Black Communities Need Government Out Of The Way In Order To Improve

July 9, 2016 Posted by zachary

Over the last few days, I have seen a lot of commentary about the nature of black communities in the US. Many of these comments are about how it is the black community’s responsibility to clean up their own problems. These comments blame the black community for the crime and poverty they experience and say that it is their sole responsibility to fix these problems. This is a bunch of crap.

The problems they experience are primarily the result of US law and criminal policy. The problems these communities face are the result of politicians who have held racist opinions and agendas for decades.

Let’s start with the biggest problem, the War on Drugs. Nearly every law and policy that has sprung from this ill fated war has a disproportionate impact on black communities. The excessive jail time those convicted of even the smallest possession infraction puts young people out of the education and workforce for years or decades. We lock up 20-something young men for 5-20 years, taking away their opportunity to build viable and employable job skills and education. We kick them out of prison at the end of their terms with no social support structure to help them readjust to life outside prison walls.

On top of this problem, we enact laws that prevent convicted felons from being employed in many decent jobs. Many of these people are forced to take low wage jobs, and often under the table jobs, just to make even a modicum of a living. With such low job prospects is it really any wonder why they might consider a return to a life of crime where the money is better than the legal options available to them?

Then we have the fact that too many jobs require licenses to even begin working. These licenses are often completely out of reach for anyone with a felony background. For those without such a background, the time and cost of gaining such licenses is often out of reach. These licenses mean that those in poor communities often cannot seek employment options that would actually provide them a real living wage because they cannot afford to take the time and spend the money necessary to get them. Then we have strict zoning laws that make the cost of starting a new business even higher. Instead of allowing entrepreneurs the chance to build their business out of their homes, we instead force them to spend money they likely don’t have on rent for commercial business space.

Next up, we have our terrible public education system. This system is designed, not to educate our children, but to enrich a handful of administrators and build up a bureaucracy that keeps bad teachers in jobs and pays wages low enough to keep good teachers away. Instead of instituting policy changes that will bring real education to our poor communities, those in government do everything in their power to keep our terrible system in place. Is it any wonder why the kids in these terrible schools can’t get the education needed to build a better life?

With all this in mind, many people in power demand that these poor minority communities fix their own problems. They say “You should vote to enact change” but then weaken their voting power through political tricks. Gerrymandering is the process of drawing legislative districts strategically. They draw these lines not to give communities proper representation, but to give those people already elected the best chance to be reelected. District lines are often drawn in such a way that they break up minority populations and split them into smaller parts of populations more favorable to incumbent politicians. This means that the people who live in these communities can’t band together to enact change because we artificially break them apart.

Despite knowing full well of all these problems, the Republicans and Democrats in power have no interest in fixing them. The fact that these problems exist means that Republicans and Democrats can continue to hold onto power. Republicans know that with drug laws and felony backgrounds, the financial power of minority communities will never reach a point where they can influence people in power. They can enact stricter drug and crime laws to keep more and more people out of the work force and keep them in poverty. Democrats know that by expanding welfare systems, they can claim to be helping these communities but in fact are simply building up a dependency on the government for their continued survival.

If we really want to be rid of the criminal elements in these communities and to bring these people out of poverty, then we need to get rid of these laws, regulations and policies the entrench poverty and crime in these areas. We need to end the drug war and stop locking people in prison for victimless crimes. We need to put an end to all mandatory minimums. We need to end laws that prevent people with criminal backgrounds from getting good jobs or starting their own businesses. We need to bring about real education reform in the form of competition in education. Let these people choose the school they want to send their children to. We need to end licensing schemes that do nothing but lockout these people from gainful employment. We need to end gerrymandering and other election laws that weaken the voting power of these communities. If we removed these barriers to improving the lives of our poorer communities, they will require fewer welfare programs and can actually build and improve their own lives and communities.

That is what I want to do as your elected Congressman. I want to get government out of your way and give you the freedom to live your own lives how you see fit. If these changes are made, you will have fewer interactions with police, less crime in your communities, and better economic and civic options open to you.

