This is a rush transcript of audio from the Google+ Hangout video conference held on Sunday, October 16, 2011. Care was taken to provide accurate transcription of each person’s comments; however, some mistakes due to feedback noise or human error are unavoidable and unintentional. Full streaming video is available at Justin.tv and was provided by Keith Barrett. Transcription provided by Masery (Tara Miller) at the Staff of Asclepius blog. This transcript is my gift of time to the Pagan community.
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Cara Schulz of PNC-Minnesota
Crystal Blanton of PNC-Bay Area
David Salisbury of PNC-Washington DC
Devin Hunter of ModernWitch Podcast
Jason Pitzl-Waters of The Wild Hunt
Ramesh Rao of the Hindu American Foundation
Star Foster of Patheos.com
Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson
(f) = Feedback occurred and dialog could not be understood.
(Cara Schulz)CS- You know it’s not often that a high level political candidate is going to speak to a religious (f) of the religious three of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. (f) Wow the feedback is insane. Tonight we do have representatives from the Pagan (f) and I think later we will have (f) as well. And we’re all very eager to speak with you–
(Gov. Gary Johnson)GJ- (interrupting) Good.
CS- So let’s get started. Let’s each introduce ourselves (f)
GJ – Good. Thank you.
CS- Okay. Gov. Johnson I’m Cara Schulz with the Pagan Newswire Collective Minnesota Bureau. It is commonly thought in the Pagan community that Republican candidates are hostile to minority religions such as ours. What message would you like to get across to Pagan voters about how you would represent them if elected president?
GJ- Well just that there should be a separation of church and state and that I think that the … I happen to think that the world kind of looks down on Republicans for their social conservative views which include religion in government. I think that that should not play a role in any of this. And you know when Republicans talk about values .. you know what I bet you and I have the same values.
CS- (mic dropped)
(undetermined male voice) I think we lost her audio.
(Jason Pitzl-Waters) JP: Okay so Cara’s mic is down. But we’ll just go ahead and continue. So let’s go right next to Dave … to David. Oh no Crystal would be next.
(Crystal Blanton) CB: (f) Okay great. Thank you for joining us. My name is Crystal I’m with the Pagan Newswire Collective Bay Area. And so (f) I would like to ask (f)
GJ- Crystal you’re not coming across at all.
CS- You know let’s come back to Crystal and let’s go to our next person in line. So David you’re up.
GJ- David I can’t hear you at all. Let’s see. Is mute mic … is that … ? That’s our mic … Okay
(David Salisbury) DS- Hi Gov. Johnson and all, I’m David with Pagan Newswire Collective Washington D.C. bureau and my first question is With so many candidates relying on campaign funding from high powered corporations and multi million dollar funding, what are your thoughts on campaign finance reform.
GJ- I think the main ingredient that’s needed when it comes to campaign finance reform is simply transparency more than anything. Right now it’s not transparent. You can be Coca Cola. You can donate a million dollars to a … you can donate a million dollars to me via the republican national committee and it will not be reported as coming from Coca Cola. So when it comes to campaign finance reform in my opinion what’s needed very simply is just one hundred percent transparency. Tongue in cheek, I like the notion of all the candidates having to wear jackets similar to NASCAR drivers with a campaign contributions being reflected as the patches on the jacket. The bigger the patch the bigger the contribution.
DS: Thank you.
(Devin Hunter) DH: Hello Gov. Johnson I’m Devon Hunter and I’m representing Pagan pod-casts. One really easy question for you. We know you are incredibly busy right now you know campaigning and hopefully getting a spot. Why talk to Pagans?
GJ- Well, this whole campaign has been about talking to anybody that will listen belief being that you get to hear and listen to all of these candidates and you all have opinions. I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that you are opinion makers. People look to you for you’re opinions because you take the time to become well informed and if I can win you all over it isn’t just you all it’s a whole lot of other people so that was my tact running for Gov. of New Mexico the notion that you have to build a really strong base. And I say strong base … strong base would be built on content. I mean what is it that I’m saying. What is it that I’m saying and I would hope that you would base your opinion on me based on what I am saying my recommendations based on what’s wrong with this country and take into account my resume which I’m gonna make the pitch suggest that there isn’t anything that I’m saying that I’m not going to doggedly pursue.
DH- Thank you.
JP- Okay, so who’s next?
(Star Foster)SF- You are Jason.
JP- Oh, I am. Thank you Gov. Johnson for joining us. My name is Jason Pitzl-Waters I’m with the Wild Hunt at patheos.com Since (f) goodness gracious (f) since you already spoke about the fact (f) religious freedom I do want to talk .. I do want to expand a little bit on the religious question within the republican party. As you know a lot has been made about Mitt Romney’s Mormonism with especially regards to Rick Perry’s camp and I guess I just feel like if you were to become the nominee of the Republican party how would you deal with the very very conservative religious element within the grassroots of your own party? How would you … how would you talk to them about accepting religious minorities and being more accepting of other religions that may share fiscal conservative views but do not share the Christian perspective of the world. How would you … how would you approach that?
GJ- You know all I have is my own experience and my own experience would be having been Gov. of New Mexico two terms I did not get the social conservative vote in New Mexico in the primary. I ended up getting the social conservative vote in the general election because then it seems like all the Republicans took on their second most important issue which was dollars and cents. And I really thought .. I really think I excelled in the area of dollars and cents. As Gov. of New Mexico it just wasn’t an issue ever. It wasn’t an issue when it came to filling my cabinet, filling the heads of agency. It was never an issue when it came to filling boards and commissions. It just wasn’t an issue. And I don’t expect it to be different as President of the United States. It’s just not a consideration. It’s just not something I ask of people and for the most part most people don’t volunteer it. All though there are those that do. It’s not something that I consider in my actions my appointments.
JP- And well just to put follow up if I may–
GJ- (interrupting) Yeah.
JP- Well, it’s certainly very admirable sir but I just … I do want to point out in a lot of primary states if you are not a conservative Christian it is very much an uphill battle. I mean New Hampshire I think it’s not as big of an issue because it’s more of a Libertarian leaning state. But say South Carolina or Iowa … your religious orientation and how your religions view impact your politics are going to be a very big deal so how are you going to personally address that when it comes to campaigning in those states.
