Commentary :: Electoral politics

Lynn Rozar Wants Straight Answers from Socialist

In a letter dated December 31, 2007, Lynn Rozar and his wife, from Greeneville, Tennessee, want to know my position on some issues concerning the average person: WITH JUST SOME STRAIGHT SIMPLE ANSWERS FOR A CHANGE.
Lynn Rozar Wants Straight Answers from Socialist

Stewart A. Alexander
Socialist Party USA Nominee for Vice President
and candidate for nomination Peace and Freedom Party

Questions from:
Lynn Rozar, Greeneville, TN


Mr. Stewart Alexander,

To make up our minds as to whom we are going to vote, my wife and I would like to know how you stand on some issues concerning the average person:

It is all well and good that each candidate has their own agenda for ending the war in Iraq and a multitude of other international events. But what I want to know is what you are going to do for us average everyday run of the mill individuals. Though we want to know about international affairs they are relatively unimportant to our everyday lives. I personally feel that we should be out of Iraq and let them handle their own issues. The Iraq’s believe that they are fighting a religious and cultural war. There is no way to win a war like that.

As a potential commander and chief what do you think about the policy says don’t fire until fired upon? As a veteran with three tours of duty in Viet Nam I feel that this policy is a loosing proposition. Our service men and women should be given the opportunity to defend themselves by any means necessary to survive, without having to think about going to jail if I accidentally make a mistake. This is a war and sometimes situations escalate in the heat of battle. We also need to ensure that our military has all the latest and best equipment available (at their disposal and not sitting in a warehouse) to get the job done. What is your position?

A. The precise policies regulating when soldiers may fire their weapons are not the real problem - the real problem is that our government keeps sending our soldiers into harm's way in places they should not be sent, under circumstances in which we should not be involved. If U.S. soldiers had not been sent to Vietnam, the question would not have come up for you. Looking back, it is clear to most that they should not have been sent to Vietnam. They should not have been sent to Iraq, either. There is nothing our soldiers can do in Iraq that will make things better, and almost everything they do (no matter how well or how bravely they do it) actually makes the situation worse. My policy on this war is simple: bring them home now. Not when convenient, not when the politicians can claim a victory, not when thousands more have died, but NOW.

This is the one that really bothers me. I hear about sending Billions to other countries to help their government and population and when it comes time to help us U.S. Citizens it is like pulling teeth to get a dime. What is all this money for and why is it not being spent to help ourselves first. I can only imagine what the money given to foreign countries could do for our educational system to make us world class again.

A. One problem with foreign aid is that the bulk of it is not intended to help people abroad, but to suppress them. Most such aid is military and military-related aid, and some of the governments we give it to are pretty nasty. I favor ending all military aid abroad. Some aid is good, not only for the people of other countries, but for the people of our own country as well. For example, eradicating diseases abroad can protect our own people from disease, especially when a sick person can fly between continents in hours. I favor giving carefully-targeted aid abroad that helps people become more healthy and prosperous, thus helping our own people by reducing the risk of disease and by eliminating low-wage havens to which employers move their factories. As for helping Americans, see some of my answers below.

Can you do anything about gas prices and if so what?

We can’t afford to invest for our futures if we have to make a decision every day to buy gas to get to work or buy food for our children.

A. The damages to American families from the high cost of oil and gasoline are severe, and they have several causes. First, because our government is obedient to the big oil and automobile companies and keeps our mass transit systems undeveloped and expensive to ride, most people must use cars even when they would rather not. This increases demand for gasoline. Second, the government policy has been to keep the prices high to keep oil company profits high, and they have made record profits. There are many things that can be done to improve this situation, and I favor a number of them:
1. Place the oil industry under public ownership and democratic control of our people. Eliminate the big oil companies, and eliminate their influence on our government.
2. Encourage the use of mass transit, not by making gasoline expensive, but by providing convenient transportation at minimal or no cost.
3. Establish a full-employment economy in which all can work and earn a decent living, and hard choices about necessary spending will recede into memory for most families.
4. We need to end government subsidies for ethanol production; eventually this will sharply increase the future cost of fuel and food. It is time that we mass produce electric automobiles here is the U.S. before the end of this decade. This will greatly reduce our dependency on oil and create jobs for hundreds of thousands of people that need good paying jobs.

