Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Address to the Illinois Center Right Coalition (I.C.R.C.) on June 25th, 2016

Written on June 24th and 25th, 2016

Edited on July 19th and August 8th, 2016

           The following piece was originally written as a spoken address. The information was delivered by hand, on paper, rather than as a speech.

           Thank you very much for having me. My name is Joseph W. Kopsick, and I’m a candidate in the race for the U.S. House of Representatives for the election to be held on November 8th. I’m running in Illinois’s 10th Congressional District, which does not include Elgin, but which does include my home town of Lake Bluff, as well as most of Lake County, and parts of northern Cook County.
           I am the only candidate in the race besides incumbent Republican Bob Dold; and challenger and former congressman, Democrat Brad Schneider. State “sore loser laws” prevent me from running as an independent, so I’m running as a New Party candidate. My candidacy has received the endorsement of several figures in local politics and interest groups, and I may receive the endorsement of the state Libertarian Party.
           Some background about me: I attended public schools in Lake Bluff, graduated from Lake Forest High School in 2005, and in 2009 I graduated from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, with a major in Political Science. Since 2010, I have operated the Aquarian Agrarian, a blog that focuses on libertarian politics, radical political theory and philosophy, constitutional law, civil liberties and civil rights, labor laws, and elections. I previously ran for U.S. House from Wisconsin in 2012, and Oregon in 2014.
           The major themes of my candidacy are: liberty and limited government; non-interventionism in foreign policy; personal freedom and individual rights; due process, and security through privacy; balanced budgets and fiscal solvency; free movement of labor and capital; and the notion that government should be funded through penalties on waste, rather than through taxation of labor, sales, and investment that has the effect of discouraging those types of productive behavior.
           I’ve entered this race because I’m disappointed at the lack of ideological diversity among the candidates. Unlike me, both of my opponents support a strong federal government, domestic surveillance, gun control, foreign aid, sanctions, keeping Obamacare in place, and federal funding for Planned Parenthood. Additionally, both candidates have taken neutral or soft stances supporting the decriminalization and legalization of marijuana. As the only other candidate in the race, I hope to bring to the 2016 ballot for House at least some of the variety that 10th District voters deserve.

           If elected, I would vote to reduce the size of the federal workforce, and abolish unconstitutional federal departments; including the departments of Commerce, Energy, Education, Interior, and Housing and Urban Development. I would additionally consider restructuring or abolishing the Department of Homeland Security.
On spending, I would vote to support a Cut, Cap, and Balance plan; and / or a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution. I would hope that such bills would require at least a 7-to-1 ratio of spending cuts to revenue increases.
           On taxes, I would vote to eliminate tax loopholes and differential taxation rates, but I would also oppose allowing tax cuts to expire, and eliminate tax credits, while reducing taxes across the board. I would vote to support a reduction of the individual income tax to between 12.5% and 20% in the short term, and in the long term, I would support the abolition of the personal income tax, and the abolition of the 16th Amendment.
           I believe that taxes on personal income, investment, consumption, imports, property values, and the “inflation tax on savings”, have the effect of discouraging productive economic behavior. While, in the short term, I would accept a Negative Income Tax, or a value-added national sales tax, in the long term, I would hope to replace all current forms of federal revenue with user fees, voluntary contributions, and a reform of property taxes, involving a Single Tax on the abuse, disuse, and blight of landed property, including fees paid to communities in exchange for the privilege of extracting natural resources.

           On the military, I would vote to support bringing troops and private contractors home from Iraq and Afghanistan as soon as possible, as well as from Germany, Japan, South Korea, and other countries. I would vote to dismantle hundreds of overseas military bases, stop spying on our allies, stop flying drones over foreign countries to spy and launch airstrikes without their permission (and without congressional declaration of war), and cut all aid to foreign countries for military as well as domestic purposes.
           I will vote to oppose efforts to require men and women alike to register for the draft, and I would support efforts to abolish military conscription altogether. I would oppose all proposed federal gun control legislation, and I would introduce a constitutional amendment to restore the Second Amendment to its original intent of protecting the right of conscientious objection.
           Concerning the recent call for “No Fly, No Buy”, I would vote to support transparency into these secret No-Fly lists, and my record would reflect a cautious concern regarding due process for suspected terrorists and the mentally ill. I will never forget that a suspected terrorist is innocent until proven guilty; that even without the Geneva Convention, the Eighth Amendment prohibits torture; and that the Constitution promises a fair trial for all persons, not just all citizens.

