not a prophet.

Josiah Schmidt: In what ways is our current economic situation similar to the situation before and during the Great Depression?
 
Robert Higgs: The similarities are many, including a prior real estate/construction boom fueled by easy money policies, and a variety of government interventions that made the recession worse once it began. Also, in both cases, government employment has displaced private employment, and the state has grown rapidly in size, scope, and power.

Josiah Schmidt: What’s wrong with the US government’s current foreign policy?
 
Robert Higgs: The U.S. government intervenes excessively in virtually every part of the world. Many of these interventions worsen the local situation (e.g., by propping up local dictatorships) and cause foreigners to hate Americans. American foreign policy aims at global hegemony; it ought to withdraw from a great many of its foreign entanglements.

Josiah Schmidt: What is the best thing the US government could do to truly strengthen homeland security?
 
Robert Higgs: Remove its military forces from the Middle East and stop sending military and economic aid to the governments of the area–all of them.

Josiah Schmidt: Is there any country in the world today that’s doing things right?
 
Robert Higgs: No country does everything right. Switzerland may be the country whose government does the least wrong.

Josiah Schmidt: Any parting words for our readers?
 
Robert Higgs: It is more important to live a decent life than to succeed (in any way) in politics.

Josiah Schmidt: Thanks for speaking with us, Dr. Higgs!

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Important Voices: JohnsonForAmerica.com interviews Jake Towne, candidate for US Congress, Pennsylvania-15

In 2010 elections,Economy,Education,Foreign policy,Government spending,Health care,Immigration,Important Voices,Interviews on April 15, 2010 by Josiah Schmidt

This is interview #28 in JohnsonForAmerica.com’s “Important Voices” series, where we talk with key figures, such as elected officials, candidates, authors, commentators, and policy experts, about the issues of the day.  A new interview is released every Monday and every Thursday, so check back often!

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Our guest for today’s Important Voices interview is Jake Towne.  Jake has traveled the world extensively, and has developed an intense love for individual liberty.  His experiences have led him to declare his candidacy for US Congress in Pennsylvania’s 15th district.

Josiah Schmidt: What compelled you to enter elective politics?

Jake Towne: Well, I must say I would not have entered politics without my perspective being widened greatly by my time spent overseas in China which drastically altered my view of American foreign policy.  After studying economics, the realization that the country is headed for a currency crisis created by the federal government compelled me to return home and campaign peacefully against the Republocrat career politicians that are ruining our great country. 
More info is here: http://towneforcongress.com/jakes-bio/motivation
 
Josiah Schmidt: What issues are most important to Pennsylvanians?

Jake Towne: Many of those I speak with are most concerned about the endless reckless spending, corporatism and bailouts by Congress, the lack of jobs, and a severe lack of accountability by those in power who should instead be public servants.
My solutions are outlined here:
http://towneforcongress.com/platform-issues/bailouts-and-corporatism
http://towneforcongress.com/platform-issues/jobs
http://towneforcongress.com/platform-issues/our-open-office-plank

Josiah Schmidt: What do you offer that your opponents do not?

Jake Towne: Perhaps the most important idea I offer is a novel-yet-simple idea called “Our Open Office.”  I offer a chance for each individual to have a public voice in the government, to debate, comment, and criticize on every House floor bill.  They can submit new bills, summon me to an “On-Demand” town hall, and read my monthly reports where I will be accountable to them and inform them not only HOW I voted but more importantly WHY I voted.
This idea is described here:
http://towneforcongress.com/platform-issues/our-open-office-plank
Besides this, I am offering what is most sorely needed in Congress – an independent voice that is not subject to the whims and commands of the Republocrat parties and their special interests.  I am a true independent with no party, and do not accept corporate PAC or lobbyist money.

Josiah Schmidt: How did you come to hold such a liberty-oriented philosophy?

