We’ve now had five 2008 presidential candidates on TechCrunch: Senator Obama, Senator Edwards, Governor Romney Senator McCain and now Senator Mike Gravel. As always, we are posting this simultaneously on TalkCrunch, where you can subscribe to the RSS feed and get the podcasts as enclosures.
Senator Gravel is a far left Democrat. In many ways he’s to the Democrats what Ron Paul is the the Republicans – he keeps them honest and frustrates the hell out of them by being vocal about issues that they’d rather not shine a spotlight on. For his views on mainstream political issues, see the video of his talk at Google a couple of months ago. He’s anti war, but he’s also in favor of, for example, selling marijuana at the local liquor store (yeah I know, that’s awesome – make a donation to his campaign here).
But in our talk we focused only on technology policy issues. And on these issues he’s surprisingly mainstream. In general he’s a supporter of Net Neutrality and fair rules in the spectrum allocations. He wants to help bridge the digital divide and he wants to support alternative energy science – in fact he’s the only candidate so far who’s said explicitly that he’d like to see a tax on carbon emissions. And if you’re in need of engineers you’ll love Senator Gravel – he’s in favor of eliminating the quota on H1B visas. Actually, he’s in favor of wide open borders and free immigration, but we got off topic in the podcast for a bit.
On a lighter note, Gravel is the first of the five candidates who says he’s a Mac guy. He switched this year and loves it. He’s also embraced YouTube and other user generated content sites. In one video he looks silently at the camera for a minute or so, then goes and throws a rock in a lake (see the transcript for his explanation). In another he actually raps, talking about the fact that the Democratic party is trying to keep him quiet:
So, yeah, he’s a little crazy. But the man speaks his mind and leaves little doubt about his position on issues. I enjoyed the conversation immensely, which went on for more than forty minutes, and I’m glad it was recorded to share it with TechCrunch readers. Listen to the podcast below or on TalkCrunch, and the transcript is at the end of the post.
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Q&A With Senator Mike Gravel
Michael Arrington : Hello this is Mike Arrington from TechCrunch. Today I have the honor of getting a few minutes to talk with Senator Mike Gravel, democratic candidate for President in 2008, about his positions on technology related issues. Senator Gravel, thank you for taking the time with me today and welcome to TechCrunch.
Senator Mike Gravel: Well thank you for having me.
MA: So where are you in the world today?
MG : Right now I’m in a hotel just outside the airport in Chicago working on the last 3 chapters of my book Citizen Power trying to get that done and then tomorrow I go down to Des Moines for a debate on NPR and then on to Dearborn that night and I’ll be in Michigan for 4 days and then onto Los Angeles and then to Las Vegas and then from there to New Hampshire.
MA : Wow. Where do you call home these days?
MG : I live in Arlington, Virginia. My wife and I rent an apartment. We’ve been living there for the last 13 years. We rent in a high rise. We look right down at the Memorial and the Potomac River. It’s a nice apartment, 1300 square feet, and its very adequate. I keep joking, it’s ideal if you lose your glasses, you can find them quickly.
MA : Now when I’m in Chicago, particularly at a hotel near the airport, it’s usually because the weather in Chicago has grounded my airplane. Is that what happened to you?
MG : That’s exactly what happened. I was on my way to a debate on Saturday and it was the hand of providence that didn’t want me to go. Friday night United canceled the flight, they rescheduled another one in the morning out of Nashville, I took that, got to Chicago, they canceled the one to Des Moines so I thought I’d rent a car, I rented a car, 5 miles out of the airport we got a flat, the jack wouldn’t work on this vehicle would you believe it, and it took 3 hours (I had 5 hours to drive to Des Moines) to get someone to service it (AAA) and then we took the tire to a place, just tires, and they wouldn’t touch it for 2 hours, so that blew the whole thing. I took the car back to hertz, they gave me a total refund and I took a hotel here in Chicago and am waiting till Tuesday for this debate in Des Moines and am holed up here just to work on my book.
MA : Well at least you get some quiet time to work on your book.
MG : Yes very much so.