GJ: Well, first of all I’m not running against two or three other candidates. I’m running against ten other candidates all of them are social conservative. You know I always sum up my own religious background as .. or my own religious philosophy if you will as doing unto others as others .. as I would have others do unto me and I would guess that all of you espouse … I’m just gonna go out on a limb here and guess that you all espouse that same feeling. So I am not … I don’t expect to get the social conservative vote. When it comes to Republicans the majority of Republicans in this country are not social conservative. The overwhelming majority of Republican activists are social conservatives. I don’t get the social conservative vote in the primary. I’d like to think I’d get that vote in the general election but I’m not … I’m not … I’m not trying to get it because I don’t expect to get it given that my ten other opponents are all in the social conservative category.
JP- All right, thank you Gov. Johnson.
GJ- Thank you.
CS- Next we’ll go to Ramesh and Ramesh if you could just introduce yourself and just (f) touch where you’re from and your organization. And then if you have a question for Gov. Johnson.
(Ramesh Rao) RR- Yes. Good evening Gov. Johnson and thank you for making plans to talk to us. I’m Ramesh Rao, I teach here at Longwood University in Virginia but I am also the Human Rights Coordinator for the Hindu American Foundation and I’ve worked in that capacity for the last seven years. And have been the author of our annual human rights reports and I have initially a quick question for you. To follow up on the previous questions about the spread of social conservatism (f)
(RR mic dropped)
GJ- Got all the way up to … got all the way up to regarding regarding social conservatives and then your question.
CS- You know I think his signal might be dropping and he might be coming back in just a moment–
GJ- Very Good.
CS- So what we’ll do is we’ll move to Star Foster.
GJ- Is Star here?–
SF- (interrupting) Hi, Gov. Yeah, I’m here–
GJ- (interrupting) Okay.
SF- Hello Gov. Jonson, I’m Star Foster managing editor of the Pagan Portal at patheos.com And when I ask people what I should ask you a lot of people brought up the economy. I know that you are a proponent of the fair tax. So my question is in this market what do you expect the short term risks and benefits of this (f) fair tax could be as volatile as this market can be how would you handle an economic dip resulting from such a drastic change?
GJ- You know if there is that economic dip then of course the fair tax is based on GDP so it’s gonna be commensurate with GDP we hope to grow GDP with the fair tax. But if you have that dip … if you have that consequence if the economy slowed down terrificly … let’s just say that over the last several years we’ve put a trillion dollars into stimulus what if we had put that trillion dollars to work implementing the fair tax. I’m not believing the fair tax would result in less tax revenues being collected. It is revenue neutral you know so you still have to cut 43% from federal gov. spending to balance the budget. Which is something that I’m also promising to do as President of the United States is submitting a balanced budget to congress. Submitting a balanced budget to congress is submitting a document that would lay out a 43% reduction in federal spending which would include Medicaid, Medicare, and military spending. I’m also promising as President of the United States to veto any legislation where expenditures exceed revenue. Under that scenario I’m going to argue that spending will be less than any other scenario that you could be presented with and why in the first place reduce spending. I am in the camp that believes that we are on the verge of a monetary collapse given the fact that during the last year up to 70% of the money used to pay our ongoing expenditures were moneys printed up by the Federal Reserve I mean literally out of thin air. Monetary Collapse occurs when we are printing 100% of that money going forward and all of the roll over of treasury is that 15 trillion dollars is out there in existing notes when all of those notes also get rolled over with 100% of that money being printed … thats the monetary collapse. And that’s not something that their going to announce is going to happen two weeks from Thursday that’s just gonna happen literally overnight when we have a complete melt down in the bond market. Which I’m predicting is gonna happen unless we actually balance the federal budget so this is what we are entering into is a real mutual sacrifice on the part of all of us. I would argue let’s have that mutual sacrifice as opposed to all of us having nothing which is what happens during a monetary collapse that our money ends up being worth nothing. That happened in Russia part of that was Afghanistan. We’re not immune to this. We can fix it but we need to do it now and that’s the position that I hold.
CS- Thank you very much. We did … we were gonna come back to Ramesh but he has dropped out of the chat so I will take the next question. And then when Crystal and Ramesh come back we can have them pick up on their question. You know all though it is legal to consume raw milk in all 50 states in about half of our states it is illegal to buy or sell raw milk. Are you in favor of repealing federal regulations that prohibit raw milk sales across state lines.
GJ- You know while I am the state’s right guy so any legislation that repeal legislation that does control what the states can or can’t do I’m probably going to be in that camp. The whole raw milk … I’m a little bit at a distance with regards to the raw milk controversy hearing at a distance the pros and the cons. But I think (f) best left to states.
CS- Thank you very much. Next we’ll come back to Ramesh.
RR- Good evening, Gov. Johnson. We got cut off last time. My question was about the problem that we… the Hindu American Foundation have termed predatory proselytization. And this especially in regards to India where during the administration of President Bush the amount of money being pumped into India jumped from anywhere from about 100 million dollars a year to about 400 million dollars per year. And most of it going towards converting Hindus. And over the past 50 years the kind of activity of Evangelicals in India has led to some very interesting dynamics. For example among the state’s in northeaster India the seven states called the Seven Sisters three of them have become majority Christian over the last 50 years. And we believe at the American Hindu Foundation that this kind of proselytizing activity has added to the social conflict in India. I was wondering if you had any concerns about this kind of aggressive proselytization and what it is doing to the relationship that the United States has with democratic countries like India.
GJ- I find it very troubling that the Unites States government would engage in this and given a time when 43 cents out of every dollar that we are spending is borrowed that seems like money that should not be spent at all doing that. And outside of the money spent doing that this is not something the US gov. should be engaged in.
RR- Ah, maybe but for just a quick follow-up. I did not mean to say that the amount of money going into India is actually going through you know Govt. channels but the money raised by churches in Christ during the tenure of President Bush. And having worked with the US State Department and the International Commission on Religious Freedom I believe what has transpired over the last decade especially is that under the guise of religious freedom proselytism aggressive (f) has become part of the foreign police of the United States. I was wondering if you had concerns or issues with that.
