Radly Balko has a whole bunch of great questions to ask presidential candidates.
- A recent study found that over half the country now derives part or all of its income from the federal government. Three of the richest counties in the country are in the D.C. suburbs, a telling indicator of just how bloated with taxpayer dollars Washington has become. The federal government is today pervasive in our day-to-day lives, from cradle to grave, from the moment we wake up to the moment we fall asleep. Do you think these trends are healthy? Looking at the premise of this question, would you agree or agree federal government is getting too large, too influential, and too pervasive?
- The government is made up of people. Flawed people, just as the private sector is. But when private people make mistakes, the consequences are limited to them, and perhaps a few people around them. When a government official makes a mistake, it can affect millions. Isn’t it better to let the American people make as many as their own decisions as possible? What makes a government bureaucrat more qualified to make decisions about the average Americans life than the average American?
- In the same vein, can you name five government agencies that are either superfluous, anachronistic, ineffective, or otherwise no longer necessary, and that you would eliminate? To make things interesting, let’s take everything under the Department of Defense off the table, with the acknowledgment that there’s plenty of cutting to be done there, too.
- Do you think it’s appropriate for drug cops to be making medical policy?
- What is your philosophical approach to federalism? What issues do you feel are best decided at the national level? What issues should be left to the states? Is there any underlying principle you use in separating one from the other, or would you make such decisions ad hoc?
- Do you believe the U.S. military should be deployed for humanitarian missions?
- Do you think an atheist could be president? Do you think an atheist should be? Assuming you generally agreed with an atheist on more issues than the alternatives in a given election, would you vote for one?
- Name five things you think are none of the federal government’s business.
- What is your view of the pardon power and executive clemency? Should it be used frequently? Should it be use to show mercy and forgiveness or to correct injustices that slip through the cracks? Neither? Both?
- Do you think the criminal justice system is adequate in its present form? Do our criminal courts achieve the just outcome in an acceptable percentage of cases?
- When the two are in conflict, do you believe a politician is obligated to vote for his own principles and values, or for the will of the people?
- Is there any type of speech you believe should be criminalized?
- Do you promise not to claim for yourself any of the executive powers you’ve criticized the Bush administration for claiming?
- Do you think it’s appropriate that the minority party in the senate can filibuster the majority? Would your position change if your party was in the minority?
- What is your position on Kelo vs. New London? Under what circumstances would it be appropriate for a government to seize land from one private party and give it to another?
- If elected, will you fire all of the U.S. attorneys appointed by President Bush?
- What federal crimes will you instruct the Justice Department to make a priority during your administration?
- Do you think a journalist should ever be tried for treason for making public classified information?
- Are there any currently private industries that you believe are “too important” to be left to the private sector? Oil and gas? Health care? Google?
- America by far and away has the highest prison population in the world. Does this concern you? Are there any federal crimes you feel should be repealed from the books, or devolved to the states?
- Should violations of regulatory law be criminalized? That is, should people go to jail for violating EPA, OSHA, or other regulations? Or should they merely be fined?
- Would capturing Osama bin Laden and Ayman Al-Zawahiri be a priority for your administration? How would you go about doing it?
- Do you believe we’re winning the war on terror? Are we doing all we can be doing? Are we overreacting? What would you do differently?
- What’s your philosophical approach to risk assessment and the precautionary principle? Do you think government should ban products, treatments, and procedures until they’re proven safe, or permit them until they show signs of being unsafe?
- Do you think it’s a legitimate function of government to protect people from making bad decisions or prevent them from developing bad habits? Even if those habit or decisions don’t directly affect anyone else? How far should the government in preventing bad habits and bad decisions? In other words, should the government’s role be merely advisory, or should it criminalize things like gambling, pornography, drug use, or trans fats?
- At what point a child’s rights supercede a parent’s rights? Should a Christian Science parent be allowed to deny his child basic medical treatment? Should parents be allowed to teach their children to be racist? If parents believe some vaccinations are too risky, should they be permitted to decline them for their children?
- Should members of Congress be required to follow all of the laws that they pass?
- Should members be required to read each bill before voting on it?
- Would you support a requirement that each law be limited in scope and subject, so members wouldn’t be required to cast a single yes-or-no vote on bills that have multiple amendments covering a variety of issues?
- Would you support a sunset provision requiring Congress to revisit and re-pass each law after five years?
- Do think presidents should be term limited? What about members of Congress? If you didn’t give the same answer to each question, what’s the difference?
And a few more.
