On The Issues
Government should be about solving problems not winning arguments. In my campaign I will reveal solutions to problems which everyone, progressive or not, can understand and support. We must continuously search for the solutions to our problems.
Below are some of my positions on several important issues. As a scientist I will look for ways of testing my ideas and modifying them if necessary. I’m interested in any facts for or against what I propose. In the future this list will grow as I listen to your concerns.
1) Science and the Environment
- Government decisions should be driven by facts and we should use the best science available to solve our problems and prepare us for the future.
- The rate of climate change is an issue that must be addressed. The science is settled and indicates that humans are causing a higher than natural rate of climate change.
- We need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce stress on our ecosystem in a cost effective way that will create jobs.
- Research into climate change and monitoring of climate systems is vital to prepare us for the changes to come in our environment. Abandoning this research as some suggest would be like not tracking a hurricane.
- Spending on basic scientific research is vital to our economic future.
- We need to increase medical research to extend and improve life.
2) The Economy and Jobs
- The overall economic goal of the Democratic party should be to make it so one wage earner, working full time (or two, working half-time), can support a family without need of assistance.
- The rate of change in our economy is greater than it has ever been. We need policies to make sure people are able to adjust and thrive in a rapidly changing economy.
- As the economy shifts training needs to be focused on the industries where the jobs are and families need to be supported as breadwinners learn new skills.
- We need to promote green jobs. Converting to green energy will mean green money for blue collar workers for future generations.
- We need to raise the minimum wage.
- Legal immigration needs to increase to strengthen our economy and help shore up social security.
- We must fight the myth that legal immigrants weaken our economy. If someone creates something, be it by the sweat of their brow or the click of their mouse, they add value to our economy. This has always been true and is part of why America is great.
- There needs to be something akin to a plea bargain for undocumented immigrants without criminal records. This will allow them to come out of the shadows and we can focus our resources on jailing and deporting those who are serious criminals or a danger to our society.
- We need to more vigorously prosecute employers who knowingly hire workers who choose to remain undocumented.
- We need high-tech cost-effective means of securing the border that is more effective and less expensive than a wall.
- College and technical education at public institutions should be free for the types of training most needed by the economy.
- To determine which majors should be free, local employers should be asked to vote on the types of training they most need. The number of votes they get should be based on their number of employees and their payroll.
- This type of system should most efficiently match public investment in education with needed skills.
- Displaced workers who are laid off due to a rapidly changing economy should receive unemployment benefits as they train for one of the fields that employers are in need of.
5) Social Security
- Social Security benefits should be maintained and strengthened, not cut.
- I propose increasing legal immigration to increase the money going into Social Security, as opposed to raising taxes to shore up the system.
- If increasing immigration cannot be done, then the cap on earning subject to the social security tax should be raised before benefits are cut. Currently, social security is paid on the first $127,200 of income. The fewer immigrants we choose to let in to pay into the system, the more we would need to raise this cap.
6) Reducing Needless Tragedy when Police Interact with Civilians
- We should take steps to prevent the loss of life when police interact with civilians.
- Police training in how to de-escalate tense situations needs to be increased.
- Body cameras for law enforcement should be used everywhere.
- Technology such as drones (see below) should be available on demand to police and citizens alike to prevent law enforcement from making tragic mistakes and to make civilians feel safer.
- Young people should not die when innocent or even guilty of minor offenses when they interact with law enforcement. My only brother died at 16 while trying to outrun a police officer attempting to pull him over for a minor traffic violation. Currently, in many places police can tag the cars with a tracking device and back off instead of pursuing it. We need that technology everywhere to protect those involved in high-speed chases and the innocent bystanders.
- It’s come to my attention that people are nervous about my suggestion of using drones to make us safer. First of all, I want to be crystal clear that I’m not talking about the small aircraft-sized drones the military uses to survey and attack suspected terrorists in other countries. I mean the basketball-sized drones that might deliver your pizza in the future. Drones are coming, like it or not. Amazon, for example, wants to use them to deliver stuff to your doorstep.
- Here are some basic rules I would propose:
- Drones in our country should not be armed.
- Private drones should only be allowed to survey public spaces and private property with the owner’s approval.
- Drones used by law enforcement should only be able to survey public spaces and private spaces with a court warrant.
