Sooo… due to a scheduling conflict, I double booked getting a cover up tattoo on my rib cage and a phone interview with a gubernatorial candidate. Some people might have taken that mistake and rescheduled, but I saw it as an opportunity to multitask and do what John Galt would.
Specifically, I was in a tattoo shop set to be demolished via eminent domain used by the Wisconsin government in an attempt to accommodate the arrival of the new Foxconn plant. The owner, Ryan Henkel, alleges that the county doesn’t present him or many other residents and businesses a “fair” offer for their land or their relocation, and of course it’s an offer they can’t refuse all the same.
I talked about this and other issues with Scott Walker’s Libertarian opposition.
TLR: This is Gary Doan, talking to Phil Anderson, former US Senate Candidate, current chair of the Wisconsin Libertarian Party and gubernatorial candidate. Thanks for talking with me, and congratulations on officially getting on the ballot and your election as regional alternate.
TLR: You’re running against Walker and one of… what… a dozen Democrats… for Governor. The field’s probably smaller now. How would you rate Walker’s performance in that office overall, compared to other governors in the Midwest? What are the best and worst things he’s done in office?
PA: Well, it’s hard to say. I think he’s been pretty disappointing, to be honest with you. Because, originally he came out as a champion of conservatism, and right out of the gate when he was elected in 2010, he fought for and passed Act 10, which was a bill that, among other things, basically stopped the government from negotiating with some public sector unions. It was a big deal. But even at the beginning, it didn’t go nearly far enough, because it didn’t address police and firemen unions. He avoided them, basically because he gets contributions from them and endorsed by them.
And since then, he only goes so far on plenty of issues. For example, he had been good on supporting second amendment rights to an extent, but he and his Senate majority leader curiously stalled a constitutional carry bill in the state senate this session, just because he didn’t think it was politically expedient to keep his promise to fully support second amendment rights.
On some other things, he has, despite selling himself as a small government conservative, he has expanded the power of the state in plenty of areas. He put plenty of limits on local units of government. Of course, as Libertarians, we hate taxation and we understand it is theft. But it’s also not the place for a larger unit of government to be mandating things on more local units of government. He restricts property rights of individuals and the ability of local communities to make land use decisions by moving permitting for mining and other activities to the state level, as opposed to that being decided at the county level, which is not really conservative. One of the things we appreciate as libertarians is that people’s full property rights should be upheld be the government, that’s one of it’s basic constitutional roles.
And there’s some other things, like transportation policy, things like that… where he has not fulfilled his promise to be conservative. And the challenge is that among those positions that concur with my positions and other libertarian positions, he hasn’t gone far enough and hasn’t really kept his promises.
The challenge has been, that despite the fact that all these shortcomings have been pointed out by people who are conservatives here in Wisconsin, they’re having a hard time leaving him in terms of support. We present a viable option, but they just don’t think that we’re in a position to win yet. The most important thing that’s coming up for us, is that when the first polls come out after the Democratic primary on August 14th, they will include my candidacy as an option for the Governor’s race. Assuming that we poll at least as well as I did in the Senate race, which was nine percent among likely voters, then that number will be used to start really pulling even more people in to really hold Walker’s feet to the fire on some of these issues.
TLR: That’s good to hear. A lot of times that’s a battle in itself, just to be included in the polls.
PA: I learned from last time, and I communicated with (nationally recognized government scholar and pollster) Charles Franklin from Marquette, who I’ve met a couple of times, and I just asked him. Because there was such a crowded Democrat field, I needed to know if we were going to be offered or not in the pre-primary polling. And he said no, that there wasn’t really enough room to dig into, I mean… most of the polling was on the Democrat candidates. But once the primary is over, we’ll be included.
TLR: Do you agree with the following statement—“One of the main problems with the modern day American healthcare system is that we have conflated health insurance with healthcare, and use insurance more as a prepayment for most medical expenses rather than protection against catastrophic loss”? Why, and why does it matter?
PA: Oh, absolutely, I agree with that. And usually when the healthcare issue comes up, that’s something I’ll talk about right away. Because, the expense and a restricted market, which are two things that insurance companies are interested in having as a condition of the healthcare market, which they pay politicians to do on their behalf, are really what drives up the cost and drives down the quality.
