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    Greg and Beth

    the political and personal musings of two
    mountaineers living in west-central Florida
     
    Mike Gravel '08 Comment
    Gregory Morris, 5/1/07 1:16:17 pm
    First of all, most people consider Gravel as a no-name, no-chance candidate. Most people never heard about him until the latest presidential debate , myself included. (Maybe people remember him from the early 70s?) Since he isn't considered "top tier", he wasn't given much time during the debate, but he certainly made good use of the time he had. I'm not reviewing his politics because he's going to be a serious player, but Gravel's platform is a perfect place to begin some debate.

    War in Iraq - Mike Gravel does not tread lightly on this topic. He wants out now. He wants to work on it with Reid and Pelosi, two of the worst borderline-treasonous congress-critters we've seen in years. While there is a strong likelihood that the reasons for starting the war may not have been exactly what Bush said publicly, elimination of terrorism in the middle-east is definitely in the best interest of our nation. You can't pull out of an armed conflict because a politician declares that we've lost. We as a nation, right or wrong, must be strong enough to accomplish our goals internationally. I thought we would have learned this lesson by now. I'm going to say something that may be a little unpopular among both the right and the left... In addition to putting down Islamic extremism, the Iraq war is also about oil. We, as a nation, cannot be shy about protecting our interests, be they safety, resources or economic stability. I'm not saying it is OK for us to loot and rape other countries as we see fit, but we certainly can't sit back and allow ourselves to lose what is currently a required resource.

    Gravel's big thing is ending the war in Iraq. I don't think you can run an entire campaign on that. So what if he gets elected, calls home all of our troops at once... what will that mean exactly? Besides a bunch of very crowded military bases, and an active military suddenly having nothing to do? What else will Gravel focus on for the next 3 years, 364 days he is in office?

    Fair tax (i.e. - no income tax, only an inflated sales tax) - Interesting... Very interesting... I'd love to see the federal income tax abolished. However... I wonder how would that apply to imports/exports? How do you manage e-commerce? Gravel is an old dude, maybe he doesn't realize that if we have a 20% sales tax, that i'll just buy everything online from canada/mexico/etc. However, if our sales tax rises to 20-25%, think about what that will do to a poor individual that needs to buy food for their family. Will they have any more money at the end of the day? I can't see this getting passed without differentiating luxuries and necessities. Once you start taking into account all the problems with a system that sounds this appealing, you realize that there are far too many hurdles for it to overcome.

    A workable populist democracy - also interesting, but how will it get implemented? Letting people create the law. I just don't see it happening. I just can't fathom a way that Congress would allow anything that would dilute their power. And without Congress giving the thumbs up, this is doomed to failure. What I'd prefer to see is a way to make the law writing process more open. Require any law to exist on public forums for a fixed period of time before going to Congress for discussion. If a "wiki"-style setup was used (restricted to members of congress and their staff) then we could get a clear picture of who writes the law, who changes what parts of the law, and why they are doing it. I know that Congress is at least 20 years behind the rest of the world when it comes to technology. We don't necessarily have to make law writing and passing open to everyone all the time, but the drafting of laws needs to be as public as possible. That will keep things like the less savory parts of the Patriot Act from being passed. I think it will also thin out the pork a little bit, because there would easily be a clear view of all the text, who put it there, and when. Heck, for that matter a wiki would greatly improve House/Senate coordination. In an ideal world, it would also keep politicians from saying "they snuck that in! I would have never voted for it..." Blah blah blah.

    Global warming/climate change - Gravel is definitely a hardline envirofreak. One saving grace is he realizes that fixing environmental problems here won't fix them around world. He is anti-nuclear power (i.e. flowerchild tree hugging pinko communist hippie) but I'm anxious to see where he expects our electricity to come from when he shuts down all of the coal power plants. As I've stated before, I consider myself an environmentalist, but I'm sick of idealist politicians ignoring the fact that destroying our economy will not help the environment.

    Social security - Invest real money, not borrowed money. Make your portion of social security actually yours (i.e. your children will inherit it.) It is a partial fix. "My money is my money," except the gov't runs the investment. To me, that is better than what we have now. Since I agree we need to move in this direction, the real question here is how will this affect the economy? This level in and of itself will help, I believe, but what will happen if there is an economic downturn for another reason? Will the government knee-jerk back to the current system of subsidizing Social Security with more taxes, in order to hold on to the retiree vote? This is an issue that goes beyond a discussion of Mike Gravel, so I'll likely rant about it in the future.

    National health care - He is in favor of government-subsidized healthcare, but only through a voucher program. So I will still be paying for other people's healthcare... and healthcare costs will still go up, since its all "free money". I admit it is a better solution than going totally socialist and letting the government screw everything up. I'd like to see more details of how his vouchers will work, because I think it is OK to provide healthcare to those who need it, but it must be done in a way that it cannot be abused, and in a way that will keep costs in check. I don't want a program like this to force tax increases.

    Drugs and Prison - His stance is pretty simple: don't jail people for minor non-violent drug offenses. Offer court supervised rehab. Increase prevention. That sounds good to me, but what chance does he have of actually implementing a system like that in with a government that is so geared towards the "War on Drugs"? It seems like there are added costs involved with his policy changes, but he'll tell you (and I'll agree) that they will be more than offset by the reduction in "War on Drugs" expenditures and the number of people in prison.

    Gravel thinks the filibuster is one of the best ways to solve problems in congress... I kinda like them myself, because as I've expressed many times, the best thing for congress to be doing is nothing.

    Guns/2A - There is no mention on his website, or in any of the few interviews I've watched. He is from Alaska, where they allow unlicensed concealed carry, and have good gun laws (or altogether lack of laws.) I'd be interested to hear what he has to say, although as a Democrat, he probably won't say much. The state of Alaska has a terrific record of not making too many laws, and even the Alaska Supreme Court doesn't issue many opinions. In addition, the state recognizes a person's right to privacy as one of the key components of liberty. If he embraces that kind of thought, then perhaps I'd be willing to concede some environmental issues, and possibly even some foreign policy issues, to see a man like this elected. I need to look a little further into his voting record, but he seems like a libertarian, for the most part.

    Voting Record
    Still looking for a more comprehensive list...


    [Comments are closed after a month.]

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