You have no political experience, so why are you running?
You are right; I have no experience indebting a city, and I have no experience forcing my beliefs on others. I am not a career politician, which is why I will do what is right instead of what is politically convenient. After having spent some time in the federal government and after having spent some time in Seattle, I am more skilled than most at spotting waste, fraud, and abuse. I’d rather not be angry about the direction our city has taken, so I’m campaigning to prevent Seattle from becoming more inequitable, expensive, and congested. Also, I believe having a 34-year-old mayor would be a refreshing change, since I just might be better able to relate to the concerns of most Seattleites (check out Seattle’s median age). While in office, I will act as if I have no plans to seek reelection because I do not want to become a career politician. After one term, I hope to return to the private sector.
If I donate to your campaign and/or if I endorse you, what will I get in return?
Aside from a sincere “thank you,” nothing; the mayor’s office is not for sale. Those in government shouldn’t dole out favors, but I will be grateful for your no-strings-attached endorsement and/or donation. Though you might agree with my opinions, an endorsement or donation does not necessarily mean that I will agree with yours. No quid pro quo. Paraphrasing the 90-year-old wisdom of Ludwig von Mises: Libertarianism addresses itself to all and proposes a program acceptable to all alike; it promises no one privileges, but the other parties promise special advantages at the expense of the rest of society.
Why does your website now include your picture when it didn’t before?
When I launched this website in early-March, it read, “I want you to focus on my rationale, not on my appearance. If I’m fortunate to have your vote propel me past the primary, I’m sure you’ll be wanting to see less of my mug, not more.” Though I still prefer that we focus on the issues, some have found it difficult to take me seriously without knowing what I look like. I continue to value privacy, and you can find extensions of my campaign on Twitter and Facebook.
How can someone like you relate to progressives?
We have quite a bit in common, such as our desire to: reform criminal justice, maintain Seattle’s sanctuary status, and end both the War on Drugs and civil asset forfeiture. A couple of facts to consider: the City* received $85M in federal grants in 2015; San Francisco – a city with ~129% the population of Seattle – spends about $80M annually to fund pretrial detention.
How do you feel about rent control?
Yes, rents are painfully high (I’m a renter); however, rent control is a bad idea, as it will discourage developers from building much-needed apartments in our rapidly growing city. If that were to happen, then a real housing crisis would begin. I would be on board to discuss legislation that would punish landlords for colluding, and I welcome your ideas – and those of the renters’ commission – on how we could enforce said legislation if enacted. Rent control is a lose-lose, and involving City funds in affordable-housing developments is cruel. As an example, 2,086 applicants entered a lottery for 108 apartments, so for the ~95% who didn’t win an apartment, they actually lost twice: they are stuck with their high rents and lottery-induced emotional trauma, and then their tax dollars subsidize the winners’ rents. Even the winners lose in the long run, due to the perverse incentive to remain poor – for if they escape poverty, they’ll be kicked out of the apartment. There are even more losers in this scenario: every renter in the city. The City entices those who cannot afford Seattle with a housing lottery, which keeps apartment demand higher than it should be, in turn keeping market rates for apartments artificially high. If we truly care about the poor, we should never impose rent control; however, one could argue that because of the City’s politically motivated actions, the City already imposes de facto, reverse rent control – where there’s a minimum instead of a maximum. In addition, constantly raising property taxes – as the City seems to enjoy – has the same negative effects as rent control, so that’s also a lose-lose.
How do you feel about transparency?
Regarding governmental accountability? Dig it. Following Lincoln County’s lead, and expanding on Mayor Murray’s transparency initiative, we should make public the City’s collective-bargaining negotiations. This will help keep City employees’ salaries in line with Seattle’s cost of living, instead of with those of the highest costs of living on the West Coast. “The permanent bureaucracy gets nothing from transparency and sees it only in terms of risk.” -a federal official to Charlie Savage in Power Wars. “Secrecy breeds incompetence.” -Julian Assange. “In the private sector, where labor unions do not have the exceptional ability to choose who sits opposite from them at the bargaining table, this type of conduct on the part of an employer is far less common. In government, unfortunately, where unions can elect their own employer, the political interests of public officials in maximizing campaign contributions from organized labor aligns with unions' interest in maximizing membership and dues collection. The result is a perversion of the typical dynamic in labor relations whereby the employer and union unite against the interests of employees.” That sounds very similar to what Nobel laureate George Stigler termed “regulatory capture,” which is when the oversight agencies are dominated by the industries they regulate.
What should be done with Key Arena?
Why does the City own a stadium? Why should our money fund entertainment, especially if you don’t even go to Key Arena and are not entertained? The City needs to sell it without the transaction imposing so many requirements on the buyer, and public money should not be used to help the next owner of Key Arena. Also, Mayor Murray’s “priority-hire” policy benefits building-trades unions much more than it helps poor Seattleites.
How do you feel about free internet service for Seattleites?