MA : So let’s jump into the questions that I have. Technology leadership is the first one. It’s a broad question but the United States has been a technology leader worldwide through the last decade. A lot of the growth has been through international markets though. What would you do to advance our efforts to continue to grow internationally?
MG : One, I’d be very open to immigration, both technical people and also other people and also student visas and tourists. It is appalling, we’ve lost about $20 billion this last year on this criteria of batting down the hatches, that we’re afraid of everybody in the world. It is pathetic, and I think we are damaging ourselves in the high tech area with this kind of a paranoiac fear that we have.
MA : You mentioned visas in there a couple of times, let’s talk specifically about H1B visas. Congress has limited the number of H1B’s, which are visas that go out to educated foreigners who want to come and work in the US for 7 years. Generally you have to have the equivalent of a bachelors degree to get one. The demand for them is probably around 150-200 thousand a year based on the number of applications received but we’re giving out only 65 thousand a year now down from more than double that a few years ago. What’s your position on H1B visas in general?
MG : I am very much an advocate for them and not only that, I would leave it open-ended, I would not put a limit on them. This is just so short-sighted, here we’ve got a program and we want to limit intelligent people coming to our country, does it get any stupider than that?
MA : Yeah, particularly since a lot of these people, and I don’t want to editorialize here, but a lot of these people end up staying and starting companies and some of the most prominent entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley were originally H1B visa holders.
MG: I know one personally and believe it I’m supporting him on an interesting project that will come to visibility several months from now.
MA : Well, please put him in touch with me I’d like to hear what he’s up to.
MG : Ok.
MA : So you’re in favor of no caps at all, that basically if you qualify you should get an H1B visa?
MG : Exactly, in fact I’d go even further than that. This whole attitude on immigration is appalling. I’m very much of a globalist and I think we should have open markets. Just stop and think we’ve had these undocumented aliens that are here, our unemployment is really down so we can really say there is nobody taking jobs from anybody. Yet we have, what, 11-12 million people that are here, employed, doing activities. What is the problem, undocumented? If we need jobs to be done in this country we should just open our borders and let people come in and do the work. How stupid we are to say 1) they’re undocumented and then you get these nativist rednecks who want to chase them out of the country and then of course we’ve got liberals that say “Oh let them get a chance to become residents but they have got to go back to their country and then have to pay fines and we have to punish them”. The only thing they’re guilty of is filling jobs that needed to be done and feeding their families. How bizarre are policy is and point in fact this whole immigration issue is nothing but scapegoating because of the failures that we have in this country.
MA : Well I’ll tell you that your position on H1B’s is going to be very popular in Silicon Valley and of course the issue cannot be separated from immigration in general and I appreciate your candid views on that as well. Let’s talk about education for a minute. We have a great higher education system in the US, its probably the best in the world. But not enough students at the younger ages seem to be interested in science and math. We certainly turn out fewer engineers compared to China and India in particular than we used to. What can we do with education in the US to support technology related fields, to get more children interested in science and math. I know the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act is designed to bridge the gap between primary and secondary education. What’s your views on that and in general, education, what can we do?
MG: Well first off No Child Left Behind is essentially founded on political cosmetic rhetoric. Teaching to the test is not teaching, you need a broader spectrum than that. Secondly, when you have a national education system where 1/3 of our children do not graduate from high school, you can focus on engineering and those things but my god the whole country is on a way to a disaster and this isn’t something that happened the last six years, this is something that has been going on the last forty years. Our educational system should be the #1 priority. Our goals should be the same thing as Finland, as Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Spain, Iceland and that is to educate our children from childhood to PHD level and the entire cost should be paid for by the government. Education should be the #1 activity in a democracy, and in our democracy hell it’s not even close to that. We’re so enraptured with becoming the military superpower of the world rather than becoming the educational superpower of the world. And you’re quite right we have a higher education system that it is to be admired but it is slowly deteriorating. When you stop and realize the cutback on Chinese students, Japanese students, Indian students, foreign students in general coming to American universities and going to other universities in other parts of the world is the beginning of the demise of our ascendancy in higher education, and its because of the visa problems, the immigration problems, its this national paranoia that we’re fed with fear of foreigners, and so you’re going to feel it in the high tech area because you’re gonna see the new high tech areas centered in China and in Japan and in India and though we may have a lot of entrepreneurialism they’re gonna develop their own sense of entrepreneurialism when we don’t let them into this country and participate in what we have to offer.