           Regarding immigration: although taxpaying citizens do shoulder the burden of taking care of illegal immigrants, in my opinion this is primarily the fault of an expansive and unfunded federal welfare state, not the fault of people who crossed a border without committing any other crimes that harmed persons or damaged their property. I believe that welfare for immigrants should be dealt with on a state and local basis, and I would vote to support legislative rather than executive deferred action for childhood arrivals and their parents.
           I would vote to oppose the construction of a border fence or wall, oppose making English the national language, support issuing Green Cards and temporary work visas to non-violent immigrants, and support allowing non-violent undocumented immigrants to apply for citizenship once they reach the age of adulthood set by the state of their residence.

           On trade, I would vote to support real free trade; the free movement of labor and capital. This is opposed to “smart trade” (or protectionism of industry), and opposed to “managed trade”, so-called “fair trade” (that is, protectionism of labor). I hope to help bring about reduced prices for American consumers by reducing and repealing tariffs (in addition to reducing sales taxes).
           I believe that increasing tariffs would only embolden foreign companies to increase worker exploitation and labor rights abuses (to offset the costs of the tariffs), and that this would increase human rights abuses abroad, making trade with such countries more controversial, thus making sanctions more likely, potentially leading to trade wars, cold wars, or even hot wars.
           On the issue of wages: given the apparent effect of increasing minimum wages on unemployment and price inflation, I would vote to oppose increasing the federal minimum wage. I would work to increase the affordability of consumer goods and utilities by strengthening the purchasing power of the dollar; I would do this by voting to reduce and eliminate sales taxes and tariffs, audit the Federal Reserve annually (or as often as possible), and abolish the Department of Commerce and the artificial business privileges which it erects.
           On labor, I take a centrist approach. I believe that Compulsory Unionism and majority union voting create the problem of workers free-riding on the benefits of union negotiation (as well as contributing to stagnating wages and soft money). But I also believe that the proposed solution to this – Right to Work laws – unconstitutionally limits the types of contracts which can be made between businesses and unions within the states.
           Employers, employees, and unions should be kept on equal footing, in regards to their freedom to become parties to contracts. I would vote to ensure that the federal government protects the rights of workers to engage in concerted activity within the workplace (to form unions and file complaints against their employers). I would vote to repeal the Taft-Hartley Act, legalizing wildcat strikes and secondary boycotts), Finally, I would encourage states to pass laws requiring employers to inform prospective employees about the nature of their relationship with – and obligations to – the workplace’s union (or unions), once hired.
           On campaign finance, I would oppose attempts to overturn the Citizens United decision. Money and speech are not equivalent in the strictest sense, but spending money is an exercise of our unenumerated freedom to engage in trade and participate in the economy. I believe that unlimited campaign donations and big money in politics are not the problem itself, but symptoms of the problem; that of a government that legislates outside of its duly delegated spheres of influence. In my opinion, candidates who favor limiting donations to $2,200 per candidate per race per election cycle, should set a good example, by refusing to accept donations in excess of that amount.

           On health, I would vote to repeal most, if not all, of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. I believe that the individual insurance purchase mandate is a penalty, not a tax; and that even if it were a tax, it would be an infinite tax, which is justifiable by neither constitutional nor economic laws.
           The way to expand access to medical care is not to tax medical device sales, nor hospitals, nor the income of doctors and nurses; nor to order people to buy insurance. Instead, to legalize the purchase and sale of insurance across state lines – and to end the tax credit for employer-provided health insurance – would expand access, while reducing costs, as well as make it easier for people to keep their policies when they move across the country or lose their job.
           Additionally, I would oppose tort reform, in order to avoid taking power away from juries. I would also vote to devolve the issue of health care to the states, and in the meantime I would support capping the growth of Medicare spending.

