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Libertarian Stillwell would focus on basic necessities


October 25, 2016

Jack Stillwell

Jack Stillwell of Lyons is bringing a left-libertarian focus to the Senate District 9 election this year, proposing that basic necessities are provided to ensure that people have an equality of opportunity in society.

Stillwell, a retired research coordinator with the Oregon Department of Correction, is running in the Nov. 8 election against Democratic candidate Rich Harisay and Republican incumbent Fred Girod. The district includes Sweet Home and Lebanon in eastern Linn County, eastern Marion County and southeastern Clackamas County.

Stillwell defines himself as a “left libertarian” and supports providing healthcare, education and food to everyone, he said. Left libertarians tend to be concerned about equality of opportunity as opposed to right libertarians and their opposition to social programs, which distinguishes the political position from socialism.

“Equality of outcome is impossible because we’re all individuals,” Stillwell said. Karl Marx’s insistence on an equality of outcome is simple redistribution of wealth.

“I’m not opposed to a lot of stuff the government does,” Stillwell said, but “we have fallen into a trap. It’s difficult to come up with a set of words human ingenuity can’t find a way around.”

As it gets more and more detailed, the law becomes impossible to understand, he said.

“The thing that’s important about libertarians is they will leave you alone as long as you leave everyone else alone,” Stillwell said.

Stillwell served in the Air Force as a security guard for nuclear weapons and aircraft meant to carry them and then worked in several places around the county in corrections and prosecutors’ offices as an analyst and researcher. He earned his doctorate of jurisprudence at the University of Oregon in 1995. He came to Oregon from Arizona in 1990.

He served on Oakridge’s Planning Commission and Budget Committee. He was chairman of the Planning Commission for two years. He ran for county commission in Deschutes County in 2012.

Stillwell said he is running to help fight against business interests in politics.

“I looked at his (Girod’s) record,” Stillwell said. “Once you know he gets money from the Oregon Farm Bureau and Associated Ore-gon Industries, that explains 95 percent of his votes.”

Republicans in Oregon vote together 88 percent of the time, and Girod is in there with them, Stillwell said.

If he were elected to the senate, Stillwell would make a priority of reforming professional licensing organizations, from the barber to the state bar.

“I’d look at redefining them,” he said. In some cases, such as the barbers board, he would question their existence. In other cases, he would make changes.

The state bar is “terrible,” Stillwell said. It is essentially run from large firms.

“I think everything needs to be purged once in awhile,” Stillwell said.

That applies to the tax code.

Stillwell is generally opposed to taxes instead of user fees, he said. “But as long as we have a tax code, it ought to be rethought every 20 years or so.”

The common law underlying the American legal system was something that evolved over time to deal with current conditions and issues, he said. Today, some parts of the law are hundreds of years old, while others are newer reflecting the interests connected to particular regulations.

His final priority is election reform, he said.

“It’s not fair that the two parties that have the most money get everything paid for by the state.”

He thinks a different way of voting would improve options for the public.

Rank choice voting is a quick-and-dirty solution, Stillwell said. It is in use in Australia. In that system, voters rank their options in order. If no one receives a majority of the votes among the top choices, then the second choices are counted and added to the total. This process continues until a candidate has a majority of the votes.

Stillwell believes that a proportional system, like Germany’s, would be better, resulting in proportional representation that includes several parties.

He recalls the 1990 election for governor, which Barbara Roberts won with 45 percent of the vote against Republican Dave Frohnmayer, who received 40 percent of the vote; Independent Al Mobley, with 13 percent of the vote; and Libertarian Fred Oerther, with 1.3 percent of the vote.

Roberts saw that election as a “mandate from the people,” Stillwell said, despite the fact that most of them had voted against her.

Stillwell said he would like to do something about the homeless. He points to Utah, where “they’ve practically eliminated homelessness.”

It’s down to about 70 or 80 individuals, Stillwell said. To achieve this, the state built small homes for the homeless, and it’s proving to be less expensive in terms of resources the public expends dealing with homelessness otherwise.

These are people who have problems, like post-traumatic stress disorder, and they often are just trying to get away from everybody else, Stillwell said. Society has the means to help them.

He doesn’t think they should be penalized for their financial condition.

They need a method of obtaining an ID card, and the federal government needs to allow them to use PO boxes, which allows them to get phones, Stillwell said. That could take 90 percent of the homeless off the streets.

The government should provide the basic necessities, he said. For example, a single-payer healthcare system would help a lot.

Taxes are one way to fund the necessities, Stillwell said. This is where left and right libertarians part ways.

But that doesn’t mean he supports Measure 97.

The state will face a $1.4 billion shortfall if the gross revenue tax fails at the ballot box on Nov. 8.

“We need to revise the whole tax code,” Stillwell said. Deductions should be limited, and the state should get rid of special taxes.

In some cases, others have an interest and can help foot the bill, he said. For example, various industries require educated workers. They could contribute directly to education.

Stillwell would bring “a voice that isn’t the same voice,” he said. “(Democrats and Republicans) are not ever that different. There’s no ideological basis for being a Democrat or a Republican.”

They’re both just financial transfer mechanisms for their interest groups, he said, adding that Girod is going to spend approximately $100,000 on elections.

“What is it about being an Oregon state senator that’s worth $100,000?” Stillwell asked.


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