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Editor’s note: For Hawaii’s Aug. 11 primary, Civil Beat asked candidates to answer some questions about where they stand on various issues and what their priorities will be if elected.
The following came from George Berish, a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate. There are seven other Republican candidates, including Consuelo Anderson, Robert Helsham, Michael Hodgkiss, Thomas White, Ron Curtis, Rocky De la Fuente and Eddie Pirkowski.
1. What would be your first priority if elected?
The Senate is a deliberative body. Not an executive office. Hawaii is best served by women and men able to persuade fellow senators we can be trusted to debate fairly, and with intellectual honesty. To pursue Hawaii’s interests, not partisan demagoguery that promote our own political careers.
I’d stop beating last election’s dead horse. Gratuitously insulting the congressional majority serves no purpose and impedes bills Hawaii needs.
Get the $2 billion targeted for a 1930s style big-box rail system redirected to 21st century projects that serve us instead of multi-million-dollar political interests career politicians need to stay elected. Maybe $1 billion for a fleet of 25,000-plus shareable little AI-driven smart cars — Uber without drivers? Double-decked roads airport to Waikiki? Then beyond. More lanes for bikes, cars, etc.?
End political exploitation of issues as passionately sensitive as exactly when secular law should hold the single life of a woman, with her set of unalienable rights, becomes two lives with two sets of unalienable rights. God waits to judge our personal decision till we die. Until then, we need a definition we can fairly administer, and all accept. I believe I can lead to that.
2. Under what circumstances should America go to war?
Remember! The whole of Congress has not had the honesty, integrity or enough respect for those who serve us in the military to answer that question for over a half-century.
The Greatest Generation was the last one to declare war before sending us to kill, to risk dying, risk being maimed or crippled, and risk the happiness of those who love us, for them.
And yes. When you send us to fight, you send us to kill people trying to kill us. Something dangerous for soldiers to think about much. Because doing so risks realizing you have more respect for the soldiers you face than the politicians who sent you. That’s why solders dehumanize the enemy, not because we are bigots.
I will never ask our military to kill for us, until I had the courage to vote for war. If declared, I’d let them win. When won, I’d never return the people they freed to the tyranny they defeated.
(I celebrated 22nd and 23rd birthdays during two Vietnam tours. One earned a Bronze Star. One added an Oak Leaf cluster. Thank God. The mountains, not the delta.)
3. Should Facebook be regulated by the federal government? How?
Of course, our representatives should supervise these billionaires. Their billions depend on the internet’s expensive backbone the public pays to maintain, and use for free. (Note: As Al Gore was correct when he said he “created” (not invented) the internet we know, because it is the tax he engineered on businesses that makes internet use so cheap. (Albeit it also makes Spam profitably possible.)
But this question is ambiguous. Regulate how the Google brothers, the Facebook owners, and others exploit the publicly subsidized internet? Regulate use of data they harvest from the internet? Allow government to censor what we put on it? Allow Google and Facebook to censor what we put on it? Probably yes, yes, no, no.
Note: I believe the mob rule kind of anonymity offered by the internet, intentionally ambiguous political spin, and media reducing everything to the who’s winning and who’s losing simplicity of a sports match, has but one result. Endless squabbling among people who argue at each other without realizing neither one knows exactly what she or he is arguing about. Frustration that spawns anger and verbal, if not physical, violence.
I’m sometimes wrong. But never unclear And, correct errors instead of walking them back.
4. What should the United States do to control carbon emissions and slow climate change?
What I fear is our frightening population growth. It took humanity till my dad was born to reach 1.5 billion. Doubled again after I was born. Then doubled again since. And headed for 8 billion without slowing.
Otherwise, I was once a 16-year old physics major. Graduated top among math and science majors.
Multiple ice ages came, and went, before humans existed. The 50s sky-is-falling political activists screamed we were overdue for another. So, the government should give them money and power.
