The other day Jill Stein, who is the Presidential nominee of the Green Party in the 2012 US election, did an AMA (Ask me anything) on the popular social news site Reddit. The questions asked ranged from space exploration to energy policies and alternative medicine. Here are all the questions that received an answer from Jill Stein.
But first, for those who are unfamiliar, Reddit is a social networking and link-sharing site where registered people can submit content, post comments, and vote stories and links up or down to rank the posts after popularity. Reddit consists of a few large “subreddits” such as the politics, aww, and the atheism “subreddit”. Users are also able create their own communities on the site and join other “subreddits” with content they prefer to see. One of the most popular “subreddits” is IAmA (“I am a”) where users prompt others to AMA (“Ask me anything”). About two weeks ago, President Barack Obama was on Reddit to answer questions from the community.
Many redditors asked about how viable third party candidates and parties actually are. A user with the name LadyLaFee asked Stein how we can move away from the current two party system:
How do you think the Green party will fare this election when the nation has a mentality that they must “choose between the lesser of two evils” and don’t seem to know about anything other than the democratic & republican party? What can we do as Americans to help move this country away from a two party system?
For the last decade (and more) we’ve been told we don’t dare stand up for ourselves and what we deserve… that we need to be quiet and vote our fears not our values. The experience of the past decade makes clear however that this silence is not an effective political strategy. In fact, what we’ve gotten is expanding war and empire, an unraveling economy, attacks on our civil liberties, offshoring of our jobs, declining wages, massive Wall Street bail outs, and the melt down of the climate. Obama has not only embraced the policies of Bush, he’s gone way beyond.
Bottom line is this. The politics of fear has brought us everything we were afraid of. We need to replace the politics of fear with the politics of courage. The establishment parties (Dems and Repubs) don’t have a single exit strategy from the crises that afflict us. Yet good solutions are available. We – in this campaign – are standing up and pushing these solutions – that the American people are clamoring for – forward.
Another similar question was asked by Reddit user figandfennel:
I’m a voter in New York State, which according to Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight Blog has a 100% chance of going for Obama. Since my vote for Obama won’t then have an effect, how would a vote for Jill Stein and the Green party help your various causes?
Additionally, I noticed on the issues page of your site there’s no mention of the farm bill(s) and its subsidies. Since the modern industrial farm industry is a huge burden on the environment, is that something on which you have a position?
Stein replied in two posts:
Every vote for the Wall Street sponsored candidates gives a mandate for 4 more years of Wall Street rule. It’s a vote for the policies that are destroying our economy, our planet, shipping our jobs overseas, etc. Standing up and voting for the Green Party is a vote for yourself and the future you deserve. Go to occupytheCPD.org to help get our voices out there.
Agree. Strengthening local sustainable farming, family and community farms is a major initiative within the Green New Deal. Modern industrial farming (including factory farming of animals) has been devastating for small farmers, for greenhouse gas emissions, for toxic pollution, for public health and nutrition. The farm bill needs to incorporate the needs of public health, small farmers, a sustainable economy, etc.
Reddit user bigbobo33 asked if it could be possible for the Green Party to have a similar “renaissance” as the Libertarian party recently has had.
Libertarian ideals and the Libertarian party are having a renaissance of sorts right now due to the efforts of Ron Paul and Gary Johnson. What do you think needs to be done in order for the Green Party to have a similar awakening?
Stein answered by saying that the climate solutions offered by the libertarians won’t work:
To look at the polls, people are clamoring for what the Green Party is offering. Not only an alternative to establishment politics, but a way to get money out of politics (public funding of campaigns, open up public airwaves to public use by qualified candidates, etc.). A way to create jobs and revive the economy (through the Green New Deal). A way to bail out students and provide free public higher education. (It pays for itself as we saw during the GI Bill post WWII that returned $7 in economic benefits for every $1 invested in college tuition.) A way to stop climate change. (Sorry but the Libertarian “personal responsibility” solution for climate change won’t cut it.) A way to reign in Wall Street, break up the big banks and create state banks, and an economy that works for everyday people. It’s all about getting the word out. Go to jillstein.org to make it happen.
There were indeed many questions asked about third party candidates during the IAmA. Reddit user thirdpartyroundtable received the final reply from Stein on this topic.
In the event that you are not allowed into the presidential debates, would you please consider holding a roundtable discussion after each debate with Dennis Kucinich, Gary Johnson, Ron Paul, and Russ Feingold where you all discuss Romney and Obama’s answers? Put it on CurrentTV and/or stream it over the internet…
Stein replied by mentioning how the presidential debates are “anti-democratic”:
We haven’t thrown in the towel on this. In fact we haven’t begun to fight. Fight we will because the American people deserve a real debate. The idea that a private corporation – the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) – controlled by the Democratic and Republican Parties is being allowed to silence opposition voices is anti-democratic and unacceptable. Please go to occupytheCPD.org and join the fight to open up our debates. This is just the beginning.
