Sunday, January 13, 2008

Green Party Congressional Candidate Questionnaire

Hi, Greens and Impeachment People:
The Green nominating convention is at 1 pm TODAY, Sunday, January 13,
at the Norwalk Public Library auditorium, 1 Belden Place, Norwalk.
Hope you will come. All currently registered Greens of the 4th
Congressional District (which is ALMOST the same as Fairfield County)
can vote.

The Connecticut Green website defines eligibility to vote more broadly
than most parties do:
1. Individual Membership (Modified by statewide vote in 2001):
Anyone registered to vote as a Green is a Green Party member.
In addition, anyone who can satisfy (and verify) at least 2 of the
following criteria will be considered a Green Party member:
1. have attended 2 meetings of the Green Party (either state meetings
or meetings of an officially recognized chapter) within the past 12
2. are on the state's official mailing list; and/or have submitted a
written (or email) request for membership or informational materials
from the Party;
3. have performed at least 2 volunteer activities with the Green Party
(or with a coalition partner) of the Green Party within the past 12

But Fairfield Green records show few people who qualify this year by 2
of those three means.

To assist the discussion, I have filled out this form originally made
up by the New Haven Greens:

Green Party Congressional Candidate Questionnaire

Economic Policies

1. What is your position on free trade?
The US industrialized while protecting itself. Now we demand free
trade, but we're hypocritical about it. Instead of using tariffs, we
force the devaluation of the currencies of poor countries by getting
them in debt, then demanding they repay in dollars. The effect is to
put entire countries on bargain-basement sales while we drain their
economies. Over time, there is as much cruelty in this as in warfare.
In India, for example, mostly US-built (largely Bechtel) dams have
made 45 million people homeless. This is a holocaust we don't even
think of.
Meanwhile we subsidize our agriculture while railing if anyone else does.
The IMF should certainly be abolished. Probably the WTO should be, and
perhaps the World Bank too. The Fed should be. All these institutions
are purely plutocratic and anti-democratic.

2. What can the federal government do to create jobs?
It can do what it did under Roosevelt. There are huge numbers of jobs
to be created under environmental auspices—renovating houses,
insulating them, creating solar, wind, and geothermal energy--and mass
transportation. To reduce global warming, we should use the same kinds
of bills that were used after World War II to give vets housing and
education: everyone should be able to buy private non-polluting energy
sources at cost, recoup the money by selling to the grid, and get
energy back from the grid when one's own energy source is not
productive. We should decentralize energy as much as possible so we
can shut down nuclear power and pollutant-emitting power plants.
We should enormously expand the Peace Corps and Vista, particularly so
that we can begin to learn about and ameliorate Third World and US
poverty. We are the most provincial empire that has ever existed, and
are in peril because of our ignorance and callousness.

3. What is your federal tax policy?
I believe exploitation is real, that most contracts are contracts of
adhesion in one way or another, and that the theory of surplus value
is substantially true. I believe that of the two sources of increased
wealth, increased productivity and transfer, the rich have come more
and more to rely on mere transfer, and that now most of the increases
of their wealth represent some form of cheating customers, underpaying
and coercing employees, and cheating competitors and upstream and
downstream businesses—not increased productivity. Businesses should
have to identify whether their income arises from productivity or
transfer, and they should be taxed in proportion to the percentage
that is from transfer.
Because I believe so many of the ways money is now earned are immoral,
exploitative, and wasteful, I believe all regressive taxes are bad and
nearly all flat taxes are. It may be possible to have a flat tax that
has high enough exemptions for the poor to be tolerable, but I am not
yet convinced. Progressive taxes still seem best to me; I think the
prosperity of the country from World War II through the 1960's was
largely due to high corporate taxes, high taxes on the rich, and
public funding of education and medical care.
My general rule is the Law of Diminishing Returns. Any decrease in the
gap between the rich and poor yields increased welfare.

4. What does the federal government have to do to "fix" Social
Security and Medicare?
First, Social Security is basically an increasingly dishonest loan
program. The minimum threshold must be abolished: if one does not
contribute a sufficient amount in Social Security, the government just
keeps the money. For the rich to rob the poor is despicable.
Second, Social Security funds should not be used for general funds.
That too is theft.
Third, much of the upper middle class draw funds from Social Security
when they have plenty of money from other sources. Meanwhile people
with nothing get nothing and end up in homeless shelters or on the
I'd recommend phasing out the whole system and replacing it with a
guaranteed minimum income at, say, the world average income plus full
medical expenses.