I use the example of car insurance, and if you ask people how they would fell if their car insurance had to cover routine maintenance, oil changes, and even fueling up, if they thought the cost would go up and the quality would go down. Once you put it that way, people see it. That not only are they conflated, and people don’t talk about that differently, but the fact that the health insurance industry is running basically both sides of the aisle on this, and the options of more primary care concierge services, those sorts of things, letting the free market get involved…
Trump talked about buying insurance across state lines for a while during his campaign, but that didn’t come to pass, of course. As a Republican or Democrat, you’re free to say whatever you want when you’re running, but once you’re elected you’re expected to fall in line. That’s one of the points of my campaign, that you should be very careful about what Republican and Democrat candidates say. As opposed to what they’re free to do. Not what they’re willing to do or want to do, but what they’re free to do once they’re elected. It’s pretty clear that it’s been the case under both Republicans and Democrats in regards to healthcare and health insurance.
TLR: In what ways, if any, should the state government of Wisconsin encourage a move of consumers or recipients towards vehicles like HSAs or subscription services for routine and preventative medicine?
PA: They haven’t, as far as I’m aware of, they’ve done absolutely nothing. And I currently belong to a concierge service, where I pay ninety-six dollars a month, for getting all my routine care, labs, prescription refills… I mean, not the actual paying for the prescription, but that service from the doctor and the doctor’s office. They’re very inexpensive, very responsive healthcare. And I would promote that as Governor. Not necessarily trying to institute something through the force of government, but encouraging market forces to make those options available and encouraging people to use them by pulling them up as examples of the market working for people.
TLR: What are your thoughts on school vouchers broadly? And more specifically, what are the positives and negatives of the statewide voucher system in Wisconsin, and how could it be improved?
PA: Well, we just unveiled an idea. I just did my Wisconsin Eye interview. I’m sure, given you’re in Wisconsin, you’re familiar with Wisconsin Eye. They’re the nonprofit that covers all the state capital news, they broadcast Senate hearings, all that stuff, but they also record and disseminate candidate interviews, each election cycle. And during that interview last Wednesday, we unveiled a plan that doesn’t have a catchy name yet, but it’s going to be something like open enrollment for all. And to me, it’s the first part of a two part strategy.
What we’re trying to do is break the stranglehold that public schools and the teacher’s unions have on people’s taxpayer dollars and their right to choose what kind of education is best for their kids. So right now, any time you open enroll from one public school district to another, there’s a dollar amount that’s tied to every student. So that’s the number that they estimate is being spent on the student, everything paid in through taxpayer money to the district per student. It’s equalized, not income based. It’s the same number per every student. And if you move to a new district, they transfer those funds, and the new district gets whatever that number is. I’d like to start with that number, and allow everybody in the state who has children in the public schools to use that number, to use that dollar amount, to opt out—not only to opt into a different public school, but opt out of the public school system altogether and into a private school of their choosing, and without any strings attached.
It’s one of the flaws of the current voucher system, is that you can’t use it at any public school you want, there has to be certain restrictions. And it’s sort of, like common core-ish. There’s certain things that need to be had, which might be the reason parents want to opt out in the first place. So, it’s not really a true choice system, and it’s not available to everybody.
So what our goal is, and what we’ll flush out in the course of the next month or so, is this plan called open enrollment for all. It has a couple of features—number one, there’s no strings attached when you open enroll into a private school. But the other thing is that it’s not just for people who can afford it or certain areas of the state. One of the major issues is people are free to attend private schools if they can afford to, but they’re still paying for the public schools.
So the people who are served most poorly by the current public school system, mainly poor people, black people in Milwaukee and Madison, Racine, Kenosha, the urban areas of the state… are the ones who are least able to afford to opt out, and where the public schools are the worst. So this is an opportunity for them to take dollars that they’re paying in, as renters. Because, as you know, even people who rent are paying property tax through a landlord, in essence they’re paying for that. To free them from that imprisonment to the public school system and allow them to opt out and come up with solutions of their own and at least have a market for different kinds of schools, especially in urban areas, where people have been so abused by the current political structure.
TLR: What’s your pitch to voters who philosophically align more with you, but are afraid of the consequence of your support swaying the election away from a major party candidate they’d prefer and towards one they despise more?
PA: Well, it’s a difficult thing. And to be honest, the first thing we need to present is viability. So, we’ve been very careful, in my Senate election as well as this one, in crafting messages where people don’t feel like we’re going to pull out the rug, completely dismantle government in one election cycle, or whatever. Also, we encourage people to not be held captive by the two party system as well. Although I’m very careful about using this analogy, it’s very much like an abusive relationship.
Every person in the United States is being abused by their government in some way, shape, or form. Some more than others, but certainly that abuse is there. And if you’re not willing to leave, you will always be abused.
