Interview with a Libertarian Party US Senate Candidate

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Dr. Shaun Crowell is a veterinarian and small business owner from Union City, TN whose animal hospital in the little town of Spring Hill, TN has grown every year despite the recession. He’s also the Libertarian Party’s 2012 nominee for US Senate representing Tennessee, and will be up against incumbent Bob Corker (R-TN) in November. He says that his interest in politics began as a result of the 2007 – 2008 financial crisis, and now he’s hoping Tennessee voters will send a hard-working, middle-class business owner with libertarian ideas to represent them in the Senate.

I recently had a chance to sit down with Dr. Crowell in person and interview him on the many public policy issues facing this country. After spending hours transcribing the interview, the quotes below are highlights of Dr. Crowell’s positions on an issue by issue basis in his own words:

 

Influences:

“It’s been a journey. It really started with just researching U.S. history and politics and going deep into that. Ron Paul was certainly instrumental in bringing that about. His political persuasions were so different than what I’ve heard, historically, coming from the Republican establishment that in 2008 I took notice of it even more.”

 

 Fiscal Policy:

“I really think we should pay off all our debts and not go into debt.”

“We have to balance the budget. Senator Corker wants to institute a Cap Act. The Cap Act says over the next ten years, we’re going to cap spending at about $3.6 trillion. Then Paul Ryan comes up and says we can do better than that, we can do a five-year freeze and spend $3.5 trillion vs. the $3.6 because we really love the American people. Obama wants to spend $3.8 trillion, we want to spend $3.5 – we’re going to save everyone $300 billion. I love Ron Paul’s plan. He says if you make $2.5 trillion, you need to spend $2.5 trillion or less. His plan is perfect… we need to scrap the Department of Energy, Education, Interior, Commerce, (etc.). Even the departments we keep need to be streamlined.”

 

 Finance and Monetary Policy:

“Dodd-Frank is, I believe, about 2,000 pages long. Our Constitution, which has framed our government for 236 years, was just a few pages long, why in the world do we need to create a bill any longer than that? A friend of mine in banking spends half his day trying to comply with Dodd-Frank, and it’s a mess. So for these small time bankers, they spend a lot of money and a lot time complying with this federal law, whereas the big banks that have a lot of money and resources, well they hire their staff to navigate through and it never affects them. It doesn’t affect them financially. They can navigate around Dodd-Frank very easily, whereas the small banks are always kept [at bay]. Its bad for banking; its bad policy for the United States.”

“I did see a 60 Minutes [piece] about the 2008 bailouts and all the Wall Street fraud that was going on and how come Sarbanes-Oxley, which [supposedly gives] teeth to the Department of Justice to go in and start arresting these guys, how come the DOJ has not launched an effective investigation and prosecuted one person since 2008. And that’s a great question.”

“With healthcare, education– the inflation that’s happening at those levels is so much larger than normal inflation that it’s pretty obvious. What’s the difference? The big difference is the government is right in the middle of those two sectors. They’re guaranteeing the banks, so the banker doesn’t have any risk. When the bankers have no risk, like in the subprime mortgage debacle, there’s no [incentive]. They had Fannie, Freddie, and the Federal Reserve pumping the money. There’s no risk on the banks. It is artificially inflating tuition prices, housing prices, and creating an economic disaster.”

 

GMO:

“I want to personally streamline the Department of Agriculture. In our food supply we have a lot of poison and genetically modified components. Not a lot of people know there are big companies like Monsanto that have pushed heavy and lobbied our Congress, and our President even, for genetically modified foods.”

 

Student Loans:

“[One thing I’m concerned] with right now is federally guaranteed student loans. It is the next big bubble that we’re going to see in our economy, and we have to fight it. And I look at it from a very practical standpoint. If I’m a banker and you come to me as a prospective student wanting to go to college, you want to borrow money. As a banker, having the federal government back you, there’s no risk. So you automatically say ‘absolutely, how much do you need, we’ll get it to you.’ The problem is demand has gone up amongst all the universities and colleges. So there’s more students, more money, and the natural transition is those college presidents and trustees raise tuition immediately because demand is going up.”

 

Civil Liberties:

“Repeal the Patriot ACT and NDAA – specifically section 10.21 and 10.22 about the belligerent acts committed by US citizens being detained by the armed forces.”