Something is not right when we see that we can make a better living on welfare than trying to have and hold a job. At $10.00 an hour and we have to pay $4.00 to $5.00 an hour for child care I can make a better living on welfare. I work but I think about this everyday. Why should I work when I can make more money from the government just sitting on my behind?

A. Actually, it is impossible to make a decent living on welfare, despite the stories. But I favor several policies that would answer parts of your question. First, I favor doubling the minimum wage and indexing it to the cost of living, so that no one would again have to work for terribly low wages and fail to make ends meet. Second, I favor making all education, from pre-school through the university, free for all. (We used to have this in some states - it is certainly not impossible.) Now refigure how well you could make a living, with a minimum wage of $15 per hour or higher and no child care expenses. Also, a recent study has shown that the federal government needs to assist working families with child care expenses; it would require a serious U.S. investment of $30 billion annually. Today, child care is costing many families more than the cost to send there children to college; this is a national crisis that must be dealt with today.

What are you going to do about health insurance? I guess I am one of the lucky ones I am a VET and can go to the VA if I have problems and my children can get some state assistance but my wife is uninsured.

A. I believe that our medical care system, devoted to making profits rather than delivering care, is broken and needs to be completely redone. I favor a program of free medical and dental care for all - kind of like Medicare was supposed to be, but extending the age limit downward, so everyone qualifies at birth. Most industrialized countries have this, and despite the stories you hear from the TV stations and newspapers that are owned by billionaires, it works quite well. In actual fact, we would probably spend less on medical care as a nation than we do now, with much better results. No money would go to the predatory insurance corporations.

What about long term care for elderly parents? When they can’t afford nursing homes and we can’t afford to have them at home because we both have to work to make ends meet.

A. In most industrialized countries, care for the elderly is recognized as a responsibility for the whole society, and is funded through taxes or other government income. I believe priority should be given to keeping older Americans active and happy in their own families, neighborhoods and communities whenever possible, rather than warehousing them in institutions (which are presently very profitable to run). But well-run retirement homes also have a place in a system of care for the elderly, and they should be freely accessible to all who need them.

What will you do about prescription drugs? We make them in the US and it is cheaper to buy them in Canada or Mexico but it is illegal to try to save a few bucks.

A. Prescription drugs should be provided at no or nominal cost as needed, as part of a universal health plan. The present influence of the drug corporations on our government is a shame that must be ended.

What is your stand on securing the boarders and how? Here’s an idea. Take your reserve units on their two week training and place them in camps along the boarders. With a constant rotation of troops you won’t have to worry about bribe and maybe we can stem the flow of illegal drugs and immigrants.

A. It is impossible to fully secure all our borders, and even the politicians who rant and rave about it know this. A "great wall" would work no better here than it did in China, or the Berlin Wall in Germany, or the walls that were built by the Roman Empire to secure borders throughout Europe. We definitely need a better immigration policy, because the need for immigrant labor is a simple fact, and current policies make it impossible for enough people to enter legally to meet the demand. In general, much smuggling can be ended by sensible economic policies, and a sensible drug policy would take the huge profits away that feed corruption of those who are supposed to enforce the laws. Also, we need to end trade agreement that create starvation for millions south of the boarder and create more wealth for the billionaires here in the U.S. We need trade agreements that are designed to benefit working people within and beyond our borders.

What about education? We have students that have excellent grades that can’t get into college due to financial issues? It seems that unless you have money or are an excellent athlete school financing is hard to come by. At $10.00 an hour with a house payment everyone wants you to put your home up. That is all good for the 1st child but what happens when the second one wants to go to college? I know that there are student loans and government grants available but when you look at the long term repayment plan is it ever going to get paid back with the job market in its present condition?

A. I strongly favor free public education from pre-school through the university. Yes, it can be done, and when the people demand it, it will happen. Today, education has become a tax on the young people of America and their families and many are faced with college expenses that are in the tens of thousands of dollars upon graduating; and unfortunately due to cost, there are millions that must sacrifice a good education. We need to break the powers of great wealth that distorts our society and our laws and hurts the working class at every turn.

What is your stand on outsourcing jobs? I know more than one person that went totally under when his job was outsource; took a half cut in pay for his next job and lost his home.

A. Exporting jobs is just one of the ugly things the wealthy owners of the big corporations do to keep down the working class. Actually, they get government aid in doing this, and their factories abroad are insured through a government program! I favor a full employment economy, in which there are jobs for all - the wealthy oppose this because they want to keep wages down. Another side of this question is how to help improve conditions, and workers rights in other countries, which would keep them from being "low-wage havens" for factory owners.

