The following is a few of Andrew Kolstee’s platform planks, but is not an exhaustive list. If you would like to know where Andrew stands on a particular issue, please fill out the contact form.
General Approach to Policy
End the division and tribalism. The right and left are getting further and further apart from each other. All sides must come together to build consensus, and that means creating new solutions. One side says that the other side is evil and will destroy America and vice versa. This is one of the primary reasons while many Americans are hopeless when it comes to change, and often don’t even bother getting involved in the political process. The first step is to recogonize this division and realize that people with different political ideologies are not bad people–they just have a different mindset and thus a different approach.
Go to the root of the Problem. Most politicians will try to solve a problem by addressing something on the surface, especially with “throwing money at the problem,” but we must go to the root of every problem in order to not only find the best solution, but also to solve the problem.
Foreign Relations and National Security
International relations and national security are intertwined. When it comes to foreign relations, we must adopt a policy of non-interventionism. Diplomacy is the best option for peace as well as national security, and war should always be the last resort. Thomas Jefferson warned us against “entangling alliances.” The intentions of the founding fathers were to defend us from our enemies, not go around and make enemies.
National security is important to keeping our country and our citizens safe. Intervening in the affairs of other countries will only increase our risks of national security threats. By adopting a non-interventionist foreign policy, we shift to using more diplomacy, which will promote more positive relations with other countries and promote competition, trade, and peace.
Bring our troops home and Congress must retake their power. Congress must vote on every location in which the U.S. military has a presence and bring our troops home in areas where our presence is unnecessary. If there is not a publicly identifiably and compelling national security requirement for keeping them there, then they should come back and actually defend the United States.
Establish clearly defined goals. Wherever our troops are deployed, there should be clearly defined and established goals, a timeline to complete the goals, an exit strategy, which shall all be approved by Congress. If such an extension is necessary, Congress must approve. Military leaders are encouraged to give a presentation to Congress, or a subcommittee thereof. Not only does this place the war powers back into the hands of Congress, but it brings many of our troops home, and we focus on the most important missions, instead of nation building and supporting regime change wars that increase instability and the number of national security threats. This will also improve relations with other countries and save money as well as the lives of Americans, our allies, and innocent civilians.
Refocus and reprioritize military spending. It is necessary to overhaul military spending by eliminating waste and inefficiency. We must revamp the military budget to increase effectiveness in order to prepare our infrastructure for conventional and unconventional attacks, especially in the age of cyber warfare. The remaining savings can also be diverted to support veterans as well as reduce the budget deficit.
Lead the world in promoting peace. The United States should not be sending aid or funding military action that does not pose any national security risk. Instead of funding wars or picking sides in other countries’ wars, the only aid that we should continue to provide is humanitarian. The United States must set an example to the rest of the world by promoting peace through diplomacy and not war by policing the world.
Immigration and Border Security
The United States is a country of immigrants, and even today there are many people who come to this country each year. However, our immigration system is broken. There should be a clear path to permanent residency and citizenship for those who abide by our laws and improve our economy.
A clear path to permanent residency and citizenship. The path to permanent residency is cumbersome and complicated, and mainly benefits immigration lawyers, and not the immigrants. Anyone who wants to become a citizen and is willing to make the commitment to do so should have a much more straightforward path to citizenship, which does not require an attorney. When a person immigrates to the United States and is present in the United States on an employment or student-based Visa for 3 years, without U.S. taxpayer-funded assistance, and without committing a misdemeanor or felony. After that 3-year period, they shall be automatically granted a permanent residence status if they request it. Additionally, this should apply to DREAMers.
When it comes to healthcare, the debate primarily centers around health insurance reform as opposed to the actual healthcare. The real problem is that the cost of healthcare has been skyrocketing, to the point where many people are unable to afford healthcare. The loudest debate among politicians is to determine how much money to spend to alleviate the costs for people and provide healthcare by taking care of the costs through subsidies.
