Race for the 24th: John Uebersax

In anticipation of forums to be broadcast live on-air by KCRW in Santa Barbara, all candidates for the 24th Congressional district were asked to respond to this questionnaire. The responses have been published without editing.

Given how dysfunctional Congress is now, how do you intend to get anything done?

We’ve got to look at the structural causes of gridlock. A major factor is that the power elite — Wall Street, international banks, corporations, oil companies, the defense industry, etc. — want to divide and conquer the American public. As long as we remain divided, these special interests, which manipulate both parties with lobbying and campaign donations, achieve their goals unopposed. The wars today are the worst manifestation of the elite agenda.

To combat this we must take steps to emphasize unity and solidarity, mutual affection and a sense of common purpose. There is an urgent need today to come together patriotically as a nation and face the problem of militarism. We must confront the terrible reality of US military imperialism and work together to stop it. This is the great opportunity of our time.

How would you prevent another oil spill like the Refugio Spill in Santa Barbara?

Naturally I would prefer to stop all offshore oil drilling in Santa Barbara. As a native Californian, especially, I value the natural beauty and ecological health of our coast. Nevertheless dependence on foreign oil has had serious negative effects on our national security. An oil-based economic partnership with Saudi Arabia, in particular, has caused the US to turn a blind eye to human rights abuses in that country and their support of radical groups in the Middle East and Europe. Therefore, on balance, I would support limited offshore drilling for the time being. However we must insist on the most exacting standards and practices to achieve new levels of safety. This can be done by working with oil companies to implement programs of total quality management, and by developing a cooperative, not adversarial, relationship between citizens, environmentalists, oil companies and government oversight agencies.

After the recent San Bernardino shooting and the shootings in Isla Vista, how would you reshape laws surrounding gun control?

A major source of violence today is the massive militarization of our country. A state of perpetual war, inhumane and illegal drone strikes, and unlawful detention and torture have introduced violence, callousness, anger and fear that circulate throughout our society. One might even say that violent episodes and mass shootings are a ‘karmic’ price we pay for our own aggression overseas. The most direct and effective way to stem the tide of anger and violence is to stop operating as a ruthless military empire.

These unjust wars show that our government is capable of great injustice and violence. If citizens retain the right to bear arms, we may prevent in this country such military actions against civilians as occurred in Tiananmen Square in China. However we must work harder to draft and enforce common-sense laws that monitor and regulate civilian arms purchase and trading.

How would you handle the issue of undocumented workers and the need for labor across the district?

What isn’t getting enough attention is the negative effects that the US drug war is having in Latin America. The counter-productive drug war contributes in a major way to violence and economic instability in the region. There is no reason why there shouldn’t be economic growth and jobs in Mexico and Central America, where many illegal immigrants come from. We should stop the drug war, and instead look for ways to provide economic assistance to Latin America.

At the same time, immigrants already here should be treated fairly and with dignity. I favor liberal amnesty for undocumented workers, a clear path to citizenship and free legal assistance to help with administrative obstacles. However, those not interested in working — freeloaders and criminals — should be sent home.

Recent studies have shown that on average students graduate with $30,000 in student debt. What would you do to help make college more affordable?

The high tuition we see today is grossly unfair and irresponsible. Young people should be encouraged to do things like travel and explore their creative potential, not forced to become wage slaves at 21 to pay back student loans. High tuition and student loan debt, combined with things like high taxes, unaffordable housing, and few good jobs, are making young people the new underclass today.

To combat high tuition I founded and direct Californians for Higher Education Reform, and have outlined simple steps to drastically reduce the cost of college. These include: (1) banning diploma discrimination, so that if one is qualified for a job, a college degree shouldn’t be required; (2) phasing out undergrad student loans, which merely enable colleges to raise tuition and fees to any level; (3) credit interchangeability across all colleges; and (4) letting students test out of any class if they know the subject matter.


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