JOE DEHN FOR CONGRESS
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JOE DEHN FOR CONGRESS

 
District 17
California

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408-774-1570

Joe Dehn for Congress
PO Box 20372
Stanford, CA 94309

Updates

30 April

The war in Ukraine shows us what happens when people allow their governments to run amok. The result is a catastrophe for the people of the country being attacked, a tragedy for the people of the country doing the attacking, and harmful to pretty much the rest of the world as well.

The seemingly insane behavior of Vladimir Putin demonstrates this point most directly. Here is a man who claims that he is acting to protect the people of Ukraine, who are in his view really part of the Russian people, and his method of doing this is to bomb their cities. Like so many dictators and emperors before him, he claims to be acting on behalf of the people but what matters most to him is power over them and over territory.

This is not a flaw unique to Russian rulers or governments, of course. Even our own government famously "destroyed the village to save it" in Vietnam, and murdered women and children to protect them from being part of a cult in Waco. Throughout history there have been many other examples. But the current Russian government under Putin seems determined to show that it can be among the worst of the worst.

The people of Ukraine did not deserve this fate. They are right to be fighting to defend their homes and their rights, and to ask for help from others in this fight. But as horrible as what's happening now in Ukraine is, it does not follow that it is the job of the US government and military to fix it. It's not their job – and the attempt could easily lead to something much worse. (And it's already leading, like all attempts by government to restrict trade, to serious economic harm worldwide, including to those of us here in the United States.)

We must also remember that the people of Russia don't deserve what's happening to them, either. They are not our enemy, and for the most part they aren't enemies of the people of Ukraine. How many of them support this war, or even understand what is going on, is unclear. But surely many of them, if they had a choice, would not choose this war. Those individuals don't deserve what their own government is doing to them – the suppression of their freedom to communicate, the economic deprivation, their family members coming home in body bags, or the distrust with which they will almost certainly be treated by the rest of the world for a generation after this war is over.

More government is not the answer. Less government is the solution. A libertarian Russia and a libertarian Ukraine would have no reason to fight each other. Let's hope the people of Europe and the rest of the world come to their senses, before their habit of putting goals like "national sovereignty" and "historical destiny" ahead of human rights, economic prosperity, and individual liberty leave us all poorer, less free, and possibly even dead.

26 April

Joe Dehn has signed the "Liberty Pledge" being promoted to candidates by Liberty Guard, an organization founded by 2008 Libertarian presidential candidate Bob Barr.

The pledge reads: "I ... as a candidate for public office, hereby pledge to my constituents and to the American People that, if elected, every vote I cast will be in support of individual liberty and against enhanced or abusive government power."

So far only five candidates running for US House in California this year (and none of the other candidates running in this district) have signed this pledge.

11 April

Should the government mandate square dancing for all Americans?

Answer to the question (in a candidate questionnaire) "What else would you like voters to know about you, including your legislative priorities?":

I am a square dancer, and I believe square dancing is a great activity. Therefore, my legislative priorities will be (1) a bill to require all adults to learn square dancing by the year 2024, (2) a bill to direct the Department of Education to make square dancing part of "Common Core" so that everybody in the country is forced to learn it in school, and (3) a bill requiring everybody over the age of 10 to attend a square dance at least once a week. Yes, that's a joke. Except for the part about being a square dancer – I really am a square dancer, and I do recommend that people try it. But that should be their choice. Government should not be running schools, should not be dictating what is taught in schools, and should not be deciding what people do with their time, money, and lives. If you consider the idea of government requiring you to be a square dancer to be crazy and absurd – well, that's exactly how libertarians see most of what government has become today!

31 March

The Secretary of State has confirmed that Joe Dehn will be on the primary ballot for US Congress. Voters will have a choice of five candidates in this race. Three of the others are Democrats: Ro Khanna (the incumbent), Stephen Forbes, and Rao Ravul. There is also one Republican, Ritesh Tandon.