This does not address the root of the problem which is the costs themselves. The costs are inflated and pricing is not transparent. Many patients are even barred from access to treatments because the government, through the FDA, has kept life-saving drugs off the market, including those that are available in other countries. People should also have freedom of choice when it comes to their medical needs.
Increase Transparency in the Healthcare Industry by requiring posting of the “Charge Master.” The charge master is the list of prices a healthcare provider will charge an insurance company. Often, patients are unaware of medical pricing until they receive the bill. To increase transparency in medical pricing and facilitate competition among providers of medical services, make the charge master public. Customers have a right to know how much a product or service costs before their purchase. This would involve all kinds of pricing from non-emergency services to emergency services. Transparent pricing will mean the decrease of healthcare service costs as providers of healthcare will need to compete with each other for patients. This will encourage innovation and bring the costs down.
Freedom of medical choice: fully legalize medical cannabis and allow market freedom for new drugs. People deserve to have more options for treatment when it comes to healthcare. Whether it is using medical cannabis or other drugs, the government should not restrict access to drugs. If a drug is not approved by the FDA, it can be labeled as such. If people trust the FDA, they can just take FDA-approved drugs. If not, they can try other drugs. Let individuals and their doctors be free to choose the treatment that is best for them. Do you trust politicians running the FDA or your doctor more?
We need a criminal justice policy that reduces crime, keeps our neighborhoods and communities safe, and eliminates the abuse of law enforcement, but also protects law enforcement. We must adopt a policy of “no victim, no crime.” Victimless crimes have devastated low income and minority areas, which contributes to poverty. We also must end the drug war as today’s prohibition doesn’t work. This in turn would relieve the burden of law enforcement as the focus will be on crimes that involve a victim. An overall reduction of crime will free up law enforcement to engage with the community at a greater level, removing the barriers between law enforcement and the public, and bringing #BlackLivesMatter and #BlueLivesMatter together.
No Victim, No Crime. If there is no victim, there is no crime. It’s that simple. Many of these policies have devastated lower income areas, preventing them from becoming prosperous. If they did not hurt anyone, why does law enforcement need to intervene? A policy such as this would allow law enforcement to focus on violent crime, such as murder, assault, rape, and theft.
End the Drug War. Today’s prohibition does not work, just as prohibition of the past didn’t work. The drug war ignores the laws of supply and demand. Current drug policy is to reduce and/or eliminate the supply of drugs—the drug dealers and their businesses. This has been the policy for decades. The only thing this does is remove certain competitors from the market–those that lack the skills and resources to affectively run a black market opertion. Their competition, which are larger and have more resources, will remain, and they are more dangerous because they are morely likely to be able to operate despite law enforcement’s effort to stop it. Instead, the focus should be on reducing the demand—the users. If one uses the economic concepts of supply and demand when it comes to addressing the drug problem, the only reasonable conclusion is to stop waging a war on drugs and work to eliminate the demand—and that means education, rehabilitation, decriminalization, and to start, the full legalization of marijuana.
End Civil Asset Forfeiture. Instead of focusing on violent crime, law enforcement tends to focus on profitable crimes, such as confiscating assets from criminals and drug dealers. It is more profitable to go after suspected drug dealers than solving murders, rapes, and burglaries. This policy has led to more people losing their assets–even without being charged with a crime that may not have involved drugs at all. This policy increases the hostility between policy and the public–and perpetuates the violence in our communities–and must end.
Competition and innovation are key to advancing our society and building our economy. The government will innovate only at the whims of whoever buys the politicians. Private companies innovate based on the whims of their customers. We had a significant advancement of technology and innovation in the 20th and 21st centuries.
End corporate welfare. The government should not be choosing winners and losers. If a company is in trouble, they need to use their money to solve their own problems or allow other businesses to take their customers and hire their workers. It’s not fair to new startups and small businesses that have the potential to run a business better than large corporations. Corporate welfare essentially rewards bad businesses with good political connections to stay in business. Too big to fail? How about #LetThemFail and allow for innovation and better companies to take hold of the market. In summary, businesses should be free to grow or fail depending on how well they do in the market. If a corporation knows that they will not receive a government handout, then they will be incentivized to restructure their business, increase standards, and stay in business.
