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Oregon2020 – Charles Rand Barnett

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These transcripts are presented to help users quickly find information they are searching for within the interview. Keywords may be searched using the CTL-F function. The software used provides a very rough but phonetically accurate transcription and for the most part, punctuation is omitted. Human speech patterns, being unique, make reading the interview transcript more difficult than listening to the interview audio file. It is recommended that users use the transcript and audio file together. For more information, visit the Candidate Interview Project at http://Oregon2020.business.site.

This transcript is of the Charles Rand Barnett interview.

DM – Don Merrill
CRB – Charles Rand Barnett

00:00 DM – I’m Don Merrill and I’m talking with Charles Rand Barnett Mr Barnett is running as a Democrat for the 3rd U.S. House district against Earl Blumenauer Mr Barnett welcome

00:13 CRB – Thanks for having me out today Don

00:15 DM – I noticed that you don’t have any political experience but did serve in the Navy when you were in the Navy would you do

00:22 CRB – I was a jazz trombonists in the Navy for seven years

00:27 DM – okay so you joined to be part of the Navy band

00:28 CRB – correct I auditioned

00:32 DM – so so so what was it about music that that made you decide that’s what you want to do in the military

00:37 CRB – it’s just what I what I had been doing for my schooling years

00:45 DM – right

00:46 CRB – I I learned just jazz music in Portland from thera memory trombone from Mark Walters and Jack Quinby

00:53 DM – okay so have you done any musical work since you got oout of the Navy

00:59 CRB – I’ve done a lot of recording actually I was frustrated in the navy not having enough creativity I guess so I got out of the Navy and did a lot of recording it it didn’t lead to financial success so I retrain myself as computer programmer while living on the streets of Seattle

01:19 DM – I want to talk about that about you living on the streets but I want to ask you you lost to Earl Blumenauer two years ago with 1.6% of the vote what do you think is going to be different this time

01:32 CRB – I don’t know I just hope to bring the climate change message forward winning the election I mean I want to do this job I’ve I thought about it a lot I I I want to be leading the climate change conservation effort on a national level anything I can do to bring that cause forward and talking with you here today is bringing that cause forward so

02:03 DM – OK we might get into specifics about that on Twitter at least a few people seem to know of you and your platform one-woman tweeted that she thought you were a single issue candidate she said she thought that you wanted to reduce driving by letting people telecommute more so are you for driving less or are you for telecommuting more

02:25 CRB – I’m for driving last actually I am a fairly one issue candidate climate change is a is a pressing issue we have excellent upward mobility in our society there are social protections I think things are going pretty good in this country things can always be better but you know if if climate change werent an issue you know I’d say let’s just consume all we want you know we’d all have McMansions and yachts or whatever but the reality is the the world is limited and were pushing up against these limits hard climate change is a pressing issue in in in mind my point of view

03:08 DM – OK you say on your website that you were homeless for four years you see the problems here in Portland then in Salem and Eugene with homelessness if you were elected to Earl Blumenauer seat and it becomes your seat how would you fix that

03:25 CRB – well what worked for me to to get out of homelessness was a HUD voucher through central city concern got me off of the streets I used the HUD voucher for almost 2 years and then I was employed and on i made a good living since then but you know we have freedom in this country and were free to fail on too you know and you can help someone out that you can’t make someone learn you can’t in in a free country you can’t make people work you know I do believe in raising the minimum wage I do believe in social protections but there’s limits to how far we can go with that I lived in a car I lived in my Geo Metro for a year and a half and then I lived in a van for a year and a half before it was just hopeless trying to find money to put gas into a vehicle and when I left my vehicle was like sky above me it was summertime when it when I left my vehicle to live on the streets full time you know living in a car a car is like a mini house you know it’s actually you know besides driving around it’s it you know you’re saving energy by living in the car as opposed to running your heater in your house all the time as long as you’re not driving very much which some of the time I was driving quite a bit it’s a pretty bad situation to be in know I was my only skill was being a jazz trombonist in I’m not a very social person I didn’t know how to get into that after I left the Navy so I had to retrain myself in the public libraries while and I didn’t study a lot in library but I spent a lot of time in library out of the elements with my paperwork in learning trigonometry and and from a book from the library and using library computers to do some experiments with computer programming and it’s quite a story you know

05:44 DM – so much so much to unpack there my gosh the first thing that struck me was when you said you arent a very social person but youre running for a US House of Representatives seat

05:56 CRB – it is very contradictory you know social media I assume a lot of candidates these days are using social media I don’t use any social media you know I like to disconnect I’m just up in my studio with my keyboard my mechanical keyboard typing away in thinking about issues I consume a little bit the news but not a whole lot

