Introduction: Craig Huey is a successful small business owner not a career politician. A nationally recognized political commentator and marketing consultant, Huey has appeared on national news outlets such as Fox Business Channel. Huey is also a frequent radio talk-show guest-speaker on KKLA, KBRT, KIEV, KWVE and KABC. Over the years Huey has earned an international reputation as a business consultant to a variety of clients, embracing all facets of our economy. A 72-time award-winner, Huey is known for his skill in leading nationwide business seminars, as well as creating business initiatives for his clients resulting in multimillion-dollar successes. Craig Huey has served on the Republican Central Committee and has long been involved in South Bay politics. Huey is a long-time resident of the 36th District and is now running in a special election to represent the District in Washington DC.
Daily Bell: You're running for Congress in the 36th District in California, and apparently you're doing fairly well, despite the force arrayed against you. Tell us a bit about your background. You consider yourself to be libertarian more than a Republican don't you?
Craig Huey: I'm not a career politician. I'm a small business owner running for a special congressional office on May 17th, just a few weeks away. But I've had an interest in freedom and the free market for a long time. In high school I was introduced to Frederic Bastiat and his classic The Law, the writings of Ludwig Von Mises, Frederic Hayek, Milton Friedman and other great libertarian thinkers and economists.
In college I became very active in libertarian and conservative groups. Also during this time I discovered the Foundation for Economic Education and Young Americans for Freedom had a strong libertarian faction. This interest in politics has carried on so that today I speak at investment, business, and political events such as the World Economic Summit and Freedom Fest. I'm on radio and TV.
Daily Bell: Tell us a bit about the business end of things and how you built your company.
Craig Huey: Out of college I started a direct response agency that worked on political and religious fund raising. At the time, Jimmy Carter's Keynesian economic policies had created high inflation and economic turmoil.
This sparked a whole movement of young newsletter writers, authors and entrepreneurs warning investors about the economy based on free market principles. In this environment I was able to help market people like Howard Ruff, Doug Casey, Harry Schultz, the late Jim Blanchard, Jim McKeaver, Harry Browne and many more. I helped build their newsletters and fortunes by applying advanced direct marketing techniques and strategies with powerful direct response copy. Mixing geopolitics and economics from the late 1970s to today has been my specialty.
Today, I speak internationally on marketing. I have clients worldwide helping them to grow their business with powerful direct marketing strategies. I develop marketing programs for all kinds of companies using direct marketing media such as direct mail, TV, email, microsites and more. And I still help market "cause" projects.
Daily Bell: You worked closely with Ronald Reagan. Tell us about that and what he was like.
Craig Huey: Ronald Reagan was incredible in being able to articulate free market principles and a vision of change. His ideas were his own, not a handler or speechwriter. He was hands on. He made free market principles respectable and he made an intelligent defense of individual freedom. On my wall in my office is one of the fundraising letters I did for Reagan. From the thousands of personal responses to this campaign I learned how the average American responded to a consistent message of freedom and hope.
Daily Bell: Are you concerned about America today and the way that society is headed?
Craig Huey: America today is in trouble. Deep trouble. Our country is at a crossroads. The policies of Republicans and Democrats has centralized power in Washington, created a bloated bureaucracy, created imposed regulatory agencies that destroy business and entrepreneurship and the economic policies have set us up for stagflation and another economic crisis. But I'm also optimistic that this can be changed. More and more Americans are recognizing the need to turn to freedom and turn away from collectivism. That's why I'm running for this special election.
Daily Bell: Ron Paul seems to be making a lot of progress as a Republican Congressman in advancing important issues, whether or not he actually gets elected. Certainly the bar of consciousness is being raised in many people's minds. Is this why you decided to run as a Republican as well?
Craig Huey: I've worked with Ron Paul on projects and he has done an incredible job of leading the change that is now happening. I see his success, the success of his son Rand and others and it gives me great hope. What we need are people who understand the problem, have a solution and can communicate it to the voters and media and are consistent and principled. I'm not a career politician. I'm a businessman who has seen the harm of government. I'm a communicator who can help spark change. That's what we need.
