We're in the final leg of the 2018 mid-term elections with Election Day Tuesday, November 6th. To keep you informed, we have put together a guide to this year's election with candidate profiles published by the campaigns. The issues will be direct quotes from campaign materials and interviews WITZ Radio News has done with the candidates.
In this first installment of the Election Guide, we're telling you about three candidates running for the U.S. Senate seat out of Indiana.
MEET JOE DONNELLY - Incumbent Democrat
Joe met his wife, Jill, while in college in South Bend. After getting married in 1979, they raised their two children in northern Indiana, in the home that Jill’s father helped build.
Joe ran a printing shop in Mishawaka for many years, so he understands that when it comes to balancing a budget or hiring workers, Hoosier small businesses aren’t concerned with whether an idea comes from the right or the left, but if it’s good or bad. As president of the local school board, Joe showed the leadership needed to create a bright future for the next generation of Hoosiers and brought people together to find commonsense solutions.
In 2006, he brought that perspective to Washington when he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives to represent Indiana’s Second District. He knew people back home didn’t care about party allegiances—just whether he’d work hard and deliver results for Indiana.
(Donnelly For Indiana campaign)
He understands that there’s nothing more important for Indiana’s future than the education they receive today. We need to make America’s public schools the envy of the world at every level if we’re to continue to be leaders in the 21st Century.
Preparing our children for success starts early. Strong pre-K educations set up our kids to do better at every stage of their life. Joe has been a champion for expanding early childhood education as widely as possible to young Hoosiers, and he’s fought to increase funding for these programs.
While higher education, including two- and four-year degrees, has become an increasingly necessary requirement for today’s good-paying jobs, the cost of college has far outstripped inflation and left a generation of students struggling with crushing debt. The growing student debt issue isn’t just a problem for millennials—families across Indiana are having to dig into emergency savings and tap retirement accounts to help recent graduates struggle with a debt they can’t escape. And by forcing recent graduates to put off buying cars or making down payments on a house, their burden of student loan debt has knock-on effects across our economy. Joe’s fought to preserve Pell Grants to keep the promise of affordable higher education open to every Hoosier, no matter their background. And he’s introduced the Empowering Student Borrowers Act, bipartisan legislation to help students make wise borrowing decisions and graduate with less debt.
Higher education should be more affordable, but we also need to make sure it’s preparing graduates for the realities of the workforce. Joe’s focused on addressing the skills gap and making sure that students’ diplomas are backed by the real-world skills they’ll need in today’s economy.
* Veterans / Service Members
The men and women of our armed forces and those who have served have put their lives on the line to protect our freedom and our flag. Joe believes we must honor the commitments we’ve made, while they wear the uniform and long after they return home.
Joe’s very first bill, the bipartisan Jacob Sexton Military Suicide Prevention Act, was signed into law in 2014. Joe heard from Jacob’s father Jeff Sexton after Jacob, a Hoosier and National Guardsman, took his own life in 2009, and asked how they could work together to address veteran and military suicide. No family who has seen their son or daughter put on the uniform of our great nation should have to bear the unimaginable pain of seeing that child take their own life. Jacob’s namesake legislation ensures that by September of 2017, every service member – Active, Guard, and Reserve—will receive annual mental health assessments so they can receive the care they need and deserve.
Joe’s focus on service member wellbeing has been a hallmark of his time in the Senate. His “Service Member and Veteran Care Package,” a trio of bipartisan bills focused on increasing access to mental health and suicide prevention assistance from those with the best awareness of the specific issues veterans and service members face, have all been signed into law.
Joe’s also worked hard to make sure that Hoosier veterans can get the care they deserve. Joe has spent more than eight years working with the VA to open a new health care center in St. Joseph County that will cut down the distance that veterans in Michiana and North-Central Indiana have to travel to see a doctor. The groundbreaking for the facility in 2015 is the start of a real victory for Hoosier veterans.
He understands that there’s no excuse for VA bureaucracy and mismanagement getting between veterans and their care. He’s repeatedly voted to make needed changes at the VA that would address the recent scandals centering around long wait times for veterans to receive their health care. Joe worked with Republicans to help pass the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act, which would make it easier to fire bad actors at the VA while protecting whistleblowers and the vast majority of VA employees who do their jobs with distinction.
* Jobs / Economy
He’s crossed the state to talk to small business owners and workers about what he can do to help, even rolling up his sleeves and working alongside them on his “Donnelly Days” where he works alongside them. He’s drawn on those experiences and his own to cut red tape and boost manufacturing. He’s worked with state, federal, and local leaders to grow Hoosier businesses.
