Interview with Wisconsin LP Chair Phil Anderson

Jack Parkos | United States

Phil Anderson is the Wisconsin Libertarian Party candidate for Governor of Wisconsin. Phil is a graduate of University of Wisconsin-Madison and is the current chair of the Wisconsin Libertarian Party. Phil is also a veteran and served in the US Army as a combat medic in a Patriot missile battalion in West Germany.

The following is a transcrip from an interview with Phil Anderson.

Parkos: Your campaign mentions a lot of how you wish to “drain the swamp” in politics. How have you seen political corruption specifically in Wisconsin?

Anderson: Well mainly in Wisconsin you see the corruption through the government giving tax breaks, tax incentives, and flat out grants to private businesses. Probably the most egregious example is the Wisconsin Development Economic Corporation giving grants to business to either move here, expand here, or to stay in some cases. Often times those are contributions to businesses that have made donations to the Walker administration. Previous to him it was Doyle administration. And often time they are businesses that don’t really even need those tax breaks like Kwik Trip for example.

Parkos: You have said that you would start pardoning people convicted of victimless crimes, could you fill us in on more about that process?

Anderson: Yes I’ve made a commitment to immediately pardoning people who are in jail for non-violent drug crimes, not all victimless crimes initially but non-violent drug crimes. Those tend to one where there is the most (I mean there’s a tremendous amount of injustice obviously) but specific injustice to people of color in Wisconsin. So the governor, among the other things I’ve committed to fighting for, the governor has the authority in the state constitution to pardon people who are in prison. So it’s pretty straightforward, you have to have the correct information about the person that’s incarcerated, their name, where they’re located, and probably there social security number just to verify it. Some basic record keeping that’s already in the system so it’s easy to pull that up. And then the governor just signs a little statement that says “I hear by pardon this person of these particular crimes” signs it, files it, and as soon as the state correction system can, which usually is a couple days they will release that person back to their community.

Parkos: Possibly one of the biggest issues of this election is the “Foxconn” a multi-billion dollar tax subsidy for a new (Electronics manufacturing) plant being built in Wisconsin. As governor would you keep, amend, or flat out get rid of this deal?

Anderson: Ideally I’d like to get rid of the Foxconn deal, the problem though is that as far as I know, that its a legally binding contract between the state and Foxconn. But they already have breached in a couple of cases in terms of environmental things and they’ve publicly changed the parameters of what they want to build, originally it was going to be large flat LCDs, now it’s going to be much smaller screens. Their projections have changed in terms of job creation and how big a building they are gonna build. So if those can nullify that contract (make it null and void) then it’s certainly outmoded. I am not renegotiating with them. So I’ll be very very strict on making sure that they follow their side of the contract, and at the point at which nullify or renegotiate it, I will do so because it is a bad deal.

Parkos: Another issue that has become popular is the people’s concerns about Wisconsin’s infrastructure, including the whole idea of “Scott Holes”. What would be your policy as a Libertarian governor towards infrastructure?

Anderson: The first problem with our infrastructure, and with roads and bridges specifically, is that the Wisconsin DOT is notoriously wasteful and corrupt. We don’t even know exactly what the state is paying for roads, because its been reported recently and exposed that they have been double paying for certain parts of road projects in the Milwaukee area and that it has been uncovered that that’s relatively routine, and I think its a warning sign as well that the contractors involved did not the payment or make note of that either. So it clearly looks like an avenue of corruption for the Wisconsin DOT to pay off certain road builders, who in turn make campaign contributions to the Walker administration. So the first thing I’ll do it to have an independent audit, a forensic accounting firm, people that go in and look for problems and to go into the entire Wisconsin DOT budget and figure out exactly where all the waste, fraud, and abuse is and get rid of that by virtue of using the Line Item Veto in the first budget that I author. Because it’s the Wisconsin Governors responsibility to write a budget right after they are elected for their first term. Once that’s done we will try to move as much control and tax authority over roads to as local a level as possible. Right now most of that funding flows through the state through the gas tax. But as much as we can move to the county level and to local level we will do that much as possible because that is where it can be more transparent, efficient, and accountable.

