I just completed the Utah 2012 Candidate Survey from the National Right to Work Committee. I had already answered similar questions in response to the Utah Education Association Questionnaire, but enjoyed these questions and the issues raised. For more detailed questions please don’t hesitate to contact me firstname.lastname@example.org.
I just received the National Rifle Association’s 2012 Utah Candidate Questionnaire in the mail. It is a lengthy document of four pages with 23 questions. Below are the scanned copies of my response. Because of its length, we chose not to re-type the questionnaire like we have with others. If you have any questions please contact me email@example.com.
The Campaign for Liberty (Utah) recently invited me to respond to their seven question, questionnaire. They publish the results for Utah legislative candidates here. Since the questionnaire only provides for “Yes” or “No” answers, with the addition of a “+” of the candidate would sponsor legislation pertaining to the question, here on my website I’m also publishing short explanations / position statements with each of my answers.
- Twenty-three states have resisted the Federal Government’s persistent demand for a uniform ID card for every American. This proposed national ID would be required for activities like air travel and entrance to federal buildings. The backlash from this proposed security policy is because creation of a National ID/Biometric database could expose US Citizens to flagrant misuse of their personal data in addition to being another huge bureaucratic blockade.
Will you oppose efforts to cooperate with a national ID card system and vote to block all state funding for and cooperation with any national ID scheme including the Real ID and Pass ID programs?My Answer: Y+Additional Statement: Sadly, Republicans who regularly repeat the notion that “the US Constitution” is the ultimate standard for our laws and who also regularly tout the virtues and political genius of “America’s Founders” – are often blind to the very real and powerful need to stand up for individual liberty. On issues like National ID Cards – its time for Republicans to take the moral high ground back from the Democrats and realize that its possible to be “tough on crime” and stay true to the principles of individual liberty – at the same time.
Like almost all “good intentions” in government, fee citizens should be skeptical of the names given to specific pieces of legislation. Often, the names of particular bills are simply marketing gimmicks that mask the real nature of the law up for consideration. This is the case with Real ID, Pass ID and similar legislation promoting national identification systems. As with all proposed legislation there are “good intentions” behind this bill. After 9/11 and with the current illegal immigration problem, the push for a a national identification law is often touted as “just plain common sense.” However, the devil is in the details.
First, why does the United States of America need a national database of all its citizens? For over 200 years we’ve done without – so what gives today its special justification? For most people the idea of national identification would be a way to “track” and protect ourselves from terrorists and illegal immigrants. The problem is, this is very counter intuative. Almost everyone who has had any interaction with the government knows that a national identification system will do just the opposite. First, only law abiding citizens will put accurate information into the system. Or, in other words, the only people who “for sure” will be able to be tracked are law abiding free citizens. This is like most “gun control” laws that seek to protect us from gun toting criminals. The problem is, gun toting criminals do not obey the law – so it is sadly the law abiding citizen who freely gives up his weapon, while the reckless thugs and criminal gangs terrorize the population. The same would be true with any national identification system. Think about the situation now with drivers’ licenses. There are plenty of people who use fake drivers licenses. Identity theft is not prevented by ever increasing state ID laws. What any lover of freedom and capitalism comes to realize – and this is an important element of free society – is that whenever the government intrudes into the “reputation” area of the marketplace it creates a false value. By setting a certain standard – by law, rather than by the market – there is conveyed to those who comply with the government standard – a certain credibility. Or, to put it more simply, if there were a National ID then everyone who possessed such an ID would be considered by the law to be “legitimate.” This is what happened with the majority of the 9/11 terrorists who entered this country with “legitimate” documents. The government created “legitimacy” overtook more natural, market based indicators of legitimacy that would have easily raised red flags. We’ve learned this same lesson, over and over again. Government regulation undermines the moral base of natural associations. It becomes cheaper to bribe a building inspector than to meet his standards. Fly by night securities operators quickly meet all the SEC requirements, gain the inference of respectability, and proceed to fleece the public. In a free market place these people would have to spend years in reputable dealings before earning sufficient trust to carry on. Protecting consumers by government regulation like this is illusory. It sounds good, it even looks good on the surface, but in the end – the people who voluntarily comply end up needed protected from the government more than any other threat. Like most all government regulations, a National ID cannot eliminate potentially dishonest individuals, but merely make their activities harder to detect or easier to hush up. While at the same time, a new government administered database based upon ID alone would hold with it an endless new series of potential ways to further erode liberty for the average free citizen in America.