Daily Bell: Do you think Ron Paul will run for the next presidential election? Could he win?
Craig Huey: I don't think Ron will run again. I know that would disappoint many and…I may be wrong. One thing I've learned is Ron can be unpredictable. The big thing is he could not win. Others who are in 90-95% agreement with him could.
Daily Bell: Let's move on to some of the issues. There is a lot of discussion in Washington about the budget deficit and the economy. What can be done about this?
Craig Huey: Congress can do a lot. The new breed of libertarian-learning tea party-backed Congressmen and Senators are shaking things up disproportionately. They have accomplished a great deal, but their numbers are still too small. Look, America understands a $1.6 trillion deficit is wrong and hurtful. They understand that a $14.3 trillion national debt is unsustainable. And that 40 cents out of $1.00 goes to servicing the debt – with billions to China is crazy. That's where we need more voices to help the American people connect the dots. The Democrats and Obama last week went on the offense to coop the argument. But we are having a historic educational debate on the economy right now – and America is hearing that the government is the problem, not the solution.
Daily Bell: Is it possible to change the Washington culture? Why is America in debt in the first place?
Craig Huey: It's impossible to change Washington culture without men of principle and conviction in office. Politics is the art of manipulation and power. It's created compromise and an economic and bureaucratic nightmare. The GAO just announced there is $200 billion worth of duplicating agencies and personnel. This is just a tip of the iceberg of the Washington monster. Those who understand free market principles and live by a conviction of the worth and rule of the individual vs. the states can change Washington culture. That's why we are at a historic opportunity.
Daily Bell: What do you see are the consequences of the debt?
Craig Huey: The consequence of not controlling spending, regulations, taxation and the Fed is a lower standard of living for my kids. It's virtually impossible for kids today to be as well off as their parents. This will be the first generation in American history that will live a lower standard of living than their parents. But it will get worse … rising unemployment … higher interest rates … skyrocketing inflation … it's an oncoming economic tsunami that will wipe out savings, investments, retirement accounts and destroy business. This debt is a ticking time bomb. So I have a sense of urgency to make changes quick.
Daily Bell: What would happen to the economy if this was reversed and the debt went down?
Craig Huey: With the debt down and other necessary reforms, you will see incredible economic growth. The lower income will rise to middle income. Middle income will rise to upper. Real wealth. Real progress. Real opportunity and innovations.
Daily Bell: Would you vote for the new budget presently before the House?
Craig Huey: I would not vote for the new budget. I live near the Pacific. It's like me adding a drop of water to the ocean – of little consequence.
Daily Bell: Congressman Ron Paul has introduced legislation calling for a full audit of the Federal Reserve and has been an outspoken voice against the mercantilist practices of the Fed. Do you agree with Ron that the Fed needs to be more transparent and ultimately dismantled due to its unconstitutional, destructive and, some would say, fraudulent practices?
Craig Huey: I've been a student of the Fed for over 30 years. The Fed is dangerous and a cause of our economic problems. And it's unaccountable. It's actually part of my campaign.
Daily Bell: Do you think it's realistic to dismantle the Fed?
Craig Huey: I think the Fed can be dismantled with a President and Congress that takes leadership and sets into motion key steps … the first being an audit.
Daily Bell: What do you think the U.S. tax policy should be? Should the Federal Income Tax be abolished?
Craig Huey: The U.S. tax laws hurt job growth. The U.S. tax policy sends jobs and money overseas. We have the highest corporate tax rate in the industrial world. Want an economic boom? Lower taxes. President Kennedy and President Reagan both proved that when you lower taxes, two things happen:
1. Economic growth
2. A rise in government revenue
And just the opposite is true when you raise taxes:
1. Economic growth stagnates
2. Less government revenue
A 1% hike in the corporate tax rate leads to a .014% change in real wages or roughly a $2.50 loss in wages for each $1 rise in corporate tax collections. And when corporate taxes fall, real wages go up. In California 66 cents in taxes is added to the cost of every gallon of gas – that's over $13 for every fill-up.