Through his “opportunity agenda,” Joe has pushed for commonsense policies that will expand opportunities for Hoosiers today and for decades to come. It’s a plan that calls for Americans to build an all-in energy policy, invest in infrastructure that improves upon our crumbling roads and bridges, improve workforce development to make sure Indiana workers have the skills they need to succeed, and keep our businesses competitive through exports and innovation.
When the financial crisis hit, Joe stepped up immediately to defend our workforce, fighting for the auto rescue that saved nearly 100,000 jobs in Indiana alone. He knows that automotive manufacturers depend on workers across the state – and they’ve provided good-paying jobs for generations of Hoosiers. His outspoken support from the beginning helped prevent disaster for Indiana’s working families.
Joe understands the need to develop a workforce with the in-demand skills in our state. That's why he worked to pass his America Works Act to help train and connect job seekers with the skills required by local employers. And it’s why he introduced the Skills Gap Strategy Act to help modernize our nation’s approach to workforce development.
Joe believes we must continually ensure our trade deals are helping Hoosier workers, not harming them. Even before he came to Congress, Joe has called for the U.S. to renegotiate NAFTA and spoken out against its expansion. He’s demanded that the U.S. Trade Representative investigate China’s currency practices under the belief that they manipulate their currency. He’s voted against trade deals with South Korea, Colombia, Panama and Peru.
In the Senate, Joe has introduced and fought for the End Outsourcing Act, which ensure that taxpayer dollars are used to support American workers and encourage companies to keep jobs in the U.S. If enacted, companies seeking federal contracts would be penalized if they had shipped jobs overseas, while companies that outsource would forfeit certain tax breaks for outsourcing. Businesses would be encouraged to invest in America instead of overseas with new tax incentives for companies that move foreign jobs back into America’s rural and impoverished communities.
Finally, when it has come to helping workers harmed by the effects of international trade, Joe has answered the bell. After Carrier announced they’d lay off over 1,000 workers while shipping manufacturing jobs to Mexico, he spoke out for the laid off workers, standing with them at rallies. He played a crucial role supporting Indianapolis’ application for a grant to assist the workers whose jobs were outsourced in finding new jobs.
He has always recognized that the law isn’t perfect, however, and has worked hard to improve it. He has led the charge to repeal the Medical Device tax to ensure Hoosier companies can continue to innovate and grow, and he introduced the bipartisan Forty Hours is Full Time Act, which would align the definition of a full-time work with the traditional 40 hour work week, providing certainty to both workers and employers.
In 2017, Joe has stood strong against partisan efforts to undermine the health care system. He opposed proposals that would increase average Hoosier health care premiums by over $1,000 every year, as well as an “age tax” that would allow insurance companies to charge seniors up to five times more for their coverage. Joe fought to support and protect the bipartisan Health Indiana Plan, HIP 2.0, a program developed by then-Governor Pence through the ACA to provide health care to 400,000 Hoosiers, and he has opposed proposals that would allow insurance companies to discriminate against individuals with pre-existing conditions.
Joe understands that if we truly want to strengthen our health care system, we have to work together. That is why he has worked with Republicans on ideas to stabilize the health insurance markets, promote price transparency, and develop effective ideas to lower the cost of health care.
* Opioid Epidemic
Put simply, the opioid epidemic is a tragedy the likes of which Heartland America has not seen in modern times, and it will take all of us, working together, to begin to make it right. Joe believes in a comprehensive approach that addresses the epidemic at every step of the way—from modern prescribing practices which understand that today’s painkiller can be the start of tomorrow’s addiction, to updated best practices for first responders treating overdoses; from adequate resources for those in rehabilitation and recovery to supporting rural economic drivers that address the workforce shortage in underserved areas.
Joe’s worked with colleagues on both sides of the aisle on the issue, and his ideas were a crucial piece of the first major bipartisan legislation to address the crisis - the Comprehensive Addiction Recovery Act, or CARA. Thanks to Joe, the bill created a new task force to develop modernized prescribing practices and raise awareness of the updated standards in an attempt to stop addiction before it starts. Joe also amended the bill to encourage first responders to connect those who have received naloxone with treatment and other follow-up services.
Our rural communities are often those struggling the most with this epidemic, yet Joe understands that they’re most in need of the resources to help combat it. He’s searched for new ways to increase the number of rural health care treatment providers who are on the front lines of the crisis. He’s introduced bipartisan legislation, like his Strengthening the Addiction Workforce and Treatment Act, that would provide new incentives to attract providers to hard-hit rural communities, by making addiction treatment facilities eligible for a federal student loan repayment and forgiveness program. Additional bipartisan bills from Joe would increase the accessibility of telemedicine for substance abuse programs and funding for community facilities addressing opioid and drug abuse.