Jake Towne: I was fairly apathetic towards politics until I discovered what life is like WITHOUT liberty.  Living in communist China where the liberty to speak and think freely, freedom of the press, the right to bear arms are all infringed or nonexistent really places what the special situation we have here in America in stark contrast.  Similar to the desperation of an ill person for their health, and the complacency to take one’s health for granted when healthy, often our liberties are taken for granted when instead they need to be cherished and fought for.

Josiah Schmidt: What is the first thing you will do as a US Congressman?

Jake Towne: I suppose it would be a tie between repealing the $1 trillion healthcare tax, removing all funding for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and submitting a bill to repeal the burdensome and unnecessary federal income tax.

http://towneforcongress.com/platform-issues/health-care
http://towneforcongress.com/platform-issues/afghanistan-war
http://towneforcongress.com/platform-issues/iraq-war
http://towneforcongress.com/platform-issues/income-tax

Josiah Schmidt: Which area of government spending would you most like to cut?

Jake Towne: The top area to cut is military expenditures, without a doubt.  We spend more on our military than the rest of the world combined while neglecting our own borders.  This has the highest impact to relieving a lot of the economic turmoil America now faces.  Military cuts would precede the slashing of unnecessary and redundant federal departments, like the $100 billion Department of Education, especially as we already have 50 state departments.

http://towneforcongress.com/economy/guns-or-health-care-1

Josiah Schmidt: What will you do on the issue of health care?

Jake Towne: The solutions to the healthcare situation are to remove state mandates that dictate 15-40% of premiums in Pennsylvania, destroy insurance portability barriers over state lines, pursue tort reform on the state level, enact federal tax relief legislation, remove state restrictions on licensing and seats in the medical school system, and provide a sound currency to stop price inflation.  Congress, via the HMO Act of 1973 and other acts, has created a government-sponsored insurance cartel that does not serve consumers best. 

Note that all these solutions call for LESS government intervention, not more.  Our health care is simply too important to be left to bureaucrats in Washington, plus it is unconstitutional.  Beyond establishing a framework of laws and acts for a competitive free market, running health care is simply not a duty of the federal government, and is best left to individuals and privatized insurance. While the federal government should do it’s best to deliver the promised benefits from the current form of socialized medicine, Medicare, expanding this system is out of the question.

http://towneforcongress.com/economy/health-care-solutions
http://towneforcongress.com/platform-issues/health-care
 
Josiah Schmidt: How would you like to see the War on Terror carried out more effectively?

Jake Towne: I would like to see the War on Terror brought to an end.  Addressing the threat of suicide terrorism by the use of occupational, conventional armies has been completely ineffective and extremely costly.  To defeat suicide terrorists one must capture the current generation and prevent the next generation from being created from collateral damage and blowback.  Our armies in Iraq and Afghanistan are creating more future terrorists and aggression against our country.  I favor the use of constitutional letters of marque and reprisal to address the threat by small bands by granting special warrants and bounties for marked terrorists to be brought to justice.  This would be extremely cost-effective – or we can choose to let the “War on Terror” grind on for another 9 years — what we are doing is not working.

http://towneforcongress.com/platform-issues/afghanistan-war
http://towneforcongress.com/platform-issues/iraq-war
 
Josiah Schmidt: Anything else you’d like to say to our readers?

Jake Towne: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once said “None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.”  The time to fight for freedom is now as more and more Americans are waking up to the sad truth that the federal government is out of control.

A tyrannical state is quickly developing in America, one of the few rare places in the history of the planet where “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” was not an unattainable dream but instead a mission statement.  Support liberty-minded candidates or run for office yourself – it is the only way the “stagnant quo” will ever change.

Josiah Schmidt: Where can people go to find out more about you and contribute to your campaign?

Please visit http://towneforcongress.com

My campaign is also on YouTube and Facebook
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jake-Towne/229199005592?ref=ts
http://www.youtube.com/user/TowneForCongress

Articles

Important Voices: JohnsonForAmerica.com interviews Walter Block, author of Defending the Undefendable

In Economy,Health care,Important Voices,Interviews on April 12, 2010 by Josiah Schmidt

This is interview #27 in JohnsonForAmerica.com’s “Important Voices” series, where we talk with key figures, such as elected officials, candidates, authors, commentators, and policy experts, about the issues of the day.  A new interview is released every Monday and every Thursday, so check back often!