GJ- You know the best questions are questions that actually educate (laughter) and thank you for the education that you have given me with the question that you’ve asked. I am … this is not … you know church is one thing but you have to think that the state department and I’m hearing that from your question–
RR- (interrupting) umhmm
GJ- Us policy makers are involved in actually accommodating this actually taking place–
GJ- This should not be something that takes place. And I appreciate being aware of it.
RR- Thank you.
GJ- Thank you.
CS- Okay, Crystal. We’ll come back to your question.
CB- Thank you. Hi, Gov. Johnson. I am Crystal Blanton from the Pagan Newswire Collective Bay Area. My question is around economics. The economic cut in education and social programs have greatly effected minority groups. What is your position on providing federal funds for programs that address cultural, medical, academic, and mental health needs.
GJ- I think the best thing the Federal Gov. can do when it comes to education K-12 is to abolish the Federal Department of Education. The Federal Department of Education gives each state about 11 cents out of every school dollar that every state spends but it comes with about 16 cents worth of strings attached. So what I think the country … people do not understand is it’s a negative to take federal money. The government gives you money and they say that you have to do a b c d and to do a b c d e … to do a b c d you’ve got to spend 16 cents as opposed to the 11 cents that you get. So just get the fed. govt. out of education completely. Leave education to the states. 50 laboratories of innovation and best practice and in my opinion we would have some fabulous innovation that would get emulated because we are all so competitive. I think we would also have some spectacular failure that would get avoided because we are very competitive. I really believe as gov. of New Mexico to reform education K-12 in this country we need to bring competition to education. So as gov. of New Mexico all though it did not happen I was … I think I was of all the 50 gov. I was more of an outspoken advocate school choice then any other gov. advocating for a full blown voucher system in the states and in my opinion would have brought about real innovation and improvement in education.
CS- Okay and David I believe you were next.
DS- Thank you. Gov. Johnson in 29 states it’s still legal to fire someone for being gay or lesbian and the employment non-discrimination act would prohibit American companies from firing workers based on sexual orientation. What would you do in the presidency to support legislation like it?
GJ- So David outside of gay and lesbian issues, first of all no one should get fired because they are gay or lesbian period. But when you set these laws up my experience with these laws are you create a protected class. And I speak as someone who started a one man handyman business in Albuquerque in 1974 and grew it to over a thousand employees. I became the largest construction employer in the state of New Mexico. I’ll tell you because of our laws that we passed on safety issues that this whole notion of whistle blower legislation it sounds great but the reality is if somebody is really not a good employee at all this is what I saw this is what I witnessed employees that were horrible declared themselves to be whistle blowers in the safety category or they declared themselves an alcoholic because of legislation (f) the American for Disabilities Act. And they became protected employees because of Federal laws. Now this is an absolute unintended consequence of Federal Law but I’m just afraid that this has that same potential that unintended consequence and so from a Federal Law standpoint and as Gov. of New Mexico I vetoed that kind of legislation. I vetoed hate crime legislation and I vetoed hate crime legislation because my fear was that … well first of all was the law … if I break somebodies I want to be prosecuted … I want that person who breaks a window breaks a windshield with a rock prosecuted on the basis that they threw a rock through a windshield not because they were motivated by hate. Which I think gets into the thought crime area. And I have to tell ya the more and more I find out about gov. and govt. action the notion that govt. would be able to crack down on though or that it would be a crime for what we think just scares me to death. So I put all this kind of legislation under that big group of unintended consequence and a lot of business suffers as a result of this kind of legislation.
DS- Thank you for the answer.
GJ- Thank you.
CS- Okay, Devon.
DH- Gov. Johnson, after reviewing some of your policies I’m quite impressed as a very liberal man to see the type of change that you are willing to bring into a more bipartisan approach to the govt. But I am concerned a lot of elders in our community are looking at the future of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. If we lose funding to help support the system that they have been paying into over this lifetime we risk there being a very heavy burden being placed in our community via our elders. What are your thoughts on how to help in that transition.
GJ- Well, first of all I am not going a nickel from Social Security. Social Security is a problem that is pale in comparison to Medicare and Medicaid. But Social Security very simply Social Security is a system that needs to take in more money then what it pays out. So to do that I think there are some reforms that Social Security (f) to accomplish that. One is to raise the retirement age. Two is a means testing that can be very fair, not unfair but means testing from a fair standpoint. Lastly would be to change the escalator built into Social Security from the wage index to the inflation rate. And then lastly
I would like to see an option within Social Security to be able to self direct those investment funds perhaps a percentage or all of it but I would like to see that option also when it comes to Social Security. So no cuts to Social Security. It’s money that’s been paid in and it’s been matched by employers. And by the way implementing the Fair Tax … Social Security would come out of the Fair Tax there would be no more withholding Social Security. And when it comes to the employers match, there would be no more employers match to Social Security that would also come out of the Fair Tax. When it comes to Medicaid and Medicare I think what we really need to keep in mind here is that if we don’t fix this the alternative to less healthcare is no healthcare. Is a monetary collapse where nothing is gonna be available to anybody. I’m trying to save that so in that context I reformed Medicaid. I oversaw the reform of Medicaid in New Mexico. Medicaid being healthcare to the poor changed from a fee for service model to managed care model. We established much better healthcare networks and we saved a lot of money doing it. (pause) Excuse me. If the Federal Government would have mandated the state of New Mexico 43% less money, taken away all the strings of the mandate associated with the delivery of healthcare to the poor in New Mexico, I believe I could have overseen an effective delivery of healthcare to the poor in New Mexico. I think that same model needs to apply to Medicare and that the belief here is that if as Gov. of New Mexico I would have been block granted a fixed amount of money 43% less then what we are currently spending for Medicare, healthcare for those over 65, the Federal Government taking away all of the strings and the mandates associated with that 43% reduction I believe I could have overseen the deliver of healthcare for those over 65 and I would have started by making that … by putting that under the umbrella of a managed care model as opposed to what Medicare now does nation wide which is fee per service. So this is ripe for saving money but its commensurate upon 50 laboratories of innovation and best practice the states make this happen. It’s not gonna happen one size fits all Federal Government. Medicare is breaking the federal bank. We’re gonna be left with nothing if we don’t fix this.