Second, why turn to the federal government? The States are the laboratories for solving these problems. Federal regulation “forcing” a one size fits all standard – only looks good on the surface. We’ve learned this in education, energy, financial reform, welfare, etc. Laws like the PASS ID are distractions from the basic principle at issue that as individuals, our first meaningful encounter with government is the state. The role of the federal government is limited to protecting our rights – from abuse, by either the state or the federal government. Real ID and Pass ID overstep. Despite their well worded intentions, the truth is – the solution to “identity” based criminal activity and terrorism is best solved by the innovation and local control of state government’s – as it has been in the United States for over two hundred years. We should not hurry down new paths that diverge from the principles of the Founders, thinking that “new times call for new measures” when so often, the crises at hand are age old – and the governing principles for solving such problems are timeless.
- Many municipalities have begun using camera systems to monitor intersections and speed. These systems are used in order to issue traffic fines. This has become a revenue source for government and highly profitable for the companies, many which operate remotely from foreign countries. As a result, citizens find that they are being ticketed unjustly due to software and calibration errors. Even worse, some governments have been caught shortening yellow light to red light times in order to increase tickets. This injustice is compounded because there is no human to testify against the defendant, a clear violation of the 6th Amendment to the Constitution.
Do you oppose the use of unmanned devices being used for law enforcement and used in order to fine citizens?My answer: Y+Additional Statement: I support using technology to improve society. That does not mean, however, that the government is the best, first or even permissible agent of such change. Further, I am a firm believer in the 4th Amendment’s essentially to the preservation of liberty. Over the last several decades the 4th Amendment has been consistently eroded and free citizens are increasingly caught in the growing, daily, abuses of unnecessary and irrational government abuses.
This question likely is a reference to two common concerns regarding the principle that citizens are rightfully free “from unreasonable searches and seizure.”
First the so-called “photo-cops.” I agree that our law enforcement officials have more important things to be doing than policing traffic. Second, I think the routine traffic stops have become abusive over-reach by government to collect fees and to initiate unlawful investigations. So, I cannot support the “use” of such technology as presently conceived. However, I would support a change in our laws regarding certain traffic infractions. If the states and municipalities were to re-write the laws so as to punish property owners (i.e. vehicle owners) – rather than property operators – for prohibited conduct on government controlled property (such as parking, speeding, etc) – and technology was used to enforce such “property disputes,” completely outside the realm of criminal activity, there are areas where I could see myself supporting such innovation in favor of liberty.
Second, the question also has potential reference to warrentless cell phone tracking and also unmanned aerial surveillance and/or public cameras for domestic law enforcement. Put simply, “probably cause” and a corresponding warrant must be required for any type of tracking – like cell phone tracking. Second, the idea of free citizens being under constant surveillance is repugnant to the notion of free society. A surveillance socieity in which our every move is monitored, tracked, recorded and scurtinized by the authorities is only attractive to those naive enough to believe that such authorities are always benevolent and the freedom is a secondary value to security. I could not disagree more.
- First Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John Jay stated, “The jury has the right to judge both the law as well as the fact in controversy.” This principle is known as Jury Nullification. The right of Jury Nullification was enshrined in common law when King John signed the Magna Carta in 1215. The principle was designed as a check against the King passing unjust laws. The Founding Fathers believed Jury Nullification was the final check against unconstitutional laws and enshrined the right of trial by jury in the 6th Amendment to the Constitution. Thomas Jefferson said, “I consider trial by jury as the only anchor yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution.”
