Katie Dunne, Passionate believer in democracy and member of UHM's Digital Media Content Crew.
Eric Burnette on "Re-unionizing the American workforce", Defense spending and Jobs.
Eric Burnette is one of the Democratic candidates running in the 2nd Congressional District of Oregon. He is pro-labor and has a Maritime Academy background. He was interviewed by #WeThePeople on April 30th, 2018.
To begin with we see a great ad that Eric put out (12/2017) about Incumbent Greg Walden’s vote on President Trump’s tax giveaway to corporations and the 1%. Nice introduction!
So, why did you decide to join this race when there were other Progressives already on-board, asks John. And the following is what Eric has to say. Greg Walden was busy writing the “fat and failed” Obamacare repeal language, when word got out that he was going to knock 25 000 to 45 000 of his own constituents off of healthcare, without any viable alternatives. Greg (who lives near Eric) couldn’t be bothered to come home and explain himself. That was one reason. Eric also thinks it isn’t a bad thing that so many people are running (more about that later) but he wanted to hear the words “re-unionize the American workforce” and didn’t, from the other candidates. This was another reason. Thirdly, everybody needs to get healthcare, universal healthcare (probably something like Medicare) - NOW, and although some candidates are talking about single-payer, not with the clarity Eric would like. John comments that what we really need to do is to eliminate the insurance industry from having a say. You really are saying single-payer because my government is going to be the source. Eric agrees wholeheartedly, and adds that the medical insurance industry is a failed market place. They should be told that under the ACA they were entrusted to bring more and more people into less and less expensive healthcare. They failed. It’s done. They’re out. Nice, says John, but we bail out our industries, not our people…
In short, Eric says: Are we seeing problems in Emergency Rooms that could and should have been dealt with in a doctor’s office? Are we seeing personal bankruptcies driven by medical costs? Are we seeing life expectancies going down? When the answer to all three of these statements is no, then we will have succeeded. John and Eric agree that there is much to be learned from other countries.
They move on to defense spending. John tells us that Eric has a very comprehensive issues page on his website. I quote: “We must enact the necessary regulations to make sure that the money we do allocate to defense spending is used wisely and invested in programs that help the Department of Defense realize the overall goal of keeping America safe.” It’s hard to measure the numbers, Eric says, but we’re pushing 4% of GDP. NATO standards are 2%, so why not apply NATO standards to ourselves? There is lots we could do with that money. He points out that there was an argument for helping to defend Europe and Asia after WW2, when they couldn’t defend themselves there. However 70 years have come and gone, and look what they’ve done for themselves with the buffer that American taxpayers have provided for them. They’ve figured out how to get healthcare to everybody. They’ve figured out how to have a thriving middle class. They have modern infrastructure. John shows us some slides and tells us that U.S. Defense spending now (adjusted for inflation) is almost what it was in 1944, at the height of WW2, on a regular basis! We are at war, John says. We’re bombing 7 or more places now – that costs a lot of money!
On the subject of jobs, Eric reminds us that the manufacturing jobs related to the defense industry were not exported. To re-industrialize the United States, we need he says, to have a real incentive program that takes the defense industry out of war material and into civilian markets. He feels that this is probably one of the best places to start. By that says John, you mean focus on renewables, infrastructure…Yes Eric replies. What we need are intelligent systems to monitor our grid, the ability to have a sustainable grid, a safe general electric – more localized…Oregon is fully expecting a really horrific earthquake – will it be next year, or next century? We don’t know, but it’s coming. Eric spent 10 years as a Senior Waterways Planner for the Columbia River, and he says that a lot of people could be employed in the area of infrastructure, and even more once people started to take advantage of it. Are you in favor of Bernie’s jobs program, John asks? Absolutely says Eric. During the above conversation and in reference to the safety of U.S. ports, Eric tells us that he believes that the Coast Guard is the only military Academy that has a competitive exam as an entry requirement and that they’ve been quietly working on the security of the ports for the last 15 years. Good to know says John.