CS- Thank you. Jason you are up next.
JP- (mic cuts out)
CS- Okay, I think Jason is having problems with his mic. I think what we’re going to do is we’re going to go to Ramesh.
JP- Oh hello? Good. Oh sorry.
CS- There he goes. Okay we have Jason on his mic … back.
JP- Sorry I was … response time is very slow on my computer here. Gov. Johnson I just … I … one of our chaplains within the Pagan community, Patrick McCollum, testified to a Federal … in a Federal hearing that there was an endemic level of religious discrimination within our prison systems. Now you often talk about throwing things back to the states and privatization of Federal programs. I was wondering if we did that how would we stop religious discrimination within the prison systems if the prison systems were privatized or if the matter were left only up to the states. For example in California they have a system where only selective religions get to have chaplains within their state program. It’s called the Five Faiths Program. So I guess what I would like you to speak to is as .. if you were to become President and basically head of the National, Federal Government how would you protect religious rights within privatized or state run systems with a hands off libertarian ethic.
GJ- Well, the reality is that that would … I would … it would be disingenuous … at best for me to say I’m going to have any say over state prisons. It’s not going to happen. I will tell you that 73% of federal prisons today are occupied by individuals who have sold small amount of drugs and then caught on numerous occasions doing that so they are there on mandatory sentencing. I may, if pie in the sky, I would reduce the Federal prison population by 73% because of my position on legalizing marijuana and my position on all other drugs which I think is a rational approach of looking at problem first (f) rather than criminal justice issue. So I am aware of what you are talking about. And President of the United States is not going to be able to effect State prisons that is just a plan state issue. Federal prison I’m hoping to reduce that population significantly so that at a minimum the problem you talked about will be less felt.
JP- Okay and if I may do one follow up since you brought up the legalization of marijuana which I think is very laudable sir, I would like to expand on that. Would you be also pro the decriminalization of entheogens or basically drugs used within religious or ceremonial context like peyote for Native Americans which is currently legal or other related drugs.
GJ- You know I am in the camp that believes that we’re really close to legalizing marijuana. 46% of Americans support legalizing marijuana. The issue is actually a couple of years away from being at a national tipping point. (f) with a lot of people looking at it as a potential income generator (f) tax it. And I’m opposed to drug war a – z. But when we do that, when we legalize marijuana which I think unquestionably we are going to do I just think we take giant steps for rational approach to drug policy. And rational approach to drug policy in my opinion starts (f) as a health issue rather than a justice issue (f) gosh doesn’t that just (f) common sense that within religious practices we can look to this as a religious issue as a health issue and not criminal justice. I don’t want to … I guess I’m pragmatic in many regards I’d like to see things be better and I’m always wanting to make things better. The issues that you talk about are absolutely valid and yes there are better approaches to those issues but in my opinion concentrating on marijuana and using that as the lead issue for Americans to grasp and to actually pass and to actually implement and to find out that the world isn’t going to end. Actually the world is a better place. (f)
JP- All right, thank you Gov. Johnson.
CS- Okay and next we’ll go to Ramesh.
RR- So once again thank you Gov. Johnson. I know education is a State issue but I was wondering what your thoughts are on the teaching of Yoga in schools because there has been quite a bit of push back by mostly Christian groups that claim that teaching Yoga in schools is teaching religion. I wonder if you had that problem in New Mexico and what your thoughts are about it. Thank you.
GJ- You know, I would have been a real outspoken advocate for alternatives to everything it was that we were doing so whether that was Yoga, ether that was acupuncture that was looking at medical issues from an Eastern perspective as opposed to a Western perspective. I think being President of the United States and having the bully pulpit to be able to express that these kinds of alternatives really help an individual just plain helps an individual. So Yoga ends up .. and advocating for school choice in New Mexico. So much of school choice has a real, in my opinion, cookie cutter approach to education. Alternatives to education through competition is really exciting. And the Yoga component of a competitor to ordinary education is an exciting notion to me. I think Yoga would thrive in a competitive … having Yoga as part of the curriculum would thrive in a competitively run educational system. I think kids would choose to go to schools with a Yoga alternative curriculum. I would. I would have.
CS- Excellent. Thank you. Star you’re up next.
SF- Hi, thank you Gov. Johnson. Right now there is a huge protest called Occupy Wall Street. Which has surprising gone global (f) and a lot of people are very angry towards the idea that corporations have too much influence in our govt. And you are pro-business candidate so can you clarify for how you are both a pro-business candidate and I know you mentioned earlier that you thought that politicians should wear corporation’s badges like NASCAR drivers. So what would you say right now to people on Wall Street and in similar demonstrations across the United states.
GJ- So I share in their outrage and the outrage is that we don’t have a system that has a level playing field. That the govt. picks winners and losers and in the case of Wall Street what absolutely outrages me is the fact that these people that made such incredibly bad decisions, and I’m believing that these decisions were not necessarily criminal or I think they would have been prosecuted, but that they were just horrible decisions. That they should have been rewarded with failure. Meaning they should have lost all of their money. But they didn’t loose all of their money did they. We bailed them out at the tune of a trillion bucks. You and I. You and I bailed them out. They continue to receive their bonuses and that is … that is the outrage and I share in that outrage. And I share in the outrage that govt. chooses to bail out General Motors when we have a mechanism for failure which is bankruptcy. And those jobs wouldn’t have gone away maybe more of the jobs would have gone away. But General Motors would have come back restructured and in my opinion been the true company the true care company of today as opposed to a re-inflated dinosaur that was done politically. That’s the outrage. That is the outrage that I totally share. Govt. should be a level playing field were all of us have the same advantages and the same threats if you will. Implementing the Fair Tax for example throws out the entire Federal tax system. No income tax, no IRS, no business tax, no corporate tax and isn’t the fact that some people pay tax and others don’t isn’t it it the fact that some corporations pay tax and others don’t that has us outraged. It’s just not fair. Let’s implement something that totally fair and in fact is a system where you make the more you consume the more Fair Tax you’ll pay. In a Fair Tax environment you’ll be incentivised to save money. So back to US treasuries. It’s okay to borrow money it’s just not okay to print money. We need to stop printing money.