Would you support legislation that would require the courts to inform juries of the principle of Jury Nullification?My Answer: Y+Additional Statement: Juries are a free citizens’ body completely independent of any branch of the government – when its members are fully educated. Juries are one of the last bulwarks to check expansive and unjust government. While there are several different notions of what it would mean to “require the courts to inform juries of the principle of Jury Nullification” – in the United States juries are called upon to issue “general” verdicts which means they are the final say in criminal trials regarding the law and the facts. It is true that trial judges and appellate judges are critical to the process for both facts and law – but so long as free society means that juries decide questions of fact or law it is unfair and unjust not to instruct juries as to their right to make such decisions. Recently, several court decisions have started to line up in favor of the idea that “jury nullification” is a non-existant concept, and that jurors who engage in such behavior are violating the rules/laws. This has to stop. While the US Supreme Court has not yet addressed such issues, the people must. Even further, the legislature could make a great step in the right direction in ensuring that all jurors are informed, in criminal proceedings, that they are the trier of both fact and law. There are so few other mechanisms to fight prosecutorial misconduct and judicial over-reach, that a fully informed jury has got to be on the top of the list of priorities for all lovers of liberty.
- Thanks to advances in technology almost all Americans now have a camera and video camera in their pocket. Recently, videos of police brutality and misconduct have been surfacing all over the country, but because of privacy laws these brave citizens, who are exposing government misconduct, are being charged with heavy fines and imprisonment for filming government agents on public property.
Will you support legislation that would protect citizens’ right to film public officials performing their official duties, as long as they do not interfere with official business?My Answer: Y+Statement: None necessary. The question provides a self-evident answer.
- The 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects citizens from unreasonable search and seizures. This year law enforcement is on pace to execute 50,000 “no knock” warrants. This method of breaking into homes has increased over 2000% since 1981. Since this increased militarization of law enforcement, 42 innocent people have been killed, and criminals have taken to shouting “police” when engaged in home invasions.
Will you support legislation to end the use of “no knock” warrants?My Answer: Y+Statement: For the safety of free citizens and our law enforcement officials, the “no knock” warrant has got to be replaced. There are far better ways to enforce the law and protect our citizens. The abuses of this process have increasingly brought about excessive force and a militarization of local police powers.
- There was outrage all over the country over new TSA “pat-down” procedures last year. This year the Texas House passed legislation that stated Transportation Security Administration agents could be charged with a misdemeanor crime, and face a $4,000 fine and one year in jail under the measure. The proposal would classify any airport inspection that “touches the anus, sexual organ, buttocks, or breast of another person including through the clothing, or touches the other person in a manner that would be offensive to a reasonable person” as an offense of sexual harassment under official oppression.
Will you support legislation that would allow TSA agents to be charged with sexual assault if they use invasive “pat-down” procedures?My Answer: Y+Statement: Yes, of course I would support such legislation. Government employment cannot be a screen for sexual assault or any other forcible conduct that would otherwise be criminal. It would have to be a well written law, with clear parameters.
- Many parents would prefer private education for their children but can’t afford it. While some people reject “educational vouchers” because it is a direct transfer of taxpayer money to private schools, many people do support “education tax credit scholarships” as a way of helping more people find the right educational opportunities for their children. The school tax credit would allow individuals to write off contributions to school scholarship funds. These funds would provide the opportunity for parents to send their children to religious schools. The Supreme Court recently ruled the school tax credit constitutional in the case of Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization v. Wynn.
Will you support legislation that would allow school tax credits?My Answer: Y+Statement: I am solidly in favor of expanding school choice by all viable means, including tuition tax credits.
Please take a moment to consider and answer the following few questions we have for you:
1. What would you do if you are elected to protect the equal rights of gay Utah citizens?
I see all Utah citizens as individuals. Rights are an individual concern. I would strive to use my influence and opportunity protect the rights of any individual Utah citizen just as I would my own. To quote our state constitution:
Article I, Section 1. [Inherent and inalienable rights.]
All men have the inherent and inalienable right to enjoy and defend their lives and liberties; to acquire, possess and protect property; to worship according to the dictates of their consciences; to assemble peaceably, protest against wrongs, and petition for redress of grievances; to communicate freely their thoughts and opinions, being responsible for the abuse of that right.
Article I, Section 27. [Fundamental rights.]
Frequent recurrence to fundamental principles is essential to the security of individual rights and the perpetuity of free government.
2. What would you do if you are elected to protect the firearm rights of Utah citizens?
Utah citizens have the right to protect themselves. They also have the right to pursue their own happiness so long as their actions do not deprive other citizens of their rights. These rights are not created by government, and they are to be protected and preserved by the government. Thankfully, we have a strong legal tradition in Utah regarding the right to self-preservation, and recent United States Supreme Court decisions have finally recognized that the “right to bare” arms is an “individual” right, not simply a right of the States.