For two years as a business owner I made decisions that slowed hiring and expansion because of the threat of the Bush tax cuts ending. Now, I'm faced with that same uncertainty in a couple of years. We need to restore confidence in business. And we need to break the chains the liberal politicians have imposed on us with high taxation and regulation. Tax Freedom Day came April 12 this year. The average American worked 102 days for the government. The President is asking working families and small business owners to pay even more. It will kill jobs. It will kill business. It will destroy economic growth.
Here are some ifs: If we had a two-year 50% reduction in the Social Security and Medicare tax for both the employee and the employer, we would have an extraordinary explosion of small business. If we want to compete with China for jobs, we should match the Chinese on capital gains. Their rate is zero. If we want to compete for profitable businesses creating good jobs, we should adopt the Irish tax rate of 12.5 percent for corporations. If we want to build up capital for investments permanently, we should abolish the death tax.
Daily Bell: How do you view Obamacare? Are human beings born with a "right" to free healthcare? Can charitable, religious and spiritual organizations be sufficiently relied upon to provide a compassionate hand to fellow members of their local communities?
Craig Huey: We have a God given right to life and liberty. To include healthcare as a "natural" right is a perversion of the concept. Charity and religious organizations have historically in America been there to help those in need. That is now being put in jeopardy by the government. I will fight to change that.
Obamacare is one of my priorities for repeal. It's corrupt and flawed. It's dangerous to our health and freedom. It's an example of how bad the Washington's out-of-control centralized power is. Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is an unelected, appointed bureaucrat … the Secretary of Health and Human Services. Right now she is using her power to stifle free speech by forcing insurance companies to be silent about the harm being done. Her 1,968 grants of power will call the shots on which days seniors can access their care. These grants of power set Washington as a dictator on how to dispose drugs at long-term care facilities. Bureaucrats will also delineate how dentists and dental hygienists examine your teeth and much more.
This is not in the Constitution. This is not a function of government. This is not what quality healthcare looks like. Our Constitution specifies that power must be balanced, restrained and never concentrated on one person. This concentration of power can only lead to great harm, abuse and unintended bad consequences. If you've ever been to a government agency, then you know what I mean.
That's just one reason why I believe Obamacare will be found unconstitutional. Already 27 states fall in agreement saying it's unconstitutional. Just the forced individual mandates are completely contrary to a free society. But until the court does find it unconstitutional, I will be committed to defunding Obamacare. I will fight the tax increase. I will fight 6,000 new IRS agents. I will fight the bureaucratic control of doctors and patients. And that's because Obamacare will:
· Increase our budget deficit
· Destroy quality healthcare and health innovation
· Skyrocket taxes and premiums
· Create bureaucratic decisions, not doctor decisions
Obamacare will destroy healthcare, making it like a third world care system with long waits like in Europe. And it will destroy business. As a business owner, I see higher premiums and complete confusion. It is hurting business plans for growth. It's costing too much time and money to figure it out.
Daily Bell: Would you want to repeal the bill?
Craig Huey: All the candidates will say they want to fix it. But it's beyond fixing. Repeal it.
Daily Bell: It seems the pension issue has been an issue in the U.S. How do you view this issue?
Craig Huey: What role does the State have in determining people's retirement needs?
The issue of pension abuse in the U.S. is a major problem that's leading to an economic collapse. Politicians – supported by the government unions – have passed outrageous pensions that are unsustainable. Cities, counties and states are going bankrupt. City services have no funds. They are going to pensions. Retire at 50 with benefits, get 90% of your salary – well over $100,000 a year. Look at this:
My research shows city managers in most cities making far more than you might expect. In six cities in Los Angeles County, for instance, the base salaries for city managers were between $193,000 and $438,000. This is before pensions and benefits, which can double or triple that amount. Before anyone jumps to the defense of such largesse, let's remind ourselves that these are public servants who are not supposed to be in it "for the money." Does it surprise you to know that the California governor makes "only" $173,000 in base salary? It's the highest in the country, but city managers in his state earn more than the governor … is that really OK? A city manager in southern California earns more than any governor, anywhere, in any state.