A Moment Of Solidarity And A Promise

June 14, 2016 Posted by zachary

This past weekend, a horrible tragedy occurred. A shooter in Orlando, Florida targeted a nightclub which caters to the LGBT community. The shooter entered this nightclub and killed 49 innocent people and wounded many more. This shooter will not have to face the people and their families as he was killed by officers on the scene.

I express my sincere sorrow for this tragedy and my sympathies for those killed or harmed and their loved ones. No one should have to go through the pain they have experienced and will continue to experience as they deal with the fallout of this heinous action.

It is times of tragedy, such as this, that many politicians seeks to push their personal political agendas. On the side of Democrats, they have already started pushing their anti-second amendment agenda. On the side of Republicans, they have already begun their push to further expand the war on terror and its expansion of anti-fourth amendment agenda as well as their vilification of all people of Islamic faith. But times of tragedy and emotion are not the time to make policy changes.

It is times of tragedy and high emotion that politicians are willing and capable to pass laws that violate our basic human rights and drive the US deeper into damaging domestic and foreign polices. It was in a time of high emotion that lead the US to invade and destabilize Iraq. It was a time of high emotion that led to the US passing the PATRIOT Act, one of the largest violation of our constitutionally protected rights. It was a time of high emotion that led the US to develop and drop atomic weaponry on innocent people in Japan as well as imprison innocent Japanese Americans and immigrants.

Humans make poor decisions when emotion is the driving force behind them. That is why I vow to not make rash decisions during times of tragedy. We need to let our heads cool before we respond to tragedy via legislation. We need to use facts and real world data as a basis for policy changes, not high emotions. It is why in this time of tragedy and high emotion that I make this promise.

My ISideWith Experiment

June 2, 2016 Posted by zachary

This past week, Governor Gary Johnson, the Libertarian nominee for President, was criticized for saying that he agreed with Bernie Sanders on “73% of the issues”. In these reports, Governor Johnson cites the popular political quiz site This site asks you a series of questions and then uses your responses to tell you how your answers compare to popular Presidential candidates.

I decided to take a look at the site and do a little experiment of my own. ISideWith can tell you multiple things, depending on how you answer your questions. ISideWith asks a series of questions, but not all of the questions are viewable without clicking a link. The same is true with the answers. Each question has two default answers “Yes” or “No” or some variant of that. However, most of the questions have multiple expanded answers.

With all this in mind, I decided to take the test four times. Here are the results of each of those tests.

My first time through, I answered only the default questions using only the default answers.

iside_with1As you can see, based on these results I side with Governor Johnson  on 91% of the issues. I also side with Clinton on 79% of the issues, Stein on 78%, Sanders on 77%, and Trump on 63%.

My second time through, I answered all the expanded questions using only the default answers.

iside_with2This time through, my score with Johnson improves while every other candidate drops with the most dramatic drop being Clinton by 11 percentage points.

My third time through, I answered only the default questions but I used the expanded answers where they applied.

iside_with3My overlap with Governor Johnson actually falls a bit, but he is still my #1 guy. Trump drops considerably. Hillary improves a bit, but her placement remains the same.

My final time through, I answered all the expanded questions using expanded responses when applicable.

iside_with4Governor Johnson springs back up to his second highest overlap with me. Everyone else stays stays about the same.

Update: I took the Quiz a 5th time and actually weighted my responses. This changed things considerably.

isidewith5Here my alignment with Trump falls considerably and Bernie jumps up a percentage point above Stein.

If we average all four five scores of each candidate, these are the results. I side with Governor Johnson 91.25% 91.2% of the time. I side with Stein 77.25% 75.8% of the time. I side with Sanders 75.25% 74.6% of the time. I side with Clinton 70.5% 68.4% of the time. Finally, I side with Trump 57.75% 54% of the time. What all this tells me is that my political views are more liberal than they are conservative.