           On education, I would vote to oppose legislation making public colleges and universities debt-free or tuition-free; instead, I would vote to abolish the Department of Education, leaving the matter of educating children and young adults to states and localities. Until the department can be abolished, I would vote to oppose all federal involvement in student loans, I would consider supporting voucher programs, and I would oppose any efforts to set up national standards in primary education.
           On the issue of housing, I believe that H.U.D., Freddie Mac, and the Federal Reserve were significantly more responsible for creating the environment that led to the mortgage meltdown than Wall Street was. Accordingly, I would vote to abolish the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
           On the environment, I would vote to abolish the Department of Energy, and end subsidies and tax credits for all energy companies and industries. I would oppose the privatization of natural resources, instead promoting an integrated approach to taxes and the environment, which would involve encouraging states and localities to establish community land and water trusts, and citizens’ dividends funded through fees on natural resource extraction. I would additionally vote to end federal maintenance of strategic petroleum reserves; oppose federal taxes on gasoline sales and oil imports; and set a goal of achieving zero non-offset carbon emissions by the year 2030, without having the U.S. become a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol, instead encourage states to pursue this goal the way they see fit.
           On Social Security, I would vote to support allowing young workers to opt-out of the program. I support the personalization of retirement accounts (as opposed to privatization), and I would encourage workers to open accounts at mutual or cooperative financial institutions. I would vote to support devolving this issue to the states, I would consider block grants, and in the interim – until that can be accomplished – I would vote to oppose means-testing Social Security.

           Social issues; first, marriage.
           I would oppose Defense of Marriage Act -type legislation, opposing all federal involvement in marriage between consenting adults, which I believe is a personal, contractual, and sometimes religious institution; not primarily a political one.
           On abortion, I would support de-funding Planned Parenthood, I would make no efforts to overturn the case of Casey vs. Planned Parenthood, and my voting record would support the notion that so-called “partial-birth abortion” is not abortion, but infanticide.
           Additionally, I would oppose requiring employers’ health insurance policies to cover abortion or contraception, and oppose any attempt to interfere with contraceptive medications and devices being sold in pharmacies. I would also oppose any legislation which would require an ultrasound as a condition of getting an abortion; this would help reduce medical care costs resulting from unnecessary and unwanted medical procedures.
           As for civil rights and discrimination: while I value the right of private property ownership of residential and commercial properties alike, I believe that the federal government has a responsibility to ensure equal and integrated access to places of public accommodations, but if and only if such an enterprise is directly involved in interstate commerce, and / or receives public funding. I believe that if a business thrives solely on a voluntary commercial basis, does not operate in more than one state, and sources all of its materials and labor from within its state; its owner should retain the right to hire whom it pleases, and the right to refuse service or entry to anyone for any reason.

           Finally, I have to confess that I consider myself uninformed about veterans’ issues, especially as a 29-year-old non-veteran. Needless to say, bureaucracy and costs in that department have to be reduced, and fraud in veterans’ charities is a problem. Also, health care and employment are issues that affect veterans and non-veterans alike, so I hope that what I’ve proposed regarding jobs and health will benefit veterans in addition to ordinary citizens.
           But a good politician ought to be able to recognize when his constituents know more about an issue than he does, and listen to their suggestions when they do, so I welcome any input that you all have on the issue of veterans’ affairs.

           Thank you very much for your invitation and your time. I will have more information about the status of my candidacy within two weeks. I hope that you at the I.C.R.C. will recommend my candidacy to voters in the 10th District.
           In the meantime, I encourage you to visit my blog, and join my campaign’s Facebook group – the addresses to both of which are listed on my business card – and if you would like to make a donation to my campaign, you can send it to Committee to Elect Joe Kopsick, at my home address. But please, no donations in excess of the amount set by the McCain-Feingold Act; money is not speech, but the words of an honest politician are as good as gold, and someone’s got to set a good example.
           Thank you for your support!

