What would be your top three priorities, if elected?
TLDR: I would focus on Tax Reform, Education Reform, and Decriminalization of Controlled Substances.
Taxes are out-of-control.
Our education system is attempting to bolt-on technology to hundred-year-old methods, rather than using the technology to enable education from the start.
Criminalization of controlled substances results in much wasted effort.
What areas of public policy are you personally passionate about?
Taxes. I imagine that if people could have afforded their housing, this COVID mess wouldn’t have affected so many people.
Let me explain. I tend to support the taxation views of Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, and other so-called classical liberals. Don’t get me wrong – I also recognize different areas may have different needs. However, I think too often we focus on the “paying of a fair share”, without realizing that it’s not nice to make people pay for things they don’t want. Examples include some of the fancy options like swimming parks and multi-million dollar sports complexes being built by school districts across the state. I would generally support legislation allowing individuals to opt-out of funding of all but the most essential government responsibilities. I believe this would allow people who like big sports complexes to have their say, and those who would rather spend that money (or not) elsewhere have their say.
I’d also favor a shift from taxes on buildings and improvements to just the land itself since many studies demonstrate this simple change results in housing price stability and increased affordability for most everyone in an area.
Who do you look up to? Whose example would you like to follow, and why?
Jesus, but I also believe most everyone tends to make Jesus into their own image, so I like to focus on the words attributed to the master in the “red letters” of the Bible. I like the notion of tolerance put into place by William Penn, and other political greats including Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, Bastiant, and Locke. I regret that they were unable to unchain slavery during their time. I also grew up reading the writings and ambitions of Carl Sagan, Nikola Tesla, and Thomas Edison. I love the ancients like Aristotle, Socrates, Pythagoras, at least in as much as we can learn from what little remains of their wisdom. My family descends from farmers so I also appreciate the work of George Washington Carver. The man was a saint. Far too few know of many of the other things he accomplished, besides being known for peanut butter.
Is there a book, essay, film, or something else you would recommend to someone who wants to understand your political philosophy?
Probably Agrarian Justice by Thomas Paine. He was no doubt a fire iron in his day and it took tremendous courage to stand up against slavery in that time period.
What characteristics or principles are most important for an elected official?
While I have my own biases, I believe the goal is to represent the principles of the body one has been elected to serve. Note that I did not say interests. Interests and principles are two different things. One principle might concern how we decide what is considered a crime. In my view, all crimes essentially distill down to theft of some sort. Murder is theft of life, slander/libel might be theft of reputation, and so on.
So, for example, I believe the body that I’d represent could be well served by decriminalizing drug-related offenses, but this is driven by an underlying principle. I think that the real issue – the principle concerns, are either: 1.) misrepresenting a substance as beneficial, or 2.) making such substances available to children. Concerning those two:
1.) Misrepresenting a substance falls under fraud, which we already have so many laws for, and I as I said earlier, is just another type of theft.
2.) Poisoning children is already criminal! I would ask: what happens if someone intentionally feeds someone rat poison (credit to Larry Sharp for this idea)? I think the same type laws could apply for various controlled substances.
I think we really need to simplify many of our laws. There is no way one person can keep up with them all, so how can anyone be expected to follow them? Our criminal laws could be reduced to a simple table of different types of thefts, fees, and exceptions. Of course, the ultimate exception handler is still the People via the jury process.
What qualities do you possess that you believe would make you a successful officeholder?
My ability to see the big picture, my principle of reconciling seemingly opposing principles, and my extensive experience in the corporate governance arena. I have also observed how legislative efforts turn and enable the very thing they were trying to stop. I also learned through these many years, that big changes don’t really happen overnight as it is often imagined. Instead there is a build-up based on small sustained efforts until a break-through arises. So my goal is to apply the same concepts to freeing people from excessive intervention in their lives by people living hundreds of miles from them. It is the same thing that I’m used to working with, just a different form.
What do you believe are the core responsibilities for someone elected to this office?
We all have bias, but I believe the job is to represent the principles of the body one has been elected to serve.