What is the point of all this? Nothing much. I think that ISideWith is a fun exercise in political science, but it is not an exact science. Part of the problem is that the quiz doesn’t include a lot of questions that many of these candidates find important. Additionally, some questions don’t have answers that reflect all possible positions of these candidates. So while this quiz is fun, I wouldn’t recommend using it as your only guide in the election. Nor would I recommend using these results to attack or insult any candidates or voters.

If you are interested in taking fun political quizzes, I also recommend taking the World’s Smallest Political Quiz to find out where you fall on the political spectrum.

Johnson/Weld Is The Only Serious Choice For LP Presidential Ticket

May 26, 2016 Posted by zachary

This weekend is the Libertarian Party National Convention. At this event, delegates from around the US will convene and nominate our candidates for President and Vice President. There are a lot of people running for the LP nomination for President and Vice President, but I feel there is only one ticket that makes sense for the growth and strength of this party.

There are currently three front runners for President. Each one has picked their preferred running mate. They all bring something interesting to the table and express some good and some bad elements to the table.

Out of all these candidates, there is only one ticket that I feel works best for the LP and the US. That ticket is former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson and his chosen running mate, former Massachusetts Governor William Weld. Why these two? Because they bring something no other candidate for the LP nominations have, experience and name recognition.

Both of these men are successful Republican governors who served with Democratic controlled legislatures. Even with the law writers stacked against them, they managed to cut taxes, the size of government and overall spending. They managed to do the impossible, work peacefully and compromise with political opponents to pass liberty expanding laws in their respective states.

Are they perfect Libertarians? Absolutely not. Neither am I and neither are you. They made mistakes and hold some opinions that many Libertarians have a hard time swallowing. Both Gary Johnson and William Weld have done and said things in the past that I don’t agree with. However, they have both apologized for and explained their decisions and how they have changed. That to me shows wisdom and strength. Things that can only come from real experience in a political landscape.

I feel that people can change as they are given new information. I feel that Johnson and Weld have done that and continue to do it. That is the important thing. I don’t think I can ever trust someone that claims to be a perfect Libertarian.

They also bring name recognition. Both are successful two term Governors. Gary Johnson ran as the LP nominee in 2012. This experience has already led to Johnson being included in several national polls, something that no other LP candidate can claim. These polls show Johnson already polling in the double digits against the presumed Republican and Democratic nominees. This polling is incredibly necessary for a serious LP ticket. Without the ability to poll well, the LP will not have a chance this election.

The Presidential Debates, run by the R and D controlled Commission on Presidential Debates, are an important part of running for President. If the LP nominee does not get into those debates, there is no chance that we will actually make a difference this year. With Johnson already polling just a few points away from the 15% requirement by the CPD, they have a chance to get in those debates and spread our message.

It is with all this, that I feel we will have the best chance of reaching out to disenchanted Democratic and Republican voters who want anyone else besides Trump and Clinton. With the insanity on display by the Republican and Democratic parties, a breath of fresh air and seriousness is the only way to compete. There is no way we can out crazy those two and expect to make a difference. We have to compete on experience and leadership.

Taking all this into account, Johnson/Weld is the only ticket I see that results in the most successful LP run for President to date. Honestly, I have no aspirations to a Libertarian being elected to President this year. However, if that were to happen, it will only be with a Johnson/Weld ticket.

Tell Congress To Do Their Job; Support The STOP Act

April 28, 2016 Posted by zachary

The STOP Act will end this absurd scheduleIt is no question that money is a big part of politics. Those that win Congressional seats often raise and spend several hundreds of thousands of dollars to secure their seat. Some, like my opponent Steve Russell, even go into debt to do it. But did you know that members of Congress are pressured to spend a sizeable amount of time cold calling for campaign donations? Even while they are supposed to be writing and learning about bills that will be coming to a vote?