We should strive to protect our environment, and innovation is key. We should not stifle innovation in anyway but rather, encourage it. Regulations to protect the environment are not full-proof. We still have issues with pollution and contamination as well as a lot of environmental regulations. The problem stems from when large corporations that pollute the environment are able to have political influence by buying off politicians to either lax regulations or make exceptions specific to that corporation, at the expense of citizens whose property may have been contaminated or who may have suffered health consequences. They can also use their vast monetary reserves to settle lawsuits. The corporation can buy off lawyers or even victims, and then continue to operate. This just leads to corruption while attempting to protect the environment and we must take a new approach.
Promote innovation and remove taxes on renewable energy. Promoting innovation to create more environmentally friendly products and energy is best done by removing barriers to these companies, such as government regulations and trade barriers such as tariffs. For example, tariffs on solar panels increase the cost of green energy, disincentivizing innovation to shift to greener energy. We need to have a free trade policy to allow companies to produce the technology to create greener energy without financial penalties.
Unsubsidize wind energy. End subsidizing of inefficient energy sources, such as wind power, which has a production cost involving nonrenewable resources, transport, and maintenance cost, as well as environmental concerns including noise pollution, the killing birds, and ground pollution. A cost benefit analysis must be taken in order to determine the greener energy sources.
Protection of property rights. If someone is poisoning your water, property, etc., that is a violation of your property rights. Property rights must be protected at all times, and not by pay-offs to continue to allow property rights violations at the expense of the environment.
When it comes to education, we need to recognize that the world is rapidly changing. Education of the past is not a system that will work in the 21st century. Education must adapt and evolve as the world changes. Even the universal K-12 system that we are so familiar with today is a relatively recent institution. The job market is so diverse now that the types of education must also evolve. Like many issues, education benefits from innovation as opposed to government control.
Education is a role for state and local governments. The role of the federal government should be minimal—and just supporting states and local educational systems by facilitating the exchange of ideas. If something works in one state, another state may want to adopt it. With an educational system in each state, it allows for innovation and experimentation. Most importantly, control of education should be done at the local level.
Encourage innovation of learning techniques. Federal funding should not be spent to support a one-size-fits-all solution or methodology of any curriculum that prevents teachers from teaching valid alternative methods to any student that may not understand a methodology that other students may better understand. Teachers are on the frontline of education and they know their students best. Additionally, parents should be able to help their children learn different methods without struggling to understand a methodology imposed by faraway bureaucrats. Most importantly, students, who all have unique abilities and learning styles, should be able to benefit from different methodologies taught by their teachers, parents, and peers. For example, Common Core should only be an option, not the one-size-fits-all solution. #LetTeachersTeach.
Freedom of school choice. If parents see an option for their children better than the public option, they should be free to choose it and any funding that would normally go toward their public schooling should be fully transferred to alternative options, whether it is private school, homeschool, etc.
We cannot tax ourselves into prosperity. There are so many different kinds of taxes, and the politicians that manage the tax revenue do not have incentives to spend the money wisely. The entire tax system needs to be overhauled to work better for the people and provide incentives for both workers and the politicians to spend the money more efficiently. While a purely Libertairan society would do without taxes, the reality is that our society is so reliant on taxes, that it is nearly impossible to completely get rid of it. The best solution is to get to the root of the problem, which is the lack of incentive to spend money wisely, and address that. Create the incentives that allow the private sector to prosper by reducing regulations.
Tax choice. Implement a program that allows people to choose where some of their tax dollars shall go. This would be a pilot program, but would also give the taxpayers a say in what they would like to fund. One example is Planned Parenthood–instead of the endless debates on whether or not to fund it, allow those who support it to fund it–and those who don’t to fund something else.