5. Do you think it's important to balance the federal budget? If yes,
how would you do it?
I think it best not to go into debt. I don't think banks should be
able to loan out more money than they have taken in. I don't think the
Fed should be able to print money. I think the Fed should be abolished
and Congress should retrieve its power to control the money supply,
just as it should retrieve its power to declare war and forbid any war
without its consent. I think we should shut down our foreign military
bases, stop building new weapons systems, and make our military purely
defensive—which it has not been for over 60 years.

Energy and Environment

1. What is your energy policy?
I favor maximum decentralization. The government should sell solar
power, wind power, geothermal, insulation, and various forms of
retrofitting to individuals, families, businesses, and organizations
at cost on a low-interest mortgage basis. Everyone should be able to
earn money by selling power to the grid and buy it back when
necessary. Nuclear power and nearly all coal plants should be shut
down. Automobiles should be miniaturized—like the new Tata cars—and
use renewable energy. Mass transportation should be vastly enhanced
and made more flexible. Suburbs should be gradually abandoned; they're
a failed experiment. Underground housing may be developed that will
put less strain on heating and cooling—and the land above it can be
returned to its original condition or used for agriculture. We should
design towns to minimize the need for transportation and rebuild light
rail systems for medium-range travel. We should phase out gasoline.

2. What do you think is the most important environmental issue, and why?
Global warming. It's lethal. Several factors—collapse of rain forests
because their biomass has exceeded the weight-carrying capacity of
their trunks, collapse of glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica,
exacerbation of El Nino—may make exponential heat spikes that will
cause drought so severe that no one can survive it, flooding great
enough to wipe out vast coastal areas and whole nations—like the
Maldives and Bangladesh—horrific storms, sudden freezes, and such
chaotically unpredictable weather that no agriculture can succeed.

Electoral Reform

1. Do you support a system of public financing of elections for
federal office?
Yes. But not one similar to Connecticut's current finance reform bill,
which is designed to shut down third parties and probably will be
ruled unconstitutional.

2. Do you support Instant Runoff Voting?
Yes. It's not ideal. Because I once spent three days at a conference
studying the mathematics of elections, I can say there IS in fact no
ideal system, there are just a number of different possibilities, each
of which occasionally yields counter-intuitive results that may be
interpreted as unfair to one party or another. But it is better to
have instant runoff voting than not to have it because it allows more
contestants and preferences to be sorted out than the system in
common use does.

3. What's your opinion of electronic voting machines?
If there's no paper trail, I don't believe any machine no matter what
it says or how. There must be an unalterable physical record of each
vote. Anything else can be hacked.

Ethics and Conduct

1. How will you raise funds and how much do you plan to raise?
I would not run were I not assured of being able to raise at least
$5000 from at least 50 people. I feel sure of that because in 8 hours
of phone calls, 16 people offered $1770 (and 20 offered substantial
volunteer time.) $5000 is the absolute minimum the League of Women
Voter's will require to call the campaign "viable" and allow me into
the debates they manager. In 2006 the Libertarians had raised only
$8000 when the LWV accepted them, so if they fail to accept us at that
level, they'll have substantial explaining to do. Therefore I am
aiming for $8000 and may go as high as $20,000, but I don't want more
than that because I consider lawn signs and commercials a wasteful and
callous luxury while 1.2 billion people remain malnourished.
The number of contributors is more significant. I'm looking for $2500
to $5000 in relatively large contributions (in my terms)--$25 to $500.
I want the bulk of the money to be collected in units of $1 to $25,
mostly $5 contributions accepted while carrying nominating petitions.

2. What is your view of the role that Fairfield Green Party members
play in the positions you will take?
Politics is a group activity. One should run for office only is one is
certain that one speaks for a group of people who want their positions
heard. I will speak for the Fairfield Greens, peace groups like Peace
Action, and Impeachment Groups. They represent a substantial body of
morality, opinion, and interests.
If I win the nomination today, we will spend the time from 4 to 5 pm
going over the roles and activities needed for the campaign.
Greens should realize that we are less than one in a thousand, yet we
want those thousand to change their lives in the directions we
recommend. Becoming a Green therefore means taking on the job of
convincing a thousand other people—or at least 500—to change their
ways of life. That's a substantial commitment that requires serious
political activity. If we mean what we say, we'll all chip in.

