An exclusive Q&A with Libertarian presidential candidate Jo Jorgensen

Jorgensen was in Juneau to offer Alaskans a third way

She spent most of her time in ice skates talking to reporters, but Libertarian presidential candidate Jo Jorgensen also took to the ice Tuesday for a brief bout of hockey with Juneauites.

Jorgensen is campaigning on a platform of massively scaling back the federal government. Her website cites the $26 trillion in national debt, non-stop involvement in expensive and deadly foreign wars and skyrocketing health care costs as the result of the failure of the Democratic and Republican parties.

“Big government mandates and programs created these problems,” her website says. “To solve them, we need to make government smaller — much, much smaller.”

After hockey and photos with the players on the ice, Jorgensen spoke to the Empire about her campaign.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Why stump in Alaska?

Alaska’s values are the values of the Libertarian Party. We believe in the individual, we believe that people have the right to make their own decisions and we shouldn’t be bossed around by the people in Washington. The federal government is too big, too nosy, too, bossy and the worst part is, they usually end up hurting the very people they’re trying to help.

In regards to maintaining good environmental stewardship, particularly regarding salmon fisheries, how can you ensure there’s a regulatory body people can appeal to make sure what happens on land does affect people downstream?

First off, we say pollution is trespassing. The only reason large companies are able to pollute as much as they do and dump into the lakes and rivers is that (those waterways are) owned by the government. If the federal government were good at keeping the lakes and streams pristine, then we wouldn’t have had the problems we’ve had.

Don’t companies lobby the government to get environmental regulations in their favor?

Exactly, what we have right now is (politicians) basically take bribes in the form of campaign contributions. I’d like to give you a great example because there’s a misconception. The gulf oil spill. (The 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico). A lot of people say “Well, see we need government because without government companies would just trash it.”

Libertarian presidential candidate Jo Jorgensen speaks with local hockey players at the Treadwell Arena on Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

Libertarian presidential candidate Jo Jorgensen speaks with local hockey players at the Treadwell Arena on Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

Actually, what people don’t know, the rest of the story, the government had given them a liability cap. Now, without a liability cap, they wouldn’t have been able to do what they did, if it were a free market, the company would to have had to have gone and gotten insurance. Now, granted, companies don’t have to get insurance and then they go out of business and they go bankrupt, which is what should have happened to this company. (British Petroleum).

In the absence of a regulatory framework, what authority would a plaintiff appeal to?

Trespassing again. Do you think if somebody poured oil on Disney World they wouldn’t sue the person who did it and probably win? In a free market, the company would’ve had to have gotten insurance and the insurance company would have said “Nope too risky,” and most companies don’t want to go bankrupt so they don’t take that risk (of being uninsured), but now they’ve got the big government protecting them.

Or the (insurance) company could have said “Yes, it’s risky but here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to insure you but we don’t want to pay the client, so we’re going to go out and inspect your site every week, every month, every whatever to make sure that you’re following regulations to make sure that a spill doesn’t happen and the insurance would have a profit motive to keep the environment clean.”

[Presidential candidate sees Alaskans as a natural fit]

We should have police, courts, and military, a lot of these companies get to be big because they do get special consideration from the government by giving them bribes.

What’s to stop companies from doing the things they’re bribing politicians to let them do?

They’ll have to be in the court system. We would have state, local and federal courts like we do now.

If you scale back the government, what independent authority can a fisherman apply to make sure that a mine is following regulatory standards, and those standards are high enough that it’s not going to affect that person’s livelihood?

Property rights. Property rights to go to court for. But like I said, with the Bhopal disaster you have big corporations who have Congresspeople in their back pockets who get special considerations. With property rights, typically the best use comes out because the person who has the best use is the one who paid the highest price.

How do fishermen exercise property rights over migratory salmon?

By owning it. Right now the government owns the waterways. I would much rather the fishermen own the lakes and streams than the government because in fact, is that part of the problem right now.

When you say “the fisherman,” do you mean some sort of co-operative?

Co-operative, company, whatever…Americans are great with innovation.

Libertarian presidential candidate Jo Jorgensen poses with Juneau hockey players during her visit to Juneau on Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

Libertarian presidential candidate Jo Jorgensen poses with Juneau hockey players during her visit to Juneau on Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

You said you’d work to eliminate the Department of Education. Would federal funding for education continue under your administration?

Would federal funding for education continue under your administration?

Do you mean, would I take money from Alaskans, keep a lot of it, and send the leftovers back? No. I would let Alaskans and Juneau keep the money and then they would be able to spend the money how they want without strings attached because every time you’ve got the federal government involved you’ve got strings attracted to it.

Why don’t Juneauites keep their own money instead of sending it to the government? Instead of the government sending the money back, let them keep their money and run their own schools.

Last thoughts about Alaska?

People say “Libertarians want to take away all the money, what about the money that Alaska gets?” A lot of (Alaska) is federally owned land that the government shouldn’t even own to begin with. They should sell it to the state of Alaska or whoever and not be in that business. Basically, when the government is giving money to Alaska they’re giving it for rent for this natural land which they shouldn’t have anyway. Put Alaskans in charge of it. I would much rather have these federal lands seen over by Alaska. I’m sure Alaskans will take much better care of it than the federal government.

• Contact reporter Peter Segall at psegall@juneauempire.com. Follow him at @SegallJnuEmpire.

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