May 17, 2012

My League of Young Voter's Candidate Questionnaire

Are you a clean election candidate? Yes
*If not, why? Exactly.

If you are an incumbent, how did you vote on the re-qualifying option to replace matching funds? If you are a new candidate, how would you have voted? 

I would have voted in favor.  I would like to see our clean elections system much much stronger than it currently is.  Truly, so long as we allow “traditionally” funded campaigns, aka corrupt campaigns, we will never actually have clean elections.  Clean elections should be mandatory.  Public funds for Public Office.
Stepping stones on the way there are measures such as the re-qualifying option, but ultimately, we need to get money out of politics, and let ideas compete on a level playing field in the court of public opinion.

Would you vote for a non-binding resolution that expresses opposition to the Citizen United Supreme Court decision?  

OMFG are you kidding?  ABSOLUTELY, RESOLUTELY, YES.  I would vote for a BINDING resolution that expresses opposition to the Citizens United Supreme Court decision.  I would vote for a law that banned corporate person-hood in the state of Maine, and just let the Federal Government figure out what to do with that.  Yes, I would love to see that bill tied up in the federal court system, and generating public dialogue, and I hope legislators in a dozen other states follow suit.  I would also like to see corporations, since they are legally currently people, freed from ownership under the 13th amendment which bans slavery.  We need to tackle this issue from every angle possible.  As a person spent 3 months at Occupy Wall Street and Occupy DC, this is an issue very near and dear to my heart.

If there were a constitutional amendment designed to nullify the effects of the decision, would you vote for it?

Yes.  For further information on where I stand, here is a video I made on this subject back in 2009:

Who are your top three donors?

A. Marnie Glickman $99 (She and I served together on the Green Party of the United States Platform Committee, and I interned at, a nonprofit that she ran.)
B. David Palmer $100 (we worked together on Pat LaMarche's campaign for Governor)
C. Michael Briggs $75 (fan of the Punk Patriot)

What level of campaign finance disclosure do you think is necessary? 
All of it.  I realize from running now that this can be difficult to keep track of, but so what?  All in the service of transparency.  Transparency is one of the principles of solidarity at Occupy Wall Street.  Our government could learn quite a lot about good governance from the Anarchists down in NYC.

Do you believe it's acceptable for candidates to accept money from PACs?

Absolutely not.  I also think it's unethical and immoral for PACs to spend money on behalf of candidates.  If I had my druthers, PACs, SuperPACs, etc would not exist.    

What industries do you see bringing jobs to the state in the coming years? 

Well, to remain within the narrowness of this question: Ecotourism, Technology, Arts, Green Energy and Weatherization, and Public Transportation.  To step outside of the narrowness of this question for a second, let's look at the industries that we've lost.  
We've lost jobs in the paper industry to Canada.  Sure, Irving still cuts down our trees, but they export them to Canada to be processed.  Why?  Because of the cost of insuring their workers.  In Canada, they have a Universal Single Payer healthcare system, and the cost of insurance isn't a factor in the cost of labor.  We've lost jobs in textiles.  Maine used to be one of the top producers of shoes in the world.  Those jobs have all left for China, Mexico, and other places with weak workplace protections, weak environmental protections, and low standards of living.  We could still have global trade based on principles of raising up worker's rights, civil rights, and environmental quality.  But we are prohibited from doing so.  This is because of our participation in the WTO, which supersedes state and even federal law, and dictates our trade policies.  I propose we create a WTO free zone in Maine.  Again, this would be tied up in the courts as the WTO and Federal Government prosecute, but in the meantime it would generate dialogue on a national level, and make it a household issue that people talk about.  People don't realize why all the jobs are gone.  Our economy is screwed up because a handful of corporate executives run  an organization that is effectively a meta-national world government made of corporations that completely undermines our national sovereignty in regards to trade policy.  That is why the jobs are all gone.  That must be addressed directly and confrontationally.

How can the state do a better job attracting and supporting these industries?

