In the Sixth installment of the 2018 Texas Leftist Candidate Questionnaire, we hear from Matt Harris, candidate for the U.S. House, Texas’ 10th Congressional District.
Please note: Responses have been received directly from the candidate, and have been posted ver batim from the email received. This is done out of fairness to all candidates. Publishing these responses does not constitute an endorsement, but will be considered during the endorsement process.
TL: What is your name, as it will appear on the ballot?
MH: Matt Harris
TL: Are you a current or former elected official? If so what office(s)?
MH: No. This is my first run for elected office.
TL: As a political candidate, you clearly care about what happens in certain levels of government. In your own words, why is government important?
MH: Civilization requires the creation of some privileges such as natural resource control. Participation in government and wielding it’s powers is itself a privilege. The creation of privileges will create inequality of wealth and power among citizens. Unless government steps in to check the powerful, they will simply exploit everyone else. Government is not doing a good job of this at present.
Some goods and services simply cannot be provided by free markets but are still important, and even necessary, for civil society. Government must provide these services which include a justice system, transportation infrastructure, external protection, education, healthcare, currency creation, and environmental protections, to name just a few. These needed services must be supplied in a way that meets the needs of all citizens. Government is crucially different from private business in this aspect. The current government is failing in these responsibilities for much of our population.
TL: If elected, name your top 3 priorities you hope to accomplish for the upcoming legislative session. Describe how you plan to accomplish them.
MH: Our dysfunctional economy – We need a high-wage, entrepreneurial economy. The enduring way to accomplish this is to shift our tax system away from work and productive investment and onto monopoly power, particularly natural resource monopolies. Monopoly power is at the root of the absurd, unnatural, and unsustainable distribution of wealth in the U.S. and much of the world. The unusual nature of monopoly income has gone by several names in economic history: “The rent of land” (Adam Smith), “economic rent (classical economists), “surplus value” (Marx), and “Unearned income” (U.S. Income Tax code). We need to redirect our tax code to collect economic rent (my preferred term) and stop taxing wages and productive investment. We also need to break up the big banks and restore a modern version of Glass-Steagall.
Sustainability – Climate change is real, is man-made, and requires our urgent attention. I favor taxing carbon extraction and rebating it back to the public on a per-capita basis. Incentives matter. I also favor large increases in federal research money for carbon-neutral fuels. We must require patent sharing as a condition of participation. Our agricultural practices are also not sustainable. We are depleting soils and degrading our water. These are the result of policy choices and these practices can be reversed.
Reclaiming the language – Our public discourse is profoundly degraded. Tax shifts are not tax reduction. Science is not a matter of casual opinion. War is not peace and empire is not defense. Talk of “free markets” without addressing monopoly power is a ridiculous conversation. Unlimited political spending is not free speech. Corporations are not people. I favor a constitutional amendment abolishing corporate personhood.
TL: In the coming years, the state of Texas is on course to have an unprecedented boom in the state’s population. But with more people and more opportunities comes an ever-increasing strain on Texas roads and infrastructure. Describe your thoughts on what needs to be done to improve Texas infrastructure now so we can plan for a bright future for the state.
MH: We need a holistic approach to transportation that will include many elements. The total costs and impact must be considered, including run-off, maintenance, and ongoing public services. We need better urban design and we need to more energy efficient, and multi-modal forms of transportation. Well designed infrastructure always raises land values in the areas served. We need to recapture these increases as a means of paying for infrastructure. I think it is crucial that we link the benefit of infrastructure (increase in land value income) to the building of infrastructure (flow of costs). If we do not create this linkage then the new infrastructure becomes another means to redistribute wealth, mainly from poorer to richer.
TL: Even as impressive growth continues in around the state’s urban centers, rural Texans are faced with a healthcare crisis. According to Laura Garcia of the Victoria Advocate, rural communities across the state have lost 18 hospitals in less than five years, and this was before any additional challenges worsened by natural disasters like Hurricane Harvey. Without hospital services in or near their local communities, the medical and emergency care is at an increasing risk our citizens. As a legislator, how would you plan to address this issue and help Texas’ vital rural healthcare facilities stay open?
MH: This healthcare crisis was created by the Texas legislature when they refused to take the Medicaid expansion funds. It was unspeakably irresponsible and ideologically driven. There is no free market in medical services and we need to plan accordingly. I favor returning to a policy of funding public hospitals. Medicaid expansion is the most expedient route, but it will require a new state legislature. If the Texas lege will not cooperate then other funding methods must be found.
TL: In 2017, the Federal Communications Commission voted to overturn an Obama-era rule which classifies internet service providers as public utilities, and thereby governed under the 1934 Communications Act. This decision essentially erases the principle that Internet Service Providers should treat all online content equally without giving preference to particular sources, otherwise known as Net Neutrality. Please describe your views on this decision, and whether or not you would support legislation at the State or Federal level to uphold the principle of Net Neutrality.
MH: This was a corrupt decision that will result in the major telcos raising rates, providing mediocre service, and squeezing millions of small businesses that operate on the internet. It is an excellent example of the terrible power of monopoly. The ruling will simply re-distribute wealth from productive people (many millions) to the shareholders and executives of the big telcos (a few hundred people). Monopoly power must be neutralized in all of its forms. I favor congress requiring net neutrality and overruling the FEC. I also favor going further and shifting the telco taxes to direct them at the telco natural resource base rather than the transactions. This would further neutralize the telco power and possibly break them up into more responsive, smaller entities.
TL: What makes you the best candidate for this office?
MH: My understanding of real economics is a perspective no other candidate is bringing to the table. If elected, I will fight for real economic change.
TL: When not on the campaign trail, how do you like to spend your free time?
MH: My main recreation is swing dance. I also read a lot. I have four children spanning the millennial generation and time with them is golden. I also enjoy long walks in the Austin greenbelts.
Thanks to Mr. Harris for the responses.
Texas Primary Election Day is Tuesday March 6th, and Early Voting begins February 20th. For the Primary, you must register to vote no later than February 5th (if you’re unsure of your voting status, here’s where you can check your registration). Early voting procedures can differ depending on your county, but here are helpful links to some: Harris County, Fort Bend County, Brazoria County, Montgomery County, and Galveston County.
For other areas, visit the Texas Secretary of State’s Elections Page for your county information.
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