And it's not limited to those positions, either: one Southern California city pays its police and fire chief at a higher rate than nearly 40 million Californians pay their governor: $225,000 in base pay. Let's look more closely. Los Angeles and San Francisco, California's two largest municipalities, have two huge bureaucracies. It's not a surprise they are also two of California's biggest offenders in pay and pensions. Some L.A. County officials have seen hefty pay raises after only three years since their last one. It upped salaries from 11% to 45%, and some of them now bring in more than $400,000 annually. This, again, is twice the governor's pay. In fact, six staffers earn $400,000; 65 more earn above $300,000.
Now consider that the county has more than 100,000 employees. And every year 17,686 of them bankroll $100,000 in total compensation, or more. One is an executive secretary for the County Coroner, pocketing $113,000. Another is a fireman. His paycheck? More than $271,000. Nearly 18% of all county employees earn more than $100K. What company has one-fifth of its payroll at that level? In San Francisco, the head of the MTA (municipal transportation agency) takes home $336,000. Of its city bus drivers:
· 82 made at least $100,000
· 540 made at least $80,000
· 400 made at least $20,000 – in overtime alone
· One driver actually made $78,722 – in overtime
Bus driver benefits totaled $41.3 million in Social Security, dental, and healthcare. The city at the time had a deficit of nearly $1 billion. Are these salaries and benefits abnormal? No, frighteningly, they are not. City managers are professional ladder climbers who often move from city to city, increasing their pay and pensions along the way. They essentially do what city councils tell them to do. They are rarely fired. It takes a lot to lose a government job.
If all this seems unsettling, consider that thousands of city and county employees nationally draw salaries upwards of $100,000. In California, we found gardeners and garbage men earning $60,000 to $80,000 per year, plus benefits. One city paid a painter $65,000 plus benefits in 2009. This is for intermediate, standard work in low-skilled professions.
I am not knocking these folks. We need bus drivers, gardeners, and painters – and we definitely need to have our garbage picked up. They work hard. No one says they don't.
But they don't have to work directly for the government at all. They don't have to demand more and more when others sacrifice. They don't have to earn twice what the same private sector jobs pay.
Salary.com, for instance, reports information on pay ranges. They posted janitorial salary expectations at $35,000 per year, maximum. And Craigslist shows custodians in the same region earning about the same: $33,000 annually. But one Orange County, California city pays "facilities maintenance workers" as much as $73,000 a year, counting overtime and benefits. All can retire at 75% of that amount – $55,000 – or more than 50% higher, for a pension, than what a working janitor makes in the private sector.
Cities need to privatize these jobs, outsourcing them by competitive bids. Better service, at competitive pay, saving taxpayer money. California's tax dollars support 2.25 million government employees – that's more people than live in 15 individual states. That number went up in the first two years of the current recession. In the past, being a public employee and serving others was a privilege – not an entitlement. Today, as we see from Wisconsin for instance, the second idea has fully replaced the first – with taxpayers paying for it. It's unfair. And it must end.
Daily Bell: Does government really care or is it a dominant social theme meant to coerce folks into relying on the State for their future needs? A socialist Trojan Horse if you will.
Craig Huey: The battle in Wisconsin and elsewhere has shown where you have leaders standing on principles of right vs. wrong … not expediency … you can have change. Politicians and the media are trying to shape these battles for economic sanity and fairness. It's really a battle of ideas … a battle of right vs. wrong.
Daily Bell: Are you concerned about individual liberty and it's erosion in the U.S.? How do you feel about the growing US military-Industrial Complex, the Patriot Act, et al?
Craig Huey: The growing power of government has shrunk individual liberty. This is a danger. The Patriot Act is a symptom of a greater problem … we need articulate defenders of individual liberty to point out the dangers of government and defend the right of an individual to live his life as he wants. I believe God made us to be free to make our own choices – good or bad. The only function of the state is to protect us from those who violate our rights. Today, the biggest violator is the state.
Daily Bell: How about US foreign policy and the meme of "spreading democracy." Is it a good thing for the US or any other country to meddle in the affairs of another nation?