CS- Thank you Gov. Johnson. You know in speaking with the anger that some in Occupy Wall Street have I think there is a conversation going on not just with those protesters but with others over the direction of our country. And every culture needs to have a direction. Every country has a destiny. What do you see as the destiny of the United States.
GJ – It was founded and I hope that it resurges the notion of liberty, the notion of freedom, the notion of a system that treats everyone equally. I think we move further and further away from that not closer and closer and that if we could all focus on that that would be the focus and we could actually accomplish that. And that’s what I talk about all the time. As gov. of New Mexico I like to think that on a daily basis it was about a system that was gonna treat everybody equally as opposed to politics which you know is hit and miss and it’s politics it’s who you know as opposed to a system that provides that equality.
GJ- Thank you governor. Crystal, you are up next.
CB- (f) thoughts on drug reform include decriminalization and education. If you were elected, how do you see drug prevention, education, and treatment programs playing a role in this.
GJ- Well, I believe that 90% of the drug problem is prohibition related, not use related and that’s not to discount the problems of use and abuse but that aught to be the focus. So this ends up really being a States issue. The reality of it is it’s a State’s issue. But if States were to focus their resources on .. if states didn’t have to deal with the criminality of drug use if they could deal with the problems associated with it, it would be much more effective. And I all ways point this out: I don’t smoke marijuana, I don’t drink alcohol but I have drank alcohol and I have smoked marijuana and the big difference between the two substances is that marijuana is a lot safer than alcohol. Citizens of Denver five years ago voted to decriminalize marijuana on a campaign based on marijuana being safer than alcohol. I happen to think that by legalizing marijuana we end up with less overall substance abuse because I think currently people who have problems with alcohol and are reluctant to use marijuana because it is criminal would find that an alternative that would not have as near the negative consequence that alcohol does.
CB- For a point of clarity when you say the negative consequence are you talking about the immediate negative consequences or are you talking about health consequences, social consequences.
GJ- I think when it comes to comparing alcohol and marijuana there is no category none .. no category that exists that marijuana doesn’t have a better ending then alcohol. Whether it’s impairment, drinking and driving, whether it’s violence, whether it’s health issues related to your body your kidney I mean there are an estimated 100,000 people that die every year from their use of alcohol. And I don’t mean drinking and driving or guns I just mean a bad kidney, bad liver, bad heart. There are no related deaths to marijuana although I have to believe a few people have smoked themselves to death. It’s statistically not on the screen.
CB- Thank you.
CS- Okay, and David you’re up next.
DS- Hi, Gov. Johnson this is another Chaplaincy based questions in the religion arena. The quest to have Pagan chaplains in the US Military has been in progress since about 1998 and with a large growing number of Wiccans and Pagans in the Armed Services as Commander in Chief would you support the appointment of a Pagan US Military Chaplain.
GJ- You know I’m really in tune right now with the military and the fact that its become a Christian military and for all of those none Christians in the military its in my opinion much like gays in the military. Gays in the military should be able to express their sexuality and not be discriminated I’ve long supported repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell it’s long over due. But in that same context so religion within the military … I guess I’m gonna be in the camp … why are there any chaplains in the military and if there are chaplains in the military why are there then not Rabbis in the military and I didn’t realize there was a Pagan chaplain but you can see that that’s obviously part of the equality equation here.
DS- Thank you.
CS- Okay, and Devon.
DH- Gov. Johnson a lot of us are looking to the future and trying to figure out where we’re headed especially when it comes to our energy policy. We’re looking at a lot of environmental concerns as we’re moving in and we’re looking at alternative fuel sources. Are you going to support off shore drilling and at home drilling.
GJ- Yes I think that we should be drilling responsibly within our own territory. If we were to do that over the next 15 years it’s very possible that we could be at 50% of our own consumption. On top of that we need to be building new coal fired plants. We’re not doing that because of uncertainty over CO2 emission and what it’s actually going to cost to produce electricity from coal. But we have to rely on our traditional sources coal, natural gas obviously huge finds in the natural gas area. We should also continue to invest in the green space and I call the green space biofuel, wind solar, I do not include ethanol in the biofuel space believing that it takes more energy to produce ethanol then what it produces. But if we can continue the bet in the green space the bet in the green space is that every 5 years of the green space becomes 100 percent more efficient. That’s not happening. It’s not even close to happening and yet if it were in 15 years the green space would be providing 15 percent of our energy needs which is not insignificant and should be pursued but it just lends itself to a balanced approach regarding all sources of energy. The best determiner of a good environmental practice is a good economy, I think that’s been well documented and that starts with you and I as consumers we are demanding less carbon emission. We’re getting that. We’re going to continue to get that. The energy that we produce today is cleaner then it was decades ago it will be much cleaner decades from now then it is today. So I do not favor cap and trade legislation.
DH- Thank you.
CS- Okay and Jason Pitzl-Waters.
JP- Gov. Johnson, you have expressed opposition to network neutrality. Saying that it’s anti-business which seems counter intuitive to me because it seems network neutrality would actually be better for open and free competition on the Internet. So could you expand on why you are opposed to network neutrality.
GJ- Yeah just so back to being Gov. of New Mexico. I vetoed a bill that I think the label of the bill was Brining Competition to the Telecommunications Industry of New Mexico I’m paraphrasing the name of the bill. Bringing Competition to Telecommunications less money to be spent on computer networks in New Mexico Bill. I vetoed it because the reality was that was the title but the reality was just the opposite. It was gonna actually make the environment less competitive. It was going to empower Quest communications to have more of a monopoly they it all ready had. That wasn’t the label of the bill. So net neutrality the notion is that it’s going to create a freer environment when the reality is .. is there really an issue now? And if you get government involved in getting its nose in the tent isn’t this ultimately gonna make things a lot worse and cost us a lot more than just doing nothing. So all of my free market friends, all of my computer savvy people that are advising me, say that net neutrality is anything but. All of what’s it supposed to accomplish that actually by supporting it you’re creating the opposite.