MA : What about the digital divide. It’s pretty clear in the US in particular that there’s a clear divide between the people who have access to technology (computers, the internet) and those that don’t. Even in the schools there are schools that have lots of computers for children and internet access and then there are schools that don’t. What can and should we do to bridge the gap?
MG : Here again, the educational establishment should totally erase any divide. Obviously the internet is becoming ubiquitous and we should capitalize on that by getting the necessary hardware into all educational institutions and private organizations should focus on this. There shouldn’t be a child in this country that should not have the ability to have a computer at a very young age. Here again these are policies that should be implemented and thank god there are some institutions, I think Microsoft, Dell and other people in the field have programs that try and bring about expansion in this regard. It is not enough. We need a national program to eliminate the divide not only for children but for adults and Middle America who are not totally attuned to the technology. Here I am a person in my 70’s and I had the good fortune that when I left Congress, talking to a person at a university who advised me to become computer literate or I would not be able to compete in the world, and I did make myself computer literate and I’ve enjoyed the benefits of that literacy ever since.
MA : Let’s talk about identity theft for a second. Its a big problem in the US, maybe as big as $60 billion a year just in losses for affected individuals and the internet is becoming sort of the way to steal peoples identity and exploit it. The government does involve itself now in protecting personal privacy, there are a number of criminal and civil laws on the books but the problem doesn’t seem to be solved by the current laws or at least the current enforcement of the laws. Do you think the government should do more to prevent the theft of identity online or should the free markets be left to fix the problem?
MG : I think the government needs to do more. There are many areas where I’m not that keen to expand government police powers. Obviously the private sector can do a lot with these security systems coming forth very rapidly with new iterations and you get it all the time whether its McAfee or others that tell you here just upload this and keep yourself current. Well that is fine but I think that we need the punishment situation. I say this with tongue in cheek but I get so angry when we get hackers turning around and debilitating our computers and causing us tremendous loss of time, I say this with tongue in cheek but I’d like to bring back public flogging for these people. But absent that, I do think there is some serious jail time for these young people to recognize that this is serious privacy invasion and they can’t do this wantonly. They’re like little dogs trying to run around and pee on everybody’s computer. This has got to stop, and so its a decent combination of greater law enforcement, there’s more damage done in society with the present inadequate level of law enforcement in this regard than we have with Al-Qaeda terrorism in the US, I mean our priorities are so skewed that we just really don’t know which way to turn to do the right thing.
MA: When I spoke to Senator McCain about this issue, he mentioned that his identity was stolen at one point
MG: He’s one that probably should have his identity stolen.
MA: (laughs) He said though, he said that the perpetrators are now guests of the state of Arizona, so I guess they caught them.
MG: Good (laughs)
MA: Mobile Spectrum, now this is a complicated issue but there’s a way to think about it more generally. When cell phone carriers first acquired the rights to the mobile spectrum, they received very broad rights that allowed them to put a number of rules in place that some people see as egregious, forcing lock-in of the consumer, etc. The FCC is holding a new auction early next year for the 700 mgHz part of the spectrum and there are competing factions. On the one side you have the existing carriers that want similar rules to the last time and then there is the new group led by Google that would like to have rules put in place that would force open access on the carriers, do you have an opinion on the mobile spectrum?