Foreign Affairs

1. What is your position on the war in Iraq?
It was illegal and immoral for us to invade; we violated the UN
Charter, the Nuremberg rules, the Geneva Conventions, and the
Constitution. Every moment we are there we merely aggravate the
situation. Imagine this analogy: say the Nazis had won World War II
and conquered us. Some of us would have collaborated. Some would have
rebelled. The collaborators and rebels would have hated each other,
and would have fought. Then imagine a Nazi saying, "We cannot leave
now because you are too immature politically. You have many problems.
You can't behave yourselves. If you all grow up and admit that the
National Socialist way is best, then we will know we can leave. But
until you do, we will have to stay to help you make National Socialism

2. What is your position on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict?
What gave the British the right to issue the Balfour Declaration in
1917? Brute force. To think about Palestine clearly, step back a
moment and think about an analogous situation, the Babri Masjid in
Ayodhya, India. The Hindus claim that Ram was born at Ayodhya. But
Ashoka built a Buddhist temple complex at Ayodhya in 240 B.C. Then
Babur built the Babri Mosque (Masjid) there around 1530. In the 1990's
right-wing Hindus claimed they had to destroy the Masjid because Babur
was insulting Hinduism when he built the mosque there. So they
destroyed the mosque and hundreds of people were shot in the process.
Then right-wing Hindus set out to build a Hindu temple there. As a
trainload were leaving from Ahmedabad, someone firebombed a train
carriage, killing 60. The Hindus promptly blamed Muslim terrorists.
There was no proof and no investigation. Riots went on for a week.
Gujarati police led crowds to Muslim homes and shops and told them
what to burn. Hindus murdered over 2,000 Muslims and made over 250,000
homeless. The chain of collusion went to the top of the government.
The Babri Masjid site is holy for three religions: Hindus, Buddhists,
and Muslims. The Hindus claim priority and ignore the Buddhists
because Hindus killed off nearly all Indian Buddhists 800 years ago.
Hindus and Muslims both claim priority. Both claims are part-true and
part-false depending on what periods of history one thinks of. They
all have scriptural backing.
International law has ways of solving these things. But you can't
solve them unless you want to. The first step is admitting that there
isn't a single sacrosanct status quo ante. The Israelis absolutely
refuse to do that. The Palestinians were obviously on the land before
the Israelis arrived. Yet Israel and the US paints the Palestinians as
terrorists when they are living in occupied territory. Israel has no
legitimate claim to the West Bank or Gaza, and no right to build the
wall it is building. The first step toward peace will have to be taken
by the Israelis.

3. What specific steps would you take to reduce military spending?
I'd shut down our 725+ military bases in 132 countries. I'd destroy
our nuclear arsenal following Jonathan Schell's plan in "The
Abolition." I'd strictly observe all treaty commitments. I'd build no
new weapons systems. I'd return to the military policies we had in the
1930's while vastly strengthening the UN and promoting its
restructuring so that the General Assembly could have some actual
authority. I'd restructure the military so that it was genuinely

Health, Education and Welfare

1. What is your opinion of the federal No Child Left Behind Act?
It's a fraud. It sets "standards" but provides no funds to meet them.
The "standards" are not particularly meaningful and teaching to them
reduces education to idiotic rote learning. Responses to the tests are
fraudulent from beginning to end. No one knows what to do with
students who don't pass the tests; state laws forbid leaving them back
year after year. The net result is that the students, teachers, and
administrators all fake the results. They all become cynical and
despise genuine learning.

2. How do you propose to provide universal health care? How much
would it cost and where would the money come from?
We have the most expensive medical care on earth. 15.2% of our GDP
goes to medical care. Yet 26 countries, all with lower GDP, have
greater longevity. All European countries have less morbidity, fewer
underweight children under 5, less deaths among children under 12
months. We drastically underestimate the value of public health and
nutrition and relative equality of income (see Richard Wilkinson's
books, like "The Impact of Inequality.") UNICEF finds that of all
developed countries, the US and UK are the worst for children.
I see no insuperable problem with the Canadian health care system. All
the Canadians I know feel very lucky to have it. Most doctors are
happy with it. I've talked to doctors who emigrate to Canada so they
can be part of it—and are even willing to spend a few years living
above the Arctic Circle in order to secure their careers there. The
massive campaign the insurance companies put on in the early 90's were
false, slanderous, and purely self-serving.