Parkos: The number one issue people tend to vote on is the economy, how do assure people the economy will be best off with you as governor?

Anderson: Right now there is a tremendous amount of resources being drained from the economy in terms of taxation. The biggest, most inefficient, most corruptible avenue is the state income tax, and we’ve mad a public commitment to fight for getting rid of the state income tax in Wisconsin. What that will do-along with getting rid of the Wisconsin economic development corporation, which is the mechanism the government uses to pick winners and losers in the economy. This will release a tremendous amount of wealth into the hands of individuals, entrepreneurs, and small business owners. That coupled with our commitment to low taxation, low regulation, throughout the course of my term, and hopefully, more terms after that will give businesses that are considering growing or relocating here the certainty of a tax and regulatory environment. That’s almost as important, maybe more important, than having low tax rates, low regulation, because right now in Wisconsin what we have is rent seeking, so business come here, business exist here and they’re constantly seeking benefits from the government by making campaign contributions or threatening to leave or whatever. That’s not the normal state of affairs. Most big corporations wanna know exactly what their risk is, exactly what their costs are gonna be in terms of tax and regulation before they make decisions like that. If we can level the playing field, get rid of the state income tax, keep money in hands of individuals, entrepreneurs, and small business owners who employ most of the people in Wisconsin, then our economy will flourish by virtue of low taxes, low regulations, and certainty of those two things as well.”

Parkos: What is your biggest concern with a Walker victory?

Anderson: So my biggest concern with Scott Walker being reelected is that he will be even more brazing in his picking of winners and losers in the economic sense. That’s one thing if he returns to office, then the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation will continue to pick winners and losers, continue to take taxpayer’s money and give it away to this who are political favorites for some reason or another and that will continue. The other thing about Scott Walker is that he seems to be completely ignorant of canibus issues the things he’s said over the last couple of years when the issue cannabis legalization has come up have been so scientifically dumbfounded so the opposite of what’s true and what we really need in Wisconsin-along with a powerful economy- is a criminal justice reform and that cannot happen without legalizing marijuana.

Parkos: What is your biggest concern with an Evers victory?

Anderson: Tony Evers is making a lot of promises right now-both he and Scott Walker have triangulated towards the middle. Tony Evers is talking about things like not changing concealed carry laws, though he has privately said and his running mate said about mental health test in order for people have licenses to carry weapons. Which is completely out of the question and unconstitutional. But also his promises about taxation probably won’t happen either. What he’s talking about that is particularly concerning is his 1.4 billion dollar (I think that’s the accurate number) school funding program. Which will greatly increase the amount of funding to k-12 schools, we know that throwing money at the problem does not work. States that have some of the worst educational outcomes-like New Jersey for example, spend the most per pupil. It’s a bad idea. That’s basically a handout to the teachers and the teachers union and those people that are helping him get elected. In the case of Tony Evers (just like with Scott Walker), they will be awarding favors with our tax money and regulations overuse to those who help get them elected and to help them possibly get reelected in the future.

Parkos: How do you feel President Trump is doing as president so far? What have you liked, what haven’t you liked?

Anderson: In regards to President Trump, the fact that he’s been rolling back regulations I like and I know that’s been going on I’m not really familiar with the bulk of the regulations that have changed so it is possible that some of that regulatory roll back has not been in benefit for the economy in general but it has been in the benefit for some business or entities in specific so I don’t really know. But the idea of deregulating I really really like so that’s good. He has mentioned recently (although I don’t know how serious he is about it) about audit or doing somethings about the federal reserve. So obviously I like that. As far as negative stuff-there’s actually a lot. His foreign policy has been all over the place, he is still pretty much an interventionist, although he mentioned during his campaign the idea of possibly withdrawing from NATO and potential from drawing from the UN or whatever it might be. I don’t think he’s serious about that otherwise it probably would’ve happened already. I also don’t think he does a good job at expressing, whatever good he is doing he is not really talking about that. He is all over the place in terms of his interactions with the public and it’s confusing, and I don’t really know if that’s just who he is or if that’s his intentional way of interacting with the public. But I don’t think that’s productive, I think it’s distracting, and for those who might wanna support him-the people who voted for him, it just makes it even more difficult to support him.

