Thom answers the Liberty Questions below:
I) Re. the U.S. Financial System:
1. What is your view of the monetary system in the U.S. today?
Our current system, with its runaway inflation and lack of respect for the value of a dollar, is simply the natural result of pure fiat currency. Our nation would benefit from a return to a commodity-based currency.
2. What corrective actions could we take right now to improve the economy?
In the long term, we must reduce invasive regulations that make it difficult for business to do business. We will see the most immediate benefit from removing such regulations on small businesses and new businesses, allowing them to create new growth to replace the jobs we have lost. I specifically support reducing regulations that encumber home-based businesses, like small-scale bakeries and farmers who sell their wares at “farmers’ markets” and other community events.
3. Do you agree with the actions the Federal Reserve has taken to solve the financial crisis? If not, what could the Fed have done differently?
The very philosophy behind the Federal Reserve—centralized control and central planning—is anti-growth. Only the markets can “solve” economic downturns.
4. Should the Federal Reserve be audited fully, no secrets, or does it need to keep some information under wraps?
Any entity that acts with the force of government must have no secrets from its citizens. The Federal Reserve must comply with all lawful requests for access to its records, including requests from Congress. I support the members of Congress who are wish to audit the Federal Reserve.
II) Re. Foreign Policy:
1. What is your opinion on current US foreign policy?
We have the best-trained, most courageous volunteer military in the history of the world. We must honor their willingness to serve by sending them abroad sparingly and only in the defense of our nation, not to start offensive wars or to engage in uninvited “nation-building.”
2. How should we fight a “war on terror”?
We cannot win a “war on terror” by allowing terrorists to drag us down to their level, in terms of attitudes, tactics, or rhetoric. We must not turn foreign nations into terrorist breeding grounds by behaving in ways that confirm terrorists’ rhetoric about America. We must neither prop up brutal dictators that support terrorists, nor punish foreign civilians for the actions of terrorists.
3. Should the U.S. occupy other countries? If not, would you push to close all bases? Are there any you would keep open?
Our military is in place for our own national defense. More American troops at home means more security for our own borders and more soldiers at home with their families. Other developed nations with robust economies must be responsible for their own national security.
4. Should the U.S. maintain its standing army?
Our Constitution permits the federal government to “provide for the common defense.” Our professional military is a permissible way to meet this goal; even though they were skeptical of standing armies, the Founders did not prohibit the federal government from establishing one. I do not believe, however, that the existence of our military relieves individual Americans of our obligation to be prepared to defend the Republic in concert with the military should the need arise.
5. Is the Patriot Act necessary to protect America? If not, would you vote to repeal it?
We are least safe when we are least free and when our government is least susceptible to scrutiny. The USA-PATRIOT Act violates the Bill of Rights in nearly every way imaginable, from secret courts to warrantless surveillance. I will support our federal representatives in any and every effort to curtail and repeal it.
III) Re. Personal Liberty:
1. What information may the U.S. government legally gather about its citizens? When would it be necessary to overstep those boundaries?
Under the Fourth Amendment, the government may gather protected information only when citizens volunteer it or pursuant to a lawfully-authorized warrant, based on probable cause. “Necessity” is irrelevant.
2. What limits, if any, should be placed on the U.S. government’s ability to search its citizens without a warrant?
This answer could get very, very long, but one example is the most troubling and needs to be addressed the most immediately: strip searches in schools. We must protect our children’s privacy and dignity by prohibiting public school officials from strip-searching any minor child without his or her parent’s permission or a warrant based on probable cause.
3. Ought the U.S. government be allowed to protect its citizens’ health by outlawing foods it considers unsafe, or to force medicate (i.e., fluoridation) or force vaccinate citizens?
Under a proper reading of the Commerce Clause, the federal government has no power or authority to do so. Decisions about health and safety are best left to individuals and their families. Government’s role in those decisions, if any, should be to ensure consumers have access to accurate information and to provide recourse against fraud.