In regards to EcoTourism, we should keep our unspoiled wilderness unspoiled.  I am opposed to the Plum Creek Developments, something that Democrats and Republicans alike supported, and members of the Maine Democratic Party establishment, like Harold Pachios, pushed through.  If the Democrats prostituting our wilderness was bad, the recent talk from Paul LePage and others in the GOP about disbanding LURC, is ludicrous.  This new private east-west highway, which would help make it even easier to allow paper companies to export our resources to Canada, would also open up new areas to development and urbanization.  Which is terrible.  People don't go to Newark, New Jersey to go on vacation, or get away from it all.  They come to Maine.  We have wealthy folks “from-away” like Martha Stewart, George HW Bush, John Travolta, and many more, who live here for at least part of the year, precisely because it is largely unspoiled and wild.   To “develop” Maine’s wilderness is to kill the goose that lays the golden egg year round, every year.  These aren't jobs we need to attract, these are jobs that are already here, and should be preserved.  The Great Outdoors is the fabric of Maine's identity as a state.
In regards to technology-- investing in the UMaine college system, and ensuring that the State-to-Tuition ratio is brought back to what it was in the 1970s (roughly 70%/30%), and creating grants and other incentives for people to go to school in the fields of science, engineering, computer science, etc, would ensure that we have a highly skilled, and intelligent workforce.  And of course clean energy is an emerging field in the technology sector which is going to require creative problem solving and highly skilled labor.
Without regard to the type of jobs that you are trying to bring to a state, the number one guaranteed way to attract jobs to your state is to invest in your citizens.  Every policy that Ayn Rand-worshiping regressives say kill jobs, actually CREATE jobs.  They are 180 degrees, dead wrong on this issue.  Ensure that you have strong environmental protection laws so that people want to live here, and when they do live here, they don't get poisoned by their air, water, and soil.
Both Apple and Microsoft were started in garages by college dropouts who were able to go to college thanks to government assistance with tuition.  Ensure that an affordable education is available so that your citizens are intelligent, skilled, and creative.  
Ensure that everybody has access to medical care.  As I mentioned before, because Canada has Single Payer Healthcare, we lose jobs to them, because the cost of labor is lower.  Rather than mandating businesses provide health insurance to their employees, let the government do that.  The Government does a better job insuring people anyways, as they are free of the burden of profit.  And yes, profit is a burden, rather than a positive motivator to provide excellent service.  Private Healthcare has a perverse incentive structure, where the worse the care they provide, the more money they make.  
How would we pay for all of this investment?  Taxing the rich.  Our current tax brackets are hilariously stupid.  Our top income bracket kicks in at $30,000/yr, which is $16,000 below the national median income.  We are taxing millionaires the same as we tax school teachers.  That's such an incredibly stupid financial policy, I cannot believe it has never been brought up as a bigger campaign issue.  We need to create more tax brackets that are increasingly progressive.  Our top tax bracket is only 8%.  Which is fine if you only make $30,000/yr.  But what if you make $75,000/yr?  I think that tier of income should be taxed at a  significantly higher rate.  We have people who live here who make more than $100,000 a year.  That bracket of income should be taxed at an even higher rate.   We need more tax brackets.  Because Maine is a unique and beautiful place, people who only live here part of the year, and declare some other state as their primary residence, should not be able to get away with cheating, just because they make enough to own more than one home.  Their income should be taxed as though they were full time residents.  Where are they going to go and get natural unspoiled beauty like here?  New Jersey?   I don't think so.

What proposal to create jobs would you bring to the table that offers a fresh approach?

See the above.  I think that's kind of fresh.

What has the Occupy movement accomplished so far? Name 3 accomplishments.

I'll name more than just three:
A. Changing the National Dialogue.  We are talked about positively now in the Corporate-Owned Media because we're so damned popular.  There is coverage on ABC of the upcoming General Strike on May 1st, the day of International Worker's Solidarity, and it's not derisive coverage, it's positive coverage.
B. Scaring the shit out of the Department of Homeland Security (I read a DHS docket that Anonmyous snagged as part of the Stratfor dump released to Wikileaks, and DHS has been paying VERY close attention to us). 
C. Delivered a kick in the teeth to the dominant paradigm of Reaganomics.  People are allowed to criticize capitalism openly now.  It's socially acceptable to say, “We need to Raise Taxes.”  
D. Given people permission that they thought that they needed, but never actually did, to be outspoken, to engage in direct action, to do crazy, amazing, beautiful things.
E. Radicalized a new generation of activists
F. “Class War” now has a positive connotation.
G. We created a church of dissent in the heart of the world's financial district that has persisted against all odds.
H. We have drawn attention to poor-people's issues, homelessness, joblessness, oppression of minorities, etc – issues which are usually lost in the national political dialogue as the DNC and GOP both pander to an ever shrinking middle class.

P.S. What is your tax rate or bracket? 
I don't make enough money to pay taxes.  I got everything I paid in back, as per usual.

Do you support the following workers’ rights policies? 

I have, as Cornell West says, “a deep-seated love of poor and working people.”  
*If no – why? <-You'd really have to be a dick not to.

A mandate for paid sick days? YES!

A living wage mandate? OMFG YES!

Worker's right to organize a union? YES!

P.S. What dollar amount do you think is a living wage? 

$15 currently.  The problem with naming a figure like this is that there are confounding factors like inflation.  A true living wage would index a minimum wage against the cost of living, which fluctuates, and can be region specific.  France indexes their minimum wage against the price of bread.  That's one way to do it.  I'm sure there are better ways as well, such as simply using census data.