Parkos: How do you feel about the issue of the caravan from Honduras?

Anderson: So the issue of the Caravan-first of all, American foreign policy has been messing with Central and South America for a long long time and been actively destabilizing those regions for the purpose of (initially) 30-40 years ago keeping the communists out of power, but basically so that we could continue to have dominance in that region and not have to deal with actual legitimate governments. So thats part of the reason that the caravan exists in the first place because we have destabilized these regions. Second of all, I think the caravan issue is overblown. There are people that are trying to get into the United States all the time. The idea that these folks are criminals waiting to get into the United States in order have criminal intent sorta defies common sense. If they were criminals they could commit crimes where they are, they don’t need to walk 2,000 miles and then try to get into our country to do that. I think it’s more likely that they are people that are just absolutely desperate in their home countries and I think the thing to do, since we know that in Wisconsin especially but also in other parts of the country that unemployment is so low and that there is a market for to work low wage difficult jobs that Americans simply haven’t been interested in doing because they’ve got better choices. We should have a process whereby those in the Caravan (or in any situation) that we can document and haven’t been terrorists in their homecountries that we should let them in and help them find work right away. They’re not dangerous to society and the economy needs them. So we need to facilitate them coming in. While that issue seems like a national issue it relates to Wisconsin in a couple of ways. 1. We need immigrants in Wisconsin to work on farms. I spoke at the Rock County Agriculture Candidates Forum about a month ago. One of there concerns was not only having those immigrants available to work but should those immigrants get drivers licenses, because you need to drive in most cases for farm work, and my response was maybe that’s a way for them to become apart of a more integrated part of our society and if they get drivers licenses they are no longer undocumented anymore-there documented. They may not be in terms of citizenship, but they are documented and they are more productive at working for the farms in Wisconsin that we depend on. Secondly, it wasn’t that long ago when our Wisconsin National Guard went to serve on that Southern Border and I would resist those efforts as Governor. I can’t say that the National Guard can’t go because the federal law requires that in those kind of cases the federal government can just call up the National Guard from Wisconsin. But I would make a lot of noise about it because we don’t want our friends and neighbors and loved ones going to patrol the border in some political exercise, we want them to stay here unless there’s an actual emergency and honor the sacrifice that they’ve offered to make in serving their country and not treat it frivolously by sending them to the Texas border on a political exercise. I think that’s a tragedy.

Parkos: How do you feel about the aftermath of the Synagogue shooting? Do you think anyone is to blame for it?