10 February

Signatures on a petition to qualify Joe Dehn as a candidate for Congress in this year's primary election were filed with the Registrar of Voters this week. The ROV has confirmed that the number of valid signatures exceeded the minimum number needed to meet the nomination requirement.

"Thanks to the voters who signed my petition, the rest of the voters of the 17th Congressional District will have a choice this year, to reject the big-government policies of the two old parties," said Dehn. "I will be giving them a chance to vote instead for the Libertarian platform of smaller government, respect for individual liberty, lower taxes, and an end to U.S. government meddling in disputes among and within foreign countries."

The ROV's records indicate that at least three other candidates have been working to be on the ballot in this race: the incumbent Democrat, another Democrat, and a Republican. It will not be known until 11 March, which is the deadline for candidates to pay their filing fee and complete all the other paperwork required to qualify, how many names will actually appear on the ballot.

8 February

Statement on Science: "I support the separation of science and state. Science is too important to allow government to manage or control it." Science is a process by which we increase our understanding of the natural world, always seeking better models, not a set of facts that can properly be the subject of legislation or edict. ... Research should be privately funded by businesses, universities, and other institutions that allow those interested in various fields and scientific questions to pool their resources for this purpose. Government can best facilitate this by lowering taxes, on both businesses and individuals, to allow non-government institutions to put more of their resources into this important activity. For campaign statements on this and other topics, visit the issues page.

25 December

The California Citizens Redistricting Commission has approved new district boundaries based on the 2020 census. The boundaries for Congressional District 17 have changed less than for many other districts, but there have been some changes. For an updated map see the District page.

15 December

Today is Bill of Rights Day, celebrating the ratification of the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution – 230 years ago today, 15 December 1791.

The Bill of Rights sets limits on the powers of the federal government, including the well-known prohibition on laws restricting freedom of speech and of the press, the right to keep and bear arms, and the right to a trial by jury. It also states explicitly two general principles: that the listing of rights does not mean these are all the rights (9th Amendment) and that if the Constitution doesn't assign a power to the federal government then it belongs to the states, or the people (10th Amendment).

We often associate enforcement of the Bill of Rights with the judicial branch, as history has given us many examples of courts, including most famously the U.S. Supreme Court, acting to overturn laws on the basis that they are "unconstitutional".

But the first obligation to enforce the Bill of Rights belongs to legislators, including those who represent the people of their states in the U.S. Congress. The Constitution, including the Bill of Rights, establishes the ground-rules within which legislators may properly act.

If somebody approaches a member of Congress asking for a law which would violate the letter or even the spirit of the Bill of Rights, it is no answer to say: "The courts will probably overturn it, but I'll vote for it to prove I am your friend – remember that next time I am up for re-election!" No, the answer should be: "The Constitution is my job description – it is no part of my job to violate the rights of the people as outlined there."

18 November

Joe Biden, just returned from the COP-26 climate conference where everybody agreed the planet is burning too much fossil fuel, is upset that oil prices are high so people can't afford to burn as much of it. He blames the oil companies for this, he blames OPEC for this, and he wants to fix it by releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

Let's take these points one by one – first the SPR, which is a bunch of oil that the federal government bought and stored away. The federal government shouldn't even be in the business of buying and storing oil – and then in a position to be able to manipulate the price by selling some of it. The traditional excuse for this program is that the oil is for use in emergencies, when the ordinary sources are cut off by something like a natural disaster or a war. After all, the billions spent to buy jet fighters and advanced armored vehicles are going to look like even more of a waste if they can't operate during a war because they have no fuel.

Next, the oil companies. Those would be the same companies that are constantly being told they are killing the planet by drilling for oil, that they shouldn't drill for oil on land, that they shouldn't drill for oil under the sea, that they can't have pipelines to transport their products, and that the answer is renewable energy. And so, guess what? They have been cutting back on their exploration, and putting in place long-term strategies to use the profits they are now making from fossil fuels to invest in renewable energy. Yes, that means less oil. That's supposed to be good, right? Well, apparently it's good in theory – but not with a mid-term election coming up!