JP- Thank you.
GJ- Thank you.
CS- Okay and Ramesh.
RR- Hello. I don’t know if you have traveled to India, Governor
(Jason Pitzl-Waters drops from the video conference.)
RR- but India being Hindu majority nation and Hindus believing that proselytism is not part of … should not be a part of their faith. I find that when I travel to Washington D.C. to attend the International Religious Forum Meetings conducted by the Freedom House that I am in a minority of one. That everyone believes in proselytism and having been interested in religion for the last three decades I’ve found that religion and proselytism is very much a trigger for local conflicts as well as regional and international conflicts. If you were to be elected President would you use your bully pulpit to talk about true freedom of religion being through pluralism and that we should let everyone else follow their own faiths rather than trying to convert them. Thank you.
GJ- Yes and I believe that I have lived my life that way I’m not stepping out differently from the way that I have lived my life.
RR- Thank you.
GJ- Thank you.
CS- Okay and Star.
SF- Hi, Gov. Johnson. Ron Paul was wildly popular on the Internet in 2008 and he still could not gain a foothold (f). Obama managed to win both the Internet vote and the regular vote. You’re becoming known for doing some unconventional campaigning. How do you plan to succeed where Ron Paul failed.
GJ- You know right now Ron Paul is looking like he’s gonna crush me in this upcoming election and for that matter I’m just at the bottom of the heap. So our strategy of doing well in New Hampshire where it becomes a necessity for everybody to listen to what I have to say I happen to think that I’m talking about the issues that need to be talked about. I happen to think that I’m offering up the solutions to all of the problems and I happen to think that I have the resume unlike everybody else that suggests that I’ll pursue just what I’m talking about. But at this point in my campaign it just not registering, not raising money so I don’t want to make any outlandish claims here other than to promise that I’ll just continue to work at this 24/7 up until the point I either get the green slip or the pink slip. On or the other and that’s all I can do. And if I am given the pink slip I’ll just tell you I walk away from this not thinking coulda, shoulda woulda. This is not for a lack of work. This is not for a lack of a whole lot of people a whole lot of really smart people putting their chips on the table with me and letting me be their spokesperson.
CS- Okay I have a question for you Gov. Johnson. Have you or would you ever veto a law because it was redundant and do you support repealing laws because they are never enforced or selectively enforced.
GJ- Well you are talking to the guy who as Gov. of New Mexico vetoed 750 bills and thousands of line item vetoes as Gov. of New Mexico. Putting that into perspective that may have been more bills than the other 49 governors in the country combined. So when you challenge me to would you veto I’m the guy that’s gonna veto. (laughter) This is what I’ve done. I think it’s very effective. I think it’s very effective. Don’t underestimate … not … look an example of not passing legislation. I would have never passed the Department of Homeland Security. I would have never allowed it. I think it’s totally redundant. I think it cost us a lot of money. I don’t think it makes us any safer. Because of never establishing Homeland Security TSA wouldn’t exist today. If I would have been President, I would have left airport security to the airports and the airlines. As gov. I found … I talked about repeal all the time there’s all sorts of legislation that should be repealed. I never got any of that really on my desk. None of it. But I sure prevented a lot of legislation from being passed that should be repealed in the future. I have regrets about legislation that I find that I should have vetoed I mean some really big mistakes. I established a public regulatory commission in New Mexico being voted in as opposed to appointed. It’s been a disaster. It’s been filled with political hacks that are totally unqualified for the job and so now it’s just writhe with corruption and ineptitude. I did that. I signed that into law.
CS- (laughter) So that would be one you wish you could have a mulligan on?
GJ- I wish I could have a mulligan on that one, yes.
CS- (laughter) Thank you very much. Crystal you’re up next.
CB- Thank you. Going back to a question previous asked by Jason Pitzl-Waters California categorizes five faiths as being recognized for certain needs. Referencing the Five Faith category. What are your thoughts on all faiths having access to religious services in the prison system.
GJ- Well just that it’s a fair notion to have. I’m trying to think back on my experience as governor and I would have never said no to a faith being … meaning a faith ministry being denied access to a prison. I would have never said that because that’s just … I mean I know what my philosophy is. I don’t know though that I was ever approached with that issue as Gov. of New Mexico. I don’t know how much of an issue it is within the federal prison or how from an administrative standpoint I implement that but within my … I imagine that I would appoint the commissioner of a federal prison I don’t actually know what that title is but in that context I would be able to control that environment and would absolutely be open to seeing that all faiths be represented.
CB- Thank you very much.
GJ- Thank you.
CS- Okay and David.
DS- Hi, Gov. Johnston this is another civil rights related question. The Defense of Marriage Act or DOMA prohibits legal same sex relationships sanctioned by States from being recognized by the Federal Govt. and as a pro state candidate would you actually encourage the appeal of DOMA?
GJ- Well I wouldn’t … I would not have passed … I would not be advocating for it at all and I support the notion of civil unions. I think the govt. should get out of the marriage business and leave marriage to the churches. I would have no issue belonging to a church that condoned gay marriage but get govt. out of the marriage business.
DS- Thank you.
CS – Okay and Devin.
DH- Yes, Gov. Johnson you’ve got some very interesting possible plans when it comes to immigration reforms and I was wondering if you could talk a little bit more about your idea for immigration and making it an easier process for legalization.
