Do you have questions about Libertarian gubernatorial candidate John Tatar as you prepare to vote in the August primary?
WDET, in conjunction with the station’s Detroit Journalism Cooperative gubernatorial interviews, got some answers from him on a wide range of policies and plans, including some submitted by audience members.
- Age: 69
- Elected Experience: None
- Other Experience: High school teacher, home construction, Medical Service Corps
- Education: Wayne State University
- Campaign Website: John Tatar for Governor
- Facebook: John Tatar
Click HERE for more from WDET on John Tatar.
You’re one of two Libertarians running for the party’s nomination in the August primary. The other is Bill Gelineau. What makes you the better of the two?
John Tatar: Well, I think I have the school background, and I think I have the military background, which helps me plan, organize, etc. I did run a construction company since 1984, so I built homes. I’m able to handle budgets, when it’s required, to work with people that work with me. I think I have gained fantastic abilities to be calm and collective with students and patient. So I think I have a great background, and a great variety of different things in my background that would be very positive toward running the state of Michigan.
Why vote Libertarian?
John Tatar: Because Libertarians believe in a limited constitutional government and more liberty for the people. They are very much in favor of the republic that this country was founded on, That we the people are in charge of the government, and the government’s supposed to work for us. Over the years, this has been violated by our government because they now think that they’re in charge and they can do whatever they want, and corporations can do whatever they want, and the people are what they call “consumers”. We are citizens of this country, and being a citizen, we have the power and we are sovereign.
What is the proper role of state government and what would your governing style be like if he were elected?
John Tatar: Well, the proper role for government is to listen to the pulse of the people, what the people need and what the people want. Obviously to take care of the infrastructure. It’s their house, they’re in charge of the house, so to speak. The infrastructure, the roads and all that has to be done, and the pollution of waterways. We have the greatest waterways in the United States and they’re very polluted. And back 30 years ago, 40 years ago, when I was teaching school, I was singing a song called “Pollution” back then, so they haven’t fixed anything with the pollution problems in the water. Now, we’re running into electronic pollution with the “smart meters”, with the cell towers, and Wi-Fi, and everything else that’s being involved. We are electrical beings and we get affected by those electrical issues or by those electrical devices.
WDET listeners have identified four issues of importance to them in this year’s election: Education, water, transportation, and gerrymandering. How would you improve Michigan’s roads and infrastructure if you were governor?
John Tatar: That is something that has to be done over a long period of time. Michigan has the money. Michigan’s always had the money. They continue to tax us. They continue to play the “I’m broke” part, but they end up wasting money on other issues. One of the particular issues that I ran into was the purchase of the Senate office building, which they paid $41 million for. And that building was appraised for only $12 million. Somebody made $29 million on that deal. And it wasn’t the people of Michigan. So they have the money, otherwise how would they be able to buy these kinds of luxurious things such as a Senate office building?
Would you raise taxes to fix the roads?
John Tatar: Absolutely not. I would not raise taxes. We need to eliminate the income tax. The problem with the amount of taxes that we have is it keeps people constantly broke and constantly working to try to make a living. Some of them are having difficulty making ends meet. This is a problem because when they’re that tight on their budgets, they can’t spend money, and they can’t help the economy by buying things in Michigan to help boom the economy. And we if we brought industry back like we had it in the 1940s—I know we were the auto industry back then—but we’ve got new technologies out there we’ve got new industries that we could develop. We’ve got technologies on how to take care and clean up the environment, green technologies, all kinds of new things. These things should be coming into Michigan because we have the infrastructure to deal with that as we have in the past.
But doesn’t state government need a certain level of revenue to do basic functions?
John Tatar: We have a gasoline tax. We have other kinds of indirect taxes that they put on us. We have the sales tax. In John Engler’s time, they raised the sales tax from 4 percent to 6 percent, promising us a reduction in the property tax. But property tax is based on inflation, so now we have the same high property taxes, and we have a 6 percent sales tax. So this is a constant—“provide more and more money for us, we need more money.” But the problem is that the people in the state of Michigan are not earning more money. The economy isn’t booming. People are struggling. But the government isn’t struggling.
How would you ensure that we have safe, clean drinking water?
John Tatar: I really believe that those people that have polluted the system—and there have been a lot of corporations out there that have polluted the system through toxic waste—need to clean up their act. They need to be charged all the money responsible for cleaning up and taking care of their particular pollution issues, rather than have put it on the people and put it on the state. Because it isn’t the state issue, it’s a corporation issue. They’ve made millions of dollars on and then they’ve turned around and dumped the toxic waste into the waterways and on the land. This is part of the problem. We’re importing waste from Canada, toxic waste. I don’t get it! Canada’s got a large enough piece of property over there, why don’t they dump it in Canada? Why do they dump it in the U.S., in Michigan?
Do you support tax breaks for corporations to spur development?
John Tatar: Well, the climate is what requires looking at. The climate to bring industry into Michigan is not only the tax break, but it’s the workforce that can handle what the particular corporation needs. It’s the process that will educate those particular people in those particular trades and or technologies. So, it’s a lot of things that have to be looked at, not just a tax break.
Would you do away with the corporate tax breaks or offer them in some cases?
John Tatar: Well, the interesting part about this is that the corporation doesn’t pay the tax, the corporate tax. We do when we buy the product. There’s a corporate tax based on that. So, if we’re paying that tax to begin with, and we’re giving the corporation a break, then that extra money that we’ve been paying as a tax doesn’t get to the state. Instead, the corporation gets the benefit of a break on that.
How would you improve Michigan’s schools if you were governor?
