Buffalo Beast: This is Howie do it

The BEAST Interrogates NY Green Party Gubernatorial Candidate Howie Hawkins
by Ian Murphy
October 17, 2010

You don’t get a lot of press compared to Cuomo and Paladino. Why is that, and have you ever considered threatening a reporter or forwarding equine pornography emails to get more of the spotlight?

We don’t need stunts to get attention. Our Green New Deal speaks for itself:

  • full employment, with government as the employer of last resort putting people to work in public works and public services that satisfy unmet community needs,
  • universal health care through a publicly-financed, single-payer system,
  • fully funded public schools,
  • free tuition and SUNY and CUNY colleges,
  • and big green public investments in renewable energy, mass transit, green buildings, organic agriculture, and clean manufacturing, which will revive the economy, create jobs, and head off climate catastrophe.

We pay for it by progressive tax reform that makes the rich pay their taxes again. Stop rebating the $16 billion Stock Transfer Tax back to Wall Street. Raise $10 billion through a 50% Bankers Bonus Tax on the $20 billion in cash bonuses Wall Street speculators paid themselves out of the trillions in federal bailout money. Raise $8 billion more and give 95% of us a tax cut by restoring the 1972 progressive income tax structure. That’s $34 billion in additional revenue. Subtract the $9 billion projected deficit and we have $25 billion for the Green New Deal.

The Green New Deal is right in the mainstream of New York’s progressive political tradition. It’s a plan for prosperity, not a plan for austerity like the Wall Street Democrats and the Tea Party Republicans tell us is inevitable. The state’s fiscal crisis is politics, not economics; money-drenched politicians, not impersonal market forces. The state’s fiscal crisis is the result of 30 years of tax cuts for the rich. If they pay their fair share of taxes, we will have the money we need for the Green New Deal.


Your candidacy has been endorsed by the Socialist Party of New York. Why do you hate the American way of life and small, mom-and-pop conglomerates like Bechtel Corp.?

The American way of life for most of us is working to earn our way in the world, not feeding at the public trough like Bechtel and other predatory giant corporations with their state contracts with guaranteed cost-plus profits, special regulatory and tax loopholes, and other privileges of crony capitalism. … Americans believe in the Work Ethic; it’s how one fulfills the American Dream. Socialists want to guarantee the right to a job at a living wage so you can fulfill the Work Ethic and the American Dream. Corporate giants like Bechtel lobby the government against full employment policies because they want workers desperate for jobs and competing with each other for them instead of bargaining collectively for good wages and benefits.

The American way of life is also about democracy. Socialism is about extending democracy into the economy, not having the state run everything. It’s the Bechtels that rely on a corporate nanny state. Socialists want economic democracy, whether in public enterprises governed by publicly elected boards or in the private sector in cooperatives owned and operated democratically by their workers or consumers.

Socialists are small businesses best friends. Socialists make sure the public avenues of private commerce are fully funded and well maintained. Roads, rails, utilities, infrastructure, schools, market regulations, anti-trust enforcement, and so forth make private enterprise in a modern economy possible. Socialists would also socialize some costs for all businesses to make the market playing field level, notably in health care, where today the high cost of private health insurance is prohibitive for many small and not-so-small businesses.


If my grasp of history is correct, the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution was put in place to protect corporate citizens from the loss of life, liberty and property. If elected governor, you will try to end corporate personhood. Why do you want to reinstate slavery in New York?

The 14th Amendment was enacted in 1868 to protect the freed slaves and all other natural persons, not artificial creations called corporations. The Robber Barons of that era, seeking now to dominate working people through wage slavery instead of chattel slavery, got back in 1886 in Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad. That Supreme Court case recognized corporations as persons for purposes of the 14th Amendment. That corporate personhood decision laid the basis for the domination of our economy and politics by giant corporations. It’s why corporate interests can finance both parties in the two-party system of corporate rule and present us with the illusion of choice. It’s like old Boss Tweed who used to say, “You can vote for anyone you want as long as I get to pick the candidates.” The Green Party wants to end corporate personhood so that economic enterprises will serve people, not people the corporations.


Is former HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo at all responsible for the subprime mortgage meltdown? If not, what is wrong with that dude and why shouldn’t New Yorkers elect him?

Cuomo missed the $8 trillion housing bubble and all the corporate fraud that pumped it up. Now he wants to protect the economic elites that made this mess in the first place by making us pay for their continued tax breaks in New York by cutting and gutting state agencies, public workers, and public services. So he not only failed to take action to prevent the crime, now he’s helping the crooks get away with it. Look at his campaign funders. It’s the financial and real estate interests — plus the national Tea Party movement’s financial godfather, David Koch, who gave Cuomo over $50,000.


Marijuana: should it be legal and why, and do you know where I can get any?

Marijuana should be legal, taxed, and regulated. And so should its cousin, hemp, an agricultural crop and industrial feedstock that is a valuable source of fibers, fuels, lubricants, and super-healthy food (the seeds). … Marijuana should be legal because prohibition of pot has had the same consequences as prohibition of alcohol did — organized crime, violence, and bad product making people sick or at least ripped off.

I don’t partake, but I could easily find you some. It’s sellers are hawking it like popcorn, peanuts, and beer at the ballgame on the streets of any sizeable city. After 40 years of the war on drugs, illicit drugs are more prevalent and available than ever.

The war on drugs has targeted black and brown communities, filled the prisons with people of color, and substituted prison construction and prison guards for socially useful jobs and economic development. It’s time to end the war on drugs and the racial profiling that has gone with it.


And finally, why should I waste my vote on the Green Party?

The wasted vote for progressives is a vote for Cuomo. He will take your vote as support for his conservative agenda of the Wall Street Democrats. You will give away your power because he will take your vote for granted. He will think, what are you going to do, vote for Tea Party Republicans like Paladino? … Don’t be scared into voting defensively for Cuomo as the lesser evil against what you fear most, a Paladino administration. Nate Silver, the statistical wizard of prediction in sports and politics at fivethirtyeight.com and the New York Times, gives Cuomo a 99.8% chance of winning and Paladino a 0.02% chance of winning (see http://elections.nytimes.com/2010/forecasts/governor/new-york).

So use your vote to send a clear message of support for progressive policies to the people, media, and lawmakers. Help establish the Green Party as the third major party and at the center of politics and policy debates. If the Green gubernatorial ticket of Hawkins and Mattera gets 50,000 votes, the Green Party becomes an official ballot line party in New York for the next four years. If the Green gubernatorial ticket gets upwards of about 200,000 votes, it will place the Green Party on the third row on the ballot and well on its way to establishing itself as New York’s third major party.

Additional information