60 Minutes did an expose about this practice and CBS had an interview with Congressman David Jolly who wants to put a stop to this practice. He has introduced a bill called the STOP Act, which would make it illegal for elected officials to ask for money while Congress is in session. watch his interview below.

I support this bill. If elected, my job will be to learn about the issues that impact Americans, learn about the bills my colleagues have introduced, and to write bills that will advance freedom and peace in the US. My job is not to campaign for the next election or to raise money for a political party.

If elected, I will support this bill, or one like it. If one is not introduced, I will introduce it myself. Congress needs to get off the phones and get back to work.

You can tell Congress to do its job by signing Rep. Jolly’s STOP Act petition.

Zachary Knight Works To Break Down Barriers To Election Competition

March 25, 2016 Posted by zachary

OK_Logo_grayOn March 21, 2016, the Oklahoma Election Board announced the Libertarian Party is now an officially recognized party in Oklahoma. It had been 16 years since that was the case. In the years between, Oklahoma has had only two Presidential candidates and two parties available for Oklahoma voters. This is a horrible injustice to the people of Oklahoma.

This announcement was possible thanks in part to the work of Oklahomans for Ballot Access Reform a coalition of voters and candidates from all political ideologies with the common goal of expanding electoral freedom in Oklahoma. For 6 years, Zachary had taken a major leadership role in OBAR and lobbied tirelessly for reformation of Oklahoma’s ballot access laws. This culminated in a 2015 bill to lower the petition requirement to form a new party from 5% of the last vote cast to 3% of the last vote for Governor. This allowed the Libertarian party to successfully petition and gain recognition. (more…)

Zachary Knight Launches Campaign For US Congressional District 5

March 18, 2016 Posted by zachary

March 18, 2016: Libertarian Zachary Knight publicly launched his campaign to run for US Congressional District 5 against Republican incumbent Rep. Steve Russel.

Zachary feels that the US is in sore need of people in DC who support freedom and peace. The current crop of politicians in DC feel too welcoming of policies that harm both the peace and freedom of American people as well as the peace and freedom of our allies and potential allies.

The US needs to end all of its wars, this includes foreign entanglements and military action as well as the domestic war on drugs and “terror”. By advocating for the end of these wars, we can establish a policy of peace and freedom. For more information on his positions and policies, please refer to his Platform.

Zachary will be running as the Libertarian option for the people of District 5. He has asked that those who wish to see a pro-peace, pro-freedom Libertarian option on the ballot in November support his campaign by donating to his IndieGogo fundraiser. He also asks that you follow his campaign on both Facebook and Twitter.

Love Our Political Refugees As Ourselves

November 18, 2015 Posted by zachary

Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying,

Master, which is the great commandment in the law?

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

This is the first and great commandment.

And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Matthew 22: 35-40; King James Bible)

Who is our neighbor? What makes loving them the second greatest commandment? We read about love for our fellow man all throughout Christ’s ministry on earth. “Love one another, as I have loved you.” (John 13:34; King James Bible) Throughout his ministry Christ emphasized that we should love our fellow man. He even went on to explain exactly what he meant by “love thy neighbor.”

But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?

And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.

And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.

And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.

But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,

And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.

And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.

Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?

And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise. (Luke 10: 29-37; King James Bible)

In this parable, Christ clearly explained that those who show compassion are true neighbors. Those who show love toward their fellow man, despite differences in creed or ideology, are those who are keeping that great commandment.

But what about people who have slighted us? Or people whose members have expressed hatred toward us? Are we still required to love them? Christ has an answer for that too.

Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt lovethy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;  (Matthew 5: 43-44)

I don’t know about you, but I see a very clear trend here of unconditional love for all people. So why is it that so many people have a hard time loving those of Muslim creed? Why are we unwilling to help those who have been displaced by war simply because those people are a different faith than us?

Look back to the parable of the Good Samaritan. Christ made a very deliberate choice to use the Samaritan as the hero of the tale. At the time, the Samaritans and the Jews were in a blood feud with one another. By using a Samaritan as the hero, Christ emphasized the hypocrisy of the Jewish leadership. This was particularly emphasized by addition of a Priest and a Levite in the story who both walk by without even attempting to help.

