Oct 13, 2010

Exclusive: Interview with Darcy Richardson, Independent Candidate for Lt. Governor of Florida, Part III

As noted in the introductory post of this series, this week TPID is publishing a lengthy interview with historian and long-time independent political activist Darcy Richardson, who is a candidate for Lt. Governor of Florida running on Farid Khavari's Independent gubernatorial ticket.  This post contains the final portion of the interview, in which Darcy discusses Farid Khavari's economic proposals for the state of Florida, the difficulties of overcoming mainstream media bias, and the general outlook for independent and third party politics this year and beyond.  See also Part I and Part II.    

TPID: Given that Khavari is an economist, it is no surprise to find that the centerpiece of his candidacy is a robust economic plan for the Sunshine State. The two key components of that plan are the foundation of a state bank and the implementation of a "zero-cost" economy. Would you briefly describe these two aspects of the economic proposal and explain how they are interrelated?
Richardson: As the first candidate for public office to seriously promote the idea of a state-owned bank since the Great Depression, Dr. Khavari's state-owned bank — relying on the commonly accepted practice of “fractional reserve banking” — would provide fixed-rate, fifteen-year mortgages at two percent and credit cards at six percent, while providing much-needed credit to Florida's struggling small and medium-sized businesses.

The Bank of the State of Florida would also provide attractive rates on car loans and other consumer borrowing while offering CD’s yielding a 6 percent return.  It could be the catalyst, says Khavari, for an “economic miracle” in Florida.

The bank’s profits would be used to reduce and eventually eliminate property taxes in Florida while helping to fund the state government, which faces a $5 to $6 billion budget shortfall in 2011, in much the same manner that the Bank of North Dakota regularly contributes to that state’s budget.

In the past decade, for example, the nation’s only state-owned bank plowed nearly $300 million into North Dakota’s treasury, enabling the state legislature to mandate property tax reductions.  Consequently, it’s one of the few states that doesn't find itself in a fiscal crisis. In 2009, North Dakota — one of the reddest states in the country — enjoyed a record $1.3 billion surplus.  It's not surprising, therefore, that North Dakota also boasts the lowest unemployment rate in the nation. Incredibly, the state’s jobless rate was only 3.7 percent in August.

I’ll frankly admit that I initially struggled to understand Khavari's concept of a zero-cost economy. The basic idea is to create wealth by freezing, then reducing and in some cases eliminating costs altogether so that individuals can save and invest for their retirements. It's designed to create what Dr. Khavari calls a "carefree economy."

The idea of a state bank is directly related. Imagine the potential savings, for example, if you had a two percent interest rate and could pay off your mortgage in ten to fifteen years instead of thirty years. Homeowners would save hundreds of thousands of dollars.  Of course, it'll never happen as long as the existing commercial banking industry — the ones responsible for our current economic plight — continues to have its way, but it could be a reality once state banks are established throughout the country.

A bold and imaginative thinker, Farid Khavari is the guy who can make it happen — at least here in Florida.

Fortunately, a number of other candidates around the country are also advocating the idea of state-owned banks, including Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, the Democratic nominee for governor of Michigan. Several Green Party candidates, including New York’s Howie Hawkins and Rich Whitney of Illinois, are also vigorously championing the idea. 
TPID: Since the mainstream media often act as if they are the public relations arms of the Democratic and Republican parties, it can be quite difficult for third party and independent candidates to get a fair hearing for their ideas. Will you and/or Khavari be allowed to participate in any of the officially organized debates or candidate forums for this race? If not, will you be participating in any independently organized debates or forums?

Richardson: Farid has been invited to a couple of candidate forums, but for the most part invitations have been few and far between. In fact, we were excluded from Friday's Univision debate between Alex Sink and Rick Scott — an hour-long exchange in which the major-party candidates traded jabs and insults while saying little about how they might fix Florida's ailing economy.

Dr. Khavari also hasn't been invited to participate in a debate sponsored by Leadership Florida and the Florida Press Association to be held Oct. 20 at Nova Southeastern University in Davie, Florida, as well as another debate sponsored by CNN and the St. Petersburg Times on October 25.

The criteria for the October 20 debate sponsored by Leadership Florida and the Florida Press Association is an arbitrary and virtually insurmountable fifteen percent threshold (with a +/- 4% margin of error) in a recent Mason-Dixon Poll.

We're exploring our legal options, but I'm not holding out any hope that Dr. Khavari will be participating in any televised debates with his major-party opponents between now and Election Day. 
TPID: As a historian of the third party and independent political tradition in the United States, could you speak to the prospects of the third party and independent political movement in Florida or nationwide in 2010 and beyond?

Richardson:  Well, my favorite third-party candidates in this election cycle — a political potpourri that includes Dan La Botz in Ohio, Howie Hawkins in New York, Arizona's David Nolan and Christina Tobin, who's running for California Secretary of State, to name a few — probably won't be rewarded by the voters to the degree they clearly deserve. The same is true of the Green Party’s Rich Whitney in Illinois.

They're all legitimate — and attractive — third-party candidates with long personal histories of battling the increasingly corrupt duopoly, but most voters will inexcusably ignore their candidacies.

The strongest showings on Nov. 2, I suppose, will be posted by a handful of major-party personalities like Lincoln Chafee in Rhode Island and Florida's Charlie Crist, career politicians whose motivation for running as independents, in almost every instance, has more to do with self-preservation that any deep or lasting commitment to the idea of open politics in this country.  Regrettably, their sudden conversion to alternative politics is a matter of convenience more than anything else.

In conclusion, I'm not particularly optimistic about 2012, but if the Republicans, as expected, take both the House and Senate and a majority of governorships on Nov. 2nd, and are then widely viewed as the governing party — presiding over an ever-deepening depression while continuing to coddle the nation’s wealthiest citizens — then maybe, just maybe, the American people will finally have had enough and will seriously begin looking for an alternative. 
Hopefully, there'll still be something to salvage at that point. 
Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions Darcy!


Speak Up said...

This is clearly someone that understands the predicament we Floridians face. Florida's politicians have allowed this state to pay one of the lowest unemployment benefits in the nation. Today many Floridians who are retirees are faced with no cost of living increase for the second year in a row. This is an easy fix for most. Raise the maximum ammount one can earn on Social Security.
Mr. Richardson is right, as long as the commercial banks control politicians and the White House allows their lobbyists inside a state bank will not be an easy institution to begin.
It is also a shame as Mr. Richardson points out that 3rd party candidates are not given the same opportunities to voice their opinions like the other two. And contrary to popular belief the Tea Party is just an extention of the GOP.
I pray that Floridians listen to what is being told to them, get out to vote, and do not vote for someone just because they don't like the other candidate. That's how we got George Bush. I for one am looking forward to a little competition on election day unless the BCS controls that too!

d.eris said...

Thanks for your thoughtful comment, Speak Up. Lesser-evil voting is one of the greatest evils in our politics today.