Oz in YouTube chat wants to hold you to task for something, Laura says to Eric. There is a heading (on Eric’s webpage) that says “Fighting for equal access to healthcare.” Fair point, says Eric. I apologize. I missed that. It’s not access to healthcare, it is healthcare!
John Warren asks: How would you change Citizens United? And, how would you convince the party leadership to support your proposal seeing as both parties are invested in the current campaign finance model, it would seem? Given replies Eric, that our current reality has the other team owning the House, the Senate, the White house and with a really good long-term lease on the Supreme Court, we either have to amend the Constitution and back the Supreme Court down that way, or put legislative language in, that is so rock solid and unassailable that the Supreme Court has no choice but then to effectively reverse Citizens United. It is appalling! I am a citizen and not a customer, and corporations are not people! To make that change, John says, we need to replace enough people in Congress. Eric stresses that we really need to take back both House and Senate in 2018. A lot of people are looking at red districts that have turned purple (his included) and not acknowledging the purple shift he adds.
(Metalhead) asks what Eric could do about corruption in the Democratic Party. A whole batch of things, he replies. What I’ve been doing is going out and really discussing progressive issues. He focuses on healthcare, working family income and rural infrastructure.
I quote from Eric’s website in reference to supporting our Native American sisters and brothers: “We can start by initiating a good faith effort to quickly and fairly resolve outstanding treaty rights and disputes especially for those involving high-level issues of global sovereignty ... we must insist that Native Americans play a lead role in the administration and management of non-reservation federal lands.”
What about, Eric suggests, giving Native Americans the first right to act as sustainable energy developers on federal lands? Why not says John. Great suggestion! The amount of poverty and suffering that goes on in the Native American community is just absolutely unacceptable Eric says. I think that “Standing Rock – What happened there was one of a number of re-awakenings that are inherently, incredibly healthy.” Look at the Labor Movement, BLM, Me Too, Our Revolution, Indivisible (John adds Justice Democrats, Brand New Congress and Democratic Socialists of America). All are areas, continues Eric, where we are seeing enormous push-back which we wouldn’t have seen even 2 years ago.
I’m 63 he says, and I think people are awake in a way they haven’t been since Vietnam. What stopped the changes in the 1960s? Was it too much tragedy in 1968 asks John? I’ve a thought about that Eric replies. I think one of the biggest mistakes the Left has ever made was “Think globally, Act locally”. I think it was a profound blunder in the light of this technology we are using. While they were taking care of their own neighborhoods, and assuming everything else would turn out fine - read Jane Mayer’s Dark Money - the Right were building the CATO Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute etc. The Left got lazy … a few hours of activism and then go home to bed. Repeat. The Middle class came from the Unions not from the Democrats and the Republicans. They are the ones who historically have been able to counter this, so re-unionize the American workforce! I’m pro-Union too says John, but aren’t you worried about some Unions having a corrupting influence on politics? Yes, says Eric, there are some out there that are better than others, but what I do think is that Unions are reinventing themselves right under our noses and nobody is paying attention. Campaigns are starting to unionize too, John says.
What if something bad happens - Eric asks John - and you call for help at 3 a.m. Who shows up? Be it Law Enforcement, Fire, Gas or Electrical crew, EMT … they’re all union members. When you pick up your kids from school at 3 p.m., who has been teaching them all day? … Union members. Ditto when you are ill, who takes care of you? … We entrust the most critical functions of our society to Unions even now Eric emphasizes. And then says John, we hand control over the entire mechanism to a bunch of rich ***. That’s not smart! Eric laughs. He quotes Mark Twain: “The reports of my death are slightly exaggerated and somewhat premature.” We’ve written off Unions but look what’s happening with the teachers, with JetBlue, with Burgerville up here. The fast-food chain is starting to unionize. Eric is endorsed by the way, by the AFL-CIO, Our Revolution and the Working Families Party. Fellow Democrat Jamie McLeod-Skinner (who speaks of access to affordable healthcare, but whose stance is far closer to his than Jennifer Neahring’s) is also endorsed by the latter. Eric says he has policy differences with her, but that she is smart and she works her tail off. I interviewed for the Teamsters endorsement, he adds, and asked the “3 a.m. question” of them too, he smiles.