MG: Well, I sure do. I would force open access on all of them and retroactively on what has been granted. You’re talking about the ether (?) is public domain and how these companies can sequester this and monopolize it to their personal profits to the detriment of the people, I think is horrible. That whole area has to be re-examined whether it’s the spectrum for cell phones, for the internet, for networks, for television, all of that. All of that has to be re-examined. Our communications systems, except with the advent of the internet, have been in the toilet. And I feel this directly. Here I am, being shut out by networks because they don’t feel that my voice is what they want to hear because of my views on the military industrial complex. Our country is controlled by five major corporations control the information system, 90% of what the American people hear. That is wrong, and that is how a democracy will meet its demise. All of this has to be re-examined. Technology is moving so fast, we are in a technological knowledge revolution and we have to rise to that level and we have to be guided, I have somewhat of a Libertarian tendency and so I am guided by the attitude that it has to be free free and freedom freedom. That would be my guide in this regard.
MA: China’s been an issue that’s been coming up more and more often here in Silicon Valley. Recently, Yahoo, I guess a couple of years ago, Yahoo dad disclosed some information to China upon their request about a Yahoo mail account and it turned out that information was used to imprison a journalist talking about the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square incident. Yahoo’s CEO and General Counsel were lambasted in Congress in recent hearings. Even more recently Google was criticized for handing over information about an Israeli, again this is an issue that is significantly less onerous on the Israeli involved than China but again it was a situation where private information about an individual was being disclosed. What should we do about this? Should we try to stop US companies from doing business with governments that are perpetuating human rights abuses against their citizens?
MG: What we should do is we should pass a law not letting American companies give out this information period. Now that means that they will be in a quandary with countries like China and Israel. Well, that’s their problem, meaning China and Israel because the American companies that they thirst for our technology, they’ll have no choice but to take our technology just the way we wrap it, not the way they want to wrap it. So the law, we should enforce the law on these corporations. This is the whole problem of globalization and national sovereignty and it’s going to lead to other things but in the short run we should pass the law that says that Google, Yahoo! and anybody else who’s incorporated in this country cannot release private information on private individuals to the detriment of those individuals to any foreign government. Period.
MA: A slightly less important topic, but one that people here still care a lot about, Internet taxes. Should the ban be permanent?
MG: Yes. God, you know keep in mind I’m the guy that wants to do away with the income tax on individuals and on corporations. We have the most corrupt tax system in the world and I don’t understand when American corporate officers whether in SV or anywhere else in the United States hear me talk about wanting to deal with corporate income taxes don’t flood my campaign with contributions. Are they retarded or something? Do they not understand what I’m saying? Do they not want to spend a moment to read about what I’m talking about? I mean, this is really appalling that they should be so stupid as to want to lock in to a system of taxation which is corrupt and counter-productive to a capitalist system. I want American enterprise to do one job, and that is produce efficiently. Now, what we cost the American enterprise is about 270 billion dollars a year, that’s half what we’ve spent on Iraq in the last four years. 270 billion dollars a year, that is to comply with our corrupt system of taxation. And we can turn it around and put in place a fair tax, which is a retail sales tax with total transparency that will advantage the individual citizen, that we can make very progressive with a rebate and can solve our problem with the fiscal gap, the 50 trillion dollar fiscal gap we have, by turning this country from a consuming country to a savings country, that’s what can happen. So, all I can say in your next blog to your constituency in SV, just ask them for me, are they retarded or do they understand the English language?
MA: Yeah, I will. I’ll tell you that I love your proposal for taxes, but also even if we do have an income tax. What I hate is the forms. Now, I’m a Stanford trained lawyer and I cannot figure out our own income tax forms and all the rules. I have to use an accountant to do that. It sure would be nice if we had at least a simplified tax structure.
MG: It’s impossible to do that. With all do respect, you’re being naive. I was on a finance committee for 8 years and I have to tell you, the code stands four feet high and there’s not a human being on earth that understands the totality of it. There’s only one way to solve this problem, to do away with it. There’s no such thing as a compromise with ignorance, with a failed system. You don’t compromise with a failed system, you do away with it and you can establish a simple system with it’s transparency I’ll know what you’re saying and you’ll know what I’m saying. It’s that simple, and then you can turn around. You want to talk about prosperity in this country; if we can do away with taxes on individuals and corporations we could create the largest tax haven in the world. Money and capital will flow into this country, they will be able to make education number one, rebuild our corporate infrastructure, pay for healthcare for everybody and hopefully get a handle on our paranoia and do away with the military industrial complex which is ruling and bringing about our economic demise
MA: I’m now on your Gravel08.com making a donation to your campaign.