For many older Americans, Social Security is a critical source of income. Joe believes we need to strengthen retirement, and he’ll fight against any proposal to weaken Social Security, cut payments or raise the eligibility age. He’s opposed efforts to privatize Social Security accounts and gamble seniors’ retirements on an ever-volatile stock market.
While some people in Washington are willing to put older Hoosiers’ health care at risk, Joe wants to make sure we protect and preserve Medicare for those who rely on it today and for future generations. He hasn’t given an inch on any proposal to cut the program, and during the recent health care repeal debates, he introduced an amendment that would stop the privatization of Medicare—or any other changes like raising the retirement age, or reducing state payments, that would harm Hoosiers. No matter how Washington tries to cut the services next time that older Hoosiers have earned, Joe will continue to be on the side of Indiana.
MEET MIKE BRAUN, Republican
Mike graduated from Jasper High School in 1972, where he served as senior class president and lettered in football, basketball, and track. Mike went on to graduate from Wabash College where he earned an economics degree, graduated summa cum laude, and served as President of the Student Body. In 1976, Mike married his high school sweetheart Maureen and entered Harvard Business School, earning an M.B.A. in 1978.
After graduation, Mike took a different path than many of his classmates and moved back to Jasper to start his career. In 1979, he co-founded Crystal Farms, Inc. which later became one of the largest turkey operations in the Midwest.
After starting at Meyer Body Company in 1981 and eventually acquiring full ownership, Mike transitioned from the manufacturing sector to the distribution markets, forming Meyer Distributing. Since then, Meyer has grown to be among the industry leaders in auto parts distribution. Under Mike’s leadership, Meyer survived the 2008 financial collapse and came out a stronger company, averaging 22 percent growth since 2009.
Today, Meyer is a nationwide contender in the third-party logistics business. Throughout the massive expansion of his business, Mike has always remained grounded to his roots by anchoring the company in Jasper. Mike is proud of his decision to build his businesses in his hometown.
Throughout the years, Mike has always looked for ways to give back to his community and serve his fellow Hoosiers. Mike is an avid outdoorsman, and enthusiastic mushroom hunter every spring. Mike has also served as a member of the local School Board and was elected as a State Representative in 2014.
As a State Representative, Mike has partnered with conservative leaders like Vice President Mike Pence to deliver results for Hoosiers. The 2016 Indiana General Assembly was ranked as the most conservative legislative body in the country. Mike has also been a strong defender of Hoosier values and has previously received endorsements from Indiana Right to Life and has a lifetime A Rating from the NRA.
* The Second Amendment
Mike is an avid hunter, NRA member, and 100% pro-2nd Amendment. Mike opposes any efforts to restrict the rights of law-abiding gun owners and will protect their ability to defend themselves and their families in life-threatening situations.
Mike will also work to enact national reciprocity laws and protect the rights of sportsmen on federal lands.
For his steadfast support of the 2nd Amendment, Mike has been endorsed by the National Rifle Association.
* Creating Jobs for All Hoosiers
Government is not the driver of new job creation or economic prosperity. And too often it gets in the way with onerous regulations and sky-high taxes. President Trump’s work to remove burdensome red tape and lower taxes for families and businesses are a start, but now is the time to double down on empowering the private sector and job creators.
We need a tax code that is simple and fair. We must repeal Obamacare, not repair it, to rein in costs and expand healthcare options. And we must ensure that American jobs are filled by American workers, not outsourced to other countries or given to illegal immigrants.
Mike’s Jobs Plan:
- Make the Trump tax cuts permanent and continue simplifying the tax code
- Ensure Indiana jobs are filled by American citizens through programs like e-Verify
- Build upon the $18 billion rollback in regulatory costs and allow businesses to focus on creating jobs not burdensome red tape
- Invest wisely into improving infrastructure, in both urban and rural communities, to help move goods and services through Indiana more efficiently
* Drain the Swamp
Washington is chock full of politicians who talk a slick game, but comes up empty when it comes to getting real results. These politicians have done nothing to increase the prosperity and safety of our families and instead rigged the system to benefit the politically connected and themselves.
To make Washington work again, the swamp must be drained. Career politicians from both parties need to be replaced with citizen legislators with real world experience who will always put the interest of Hoosier families and businesses first. And we must pass term limits for politicians now.
Mike’s Plan to Clean Up Government
- Enact Term Limits for politicians to crack down on corruption and bring fresh perspectives to Washington
- Ban retiring legislators from becoming lobbyists for five years after holding elected office
- Confirm constitutional conservatives to ensure that judges enforce the law, not make it
* Healthcare Reform
Obamacare is an unmitigated disaster for Hoosier families and businesses. Despite the promises of Washington politicians, premiums went up, families lost their doctors, and insurance options disappeared. There is no repairing this broken law; the only option is to repeal and replace every word and regulation.