06:21 DM – so you’re computer savvy your just not social media engaged

06:24 CRB – yes I I I I dont like Small talk is not my thing you know you

06:30 DM – so the other things I wanted to to to touch a little bit is there seems to be a lot of different kinds of political ideologies running through you. There seem to be libertarianism which is do what you are free to do as long as you don’t necessarily mess up anybody else’s life there is progressivism which is climate change is is important we need to pay attention to it there just seems to be a lot of different things going on in you how do you reconcile all of that

07:00 CRB – I call myself a fairly moderate Democrat I’m fiscally moderate I mean again it goes back to the homelessness issue yes we we need to have these social protections but theres only so far we can go that were going to bankrupt ourselves if we give every homeless person a house for free and then what they do you know so

07:26 DM – right I read that you’re on the fence about the idea of universal basic income and for those don’t know universal basic income is an idea where the government or some entity gives citizens a basic living income and now that they don’t have to worry about making a living working they can use that money to achieve whatever they personally feel is the highest best self

07:50 CRB – I think societies ultimately going to wind up there its going to knockout a lot of lower-level jobs and how do we pay for it I mean it if if robots are doing all this work then there’s then it frees people to do other things with their lives theoretically it should lower the amount of work that everyone does but you you have to do something with your time so what you do it if if if a semitruck driver loses his job to automation then all of a sudden instead of being behind the truck he’s at home heating and cooling his house driving around his neighborhood looking for something else to do spending more energy than he was in the truck so automation can create more problems Creating a whole bunch of robots there’s a carbon footprint for every robot this automation can make things better but if were not conscious about making the conservation effort it could just wind up being worse we haven’t made a savings then

08:58 DM – youre also an unfunded candidate now the these days campaigns are all about money besides interviews like this how will you get people know who you are

09:07 CRB – I’ve distributed 2000 or 20,000 mailings this year I I’ve I’ve spent $17,000 of more my own money and as I put skin in the game I’ve created a political platform it’s on my website I’m a writer

09:23 DM – and what what’s your website

09:24 CRB – 4040 in 2020.com 4040 is about 40% of people driving 40% less by working from home it’s good I believe in public schools and children being socialized like that but we should we need to trim our margins you are outsourcing our pollution problem were the highest consumers in the world in the history of of know life in the universe we have some serious margins to trim I think if we took this my platform seriously I think we could reduce carbon our carbon imprint in the United States by 10%

10:03 DM – well now that were talking about reducing the carbon footprint I want to ask about cap And trade

10:09 CRB – I don’t I don’t really believe in cap and Trade to me that’s getting around the issue of really making a savings you know I mean how we can how to stop using carbon you know if if you put it in your tank you’ve used carbon you know it doesn’t matter what industry money is floating around there you know finding other alternatives know a lithium battery and cobalt and you know it’s it’s all movement it’s all activity reducing activity to me is more important than playing some financial trick

10:50 DM – okay will then let’s let’s talk about something else related to the environmental footprint now you have said in the past that you cant really speak to agricultural issues until you had more information about them so do you have more information since you wrote that

11:03 CRB – you know I I keep on trying write a food article on my website and it I find that it’s very subjective I mean I think that we have a serious problem with nitrogen runoff and people that are close to me that are really passionate about this UN report that we only have 60 years of topsoil left I personally don’t think the the the the work organic farming can scale to the amount of food that we need in society but you know it it it takes like 17 times the amount of vegetable feed to to feed livestock to come up with with meat you know so you know eating less meat to me is a huge part of the agricultural piece of this puzzle you know mandating that people eat less meat is ridiculous, but being a national leader and on being elected to Congress with a message of conservation and talking on websites and and and talk shows about eating less meat and why that’s important and getting that message out and putting a face in a voice behind the message instead of it just being some commercial on TV you know conserve your trips take your bags to the store I mean I do these things you know but it’s good to put a face to this whole message

12:31 DM – so I get the impression that you feel it individual efforts arent as effective as a governmentwide program

12:39 CRB – it should be organized you know we should be working together I get the feeling that people like me that are trying to conserve on a daily basis were just doing our own thing and were not organized you know I mean there’s a lot of people that are against the idea of climate change does it even exist you know a lot of people say aoh no that’s just silly stuff you know so were only goin to win over so many of the people but you know 40 60% of the people in this nation do believe that there’s a problem and all those people need to be organized with a national leader you know it should be led from the White House but you know we obviously don’t have that right now and we hear our national Democratic candidates talking about climate change like were going to buy our way out of the problem by building a whole bunch windmills and all that I have an extensive energy article where I crunch some numbers on my website about energy and and wind power and

13:40 DM – you also talk a lot about science you you answered some questions for balletopedia And one of the questions they asked you were some your favorite books and one of the books you reference was a trigonometry book science seems to be very important you now what you make of the trend that seems to be people turning away from science and turning away from experts and I think the anti-vaccine campaign would probably be the best example of that