- We should use drones to make encounters with law enforcement safer and to improve public safety in general. I think small drones should be stationed throughout cities like Albuquerque that could be summoned when the situation warrants it with a three digit phone call like 911. These drones would be equipped with cameras and live-stream to the internet for all to see. Imagine the three cases below:
- Imagine you are an APD police officer and you think the car you have just pulled over contains a suspect from a nearby robbery. You could summon several drones with cameras, which could live-stream views of the car ahead of you from half a dozen different angles. You would have much greater confidence about whether the suspect in the car ahead of you is unarmed or armed.
- Imagine you are a young man being pulled over and there is something about the situation that makes you wary. You don’t know why you are being pulled over, and you are unaware that you resemble someone who recently committed a crime. You might want to call in a swamp of drones to film the encounter from all angles. The officer who pulled you over and everyone else can see the situations from all angles via a cell phone before the officer approaches your car. You feel safer about what is about to happen and the police officer will have more information and should feel safer too.
- You are a homeowner, and every other night street racers use your street for drag racing. You call the police but they never get there fast enough. A few drones could be pre-positioned in your neighborhood, then you or your neighbors could call them and they could provide pictures of the street racer cars and license plates which would be available to police in route.
- The technology to do this largely exists. As a congressman, I will push to make it a reality.
8) Why Tax the Rich More?
- There are a huge number of transactions in a free economy which favor those with wealth. Attempting to make all of these transactions more fair would be a monumental and complex task. The only way to address this unfair situation is via a progressive tax code.
- Technology, free trade, tax policy, the weakening of unions and other factors have conspired to concentrate wealth. The tax code must change to derive more money from where the money in our economy has gone.
- Currently the tax rate on the highest income earners is 39.6%. In the 1950s it was over 80%. In the early 1980s it was around 50%. One of the greatest lies of American politics is that reducing taxes on the rich will cause economic growth, which will trickle down to the rest of us. What it has created is crumbling infrastructure, huge deposits, higher tuition, and less of everything the government does for the common good.
- Only the rich have really benefited from the tax reductions that started in the 80s. The small amount of money most people received in reduced taxes since the 80s has been overwhelmed by losses elsewhere.
- Tax breaks, which mostly went to the wealthy, have created larger classes in our public schools, more potholes in our roads, fewer police on our streets, larger deposits dragging on our economy and many, many more less obvious costs.
- We need to increase spending on the electrical grid to make it more resilient and efficient.
- We need to increase spending on roads and mass transit. One step towards fighting climate change would be to reduce traffic jams.
- The internet has become infrastructure and needs to be funded as such.
- The Russians are not our friends they are our rivals. ISIS will always be our enemy. The situation with North Korea is complicated and dangerous. These and other matters need careful and level-headed action.
- We need to fight terrorism without creating more terrorists. That means using more special forces and fewer drone strikes.
- We need to employ soft power in the fight against terror. Using our economic strength to reduce poverty and desperation in the places where terrorism mostly takes root is smarter and cheaper than the smartest bomb.
- We need to wear down North Korea the way we did the old Soviet Union. Rash action against North Korea resulting in a miscalculation of our intent is a great danger.
- There is a cyber arms race going on with Russia and other countries. We need to allocate the resources to win it.
- At this point in history, nuclear weapons are a necessary evil. As a physicist, I have a better understanding than most about how evil they are. We should work with Russia and other countries to reduce the number of nuclear weapons. In doing so, however, there can never be a time when other countries are sure their nuclear weapons work and we are not sure ours do. Therefore our stockpile needs to be modernized to assure it is safe and effective. We must know it’s safe when stored for use. Our enemies must know it is effective so that it will never need to be used.
11) Energy and Climate Change
- We need to reduce our carbon dioxide and methane emissions to fight climate change. I respect and admire President Obama but we don’t need an all of the above energy strategy for the future. We need an all of the above that is a carbon-free or carbon-negative energy strategy.
- Wind and solar should be at the vanguard of our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas pollution.
- Geothermal is already a source of carbon-free base load electricity. We need research into ways of exploiting geothermal sources at lower temperatures than current technology allows.
- We need to modernize the electric grid for many reasons but one is to avoid waste in the transmission, generation and distribution of electricity.