Al Gore’s 17-year old warning of a 20-foot ocean rise in 20 years has three years left. Yet ours hasn’t risen a millimeter against the Magic Island rock wall. (Oceans aren’t rising. Unprotected islands are being eroded away. Like 1,500 miles of them to our northwest that all began like Oahu.)
Some movement “experts” were caught jiggering “model” software to get results needed. And for me, the final admission of dishonesty was shifting from global warming to climate is changing. Which honest people know is like predicting global darkening tonight. It’s has been, and always will be, changing till the sun burns out.
Climate is changing activism is simple lust for political power and money.
5. Is it time to reform Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid? How?
I’m a 30-plus-year fellow of the Society of Actuaries who’s served as actuary to the U.S. Model Social Security Systems of the FSM and Republic of Palu. Also served other large-scale retirement plans and systems. Including our Big Five’s retirement plans before BOH and FHB led the parade out of retirement plans into individual account plans like 401k.
So, I have aptitude, education, training and experience in funding large-scale retirement systems not even the actuary employed by the retirement system to represent government worker interests can match. (No actuary represents the public’s interests. One reason why Hawaii’s Retirement System was 103 percent fully funded in 2000, and today is a full rail system short.)
So yes, Social Security is broken, and I know how to fix it. No, I can’t explain it in 200 words.
Note: The solution isn’t turning it into a lock box. It already is. Not one penny of FICA going in has ever left except for benefits and administrative costs. The only money ever stolen from the system was when part of the FICA tax was suspended to starve an already struggling system. To make temporary room in which to pass other permanent ones.
6. Congress has struggled in recent years to reach agreement on budget deficits, the national debt and spending in general. What would be your approach to fiscal matters?
The only solution is term limits. It ends the need of career politicians to endlessly up their vote-buying bids whenever opponents upped theirs, which lessens their desperate need for debt-financed spending.
In Federalist #53 Madison opposed limits with: In the “great theatre of the United States … (state) laws are … far from being uniform … vary in every State … (with) public affairs … spread throughout … extensive region … (and so only) … correctly learnt in … the central councils (i.e. in Congress) …”
But he wrote that when life expectancy was about 35 years, and the probability of being disabled or dying already severely limited time in office after being old enough to get elected anyway. And he was an incumbent politician.
But he also predicted: “…these difficulties will … very much diminish(ed) … (after) … primeval formation of a federal code … Past transactions … will be a ready and accurate source of information to new members. … (government) affairs will become more … objects of … conversation among the citizens …”
But life expectancy has doubled. The government formalized. Politicians seeming to only study political tactics anyway. Citizens need the protection of term limits.
7. Whatever happens in the midterm elections, Congress will remain deeply divided. What specifically would you do to help bridge the partisan divide in Washington?
I believe this question misses the explanation left for us by the founders of the system of checks and balances they built into our government.
The knew every individual is unique, and therefore we will never agree on the perfect choice of greater good for everyone. Because perfect is beyond human reach. Knew the political class eternally hungers for more power. And knew power relentlessly, irresistibly, and inevitably corrupts.
Therefore, strong debate over mutually exclusive goals is our safety net. And the political class all “coming together” as enlightened leaders to harness us, the masses, to their greater good is our danger.
Problem: Social media’s anonymity has made aggressively ugly, discourteous to the point of vulgarity, name-calling spiced, and mindless squabbling, the new normal in public debate. Too many politicians have waded in.
Solution: Restore public debate to the style set by the founders in their writings, like their federalist papers and speeches. Childishness is no match for adult debate.
But talk is cheap. And an avalanche of simplified surveys, in an overcrowded primary, is no test. So, if five or more voters want to meet and test my skills on issues important to them, just let me know,
8. What should be done to reform U.S. immigration policies, if anything?
The job of Hawaii’s senator is protecting Hawaii’s and America’s interests.
Therefore, it is the job of those seeking entry to prove their arrival benefits America. Not America’s job to prove why they shouldn’t enter. (And providing desperately cheap, exploitable, labor capitalists use to subvert labor laws, wage levels, and unions is no benefit.)