“Bob Corker didn’t have a chance to vote on the Patriot Act, but probably would have voted for it. Honestly, I was a George Bush supporter when he first came into office, and when 9/11 happened I thought ‘maybe we need to protect ourselves.’ But looking back at U.S. history, Ben Franklin said if we give up freedom for security, we deserve neither security nor freedom – and I love that quote from the 1700s. Its amazing that these guys, back then, realized the tyranny of government and the level to which government can take something that seemingly looks good in the beginning and turn it against the people under the wrong leadership.”

“Never should we sacrifice our Constitution. If we don’t conduct ourselves like a republican form of government and share that with the people of the world and do it the right way, then what are we doing? What are we? We can’t torture.”

 

War on Drugs and Prison Policy:

“If you can transition into [legalization], like with the medical marijuana thing, if you can transition people’s thought processes in that direction and allow them to understand that this isn’t going to be detrimental to people driving down the road in Tennessee. What’s going to happen is they’ll understand that, but it’s going to take time though. It’s a thought process that will take time.”

“Do I want the violence on the border to go away right away? Absolutely, and I do think if you legalize marijuana – this war against drugs, the only thing it’s done is pick winners and losers in the drug lord trade. You’ve got super wealthy drug lords now, and then you’ve got the small guys being destroyed and shot with guns created in the United States and sold to them by the ATF and Eric Holder.”

“The prisons are full of people that have been put in there for marijuana possession– its crazy. This is the silliness of our society. We’re spending billions a year to keep people in jail because they smoke marijuana when we have alcoholics driving down the road.”

“I truly believe the War on Drugs is a purposeful attack on class. It seems to me that the drug war has worked against people who are poor, whether they are white, black, or otherwise. Putting a police state out there that is, really, harshly against the poor, they’re naturally going to be arrested more [frequently].”

 

Foreign Policy:

“In 2008 I started questioning every war and all of the things that are tanking our economy and putting us in terrible debt. Iraq– to me there wasn’t any reason why we should have been in Iraq.”

“If we’re going to go to war with a country, let’s have an act of Congress first! Let’s muster everything we’ve got, send it in, get it done, and get it out. We’re not in the nation building business.”

“We’ve been in Afghanistan for eleven years now, and so far there’s no end in sight. They’re talking about it, but they’ve talked about it for years. Afghanistan is today’s Vietnam. It is killing our soldiers, its sucking money, and it continues to be a detriment to American society.”

“The CIA has a term for when our soldiers are going into people’s houses and putting young kids’ fathers on the ground with guns to their heads– its called blowback. Those kids are going to grow up. I don’t care if the United States gave them candy later on. They are going to come back, and they are going to be angry. We’re creating terrorism. That’s the problem. We are over there with our military when we have no business being over there with our military.”

“Sanctions don’t work. They hurt the people, even if their leadership is corrupt. If you’re going to try and send a message to a government, do it through example and through love. Wars probably have to be fought at times. When Saddam Hussein went into Kuwait, it was a joint effort, and I was alright with that– the rest of the wars, not so much.”

 

Immigration:

“All of us were immigrants at one point. There’s no way we should be prejudiced against immigrants, which is what I see happening in our country– a lot of prejudice. On the flip side, we have to get a hold of what’s going on. Illegal immigrants are burdening the healthcare and education systems.”

“What I would like to see are the best people from every country coming to work here. The United States has the smartest, most industrious, most productive people in the world wanting to come here and be a part of our society. That’s what I want to see.”

 

Marriage:

“Politically [marriage laws] should go to the states, and let the states make their individual choices. So if one state chooses to allow gay marriage and the other state chooses to have a more traditional marriage, the beauty of that is if people in one state don’t like [the law], there are other states people can move to.”

 

Partisanship:

“United we stand, divided we fall. But the media says Democrat-Republican, left-right, liberal-conservative, Occupy-Tea Party. The reality of the situation with any of those groups is, we’re all frustrated with government and corporate greed, which is the root of both occupy and the Tea Party. It just so happens that the Occupy movement tends to be more young people– college students– and the Tea Party is more moms and dads. So the Occupy movement is college students that have moms and dads, and the Tea Party movement is moms and dads who have college students. They’re one in the same.”

“My message is really to Democrats, to Republicans, I think I can draw them all into the libertarian movement. The libertarian movement is about what our Founding Fathers stood on. That’s really the message: it’s about liberty. The libertarian movement is not about being liberal. It’s not about being conservative. It’s about liberty. And those two terms [liberal and conservative] have been thrown around and misused so much that we have completely false definitions of them. It’s just about liberty, freedom, republican form of government, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.”

“Everybody says, especially the Republican establishment in this state, ‘I’m going to vote for the lesser of two evils.’ My question to everybody is why are you voting for evil?”