MG: Thank you. Max out if you can. We need the money, just the least. But then go to silicon valley, tell your people that I just really don’t understand that how all of these corporate enterprises, small business and big business who are going to benefit handsomely not only by not having to pay any income taxes but by not having to pay for the unproductive accountants and attorneys to meet the challenge of the idiotic tax code we have. This is simple intelligence that they don’t seem to measure up to, and that that says something about American enterprise.
MA: I just can’t wait to hear your position on Net Neutrality.
MG: Ohh, well Net Neutrality, my God, there should be no involvement at all of the government in the use of the internet, it should be free free free. It’s the only place right now where we have a chance for human survival over the oppressiveness of government. Government is a tool, we can take it up when we need it and put it down when we need it. But the tragedy is that when we take it up it becomes the tool of pirates. And we need device where people can go to, to become informed and that in my mind is the internet. So where do I stand, my god, get the government to get its clammy hands off it.
MA: And should the government intervene when large corporations that own the bandwidth try to stop or try to put in place pricing mechanisms that favor some companies over others?
MG: Certainly, and it should be outlawed. Not only intervene, we should have laws on the books that just plain outlaw those practices.
MA: Should people be put in jail for stealing songs on the internet?
MG: I don’t know enough about the whole copyright issue, I truly don’t. I do know that I (hired?) Benjamin Franklin who was opposed to patens and of course he never made a dime off his stoves because other people patented his stoves. I just don’t know, that’s a very philosophical issue. Is there an incentive for the creative person? I think there is, because the person wants to do the right thing. It’s like saying “is an entrepreneur motivated by money or creativity?” I think an entrepreneur is motivated more by creativity and enjoys the rewards. But its not the rewards that motivates first and foremost. With respect to patents and copyrights, if a person’s got a song in his heart, does a person write the song, because he’s going to have a copyright or does he write the song, because he wants to voice in his heart. I don’t know. All I can give you is the philosophical expression I just articulated.
MA: What do you want to do about renewable energy and how can the government promote renewable energy science.
MG: There’s a lot of things the government can do. One of the first and foremost is to get the hell out of the way and … and get and let some of these forces be released. The first and foremost is to stop the subsidies.
At one of the debates the various presidential candidates were asked … because of a spike in the price of oil they were asking about price gouging and all that and what you would do and everybody had some idea that there was gouging going on. Well any time there’s a spike, there’s always someone in congress that wants to study to see if there’s price gouging. They’ve never found any price gouging by and large or there’s some instances.
But when I got to realizing, hey, let the price rise. You know, this is economics 101. The higher the price can rise the sooner you’ll get alternative forms of energy. In fact I am very much … and would work to institute a tax on carbon and then I would take that tax, pool that money, and bring in other counties in the world to tax their people on carbon so that we could take these pooled resources and integrate the global engineering and scientific community to get us off of carbon in a decade. And we can do it, we truly can do it.
With respect to … We’ve got technology right off the shelf – I’m talking about wind and solar – that you can use immediately. It would create an unbelievable number of jobs. If we had 5 million wind devices in this country we could electrify the country. And we could set it up with alternative photo voltaic and we would not be dependent upon one ounce of gasoline.
All you need is leadership to do that and all you need is to open the spigots. And if you’re going to have a subsidy … I would rather than subsidies pass a few laws to goose people on. And here’s the kind of law I’d like to see passed, and that is, that the… You take carbon standards rather than talking… when you hear these politicians saying we’re gonna to get this done by 2020. My God. You can get this done in five, six years. Why 2020?
Carbon taxes will match you up in the next five years. Period. That’s it. You pass a law. They’ll do it. They’ll shape up. We do this with the clean air act. Every time we turned around the automobile industry couldn’t even do it. But of course when you pass a law they got off their buts and did it.
