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!

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