Wikinews interviews Jim Babka, chair of Libertarian organization Downsize DC
Thursday, April 3, 2008
A reporter from Wikinews recently interviewed Jim Babka, chair of Libertarian organization Downsize DC. The organization claims to have arranged for 22,158 people to send a message regarding the "American Freedom Agenda Act" proposed by Ron Paul, in addition to supporting many other laws. The full text of the interview can be found below.
((Wikinews )) What is Downsize DC?
- Jim Babka: DownsizeDC.org is an organization that makes it easy for every day citizens, with jobs and busy lives, to express their wishes to their two Senators and Representative. It's free and quite easy to use. The DownsizeDC.org system combines education, recruitment, and activism into one simple, seamless process. And once someone sends a message, they begin receiving our free email newsletter, or as we prefer to describe it, they become part of the Downsize DC Army. Voltaire said, "God tends to be on the side of the bigger battalions." And we're looking to build the Downsize DC Army so large that Congress cannot afford to ignore us – so big that we can get our message of small, Constitutionally-limited government out everywhere
((WN )) Why do you believe the federal government has grown too large?
- JB: Big government at all levels steals about half of everything Americans earn. We don't believe politicians know best how to spend your money or run your life. We want you to be able to keep what you earn; to spend, to save, to invest, and to give away as you see fit.
- We recognize that big government really doesn't work well. Big government has damaged education and health care. It has made us more vulnerable to terrorism while trading away our liberty. It has served the interests of large corporate conglomerates at the expense of individuals. We want to make better education and health care more readily available to you. We want you to live in safety and keep your civil liberties. We want to put an end to corporate welfare.
- The Constitution is our guide, and it limits the powers of the federal government. We want the Constitution restored. We believe that we must Downsize DC so that we can have greater peace and human progress.
((WN )) If you could change one aspect of government what would it be and why?
- JB: What a terrible question to ask someone like me! It would've been much easier to ask me what parts of government I would like to keep.
- But seriously, if you're going to put a gun to my head like that I would say real legislative reform. Each year and every crisis, government will grow. The legislative rules are written so that the results are virtually guaranteed – more expensive and intrusive government. The incentives in the current legislative environment are all wrong.
- One way we can really address this is through a series of laws, and perhaps, one day, constitutional amendments, which would truly limit Congress in their ability to spend, create and maintain programs, and pass new laws and regulations.
- Congress doesn't read their bills and they frequently pass these long un-read bills with little or no time to review them. We have proposed the Read the Bills Act to remedy that problem. The Read the Bills Act has the added benefit of requiring Congress to post their bills online for reporters, watchdog groups, and every day citizens to be able to read for seven days before the final vote.
- Because we realized that to get around the Read the Bills Act, Congress might cheat, abbreviate their proposals, and just delegate the nitty-gritty details into the hands of unelected bureaucrats who aren't accountable to the people, we proposed the Write the Laws Act. An elected Congress should sweat the details and then be accountable to their constituents.
- Congress also violates the rules of your high school government class, where you were told it took a majority to pass a law. Congress simply combines bad proposals that wouldn't stand on their own, like the Real ID Act (which should be repealed), into bills that are certain to pass, such as a troop appropriation bill. To deal with that problem we presented the One Subject at a Time Act.
- And in the future, we'll call for government to follow it's [sic] own accounting and reporting rules for the private sector, ala Sarbanes-Oxley, and a sunset provision requiring all taxes and programs to come up for a vote for re-authorization, with the requirement that they too be read, in full.
- And it's funny because once I get away from the professional, political culture – "the beltway crowd" – and being talking to the Americans that pay the bills – the people in "flyover country" – I find that it doesn't matter what political party people come from. Nearly everyone I meet thinks Congress should be required to read their bills and post them online for seven days, pass bills one subject at a time, and be required to conduct periodic review so that some government programs that don't work get shut down. These proposals are… transpartisan.
((WN )) Many people consider organizations like yours to be ultra conservative. Would you agree with this judgement. If not, why not?
- JB: I don't even know what that means. It sounds a bit pejorative. I wouldn't agree with that judgment, but I'd want to know what the definition of conservative is.
- In our era, those wearing the appellation "conservative" have, by their actions, if not their rhetoric, defined conservative as… large deficit spending: "monopoly money" policies; corporate welfare alliances; first amendment restrictions; greatly diminished civil liberties in the face of a boogey-man threat; an unconstitutional, unified executive theory; the leap into unconstitutional, pre-emptive wars, also based on boogey-man threats; and an empire. I could go on and on. But if that's all "conservative," then we'd want nothing to do with it.
- In addition, we've had some very successful alliances with groups who would never describe themselves as conservative. Take, for example, the ACLU. We've worked with them on three issues in just the last 16 months. But we've worked with, quite literally, dozens of liberal or progressive groups, on a variety of issues. We've opposed: The War in Iraq; the potential attack of Iran; the Patriot Act; the attempts to get around FISA Courts and spy on Americans; tribunals, secret evidence, and the death of habeas corpus; FCC censorship; the Real ID Act; and the Patriot Act. We've supported improved whistleblower protections, greater government transparency, 9/11 accountability, closing the Drug Czar's office, and ending the war on medical marijuana users. And we've done all of this with groups who weren't the least bit conservative.