Anderson: As regards to the tragic events at the Synagogue in Pittsburg over the weekend-our hearts and our minds and prayers go out to those victims. But there is a lot of finger pointing going on as well. A lot of people are saying that the president in practical has been inciting racial hatred and violence by using not necessarily overt terms, but by using terms like “nationalism” and “enemies of the people” and things like that. I don’t think it’s necessary or productive to point fingers at him, because he is not the source of the problem, he’s a symptom of the problem. I agree that those terms are charged with meaning and when a person who is a white nationalist hears the terms “I am a nationalist”, they think something. They embolden in the same way that other people that hold those anti social political positions might feel embolden by other terms. But those people are out there and we need to recognize that while they’re a very small percentage of the population, they people that tend to carry out acts of violence, we saw that in Charlottesville and other places. But it’s not Donald Trump or any other politician thats causing that. They are a symptom of that. What we need to do is take a look at our politics in practical. We have a political system thats dominated by two parties and in the math of having only two parties, it’s very political efficient, in order to continue to get elected, to point fingers at the other party. Because there is only two sides. There’s your side which is the lesser of two evils. The other side, which is much more evil. Once the two-party system in broken open, ideally by libertarians, but really by anybody if there is a third viable party. Then the calculus of “Us vs Them” completely changes. Governments have to work together, two of the three parties have to work together. They can’t demonize each other, they have to get things done, otherwise, government comes to a halt (Which wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing). But in the short term, it would create chaos in our American economy and society. So the real culprit here is a politics that is dominated by money, which constructs this two party system, dominates it and campaigns on the “Us vs. Them”, “Good vs. Evil”, demonizing the other side sorta political rhetoric that creates and emboldens people to act like that as a opposed to a politics where libertarians are represented (or at least 3 parties) where that sort of political rhetoric that’s decisive, hateful, and angry isn’t as productive. Therefore, the money powers that are behind the two parties wouldn’t invest in that sorta advertising because it wouldn’t be productive. If they had to come up with good ideas to win they would do that. In a two party system they don’t have to come up with good ideas they just have to demonize the other side. We see that playing out not only politically through this election cycle, but through every election cycle. I think that’s what makes people who are hateful a little more bold and little more excited to the things that they do such as the killings in Pittsburg.”

Parkos: What is the best course of actions that libertarians can take to help the liberty movement?

Anderson: So the best things that libertarians can do to help the liberty movement, which is-as I define it, doesn’t just include the Libertarian party but anyone who seeks liberty for people and smaller more transparent government or more constitutional goverment. There’s two things, number one is to support the Libertarian Party wherever there’s a candidate running. Now, once people are elected, I think it’s fine-in fact productive (I do it myself) to point out when a president or a person serving in the senate or congress or governor or whoever does something that’s liberty minded and I think that’s good once they’re elected. Because we need to point out that those are things that we would also do if we were in office. So when people like Justin Amash or Rand Paul, Thomas Massie whoever that might be-Scott Walker for example when he got behind the idea of petitioning the FCC to loosen up some UHF bandwidth so that Rural broadband would be something that the market could enact in rural Wisconsin. That was a market based solution and he was behind it so I applaud him for that. So pointing those things out is great and show what we would support if we were in power, and those things that are happening that are liberty minded. But on the other hand, we need to support the party and the party is growing, there are diverse aspects of our party. We actually both the benefit and liability of being philosophically grounded because Democrats and Republicans can modify their issues based in what the public is saying and based on what the other party is saying. For example, we see radical changes in what the Democrats were supporting in the 1990’s visa vi the drug war or immigration vs what they advocate for now I have no philosophical connection to! So we always have that tensions between what we are purposing and our base philosophy-which I think is healthy but also allows for some internal discord. But the Libertarian party will always always always be better, vastly better, on liberty issues than Republicans and Democrats. That’s our best pathway forward and in so far as people who are “small l libertarians” can support the libertarian party, help candidates who are running for office, get involved in politics on local level-run for school board, county board, run in non-partisan races, run for sheriff. Our candidate in Massachusetts just got the endorsement of the Boston Globe I think it was for Auditor, which is a statewide position It is partisan but because he had great qualifications he got endorsed. So anywhere that we can put our people forward and hold positions that people can recognize and say “this is a libertarian and they’re doing a good job”-that really really helps. But in any case support your libertarian candidates, don’t get sucked into the lesser of two evils conundrum because that’s a false dichotomy that presented by people that wanna suck back into normal two-party politics. We don’t want that, we need to support our canidates and point out when members of the other two parties in office and do things that are liberty minded. It’s okay to point that out. We aren’t claiming that they are libertarians, we are claiming that in this case they approaching some nugget of the truth.

Special thanks to Phil Anderson for the opportunity to interview him. Remember to get out and VOTE libertarian on November 6th.
For more information on his campaign, check out his website at
For information on the Wisconsin Libertarian Party check out

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