Therefore, keeping access to fire arms and their use as an open, transparent function of the law, is my position. If there are specific threats to this right, that I am presently unaware of, you can rest assured I will come down on the side of the rights of individual citizens to bare arms.
3. What have you done so far to protect these rights?
I have done the first thing, that all free citizens should do, in seeking to preserve this right, which is to get educated on the use of firearms [see images below]. The second thing is to exercise the right by owning and using fire arms. I also support the foundation of Utah’s relatively new and open concealed weapons laws.Read More
1. Basic Information
Name: Jewel Skousen
Campaign Website: http://www.jewelskousen.com
2. What elected position are you running for?
Utah House District #52
3. On the political spectrum, how would you best characterize your ideology?
Choices Are: Very Progressive, Mainstream Progressive, Moderate, Mainstream Conservative, Very Conservative, Align yourself with the Tea Party, Other
ANSWER: Very Conservative
4. If elected, what will be your first priority?
Expanding school choice.
5. How important is it to you to follow the direction of your political party leaders?
Choices Are: Very Important, Important, Somewhat Important, Not Important
ANSWER: Somewhat Important
6. Why are you running for public office?
More than anything I am a freedom minded person. I am running because I want to participate, I want to see the principles I believe in, more effectively at work in Utah. I love Utah. My family has a well known and long history of loyalty to this state and to public service and education. My personal background provides me with a unique perspective particularly related to education, family law, and government reform.
7. What do you feel is the most important problem facing Utahns today? (Prioritize 1-10, 1 being the most important. Allow only one response per column)
List of issues provided by survey:
4 – Energy Issues, including Utility & Gasoline Prices
9 – Environmental issues, including Air Quality & Pollution
2 – Federal Government
7 – Higher Education
3 – Immigration
1 – K-12 Education
6 – Public Lands
5 – Taxes and Government Spending
8 – Transportation and Traffic
10 – Water Supply and Quality
Other Added: Family Law and Family Court Reform
8. In the last legislative session, bills were passed promoting state takeover of a large share of federal lands in Utah. How do you think state government would perform, overall, as steward and owner of those lands?
Choices are: Would perform better than the federal government, as well as the federal government, worse than the federal government, Don’t know/no opinion
ANSWER: Would Perform Better than the Federal Government
9. Do you think things in Utah are generally headed in the right direction, or have they gotten off on the wrong track?
Choices: Right Direction or Wrong Direction
When compared to the nation, we have a lot going for us here in Utah. But the better standard is to compare ourselves to where we could be, and where would should be. I’m not one who believes the sky is falling. We have made several serious wrong turns. More often, we simply neglect to make tough decisions, early on. I’m running because there is much that urgently needs to be done on very hard issues related to education (school choice), family law reform, and government oversight / stopping government mismanagement, self dealing, ethical violations and corruption.
10. What Utah political figure do you look to emulate?
My late grandfather Dr. W. Cleon Skousen
11. What is your favorite vacation spot in Utah?
Cedar City (Family Roots).Read More
On March 19, 2012 the UtahEducation Association’s political action committee sent out the following questionnaire, to “all candidates…[who] desire to be endorsed or recommended to our 18,000+ members…” While I do not seek the endorsement of UEA, I have undertaken to answer their questions so that my positions on these issues can be clearly known and made available to those who will vote in District #52. – Jewel
1. Why are you running for the Legislature and what priorities have you identified that you want to pursue as a member of the Legislature?
This question is pretty thoroughly addressed here on my campaign website. But, in direct response, I am running because I want to participate, I want to see the principles I believe in at, more effectively at work in Utah. I love Utah and I love freedom. My family has a well known and long history of loyalty to this state and to public service and education. Therefore, my top three priorities are education/school choice, family law reform, and fighting government corruption. In the most recent legislative sessions, these issues have not received the serious and broad based attention they deserve. Further, as changes are made at the federal level, bringing back to the states – several important responsibilities – in the areas of health care, and social programs, it is essential that Utah be governed by strong principles more than the temptation to pander and dole.