A right is not something you want the government to acquire on your behalf. Internet service is not a right; nice to have, but not a right. Is Key Arena a right? We have multiple internet service providers (ISPs) in Seattle. Why do you think the City would do a better job than ISPs at providing internet service? Even if the City could do a comparable job, why do you think the City would be able to provide service at a reduced price? The vast majority of Seattleites are already paying for internet service, whether it is on our phone and/or on our home computer. How is it fair to pay for service twice? Those with personal internet service already do just that, considering how we also pay for libraries to provide internet service. If we – as individuals – want to pay for someone else’s personal internet service, we’re free to do so, but how is it just to force others to join a philanthropic pursuit? Philanthropy is the work of generous individuals and organizations, not of governments.
What are your thoughts on philanthropy?
It’s great, so in order to keep it that way, let’s leave philanthropy to the philanthropists. Let’s stop giving philanthropists reasons to feel less philanthropic. The best way for governments to care for one is to care for none. When one group is singled out by the government for receiving favors, all other groups are disadvantaged. Governments don’t care; people care. The less we’re taxed – meaning the more money we have in our pockets – the more we’ll be able to care in whichever way we see fit. The prevalent, anti-wealth resentment is a double-edged sword. When the wealthy feel that they are the preferred host of their parasitic government, they will be less inclined to participate in philanthropic endeavors, reasoning, “I’m already forced to give a large sum to the government, so why would I want to voluntarily give any more?” How can we profess the virtues of equality while simultaneously vilifying a contingent of society, i.e., the rich? Then equality, too, is a double-edged sword, for in the name of equality, everyone must be treated equally, even the wealthy. Milton Friedman said it best, “A society that puts equality before freedom will get neither, but a society that puts freedom before equality will get a high degree of both.”
What are your thoughts on zoning?
I agree with the sentiment of the following excerpts: To some, the big coastal cities are inadvertently turning themselves into de facto gated communities for the very rich and the people who take care of their various needs. Jason Furman of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors has started to criticize the tight land use regulations increasingly pursued by many local governments along similar lines, saying that “excessive or unnecessary land use or zoning regulations” can give “exceptional returns to entrenched interests at the expense of everyone else.” Regarding industrial diversity, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle – all relatively concentrated cities in terms of their employment base – have generally remained as concentrated as ever over the last 16 years. The traditional central business districts in the cities of Dallas and Fort Worth house 11 and 3 percent of the metro area’s office space, respectively, compared to ratios between 30 and 50 percent in cities like Boston, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, and Seattle.
How do jobs in government differ from jobs in the private sector?
There seem to be two prevailing beliefs about why businesses hire. The first is that employers are greedy and/or lazy and prefer others to do their bidding. The second is that employers are too busy to accomplish tasks on their own, so they hire people to help accomplish those tasks. Though those reasons might very well be true in some instances, the third reason is the most realistic, but ironically, it is the least discussed: to the boss, employees are an investment. If the boss pays the employee x, then the boss plans for the employee to generate for the organization a value greater than x. If we impose upon employers an additional cost, then the value generated by those employees must now be even greater. If the value generated by the employee remains constant, despite the increased costs, then the employer’s investment is degraded. Employers must now consider price increases, a moratorium on hiring, and layoffs. At least one of those three actions must be taken, for if the business can no longer remain a business, then everyone will lose their job – even the boss. Do not conflate hiring and philanthropy; hiring is a form of investment, while charitable acts may or may not expect a financial return. I provide my perspective to illustrate how insulated government employees are from the harsh realities of the real job market, and I think government employees have a job security that we can only dream of. Do you have twelve weeks of paid parental leave? It sure would be nice of our employers to grant that to us, but Mayor Murray granted that to the 11,600 City employees without first asking us, their boss. Murray urges local businesses “to follow our lead,” but business leaders cannot simply steal over $3M annually from all Seattleites in order to provide that benefit. To provide an additional benefit, businesses would have to take at least one of the three aforementioned actions, and then they’d be vilified for doing so. Why, then, is Murray applauded for raising Seattle’s cost of living? The once-laudable, now-laughable term “public service” is a perverted PR performance which Murray pulls off with persuasive precision; in cold reality, the public serves his City. Governments at all levels are robbing us; they contribute significantly to our high cost of living, and in turn, local governments contribute immensely to Seattle’s economic inequality.
What are your thoughts on free exchange?