14:06 CRB – you could say science is technology we use science to come up with technology technology is all based on power really you know can we invent our way out of climate change by making a better you know we have been getting better were the the world that used work on horses and burning wooden fireplaces I still burn a little bit of wood in my fireplace you know of

14:40 DM – right but I think there’s a difference between what you’re talking about and what people don’t want to rely on experts are talking about to say that the world moves faster because we dont have people who make buggy whips anymore me that’s different than saying I don’t want your beliefs about technology to tell me how I should take care of my children or I don’t want your beliefs and climate change to affect the possibility of my job going away

15:05 CRB – everyone’s concerned about their job I mean that’s a personal thing I’m concerned about my job you know I I’ve had to put my campaign on hold so I can get more paid work everyone’s concerned about their personal thing here but you know this really doesn’t lean towards a libertarian idea here where uh where what I’m doing is affecting what other people are doing and what everyone is doing here is using a lot of energy on it it’s it’s going to impact everybody here you know maybe not this decade but in a few hundred years were going to have a major problem because what we’re doing today and theres just simply a better way to do things you know

15:45 DM – so that makes me think of the recent change that city of Portland enacted where now every single-family lot can have duplexes fourplexus some housing advocates or even not pushing for 8 plexus surely that’s an energy-saving efficient use of resources that you champion

16:04 CRB – well you see I know this is a very interesting issue personally I like my house I I I’ll I like tending to the yard I like having some space around me and not being crowded in sure there’s there’s this dream that we can can save a lot of energy by all been living close together making these plexus and all that and I’m for that you know I I’m for I for freedom basically you know that people should be able to do what they want with their plexus or whatever but I I think I think our suburbs are our greatest asset in this country honestly it’s it’s the driving that’s killing things

16:46 DM – okay lets move on you also said that you had started having some drinking problems around the year 2000 and that brings up a lot to talk about

16:57 CRB – I have my dad was a recovering alcoholic so I’ve I was introduced that from a very young age I was drinking in the Navy and and wound up kind of binge drinking I’m a very lightweight drinker I get sick a lot I transitioned over to using marijuana in the end my Navy time and that pretty much killed cured me of the alcohol problem and then being homeless and poor solved me of the marijuana problem and I basically haven’t gone back to any of that I must admit I’ve been drinking a little bit lately I havent drank in years and I’ve been enjoying drinking a little bit a little bit of wine and even a little bit of whiskey lately. But I can tell my liver doesn’t doesn’t want to go back to that I was I was diagnosed with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease 10 years ago because I was drinking soda pop and it took a lot of effort to lose 40 pounds

18:03 DM – 40 seem to be a very significant number in your life

18:06 CRB – it does I keep on running into it h

18:09 DM – OK so with regard to the drinking how do you think that the city and the police need to treat people with alcohol and addiction problems I mean drug court seem to be somewhat successful I talked to judge Donahue in Corvallis a couple of days ago and he presides over a drug court that he says has been very successful in helping people transition from whatever their drug or alcohol problem is to being more productive members of society so what you think about what the city and the police could do

18:46 CRB – well first of all I I I do believe in balance you don’t have to be a teetoltaler to balance the equation if you’re being productive in society your spending time being productive and that’s time that you’re not drinking what the city can do about it I mean again I I I I I’m pretty libertarian that when it comes to that people should be allowed to do what they are doing but you know there is a public problem there where you start infringing on other peoples I don’t know you do want a drunk coming up to you pissing on the streets and you know being obnoxious we do have a certain right in this society to be protected from obnoxiousness I’m going for a national position here there’s a lot of local issues here that you know I I

19:47 DM – but theyre issues that are similar to issue cities around the country dealing with

19:54 CRB – it’s an issue yes I think a lot about all these other issues you know I I like to think I’m fairly well-rounded politically

20:04 DM – I want to talk about employment for second know you also said that you think it’s illegal or it should be illegal for employers to require employees to necessarily have college degrees so for what types of jobs are you talking about because you are a science literate person some jobs obviously require higher-level of skills than others

20:28 CRB – yes I I you know I I I believe that people should be able to self educate themselves out of lower-level jobs obviously in the lab training that you get in an institution can’t be replaced in a lot of jobs you know but a lot of jobs can be a lot of these engineering jobs you can just crunch the numbers on a desk you know I mean I often thought when I was living on the streets that I could the educate myself into being an architect I don’t I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t self educate yourself into being an architect can you get an architectural job with the self education background I don’t know should it be illegal you know I put that idea out there how serious I am more about about even the 440 bill being passed mandating that employers allow their employees to work from home I mean it be great if we didn’t have to have laws to enact that kind of change you know

21:454 DM – I get the impression too from looking at your website that you believe things in a person’s life should proceed in the kind of order like Social Security priority over free educational or climate change and organic farming over healthcare