Craig Huey: Spreading democracy without setting up protections for speech, property and individual rights will lead to tyranny. The purpose of US foreign policy should be to protect America from aggression. Defending against terrorism or an enemy state is essential. Reagan had it right. Show by example the principle of freedom. Give encouragement to people wanting freedom. Calling tyranny what it is … wrong. But our constitution must be adhered to with a wise policy of non-intervention.
Daily Bell: Is America the enforcement arm for an Anglo-American power elite that wants to build world government?
Craig Huey: Those who want to exploit the United States or any regional force to further world government do not believe in individual liberty. A world government is a threat to free society.
Daily Bell: Where are we headed with all the new wars in the Middle East and Africa? Are they part of a push toward some sort of new world order?
Craig Huey: The new wars in the Middle East for reform are dangerous and could lead to more centralized "UN" type domination. This is a geo-political time bomb. It can turn out very good for freedom. But there are too many "reformers" trying to use it for bad.
Daily Bell: Has the Internet provided push-back to plans for ever closer global governance and authoritarianism generally?
Craig Huey: The Internet has helped spread the idea of free markets and a free people like nothing else. That's why one of my goals is to stop the FCC efforts to control and censor the Internet.
Daily Bell: Do you think as a practicing Christian that it is spiritually consistent with the teachings of Jesus for a government to kill others in the name of installing a system of governance that reflects its philosophy of "democracy?"
Craig Huey: As a Christian, I have a personal relationship with the true and living God. The teaching of Christianity can be summed up in two key themes of Scripture.
· To love God with all my heart, soul and mind
· To love others as myself
That's why the Protestant Reformation led to the freedom and economic climate we see today. You must twist and distort God's word to justify killing others or just forcing others to do what is against their free will.
That is what distinguishes true Christianity from all other religions. You cannot justify violence against an individual. You deal on the individual level of the conscience not the state. You cannot violate property rights or any other rights. Great Christian theologians have given us the framework for the economic and political philosophy of freedom. Societies without a Christian framework tend to use violence and the state as a means to achieve "righteousness" or "common good."
Christianity on the other hand recognizes that all men are sinful, fallen and broken. And they are separated from God because of this. And the only way to have a relationship with God is to freely accept the grace, forgiveness and salvation that came from the Cross. It is the Cross where our sins were transferred to Christ and His righteousness so that we would have salvation and a relationship with God. Not by force but by Love. Christianity is not only compatible with freedom but it is the foundation of freedom – body (the physical), the soul, the mind, the spirit (that which is made alive by believing in Jesus).
Daily Bell: What is the future of U.S. politics today? Do you think, as Nelson Hultberg has presented in his latest book The Conservative Revolution: Why We Must Form a Third Political Party to Win It, that a 3rd party CAN actually WIN a US federal election?
Craig Huey: I do not think a third party is viable. I've seen it with the Libertarian Party and other attempts. The Revolution in American politics will be from within a 2-party system.
Daily Bell: That's obviously why you're running as a Republican. What will the world look like in 10 years? How about America?
Craig Huey: The future of America – and the world – depends upon the choices America makes in the next few years. I believe there is hope. The alternative is little freedom and state control, an economic collapse and class warfare. It's not pretty. That's why I'm running for Congress … to be a voice of change and a voice of reason.
Daily Bell: Give us a sense of your stump speech and tell us about the ways American exceptionalism can be rediscovered.
Craig Huey: I am a businessman, not a career politician. I got a call from some Libertarians, Tea Party people and Congressman Dana Rohrabacher telling me to run for this Special Election. I have a chance to send a message to President Obama, Congress and the media that even in California, the voters are beginning to get it.
Daily Bell: Thanks for your time and good luck.
Craig Huey: Thanks for the chance to get my message out.
Craig Huey is a longtime friend of the Bell editorial team. We wish Craig good luck in his Republican campaign and hope people enjoyed the interview, which we think raises a number of significant issues. We find Huey's campaign interesting because it illustrates the difference in approaches between those who want to change the system from the inside and those who believe that insider-change is a waste of time. This latter group usually believes the only change-maker (of the peaceful sort) is to be discovered in massive amounts of education about the way the world REALLY works and how it might be reconfigured via free-market approaches for the better.