GJ- Well I guess it starts with us not building a fence. That would be a terrific waste of resource and time and not putting boots on the ground but really addressing the problems with immigration which in my opinion get solved by the govt. making it as easy as possible for somebody who wants to come into this country and work to get a work visa and work. Not citizenship, not a green card, but a work visa that would entail a background check and a Social Security card so that applicable taxes would get paid. Now I am advocating for the Fair Tax so implementing the Fair Tax taxes don’t even become and issue because everyone whether you are legal, illegal, or visiting this country, you’re gonna pay the Fair Tax. It’s gonna be unavoidable. You’re gonna have to buy food and clothing and shelter and transportation so anyway make it as easy as possible to get a work visa for the 11 million that are here in this country now as a border state governor this is a complex issue and a lot of those millions that are here are not here because they were out to break the law it’s just the circumstances that presented themselves. Often times decades ago. So set up a grace period where the 11 million illegal immigrants can become documented getting a work visa. Once you make laws that you can conform with then enforce the law. If you are in this country working illegally and we’ve made it easy to get a work visa, then you’ll be arrested you’ll be deported and you won’t come back and work in this country again. We also have issues with welfare ourselves in this country. Mexicans are not coming across the border and taking entry level jobs from Americans as much as we’d like to think that. Because we as Americans we can sit at home and collect that welfare checks that’s just a little bit less money or the same amount of money for doing nothing. So we need to reform welfare and then we come back to the drug issue. So much of the border problems have to do with border violence and the prohibition of drugs and nobody is pointing at the prohibition of drugs as being the problem. Everybody’s pointing at that as being the end result and that the solution to it is for more military or more guns as opposed to legalizing it and putting the issue in the courts as opposed to violence being played out. We’ve got … you know if we can’t connect the dots between twenty-eight thousand deaths south of the border in the last four years and prohibition and violence I don’t know if we ever will.
CS- Okay and thank you. We’ll go to Ramesh.
RR- Yes, Gov. I wonder what you’re thoughts are on expanding the Security Council in the United Nations and whether you would support the application of India to become a permanent member and if yes who else would you like to see become permanent members. Thank you.
GJ- You know I don’t have any thoughts on that. I have no thoughts on that what so ever. I think that … well my promise is to submit a balanced budget to congress in the year 2013. Submitting a balanced budget to congress in the year 2013 is a 43% reduction in all govt. expenditures so I would look to be spending less money in the United Nations then we are currently spending. Believing that it has a real viable place world wide but other countries if we’re gonna put more resources into the United Nations it’s gonna come from other countries not the United States and I do not have an opinion at all on India being … (bad echo) India in my opinion is one of the seven countries of the world that belongs there.
RR- Thank you.
CS- Okay and next we have Star Foster from Patheos.
SF- Hi, Gov. Johnson. You talk a lot about cost benefit analysis in govt. policy so I would be interested in your opinions. Since 2001 with 9/11 we’ve had the Department of Homeland Security and a lot of increased invasion of privacy. The most recent example of this was people being very upset about the new procedures by the TSA. So how would you apply cost benefit analysis to that? What are your opinions of the Patriot Act?
GJ- I apologies I’m letting brink go for the evening. But what I heard you say and please add to it if I didn’t hear it all right. How do you cut back on TSA? How to you make TSA less intrusive? Gosh if I had control of TSA if I was President of the United States TSA would become a lot less intrusive over night. And look how many lines do I have to stand in when the baby carriage is subject to the pat down. Where a very elderly older person is wheeled through in a wheel chair and they are subject to pat down. How come I don’t have a card as a frequent flier that allows me to whisk through security just like employees behind the line. There’s just a lot of things that can be done and I would implement those things and you would see them right off the bat.
SF- And just to quickly follow up what are your thoughts about the Patriot Act?
GJ- About the Patriot Act? I think if I would have gotten a chance to vote on the Patriot Act that I would have voted against the Patriot Act and based on what I know about the Patriot Act I would repeal the Patriot Act. I would let it expire.
CS- Okay, thank you Gov. Johnson. If you were to be President would you continue the White House Office of Faith Based Initiatives and partnerships that was begun with Bush and is continued under President Obama?
GJ- Faith Based Initiatives? No I would not.
CS- Okay so that –
GJ- (interrupting) and and
CS- you would eliminate.
GJ- Well you know is there funding involved in Faith Based Initiative?
GJ- I would assume. I don’t think … to have any sort of faith … first of all govt. spending needs to be cut by 43%. If there is a Faith Based Initiative currently, I’m going to ask you this question, I would assume that all Faith’s are included in that initiative.
CS- They are on paper. In reality-
GJ- (interrupting) Yes, yes, yes.
CS- it’s another situation.
GJ- I would think so. Yeah. No I would have read that into … (chuckle) If I would have had to given my thoughts on what do I think that’s what I would have thought. Yeah, sounds good but I guess I would .. you know understanding that all faiths might be included I guess I would put a cost benefit analysis to it and from this vantage point I just don’t see a cost benefit analysis in Faith Based Initiative given that we’re so over spent when it comes to govt.
CS- Okay thank you and Crystal.
CB- Yes, so the Republican ticket has not previously been know for or has reputation for diversity. California Pagans largely represent very diverse population. How do you plan to learn and address the needs of such a diverse Nation.
GJ- Well I guess I’m getting and education here tonight and I mean that favorably I don’t mean that in a negative context at all. Just my whole candidacy for President of the United States is drinking out of a fire hydrant on a daily basis which is kind of exciting actually. But I think if I’m elected President of the United States that what I’m all about is doing things differently. I’ve done things differently through out my entire life. I’m gonna argue that doing things differently in my life has resulted in good things. I got to be Gov. of New Mexico for eight years. I think that govt. was better in New Mexico and got better over a daily bases the entire time that I was in office. So you know … you’re talking about a personal education, my own, and I hope I’m not ever remiss in not wanting to learn as much as I possibly can. If nothing else out of this whole exercise of running for President, I’m a more educated human being today.
CB- Thank you very much.
CS- Ramesh if you have a question.
RR- Yes, Gov. Given the nature of American politics and the kind of stance it seems that the Republicans and Democrats have pushed each other into, how would you change the political climate in D.C. and in the country. Thank you.