What is the first historical event that happened in your lifetime that you remember? How old were you at the time?
The election of 1984.
What was your very first job? How long did you have it?
I have worked for nearly as long as I can remember. I was maybe 6 or 7 when I started working in the fields and eventually I worked at the farmer’s markets selling produce. One thing I learned that astonished me was about labels. At one point we ran out of spearmint and it was selling much faster than peppermint. I explained this to one of the more senior sales guys. He looked at me and told me to just put the spearmint label on the peppermint. He explained that for most people, if it was written in print, it was as good as the Bible. It shocked me and I have never forgotten it.
If you could be any fictional character, who would you want to be?
It would be interesting to be any one of the characters in Jules Verne’s writings.
What is your favorite thing in your home or apartment? Why?
Probably my black boots that I have worn for several years now. I bought them used.
What was the last song that got stuck in your head?
I once had Breakdown, by Tom Petty, stuck in my head for 8-9 months.
What is something that has been a struggle in your life?
I have long sought to live out the Truth as I understood it in my life, yet the more I learn, the more I realize how little I know. It is quite humbling as sometimes I just want all the answers, now!
Do you believe that it’s beneficial for state legislators to have previous experience in government or politics?
It can be helpful, but as with everything, it can also be a hindrance. I would present an outsider’s view.
What do you perceive to be your state’s greatest challenges over the next decade?
If it were up to me, I’d be in favor of removing all taxes on improvements and labor. The basic idea is not taking something someone else labored to create. I think that the natural resources are a bit different though, since no one really made those. I also expect that there is probably some reasonable limit to where people won’t get taxed on just having a place to live, similar to how we don’t tax basic food, but do tax prepared food. These ideas are not new – Locke, Jefferson, Paine, and others since time immemorial have discussed. Hamilton was a proponent of the consumption tax, but I believe many of the worst ideas in our federal Government came from Hamilton, so I’d rather not emulate those ideas.
What do you believe is the ideal relationship between the governor and the state legislature?
We have a balance of power for a reason. I suspect the ideal place for the governor and the legislature is healthy conflict.
Do you believe it’s beneficial to build relationships with other legislators? Please explain your answer.
Sure, as long as you don’t trade favors with each other where the People lose and the politicians win.
What process do you favor for redistricting?
This is a difficult item to solve given present system constraints. The process has evolved to where politicians pick the voters instead of the other way around and I don’t see an easy way out of that. But, if we had opportunity, I think we could probably reform the system to where the voters pick their representation. This would be a system where people elect a local captain or leader for a group of about 50 to 100 people. This leader would be approachable by the group – a phone call away. The members could go voice their concerns, etc. and have the ability to opt-out or choose another ‘team’ (other representation). I think this would have to be done through cyberspace, where people would choose virtual groups. Someone figured how to this for Pokemon of all things. In the past, this concept was not possible, but I think technology has come far enough to at least begin the conversation and we can start retiring outdated and corruption encouraging methods.
If you are not a current legislator, are there certain committees that you would want to be a part of?
Committees are a method of trading political favors under the guise of getting something done. It seems to be a double edged sword. If I had to choose a committee, it would probably be one responsible for retiring legacy legislation or involved in virtualizing government.
Is there a particular legislator, past or present, whom you want to model yourself after?
I find very few worthy of emulation. However, in the modern era, I am probably most aligned with Thomas Massie or Rand Paul in terms of actually elected people.
Are you interested in running for a different political office (for example, the U.S. Congress or governor) in the future?
Both sitting legislators and candidates for office hear many personal stories from the residents of their district. Is there a story that you’ve heard that you found particularly touching, memorable, or impactful?
Mainly I hear about the bureaucratic shenanigans in the school system, property taxes, and folks getting into trouble with the law over what seems like small issues to me.
What’s with Grizzle?
One day my friends started calling me that due to my beard, I think. As best I recall, somehow I became associated with a character on a television program called Grizzly Adams. It was one of my favorite shows when I was a kid, and people thought I looked like him to some degree I guess. In any case, there was apparently a real Grizzly Adams who has a fascinating life story.