The OPEC countries, along with a few others that produce a large amount of oil, have always been in a position to increase the price of oil by cutting back production, and they have sometimes used that for political purposes. But that's not what's happening now. Yes, as with many indicators of economic activity, as a result of the pandemic the amount of oil OPEC is producing is down from what it was a few years ago, but it has been steadily increasing over the past year. It is now Joe Biden who is pleading for them to use their power for political purposes – to help the Democrats in 2022!

Which brings us back to the SPR. Selling oil from the SPR can't affect the price of oil over the long term – there just isn't enough of it. That's not what it is for, and the more of it is sold the more useless it will become for its purported intended purpose – an actual strategic emergency.

Meanwhile, the market is doing what it's supposed to do – balance supply and demand, including projections of future supply and demand, in which oil being less affordable compared with renewable energy is, supposedly, a good thing. And the oil companies are doing what they have been told they must do – produce less oil, and shift their focus to renewables.

The only "emergency" here is a political one – Biden's dropping approval rating, and the Democratic politicians' well-founded fear that if gasoline prices stay high into 2022 a lot of them will find themselves out of a job.

2 November

The proposal by Democrats in Congress to tax "unrealized capital gains" is one of the worst ideas to come along in a while. Many people have already pointed out how such a policy would interfere with normal operation of the capital markets, the strains that would be placed on revenue during bear markets, and the likelihood that the richest people would be able to find new ways to shelter their wealth.

But even to the extent that it could be made to "work", it would be no solution to the problem it is supposed to address. Even if they can somehow "get it right" in terms of avoiding significant disruptions in patterns of investment and so on (which seems unlikely, but giving them the benefit of the doubt on that point), and even if it actually remains applicable only to "billionaires" (which the history of the income tax suggests is pretty unlikely), it still wouldn't be a solution to any actual problem.

That's because the idea has a much more basic flaw. It only shifts the collection of taxes on capital gains across time. Unless they plan to somehow tax these gains twice, any "unrealized" gain they tax now means less "realized" gain to tax when the owner eventually sells the stock or other property. That's nice for balancing the budget now, but it doesn't do anything about the longer term problem of the government spending more than it takes in.

Viewed this way, it's just another form of borrowing. Although they surely won't admit it in the way they report the government's finances, reducing future tax income from this source will increase the "need" to increase other taxes in the future, just as surely as selling hundreds of billions of dollars worth of bonds. It's a trick that can be pulled only once, one that current politicians can use to say that their current spending plans are "paid for" – but that's it.

It's just a political gimmick, not an actual solution to the problem of government spending.

15 August

What we are witnessing now is just the final collapse of a long-standing bi-partisan policy mistake. It was of course begun by a Republican, George Bush. But he had the support of plenty of Democrats at the time. And then it was continued for eight more years by Barack Obama (or, as some now prefer to identify it in other circumstances, the "Obama/Biden administration"). Then Trump, who at least had the right idea in promising to end it, failed to end it during his four years. And now this – a complete bungling of the pull-out process, by Biden again.

It doesn't matter whether we put a Democrat or a Republican in charge next – they are going to keep making the same mistakes because they refuse to recognize a basic principle of a proper foreign policy. It is not the job of the US government to run the entire world.

From the Libertarian Party 2020 Platform: "American foreign policy should seek an America at peace with the world. Our foreign policy should emphasize defense against attack from abroad and enhance the likelihood of peace by avoiding foreign entanglements. We would end the current U.S. government policy of foreign intervention, including military and economic aid."

24 July

The Senate Armed Services Committee has approved an amendment to require women to register for the draft. Doubling the number of people subject to enslavement by the state is not progress.

But isn't it unfair that men must register and not women? Of course. But the answer to that is obvious. Nobody should have to register for the draft!

By the way, this is yet another bad idea that has "bi-partisan" support. The committee vote was reported to be 8 to 5 among Republicans – and 13 to 0 among the Democrats.

Time to end bi-partisan tyranny. Vote Libertarian!

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Joe Dehn for Congress, PO Box 20372, Stanford, CA 94309