Today, we are faced with a similar situation. We have a whole nation of people who have “fallen among thieves, are wounded, and left for dead.” A civil war in Syria has left hundreds of thousands of innocent people exiled from their homes as they have fled the violence. And now they are looking for protection and sanctuary. Yet, here in the US, a nation in which a vast number of people claim to be Christian, people are clamoring over one another to be the most vindictive and hateful as they demand that none of them be allowed in the country. Are these people really showing love toward their fellow man?

Most of these people are attempting to justify their hate of these refugees by attempting to tie them to ISIS, a terrorist organization that formed in the chaos left in the Middle East after we destabilized the region. By claiming they don’t want terrorists to enter the US, they are attempting to justify their nature as the Priest and Levite who left their neighbor on the side of the road dying.

The Book of Mormon gives us another example of this Christ-like love for our neighbor. In the Book of Mormon, the Nephites and Lamanites were enemies for generations. Despite this hatred, the sons of the Nephite King Mosiah felt the love of Christ in their hearts and sought to bring the Gospel of Christ to the Lamanites. Through their love and example, these young men brought thousands of Lamanites to the gospel. However, those Lamanites who still had hate in their hearts persecuted and killed those converted to the gospel. In the end, the only way to protect themselves was to flee. The only place left to flee that would provide any protection was the home of the Lamanite’s enemy the Nephites. When they arrived, what did the Nephites do with this group of people, who called themselves Anti-Nephi-Lehis, who were once their hated enemy? Did they turn them away to fend for themselves because they were afraid of potential wolves among the sheep?

And it came to pass that the chief judge sent a proclamation throughout all the land, desiring the voice of the people concerning the admitting their brethren, who were the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi.

And it came to pass that the voice of the people came, saying: Behold, we will give up the land of Jershon, which is on the east by the sea, which joins the land Bountiful, which is on the south of the land Bountiful; and this land Jershon is the land which we will give unto our brethren for an inheritance.

And behold, we will set our armies between the land Jershon and the land Nephi, that we may protect our brethren in the land Jershon; and this we do for our brethren, (Alma 27: 21-23; Book of Mormon)

Not only did the people of Nephi, a self proclaimed Christian nation, chose to love their neighbor. They not only allowed these people, these people who were once their hated enemy, to seek sanctuary, but they also provided a new home for them and provided defense support from those who persecuted them. Truly a people who have accepted the love of Christ into their hearts.

It seems that a minority of people in the US have this love in their hearts. With so many people in political power, and those that support them, declaring that the refugees should not be allowed into the US because their faith is not “Christian enough”, is an affront to Christ and his teachings. It is an affront to basic humanity.

As a Libertarian, I have a hard time understanding why anyone would support those who have expressed xenophobic and bigoted sentiments toward these war refugees. The Libertarian Party has long been a supporter of helping those who have been persecuted in their home countries escape to safety.

Political freedom and escape from tyranny demand that individuals not be unreasonably constrained by government in the crossing of political boundaries. (Libertarian Platform 3.4)

I find this policy to be more in line with the Gospel of Christ and his message of love your neighbor.

In the end, who are we supposed to emulate? Are we to be the Priest or Levite, or are we to be the Samaritan or Nephites? Do we love those seeking safety from death and destruction or do we pass by on the other side of the road and claim that those people are not our problem? Or do we justify our hated and bigotry by claiming that our enemy might be hiding among them? What would Christ do in this situation? What would he ask us to do?