Response to the Illinois LiberTEA Organization's Federal Candidate Survey

Written on April 27th, 2016

Edited on July 19th, 2016

           Q: What is your view of the monetary system in the U.S. today?

           A: The declining value of the dollar is the chief cause of calls to raise the minimum wage, alleviate poverty, and tax the rich. Congress should routinely audit the Fed, abolish it as soon as possible, and wrest the control of monetary policy back to the people from this private "independent" organization and the moneyed interests that control it. Government should not limit the development of new and alternative currencies, but it should also refrain from treating debt and C.D.O.s as currency.

           Q: What corrective actions could we take right now to improve the economy?

           A: Lower tariffs, and taxes on corporate personal income, to bring jobs and resources back to the country from overseas. Get the balance of trade under control in order to boost and stabilize the value of the dollar. Lead efforts to abolish onerous occupational licensing laws that make it difficult for low-income people to start ordinary enterprises. Stop punishing savings by getting inflation under control and auditing the Fed stop punishing earning money by taxing personal income, stop penalizing trade by taxing sales.

           Q: Do you agree with the actions the Federal Reserve has taken to solve the financial crisis? If not, what could the Fed have done differently?

           A: The Federal Reserve, if it should even exist at all, should not favor low interest rates over high employment. The Federal Reserve's promise to secure loans to risky borrowers was ill advised, and it cannot be trusted to fix the problem that it had a large part in causing. The Fed should not print money, devaluing it in the process, when government can't pay its bills; instead, spending should be decreased.

           Q: Should the Federal Reserve be audited fully, no secrets, or does it need to keep some information under wraps?

           A: Full audit, no secrets.

           Q: What are your thoughts on government debt? Do you believe it is acceptable for the Federal Government to raise the debt ceiling? If yes, for what reason?

           A: It is not acceptable to raise the ceiling; there is no point in having a debt ceiling if you're only going to raise it each time you come close to reaching it. The Federal government must drastically reduce spending, in order to reduce dependence on and debt to the Fed, China, Japan, and future generations of Americans. Even if we don't figure out how to take in more than we spend in order to pay off the debt, we can restore our credit rating soon, as long as we demonstrate as soon as possible that we can at least have a balanced budget without deficits. I would support an amendment that would require a balanced budget, requiring more cuts than revenue increases.

           Q: What is your opinion on current US foreign policy?

           A: With some 800-900 overseas military bases, and troops in about 150 countries, the military is overextended, and our trifling in the internal affairs of other countries is causing disastrous blowback. We spy on our own allies, when we shouldn't have formal alliances in the first place. We train, fund, and arm foreign armies, often only to end up sponsoring decay of societal order and fighting against our own weapons. We can and should drastically reduce spending on military projects not essential to our defense, without cutting pay of military personnel.

           Q: How should we fight a “war on terror”?

           A: By ceasing to train, fund, and arm terrorists. By ceasing to take our counterterrorism strategy from apartheid states with undeclared nuclear weapons. By ceasing to be an imperialist nation that fights wars to obtain natural resources and protect commercial interests instead of the safety of American citizens abroad. Certainly not by continuing to renew the unconstitutional U.S.A. P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act, the N.S.A., the T.S.A., and putting politicians, celebrities, and infants with names similar to terrorists' on No-Fly lists and lists prohibiting weapons purchases.

           Q: Should the U.S. occupy other countries? If not, would you push to close all bases? Are there any you would keep open and if so why?

           A: The U.S. should only occupy other countries following a congressional declaration of war, and given either danger of American citizens abroad or the invitation by a sovereign country to intervene to stop a humanitarian catastrophe. I would support the dismantlement of all military bases farther than 100 miles from U.S. shores.

           Q: Should the U.S. maintain its standing army? Explain...

           A: The U.S. should maintain its standing army, but a constitutional convention should be called to restore the 2nd Amendment to its original intent of protecting the right to conscientious objection to the draft. Draft registration should end, conscription should be unconstitutional, and the Congress must convince the people that the use of the standing army is in the best interest of popular and national security. The size of military personnel is appropriate, but the Navy and Air Force fleets would do well to be reduced to pre-9/11 levels.