YouTube chat wants to know what people can do, aside from electing people like Eric. Fight for Net Neutrality, he says. Fight Privatization wherever you can. Critical functions of civil society like prisons should not be privatized! There is No moral argument for profiting from imprisoning people! Make sure you demand that the people you put into office are willing to have those fights too … this by the way was another point that I didn’t hear from other folks running. Good answer says Laura.
Eric explains that there are two gerrymandering cases in front of the Supreme Court right now and says that God knows what they will be told regarding redistricting. Congressional District 2 will be split after the 2020 census. Seats and lines are going to be adjusted. There will most likely be an extra seat. There are 7 Democrats in this race, he says. Hopefully we should all be in elected office somewhere in Oregon by 2020. It’s a huge District. That gives us an advantage (as one of us will have already run a Congressional campaign in a District that doesn’t exist yet). Sounds good says John. You keep saying that you like all these Democrats regardless of where they sit on the progressive scale. That’s commendable and I think that if we had a healthy democracy that would be the attitude of everybody involved. There is still a large divide in the Democratic Party though, maybe not between candidates as much as between State leadership and Federal leadership as opposed to District leadership … The Democratic Party must figure this out. – Eric prefers to talk about Centrists and Progressives and looking forward. Rural America has the Republican Party and they seem to like it. We do not win he says, by being Republicans Light.
By Eric’s estimation Congressional District 2 was location to one of the best Democratic Congressional Campaigns nationally this year, but media coverage even within Oregon, but certainly nationally was absent. He insists though that they’re doing this the right way.
He really enjoyed this interview, and Eric was very interesting to listen to. His song choice couldn’t be played as an outro, but Markus given the ad at the start, replaced it well. The interview ends with the sound of Eric’s laughter.
All links are in the video description. Eric Burnette’s Primary is on the May 15th, 2018. Good luck Eric!
Jim Crary on Gun Safety, Campaign Finance Reform, Income Inequality, Climate Change and more.
On February 26th 2018, Jim Crary, Candidate for Oregon’s Congressional District 2 (Two-thirds of the State and 7th largest district in the U.S.) was interviewed by #WeThePeople. Jim spent 2 years in the army and is a Vietnam-Era Veteran. He worked as a prosecutor and did contracts for a major corporation for more than 25 years. He lives in the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. Jim’s introduction video, invites peoples’ questions. He’d like to hear from everyone. There are a number of other videos on his own site discussing his stance on issues.
Jim also ran in 2016, and is a Bernie Sanders supporter. What drew him to politics? Jim tells us he didn’t want to sit around complaining when irritated by what was going on, he wanted to try to change it. Things haven’t improved since 2016 either! Health insurance, taxes, what Republicans are or are trying to do with the ACA… drive him crazy. He is retired. He has the time, his health and the inclination to do something about all of this. To John’s delight Jim has invested in technology, and here he is.
On gun control (or gun safety as Jim says): He has hunted since the age of 12 and has an army background. He has owned and used firearms almost his whole life, and is comfortable with them. He used the M16, which is the military version of the civilian AR-15, while in the army, and explains that the difference between the two is that the M16 can be put on full auto and is therefore like a machine gun. « An AR-15 is an assault weapon and it’s designed for one thing. It’s designed to kill a lot of people very quickly, very efficiently. » « We should have an assault weapon ban. There is no reason why anyone other than somebody in the military should own an assault weapon » he says, and continues « They have magazines (or clips) that hold 30 rounds (or bullets). There is no need for that. I had …one in the chamber and 3 in the magazine – that’s all you need. » Jim says that Universal Background Checks are absolutely required - including online, and that the gun show loophole needs to be closed. Some people shouldn’t be able to buy guns, because convicted of domestic violence, for example. Armour-piercing bullets are cop killers – nothing else. We should license and train people, and put them through a background check. «We should have the right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness over someone’s right to bear arms. » Self-protection doesn’t include an assault weapon Jim says and « Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness » is one of the Unalienable Rights that we have, according to the Declaration of Independence.