2. Please describe your previous public service.
I have not held elective office. I believe however, the “public” service includes commitments our citizens make to the well-being of our state in many other areas. For example, I have been heavily involved in education (private schools, charter schools, and public/government schools) and I have also been very active in the private sector. It should be noted, that Utah businessmen and women create more jobs and provide more “service” to the citizens of this state than any “government” program. Government programs and “public service” are essential to our State, however, they should not overshadow the voluntary efforts of free citizens in all their various pursuits. Defending and preserving freedom is first on the list for any citizen embarking on the real road to public service.
3. What personal experiences hae you had with traditional public schools and/or with charter schools. (Please be as specific as possible.)
I currently have six school aged children. All of them have had experience in government, charter, and private schools. My oldest daughter is graduating this year from Herriman High. I have worked directly with Jordan School District and school administrators and educators for years pertaining to my three oldest children. My three oldest children also attended a charter school. All of my children, at different times they have also attended private schools including Challenger Academy and Kimber Academy. I have been a parent volunteer in public schools, and have been a teacher and administrator for private schools. I have written a comprehensive reading curriculum for small children. My family and I have also been involved with home schooling in Utah and abroad. I have spoken to home schooling conferences and have also spoken to and trained home schooling parents and administrators. With this wide range of experience I am uniquely qualified to navigate the different political interest in education in Utah.
4. Serious attempts to limit the rights of teachers and other public employees were proposed, but defeated this year. What is your view on the rights for public employees regarding collective bargaining, payroll deduction of dues and other association issues?
Rights, are always first and foremost a question of individuals, not groups. This is a center piece of freedom and equality. As far as “collective bargaining” rights in Utah, nothing I’m aware of in Utah law requires public employers to bargain with their employees. This is important. Its also important that in 2009 Utah passed HB 210 requiring school districts (and charter schools) to post their collective bargaining agreements online.
Its interesting to me that this question is on the survey. While it has become quite controversial in several states, the reason Sen. Stephenson reportedly dropped the recent bills mentioned here is that other legislators aren’t “hearing a lot about it” and concluded “this isn’t a timely” issue. In my conversations with average Utahns, most don’t even have the slightest idea what is behind the controversy (or even a conversant understanding of what “collective bargaining” rights are in the first place.)
Nevertheless, my position is based upon principle. All citizens have the same rights as everyone else: to life, liberty and property. As this applies to the workplace, each person has the right to choose his or her contracts. Each person also has the right to have his or her property and lives rigorously protected by the government. At the core of this issue, free citizens have the right to meet with anyone, including other workers, to try to organize for improved contracts and work conditions (i.e. unions).
However, free individuals do not have the right to deny other individuals the right to contract (which is what happens when “collective bargaining” is enforced by majority rule among the workers). Individuals, separately or with their colleagues, have the right to strike, but they don’t have any right to get their old jobs back if they do so. Striking is a risk, taken to demonstrate to their managers/employers/owners of their employer the increased value of the striking worker(s). A strike should fail when the workers can be easily and effectively replaced because such marketplace reality demonstrates that the “value” being exchanged for the work – is fair, given all circumstances.
Its also important to address the crucial differences between public and private sector works—differences that give government(public) employees enormous advantages over both their employers and their private-sector counterparts, and that argue against “forced” collective bargaining in the public sector. For example, government employees – even without unionization – have major advantages over private-sector workers. They are guarded by civil-service protections and most work in non-competitive fields where their employer has a monopoly, so their jobs are not threatened by competitors, and therefore are not linked directly to their ability to keep their employer competitive.
Collective bargaining among government employees is a serious issue when it comes to politics. By leveraging their numbers and resources, “public” unions become major players in politics. At election time, public employees play a disproportionately large role in choosing their own employers or bosses (by getting certain people elected and not others), which of course no private-sector union can do.
At all levels of government, research indicates that government-worker unions are among the biggest political donors. Between elections, they use political power to influence those elected officials and the political process more generally to improve their pay, benefits, or conditions, and also to increase demand for their services through legislation that increases the size or role of government. For instance, the nearly universal objection by teacher’s unions to school-choice programs.
