I had the pleasure of interviewing Joe Kennedy (website) who is running as an independent for MA special election (January 19th, 2010) to fill the vacant seat of the late Ted Kennedy. Joe Kennedy is a small government kind of guy and is not at all related to the famous Massachusetts family and in fact is offering voters something new and fresh as opposed to the two incumbent parties. If you are tired of the federal government growing regardless of which party is in charge, understand that our entitlement programs are broken and believe that the media treats third party candidates unfairly - read on.
Arkady: Congratulations on your successful ballot drive, what are your thoughts on your challengers this coming January; Democrat Attorney General Martha Coakley and Republican State Senator Scott Brown?
JK: My challengers are both Party Candidates. For me the parties are very much 2 sides of the same coin. Both parties are for more wars, bigger government, more taxes (or a significantly devalued currency), fewer liberties, ignore the constitution, etc. Bush pushed for wars, vast budget and trade deficits, increases entitlements and subordination of America’s interests to foreign interests. We know where the left stands… the same place.
Arkady: How would you answer to those people who accuse your supporters of throwing their vote away or an equally common accusation of splitting the vote with the Republican thereby paving the way for the Democrat?
JK: As for people who continue to grasp the argument about throwing away their vote: 51% of Massachusetts is Unenrolled – as I am. Rasmussen Reports that a Tea Party Candidate would top the GOP (link)I have been to Tea Parties and Can You hear us Now protests and I didn’t see Scott there. I am in the Majority (Unenrolled). Scott is Pro-Health Care. He urged people to vote against Question 1 (End the Income Tax) last year. I am not splitting a Vote with anyone. Me and Scott are very different. I am for Smaller Government, Lower Taxes, Defending All Liberties and total Equality. As for throwing a vote away, Rasmussen also states that the vast majorities do not trust either party – hence I am neither.
Arkady: Considering this is a special election and you have only a month to campaign, what are some of the obstacles and challenges that you must overcome in a political landscape that is not terribly friendly to third party candidates?
JK: The media is very biased and not interested in informing the population of independent candidates. Simply look at the sharp contrast in media attention I am getting to the attention of the other candidates. Even the losers of the primary have received more press than I a person who has made the final ballot. I do believe in Gandhi’s statement: First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. I will also not ignore the 10,000 pound gorilla in the corner, if I am completely ignored and not allowed to speak, Scott Brown will do well. As much as I want to make sure every person in the State knows I am Joe Kennedy of Dedham, Technology Professional and not the Oil guy; as much as my campaign staff has called all the networks and issued press releases the fact is they are ignoring us. The truth is if I am not followed at all some people will make the mistake and just check Kennedy. My intention would be to be interviewed often by the media, people need to know all their choices, but it’s not the media’s job to inform voters, it’s the media’s job to make money or protect the party system that funds them. Up till now I have been largely ignored, which as much as it’s unfortunate, it’s great for Scott Brown.
Arkady: Many Americans are very sympathetic with your plight and many more should be informed at just how stacked this political game really is. There is also the matter of capital; from what we can tell both Coakley and Brown are sporting impressive war chests for their time in the public sector. Will you be able to challenge their message with your own unique ideas through television or radio presence?
JK: To be honest, I do not have the funds to compete on radio and tv. I do not have companies or the media in my back pocket; I am like every other middle class person out there. I am actively taking contributions and I am doing my best online. If people find me and donate I may be able to put something up, but it’s the same problem as we have always had… the person who comes from the population and is going into politics for the right reason always has the problem of being new and under-funded.
Arkady: What prompted you to run as an independent and embracing the difficulty of a third party candidacy as opposed to running in the Republican primary?
JK: Well I am not a Republican, but based on the people in the Federal Government, neither are the Republican’s any more. To be specific, I had no choice but to run as an Independent: Mass State Law requires you to run as you are enrolled and I am un-enrolled.
Arkady: Moving to the issues. If you were elected Senator what would be the first changes and reforms you would propose?
JK: would immediately put Pay-Go back in place. That simple act would require us to address any additional war or entitlement issues in a fiscally responsible manner.
Arkady: What are your thoughts on the Federal Income tax? What steps would you take to address this tax?
The 16th Amendment was not ratified according to the laws of the state and should be repealed. I would put forth legislation to repeal it, at the same time I would encourage the states who did not properly ratify the 16th amendment to acknowledge that and create the public pressure needed to move that motion forward.