Think of free markets as an open debate. Let’s say you and I are having a debate, and let’s say you are absolutely dominating. Then, a heckler in the audience pulls out a gun and points it at your face while demanding an end to the debate. Sure, the debate is over – and we’d be fools to argue – but did I win the debate? Of course not. The gun was pointed at you, but you were dominating the debate due to the merit of your arguments. Free markets are like healthy, open debates. Two parties voluntarily exchange something on mutually agreed-upon terms. The gun-wielding heckler is like the government. Once the government interrupts or abuses its authority, neither of us is truly satisfied, and all lose. Even the government loses, because the result it achieved robbed the public of a superior outcome. Speaking of dominating, let’s talk about Amazon. If you were to look at one of Amazon’s thousands of job postings, you might find, “At Amazon, we’re working to be the most customer-centric company on earth. To get there, we need talented, driven people who get things done.” [emphasis added] Notice what is not said, “At Amazon, we’re working to be the most government-centric company on earth. To get there, we need talented, coercive bureaucrats who get things done.” Even the leader of the communist world – China’s president – admitted that free trade is beneficial overall and warned that globalization was not the cause of the world’s problems: “We must remain committed to free trade and investment. We must promote trade and investment liberalization. No one will emerge as a winner in a trade war.” Also, I think it’s disgraceful that, say, wine, weed, and whiskey are all taxed at different rates – rates based on the whims of bureaucrats who presume to know what’s best for us. Sure, we’re free to allege that those products are unhealthy, which is why we – as individuals – are free to boycott those products, but isn’t it rather pretentious to force adults who value those products to pay for their “sins” in the form of higher taxes (or for all Seattleites to pay a misguided soda tax)?
What’s your opinion of the socialist councilmember?
I think she is poisoning Seattle’s spirit, and she seems bent on ruling, not representing. The socialist dreams of taking from the rich and giving to the 99%. In practice, she wants to take from the people in order to give back to the very same people, which will somehow make her look deserving of another term in office. Nothing is free, and I doubt the 99% want higher taxes. She seems to suffer from a Fourier complex, meaning her liberticidal extremism calls for widespread poverty as the means of making us all equal. For the sake of her equality crusade, misery for everyone is preferential, but if one of her constituents manages to escape poverty, that person – due to his elevated financial status – is now a bad person. Therefore, her socialist dreams are quite depressing and pessimistic, as she has no faith in Seattleites and all faith in an authoritarian government. She chastises her fellow councilmembers for getting paid the same salary she receives, and then she brags about giving away the money we pay her. In our expensive city – one she seems to despise – if she can afford to donate the amount in excess of “the average worker’s wage” – an amount she carelessly or deceitfully leaves undefined – then shouldn’t we consider a 15% pay cut for all elected City officials and a 15% reduction of the City’s workforce? It would be like the Fight for Fifteen reincarnated into helping the vast majority of Seattleites, i.e., the public. The socialist claims she “is not a career politician,” but she was reelected. Her definition must differ from mine: career politician /kəˈrir ˌpäləˈtiSHən/ noun an elected official who is reelected
If you’re elected, how will you get along with the socialist councilmember?
We probably won’t, but that doesn’t mean I won’t try. I’d focus on the areas where we agree. Both of us are against the proliferation of warrantless surveillance cameras in our city, and both of us are unhappy with our corrupt senators for killing the bill that would have allowed us to buy medical drugs from Canada. I’m in favor of individual privacy and governmental transparency, and I think she is, too.
I’m glad to see that Mayor Murray wants to treat drug addiction as an illness instead of a crime, but what kind of message does that send? “Bring your needles and your smack, and you’ll be taken care of. But if you ride your bicycle just one block without a helmet, you’ll be treated as a criminal.” If we’re not harming others, we should be able to make our own decisions in all aspects of life, and we should be able to deal with the consequences of those decisions on an individual basis without interference from a paternalistic government. “The government’s only responsibility should be to protect people from force and fraud.” -Daniel Wise, chair of the Pearl River County [Mississippi] Libertarian Party
Let’s stop allowing the City to steal from future generations of Seattleites.
Thomas Sowell: “The first lesson of economics is scarcity – there is never enough of anything to satisfy all those who want it. The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics.” I refuse to internalize the first lesson of politics.
What is your statement regarding sexual misconduct allegations against Mayor Murray?
I sent the following response on the 6th of April to The Seattle Times, KOMO News, and Q13 Fox News:
These allegations are horrible, and whether true or not, I hope the plaintiffs and defendant find both peace and justice in this process. Though I am eager to see this issue come to an end, I hope we are capable of not letting this decades-old – but important – issue dictate our conversation about issues affecting Seattle today. As always, I look forward to your questions and constructive criticism.
Thank you for your time.
In order to stress what I cannot overstate, libertarianism has as much (and as little) to do with conservatism as it does with progressivism. I’ve been called many colorful names, but “conservative” isn’t among them. Stated in Greenwaldian fashion: libertarianism ≠ conservatism; just get a different tactic. I’m not asking to be your friend; I’m encouraging you to vote for someone who will be a friend to our city. You might not like all my opinions, but please keep in mind that none of my opinions could possibly materialize into limiting your freedom or stealing from you – in stark contrast to other candidates who perpetually promise to pilfer the people’s pockets for political and personal profits. If your ultimate aim is to feel good when voting, why allow that feeling to be so short-lived? Feeling good about intentions will never be as gratifying as feeling good about results, so please invest in me with your vote and – if you’re able – your donation. If you’ve enjoyed learning about my candidacy, please tell all your friends, but if you’re not a fan of the ideas I support, please tell all your enemies. Thank you for your interest in learning about my point of view, and please send me your questions. As long as you’re not a troll who formulates arguments containing more emotion than reason, I’ll do my best to get your questions answered. Thanks again. -Casey
*City: government of Seattle