Rather than a top-down, government-run healthcare system, Mike Braun believes in common sense alternatives that will reduce costs and increase access to care. These include allowing individuals to purchase insurance across state lines and allowing small businesses to pool together to purchase insurance at lower prices.
Mike Won’t Wait for Washington to Take on Healthcare
- Took on the insurance companies to fix healthcare for his employees
- Held premiums flat for ten years for his employees
- Covered pre-existing conditions with no lifetime caps before Obamacare
In his own business, Mike showed real leadership on healthcare, not just talk. Mike is ready to bring his proven record of finding solutions to fight for better healthcare options for all Hoosiers.
* Reduce Government Spending
Washington’s out of control spending must be stopped. The big spending politicians from both parties are mortgaging our future. Due to their failures to get serious about budget deficits, the national debt stands at more than $20 trillion – that’s $70,000 for every American citizen!
It’s time to force Washington politicians to get their fiscal house in order by reining in spending and balancing the budget just as every Hoosier family and business does. To ensure Congress gets this done, there should be no pay for politicians if Washington does not pass a budget.
Mike’s Plan to Fix the Debt
- Pass a constitutional amendment requiring Congress to balance the budget just like Indiana families and businesses do
- Pass the “No Budget, No Pay Act” which would stop payments to Members of Congress if the budget is not balanced
- Justify how every taxpayer dollar is spent
* Protecting Our Borders
The single most important obligation our government has is to protect its citizens. But for decades, the Congress has failed to meet this duty by refusing to address the southern border, allowing illegal immigrants and illicit drugs to pour into our communities.
The time for inaction is over. President Trump was right. We must act immediately to secure the border by building a wall, crack down on criminal illegal immigrants and the Sanctuary Cities that protect them, end chain migration, and demand that every business verifies the immigration status of its workers to protect American workers.
Mike’s Plan for Strong Border Security
- Build the wall and enforce immigration laws
- Ban federal funding from flowing to sanctuary cities
- Require businesses check the immigration status of prospective employees
- Crackdown on criminal gangs like MS-13, who bring illicit drugs and crime to our communities
* Strengthen Military and Honor Veterans
From North Korea to Russia, despots and dictators are increasing instability and danger throughout the world. To combat the rising tide of uncertainty, a strong American military is needed more than ever before. Mike Braun supports making sure our troops have the tools and equipment they need to protect America’s interests abroad and defeat ISIS terrorists where they live.
Mike will also work to continue President Trump’s work to reform the VA to better meet our healthcare commitments to those who have bravely served our country. Mike will champion efforts to reduce wait times at VA clinics, allow veterans to receive care closer to home, and increase and improve mental health services for veterans.
Mike’s Plan for the Military and Veterans
- Continue investing in efforts to rebuild the military after eight-years of neglect during the Obama Administration
- Never back down to despots, dictators, and rogue nation states like Iran who wish to do us harm
- Modernize and streamline inefficiencies at the VA to improve care for veterans
- Help veterans suffering with PTSD receive mental health treatment
* The Right to Life
Mike Braun is a father of four grown children and many grandchildren. The right to life is deeply important to him and in the Senate Mike will support legislation that says that life begins at conception.
MEET LUCY BRENTON (Libertarian)
Lucy Brenton is a proud, native Hoosier. From her years at IPS, to the Broad Ripple HS of Performing Arts and even television production at the Center for Instructional Radio and Television, she graduated from Northwest High School in Indianapolis in 1989. After high school she was crowned Miss Indianapolis Teen 1989, winning the college scholarship offered by the Pacers. She continued her education at IUPUI studying French and Economics and earned her degree.
Lucy met her husband at IUPUI and their whirlwind romance continues today. Lucy and Dorn celebrate their 27th wedding anniversary on May 11, 2018. In true Libertarian fashion, they married by private contract – never asking permission from the State. This union has produced seven daughters and three sons ranging in age from 24 to 3 years.
Lucy has served her Party in a multitude of ways. Currently, she serves as the Secretary of the Hamilton County Libertarian Party. In 1995 Lucy ran for City-County Council of Indianapolis and received the largest percentage of votes for a Libertarian candidate at that time. She remains an active member of the Libertarian Party today and enjoys the Libertarian lifestyle of philosophy, debate and the advancement of Liberty. She stands on principle.
Lucy believes in serving the greater community as well. She served as Treasurer of the Indiana Notary Association and is herself a Notary. Lucy has served in the positions of Secretary, Vice-President, President and At-Large of the Central Indiana Real Estate Investors Association, the largest real estate investor trade association in Indiana. Under her leadership, the association expanded its membership base and increased revenue, providing educational opportunities to members and service to the community.
