Article & Photo By: Ryan Whitaker
Gary Johnson is a free thinking politician, someone with ideals and views based on common sense rather than party lines, and a true believer and defender of the constitution and our rights.Â Â He served two successful terms as governor of New Mexico, changing the stateâ€™s government forever and showing that even without previous political experienceÂ you can run a â€œgoodâ€ government without excessive spending, backroom politics, and the corporate kickbacks we all know. In this day and age, we need more politicians like him, who are not afraid of speaking out against the wrongs of our government, whileÂ creating reform and true change.
He is currently spreading the word throughout the country with the â€˜Our America Initiativeâ€™.Â Its mission is to broaden public policy, debate current topics of concern, and to enlighten andÂ educate the public about the true stateÂ of our civil liberties, the benefits of free enterprise, and government reform, while increasing the publicâ€™s involvement on the issues that need to be addressed during these times.Â He claims to be a republican, but I see him as a true constitutionalist and a libertarian.
As governor of New Mexico, he vetoed more than 750 spending bills and madeÂ 1000â€™s of line item vetoes.Â Rather than increasing taxes, he put what he had to good use.Â Cutting costs and returning to the religion of the pocketbook is what Gary can do for our failing economy because more spending just doesnâ€™t make sense. How can we fix these problems of over indulgence and consumerism in our society?
AÂ good start would be to legalize marijuana and cut the 42 billion dollars we spend every year on hemp eradication and apply it to moreÂ important things like job creation.Â With the economic situation we are in today, this seems like one of the smartest things we can do and Gary Johnson is the man for the job.Â He believes that 90% of the drug problem is due to prohibition and is not use related.Â Half of what we spend on law enforcement, courts, and prisons is marijuana related, andÂ every year 1.8 million people are arrested, which is the population of New Mexico.Â What are we getting for this war on drugs you ask?Â Well, nothing but more drug trafficking and violence at our borders and within the country.Â Although Gary Johnson would legalize marijuana, he says, â€œIt will never be legal for children to smoke pot or legal for you to smoke pot and enter a vehicle to harm someone.â€ Now letâ€™s take a look at the statistics and why marijuana is not a threat to society.Â 435,000 AmericansÂ per year die from tobacco, 365,000 a year die from obesity, 85,000 die from alcohol, and 17,000 die from illicit drug overdoses.Â Can you guess how many people die a year from marijuana?Â None! A big fat 0!
TheÂ DEA spends 42 billion dollars a year to eradicate hemp.Â Most people donâ€™t know that hemp was widely used in early American history.Â The founding fathers grew it because it was the most profitable crop next to tobacco.Â It could be used to make fabric, paper, rope, and many other necessary things we use every day, and it was even used as a currency and to make our first American flags.Â The early drafts of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were written on hemp.Â The founding fathers and early Americans saw the greatness of what hemp could do for our society, but the prohibition of hemp and marijuana was pushed by racial scare tactics and the paper industryâ€™s money.Â Hemp can produce paper, in less time, with less resources, less money, with 1/5 the environmental impact.Â It is also a good source of amino acids and fatty acids, which are essential to maintain a healthy human life.Â It provides these things in an easily digestible form.Â Why arenâ€™t we using this plant to our advantage rather than burning it at site as if it were the plague.Â In our current economic situation, legalizing hemp would not only create jobs, butÂ improveÂ health and reduce the nationâ€™s debt.
Gary JohnsonÂ plans to bringÂ jobs back to America.Â He would lower the taxes on corporations to allow them to flourish because now the taxes are at least twice as high as in other countries and this is encouraging entrepreneurs to build their businesses outside of America.Â Lowering the taxes on corporations would motivate them to build in America, creating more jobs.Â It is not our governmentâ€™s roleÂ to create jobs, but what the government can do is create a climate of certainty.Â Gary says, â€œWeâ€™re currently borrowing 43 cents out of every dollar,Â letâ€™s cutÂ government spending by 43% to reduce the enormous deficit we have created.â€Â Spending is going up and so are taxes.Â If we were to slash government spending in half, along with providing the best product and service, we would be in a better boat than we are now. We need to rebuild the dollar instead of continually destroying it with inflation from stimulus packages and military spending.
As of 2008, the national debt was nine trillion dollars, and it has been steadily rising since then.
I recently interviewed Gary Johnson and touched upon all of the major issues surrounding our economy.