- As the purpose of PBS in the United States was to broadcast artistic and cultural programs of lasting quality that wouldn’t appeal to a large enough audience to justify them for the main three networks, as most Americans now have 30, or 100, or 500 television channels to choose from with far more quality programming than is offered by PBS, and as the majority of programming on PBS is now anti-capitalist, anti-conservative commentary and repeats of BBC programs, is PBS worth keeping? If it is worth keeping, how do you propose to fix it so it isn’t so egregiously biased?
- Public Radio features NPR, which isn’t quite as leftist as Air America or MSNBC, but it also features leftist, America-bashing news features from BBC International and the Canadian CBC, and leftist entertainment such as Le Show, This American Life, and All Things Considered. As the aggregated programming of Public Radio is biased far to the left of the country’s populace what would you do to remedy the situation with this network that is paid for by taxpayers?
- Do you believe in content monitoring or censorship on the Internet? In Magazines or Newspapers? In Books? If the answers are different, why?
- What concrete steps would you take to restore civility, manners, and shared Judeo-Christian moral principles to politics and public life in America? What would you do first in order to get the ball rolling?
- Would you support a national mission to identify and repeal bad federal, state and local laws? What criteria would you use to evaluate them for goodness or badness? A measurement of happiness and misery, enforcement costs, compliance costs, perverse side-effects? If you would not support the repeal of bad laws, why not?
- Do you think it is healthy for our country that the vast majority of Senators and Congressmen are lawyers who have never served in the military or any form of national service?
- Do you think it is healthy for our country to encourage immigrants to settle in homogeneous communities, keeping their own languages and customs and even their own family laws, and getting their news from satellite television from the countries they fled to come to America? Does this produce immigrant tribes, for want of a better word, that see their society in opposition to their country, leading inevitably to tensions, criminal activity, and civil disturbance? Does ethnicity and religion matter? What would you change about the immigration and naturalization system?
- When government programs were founded in order to remedy or fix a social problem, and have not succeeded or have made the problem worse, how long should they be allowed to continue before they are canceled?
- How do you propose to prepare Social Security to stay solvent thirty years from now, when more than a third of all Americans will be 65 or older? Will every working American be supporting one retiree on his or her own? Will you allow ordinary Americans to invest their Social Security in the same higher-yield market instruments that members of Congress and other federal employees invest their Social Security in?
- Is there a danger to the nation in falling fertility rates and depopulation? If women in other countries are reproducing at much higher rates, creating an expansive population pressure that must expand somewhere, won’t this when coupled with falling fertility rates in America produce a flood of immigrants to America that will overwhelm our ability to assimilate them, or even to perform reasonably prudent security checks on them?
- Why are Lindsey Lohan, Paris Hilton, and Anna Nicole Smith and other celebrity train wrecks on the news all the time? Is there something to be learned from the wall-to-wall coverage? Is there anything to be done, and if there is, what would you do?
I’m done for now. Your turn.
Update: I found more great questions at the Andrew Jacksonian Blog, Dumb Looks Still Free.
1) As President what is your Foreign Policy Goals and Objectives? Not your *programs*. Your Goals and Objectives for the Nation in Foreign Policy.
2) As President what is the role the UN will play, if any, in your view of the National Foreign Policy Objectives of the United States?
3) As President do you support the diplomatic concept of Jus ad bellum in protecting the United States?
4) As President would you use the concept known as Casus Belli to actually name activities and organizations, State based and non-State based, so as to let the world know what the interests of the United States actually are when they are put in danger?
5) As President would you ask Congress for the full and complete exercising of their War Powers so as to involve the American People in their traditional role of war making that is not via conscription?
6) As President would you please define the use and utility of Social Security that had as its main goal is to remove older workers from active working life to combat the 1930’s Depression?
7) As President would you explain why it is important that drug companies make 16% or higher profits off of the US taxpayer when Federal Limits for research and development for Federal contracts places a maximum of 12% on same?
8) As President would you favor the complete withdrawal from the quagmire policy due to medical payments that threatens to eat a larger portion of the Federal Budget second only to Social Security?
9) As President would you please cite the reasoning for having the Dept. of Education when reading and cognition statistics have not changed from 1958, when Johnny couldn’t read?
10) As President what is your attitude towards the Congressional infringement of the Constitutional Powers of the President in the areas of War Execution and Foreign Policy?
11) As President would you enforce all the Laws of the Land set forth by Congress and ask them to budget for such so that all Laws may be enforced?
12) As President what would be your attitude to towns, cities, counties and States that break with the Constitution in all Six Articles via their giving sanction and immunity to those breaking the Laws of the Land to come to the United States?