Your Key Issue

1. Describe one key issue that you, as a Congressperson, would take
a leadership role in advancing. Describe the arguments in favor of
this issue.
I have two: impeachment and the need to reduce consumption. The first
is basically procedural, but the Bush Administration's destruction of
the Constitution has been so drastic that this is probably our last
opportunity to RETRIEVE our Constitution. I do not believe that we can
rescind all the unconstitutional laws Congress has passed in the last
7 years if we cannot even agree that what Bush and Cheney did was
wrong. Because we now have the laws of a police state, failure to
impeach will block all worthwhile efforts. Congress has relinquished
the power it needs to do anything productive at all, so the first
thing it must do is retrieve its powers.
The need to reduce consumption is my most important substantive
program. On the average, we each waste the world's resources at 32
times the rate the average person on earth does. We have exceeded the
earth's carrying capacity. The world doesn't need fewer people, but it
DOES need less wasteful people, and we are first on the list. We even
consume twice the energy Europeans and Japanese consume. Meanwhile,
1.2 billion people MUST increase their consumption to get out of
ABSOLUTE poverty—that is, just to stop being malnourished. Where do we
get the gall to squander the world's resources on nonsense
expenditures while 1.2 billion people feel CONTINUOUS pain in their
empty stomachs and half of them die from easily preventable intestinal
disease merely because they don't have potable water or sanitation?
We have to make people aware that wasteful spending is vicious and
that human rights should precede property rights—for everything in
politics is a system of relative priorities, not a laundry list. Lilly
Tomlin and Barbara Streisand may want to "have it ALL," but there's no
way to do that and it is immoral to try.

Your Campaign

1. What is your 30-second explanation to the public for why you are
running for Congress against Jim Himes as well as Christopher Shays?
Representatives take an oath of office to "defend the Constitution
against ALL enemies, foreign AND domestic. That is an unconditional
promise. The reason it is unconditional is that the FIRST right every
citizen has is to be a constitutive part of a SOVEREIGN people. If the
people are sovereign, they have an absolute right to their
sovereignty. Rights and duties are reciprocal: no right exists unless
someone else has an obligation to observe and enforce it. In this
case, the people who have the absolute duty to observe and enforce the
absolute right of the people of the US to sovereignty are the
Congressional Representatives and Senators of the country. Candidates
for congressional office do not have the right to fail to defend the
Constitution because nothing else guarantees the sovereignty of the
people. Witnessing Bush and Cheney's gross assaults on the
Constitution, their high crimes and misdemeanors, and the possibility
of their treason, no one should be eligible for congressional office
who will not demand impeachment. Mr. Himes will not demand
impeachment. Until he makes a concerted effort to do what he can to
organize for impeachment, he should not run, we should not yield to
him, and no one should vote for him.
I've been talking off and on to Jim Himes since September. I don't
expect him to commit himself to anything concrete regarding
I don't know about other candidates for the Democratic nomination.
That no one should vote for Christopher Shays goes without saying. He
is guilty of breaching his oath of office by supporting a criminal
president and vice-president. He may be guilty of crimes against peace
in his pursuit of the Iraq war.

2. Who will be your campaign manager? If you don't know yet,
how will you recruit one?
I'm not certain yet. Barbara Spitzer has offered either to be the
campaign manager or to organize speaking engagements, which is my
greatest need. I'm not sure she's what she's most comfortable with
yet. If I win the nomination, I'll be asking everyone to fill in forms
on volunteering possibilities between 4 and 5 pm. I'll also be calling
about 200 people one by one asking how and why a campaign like this is
valuable to them, what roles they want, and what time and finds
they're willing to commit.

3. How much of your time campaigning will be devoted to going
My first priority is writing and posting messages. My second is
calling people connected to the Green party, impeachment groups, and
peace groups. My third is house parties and discussions with community
groups of any kind and size. Fourth is carrying petitions to get
signatures—at public places and events. Fifth is going door to door.
I do not expect door to door campaigning to yield much compared to
focused campaigning. I'd rather have people we already know find other
people for us to speak to, and to be passed on like a baton from one
person or group to another.

4. How will your candidacy help local and state Greens? If
part of your answer is that you will bring new people into the party,
please explain exactly how you will do that.
At present most of my support comes from people who want impeachment.
Such people are more politically active than most Green voters. I
believe the impeachment movement, the peace movement, and Greens will
fructify and reinforce each other.

General Questions

1.If you are elected, what will the Green Party gain from having you in office?
It would have its first Green national official in Connecticut. I
could sponsor a lot of bills no Republican or Democrat will sponsor.
My role would be similar to the role Bernie Sanders had as the
representative of Vermont.
The knowledge I'd gain of Washington would allow me to help Greens
know where to focus their energy in Congress.
Of course, if a number of Greens, impeachment candidates and peace
candidates are elected in November, we'll have a shot at making this a
country worth living in and worthy of respect.

2. Is there anything else you would like to add that you have not said
in response to the other questions?
Candidates have no magic. We're ordinary people acting as central
switchboards for a lot of people. Whenever we appear large or
dramatic, it is an optical illusion created by the number of people
supporting us. When we succeed, it is because our constituents put
their money and effort where their mouths are. What I can do is up to
you as much as to anyone else—it's up to the people who choose to act.
Richard Duffee