How will you lower the deficit that is well over nine trillion dollars?
Gary: The more important number at this time is the unfunded entitlement liability, the liability that we all have on a short term basis, which now exceeds 100 trillion dollars.Â So park the notion of paying back the debt, balancing revenues and expenditures, and actually going toward this 100 trillion dollar liability.Â Specifically regarding the big four, I believe social security needs a reform, where it is a viable option for us in the future.Â And if we donâ€™t raise the age of retirement and eligibility, then the bankruptcy of our country will be more prevalent than ever. Medicare was adopted in the mid-sixties and was estimated to cost 10 billion, then 100 billion in 1980, and today it is at 500 billion.Â It hasnâ€™t even begun to see the ultimate cost, when the baby boomers are going to retire.
How will we pay for the baby boomerâ€™s social security and benefits?
Gary: Right now, there is no chance we can pay for it other than to devalue the dollar even further than it is going to be.Â This issue must be addressed now.Â We need to put together some sort of plan or way to reduce the entitlement benefits of Medicaid.Â 25 cents out of every Medicaid dollar that has been spent is breaking the states banks and has broken banks in general.Â It has also broken the federal bank because it is printing money to cover these obligations.Â I believe that the states should independently create solutions.Â They should be able to innovate and create more efficient solutions and better practices for medical delivery and care for the poor, students, and families who canâ€™t afford healthcare.Â This is purely a suggestion to stunt the growth in Medicaid.Â I was opposed to any military involvement in Iraq because I felt we had theÂ surveillance and technology to determine that they didnâ€™t have weapons of mass destruction.Â We could have dealt with this situation the same way instead of being pulled into a civil war with no end.Â We are borrowing 43 cents out of every dollar to build roads, schools, and bridges in Iraq and Afghanistan.Â I think the notion of nation building and the role of our military should be ceased.Â We will be no good to anyone if we continue to dig ourselves into a hole.
How will you turn this 800 billion dollar military spending around?
Gary: We are living under treaties signed years ago; we need to renegotiate our security treaties to fit our current social and economic situation.
How will we increase exports and make jobs in America?
Gary: I believe America has always been at the forefront of innovation, which is being lost.Â It has always been the place to innovate, a place to do business because business has kept more profits here, but this is changing.Â What can the government do?Â The government can create certainty by lowering taxes and having a very â€œlow taxâ€ policy. Taxing corporations is truly a double tax.Â They pay a tax upfront for profits and then when you or anyone gets their paycheck you pay a tax as well.Â The taxes on business are encouraging the industries to leave the country.
Green technology is becoming increasingly popular, but not exactly practical, how do you feel about the green movement?
Gary: I feel like we have made too large of an investment in green technology.Â Too much money has been spent, whether you take solar, wind, or hydrogen, they get 100% better every 5 years or so, thatâ€™s the fact.Â If this happens, then we can make it a more viable option, but at this point in time it only accounts for 15% of our energy needs.Â Coal powered plants are currently used for 50% of our energy and they arenâ€™t being built because they are â€œdirty.â€Â We need to improve our coal technology, but we have to have it.Â If we allow offshore oil drilling to happen in the safest environmental way possible and pursued a policy of â€œletâ€™s find as much oil as we canâ€ in 15 years, we could possibly supply 50% of the U.S. with its electrical needs, but we are moving away from that.Â In regards to nuclear, all licenses are expiring and we are not building new plants.Â We have to or else we are looking at significant brown outs.Â Instead of talking about the millions of jobs being created in the green area, letâ€™s talk about the tens of millions of jobs being created in the so called â€œbrown space.â€Â These jobs need to be filled to fulfill our energy needs moving forward.Â All of these energy sources need to be improved and used in a forward motion because the green technology alone will not suffice us anytime soon.Â It just isnâ€™t going to happen.
Letâ€™s talk about immigration, should we completely close our borders, or continue to regulate with poor results?
Gary: As a border state governor, I feel as if I have a good understanding about this, like another border state governor who really had it right, George Bush.Â I feel like legal immigration is a great thing and illegal immigration is a bad thing.Â We can do a couple of things that would eliminate 75% of the problems we have at the border today.Â We can make it easy for an immigrant to get a work visa with a good background check, and then issue them a social security card, make them pay income taxes, social security, Medicare and everything that everyone else would pay.Â I feel like legalizing marijuana would lessen border violence and illegal immigration significantly.Â My understanding of Mexican drug cartels moving over the border is 75% marijuana related.Â Legalize marijuana and makeÂ work visas easily attainable, and with regards to illegals currently in the U.S., we need to set up a grace period for them to attain work visas.Â I feel as if putting the National Guard arm and arm across the border would be a lot of money spent that would have no benefit.
