In response to Real Change's questionnaire, Nader explained that he sees the role of the government as being "to protect the rights of the people" and to "protect the American consumer from corporate malfeasance and corruption," while noting that it should not "legislate morality" or take away rights.
To be qualified to be president, one must prove that "he or she has the best interests of all the American people at heart, will listen to the voters and not the lobbyists, and will work to uphold the freedoms of the American people while respecting international law."
In Nader's estimation, "there is no sole cause for homelessness," but the government plays a role "with a lack of social programs to assist with mental health, veterans' affairs, [and] jobs with a living wage." Homelessness, he feels, should be viewed as a human rights issue. He would shift expenditures from the military to social programs.
Prison populations, too, are a result of inadequate social programs focusing on rehabilitation. Also relevant is the fact "that our prison system is a multibillion-dollar-a-year industry, so there isn't an incentive to keep prison populations down." He sees racial disparity as pervasive within every stage of the criminal justice system.
The American economic system, in Nader's view, "insists on essentially unregulated capitalism, while calling upon socialism to save it when it falters." His most important role as president would be to "crackdown on Wall Street and the rampant corporate crime wave."
He also sees America's reliance on borrowing as an unsound model, noting that corporate taxes have constituted a declining portion of the federal revenue stream for 50 years "despite massive record profits." He would reappraise the tax system, starting "with a principle that taxes should apply first to behavior and conditions we favor least and pinch basic necessities last."
What is the role of the government?
The role of the government is to protect the rights of the people given to them by the Constitution, as well as protect the American consumer from corporate malfeasance and corruption. The government should not, however, legislate morality. Further, the government and its workings must only be used to protect rights, never to take them away.
What is the role of the president?
The president should uphold the oath of office as well as honor their duties of the president as stated by the Constitution.
What issue or issues are so compelling, and able to be addressed only by becoming president, that you feel you must become president to address them? Why is the presidency the best way to do so?
Since one of the primary obligations of the executive branch is to enforce the laws, having the ability to crackdown on Wall Street and the rampant corporate crime wave is an important issue that I would address as president.
What qualifies a person to be the president?
In addition to the Constitutional requirements, a person who has proven he or she has the best interests of all the American people at heart, will listen to the voters and not the lobbyists, and will work to uphold the freedoms of the American people while respecting international law.
If homelessness can be said to be someone's fault, whose fault is it?
There is no sole cause for homelessness, however, the government does play a role in perpetuating the cycle with a lack of social programs to assist with mental health, veterans' affairs, jobs with a living wage, and a multitude of other inadequacies. Our society needs to make homelessness an issue that concerns all citizens, not just a few. It should be looked as a human rights issue. There is no reason for someone to go homeless in an industrialized nation like the U.S.
What part, if any, should the federal government play in addressing homelessness?
Fixing the inadequacies in our social system, primarily by reallocating our current budget from an emphasis on military spending to an emphasis on social programs.
Ten Year Plans to End Homelessness have sprung up around the country. They aim to eliminate homelessness essentially by doing more outreach and providing more services. Can these plans really solve homelessness or do they amount to little more than window-dressing?
While most of these plans provides a good starting point and good ideas, we need a more comprehensive plan which places more of an emphasis on social programs. These plans are a positive move in the right direction, but our society still needs to do more. We need to plan for our returning veterans, and cut wasteful spending in social programs, such as welfare, and reallocate the resources to those who are in need. Expand and fully fund welfare to work programs.
Assaults and other forms of violence against people living outside are on the rise, according to several monitoring organizations. Should attacks on the homeless be recognized as motivated by bias against a person's economic circumstances? Should they be afforded the same penalties as hate crimes committed on the basis of gender, race, sexual orientation, etc.? How might we curb attacks on the homeless?
Mr. Nader supports hate-crime legislation and asserts the fact that we are all entitled to equal protection under the law. Those who have no place to go at night are of course at greater risk. We need to provide more assistance programs.
Have we found an appropriate balance between regulation and laissez-faire capitalism in managing our economy?
No, given the current economic situation, we have not found an appropriate balance between the two. Especially since our current economic system insists on essentially unregulated capitalism, while calling upon socialism to save it when it falters.
Have we found an appropriate balance between individual responsibility and collective security in our economy?
With our economy in such trouble, we have not found a balance. Government is obligated to regulate deception on the part of corporations and high finance. Currently, small investors and homeowners are left to fend for themselves in rough economic times, while CEO's and huge corporations escape in golden lifeboats and parachutes. These are often taxpayer funded, leaving taxpayers in boats of lead.
Through war, catastrophe, and recession, we have largely dispensed with new taxes, and even many old taxes, in favor of funding our government's operations through foreign borrowing. Is this a sound model? Under what circumstances must we call for new taxes?
This is not a sound model during times of global turbulence. Countries should seek to be self-sufficient. Raising taxes must be done carefully, but taxes fund many important things. The complexity and distortions of the federal tax code produces distributions of tax incidence and payroll tax burdens that are skewed in favor of the wealthy and the corporations further garnished by tax shelters, insufficient enforcement, and other avoidances.
Corporate tax contributions as a percent of the overall federal revenue stream have been declining for fifty years and now stand at 7.4% despite massive record profits. A fundamental reappraisal of our tax laws should start with a principle that taxes should apply first to behavior and conditions we favor least and pinch basic necessities least, such as the clearly addictive industries (alcohol and tobacco), pollution, speculation, gambling, extreme luxuries, instead of taxing work or instead of the 5% to 7% sales tax food, furniture, clothing or books.
Tiny taxes (a fraction of the conventional retail sales percentage) on stock, bond, and derivative transactions can produce tens of billions of dollars a year and displace some of the taxes on work and consumer essentials. Again, it can be at a very low rate but raise significant revenues. Wealth above a quite comfortable minimum is described as tangible and intangible assets. The present adjustment of Henry George's celebrated land tax could also be considered.
Over a thousand wealthy Americans have declared, in a remarkable conflict against interest, that the estate tax, which now applies to less than 2 percent of the richest estates, should be retained.. Ralph Nader does not believe that "unearned income" (dividends, interest, capital gains) should be taxed lower than earned income, or work, inasmuch as one involves passive income, including inheritances and windfalls, while the latter involves active effort with a higher proportion of middle and lower income workers relying on and working each day, some under unsafe conditions, for these earnings.
America's response to the events of September 11th was to declare a global war on terror, to overthrow two governments, and to conduct operations in many others. Is the over-arching theory underlying this - that the appropriate response is one of military force - a valid theory?
No, this was an excuse to increase U.S. hegemony and attempt to expand our oil interests and power. The international opinion of the US has thus fallen, a situation we must work to rectify.
Outside of the realm of terrorism, but on a similar note, much of America's power in the world is predicated on military might and domination of other countries. Does this seem to you a good or a bad way to interact with the world?
We acted against Iraq when it invaded Kuwait in 1992; it is thus hypocritical for us to act in the same manner. Further, if we are seen as an aggressive, rather than humanitarian superpower, it increases hostilities towards our country around the world, and makes us seem a threat, rather than a democratic influence.
What does it say about America and the American people that we incarcerate more people per capita than any other nation? (751 per 100000)
It shows the inadequacies of the rehabilitation in our corrections system. Also a large number of those who are incarcerated are non-violent drug offenders. Another factor is that our prison system is a multi-billion dollar a year industry, so there isn't an incentive to keep prison populations down in America.
We need to get smart on preventing crime, not by increasing the prisoner population, but by investing in education and rehabilitation, and restoring safe neighborhoods and communities. The United States prison binge has resulted in over 2 million people being incarcerated