Interviewing Kristin Tate About Her New Book, ‘Government Gone Wild’
Last week, I interviewed Kristin Tate about her new book, Government Gone Wild: How D.C. Politicians Are Taking You for a Ride — and What You Can Do About It. What follows is a slightly edited transcript of our conversation.
John: You told an interesting story in the book about your friend Jack and his Section Eight housing. Talk about that a little bit; I think people would be interested.
Kristin: Yeah. So I grew up in New Hampshire and I have this family friend named Jack. He owns a ton of properties up in the New Hampshire and Boston area and he used to, when I was growing up, have these horrible tenants who would never pay their rent.
He used to tell my family stories about how he would actually have to go knocking door-to-door sometimes with a baseball bat for his own protection to get rent because some of these tenants he had were drug addicts; they were violent and they just wouldn’t pay rent. The eviction process is really difficult, especially in New Hampshire. It takes many months.
Kristin: It’s just a big pain in the butt. You can have tenants living there and not paying you and you can’t even kick them out for many months.
So eventually he discovered this section housing thing where basically instead of sticking low income families into public housing like the projects, the government gives them a certain amount of money for a month that they can spend on any apartment they want. So you can go to – you can basically find your own apartment and the government will pay your rent, as long as it’s under a certain amount. He figured out this was his key to renting to low income families because you can expect the rent every month, the government never misses a rent check and you don’t have to deal with all this nonsense of you know like, knocking on the door trying to get your rent; you know you’re going to get paid every time.
The landlords jack up the price on these apartments because the government is not going to negotiate; they’ll pay whatever the heck you charge. So it’s great for landlords, it’s great for tenants who use such and guess who gets screwed? The taxpayers once again.
So I saw this first-hand growing up; it’s a big problem.
John: And there are a lot of people who didn’t want to leave, who would never leave that either, right?
Kristin: Oh, yeah. There is a long [inaudible 00:06:56] for your whole life, there is no time limit. The only way you get kicked off is if you get a job. So our friend always told us all these people work. They do construction; they do nannying; they do whatever; they just don’t report their income because the second you start making over 20 grand a year, or whatever the number is, you lose the benefit.
So really it’s just incentivizing people not to work, especially because of the time limit.
John: What a system, what a system. Okay, now you are pretty clearly from reading your book, a Libertarian.
John: But you said you will never be a card-carrying member of the Libertarian Party. Why is that?
Kristin: I have noticed a lot of this group think within the Libertarian Party that I have noticed within the Republican and Democrat Party, the kind of group think I really don’t like which is, “Oh I’m just going to do this or support this candidate because the party told me to” and it bothers me especially with Libertarians because Libertarians say, “Oh, we are so open minded,” and all this stuff. You know if you don’t agree with them on every single issue, Libertarians tend to be a little bit stubborn and furious sometimes and they will just completely out you from their groups if they feel like you don’t agree with them on every issue and I’ve noticed this way of thinking within the Libertarian Party.
Kristin: So that’s why I always talk about the difference between Big Al Libertarians who are the cardholding members of the party who read the rule book and aren’t willing to talk with anyone who doesn’t agree to every little thing they say and Little Al Libertarians which is what I am, which is like, yeah, I live by that “Live and let live” philosophy. I don’t agree with the Libertarian Party on every issue and I’m certainly willing to work with folks who don’t agree with me on every issue.
John: So was it very disappointing for you that Rand Paul didn’t catch fire?
Kristin: You know it was in a way, but I also saw it coming. Rand Paul in my opinion was not a great politician. He just doesn’t have the same presentation skill as his father. You know when Ron Paul spoke, he got people excited, he got you to jump out of your seat. He has this spark in his eyes and I don’t see that in Rand Paul. He didn’t ever smile during the debate; he is always scowling; his delivery wasn’t great. So I just think he wasn’t a great candidate for president, but ideologically, I totally agree with him on everything and I’m disappointed that he didn’t make it further.
John: Now you’ve talked about the importance of students speaking up on campus in your own experience. Tell us a little bit about that.
Kristin: Oh, man. Well, I went to school to a place called Emerson College which is probably one of the most liberal schools in the northeast. It’s the kind of place for like every other student; it’s like a transgender or gay or something like that which is totally fine with me, but it also was a place for extreme liberal views.
The students at my school tended to think that if you weren’t a liberal, you were a complete bigot. They didn’t even think about fiscal issues; to them it was all about the social issues. If you’re Republican, it means you hate gay people and you want to bomb the world, stuff like that.
So, yeah, I never spoke out about my political views, at least for the first couple of years because I wanted to have friends. If you speak out about that, especially at a school like Emerson, you’re immediately ostracized; you’re branded as a bigot and you have no friends. Eventually, they became so overwhelming to me, like the more liberal and overwhelming they got, the more of an urge I had to speak out.
So I did start writing columns for my school paper and, yeah, it got me ostracized in a lot of groups, but I was also pretty surprised at some of the positive reception I got as well.
John: Now, final question, Kristin. What can we do to fix America now?
Kristin: Well, there are a few concrete solutions I lay out in my book, but I think the biggest and most important solution is giving people tools to calm that apathy and the way you calm that apathy in my opinion, is with effective communication messaging.
So in my book, for example, I purposefully wrote it in a very cloak will way of a lot of pop culture and I’m trying to make critical issues fun because my generation tends to be very apathetic. You know we have a horrible job market; we are all drowning in these horrible student loans; so it’s easier just to not engage in politics than it is to actually care and I’m trying to get them involved in a way that is fun for them and excites them and I want to give them the tools to communicate these same ideas to their friends to get their friends interested. Once you get the attention of young people, it’s very easy to keep their attention. Once you show them why they should care about these issues — the debt, the job market — and the solution to these issues, they care. They’re engaged; it’s just getting them engaged.
So I want to give other young people the tools and the means to effectively communicate to their friends, to their family so we can have a more politically-engaged younger generation who is ready to tackle the issues of tomorrow.
John: Well, after reading through your book, I can say it’s very well written and very entertaining with a lot of personal stories. I meant to ask you some dating stories. I know there are probably a lot of people interested. You have to read the book to get that.
Kristin: We will leave that as a mystery. You got to get it to find out how that turned out.
John: Absolutely. We love to do click date even on the interviews. Well, Ms. Tate, it has been an honor. Thank you for doing the interview.
Kristin: Thank you so much, John. It’s been an honor being interviewed by you.