Professionally, Lucy is an entrepreneur and works as a business consultant. She has owned, managed and operated mortgage companies. Lucy has worked and invested in the mortgage industry – she has earned a unique perspective on the fraud committed by Wall Street and insists that an honest money system is the foundation of economic stability.
Lucy is a published author and works tirelessly to expose the hazards of private information falling into the wrong hands. She has been published in real estate investing magazines and offered her book on credit repair for sales while lecturing to investing associations. She understands the corruption in something seemingly simple that controls too many aspects of our lives – the credit report – and the intrusion of privacy inherent in the gathering of data without adequate insurance of its accuracy. Lucy has witnessed the devastation of unintended consequences when legislation is passed to ostensibly protect the consumer but in fact does the exact opposite. More government is almost never the answer.
Lucy’s busy life revolves around family, business, and evangelization of liberty. Although a term as Senator certainly means a sacrifice of time, Lucy is ready to serve her Party and her country so that libertarian principles might be advanced. Taking a generational view, Lucy says this, “The time to fight for freedom is now! Our great grandchildren will thank us or curse us – will we stand against Leviathan or shrink from the challenge? Liberty will not wait. Join me now!”KEY ISSUES
I believe that unless we protect the smallest and most helpless members of society, that we protect no one. It is my fervent desire that no baby ever be aborted and that no one ever finds it necessary to seek one. Regardless of my personal view, the government should not be involved in what is ultimately a medical decision controlled by the woman in whose body the baby is growing. Personally, I believe that those who want to reduce the number of abortions must continually step forward to offer help and alternatives to women and families by creating an accepting culture that offers hope, financial resources and support in a situation where many are scared, feeling that they have run out of options.
It is not the place of the Federal government to pay for abortions nor legislate this issue. The Constitution has no mention of abortion and doesn’t authorize the federal government to be involved in abortion. Therefore, as a Libertarian, I would vote no on any legislation at the federal level because it is not within the purview of the Constitution.
Indiana is a strong agricultural State and the US is known for quality food, grain and other agricultural products around the world. It is imperative that federal government fulfill the responsibilities mandated by the Constitution to make interstate commerce uniform. Currently, the market for agricultural products is distorted by policies that incentive certain crops over others. Farmers, like other business people, follow the incentives given through farm subsidies while the free market is suppressed and ignored.
It is not the federal government’s job to pick winners and losers through farm subsidies. The free market must decide what crops and products are in demand and profitable. While the federal government can help make sure that interstate trade is uniform and fair, under the Constitution there is no power for the government to set prices or give subsidies. Those subsidies are just another example of corporate welfare and payment for political favors. Let the people keep the money in their pockets, let the market decide what is grown and stop the unconstitutional transfer of tax dollars to corporations.
The Constitution is very clear about an issue central to the economy: who controls the issuance of our money and regulates its value. Article I Section 8 Paragraph 5: (The Congress shall have the power…) “To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures; 6: To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;” Congress has defied the mandate of the Constitution and handed over the power of monetary regulation to the Federal Reserve with disastrous results.
Government does not create jobs. It never has and never will. When government interferes, Entrepreneurs & companies are burdened and jobs are not created.
First, we must commit to keeping the government at the absolute minimum size. Too many government agencies are parasites on taxpayers, staffing alphabet soup agencies that are not operating within nor authorized by the Constitution. A streamlined government keeping power here it belongs: in the hands of the people that it serves.
Corporate taxes must end. Why? Corporations do NOT pay taxes. They write the check – but only because they first get the money from their customers. It is the customers who pay the taxes. Corporate taxation is only a scheme to mask the transfer of funds to the government.
I will work to reduce and eliminate the obstacles that prevent small businesses from creating jobs in this country so that more jobs are available to the people who want them.
Economic growth will happen as a natural consequence of a constitutional money system and a laissez-faire policy to free markets. Freedom produces more wealth. The federal government must be limited to its Constitutional powers in all things.
We all share the same environment and we all have the responsibility to keep the environment clean. This includes not soiling or trespassing on the environment by dumping trash or chemicals into our shared space. Corporations often dump chemicals into the environment or our water supply because it is more profitable for them to do so than to clean up or find alternatives to noxious chemicals. Taxpayers suffered by paying for the consequences of the actions of a private corporation that pollute our air, ground, and water.
Simply, this is trespass. The citizens have the right to live in a clean environment, free from anyone – corporations or individuals – that harm another. Regardless of whether you are punched in the face, someone dumps trash onto your property or releases toxic chemicals into your air or water, you have been the victim of trespass.