The "educator" group for obvious reasons has a much more radical message that it wants to send because it is not encumbered by political realities. This often causes friction between the two schools of thought. We've seen that here just recently. We ran an interview with freedom-activist Nelson Hultberg who is forming a free-market oriented political third-party that he hopes will compete with the Republicans and Democrats. To make his party competitive, Nelson has decided the platform will feature various kinds of taxes and a continuation of the Federal Reserve System.
Nelson's perspective received a good deal of commentary from feedbackers, some of it endorsing this approach while others found it too half-hearted. Those who didn't agree with Nelson, we noticed, usually didn't because his points, in their view, were being obscured by overly "soft" positions he was taking. These feedbackers wanted sterner free-market positions no matter the political cost. Nelson responded by pointing out (often in a passionate way) that he wanted to create real political change and was not going to do so if he adopted overly radical positions.
There is obviously a philosophical divide within the freedom community, and it is one that showed up even within our spirited feedback exchanges. Those who come down on the side of education will naturally take more extreme free-market positions than those who want to influence the system from the inside out. It's just how things work. One's arguments simply can't be overwhelmingly radical in the public space. People in aggregate aren't able to deal with a political conversation that resembles purist academic theory. When it comes to politics, people want to hear clear answers within the ambit of what they already understand.
These are the kind of answers that Nelson Hultberg is trying to come up with – and Craig Huey, too – even though they disagree on the merits and efficacy of third party platforms in modern American campaigns. It is this process that causes Libertarian-Congressman Ron Paul to write a book about abolishing the Fed but to state publicly that its abolition is not going to come about any time soon because the Fed as an institution is simply too entrenched politically and economically.
Those who believe that education is the way forward and that the political conversation is merely blurring the larger, necessary arguments, certainly have a point. The political conversation is the main one in any modern democracy, and when the political conversation, over and over, is diluted by winning's priorities, then valuable points are lost. By the time the political victor is installed, any hope for clarifying real-life libertarian principals has been mislaid in the process of turning a philosophical platform into a victorious enterprise.
This is the quandary that someone like Craig Huey – a passionate free-market thinker is struggling with, and we can see it in his interview. He won't run as a Libertarian because he doesn't believe he has a chance to win, and he wants to win. He wants to have the chance to make a change inside of the process, and he is willing to rationalize his larger free-market message to do so.
For some, such an approach is anathema. They believe it is "selling out" – or that at the very least it will prove ineffective. We are sympathetic to these arguments because we are innately proponents of the educative process (having started several fairly significant websites on free-market issues). But we can also see merit in what Craig Huey, Nelson Hultberg and Ron Paul are doing. While Ron Paul has moderated his message, his success within the Republican party has given him an enormous media platform that he has been able to take advantage of to spread his freedom message.
Ron Paul's message is not as extreme (or coherent) as it would be were he not constrained by the limitations of party politics. But it's still pretty good. We certainly wish that Craig Huey and Nelson Hultberg eventually gain similar significant platforms. We don't begrudge them their approach, because that's how they've decided to make a change. In fact, here's a radical thought – perhaps there is room in the world for both approaches. If people like Craig Huey actually make it to Congress, well, we welcome that evolution. Why not?
On the other hand, we believe in the educative process, which is a good deal less confining than the political one. In fact, we can say that the elves who slave away behind the scenes here would not make very good politicians. It is too difficult in some cases to hold one's tongue. And it is a lot easier to build a coherent argument for freedom on the Internet than it is in the heat of a campaign.
Politics is not for us. But Mr. Huey is going to give it a try. We think he's embarked on a courageous journey – along with Nelson Hultberg, Ron Paul and others who are focusing on such change. Education is a necessary part of changing the sociopolitical system as it now stands in the West and the Internet is a wonderful tool in that regard. But that doesn't mean that people shouldn't try other means such as politics. If through political means societies gradually become freer (and we do remain skeptical on the issue), that seems to us a net positive. Does it have to be a zero-sum game?