Campaign finance reform is vital for Jim: « I love how these young people down in Florida (following the School Shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland) are saying, you know what? You take money from the NRA - you are complicit with these murders. And I believe that (too). » Campaign finance reform « is the only thing that will absolutely make a systemic change to the way we do things. » Unlike Greg Walden (the incumbent in Oregon’s Congressional District 2) who takes a massive amount of money from industry, Jim only takes money from individuals, he says. When he gets elected he will be there to represent the People in his district, not Greg Walden’s contributors. It is possible to run without taking all this industry money, Bernie did it! Jim Crary is certain that he will be able to raise big money after he gets through the primary…people are so sick and tired of their Representatives going to Washington D.C. to represent their contributors, and not them. « The Koch brothers are going to put 400 million dollars into this midterm election. You think the Koch brothers are stupid? You think the Koch brothers are altruistic? Heck no… That’s a 400 million dollar investment. They just got a huge return on that investment back in December when the Republicans gave a trillion and a half dollars in tax cuts to the wealthiest and to the corporations, and then they gave a few little crumbs to the middle income, and almost nothing to the lower income…and they keep billing it as this middle income tax cut. Baloney…call it what it is, it’s a corporate give-away and a give-away to the wealthy - and those are the donors. »
John wonders, but for Jim, any one of the Democrats running would be much better than Walden. People are really engaged (in politics) this time around. If I had 25 or 30 people at a campaign event in 2016 – it was a good day. This time we’ve had candidate forums with over 250 people, 10 months before the election, Jim tells us! He speaks of a blue wave and change coming to D.C.
Jim is putting what he has learned to good use now. What kept him going in 2016, were the local county democratic chairs, setting up meetings for him, etc., as he « pin-balled » around the district. This time he knows them all. He also knew he couldn’t do it by himself in 2018, and now has a committee of three helping him. They « straight talk » him when they need to, and he listens because he doesn’t know it all, he says. Jim mentions a book called « The Four Agreements »: You speak precisely. You don’t make assumptions. You don’t take things personally. You always try to do your best. Wise I’d say. He also makes four promises to those whose vote he seeks: He’ll give them straight answers. They won’t always agree with him. He will listen to them and lastly he will be open to changing his position if the facts dictate that he do so. « I have learned so much by running » he says. « There are a lot of people out there with really good ideas and they are just not being listened to… » When he answers someone’s question, he asks the person whether he has answered that question in a satisfactory way, and if not, he tries again. If they still don’t like his answer, he says to them…ask the other candidates the same question, see how they answer – is it a clear answer or not? If it isn’t then don’t penalize me, penalize them!
On the subject of the media, Jim thinks voters should insist that the announcers not let the candidates get out of answering questions. John comments that CNN is looking for ratings, not answers. Jim chooses not to react to this. John continues « We are an independent network that was created for the purpose of bringing a more correct narrative, more of a balanced narrative to the news and information… » Jim Crary answers the question asked by saying that he is definitely interested in using a platform like Uphill Media to communicate with people all over the State of Oregon, when elected. That being the case, says John, where do you stand on net neutrality? I want an open and free internet Jim replies.
On the subject of income inequality Jim has lots of ideas:
Yes we are spending way too much on the military. In answer to Jilly in YouTube chat, and off the top of my head I’d cut the military budget by at least 20% says Jim. Laura then posts the link to Jim’s website and the defense spending reform page, with his views on foreign policy.
We should then reallocate that money (here he mentions the 2015 audit of the Pentagon where 125 billion dollars of waste was identified). I am for a strong national defense but we are spending way way too much money, and I would love to see that money go into infrastructure. Let’s stop spending trillions of dollars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya … and spend it on our own infrastructure, which civil engineers gave a D plus grade! We’ve got over 4 trillion dollars of infrastructure repair and refurbishment that we need to do. Think well-paid jobs too. I would increase spending in one area though, for the coastguards who help defend our coasts.