Would you support legislation that enables municipalities to tax big box stores? 
HELLA yes.  Box stores are like bleach to thriving communities.  They sterilize them.  They kill jobs.  They kill community.  They kill culture.  They ought to pay for what they destroy.

How about a local option sales tax?  
I'm actually not familiar with this term.  If this means allowing a small local businesses to charge a sales tax at a lower rate than large franchises, then YES.

Do you support bonds as a means of funding Maine's infrastructure and other investments in the state's future? 
Yes.  I also support the creation of a State Bank, and using infrastructure created as collateral for loans.  This would effectively allow the state to create small controlled financial bubbles, and they can be collapsed in a controlled fashion, or simply erased.  This gets to the heart of what money actually is, and how banks operate --they can make up, out of thin air, 7 times the amount of money they actually have on hand.  This is how fractional reserve banking works.  Since money isn't really a thing, it's really nothing but the incentive for people to do things in “fossilized” form, we could create the money out of an infrastructure bank, rather than borrowing it, and then being charged interest on those loans.  This sounds crazy if you're not familiar with monetarism.  If you understand how our financial system actually works, it would seem even more crazy that we're actually kicking people off of Mainecare and into the streets for our perceived lack of something that is really nothing but a collective hallucination.

Maine has the second highest student loan debt in the country. What would you do to alleviate the problem of excessive student loan debt?
As a student who couldn't afford to finish my degree, and had to petition my department for a waiver in order to get any degree at all, this issue is near and dear to my heart (and wallet, as I've got over $20,000 of debt ).  
But, I believe I already went over this in my section on “how to attract jobs” so I don't want to rehash things too much.  Our UMaine system is effectively a private institution with a public name on it's stationary.  I support a Universal Education system, akin to what most civilized nations in Europe have.  I also support a jubilee for student debt.  If we don't control the collapse of this debt bubble, students like me who can't afford to pay their student loans are going to be the start next big financial collapse. 

Would you support increased funding for Maine's public university and community college system?
Provided that tuition costs are dramatically reduced as a result.  Education is a RIGHT.  Education in an INVESTMENT.  We should be glad to invest in the knowledge of one another.  I would favor universal college education.

Equal Rights & Courage of Convictions

Will you vote for marriage equality on the Maine ballot? 
I worked for No On One.  Yes.  Absolutely yes.  

Will you actively rather than passively support the initiative?  
Yes.  Absolutely yes.  It drives me up the wall that this is still an issue that we have to debate over.  I would take great pleasure in using logic and wit to decimate any arguments against marriage equality as well.  I take much pleasure in being a firebrand.

What's an example of an issue or policy on which you would not compromise despite constituent lack of support?
Everything I say I stand for now, I will stand for when I am elected, unless there is compelling factual evidence, or a sound logical case, that convinces me otherwise.  I will run on my platform, and If I am elected on my platform, I will serve on my platform.

Are you willing to be a one-term representative/senator because you chose not to compromise your principles? 
HAHAHA!  Yes.  Gladly.  I've got nothing to lose.  I don't want to go to Augusta for a job.  I want to go to Augusta to unfuck the world- legislatively speaking.  If I lose my seat for having integrity, then the system really truly is completely broken, and I will gladly go back to OWS and spend my time and energy there again.

Conversely, what's an example of an issue on which you would follow the lead of your constituents?
I served for Student Senate at USM, and people came to me with issues all the time that I'd never thought about.  The issues that aren't on my radar, if people bring them up, I will investigate them, and find out what I can do about them.

Do you believe that non-citizen immigrants living in Maine should have the same access to social services as American citizens?
I'll go one step further, and say that they should not only have the same access to social services as US citizens, but they should be allowed to vote in municipal elections.  They pay sales tax.  They pay property taxes, either directly or indirectly through their landlord.  They have kids who go to school.  They should have a say in how their tax dollars are spent, and how their kids are educated.

What is the single most destructive change that has occurred in Augusta in the past two years?
To say that there is just one is to ignore the fact that every single state in the USA is under a barrage of destructive legislation from groups like ALEC.  There is no single most destructive change.  We are in the middle of a tsunami of destructive change.

Do you feel the need to take a proactive stance against the anti-choice agenda?
Already did:

How would you effectively frame your argument to religious women?
“You want to reduce the number of Abortions.  I do too.  To ban abortion is not going to work.  It never did.  It never will.  To truly reduce the number of abortions, we have to look at the root causes of why women get abortions, and then deal with those.  Those root causes are poverty, lack of social mobility, lack of access to preventative healthcare, and the high cost of raising a child causing potential homelessness.  Abortion is inextricably linked to Social and Economic Justice.  If we have strong welfare, strong state assistance for new mothers, better access to preventative healthcare, the number of abortions will drop.  