4. What controls, if any, should be placed on the right to own a gun? Is there an effective way to keep guns out of the hands of madmen and criminals without encroaching on the rights of free, law-abiding citizens?
Existing gun laws do too much to disarm law-abiding citizens without making a meaningful impact on criminals’ ability to obtain firearms. The best way to protect citizens from criminals with guns is to ensure that good people have access to firearms for their own defense.
IV) Re. U.S. Sovereignty:
1. Is our involvement in and subjugation to global organizations, such as WHO (World Health Organization), NATO, the UN, etc., a benefit to U.S. citizens?
We must endeavor to be civil with all nations, but our government should be beholden to no one but its own citizens.
2. Would you work to repeal international agreements that purport to hold U.S. citizens and/or property under its jurisdiction, or do you think there might be times when benefits outweigh concessions?
U.S. citizens should never be beholden to governments in which they cannot participate. International treaties should only have lawful effect on our citizens if they are specifically approved by our representatives; and our representatives should be extremely selective about doing so.
3. Are trade agreements with other nations, i.e., NAFTA, CAFTA, good for U.S. citizens?
True free trade requires no “agreement” between governments; and restrictions on true free trade are rarely good for U.S. citizens.
4. Should the U.S. give foreign aid to other countries? If yes, for what purposes would it be justified? If not all countries, which would you continue to support?
Even foreign aid given with good intentions and for limited positive purposes historically has little positive effect on the plights of developing nations. Often it is used to prop up dictatorships that would otherwise be vulnerable to their own people. Private investment in developing nations is a much better source of growth than funding from foreign governments.
V) Re. State Sovereignty:
1. When does state law take precedent over federal law?
Under our Constitution’s Supremacy Clause, federal law is the supreme law of the land; but the federal government’s role should be limited to the powers enumerated in the Constitution. We must support and elect federal representatives who understand the limits of federal government and who will vote to repeal overreaching restrictions on our states.
2. Would you stand up to the federal government and demand that it stay within the bounds of its enumerated powers and out of state business?
3. Do federal officers have the right to arrest non-military citizens within the individual states for any crimes?
Yes, but only pursuant to a valid arrest for a specifically-defined crime. It is not unreasonable to ask that federal authorities keep local and state law enforcement apprised of their intentions.
VI) Illegal Immigration:
1. What do you see as the #1 problem with illegal immigration?
Right now it is the federal government’s attitude. The federal government refuses to take meaningful steps to stop illegal immigration, then wastes taxpayers’ money suing the states when they try to solve their own illegal immigration problems. Until that bizarre attitude changes, illegal immigration will continue to be a vexing problem.
2. What actions could we take to stop illegal immigrants from taking advantage of social services?
Simplify the process for verifying immigration status.
VII) Misc. Questions:
1. If you could make one amendment to the U.S. Constitution, what would it be?
Redefine the commerce clause to make the Founders’ original intent more explicit, or repeal the interstate commerce power altogether. Either step would eliminate the vast majority of overreaching federal legislation.
2. Would you vote to end government subsidies to private industry?
3. What should our government’s action be against Julian Assange, if any?
As an attorney, I choose not to comment on pending cases as I am aware of how the facts of those cases are often not revealed to the public completely.
4. Do you know what Agenda 21/Sustainable Development and the Communitarian agenda is? Do you support it? Why or why not?
Individuals should be free to choose what lifestyles or land uses to adopt or to reject, “sustainable” or not. If an individual chooses to follow an international body’s suggestions on sustainable living, that is fine; but no government should force him or her to do so.
Your Name: Thom Gray
Office you seek: State House of Representatives
District: 4 (Carter and Unicoi Counties)
PRIMARY DATE: August 2 (uncontested in the Republican primary; general election November 6)
Mailing Address: 141 Honeycutt Street, Elizabethton, TN 37643
Phone Number: (four two three) four four O-82 eight O