Jim is eager and willing to share all this information and his views. It matters to him! Social Security is 100% of income for some and they barely make it as it is. In 2034, Social Security will start paying out 76 cents on the dollar if nothing is done about it, he says. Jim would propose that there be no cap on the maximum amount of taxable earnings, so that all taxable earnings are subject to Social Security tax and everyone would pay the same percentage of their earnings into Social Security. The cap at present is at 128, 400 dollars. This would go about 85% of the way towards making Social Security viable for the next 75 years. Also, Social Security applies only to earned income (which includes restaurant tips). There is also something called unearned income: corporate interest, dividends, and capital gains. Include that too, I think Jim said. Make the employer continue to pay the 6.2% Social Security tax on the first $30 000 of wages earned, but not the employee. This is the equivalent of putting $1860 in the employee’s pocket. « Trickle-up economics! » The employee will spend it and some of that money will trickle up to the corporations and the rich Jim says. « I love it », says John!
Would he invest in renewable energy jobs? Yes, absolutely, Jim says, moving on to the issue of climate change, which he says is both real and a man-made problem. His biggest concern is that we aren’t going to keep the temperature rise under 2 degrees Celsius. I signed a pledge, he says, and I don’t sign many, that when I get elected, I’m going to support H.R.3671…which says we are going to get off of fossil fuels by 2035. We need a Moon Shots type program (i.e. to put a lot of resources and leadership into a project in order to achieve something major in a very short amount of time). The tax credit for an electric vehicle is $7 500, and it stops after the first 200 000 vehicles. (The Chinese give $15 000 for a tax credit!) So, increase the tax credit for electric vehicles, keep the tax credit for wind and solar (and geothermal), and put research and development into wave energy. America used to achieve all these big goals! My campaign slogan is Voice to the People. Right now in D.C. the only voices being heard are the campaign contributors, the corporations, the Koch brothers (all of whom as donors also get to pay less in taxes). « Screw them. Let’s have a voice for the people. » He speaks of cap and trade (which was used in the New England area to get rid of acid rain - and it worked) or a carbon tax. (In British Columbia, they make the latter revenue neutral, i.e. they take the money from the carbon tax and lower other taxes). Jim prefers the latter solution, which would then be invested in renewables, tax credits for renewables and electric vehicles.
Regarding forest management, Jim cuts, thins and heats with wood from his property. This helped two years ago when a fire broke out. Even still, it involved the fire department, a helicopter…They were very lucky that day.
Imagine, muses Jim, a solar roof over some highways? The amount of electricity we could generate!! You wouldn’t have to take land out of production. The environmental impact statement would be almost minimal.
Jim loves Elon Musk and is against pipelines. He says the way you beat oil and gas (and coal) is by making it uneconomical. At this point John intervenes to say, « You have an inside track Jim (because Jim used to be a lawyer for B.P - writing, drafting and negotiating contracts), but we’ve got a war machine that thrives on fossil fuels. Jim answers that the « how to » is laid out in H.R.3671. Remove the subsidies for oil and gas. Redirect them (to renewables). It is interesting, he adds, that it’s called a subsidy when it goes to corporations, and welfare if it goes to a poor person. Greg Walden, like the President is doubling down on oil and gas. Jim tells us that he moved to Oregon in 2006, and they put in solar energy at home. He had always been an advocate of renewable energy. B.P. when he was working there had a solar division. B.P. - which means Beyond Petroleum, Jim says, (It was British Petroleum until the year 2000) knows that oil and gas is not the future. BP and Exxon are in favor of a carbon tax because what that does is give them certainty. Those guys will work with what we give them, he says.