Arkady: The issue of improper ratification has indeed been mentioned and discussed, although at this juncture it would seem like a moot point. Indeed, a more relevant question would be: What spending cuts would you make such that the Federal Income tax can be safely abolished?
JK: You are correct the point is moot, however, the reason I bring it up is we need public support and outrage to move a bill through. I believe that massive acknowledgement of the fact would help. I don’t have a list as of yet as what to cut, but let’s start with putting Pay-go in place, ending the wars. Limiting government expansion (staff, transportation, etc.) There are literally thousands of earmark projects that need to be eliminated (Study of Icelandic pollen) and stop paying out the stimulus. Again the list would be a million little things. The problem is there are a million little things.
Arkady: What are your thoughts on the Federal Reserve’s ability to print and create money at will? How would you possibly address this?
JK: The FED should be Audited and if needed ended (and once it is audited, I am confident that everyone will want it ended). As hard as it would be to get back to the Gold standard we need to work towards that goal or a similarly stable goal.
Arkady: Social Security is known as a “sacred cow“ and maligning this misunderstood system has hurt many politicians. How would you fix Social Security and do you think it is fixable?
Number 1: Make Social Security voluntary immediately.
Number 2: Offer people a payout, even a reduced payout will work for some (i.e. we will give you back 70% of your contributions tax free and you opt out –its better than nothing and some people will take it. I would).
Number 3: Grandfather in the People retiring, you can’t take it away from them. Then ask the population to work longer, or at least adjust the age of SS for future generations to 4 years of the age of life expectancy. The SS rate must move with the age of the population, it’s a Ponzi scheme which doesn’t unless it adjusts.
Arkady: Those sounds like great common sense solutions. However as you know Social Security is already suffering from fiscal shortages, if the younger generation elects to put money back in their wallet then the fiscal gap will widen even faster. How will those seniors dependent on Social Security checks get paid without driving the country further into debt?
JK: There is no real way… the reason I am willing to forfeit some of my money is to prop the system up temporarily. In reality the economy has to recover and the government has to make tax revenue to fund the agreements in place and rapidly change the agreements for people who are under 58 or so … they have to work 2 more years etc… again I don’t have the exact numbers but the concept is there. The point is you can’t wait to make a correction that you know must be made. My plan will continue the need for foreign bonds, but putting the sliding scale in place rapidly will limit the amount of time it will be that way. The truth is there is no perfect solution, we know some things that must be done, get them done and lessen the blow. As it is today SS is just part of a large bucket all of which is somewhat funded by the sale of Bonds…
Arkady: Where do you place yourself on the economic spectrum? Are you a Keynesian, Monetarist or Austrian?
JK: I lean Austrian but would be hesitant to say I am 100% in any camp.
Arkady: You have spoken about creating jobs as a solution to our welfare state and you plan to do so via bank loans to businesses. Many believe that the current economic crisis is due to an already overwhelming amount of credit and loans due to a cheap money policy perpetrated by the Federal Reserve. Why is more credit the solution to what appears to be a saturation of credit.
JK: You are correct that is my statement. I look at the issue as an issue of Leverage. I believe the issue is not actually lending it is the absence of reserves backing up the loans banks make. Right now there is infinite leverage… I give a bank 100 they hold 5 and lend out 95 to you. You take that money and deposit it in another bank, they hold 5 and lend out 90, but that original $95 is not real money etc. We need to enable people to obtain money (loans) and we need to ensure banks cannot be greatly leveraged. Notably once loans are properly collateralized we should not have to bail out banks because they are not based on fake leveraged assets. And if a bank is in trouble – let it go under, the vacuum created will be picked up by others.
Arkady: I think many readers can appreciate letting the banks fail, a sentiment sorely missing during the TARP fiasco. What you are describing sounds very much like fractional reserve banking and some of us certainly understand the danger that fractional lending creates. How will you ensure that banks do not operate under dangerous leverage levels without resorting to more federal bureaucracy?
JK: There needs to be no additional fed tampering than there already is. The limit just needs to be raised, the mechanism is the same. Banks must show how much actual collateral they hold and the amount of liabilities they have to depositors.
If you are sick of supporting the "lesser of two evils" and believe that Joe Kennedy has a message that more closely resembles yours, then he needs all the help you can offer. Whether it be a contribution or even lobbying the local media to at least give Joe Kennedy a fair chance to promote his ideas. We do not need to live in a two party system if we do not have to!
Cross posted on RightCondition.com