Wednesday, July 18 , 2018, 11:44 am | Fair 71º


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24th Congressional District Candidate Q&A: John Uebersax

[Noozhawk’s note: We invited each of the nine candidates for the 24th District seat in Congress to answer a series of questions about issues of importance to local voters. The responses are being published, three candidates each day in alphabetical order, beginning Saturday. Click here for the complete series index.]

John Uebersax Click to view larger
John Uebersax

John Uebersax, 62, a philosopher, social scientist and biostatistician from Morro Bay, is registered with no party preference.

Click here for more information about John Uebersax.

Noozhawk: If elected, what specific issue will be your No. 1 priority in Congress?

John Uebersax: To oppose U.S. wars, military imperialism, illegal drone strikes and covert regime-change activities, and to launch a new foreign policy of peace and friendship. This is the great moral imperative of our times.

Q: Given the extreme division and polarization in Congress and the nation, what specifically will you do to help break the deadlock?

JU: Addressing U.S. wars and militarism, instead of hiding from them as we do now, would help bring people back to their senses and reawaken the nation's moral sense. I suspect that, as in the story of the Tower of Babel, confusion and disorganization are the price paid for hubris. Our wars abroad show colossal hubris.

Q: How would you describe your political philosophy? Liberal, moderate, conservative, progressive, socialist, libertarian, other? Explain why.

JU: I’m basically a libertarian and green in political outlook. I believe that in a good society, people instinctively look out for each other. Decentralized government is best; highly centralized government is prone to being co-opted by moneyed interests. That’s what’s going on now.

Q: What personal and work experience prepared you for this job?

JU: Policy analysis, consulting with government agencies, nonprofit work, college teaching, and the study of U.S. and ancient history.

Q: How well is the United States doing in the area of military preparedness? What, if anything, would you change?

JU: We should, of course, be prepared to repel an attack; but right now we’re more like a military empire, with bases all over the world, and fighting wars about oil and money. Military imperialism, regime change interventions and drone strikes are creating new enemies and severely threatening national security.

Q: California will have a $15 minimum wage in a few years. Do you support raising the federal minimum wage, and if so, to what rate?

JU: It’s vital to help those being economically oppressed by the present system, and I’m very concerned about low wage earners. But simply raising the minimum wage won’t necessarily solve things; if prices rise in response, the poor may end up worse than before.

What we should really be talking about is improving quality of life. Could we have a society where people can live comfortably without having a lot of money? We work too much. I’d like to see a four-day workweek be considered. But the key to everything is stopping the wars, which are not only wrong morally but ruining the economy.

Q: Briefly outline your position on climate change. What, if anything, should we as a nation be doing about it?

JU: What should we do to combat climate change? Everything. One place to begin is with extensive reforestation programs in the United States.

Q: What changes, if any, would you like to see made in the federal tax code?

JU: I believe a flat tax of around 15 percent to 18 percent (with special breaks for the poor) might generate more tax revenue for the government because it would prevent corporations from cheating. A flat tax would also let large corporations return hoards of cash they’re currently banking overseas.

Q: Share your views on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. What, if anything, would you change?

JU: As someone with over 25 years’ experience in health research, I have some strong opinions here. Both main parties are approaching health care in bad faith. The real issue is that health care today overemphasizes costly procedures and practices, because those make more profit.

Instead the foundation of health care has to be preventing disease. Otherwise we’ll go bankrupt. We also need more holistic, and personalized — as opposed to “one size fits all” — medicine.

Q: What changes in abortion law, if any, would you support as a member of Congress?

JU: Abortion is a classic example of a wedge issue that is serving to divide and conquer the American public, and to distract them from even more important topics like war.

Obviously, I deeply respect human life or I wouldn’t oppose war so strongly. On the other hand I don’t see how the state has any legal or moral basis on which to require a women to carry an embryo or fetus.

For example, if there were artificial wombs, the state would have no right to plant one in me and make me carry a fetus. That would violate basic principles of liberty and free choice, essential human qualities which are part of the reason we value human life so highly.

Q: The debate over immigration and guest-worker programs hits close to home for this district, with ICE raids on Santa Maria-area farm businesses and an alleged arson at a Nipomo farmworker housing complex. What changes, if any, would like to see made in immigration law and enforcement?

JU: Whatever else,  all immigrants — legal or illegal — should be treated with fairness and dignity. ICE “raids” reflect a general trend toward militarization of law enforcement in our country, which hurts everyone.

Immigration is not a complicated issue in itself. The problem is that the stress of 15 years of war has eroded our ability to address such issues. Until we end the wars, we will be plagued by an inability to handle immigration and other problems. War, almost by definition, is a condition where chaos reigns.

Stopping the U.S. drug war in Latin America would help to end gang-related violence in Mexico and other countries. Once that violence ends, their economies can be healthy again and people won’t have to come here seeking work.

Q: What changes, if any, should be made in federally funded college loan programs?

JU: As director of Californians for Higher Education Reform I have taken a lead in documenting tuition inflation, and in proposing ways to dramatically reduce tuition. We should phase out federal undergraduate loans.

Easy loan money has permitted universities to raise tuition without limit. Students borrow money and are left with the IOU. It amounts to generational theft from the young. If there were no student loans, we’d see that universities would suddenly discover ways to reduce tuition.

Q: The Refugio oil spill put a spotlight on federal pipeline safety regulations. What can regulators do to prevent future spills?

JU: As someone who has taught classes on engineering quality control, I believe that much can be done to improve the reliability and safety of offshore drilling.

We need to stay continuously on top of this, with frequent, rigorous inspections. Most of all, there needs to be a positive ethos among all parties that proactively promotes and assures safety. We also must insist that regulatory agencies act as true watchdogs, instead of only looking after energy company interests.

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