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Our guest for today’s Important Voices interview is Walter Block.  Walter earned his PhD in Economics at Columbia University. He is an author, editor, and co-editor of many books, including Defending the UndefendableDr. Block has written more than 500 articles for various non-refereed journals, magazines and newspapers, and is a contributor to several economic journals.  He is currently a professor and chair of economics, college of business administration, at Loyola University.

Josiah Schmidt: How did you come to hold such a liberty-oriented philosophy?

Walter Block: Born in 1941 in Brooklyn, I was brought up amongst Jewish liberals (almost a redundancy) and naturally fell into this mode of thinking. Everyone around me could hardly be wrong, especially to a teenager who had never read, nor even heard about, any alternative philosophy. I went to grade school, high school and then college, always pretty secure in these beliefs. In 1963, when I was a senior at Brooklyn College, Ayn Rand came there to give a lecture. I attended, along with about 3,000 of my fellow mainly leftish students, in order to boo and hiss her, since she was evil incarnate. Afterward, the president of the group that had invited her to campus announced there was to be a luncheon in her honor, and anyone was welcome to take part, whether or not they agreed with her ideas. Not having had enough booing and hissing at Ayn in her formal lecture, I decided to avail myself of this opportunity to further express my displeasure with her and her views.  When I arrived at the luncheon, I found that the group was sitting in “pecking order”: Ayn Rand at the head of the table, Nathaniel Branden and Leonard Peikoff, first along the two sides of the table, and the lesser lights ranged alongside. I was of course relegated to the foot of this august assembly, whereupon I turned to my neighbor, a neophyte as it turned out, and tried to argue the socialist side of a debate against capitalism. He replied that he really wasn’t very knowledgeable about this issue, but that the people located at the other end of the table certainly were. At this point I betook myself there, stuck my head between Ayn’s and Nathan’s, and announced that there was a socialist here who wanted to debate someone on economic issues pertaining to capitalism. (I was a bit of a chutzpanick in those days). They politely asked, Who was this socialist, and I replied that it was me.  Nathan very graciously offered to come to the other end of the table with me for this purpose, but he imposed two preconditions: first, I would be honor bound not to allow this conversation to lapse with this one meeting, but would continue with it until we had achieved a resolution: either he would convince me of the error of my ways, or I would convince him of his. Second, I would read two books he would later recommend to me (Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand and Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt). I agreed, and we spoke for an hour or so upon that occasion, followed up four or five times more for a similar duration at his apartment, where some of the other Randians took part, including Ayn, Leonard Piekoff, Barbara Branden and Alan Greenspan.  At the end of this process I was converted to libertarianism. I devoured both books and became a strong adherent of what I now know as the limited government libertarian position or minarchism. I began attending Nathaniel Branden Institute (NBI) courses first at various hotels, and then in the basement of the Empire State Building.