It is time, these perpetrators were held responsible for the trespass that is committed against people and property. When it is no longer more profitable to dump waste into the environment and force taxpayers and individuals to clean up the mess, we will see a change in the behavior of the perpetrators. When heads of companies use their corporation to commit trespasses that harm so severely they rise to a level of criminality, those trespassers must be held individually accountable. It is a rare event now when a corporation harms flora, fauna, water and humans and the individuals acting in their capacity as directors of those corporate actions are jailed or fined.
When individuals trespass against another, they should be held accountable. If I release toxic chemicals from my property that kill trees or animals that belong to my neighbor, I should be held accountable for trespass and a strict policy of restitution should be enforced. Whether corporate or individual, we must all be held to the same standards.
The one valid purpose of government is to protect its citizens from force and fraud. Environmental crimes are both a force and a fraud against taxpayers. I will work to end incentives to harm the environment and protect individual liberty and rights.
It’s time we stopped using foreign policy as an excuse to meddle in the affairs of foreign countries or worse, to try and grab their natural resources for the benefit of corporations.
Each sovereign country on this planet has the same rights that we do, given by God. Namely, to be free from the interference in their affairs from others. Our current foreign policy has created problems around the globe because of our manipulation and back door deals to install in power those that are convenient to our government.
My foreign policy is simple: to make friends, not enemies. To stay out of the internal affairs of sovereign nations. To trade freely for the benefit of each. To treat other countries and peoples as we wish to be treated. To not initiate force against them and not take their stuff. In summary, to be a good neighbor.
Should a country, in spite of the above, instead aggress against us, of course we defend ourselves. I would not engage in any unlawful wars. Only Congress can declare war. The endless unconstitutional wars in which we engage must be stopped immediately. The American Taxpayer should not be burdened any further in wars which only make defense contractors rich and turn the world against the US and its war machine.
I have a very simple personal philosophy on this issue: everyone has the same rights, regardless of who they are sleeping with – or not. We each have the right to pursue happiness. That looks different to each person. My rights stop where your nose begins.
Quite frankly, my sex life and choices are not your business when they don’t affect you. I am not interested in who you are sleeping with and it is not my business nor is it the government’s business. Consenting adults should be left alone to pursue their own happiness and agenda as long as their practices do not interfere with the life, liberty or pursuit of happiness of another.
Obviously, non-consenting adults and minors are an entirely different issue. Government exists to protect its citizens from force and fraud. In the case of force or fraud against a person – whether sexual in nature or not – government must endeavor to protect the rights of the victim, prevent the perpetrator from harming another and seek for restitution for the victim.
I would never force association nor advocate for forced association by the government on behalf of one group or another. If a private business doesn’t wish to do business with an individual – for example, refuse to provide a good or service that is anathema to the personal beliefs of the business owner – it is not within the purview of the government to force such association and require any business owner to perform a service or offer a product when there exists choice in the marketplace.
Clearly, where there are government created or supported monopolies, there is a lack of choice at this time. As an example, utilities. With rare exception, individuals have only one choice for a water provider, sewer provider, natural gas or electricity provider. These types of monopolies should not be allowed to choose with whom they do business as they are enjoying an artificial market sustained by government.
In the case of a private business where there exists competition – for example a bakery – the free market should and will regulate this issue. A gay couple wanting a wedding cake that approaches a bakery owned by individuals who disagree with the marriage of homosexuals should not be forced by government to bake a cake. The free market will deny the bakery the profit from that transaction and the couple is free to seek an alternative provider of that service. Of course, it is also likely that publicity in the free market of the denial of services might cause some to avoid this bakery and others to support it with their use of its services. Those who seek to provide maximum freedom will likely win the most in terms of higher profits and customer satisfaction. All of this can and should occur with no interference from government.
* Gun RightsThere are many who joke about gun control being “to use both hands.” While I agree, I think that there is an inherent responsibility that each citizen has to be ready to defend our country. I believe this responsibility extends beyond the paid military and rests in the hands of every able citizen. Our founding fathers believed this, too – and worded the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution very carefully to reflect this:
“A well regulated Milita, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
It is the right of “the people” (that’s you and I) to keep and bear Arms, not the right of the government. That right “shall not be infringed.”
Every willing citizen should keep Arms, be proficient in their use – and be ready to use them to defend themselves, their families, their property and this Nation
* ImmigrationIt seems redundant to say, but illegal immigration is, well, illegal! Why are people willing to come to this country however they can, even when it means breaking the law and risking deportation?
There seem to be two main reasons that people come to this country. They are economic opportunity and economic theft. What does that mean? It means that some come to contribute to our economy, work hard and pursue the American Dream. Others dream of stealing from our taxpayers by coming and stealing from our welfare state.