An increasing number of candidates are invoking religion as part of their campaign. Do you believe this is acceptable and do you plan to invoke religion in your own campaign? 
My religion is nobody's business.  

Why or why not?  
It just shouldn't be relevant.  Governance should be based on facts, figures, logic, and evidence.  Policy is social science-- heavy emphasis on the science part.  Religion requires the denial of facts to uphold previously held belief in dogma.  That is a recipe for bad government.

What role should religion play in campaigns and in shaping public policy?  
None.  I believe, as Vaclav Havel said, “The measure for political progress should be a measure of the well-being of mankind.”

Living off the Land & Government Authority
What policies would you support that place more Maine-produced food on Maine tables?
Well, creating a WTO-free zone in Maine would help with that.  Our federal farm bill is totally messed up with it's priorities, and I would support a mirror-image farm bill that supports small farmers over large factory farms.  A tax on factory farmed meat that reflects the true cost to the environment and to the people who live near those farms, would help to drive the price of factory farmed meat up, and that tax levied could be used to subsidize small farmers, to bring their prices down.  I support the ability of people with EBT to use their card at Farmers Markets.  I think that is a such an obvious thing, especially when access to healthy food is such an issue for low income people.

Rank the top 5 energy sources that are the most viable options to combat man-made climate change, 1 being the best and 5 being the worst:

Nuclear 5 – Why? In the time it takes for nuclear waste to become benign, humans went from living in caves and eating their dead, to checking facebook on their iphone.
Wind power 1 (with the condition that micro-nodal power distribution is far better than giant pinwheel turbines)
Natural gas 5 Why?  Well for starters-- fracking. Second, methane IS a greenhouse gas- and burning it creates CO2.  Uh, hello? 
Solar power 1
Off shore drilling 5  We need another Deepwater Horizon like we need carcinogenic shrimp cocktails.
Tidal energy 1
Solar energy 1 I'm glad that solar is on here twice.

Other (please explain) 
We really need to follow Germany's example on this.  They have FIRST reduced their energy consumption by mandating criteria for energy saving standards.  Simple things, like motion detector lights in hallways, rather than running them all day long when nobody is in them.  SECOND, they created subsidies for solar power, which have been so successful that the price of electricity in Germany is collapsing right now.
We also need a micro-nodal smart grid, where we can create jobs by providing market incentives for building owners to install small scale solar and wind arrays.  To take the bite out of the payback time, we give grants to those who wish to make the transition, and allow them to sell the power back into the grid.  We tax the money they make on those sales.  This needs to be done via grants, rather than tax incentives, because tax incentives rely on people having the money to start with, and then waiting until they get their tax return to be reimbursed.  If we want to get serious about this, we need to get serious about this.  We have the potential to off ourselves as a species if we take half measures.

Do you support a mandate to promote the growth of these energy sources? 
Depends on what that mandate is, and what it is mandating.  I support a mandate on the purchase by government agencies of clean energy, mandating that their energy portfolio be made of 100% clean energy by a certain date.  If we had a state bank we could create zero-interest loans for that transition period, and shrink that time to near zero.  

How do you envision the future of Maine's north woods and the management of its unorganized territories? 

Leave them alone!  LURC was created to protect this gem that is the North Woods.  I have canoed the Allegash waterway.  There is nothing like sitting at a campsite, and hearing absolutely nothing.  No trucks.  No cars.  No airplanes.  Just the air moving through the trees and the occasional bird.  People who have never lived in places like Cleveland, Detroit, or New York, they don't understand how incredibly sacred and rare that is.  Maybe a new role of LURC should be to send people who want to urbanize the north woods to go live in Detroit for a year.

What should be the role of the Land Use Regulation Commission?
To preserve the North Woods.  That is what it was created for.  It's jurisdiction is 10.4 million acres of undeveloped land.  Let's keep it that way.  There are ways to create sustainable jobs for those living in rural areas without destroying the very biosphere that sustains us.

Maine spends more than $130 million each year on its prisons. The state's jails and prisons are overcrowded, and its jails place an enormous financial burden on county governments. How would you reform the Maine corrections system? 

First, I want to preface this by saying that I do not, and have not ever used recreational drugs.  And I don't plan to ever use drugs recreationally.  However, since more than half of all prisoners are convicted on non-violent drug related charges, we should just end the prohibition on Marijuana and other victimless crimes.  Simple.  Easy.  Effective.  

Do you support private prisons as a solution?  
Oh f**king hell no.  In scenarios like this, privatization makes things worse.  First, there is the burden of profit.  Second there is less accountability.  Third, you get into the issue of prison labor, where corporations are increasingly moving their labor force to.  Private prisons are bad for inmates, bad for Civil Liberties, bad for Maine, and bad for America.

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