I’ll tell you the example of how bad sometimes American enterprise can be. One of the reasons we couldn’t change the tire on this Ford SUV that we had was because the jack could not jack up this SUV enough to take off the tire. Now listen to me. Couldn’t jack up the SUV. It probably could do it on a perfect plane, but we’re on the side of the rode. And so we couldn’t even take off the damn tire because of the jack that Ford put on this vehicle. It was probably a good enough jack for a car, but not for an SUV.
Now this is American enterprise at its best. No wonder we have Toyota eating our lunch and the European cars eating our lunch on mileage and the likes of that. So, I could go on with examples.
If we have the will, we can do it, and it’s very simple. You’ll want to get off of carbon, not paying the carbon tax, get yourself a hydrogen fueled vehicle. You know, why is it that we have in Norway, an oil country, that has a highway 300 miles long, and they have hydrogen fueling stations all along that highway. Why can’t we turn around and pass a law mandating, mandating, that the oil companies do this. Just like we mandate that they have to have café standards. We don’t have to give them any incentives. We just pass a law; they’ve just got to do it. It’s in the best interest of this country. We don’t have to give them any of our tax dollars. We just pass a law telling them to do the right thing.
That’s the beginning of how we should do our activities. But it’s impossible to do, by the very simple reason that they’ve got 35,000 lobbyists in Washington whose job it is to protect their corporate interests, and I might say their tax advantages, at the detriment to the average American from an environmental point of view and an economic point of view.
MA: So lets talk about the important stuff now. Youtube. You have, you have a couple of awesome videos on Youtube. One – and I’ll link to them in my post – but one of them is “Power to the People” and the other one is “The Rock”. Can you tell me a little bit about the history and why you did these? And, I mean they’re great. In “Power to the People” you’re actually rapping.
MG: Well, not rapping. Here’s what happened. First off “The Rock” one was done by two young guys in Southern California that contacted my representative to ask if I would throw a rock in the water, and immediately I said yes. I understood the rock meant ripples, ripples meant having an influence.
And so they did it. I gave them a whole day. And I did exactly what they told me to do. They had it all figured out. I wouldn’t even figure out what they were doing, I was just so busy thinking of other things. I followed their instructions, and lo and behold. And then they wanted to have me preview it. I says “No, no. This is your product, this is your work you do what you want with it.” And it was, and so they put it on the tube and lo and behold it had more hits than anything else and made me famous on the tube. And then every time I was interviewed by the media I would give out their names and phone numbers. And go interview them and, you know, they’re the heroes of this. All I am, you know, is just a warm body and I’m flattered that they would take this metaphor of human life and apply it to me.
It’s a metaphor that applies to everybody. What this metaphor is, is that if you focus on something very important in life – and you go do it and you cause ripples – and then you go off to your reward. What is more significant to human life than that? What’s more rewarding? And so they flattered me with that.
And then with this other one … that was done … We did that in the hotel room. And the guy went to the Home Depot, bought a blue tarp, and then had a flag, and then some tape, taped up this, and then had a list of words that I would repeat over and over again, in very slight phrase. And he knew exactly how he was going to weave this together. And then when I saw it I just thought it was hilarious.
He got the message across. Here you got the Democratic Party, the war party, you know, not only the war party for Iraq, with the Republicans, but the war party with the Iran and Bush and the Republicans. But the Democratic Party that’s supposed to believe in all these great things, just has silenced me. Howard Dean has fixed it so I’m not in any of the Democratic Party sanctioned debates, and I’ve been cut out of the winter meeting.
Now this is the Democratic Party that the Democrats should be really proud of. Well that’s what happened. And so what this guy, he was incensed over this – this is rich Schwartz – he was incensed over this, came to us, flew out on his own nickel and tapped me doing these words. And he’s the one that put these words together into the message he wanted to create, which in my mind is an embarrassment to the Democratic Party of the United States of America under its existing war mongering leadership.
MA: Well it’s an awesome statement and I can’t wait to show it to my readers as well, although it has tons of hits already, both of the videos.
MG: We’re going to get together; He’s got some other idea’s we’re going to do.
