|Los Angeles County, CA||March 7, 2000 Election|
By Phil HowittCandidate for Member of the State Assembly; District 53
This information is provided by the candidate
Education; Drugs; Taxes; Guns; Crime; Welfare
Education Public schools should compete with private schools. Just as women should have freedom of choice over their bodies, parents also should have freedom of choice over their children's education. Parents deserve the right to choose between a state-run school and a private school. The private schools should be paid from the same fund that supports public schools. Religious schools also should be eligible for public funding.
The traditional Libertarian stand is to just dismantle the public education system. My approach is to leverage the choices made by consumers of education. That is, if students flock to private schools and thus abandon public schools, then public education will be forced to end. However, if a certain faction of parents continue to choose to enroll their children in public schools, then in the Libertarian tradition, I believe they should have that choice.
Illicit Drugs It is common knowledge that marijuana is not a harmful substance, nor does it lead to other drug use. Government agencies that insist that marijuana is dangerous are losing their credibility with the people they are trying to influence. Marijuana should be decriminalized. Additionally, many other addictive and psychoactive drugs should be legalized for adults.
The traditional Libertarian stand on drugs is to legalize all of them. However, there are some substances which make the user a danger to others, by inducing hostile or violent behavior. The issue, therefore, is to distinguish between drugs that affect only the user, and drugs that could affect the surrounding community. Adults should have the right to indulge but not the right to endanger their neighbors.
Many people have difficulty agreeing with this position because they are used to the mantra of opposition to illicit drugs from the media, the government, and so forth. But the so-called "war on drugs" is a monumental failure. Billions of dollars are spent on anti-drug police at the federal, state and local levels, without any significant impact on overall drug usage. Instead, we have spawned a prohibition-like economy, where the black-market in drugs pumps billions more dollars into the pockets of criminals who dare to conduct that business.
A major rationalization for perpetuating the drug war is that, without it, many more people would start using drugs in a self-destructive manner. That is a false argument and every individual can disprove it in this way: Think about yourself, your family, relatives, friends and acquaintances. Would any of you become hard drug users, just because those substances were cheaply available to certified adult users?
Rent Control Municipal rent control is a socialistic practice that is profoundly unfair to property owners. It should be ended in California. Admittedly, rent control in Santa Monica is popular with a certain faction of voters in that city. However, the law makes no provision for the degradation of the property value, as suffered by the landlords.
Taxes California should have a "flat" tax which would replace the state franchise and income taxes. All deductions, allowances, and credits should be eliminated. Individual and business income should be taxed at a uniform, low rate.
The traditional Libertarian stand is to revoke the Federal and State income tax laws. While this idealistic goal is appealing, it may not be practical. Instead, I advocate a two-step program. First, make taxes more fair and simple to understand, by going to the flat tax method. Then, reduce state spending by cutting back and eliminating wasteful and socialistic programs. This allows the flat percentage to be dropped back by, say, one percent per year, until it is at the most minimal level possible.
Guns Let's stop further restrictions on gun ownership. Sane, law-abiding adults should have no new limitations placed on their right to gun ownership.
Crime Prisoners who were convicted only of selling a newly legalized drug should be released. Prisons should be filled back up with criminals who have committed crimes against people or property, by lengthening sentences, reducing paroles, and curtailing plea-bargaining.
In addition, a new method of penology should be tried in California. Existing prisons have at least three problems: (1) they are expensive to operate, (2) they let dangerous criminals interact with each other, and (3) they do not foster rehabilitation. Let's build entirely new facilities with certain characteristics. Such facilities would have cinder block construction. Inexpensive but sturdy structures, like Motel-6, would reduce the costs of building such a facility. The cost of guards would be reduced to almost nothing because prisoners would have essentially no access outside the cell, as described below.
Inside the prison walls, there would be only one prisoner per cell in solitary confinement. Just outside each cell would be a television/computer monitor and inside the cell would be a keyboard, headphones, and a microphone.
The computer would be connected to a switched network that would allow the prisoner to communicate with prison staff and, to a limited extent, the outside world. A complete law library would available on-line to comply with Federal requirements. Prisoners would be encouraged to enroll in on-line courses that advance their intellectual and social skills. However, prisoners would not be allowed to leave their cell to commingle with anyone else for the duration of their term. Visitors would be accommodated by a videophone. Practically the only additional cost of operations would be food delivery, which would be contracted out to civilian companies.
Civil rights activists may plead "cruel and unusual" treatment in regard to these conditions. However, their arguments could be countered due to the extensive use of virtual interaction, via the television and computer systems.
These ideas represent a radical departure from traditional theories and practices of imprisonment. Because of the efficiencies that would be gained, for the same amount of money we now spend on penology, the total prison population could be doubled or tripled. This would get many dangerous people out of our communities for long periods of time.
Welfare We should continue the trend toward reducing welfare payments and increasing work requirements for welfare recipients. Ultimately, the Libertarian ideal of no welfare at all should be accomplished.
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