Note: I embrace America’s free market economics (Steve Jobs’ Apple) and reject Karl Marx’s capitalism (Romney’s Blain Capital).
All my grandparents were immigrants, like most of the Greatest Generation were. All coming to join in being Americans. Leaving behind the evils of their many Old Worlds. Something only possible in America, because the American people are the world’s only people defined by shareable principles, instead of an exclusionary bloodline. (Just like local is defined by its traditions, not a bloodline.)
But today many immigrants come to colonize America for their Old Worlds, not join. An example is today’s immigrants from Islamic states whose foundational belief is the state only exists to serve as the church’s enforcement arm. Whereas America is built on a foundational belief in separation of church and state. They cannot coexist. So, I go with Trump’s call for a time out to re-evaluate.
9. What is your view of the role of the U.S. military in the islands, and would you like to see that role increased or decreased?
The role of the U. S. military is always, and should only be, protecting and preserving Americans’ unalienable rights. Not to serve other nonprofit functions.
But hosting a large military force has both economic costs and benefits. Not being any political factions’ pawns.
Therefore, one job of Hawaii’s senator is to be sure Hawaii’s cost and benefits are balanced. That’s
impossible to do perfectly, because today the federal government’s reach into every aspect of our lives far exceeds anything the founders would have tolerated.
For example, federal aid flows from states that have no volcanos to worry about. As I’m sure senators from those states would argue compensates Hawaii for the cost of military we host, but they benefit from. Or the $2 billion we ask from everyone else for Hawaii’s rail.
So, I’ll just assert the side with the best ability to deal with the blinding array of numbers that is our federal budget has the greatest advantage in Congress’ complex negotiations over how to divvy up the federal budget. And success as an actuary demands those skills. Unlike academia’s studies, we bet real money, e.g., whether the Trade Center’s insurance premium would be enough to keep the insurer solvent.
10. What specific reforms, if any, would you seek in gun control policies?
These facts influence my decisions.
Every people who’ve lived in tyranny have been disarmed. No armed people have ever lived in tyranny.
The Second Amendment, and seven others, prohibited politicians from tampering with nine rights citizens need to defend against politicians imposing government tyranny. Not against bears.
The Nazi takeover required disarming Germans. Hitler talked them into disarming themselves. The hell of WWII descended.
Shot heard round the world: Fired by an armed citizen. To prevent being disarmed. Without it America would not exist. WWII would’ve been lost. Today we’d live in Orwellian tyranny.
Since the ’60s, spoiled-child, acting-out, type violence has increased dramatically. Citizens’ access to guns has shrunk. It’s not access to guns.
Our police chief brought his young, medalist-shooting, daughter to my school from PAL’s shooting program. She amazed us by shooting down the center aisle of the auditorium in which we sat to hit aspirins on toothpicks. The program permanently instilled respect for, and ability to safely handle, guns the PC crowd denies children today.
Columbine: Parents told school officials the future shooters’ behavior frightened them – black trench coats, opaque sunglasses, hostility to authority teachers tolerated. Officials hid behind the First Amendment. The fantasy grew real.
11. What other important issue would you like to discuss here?
I believe every problem we face circles back to a single source. Polarization of America by a horribly polarized, and horribly polarizing, political class that populates our Democrat/Republican-only political monopoly.
It disunites us, and spawns in creakingly ugly, hate-filled squabbling to no agreement that weaken the nation, undermines advancement, and makes all solutions unacceptable.
Polarization that’s turned intellectually honest, common sense-based public debate in a forum whose participants honor the dignity and decorum it deserves, into a sick cross between vaudevillian stage and cheap imitation of a Roman Circus blood sport based on “to the victor goes the spoils.”
And I believe until we end it, i.e. all condemn it, all refuse to participate in it, and all find the courage to call out those who continue it, we will find making America great again, with every old generation expected to leave America safer, stronger, and more economically successful than when they inherited it, and every young generation expecting us to, will remain an unreachable goal.
That’s impossible to further explain in words. Only demonstrated.