GJ- Well, let’s just assume that the President of the United States that I get elected and I can’t change the attitude or the working relationship at all between Republicans and Democrats. If that’s the case, I would like you to understand that running or being the head of the administration, me President of the United States, I would be able to appoint the heads of all the agencies. I would be appointing all of the boards and commissions which would running into ultimately controlling thousands of these positions at the highest level of govt. I end up controlling rules and regulations and really the way the average citizens interact with the Federal Govt and I did that as Gov. of New Mexico. That same example applied in New Mexico. I pose to you that in New Mexico things got better on a daily basis and it got better on a daily basis simply on the standpoint of common sense. That if something wasn’t being done from a common sense standpoint then the Johnson administration put and end to it as long as they were informed of it. And I had mechanisms to find out or inform myself about these atrocities if you will. I had an “open door after four” policy as Gov. of New Mexico where I met with anyone in the State on the third Thursday of every month starting at four o’clock in the afternoon on five minute increments until ten o’clock at night. That was a very effective mechanism for keeping in touch. No one in New Mexico could say that they couldn’t come in and see the Gov. of New Mexico. As President of the United States I would have a open door after four policy for waste, fraud, and abuse and I think that I could qualify that ahead of time to where that would be very effective time spent once a month. So don’t underestimate even if there is no change between Republicans and Democrats the power of controlling government … effectively controlling govt. on a daily basis which the President of the United States does.
RR- Thank you Gov.
GJ- Thank you.
CS- Okay, Star Foster you’re up.
SF- Hi, Gov. Johnson. I’m from the State of Georgia so I’m actually all though I identify as liberal I can vote in the Republican primary. I wonder … there are a lot of liberals who are not entirely happy with the Obama administration. Who aren’t very happy with the Democratic party. Why should someone who has traditionally identified as liberal want to vote for you?
GJ- Well, that’s gonna depend on my performance, I don’t want to call it a performance, but my discussion here this evening and your take on me and what you pass on out of this. (laughing) Hey, I’ve listened to the guy and it really … you know … I don’t want to have anything to do with the guy. Or you know I listened to the guy and you need to get onto his website garyjohnson2010.com check it out I listened to him the other night. I wasn’t turned off. I don’t what it is you’re gonna say but this is how I effect other people is … just what I’m doing right now.
(At some point David Salisbury and Devin Hunter have dropped out of the video conference.)
CS- Thank you. Gov. Johnson we’re gonna do one more round of questions and then we’ll be wrapping it up. We really to thank you for spending this among of time with us. My closing question to you is what message do you have for Wiccans and other Pagan military members who are currently serving in our US Military.
GJ – Well I guess the message is that there are those that understand what’s happening. That’s the message. And that it should be about equality it’s not and I appreciate the service even though you’re not being treated equally.
CS- Okay and Crystal.
CB- I would also like to thank you very much for spending your time with us here today. My last question. Being that a large majority of Pagans are working and middle class citizens how do you plan on providing job sources for our community.
GJ- I think that jobs are a result of implementing the Fair Tax. If in a zero corporate tax rate environment the private sector does not create tens of millions of jobs in this country I don’t know what will stimulate that to take place. That’s what’s going to reboot the American economy. And that starts with this notion of a level playing field. I think all that any of us really want just equality.
CB- Thank you very much.
CS- And Ramesh if you have a final question for Gov. Johnson.
RR- Yes, once again thank you Gov. for spending time with us. A quick question, since I am a professor at Longwood University, a university in the Virginia State System. What are your thoughts on sustaining of public higher education and what you did as Gov. of New Mexico in terms of supporting higher education institutions. And finally are you going to be traveling in Virginia and if yes would I be able to get that information on your website. Thank you.
GJ – In New Mexico very specifically, I did advocate and got and passed legislation for a lottery in New Mexico where the proceeds went 100% to higher education so it really made a lottery scholarship available to any graduating student in New Mexico with a C average to go on to college which really made a difference. Federal Govt … I think one of the issues in this country that has gone unnoticed and I’m not advocating any differently but what is the reason why higher education continues to go up and up and up in price and seems to have no basis in the market place in that they continue to go up and up in price. And I’m not advocating otherwise but I think it’s because the Fed Govt. guarantees student loans. So what we’re creating right now is a situation were kids that are graduating from college are graduating with a home mortgage that I never had. So right now you have … if federal student loans were not available I think higher education would be lowering its price. I think higher education would be more competitive but because every student can get a student loan they’re not as competitive as they otherwise would be. So that’s an issue. I don’t have an issue for it. They can’t escape student loans even with bankruptcy. But this is a huge issue that exists in this country that has never existed before. The fact that kids are on the hook for a home mortgage when they graduate from college.
RR- And will you be traveling to Virginia soon and if yes can I get the information on your website.
GJ- Should be on the website. Kind of one of my defense mechanisms is I don’t look to far ahead or I just go crazy but if you get on the website it should be readily available and you should be able to contact … and if I can be available I’d like to take advantage of that.
RR- Thank you once again Gov.
GJ- Thank you very much.
CS- Okay and Star Foster.
SF- Hi, Gov. Johnson. My final question for you is you’re perceived as the underdog in the race and as Pagan (f) we understand the feeling. So my question is … I know one thing you’ve sort of been critiqued about in the past is your messaging that you’re not as polished as other candidates and that some critics say that just shooting straight from the hip is not gonna get you very far if you cannot improve your messaging and I wondered what you thought about that?
GJ- Well, I would (has to adjust computer/mic controls) hang on. Can you still hear me?
CS- Yes we can still hear you.
GJ- My screen … anyway, I would ask you to render judgment on that. I think listening to every single other candidate that you’re not gonna get a yes and no answer to yes and no questions. I think I answer yes and no to yes and no questions. I think I’m very truthful. I think my messaging has a basis in the truth. And I hope you can see it. From my vantage point if this is not slick messaging and this is the demise of my candidacy, actually being truthful and forthright (laughing) then so be it. So be it. Guilty!
CS- (laughing) Well thank you very much Governor–
GJ- (Interrupting) Thank you all very much.
CS- It has been a true pleasure speaking with you–
GJ- (Interrupting) My pleasure. My pleasure. All right well hopefully talk to you all later. Thank you.
CS- You bet. Thank you very much–
GJ- (Interrupting) All right. Bye–
RR- (Interrupting) Thank you.
Full Transcript of Q&A with Presidential Candidate Gary Johnson by Tara Miller (Masery) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.