Another issue on our minds is other countries, citizens of other countries or business of other countries owning land in the USA. If they can’t beat us in a war they will just buy us; very unfair to US citizens trying to start a business if they have to compete against a whole country for funding. To my knowledge, though limited on this subject, US citizens can’t own land in a lot of countries. This takes lots of money out of our country. What is your position?

A. I have nothing against the person from France, China, Japan, South Africa or Kenya owning a house in the US. But I do not want them, or anyone else, owning our factories, our banks, our railroads, and so on. Keep in mind that rich Americans who own these also constantly underpay and mistreat their workers, and abandon them and take their factories abroad any time they can make higher profits doing so. I am a Socialist, which means that I want the factories, the banks, the mines and the ports to be owned by all the people, and democratically run by the people. This would prevent anyone, foreign or American, from exploiting American workers.

Then there is the issue of housing or more to the point the collapse of the sub-prime mortgage. Why is the government trying to bail out lenders? These people had the money to loan to start with. If they made a bad loan or business investment, live with it and suffer the consequences. (Just about any other business would have to suffer their loss) We should be trying to help the person who probably did not understand the terms of his commitment (granted he should have read and understood) but there are a lot of lenders just looking to take advantage of anyone.

A. Yes, it is curious that the high interest rates are justified on the basis of risk, and the risk is taken away by government bailouts that never seem to bail out the little guy, just the big corporations. Did you know that in many countries, there are government agencies that provide low-interest loans for workers to buy houses, and the prices are subsidized so that they are in reach of ordinary people? No reason we can't do that here, except that the very wealthy who benefit from the current system don't want us to. I believe that we need a set of government programs that will make it possible for every American to live in decent housing, whether a city apartment or a suburban or rural house.

My next issue of concern is illegal drug use amongst our children. As a wrestling coach I constantly talk nutrition, physical capability, team work and against the use of sports performing drugs and illegal drugs. Do you have a plan to combat illegal drugs?

A. My plan is, first, to stop the destructive "war on drugs" that outlaws adult use of marijuana, etc., and helps the drug lords make huge fortunes, while low-level users get stuck in prison for years instead of getting the medical treatment they need. We need free and freely-available treatment for drug problems, and to recognize (as some European countries now do) that this is first of all a medical problem. As for the performance-enhancing drugs that are used by foolish athletes, the profit motive is very important there, and if needed prescription drugs were provided to those who need them at nominal cost, with the big profits taken out of the drug trade, much of this would recede. The enforcement of rules against drug use within each sport are mainly a matter of sportsmanship for that sport's governing body to regulate, rather than a federal concern, but there are certainly federal actions that could help. If every young athlete could look forward to a decent life of secure work and available housing and medical care, some of the desperation to succeed in sports in order to have a chance at a decent living would no longer be a factor.

My final question is: What makes you different than all the other candidates that promise us everything and after getting into office delivers virtually nothing.

A. I am not a Republican or Democrat and I am not an opportunist politician. I am running as a Socialist Party candidate with Socialist Party USA, a Peace and Freedom Party candidate, and a candidate of the Liberty Union Party for Vice President, with my running mate Brian Moore for President. I am serious about taking on the big-money politicians who represent the big corporations. When we can build a movement that puts candidates like us in the White House, and real representatives of working people in the House and Senate, believe me - we will deliver for working people! Socialism and socialists will empower working people to benefit themselves.

Please remember that most of your votes come from average people that are just trying to make a living, put food on the table for our children, own a small piece of America and maybe stay healthy enough to do it all again tomorrow.

A. As someone who has had to work all his life to put food on the table, working as a retail clerk for Safeway Stores, working as a janitor in Los Angeles, working in warehousing as a forklift operator with Inter-American Public Distribution, in construction working 15 hour daily, in aerospace working for Lockheed Aircraft as a plastics fabricator, mortgage lending, cleaning houses for 10 hours a day, six day a week, to help my wife build a housecleaning business, and automobile sales, believe me, I remember that every moment! Thank you for your questions that gave me this opportunity to speak my mind on so many important issues.

Lynn Rozar
Greeneville, TN

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-- Mark Twain
Source: "Glances at History" (suppressed)

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