John Tatar: I taught school for 31 years and I taught kids different trades. I taught the home construction program where kids build houses. Some of the kids that couldn’t handle a pencil in class, didn’t know math, didn’t know English and couldn’t read, you gave them a blueprint. You said “our final goal is to have this house by the end of the year”. And all of a sudden they could read, they could write, they could do math. Because I wasn’t doing it for them, I was helping them and directing them. I did teach English. I did teach industrial arts, woodshop, drafting, as well as American history and government. There has to be a need. The student has to have a desire that this is important to them because somewhere along the line they’re going to need it. I want to get rid of Common Core and No Child Left Behind. Some children need to be left behind. Some children ought to be left behind because they don’t have the skills to move on to the next level.
So, how do you get them to the next level?
John Tatar: You have to give them reasons to work, and reasons to learn and work at it. Some kids at that particular period in time in their life aren’t interested in English or reading. Maybe a year from now, that student would take that class, or take that interest and become more involved in it.
Do you think gerrymandering is a problem in Michigan, and if so, what should be done about it?
John Tatar: I do think it’s a problem and I’m not quite sure if their solution [Voters Not Politicians] is the best solution at this point. It’s something that’s going to have to be studied and figured out how it’s going to work the best. But it is a problem you put a party into office and that party readjusts the lines so they can get their party’s people back in office. We have to be able to vote for the candidates of our choice.
Voters are going to decide in November whether to make recreational marijuana. We already have legal medical marijuana. Do you support or oppose legal marijuana, and why?
John Tatar: Cannabis was brought in to the United States way back at the beginning of the country. It was in the 1940s that the oil companies, the textile companies, the paper companies, and those big industries came up with this idea of [calling it] marijuana. They couldn’t have said “we’re going to ban cannabis,” because the people would’ve rebelled. They came up with this “marijuana” idea, and they use that to make it evil and get laws passed in the federal government to ban it. But hemp was one of the major products in the United States for years. Paper companies didn’t want competition from hemp. [Opponents] didn’t want competition with the oil companies, because hemp is a totally biodegradable green product that produces no pollution, but yet can power a vehicle, and you could use the oil from hemp. We can make clothes out of hemp, plastics out of hemp. In fact, Henry Ford in the 1940s made a vehicle almost completely out of hemp. He took a sledgehammer to it and showed that this is what he called a thermoplastic. It was made from hemp. So, the steel industries and all the other industries out there have a problem with a product that would be considered an agricultural product, cause [it creates] no pollution at all. You want to have no pollution in the environment from the oil industries or any of the other industries. Then you would develop hemp and you would use the products to build houses, to make clothes, to do whatever. Our bodies do have receptors for cannabis products—oils, etc. So, it’s actually a good thing for us, not a bad thing for us.
Immigration is a national issue, but also a state issue, because we’re a border state. What kind of policies would you have if you were governor?
John Tatar: Well, I obviously wouldn’t have sanctuary cities, because immigration is a federal issue and immigration is in the Constitution as a responsibility of the president. I have no issue with somebody coming in legally going through the process. I do have problems with people coming across the borders. There is no other country in the entire world that allows somebody to walk unannounced, illegally, and stay there, and take advantage of those people.
A lot of those folks are coming here to escape violence and oppression, much like the people who founded this country. Do you think immigration overall has been a net good for America?
John Tatar: My parents came from another country. I agree that immigration isn’t a bad thing and we like the multiculturalism. But when you come to America, you are an American. You’re not going to come to America and try to change America to your culture that you left. The other problem is that we have created the immigration problem, because we bombed out Syria and Lebanon and all of the Middle East countries. These people are living in very poor conditions and they want to find a place that they can be safe with their family. So, they immigrate over here when they can.
You just want them to do it legally.
John Tatar: Yes, absolutely.
Michigan’s government is considered to be one of the least transparent among all the states, if not the least transparent. How would you make it more transparent?
John Tatar: The first thing I would do is see a new oath of office. That oath of office says that if you take a bribe, if you promise anything, if you are being paid for particular things with the intention that those companies or corporations that pay you are going to expect something from you when you get into Lansing, you can be held liable and end up in jail. The problem that we have right now is you get a slap on the wrist, or maybe have to pay a couple hundred dollars, or a thousand or two. But in the scheme of things, it doesn’t keep the people from taking a little graft here, take a little graft there. They’re paying attention to those that are paying the bills, that are paying them the money to operate. One big problem right now is the 5G [telecommunication] system that they’re trying to force upon us. The Senate voted for it and gave it approval. The idea is computers are fast, but it doesn’t matter. It’s the damage that’s doing to the human body. The human body is electrical. And if that doesn’t resonate with the body, it creates problems with the body. I’ve been involved with the “smart” meter issue for some time, and I have seen that some serious issues, health issues, heart palpitations.
[Editor’s note: scientific studies have generally concluded that smart meters emit less RF radiation than common devices such as cell phones, and have not been proven to cause serious health problems.]
How open should our government be?
John Tatar: The state government should be pretty open. One part of the problem is such as I mentioned the state office Senate building. This stuff goes on behind closed doors. What happened to the $60 million that was collected for roads from the gasoline tax? Where did that go? How was it spent? We don’t know. You’d have to do some serious digging to find out.
State and local governments sometimes require the public and journalists to pay a fee to obtain information through the Freedom of Information Act. Do we need to ease that burden?
John Tatar: Absolutely. Plus, a lot of it’s redacted, so you don’t even know what it says because they cut out some of the major lines in there. So you’re not really sure what that FOIA request. If you’re working for me, if you are my public servant, my public functionary, and your job is to work for me, then I should know everything you’re doing, shouldn’t I? Your private life is not my concern, what you do outside the job. But while you’re on the job, while you’re working for me, then I should know what you’re doing.