           Q: Is the Patriot Act necessary to protect America? If not, would you vote to fully repeal it?

           A: It is not necessary, and I would vote against renewals and vote to fully repeal it. The Patriot Act violates due process, and makes Americans less safe by violating their right to be safe from those who seek to invade their privacy.

           Q: What information may the U.S. government legally gather about its citizens? When would it be necessary to overstep those boundaries?

           A: The federal Government may only gather information voluntarily surrendered by citizens. It would never be necessary to overstep those boundaries; telephone, internet, bank records, even universal automatic voter registration violates our right to be secure in our papers and effects.

           Q: What limits, if any, should be placed on the U.S. government’s ability to search its citizens without a warrant?

           A: All limits possible. F.B.I. agents can write their own search warrants, and so could the British King's guards. A warrant may not be generalized; it must apply to solely one person or solely one property, and specifically describe the places and items to be searched.

           Q: Should the U.S. government be allowed to protect its citizens’ health by outlawing foods it considers unsafe, or to force medicate (i.e., fluoridation) or force vaccinate citizens?

A: No; this violates people's rights to control what they put in, and do with, their own body. It violates the confidentiality of the doctor-patient relationship. It also adds an unnecessary stigma to the supposedly beneficial foods and drugs and procedures it supposedly promotes. Additionally, food and drug and health standards create a moral hazard, wherein the public assumes these things to be safe simply because they are illegal, and they lower their guard, and personal responsibility is lost in the process. Moreover, health is not mentioned in the Constitution, so the F.D.A. has no business even existing.

           Q: What controls, if any, should be placed on the right to own a gun?

           A: None. Gun control laws are largely written and defended by gun-illiterate people, they are unenforceable save for resort to tyranny, and they have disastrous unintended consequences. I fully support the Second Amendment, however I would not interfere with state laws pertaining to in-state manufacture of weapons, and I do not believe that the law should interfere with people's rights to sue gun sellers and manufacturers. But that doesn't mean that I don't believe that once a gun is sold to you, you take full responsibility with what you do with it; these cases should be settled out of, and laughed out of, court.

           Q: Is there an effective way to keep guns out of the hands of madmen and criminals without encroaching on the rights of free, law-abiding citizens? Please explain:

           A: The only effective way to keep guns out of the hands of criminals is a well-armed, vigilant law-abiding populace, that is capable of and willing to defend itself against violent criminals, instead of relying on police to show up (after 20 minutes on average, and 5 to 7 minutes at best). Sheriffs promoting private citizens being armed is not the result of police dereliction of duty; an armed populace should a complement to armed police keeping as much peaceful order as they can.

           Q: Is our involvement in and subjugation to global organizations, such as W.H.O. (World Health Organization), N.A.T.O., the U.N., etc., a benefit to U.S. citizens?

           A: No. Our membership in N.A.T.O. only obligated us to defend other nations, the list of which is ever expanding, and we additionally bear disproportionate costs of that defense. While our presence at the U.N. surrenders part of our sovereignty, it at the same time empowers us to exercise a tyranny over the world through our Security Council veto power. I do not support U.S. involvement in any international organization, including W.H.O.; I would not consult the E.U. nor the Arab League before going to war; and besides, the United States of America is already an organization composed of multiple "free, sovereign, and independent" states.

           Q: Would you work to repeal international agreements that purport to hold U.S. citizens and/or property under its jurisdiction, or do you think there might be times when benefits outweigh concessions?

           A: Yes, I would work to repeal such agreements. U.S. citizens and property must be subject only to local, state, and constitutional federal laws. The U.S. is unable to submit to international governments, as it is supposed to submit itself to the states and to the people.

           Q: Are trade agreements with other nations, i.e., N.A.F.T.A., C.A.F.T.A., good for U.S. citizens? Please explain your answer:

           A: I oppose N.A.F.T.A., C.A.F.T.A., T.P.P., and other trade agreements, but not because they fail to retain American jobs and protect American Industry. I oppose them because they are managed trade, not real free trade. Raising tariffs (although it would certainly be cons titutional) would not punish worker exploitation and low health and safety standards in industrializing countries; all it would accomplish is cause countries and companies to increase those problems and worsen human rights and workers' rights in order to turn a profit that would help them offset the costs of the increased tariff. I would oppose managed trade agreements and fight for free trade, and the idea that free trade IS fair trade.