Specifically, back to your first question, those constituencies that rightfully feel that Scott Walker doesn’t fully represent them because he’s got his finger in the wind, so to speak, and is trying to blunt the force of an attack by the left. Those people in particular may talk about voting Libertarian, talk about voting for me, but in the end they don’t. If more people at least consider the option—If Wisconsin Gun Owners, Wisconsin Concealed Carry, property owners groups in Wisconsin, Wisconsin Taxpayers Association—If they look and say ‘This is an option. The Libertarian candidate is an option, because we’re not being served well by the Republican that’s in office’, then at least that’s an opportunity for us to get more votes.
And even given that, understanding the long odds of being elected, it may sway the next Governor, whether they’re a Republican or Democrat, to at least want to address those populations if they make their wishes and their threats understood.
But if they just continue to be captive to one of the two big parties on whatever the issue is… it could be something usually supported by the right or by the left. We run into this problem with marijuana legalization too, in that almost all the Democrat candidates, there’s eight of them right now, talk about legalization, some more forcibly than others… but none of them are going to be free to do that as governor once they’re elected. So, whatever the issue may be, if we support it, we’re free to represent it, while they’re not. So hopefully we can push people our way who already agree with us by pointing out how viably, either by being elected or just by getting enough votes, we can influence the state of Wisconsin on these issues.
TLR: I live in Kenosha County, where the Governor denied approval for building a Hard Rock Casino that would have been constructed without the use of state funds. He was able to do so because our state constitution, which attempted to prohibit casino gambling, resulted in a set of laws giving the executive branch authority to approve or disapprove of casinos owned by tribes unilaterally. Knowing what you do about the deal, would you have approved construction had you been governor at the time?
PA: Yeah, especially because it wouldn’t have used taxpayer funds. The tribes, and the people who make local decisions should be free to do what they want. Period.
TLR: My representative in the state assembly fought for approval of the casino, even if it’s a decision for the Governor. However, when I brought up the idea of amending our state constitution to fully legalize casinos, she seemed to think it was a waste of time. The process requires passage by two separate legislative sessions… one after the passage of an election. Would pursuing such a change be a lost cause, or would it be a battle worth fighting?
PA: For me as governor, it would be a battle worth fighting because it’s a basic issue of whether people can handle living their lives as they choose and making decisions for themselves. Now, looking at the political landscape, your representative may have been correct, in that there’s a lot of opposition to that. But I’m not afraid of that sort of opposition. And as a Libertarian governor, I could use leverage against, or between the two parties to get things certain things done, that would be my job. To fight that fight in a way that could be accomplished, because I’m not playing on either side of the fence. I could broker a deal and votes in other ways.
TLR: You’ve been critical of the Foxconn deal, mostly on a crony capitalist standpoint. Could you speak on the specifics of why, especially on issues revolving around environmental concerns and eminent domain abuse?
PA: Well, yeah. Absolutely. I’m not a big fan of a lot of environmental regulations, at least in the way the state goes about them. I do believe that at least in the short term, the state plays a role in upholding people’s property rights. And that speaks to both the environmental concerns of Foxconn, as well as eminent domain. Eminent domain is in the Constitution, and it’s kind of hard to fight the concept, although it’s been crazily abused across the United States for a long time. So I consider the Constitution a flawed document, at least in that part. But the state has a role in defending property rights for people, whether their water would be polluted, or whether their access to water would be changed.
And Foxconn’s not the only issue in that regard. There’s currently a mine being begun up at the far end of the Menomonee River, that’s going to pollute that river, and a couple of counties have passed resolutions against that, but the state hasn’t stepped in and done anything to defend their property rights. This despite counties passing a county referendum. In that regard, specifically to Foxconn, if we understand government as supporting those rights constitutionally understood and spelled out, than there’s a role for the state that it’s abdicated in brokering this deal with Foxconn, and that’s just two examples, the environmental issue and the eminent domain issue. It’s really a travesty.
TLR: Last of my questions—What’s your favorite drink, your favorite shot, and your favorite star wars movie?
PA: Ah… my favorite drink… Right now, I don’t have a particular scotch, but I really like a highland, a good highland Scotch. And I’m going to be in Scotland starting this Friday, I’m going on a trip with my son over there, he’s on a choir tour and going be chaperoned, so I’m looking forward to some really good Scotch. I don’t know if I have a favorite shot, to be honest with you. I like a good shot of whiskey, I guess. I’m not a big fan of tequilla. But I’ll drink a shot of vodka or two. And the last question was my favorite?
TLR: Favorite Star Wars movie.