Whatâ€™s your strategy on reducing drug use in America, more rehabilitation instead of incarceration?
Gary: Rehabilitation doesnâ€™t work at all.Â In 100 out of 100 cases I would like to offer an individual rehabilitation rather than prison, but I donâ€™t really think it works at all.Â Those that face that decision, of course, always choose rehabilitation.Â It is a forced model of rehabilitation, it doesnâ€™t work.Â How do we truly lower drug use?Â Maybe completely decriminalize all drugs use like Portugal and the Netherlands.Â This approach shows that drug use has dropped in all categories, very counter intuitive, but it is the truth.
Do you think we could truly decriminalize the use of all drugs?
Gary: Yes, it is possible and I feel it would drop overall drug use dramatically because we see itÂ working in other countries such as Holland and Portugal.
What do you think about the three strike rule, what about people with marijuana felonies?
Gary: I think itâ€™s truly insane on the part of the government.Â We are affecting millions of people with this kind of legislation.Â In Iowa, a father was sentenced to 25 years in prison for possession of 1 gram of marijuana with intent to distribute to his children.Â He only served one year, but this is outrageous.Â WeÂ need to stop this kind of poor enforcement.
If you were to run for an electoral office in 2012 would you give pardons to Marc Emery and people serving time for marijuana crime?
Gary: Yes, and we would like to think that if rational drug policy was implemented then we could see some change.Â Â I feel like Californiaâ€™s Prop. 19 will cause a domino effect if it passes.Â Once people see that it can work, it will create a wave of changes in our drug enforcement system. Rational drug policy is what we need.Â Even if Prop. 19 fails, we are at the point where it will come again and pass next year if it doesnâ€™t this year.
Do you believe in the overall socializing of healthcare, and how will we get the care into the hands of the people?
Gary: I donâ€™t believe in socializing medicine.Â If the government could make an environment right for the free market to take off, then more government involvement is not what we need.Â We also need a pay as you go model rather than an insurance model.Â Itâ€™s all about the free market system; I would like to shop for my surgeries and doctors.Â Iâ€™m asking for more innovation and lower prices.
Should students, families, and elderly people be expecting the government to supply and provide them with adequate healthcare?
Gary: One of the reasons Iâ€™m a republican and not a libertarian is because Iâ€™d like to think that we would have compassion and a system to take care of people that are down on their luck.Â We shouldnâ€™t be immune to reducing costs because we need to have a heart for people in situations of that sort.Â There is a way to provide for everyone.
How do you fell about Prop. 8 and same sex marriage?
Gary: Iâ€™m a firm believer in gay unions, governments should stick to the union business, and churches should stay in the marriage business.
How do you feel about the Patriot and Privacy Acts?
Gary: I was not in congress when the Patriot Act came down, but I would like to think I would have voted against it.Â I was a bit uniformed on the Patriot Act; I wish I would have been though because I would have done what I could to lessen its impacts.
What do you think about large class sizes and education?Â Should parents be turning to private/charter schools for the childrenâ€™s education?
Gary: I was more outspoken than any other governor on school choice; I believe the only way to reform education is to bring competition to public schools.Â I proposed that all children should be given a school voucher.Â Hereâ€™s how this would improve education, currently the federal department of education gives 11 cents out of every dollar, which comes with about 16 cents of strings attached.Â Itâ€™s truly a negative for states to accept money in regards to education.Â Return education to the states and let the government keep their money because it would allow the states to innovate.Â I believe this would create so much innovation in a competitive environment for the better of education.
Gary Johnson is a possible candidate for the 2012 elections, but canâ€™t comment until January because he is spreading the word through a nonprofit known as the 501(c) (4).Â I have a pretty good feeling he might be running, but I guess you canâ€™t really believe rumors or your own wishful thinking.Â He has good ideals and a handful of strategies to improve our lives and the countryâ€™s budget.Â At least if he does, you will have the inside scoop on most of his ideas and some insight on the realm of modern politics and the issues that need to be addressed.Â Keep a lookout as Gary Johnson continues to burn rubber about the country spreading the truths he so strongly believes in.