- We need to encourage the development of better batteries and the scaling up of battery production to lower costs for use in vehicles and on the electrical grid.
- We need to encourage the development of storage technologies such batteries, pumped hydro, flywheels, on-site solar thermal heat storage and other energy storage mechanisms to offset the intermittency of wind and solar.
- We need to encourage the use of combined heat and power whenever economically feasible.
- Energy efficiency and energy conservation best practices should be supported by Government. Government should encourage innovative methods of financing and promotion of best practices for energy efficiency and conservation.
- We must fight efforts to lower the required future vehicle fuel efficiency standards set by the Obama administration.
- In the near term, maintaining current nuclear plants and natural gas are part of the solution for climate change.
- New nuclear fission technologies and fossil fuels plus sequestration are possibilities for our future energy mix, but I’m skeptical about costs for both and safety for nuclear. Still, as a scientist, I think both are worthy of study and I hope to be pleasantly surprised.
- Fracking for natural gas is going to be part of our energy mix in the near future. I would restrict this as follows:
- Fracking chemical mixtures must be made available to government scientist for evaluation.
- Fracking should only be done in areas where drinking water contamination and earthquake risk are minimal.
- The fracking industry should pay into a fund to compensate injured parties when things go wrong.
- There are many, many more things in energy production and energy efficiency to reduce greenhouse gas production which I could list here, but this list is getting too long. It’s one of my passions. The point is there are many ways to avoid the worst effects of climate change which will produce good paying jobs. We just need the will to do it.
12) Healthcare and Single Payer
- Healthcare, like infrastructure, is something everyone needs, and it should operate as a public service paid for by taxes and available to all legal residents.
- We need a path for states to have single-payer healthcare if they choose to do so.
- We must realize that to obtain single payer health care, we have to prove its value to people who are skeptical of its effectiveness.
- A possible way to determine the effectiveness of a single-payer healthcare system in the US would be to test the system. We should have a four-year trial period where states can opt-in to a single-payer system. Private insurance companies should be allowed to sell across state lines in all states who choose not to opt-in. At the end of the four-year experiment, there should be a referendum where the people of each state decide which system they prefer. I believe people will choose single-payer, but it’s time to stop arguing about health care, do an experiment, and let the people judge the results.
13) Reducing Defense Spending
- We need to spend sufficient money on defense to keep our country safe, but we currently spend too much on defense. The United States spends more on defense than the next seven countries combined.
- We need to shift our spending priorities to modern defense needs and away from some weapon systems more suited to the cold war era.
- We need to look at closing unneeded military bases and eliminating unnecessary weapon systems, but we should make sure communities are not adversely affected by these changes by redirecting a portion of the savings to increased funding for the Department of Defense Office of Economic Adjustment.
- We should work with Russia to reduce the numbers of nuclear arms in our arsenal to the number held by China, France and the United Kingdom. Then we should work with all of these countries to reduce our arsenals further. As we do this we need to modernize our remaining nuclear weapons in our arsenal to assure they are safe and effective. We must know they are safe when stored for use. Our enemies must know they are effective so that they will never need to be used. A small number of weapons and doubts about their effectiveness could tempt an irrational foreign leader to attempt a first strike. Thus, I think we need to be careful about how we reduce nuclear weapons. At no point can any country think their potential loses in a nuclear exchange are acceptable versus the damage they could do to an enemy.
- We need to audit the Pentagon. Then we need to give the Pentagon the flexibility to use that audit to make reductions in the most effective and responsible way without regard to political considerations.
- We should never do “across the board” cuts in defense spending. Rather, all spending cuts should be made in a logical manner by Pentagon leadership.
- We should increase spending on our diplomatic and development efforts with the goal of reducing conflict and, ultimately, reducing the need for defense spending.
- We must greatly reduce civilian casualties and the subsequent strengthening of terrorist groups as we fight the War on Terror. In addition to the obvious humanitarian benefits of this approach, there is the fact that, quite frankly, we’ll go broke due to the asymmetric nature of the conflict if terrorist groups grow. More importantly, if we don’t reduce the number of terrorists via not just military, but diplomatic and economic means, then this modern type of war will never end and that is not an option!
- We need our best minds to work on a strategy to end the War on Terror. We cannot pass this conflict down to our children.