Those who come to work hard and contribute should be welcomed. They want to build a better life for themselves, let them. They want to build a better country and stronger country – let them work alongside us in our communities. Let us cooperate for mutual benefit. Let them come legally so that they may honorably become Americans. Streamline the immigration process, screen carefully to keep out criminals. We were all immigrants once.
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Those who come to mooch off our welfare system should be stopped. Chances are they came here illegally and as criminals should be deported. If you are not here to work hard, to contribute and build community – then you are not welcome to steal from our public coffers.
Let good people in – make it easy to do so. Make it easier to get bad people out and remove the incentives that cause those unwilling to work to overrun our borders and burden our taxpayers.
* Marijuana LegalizationThroughout the ages, man has cultivated many plants. Some for food, some for medicine, some for industry. Marijuana and Hemp are two of those plants whose usefulness is nearly unlimited. It is this usefulness which drew the attention of competing industries and led to big industries demanding it be made illegal for one important reason: protecting their profits.
All restrictions on Marijuana and Hemp should be removed immediately for both personal and industrial uses. We don’t tax people who consume broccoli and we shouldn’t tax people who consume marijuana. This useful plant should be available to all who wish to grow it and sell it.
Marijuana is exceptionally safe. Marijuana has the power to replace a multitude of dangerous pharmaceutical drugs that are expensive to us and profitable to pharmaceutical companies. This is the real reason you have been denied Marijuana.
Hemp is extremely useful. From rope, paper, cloth, concrete, plastic and dozens of other useful material uses…hemp has the power to fix carbon and change our world. What else would it change? Corporate profits. Look at the products just listed and understand that industries that compete with the above are the reason you don’t have widespread use of hemp. You are being denied the better building materials, paper, clothing, biodegradable plastics, and products because there are profits to protect. This is the real reason you have been denied Hemp.
Responsible adults should be free to decide what products they use and consume – as long as they don’t hurt anyone else. The essence of freedom is self-ownership. Decriminalize marijuana and release all non-violent offenders jailed for the non-crime of deciding what to put in their own bodies. Release hemp to industry so that farmers and manufacturers can give us innovative products from this amazing plant.
* Medical RightsLibertarians call for choice in all things and medicine is no exception. Inherent in many medical procedures are risks. Some risks are small, some are great. Where there is risk, there must be choice.
One way in which choice is limited is when patients are not allowed to choose what medicine they want to use. It is the patient who bears the risk and therefore it is the patient who must be free to choose. The person best able to advise the patient is the person chosen by the patient as their advisor. While I might disagree with your choice of provider – or your choice of medication – I believe that as long as you are willing to own up to your personal responsibility to deal with the consequences of your choices, then your choices are yours.
Some might choose to visit doctors specializing in traditional healing methods such as herbs. Others might choose Allopathic Doctors who use a more pharmaceutical-based approach. All options should be available to patients – and no type of medicine should be allowed to create a monopoly – the natural result of which is to increase profits and limit patient choice.
The Affordable Care Act limits choice. It forces patients to buy a product – an insurance product – which they may not need nor want. This must end. Private insurers can decide whether or not to offer insurance contracts to consumers – and consumers can choose whether or not they want insurance and if so, what coverage is appropriate for them. Maybe none at all.
In a free market, solutions will be created by the marketplace as consumers clamor for products that meet their needs. In a market free from government interference, innovation will flourish. Most importantly, the power of a consumer-driven marketplace can break the stranglehold of monopoly that we currently see in medicine. It is abhorrent that an individual be forced to buy a product that he doesn’t want, that doesn’t offer him the protection he needs – and provides services he would never use.
I suggest one solution among many – the formation of private health care co-operatives. People with similar lifestyles and similar risks can share the cost of healthcare – on a voluntary basis. I personally object to the ACA and any forced insurance scheme that lumps all groups together. I make healthier food choices than most. I don’t smoke or drink – yet under the ACA I am forced to subsidize the behavior and consequences of those who do. This is un-American and must be stopped.
I will fight for your right to make your own decisions. Only you can decide if a treatment is appropriate for you. Only you should decide who you want advising you on your personal healthcare decisions. There must always be true, informed consent when your health is on the line. Just as the Nuremberg Code stands against forced medical experimentation – I stand against forcing you to be a victim of the failed experiment that is our current healthcare system.
* Minimum WageThe minimum wage is often a sore subject with many workers. Some say it is too low and demand a “living wage.” Others say it is too high and discourages employers from hiring entry level works. Like Goldilocks, the government seems to constantly look for a minimum wage that is “just right.”
What is the truth about minimum wage? Surely opinions differ and I will offer mine. A little historical perspective will be sprinkled in that will demonstrate our minimum wage laws did not develop in a vacuum.