I was a philosophy major, but when I graduated, I couldn’t decide whether a master’s degree in economics or philosophy would better enable me to learn more about, and eventually be able to professionally contribute to, my new love and passion. Not knowing which was better, I pursued both: a masters degree in philosophy at Brooklyn College, and a masters in economics at City College of New York. I would take 5 courses each semester, sometimes 3/2 favoring the one, sometimes the other. Finally, just when I was on the verge of almost completing both courses of study, I decided upon economics, and applied to and was accepted by the PhD program at Columbia University. (As a philosophy major undergraduate, I had had only two economics courses; my part time graduate study in economics, I think, was the equivalent of an undergraduate major in the dismal science).  During this time I continued to attend NBI courses, but was quickly becoming disaffected. The economics and political philosophy (laissez faire capitalism) was good, but there was all too much insisting upon the fact that “A was A” and that Brahms was better than Mozart. I wasn’t much interested in objectivist metaphysics, epistemology, aesthetics or culture. Then, too, I had noticed a certain robotic adherence to the hierarchy. Hardly anyone would vouchsafe an opinion in an uncharted area without first checking up the line in the pecking order. The term “randroid” became a reality for me. I continued to attend NBI, since they were still the only people in town known to me to favor free enterprise, but less frequently and with less enthusiasm.  My first year as a graduate student at Columbia University was a disaster. They kept us so busy with work that it wasn’t until late in the spring that I realized that I hated economics and was bored by it. What was taught there under that rubric had very little connection to the content of Economics in One Lesson. Most of it consisted of statistics, mathematical economics, econometrics and matrix algebra. I stuck it out since I had a student deferment from the Vietnam war, and neoclassical economics, as boring and stultifying as it was, seemed far better than that alternative. One bright spot in my first year was Professor Gary Becker. His insistence on applying economics to all sorts of weird things it had not been applied to before (family, marriage, crime, discrimination, etc.) seemed like a breath of fresh air. However, while he had a reputation as a free enterpriser, I was disappointed at the level of his moderation. I remember once arguing with him that the minimum wage should be abolished. His view, in contrast, was that it should be frozen in place, and then inflation would dissipate the real value of it. When I replied that inflation, too, was immoral, and that as long as the minimum wage in real terms was greater than zero it would create forced unemployment for all those with marginal revenue product below that level, and that was illicit, he looked at me, appalled, at the extremist I was already becoming.  In my second year of graduate school Larry Moss entered Columbia University as a first year graduate student. He immediately saw an affinity between what he and I were saying in class. He offered to introduce me to one Murray Rothbard, but I declined. For one thing, I was far too busy. They were still piling work on us to an incredible degree. For another, Larry made Murray sound like some sort of weirdo, at least to my ears as they were then. Imagine: government not needed at all! Why … that would be anarchy. Preposterous.

Josiah Schmidt: What is one of your greatest memories of the legendary Murray Rothbard?

Walter Block: My greatest memory of Murray is laughing. Laughing so hard that my stomach hurt. It was not for nothing that even Bill Buckley, no friend of Murray’s, characterized Murray in this way. Laughing, laughing, laughing all the time. I never had so much fun as when I was in Murray’s company.

Josiah Schmidt: You are well-known for your book, Defending the Undefendable, in which you explain and justify many looked-down-upon or “black market” professions from the perspective of the free market.  But one market participant you did not cover was the insurance provider who denies coverage.  Can even he be defended?

Walter Block: Yes, they can be. Insurance only applies to examples where we know a lot about the behavior of large groups, but little about individuals. For example, mortality tables. But, we don’t know who will win the next Super Bowl. That is a non insurable event, because it is a unique event.  And what about insuring people with a prior history of illness?  Insurance companies would insure such people, but will have to charge them high premiums, if they are not to go bankrupt. But the high premiums will lead to resentment, which will lead to government regulation. So, insurance companies will steer clear of such customers, in the present atmosphere. However, in the truly free society, insurance companies, fearing no such backlash, would likely ensure very sick people. Heck, they would even give fire insurance to a house that is already on fire, provided, only, that the premiums could be high enough.

Josiah Schmidt: Thanks very much for taking the time to answer these questions.

Articles

Important Voices: JohnsonForAmerica.com interviews Eric Larson, candidate for State Representative, Michigan-72

In Economy,GOP,Government spending,Health care,Important Voices,Interviews,Ron Paul,Taxes on April 8, 2010 by Josiah Schmidt

This is interview #26 in JohnsonForAmerica.com’s “Important Voices” series, where we talk with key figures, such as elected officials, candidates, authors, commentators, and policy experts, about the issues of the day.  A new interview is released every Monday and every Thursday, so check back often!