           Q: Should the U.S. give foreign aid to other countries? If yes, for what purposes would it be justified? If not all countries, which would you continue to support?

           A: Absolutely not. Although the foreign aid budget is less than 0.5% of the total budget, it is a perfect place to start. We should not spend taxpayer money financing the military defense, nor the welfare states, of foreign countries, even if they are our allies (which we shouldn't formally have in the first place). Calls to provide aid to two countries in a conflict – ostensibly to make things fair – only increases the chances that America will fund both sides of a foreign war.

           Q: Do you know what nullification is? If yes, how do you plan to use it?

           A: Nullification is when states refuse to enforce federal laws, or pass laws that invalidate federal laws. I would not vote that the federal government interfere with states wishing to pass laws that invalidate unconstitutional federal laws, even if and when formal acts of Congress have not yet removed the federal government's usually temporarily permissible, presidential reorganization authority driven, power to legislate on the matter. I would also support jury nullification, and educating the public about the rights of a jury to decide the facts of the case as well as the morality of the law, in addition to educating the public about Lincoln's response to Wisconsin's nullification of the Fugitive Slave Act.

           Q: When does state law take precedent over federal law?

           A: In all cases, except when it comes to: ensuring a republican form of government with due process and fair trials, etc.; punishing treason, piracy, and counterfeiting; providing for the national defense; coining money and regulating the value thereof; establishing post roads (but not necessarily building roads); keeping interstate commerce regular; protecting intellectual property in a limited way; and a few other powers specifically enumerated in Article I Section 8.

           Q: Would you stand up to the federal government and demand that it stay within the bounds of its enumerated powers and out of state business?

           A: Yes.

           Q: Do federal officers have the right to arrest non-military citizens within the individual states for any crimes? If so, explain:

           A: Yes, but only when they have been charged with committing treason, piracy, counterfeiting, or obstructing justice in a way that severely interferes with the maintenance of a just and fair legal and political system.

           Q: What do you see as the #1 problem with illegal immigration?

           A: The #1 problem with immigration is that the D.R.E.A.M. Act, D.A.C.A., and D.A.P.A. have been pushed through executive orders and memoranda, not legislative power. The president's job is to enforce the law which Congress passes, not to write law.

           Q: What actions could we take to stop illegal immigrants from taking advantage of social services?

           A: Allow states to run their welfare and poverty and social systems the way they please, free from federal orders, limitations, interventions, and tempting grants with strings attached. However, non-violent undocumented immigrants should not be prohibited from seeking voluntary charity to provide services normally distributed as public social welfare.

           Q: If you could make one amendment to the U.S. Constitution, what would it be?

           A: A Balanced Budget Amendment, requiring at least a 7-to-1 ratio of spending cuts to revenue increases whenever there is a deficit and/or a standing or accumulating national debt.

           Q: Would you vote to end government subsidies to private industry?

           A: Yes.

           Q: What should our government’s action be against whistle blowers, if any?

           A: No action should be taken against whistle-blowers if the information they leak pertains to illegal or unconstitutional activities undertaken by government. Their passports should not be revoked, and they should not be charged with treason unless they provide either substantial support to, or comfort of, or pledge allegiance to, a foreign sovereign nation.

           Q: Do you know what Agenda 21 / Sustainable Development and the Communitarian agenda is? Do you support it? Why or why not?

           A: I do not support Agenda 21, I believe that the U.S. should withdraw from the agreement, even though it is voluntary and non-binding. Although I do believe that demands for sustainable development and other environmental regulations can and often do hamper industrial development and productivity, I support imposing fees on unsustainable development, and on blight and disuse of land, in order to take the tax burden off of income earners, buyers, and businesses, and in order to implement a taxation regime that punishes destruction of our planet instead of discouraging production and taxes away productive development of private property and the commons.