The first problem with a minimum wage is the obvious intervention of government in the private lives of citizens. Every adult citizen has the right to contract with other adult citizens for mutual benefit. The contracts can be upheld by the courts as long as there is no force, fraud, criminal intent or other immoral or illegal action (we won’t argue illegal vs. immoral right now).
If a low skilled worker offers their labor, negotiating a wage with an employer, who is government to decide what that worker should be paid? Interventionists would argue that the low skilled worker may be taken advantage of by a more sophisticated employer, but is that really what is going on? Big Brother might demand that employers pay $15 per hour. The low-skilled worker only produces $6 per hour of value. Employing this worker with their limited skill set is not sustainable for the employer. The employer would, therefore, decline to hire this worker.
Sadly, this worker is motivated and knows that their skill set is limited. The worker lacks experience. The worker is eager to learn and willing to work hard in order to build skills and experience in anticipation of one day earning more. This teenage worker will be blocked by government do-goodism from working and gaining valuable skills and experience. All to “protect” this worker, of course, from evil companies.
Further, an economic disparity will result as this worker languishes and falls into apathy. The workers hurt most by minimum wage laws include minorities and already suffering low income, entry-level hopefuls. These laws are grounded in racism and suppression of minorities.
Walter E. Williams, the renowned African-American Economist wrote: “During South Africa’s apartheid era, the secretary of its avowedly racist Building Workers’ Union, Gert Beetge, said, “There is no job reservation left in the building industry, and in the circumstances, I support the rate for the job (minimum wage) as the second-best way of protecting our white artisans.” The South African Economic and Wage Commission of 1925 reported that “while definite exclusion of the Natives from the more remunerative fields of employment by law has not been urged upon us, the same result would follow a certain use of the powers of the Wage Board under the Wage Act of 1925, or of other wage-fixing legislation. The method would be to fix a minimum rate for an occupation or craft so high that no Native would be likely to be employed.” (source: lewrockwell.com)
I am against the minimum wage and in favor of its abolishment. The unintended (or historically intended) consequences of interference in the right of the employee to negotiate and contract for their own benefit become more apparent in light of historical and institutional racism. Allow free people to negotiate for themselves so that the control of their lives rests where it should: in their own hands.
* Self OwnershipFoundational in the Libertarian philosophy is that of self ownership. One is born with a bundle of natural rights, recognized by the Constitution of the United States as the right to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. Each individual has these as natural rights at birth. They are not granted by one’s parents, the government or any document. They are inherent to one’s existence as a human being.
The first aspect of self-ownership is that of the physical body. We are each born with a physical body. It is incumbent upon each person to take care of their own physical body as best they see fit. If one does a good job of this, the likely reward is health and a long life. If not, disease and misery may result.
What right, if any, does another person have to control the body of another? I would submit that I have only the right to control my own body and never the right to control the body of another. Although I don’t smoke or drink you won’t find me demanding that you stop smoking or drinking. Similarly, I avoid all drugs – whether prescription or not – and prefer to find my health in fruits, vegetables, and herbs. I exercise sporadically and others exercise religiously. I admire them for their efforts and strive to emulate them. It is clearly a good idea to exercise but do those who exercise gain the right to tell me that I must follow them in their endeavors? Clearly not.
When people get together in a group and organize, they are often referred to as the “government.” In a sometimes misguided and other times brazen attempt to control others for profit or power, “government” will decree that some things are good and others bad. While making these declarations, the demand for certain behaviors to be emulated or eliminated is typically tied to a reward or punishment. Government often uses the carrot and stick to elicit outcomes. Whether the motivation of Government is good or ill is irrelevant.
History is replete with examples of the misery of unintended consequences. Take the so-called “Drug War.” According to news reports in 2012, over a trillion dollars had been spent up to that point on trying to prevent people from exercising their right to self-ownership. A group of people decided that other people should not be allowed to use drugs, should not be allowed to determine for themselves what substances they would put into their own bodies. Simultaneously, this same group called government creates mandates on other substances that must be put in the body. Lunacy.
If we could instead recognize the natural right of self-ownership, each person could make a cost versus benefit decision for themselves. The individual lives in the physical body and will suffer or enjoy the consequences of their individual decisions. A faraway group of people cannot effectively or efficiently make decisions for others. The basis of freedom is the freedom of the individual to act in his own self-interest – as long as his actions harm no one.
I own my physical body and I also own my mind. Mental self-ownership is clearly an important facet of freedom. The right to think one’s own thoughts, to hold an opinion or conclusion that is in opposition to the group – such is foundational to freedom. When the Constitution was created, amendments were added to necessarily reflect rights that by enumeration would be further accentuated.
Grab hold of the foundation of your freedom. Self ownership. Guard it, harm no one.