PA: Probably… The Empire Strikes back. I like all of them, in different ways, but that’s the one, back when it came out, I was… when did it come out, 19… 80 or 81, something like that?
TLR: Um, ’77 was A New Hope, I think… ’81 was the… yeah… I think ’81 was Empire? Hmmm.. I don’t know, sounds right. Wasn’t it? (It was 1980, and I feel like an inadequate Star Wars geek for mixing that up).
PA: Well, I was in high school and it made a big impression on me, and that’s the one that made me look forward to the rest of the series. I think they’ve all been great, I’ve enjoyed them. I haven’t seen the Solo movie yet…
TLR: Speaking of, I’m currently getting a tattoo of the Millennium Falcon on my rib cage from that new Solo movie…
TLR: Which brings me to… I’m here with award-winning tattoo artist Glenn Morrison of Dead Set Ink, who would like to maybe ask you a question. Glenn?
GM: Hey, how’s it going, man?
PA: Hey, how’s it going.
GM: Pretty good. So… what’s your take on legalizing marijuana?
PA: I’m going to give you a long answer. I’m a hundred and ten percent for legalizing it, for a number of reasons. Number one, I’m for legalization of industrial, medicinal, and recreational. And I think we understand the medicinal and the industrial part pretty well, and why they should be legal. But specifically recreationally, not only is it an issue of personal freedom. We know now, and not just… through research, but through massive experience in the United States of people enjoying marijuana, and I do occasionally and pretty much everyone I know has and understands what marijuana is and it isn’t. There’s the freedom issue.
But it’s also has been a racist policy since it was started in the early seventies. And for a long time, we knew that the results were racist… that blacks were being incarcerated at vastly higher rates than whites or anyone else despite the fact that we know white people smoke just as much weed as black people do. But recently new documents have come to light from the Nixon administration that show that it was racist to begin with as intent. So not only is it the intent, but the results have been terrible, obviously, for almost fifty years. So to me it’s not just a liberty issue, but an issue of criminal justice reform.
And as we legalize marijuana recreationally and stop enforcing these stupid laws, there will be a wonderful transformation, in the black community, and radiating into the rest of our society in a number of ways. Number one, we won’t be putting as much money into incarceration, which is already in Wisconsin very high, and our current governor wants to spend more money on prisons. We’ll spend less money on policing, which is good, as they won’t be trying to enforce these stupid laws. While at the same time, we’ll be putting police into less precarious situations, because they’ll be more free to prosecute crimes where there’s actualy victims and people who want to cooperate as opposed to these situations that are more social in nature than adversarial. So we’ll not only be saving money on policing, but saving police lives, I believe.
So start with that, full legalization, a hundred percent. Without taxation. The Democrats all talk about how they’d spend the money, two hundred million dollars in tax revenue or whatever. To me? Marijuana should be as easy as growing tomatoes, use it at home if you want… if you’re serving it to somebody, you should be responsible with what you do, but it shouldn’t be taxed any more than produce is. And that’s the first step, but the next is criminal justice reform, and I’ll be brief with the rest of this… But we need to get rid of mandatory minimum sentencing so that judges can look at any crime, any situation, and not have to–
GM: So pretty much decriminalizing it?
PA: Well, decriminalizing it and legalizing it are really different, and I would fully legalize it, so those crimes can go away. But we need to empower judges—and juries, through jury nullification to look at any law, not just a marijuana law, and say this law is unjust, and we’re not going to convict this person even though they’re guilty of committing whatever it is. We need to make clear that the jury has the freedom and the power to do that. I’ll also pardon everybody in jail for nonviolent drug crimes, as fast as I can sign my signature. We’ll get that done in the first few months.
We’ll also expunge those crimes from their records. There’s already a really excellent program in Milwaukee called Clean Slate Wisconsin, that is working on expunging records. But we’ll make that the law of Wisconsin to start working on that with the state automatically doing that, not just nonprofits fighting for that. And last of all, restoring voting rights to the incarcerated. It’s ridiculous that the people in jail—unless they’re in jail for voter fraud—they should be able to vote. Right now, the vast prison population in Wisconsin doesn’t have representation because they don’t vote. And what happens is, people are in jail for a while, they lose interest in the political process, they think it doesn’t help them, and then they don’t vote, even when they get out. Even when they’re off paper, they never vote again. So we need to pull all those things together. But it starts with full legalization of marijuana in all it’s forms.
TLR: Thank you for your time. I appreciate your thoughts on all these issues, and I look forward to voting for you in November.
PA: Fantastic, Gary. Glenn, don’t poke him too hard.