Collective bargaining is often used as a tool to make private negotiations that should be open to the public—decisions about government priorities and public budgets. Thus, “forced” collective bargaining turns government employees into a formal procedural adversary of the public they serve. This funametnally contracts the nature of our republic, which is why even the biggest advocates of unionism have historically not supported “forced” collective bargaining with the government. Franklin Roosevelt, for example, said that “collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service.” George Meany (the first president of the AFL-CIO) said it was “impossible to bargain collectively with the government.”
As far as “dues,” it is again a question of freedom. If an individual requests that his or her union dues be deducted from their paycheck, I support it. But, I do not and cannot support a system that functions like some kind of Internet scam, where “until further notice” and “unless you notify us otherwise” and without any advance consent on your part, we will be charging your dues automatically and deducting them from your paycheck. This is an age old form of coercion and no freedom loving citizen in the state of Utah can support such an approach without a significant degree of hypocrisy.
5. In 2007, Utah voters overwhelmingly rejected private school vouchers, would you continue to support this position while serving in the legislature?
This is not an honest question. Since 2005 Utah has operated a successful private school voucher program for very needy children. While this program is limited in scope, it has been virtually untouched for almost a decade. Utah citizens, in 2007, voted to repeal the broad, comprehensive voucher program that had been signed into law by then Gov. Huntsman. Since that time, that program has not been re-visited.
In general, school choice is my highest priority. Any interested person can read more about my specific policy statement on this, here at my website. In answer to this question specifically, I am not limited in my notions of school choice to any one program. I do, however, support the principle based approach that virtually every state in the union is now recognizing, regarding improvements that come in the lives of students and their families with increased choice in education – and this often means vouchers and/or tax credits. Government school teachers and administrators as well as private school teachers and administrators should all be able to agree that the most important value is “education” not the business of protecting a bureaucracy from modernity, change, and improvement.
6. Substantive public education reform legislation was passed this year as the result of broad collaboration between legislators and the education community. What would you do or how would you continue that positive trend of collaboration.
Addressing the issue of “positive collaboration” rather than the merits of the legislation passed (since this is the question that was asked) I would work to continually expand who is included in this sphere of the so-called “education community.” The more participation in the sphere, from diverse interests, backgrounds and organizations, the more likely the real issues of “reform” are going to be addressed.
7. Utah currently has the lowest funded Public Education System in the United States. What ideas do you have related to this challenge?
Funding for public schools is important, given the structure of our education system today. However, it is widely recognized that there is no “direct” causation or correlation between “per pupil” funding and increased performance. There will be times when government run schools need more money, and Utah has an excellent track record of addressing this specific question and has been ranked as the most “effective” dollar-to-performance system in the country. This question, regarding money, however, cannot be adequately answered in a vacuum. Reform has to be looked at as a large package, and spending cannot be isolated or considered without regard to all other major issues at place. While I am not opposed to all considerations of more spending, it is far more important that the education system in Utah be well managed, before simply increasing revenues. I would not support increased funding without corresponding reforms that ensure increased effectiveness for the young people of Utah who are students and whose future is riding on such decisions.
8. In a few short years many in the teaching ranks will be retiring, what should Utah do to attract new and retain existing highly qualified teachers?
We should have fewer barriers to entry into the teaching profession, we should promote competence and performance and reward it accordingly and we should increase school choice to increase the attractiveness and competitiveness of the entire arena of education.
9. What do you see as the most pressing issues facing public education?
Public education, first and foremost, should be broadened – in the minds of the people – to mean more than “government” education. All schools, all educators, and all students in the State of Utah – including those schooled from home and religious institutions – are involved in improving our public society. The government, right now, plays an essential role but it is not, by itself, public education. Further, there is an urgent and pressing need for increased choice, innovation, student opportunity and emphasis on learning rather than other tangential concerns. I am glad to see the innovation and progress regarding distance and internet learning. Finally, a huge burden exists when teachers have to focus so much time and effort on matters unrelated to classroom performance. Whether it is class size, class make-up, or political bureaucracy, reforms must be constantly implemented to give maximum preference to teachers being in, and focused on, classroom activities and the education of each individual student.
10. What role do you support for the Utah Education Association and the teachers we represent as the state moves forward in advancing education?
I expect that the Utah Education Association and its members (who are free Utah citizens) are best situated to answer this question. As such, the government (including state legislators), really has no business answering this question.