MA: Good. I definitely want to hear about it from your campaign when they’re published. Are you a Mac or a PC guy?
MG: Well, I gotta tell ya. I’ve been PC all of my life, and then lo and behold, this year in order to do some video streaming, responding to people’s questions, I bought a Mac. So, I’m sitting in front of a Mac. And if you can imagine at my age, having to conquer both. I sit in front of my Mac and I’ve gotta think twice as I take a step, because I think in terms of a PC. So, I’m an equal opportunity kind of guy. I own a Mac, and I gotta tell you if way back when people tell you “You gotta get a Mac it’s better than a PC”. Well, I’m prepared to give testimony that it is more intuitive than a PC, but the PC has universality. It’s a little bit like the beta and the other device. The other device won out, but the beta works better. But that’s the way the cookie crumbles.
MA: That’s a good analogy. Yeah, it’s a good analogy. Like most people in Silicon Valley, and most journalists, I’m a Mac guy.
MG: Oh yeah, for sure. I wish I would have started out that way, life would have been a little easier for me than it is right now.
MA: Do you have an iPod?
MG: Oh yes, I’ve got an iPod. You’ll laugh. I bought an iPod … In fact I bought an mp3 player and I couldn’t play the things I wanted to play on it. So I had to go buy a … and I bought the expensive one, I got a 40 meg … so I buy an iPod and I hear about all this music, so I load it all up with all this music, which I never to listen to. I really wanted it for books. So I now have it loaded on with books after books after books. So what I do … I’m dyslexic. It’s a natural … it’s a boon for me. I listen to books all the time, and right now, what am I in the middle of… I just finished “Failed States”, and I’m now … the name escapes me … talk about senior moment. But I’m halfway through another one. [unintelligible] … his latest book on the founding fathers, which isn’t as good as I was hoping it’d be. But he’s a good historian in any event. But since I’m so steeped in this area, I need better than good. I need great skullduggery stuff.
MA: Well, that’s all I have for you. Is there anything else you’d like to say before I let you get back to writing your book?
MG: Well, I think I covered immigration with you. I want to cover one thing that’s most important with respect to the internet. What the internet makes possible is what I’ve raised, and that is, I want to empower the American people to become lawmakers. The central power of government is to making laws. And so until the American people are able to make laws they will never, never control their government. They’ve never controlled it from the get go. And now with the technology of the internet I have the ability to ask Americans “Do you want to be empowered to become lawmakers?” Because I’ve written a law called the “National Initiative”. It’s a federal ballot initiative, where if 16 million Americans vote for it – and congress will never pass it – it dilutes their power, but if we can get 16 million Americans to vote for this on the internet at NationalInitiative.us or ni4d.us. – you can go there and you can vote for it. And you can go back there a month later and change your vote if you want.
But when we get 16 million Americans to vote for this, Americans will be empowered to make laws in every government jurisdiction in the United States. They will become empowered to make laws in partnership with their elected officials. They will become the fourth leg of a system of checks and balances that cannot be voided. That’s really what is at hand. And so this would release the freedom and creativity of the American people to pass laws to protect themselves. Representative government is broken, broken. And there’s only two venues for change: one, the government where the problem exists, and the people where the corrections can take place. And it’s the internet, the freedom of the internet that makes this all possible. And that’s what is so important with this advance in communications and the answer … and the answer to the paradigm – which is what I’m trying to do, change the paradigm of human governance – is to empower the people to become lawmakers. Please, pass that message around to your constituency.
MA: And it’s NationalInitiative.us?
MA: It’s open right now.
MA: Senator Gravel, thank you very much for your time. Good luck, well good luck getting out of Chicago first of all, but good luck with the upcoming primaries. And just, I hope you do very well.
MG: Thank you. Well if I do at all, it’s because of the internet. Because I haven’t spent 300,000 dollars on this campaign and I’m a player. And it’s all because of what volunteers, on their own initiative, have done for me on the internet. That’s why I love freedom.
MA: Well, that’s a great way to end the podcast. Thank you very much for your time.
MG: Thank You.