(Dean Capone recently announced his intention to seek the Socialist Party USA’s presidential nomination and has launched a campaign website. Mr. Capone agreed to an interview recently.)
Q. Mr. Capone, could you start by sharing a little bit about yourself?
A. I’m 48, have been involved in civil affairs for quite some time. Am trained as a journalist, but currently work in the music industry. Married 28 years with three adult sons.
Q. What do you mean when you say you are a “socialist”? What does socialism mean to you?
A. Socialism means common sense to me. And represents fair play, a vigorous society built on justice and equality, and an economy that works for the strength of the greater good, rather than a few.
Q. You favor a National Basic Income Guarantee, could you elaborate on your vision for a program like this one in a Capone administration?
A. A Basic Income Guarantee is not a new idea, by any means. Implementation of an unqualified basic income would foster economic growth by leveling the playing field to a degree, and provide stability to meet the needs of every adult, while replacing most other entitlements.
Q. On the same token, would you favor a minimum wage increase such as the $15 minimum wage passed in Seattle following the election of the Socialist Alternative City Council Woman, Kshama Sawant?
A. With an annual escalator, yes.
Q. One reason that there is such a need for a living wage is inflation. The Federal Reserve is undoubtedly the leading cause of inflation; would you support an audit and the eventual abolition of the Federal Reserve as president of the United States?
A. An audit, yes. Abolition, no.
Q. Would you expand on your position?
A.The current inflation rate is 2.1%, which is near a historical low, at least in my lifetime. Going to wages, I believe that an annual escalator that exceeds the inflation rate is appropriate. As for the Federal Reserve, I believe mechanisms are in place to audit effectively.
Q. Socialists have a history in this nation of being proponents of public works projects. Recently the Council on Foreign Relations estimated that modernizing our crumbling infrastructure would costs around $2-3 trillion and create close to 1 million jobs, would you support such a project?
A. Unreservedly. On that point, I’m a proponent of two years of national service in such projects, for all adults after secondary education.
Q. While we’re on job creation, a recent study done by the Political Economy Research Institute found that the U.S. can create as many as 2 million new jobs nationwide over the next 2 years by investing by investing $100 billion in a green economic recovery package, would a Capone administration support such a program?
A. I am in favor of a massive emergency restructuring of the entire energy economy of the United States by investing far more than $100 billion in a total and immediate overhaul. I support an increase Federal taxes and surcharges on all carbon fuels in order to finance a repositioning.
Q. Mr. Capone, your website says that a key focus of your campaign will be the unification of the socialist message under the aegis of the Socialist Party USA in the 2016 electoral cycle, could you elaborate on what it is you mean by that? Are you referring to working with other socialist parties, such as the Socialist Alternative, Chicago Socialist Campaign, Socialist Equality Party, and others?
A. I do realize that a Gallup poll we sometimes refer (from 2010) indicates that 36% of the US electorate has a favorable view of socialism, despite the constant efforts of the right wing media to vilify the term….My belief is that the Socialist movement should coalesce into a united campaign, yes. I do not recognize ‘sectional’ divides amongst our community.
Q. So it is then your intention to work with the other socialist parties?
A. It is my hope that other socialist parties will unite under the banner of this party, eventually. Of course, it’s my hope that our party also demonstrates the ability to lead.
Q. Your website also says that you served as the Treasure of the party’s Tampa Bay local chapter, the party doesn’t currently have ballot access in the state of Florida. Will you, as you seek the party’s nomination, make ballot access, namely in Florida, a priority?
A. Ballot access has suffered in recent years, this is true. The party leadership is convinced, as am I, that this must be our first priority.
Q. I think we both know Mr. Capone that while winning the nomination of the Socialist Party USA is certainly within the realm of possibilities, winning the office of the presidency is certainly a long shot. So what is it that you are hoping to accomplish by running should you secure the nomination of your party?
A. Despite the undercurrent of a favorable view of socialism by a third of the electorate in this country, the truth is the movement as a whole has been greatly marginalized for a great many years, and increasingly so. The primary objective of a campaign such as this is to be able to take the message to a national stage, yes – while also realizing that the first step is rebuilding a positive momentum so that *future* leaders may actually begin to compete as third party candidates.
On the one hand, the new national high minimum wage would create massive unemployment. On the other, people would be able to get by without working, so they would not mind it so much. One difficulty is, with most people unemployed who would pay the taxes for the 50-75% of workers who would transition away from working for a living towards collecting basic guaranteed income and perhaps working a few odd jobs under the table, bartering etc? With far fewer people working for a living, wealthy people by and large fleeing the country with their savings as well as any companies they own, and a much expanded entitlement-collecting class, how could the government generate enough revenue to pay the basic income guarantee, sustain the vast army of conscripts in the national service (see elsewhere in the interviews) as well as the projects they would be working on, and revamp the energy infrastucture (again see above), all at the same time?
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