The First Amendment And The Right To Deface The US Flag

May 18, 2015 Posted by zachary

This is the American Flag. It is the symbol of  the United States of America. It is also just a piece of cloth. Just as those who support the government can wave it as a symbol of their love, those who are upset with the government can treat it as an effigy of that same government. If you are not allowed to criticize the government through the defacing of this flag, then we no longer live in a society that believes in the freedom of expression.A short while ago, I posted this image on Facebook that stated that people have the right to deface and burn the American Flag. I stand by that statement. Why? Because it is true. For that, I have been called an idiot, a traitor and a terrorist. They say this because I associated the flag with the government and not the nation. Why did I choose that phrasing? Because the true symbol of this nation is not the flag but the Constitution. The Constitution is the very document that created this country, the very document that our forefathers died to allow us to create this nation.

These people who called me an idiot, traitor and terrorist are upset that people displeased with the government would burn, deface or tread upon the American flag, yet they have nothing to say about the people elected to office, who swore with an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution, who tread upon and burn the Constitution.

Our country is dying because we sit idly by and allow the true liars and traitors to sit in office and destroy our constitutionally protected rights, not constitutionally granted rights, protected rights. Our Congress and Presidents over the years have stripped the Constitution of its original meaning by trampling our 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th, 8th, 14th and many other protected rights. Yet because those elected officials wave that American Flag and shout patriotism from the capitol steps, a majority of people in this nation turn a blind eye to their traitorous acts.

Yet, I am the liar, idiot, traitor and terrorist because I speak out against this and support others who do as well.

Rally to your flag if you wish. That is your right. But for me, I will rally to my Constitution.

In Which I Respond To Comments To My Letter To The Editor

November 17, 2014 Posted by zachary

Over the weekend, I had a letter to the editor published to both NewsOK and at the Tulsa World. Both sites, published the letter with little modifications. The letter itself is mostly a rehash of my earlier article about Oklahoma’s low voter turnout and its impact on future petitions. It also called for real reform to pass.

However, there was one problem. I wanted to respond to a comment on the Tulsa World which I felt poorly reflected on the current petitioning climate. Tulsa World reader J. Lee wrote:

It appears that many people don’t really care what happens. But that is absolutely no reason to lower the party petitioning burden especially to what it was 40-50 years ago since the population has increased over a million since that time.

Any entity which lowers it standards to appease a few will eventually be left with no standards.

What J. Lee wrote here does a real disservice to those seeking to form a new party in Oklahoma. It is based on the false premise that Oklahoma’s petitioning laws and the change in 1974 was based on some actual reasoning based on population. That is not true at all.

The problem with this is that the Tulsa World’s commenting policy prevents me from responding to this comment directly. The Tulsa World wants me to pay nearly $200 just to comment on articles of interest. That is not happening. So instead, I am responding here in the hopes that interested people will read it and misinformation will be cleared away. If anyone out there has a subscription or still has commenting enabled because they have not reached their monthly ration of articles, feel free to respond to J. Lee with the following:

Let me lay out a few facts for you. I hope that I won’t have to explain any of this too much.

Population of Oklahoma:
1970 – 2,559,063
2010 – 3,751,351
Percent Changed – 46.6%

Voting Population of Oklahoma:
1972 Presidential Election (last election before new rules went into effect) – 1,057,396
2012 Presidential Election (most recent similar election) – 1,334,872
Percent Changed – 26.2%

1974 party petitioning requirement – 5,000 signatures or 0.47% of the 1972 vote
2014 party petitioning requirement – 66,744 or 5% of the vote cast in 2012
Percent Changed – 1,235%

If we wanted to adjust the number of signatures needed to form a new party based on population, then we would have this amount:
5,000 plus a 46.6% change = 7,330 signatures today.

However, if we base it off of voting population, we would get this number:
5,000 plus a 26.2% change = 6,310

Both of those calculations are far far smaller than the current signature requirement that is 1235% higher than it was in 1972.

So do you want to rethink your position?

Again, I would love to respond myself. When I aired my issues with the Tulsa World on Twitter, their only response was to upsell me on a subscription. They offered no real solution. I guess, if anyone wants a real conversation on a news site, they will have to go with NewsOK where all you need is a free account to read everything and comment to all articles.