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Our guest for today’s Important Voices interview is Eric Larson.  Eric graduated from the University of Michigan Cum Laude with a Bachelor’s in Science and Engineering in nuclear engineering. He then attended the University of Iowa College of Medicine where he earned his M.D. and then anesthesiology specialty training certification. Eric and his wife Marcy settled in West Michigan to raise their family and practice medicine. Eric is an anesthesiologist who works throughout the Grand Rapids metro area. They live in Cascade with their three wonderful children. Eric is now running for State Representative in Michigan’s 72nd district.

Josiah Schmidt: What compelled you to enter elective politics?

Eric Larson: I entered elective politics out of a deep concern for my state’s economy and poor decisions made in state government. I am concerned that my children won’t have the same opportunities that I did and want to do what I can to turn our state around.

Josiah Schmidt: What issues are most important to Michiganders?

Eric Larson: The most important issues to Michiganders are obviously the economy and unemployment situation. Michigan is near the bottom of personal income growth, employment, and job/business creation nationwide. Many of these problems were at least facilitated in part by bad state government policies and these need to be corrected.

Josiah Schmidt: What do you offer that your opponents do not?’

Eric Larson: I believe that I am the best qualified candidate for the state house of representatives because I have proven a commitment to individual liberty. Also, as a physician I have specialized knowledge in health care issues that will be useful in dealing with the state budget which is dominated by health care costs.

Josiah Schmidt: How did you come to hold such a liberty-oriented philosophy?

Eric Larson: I suppose my liberty positions evolved over time. It began probably with Atlas Shrugged and Ayn Rand. I then read more from liberty/freedom authors like Hayek, von Mises, and the writings in Reason magazine. I’ve been influenced by people like Stossel and Napolitano and then contemporary politicians like Jefferson, Ron Paul and Czech president Klaus.

Josiah Schmidt: What is the first thing you will do as a State Representative?

Eric Larson: As state representative my first goal is to reverse a lot of the wrong-headed economic policies enacted by the state government. Elimination of targeted tax cuts through the MEDC/MEGA (which is just another derivation of command and control economic policy). Implementation of a right-to-work state so that workers are not compelled to join a union to work. Improve government transparency by forcing all units of government to ‘open the books’ and keep my votes online and interactive with my constituents.

Josiah Schmidt: Which area of government spending would you most like to cut?

Eric Larson: I am most interested in addressing the out of control spending for state workers. They are our employees yet while we continue to take pay cuts they receive pay increases and get benefits outside of what is attainable in the private sector. We must get this pay in line before we create a dangerous situation with two classes of citizens: government workers and the taxpayers.

Josiah Schmidt: What will you do to help bring jobs and businesses back to Michigan?

Eric Larson: Basically, we need to create incentives to organically grow jobs by improving the labor market by making Michigan a right-to-work state and decrease business taxes (cut the MBT and property taxes). Also, ending the MEDC/MEGA and bad programs like the film incentive subsidy.

Josiah Schmidt: How should the state of Michigan respond to the passage of Obamacare?

Eric Larson: The state of Michigan should respond by passing HCR Z which prevents any Michigan citizen from being compelled to purchase health insurance. The rest will rely on education at the state level where we need to inform people of the very dangerous implications of the bill. If the people of Michigan resist the bill either in implementing it or participating in it they will effectively negate its effect.

Josiah Schmidt: Anything else you’d like to say to our readers?

Eric Larson: I would like to extend my thanks to you to give me this opportunity to give your readers a glimpse into my campaign. Our district already has a great liberty minded representative, Justin Amash, who has served as an inspiration to me in what can be accomplished as a principled person in Lansing. He’s leaving office to run for Congress and I hope to follow the precendence that he has set with transparency and standing true to the message of individual liberty.

Josiah Schmidt: Where can people go to find out more about you and contribute to your campaign?

Eric Larson: People can visit my website at www.ericlarson2010.com and sign up for email alerts or volunteer (even if they are out of state we could use their help on the phones around the primary in late July). You can also donate to the campaign there online or get the address for checks. I’m on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Eric-Larson/237929759141 or on twitter at http://twitter.com/EricLLarson.

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