There were also many questions from armchair experts about nuclear energy. A user named npage148 asked:
What is the rationale for the party’s opposition to nuclear energy? All forms of energy production, even green energy, have the potential for environmental damage in the case of natural disaster and technology “mismanagement” such as improper mining procedures when obtaining the materials for photovoltaic cells. Nuclear energy, while producing hazardous waste products, has been demonstrated as a very safe method of energy production (Fukushima is really the only recent nuclear disaster) that has the ability to generate massive amounts of energy on demand. The efficiency of nuclear energy and the ability to mitigate its hazards due to waste products and disaster will only improve as more research is done in the field. It would make sense to use nuclear energy as a near immediate solution to the growing political and environmental disaster that is fossil fuels while allowing other green energy technologies time to mature. Ultimately, nuclear energy can be phased out when more globally friendly technologies comes to fruition. By opposing nuclear energy, the party is required to de facto endorse the use of fossil fuels because currently no other green technology has the ability to replace it as the principle energy source.
Stein replied by highlighting how expensive nuclear power actually is and how the renewable energy sector is a much better investment:
Nuclear energy currently depends on massive public subsidies. Private industry won’t invest in it without public support because it’s not a good investment. The risks are too great. Add to that, three times more jobs are created per dollar invested in conservation and renewables. Nuclear is currently the most expensive per unit of energy created. All this is why it is being phased out all over the world. Bottom line is no one source solution to our energy needs, but demand side reductions are clearly the most easily achieved and can accrue the most cost savings.
Advanced nuclear technologies are not yet proven to scale and the generation and management of nuclear waste is the primary reason for the call for eventual phasing out of the technology. Advances in wind and other renewable technologies have proven globally to be the best investment in spurring manufacturing inovation, jobs and energy sources that are less damaging to our health and environment.
A user named sirloinfurr asked Stein about the Green New Deal, a political program designed by the Green Party.
Firstly, I love you, the “Green New Deal,” and the end of your “Enough” video, where you’re gleefully standing within a garden of beautiful marijuana shrubs. I find your protest to save a woman’s home that led to your arrest in Philadelphia courageous, noble, and heroic. You truly are fighting for the people of America.
As much as I love the “Green New Deal,” I am not convinced that it will reduce deficit. In fact, I think that it may increase the deficit, because it is such a drastic (and highly desired) tranformation. And as much as I’d love to have my student debt forgiven, it is backed by the government, meaning that the government and tax payers would get the burden of paying off the student loans if they were forgiven. So please provide some numbers on how The Green New Deal will help reduce the debt of our nation.
Stein answered and said that the US could afford to pay for the Green New Deal:
Actually the estimated cost (Phillip Harvey, Rutgers University) to get the Green New Deal going are about the cost of the first stimulus package. We can pay for this – and much more – by cutting the bloated military budget in half, having the rich pay their fair share (Wall Street transaction tax, taxing capital gains as income), and by moving to a Medicare for All health care system, (which saves trillions over the coming decade by eliminating the massive wasteful insurance bureaucracy and stabilizing medical inflation). More on this at jillstein.org.
There were also a few questions about the US space program. User lazerpuppynerdsammic asked:
What are your opinions on the US space program and what do you want to see it accomplishing in the future? Will you ensure that space exploration continues in the US? If so, how?
Stein, the science-nerd, answered:
First let me say it’s really important we keep war and militarism out of space, and that space research not be hijacked for the ever-expanding war machine. With that caveat, as a science-nerd, yes i’d love to see continued space exploration. No doubt spending on (peaceful) space exploration is far preferable to war spending. If we cut the bloated trillion-dollar military-industrial-security complex in half, we should have plenty of resources for research. Let’s see how the budget looks once we have a Green New Deal up and running.
User criticalnegation asked about the Green Party’s stance on workers rights:
Your platform states that “decentralized democratic cooperatives” should play a role in the economy and “that economic relations become more direct, more cooperative, and more egalitarian”. How do you propose to achieve this goal? do you propose incentives for coops and other democratic workplaces? or perhaps public awareness campaigns? in italy, for example, marcora law allows people to be forwarded unemployment benefits in order to start a cooperative business.
Stein gave a short answer:
All of the above. We also propose a commission to support economic democracy, including education and financing to promote worker ownership.
The final question which Stein replied to was about the teaching, funding and practice of holistic health approaches. Reddit user legweed asked:
It has disappointed some of us that there is a paragraph in the green platform that says: “We support the teaching, funding and practice of holistic health approaches and as appropriate, the use of complementary and alternative therapies such as herbal medicines, homeopathy, naturopathy, traditional Chinese medicine and other healing approaches.”
Many secular voters support the Green Party, and we support a scientific approach. Would you be willing to remove this from the platform and not fund Homeopathic and *traditional medicine?
And what are your thoughts on the socialist idea (many socialists support you) that workers should own the means of production? Would be willing to set us on a path to reach that goal?
Stein agreed and said that:
Agree. The Green Party platform here takes an admittedly simple position on a complex issue, and should be improved.
I agree that just because something’s untested – as much of the world of alternative medicine is – doesn’t mean it’s safe. But by the same token, being “tested” and “reviewed” by agencies directly tied to big pharma and the chemical industry is problematic as well. There’s no shortage of snake oil being sold there. Ultimately, we need research and licensing establishments that are protected from corrupting conflicts of interest. And their purview should not be limited by arbitrary definitions of what is “natural”.
(For a technical discussion about the challenges/limits of health research, see the chapter on research in a book i co-wrote, “Toxic Threats to Child Development: In Harm’s Way”.)
On the second question – Yes. We need a diversified economy. The Green New Deal creates public and private sector jobs, including worker-owned cooperatives.
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