22:00 CRB – I believe in Social Security I mean it it’s alarming news that you know my generations Social Security benefits can be cut by 25% 25% I mean that the social protection that we need you know what mean that’s you know

22:19 DM – so of if you were elected to the U.S. House before you would pursue anything regarding free education you would first make sure that Social Security was secured

22:26 CRB – I think so yes

22:28 DM – and before you would focus on healthcare you would make sure that work toward climate change and and more efficient organic farming were in the works

22:39 CRB – I do agree without yes I I I think healthcare I mean you know it’d be great if we had single-payer system I really I really think that’s a good idea but you know I think were distracting from the issue of climate change by saying that we want action on climate change and action on healthcare and other actions I I think I think climate change really needs to be the top issue and everything else is secondary thing

23:14 DM – I want to talk a little bit about the international stage just for a second you seem to be in favor of tariffs why is that
23:20 CRB – I came up with the political theory 6 years ago that I I I felt that immigration that people should be more free to come and go from country to country but that the products should have borders I mean our money has borders and the products passing over those borders I mean it if we want it if we want a stronger economy here it it does make sense to have borders for products not people

23:51 DM – you know its very interesting because that is exactly the opposite policy we have right now with the USMCA making the free flow of money across the borders of North America practically frictionless meanwhile the Supreme Court has just the the trump administration has just proposed a modification of its the plan that it introduced last year to increase the number of countries where people have to be restricted from entering the United States

24:22 CRB – that’s correct him and the tariffs that the trump has been proposing here and and and and and and enacting how successful have they really been I mean you know does does a manufacturing center in Asia a factory for the world makes sense I mean I I can get behind that idea maybe it does make sense to have a unified world factory in in shipping everything over I haven’t crunched all these numbers but maybe that does make some sense when it comes to our personal economics I think manufacturing at home makes sense if they’re producing everything and were just giving them all our money for these products in all that bad for our economy but you know in the big scheme of things efficiency is you know you want efficiency

25:20 DM – do you feel the same way about the intellectual property because a lot of conservatives and liberals democrats and Republicans have been giving the president tepid praise for his hard line against China and the way China has more or less been brought to heel for how it’s been stealing American technology

25:42 CRB – yeah I I follow a little bit about that it must be hard to be in China and maybe just someone on the on the line seeing all these technologies and machines being used I mean how can you help but not steal them or use them I mean there are just like this is this is a steering wheel on a car all cars have steering wheel so you know we see this in our factories all the date everyday why wouldnt I use this technology on my own now so

26:12 DM – that reminds me something you said earlier you were talking about the deficit and debt do you feel the deficit spending is important because as a lot of people do because it helped grow the economy and or and and the American economy will always recover from deficit spending or do you feel that the country has an obligation to live within its means

26:30 CRB – I think the U-shaped curve of the debt to deficit I mean deficit to our debt to GDP the U-shaped curve from World War II to now I think it’s significant you know if interest payments all all this you know the interest payments could be a burden you know you know I don’t know I believe in in in lowering the deficit yes it’s out of control

27:07 DM – okay so I got two questions left but one question is sort of like related to everything we’ve talked about so far you said that you are single issue candidate but we’ve talked about a bunch of issues do you feel like you need to expand your palette

27:21 CRB – I care about all these other other issues I think about them a lot but I think climate change and and having a national conservation effort that’s organized behind an individual I’m trying to be that individual because I don’t see that in our society I don’t see it an individual going for a national role like this with the conservation effort if if there were presidential candidates talking about conservation right now I be totally behind them but right now I I’m I’m pretty dissatisfied with with goings on in our national politics so I’m trying to be that conservation voice

28:01 DM – were you happy back in the 90s when Al Gore was that candidate we you happy with with the leadership he was providing are you going

28:07 CRB – its a shame we didn’t get al gore you know wow it wouldve been a different world if we would’ve gotten Al Gore

28:14 DM – are you so then are you running in the model of Al Gore

28:18 CRB – no I get the feeling from Al Gore that the that he’s more towards the side gonna build our way out of the problem I more on the conservation side I think that you know were using a lot of resources in this company in this country and the you know I think we can seriously trim our margins without with without changing productivity

28:44 DM – okay this my last question why should people Oregon vote for you

28:50 CRB – it’s a vote for this conservation message plain simple we hear a lot about climate change in the news it’s it’s becoming a pressing problem we need to vote for this kind of thing you know I’m trying to be a voice of of reason in this movement that it’s not just up to the government’s to solve our problems

29:15 DM – alright mr barnette thank you very much for talking I really appreciate it

29:20 CRB – thanks don

29:22 DM – I’m Don merrill been talking with Charles rand Barnett Mr. Barnett is a candidate for the third U.S. House district thanks listening

Written by Interviewer

March 3, 2020 at 01:23

Posted in Scratchpad

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