Patch asked all three Democrats running for Senate ten questions. Here are the second half of my responses. I don’t know if my opponents responded.
There’s been increased use of drones internationally, as well as domestically, primarily as a law enforcement tool. Are you comfortable with the use of drones internationally and domestically? What sort of rules should be in place for the domestic use of drones?
Brett: Dennis Kucinich once said the president of the United States shouldn’t use assassination as a foreign policy. I agree. Assassination should not be the official policy of this country, regardless of whether those being targeted are American citizens or foreign nationals. I also think the Patriot Act should be repealed. A government should not be allowed to spy on its own people, and certainly not assassinate them — it destroys the very foundation of our democracy. I would’ve crossed the aisle to support Rand Paul’s filibuster against domestic drone use.
7. Do you support the most recent catch limits on commercial fishing? Why or why not?
Brett: There’s that false dichotomy again, between a progressive goal — in this case, protecting endangered marine species — and jobs. If there are no more fish to catch, then all commercial fishermen will be out of a job, won’t they? The real threat to endangered marine life is not the small-scale commercial fisherman, but corporate factory-fishing. Regulating the corporate seafood industry would go much further in protecting endangered marine life (as well as small-scale fishermen).
8. For many who live along the coast, the only option for home insurance is the FAIR plan. It’s expensive, with many paying more for insurance than in real estate taxes, and it does not have a good reputation for paying out claims. Yet, it is the only game in town. If a storm like Sandy were to have hit the Mass. coast, it is unlikely the FAIR plan would be able to cover the loss. What would you do to encourage insurance companies that offer residential insurance to come back to coastal Mass.?
Brett: There’s a short-term and a long-term answer to your question. In the short term, the problems that we’re seeing with homeowners’ insurance, not just in Massachusetts but nationally, are similar to those that we’re seeing with medical insurance: escalating costs — of both payouts (to homeowners or health care providers) and premiums — and an unwillingness on the part of the insurance industry to cover higher-risk (i.e., less profitable) people. So the best solution to the homeowners’ insurance dilemma may be similar to the health insurance problem: universal, single-payer homeowners’ insurance.
But your question raises an underlying, longer-term and, frankly, far more serious problem. The changing climate means we’re going to experience more events causing greater damage and affecting more, eventually all, of the population; because we’re not just talking about coastal storms like Sandy, Katrina and extreme weather systems on the West Coast, we’re talking about flooding, desertification and other geological changes throughout North America and the world. The Earth’s climate and weather systems have been irreversibly altered, and we’d better adapt to them, or we’ll end up like the dinosaurs. This may mean we can’t live anywhere we want to, or everywhere we live now. If sea levels continue to rise and Chevy Chase is underwater, the strongest seawalls won’t hold back the flood, and the Markeys will just have to move. You can’t fight the tide.
9. Increasingly our police departments are dealing with the problems of drugs in our towns? What do you think the federal government can do to get more funding to fight drugs? How can the police get the funding and equipment they need to deal with the problem?
Brett: First of all, it’s time we admit the “War on Drugs” is an abject failure and stop wasting our resources fighting it. The way to reduce the supply of drugs is to reduce the demand for drugs; the way to reduce demand is by addressing drug addiction. Addiction destroys lives and communities; but it can be prevented through education and treated through recovery programs. Both are much more cost-effective in human and economic terms than the current approach.
10. What Senate committees and leadership posts will you seek if you become a senator and why?
Brett: My goal in running for the Senate is to help as many people as possible by working in the areas where I think our most pressing problems lie. As such, committees like environment and public works; energy and natural resources; and health, education, labor and pensions would be good places for me to serve. Obviously, the appropriations committee and the joint economic committee are also powerful and important. Finally, it’s obvious that Washington needs a new sheriff, and so I’d be interested in serving on the ethics committee, as well.
As for leadership posts, well, they’re all sort of filled at the moment. But as a journalist and a teacher, I’m interested in what people have to say and in what they think, and I’m sure I would serve as an informal consensus-builder among all members of Congress.