John now adds with passion that with regard to the fossil fuel industry, it’s not enough to take away their subsidies, not enough to regulate them, not enough to get them to move towards renewables. A lot of progressives (including John) feel that it has destroyed this planet and that those responsible need to be brought to justice. He continues, « I personally believe that every CEO of Exxon should be in prison, and that Exxon should be liquidated for crimes against humanity. How do we address the atrocities that not only have these corporations committed against humanity and every species on this planet, but our government … has committed (these) atrocities (too) in the name of war and greed? » Jim answers after a slight hesitation. « You know what John? I don’t have an answer to that one. …That’s the first time someone has asked me that question, and I don’t have an answer. » There follows a discussion about the 35 billion dollar clean-up of the Gulf by B.P. after the oil spill a few years ago. Does Jim believe that the damage has been paid for, and that there ends the matter? John eases off the subject and asks whether Jim thinks that consumers can have an effect through public pressure by way of social media campaigns against corporations. Yes! Jim again speaks of the young people in Parkland Florida to whom he wrote with words of encouragement and advice. He adds - armed teachers? What about …reducing class sizes, putting in counselors…catch the problems early on so that people don’t turn into these mass shooters.
On State-owned banks, Jim tells us that North Dakota has one and that he’s from there. They absolutely love it and it helps them. One thing they do is take student loans and refinance them. I’m for Bernie Sanders’ idea of a 1% financial transaction tax on all stocks and bond sales. This would bring in billions of dollars. Take half of it and go to the States. Offer to give them money on condition they reduce the cost of their in-state tuition. Also, I believe that if you graduate from college, or vocational or technical school, and we need mechanics, plumbers and electricians… the federal government should take your loans, and for ten years you should pay 0% interest. You should just pay back the principal.
Jim Crary was a very interesting candidate, very thankful for the opportunity to come on the show, intelligent and full of ideas to improve the world and life in general for everyone, most especially those in his district.
All links for Jim Crary are in the video description. His primary is on the 15th of May 2018. Good luck Jim!
John Fetterman tells us about Braddock PA & demonstrates his own passionate commitment to his community.
On February 12th 2018, John Fetterman, Mayor of Braddock Pennsylvania, joined John and Markus on #WeThePeople. He is running for the position of Lt. Governor of Pennsylvania. John is a passionate Progressive who has been working in and for Braddock for many years. He likes to think that he has "been where the Democratic Party should have always been...with the oppressed, the forgotten...the marginalized". He would very much like to see Democrats overcome their differences and fight together to win in 2020. "Mostly the progressive positions are just basic common sense and decency." Why is it a progressive (or radical) idea to pay someone a living wage? That is what's necessary to sustain a basic minimum standard of living that every human being enjoys, he tells us.
Braddock, like many communities, needs everything. John Fetterman and his community have worked hard. Crime is down, over a dozen businesses have relocated to town, they have one of the best pre-k programs in the State, and have opened an urgent care center to restore affordable healthcare to the citizens. Regarding climate change, he says "we should be doing something in a very urgent and proactive manner". John doesn't support fracking. "We should be investing in renewables. I have 3 young children and I really worry about the world that we're handing them, in terms of environmental issues." Public pressure and some Republican support might be necessary to pass legislation, but Republicans need to breathe too!
Mayor Fetterman is running on his record, unafraid to stand out and to stand up for what he believes in: Marijuana legalization, same-sex marriage, $15 an hour, immigration reform, fair taxation of the rich in order to help those less fortunate. There is an enormous gap between "the haves and the have-nothings" he says. Why Lt. Governor? PA is the 5th largest State and John feels that he could be a vocal champion for progressive issues. He also wants to help rewind some of the damage done in 2016, to set the stage for success in 2020. "We are all better off, when we are all better off." "People who take care of us deserve to be able to take care of themselves and live in dignity."
The Mayor of Braddock is not happy with the Democratic Party's position on DACA. It is not helping to unite the party. "Immigration is what makes our country great." He believes that Progressives have truth and morality on their side and eventually will prevail. We need to be more forceful, and to temper what we do with pragmatism.
John Fetterman believes in Community Policing, and that the Community and the Police need each other. There has not been a death through violence in his Community in 5 and a half years and he is justly proud of this. It is a trust-based relationship that takes years to build. Leadership has to come from the top. A police officer's most powerful weapon is discretion...It works in Braddock!
John Fetterman clearly cares deeply for the people, and works hard for them. His Primary is on the 15th of May 2018 and the links are in the video description.