13) As President how would you describe illegal labor, exploited at a price set below market price with background threats to keep such labor docile?
14) As President what are your Industrial Policy Goals and Objectives?
15) As President what are your Energy Policy Goals and Objectives?
16) As President how would you describe US Federal Armed Forces put at risk via open attacks from ‘neutral’ countries and what the response of the United States should *be* to such attacks without reservation of *which* Nation attacks the United States?
17) As President how would you counter the moves of Hezbollah to set up in South America to recruit locals that are ethnically Hispanic or Native Americans, but aligned to Hezbollah?
18) As President what are your Taxation Policy Goals and Objectives?
19) As President what are your Armed Forces Goals and Objectives for Force size, equipment, capability, pay, and outlook?
20) As President would you view illegitimate Acts of War as merely criminal circumstances or as destructive Acts of War upon the United States?
21) As President what is your view upon the legality of the House of Representatives setting its own size in 1911?
22) As President would you favor a ‘Sunset Law’ for all Federal Laws, Regulations, and Programs so that each would need separate addressing for renewal after a 10 year period? 15 year period? 20 year period?
23) As President would you favor that ALL Branches of the Federal Government be put under the Freedom of Information Act?
24) As President will you sign Bills into Law in which Congress has categorically exempted themselves from such Laws?
25) As President do you favor a Dept. of Agriculture that spends most of its money on subsidies to go to farmers who cannot work crops economically or at market cost?
26) As President do you favor subsidies to large industry, large agriculture or big business? All of these being organizations that employ above the minimal set Federal Standard for a small business.
27) As President what are your Business Policy Goals and Objectives?
28) As President you will need to address Armed Forces attacking from the South. Will you allow NORTHCOM to address such attacks so as to end them?
29) As President how do you view the Congressional expansion of Powers in the areas of interstate trade and commerce?
30) As the War on Drugs has been going on since the 1970’s and has been continually escalated with minimal Congressional Oversight, as President would you be willing to declare the Nation defeated in this War?
31) As President would you offer legislation to bring all Patents and Copyrights back to the original terms set by the First Congress?
32) As President would you move the State Department to a pure merit pay, merit promotion and one year review of all Personnel in the Civil Service?
33) As President and witnessing any 20 year period of NASA against the general aviation industry, what would be your Space Policy for the Union?
34) As President would you favor opening the non-discriminatory Federal Employee Health System and Thrift Savings Plan System to the General Public?
35) As President what is your general policy for Tariffs?
36) As President what is your view on the concept of Free Trade as it is applied to Nations that have acted in a hostile manner towards the United States?
37) As President what is your Free Trade policy that will ensure that such trade does not empower State based and non-State based terrorist activities?
38) As President what is you Monetary Policy Goals and Objectives?
39) As President would you support ‘The Monroe Doctrine’?
40) As President would you allow the spending of Federal Funds that have *not* been put on your desk for signatory approval for spending via the budget?
41) As President how would you address the long-term disaster needs of the United States for infrastructure and survival given such things as: Yellowstone Caldera events, Mid-Continental Earthquakes along the Mississippi basin, Atlantic tsunami threats from the Canary Islands or other volcanic islands, Cascadia large scale and magnitude earthquake and tsunami running from Northern California to Southern Alaska, large magnitude earthquakes in the Los Angeles to San Francisco regions.
42) As President would you support moving the Combat Air Support mission back to the Army and give the Air Force capability for construction of manned, permanent space based systems for continuous C4I?
43) As President would you support pushing new, modular ships so that the Navy may quickly refit such ships for ever changing roles in the future?
44) As President, if Congress does *not* give money for the full and complete enforcement of all the Laws that they have passed and Presidents have signed, would you then ask for the Congressional ordering of which Laws should be enforced?
45) As President you will find a backlog of letters and documents in the State Department from various organizations that have Declared War upon the United States, and other Departments may also have similar. Given 9/11 are you prepared to accept that these may no longer be idle threats?
46) As President what are your Goals and Objectives for the Intelligence Communities across the entire Federal Government?
47) As President you are to defend the Union against attacks which also includes that of infectious diseases. Would you support moving that role to the Department of Defense?
48) As President do you support the slow increase of the US Federal Armed Forces so as to address Nations that have hostile designs against the United States?
49) As President do you support the drafting of War Powers from Congress so as to involve the Citizenry via Warrants and Commissions to carry out missions to halt all commerce with enemies of the United States and give reprisals unto them?
50) As President would you be willing to read the Constitution out to the Public once per year so that it may be heard and the People reminded of it?