John Dowling Interviews Author Steve Levy.
John: Congratulations Steve on being nominated for Model Citizens Magazine. You are a former County Executive, an attorney and now an author. I understand that you have a new book.
Steve: I do and I’m very excited about it. It’s called, “Solutions to America’s Problems”, with the subtext being; “A Politically Incorrect Conservatives Take on How to Maintain America’s Greatness”.
It’s going to be in the nonfiction section of bookstores and also available on Amazon. You can go to my website stevelevy.Info for more information
John: Tell us more about what this book is about, because you’ve been out of politics for a while now. For those readers who don’t know you were the former County Executive of Suffolk County, as far as I ever knew you did a wonderful job. Can you give me more details about the book, what do you think is going wrong and what do you think is going right, and how do you think we should fix it? Give us your Insight.
Steve: The point of the book was to put something out there that differentiates itself from the typical book that is yelling at the other side and basically restating what the problems are. We know what the problems are.
John: What are the problems?
Steve: I delineate about fifteen or sixteen different chapters dealing with everything from climate change to our electoral process to the Supreme Court, which is very timely. This was written prior to the Ginsberg passing.
John: I think everyone knew she was on her way out. She had such an amazing life.
Steve: Right, right, and now that leaves all kinds of controversies. I also talk about foreign policy and how to deal with the Middle East crisis, which I wrote about prior to these latest peace proposals.
John: Or political stunts, whatever you want to call them.
Steve: Yes, depending on your perspective. The point of my book is to tackle those problems. First what are the reasons for the problems, and then what are the specific solutions. So, let’s look at an example, like the high cost of college, which everyone complains about.
John: Yes, it’s crazy
Steve: Has anybody looked to see what are the driving factors behind the high cost of college? When you look at it, you find it’s really been student loans. The availability of student loans, but you don’t want to end them, however they’ve been so liberally handed out like candy.
John: My daughter is going to Notre Dame, I know.
Steve: There you go! Yes, $60,0000 a year. Why is it so expensive? It has eclipsed the rate of inflation by leaps and bounds over the last 30 years. Well, when administrators realized that there was more money available to the student and their families, they realized they could raise their tuition from $20,000 to $30,000, then $30,000 to $40,000. Then they can say they will charge you $60,000 annual tuition but give you $20,000 off so you’re left paying $40,000, but you feel like they just did you a favor.
That’s what the book is about. It’s really identifying the problems and what to do about it?
So here’s a solution, a college or university takes federally backed loans, and they love that by the way, because the administrators think they are not on the hook if a student takes a $60,000 loan or $150,000 loan and ends up being a parking lot attendant. It’s no skin off their nose, but if you no longer can take those loans unless you cap your tuition, now you have a whole different ball game.
John: I love it. It makes perfect sense.
Steve: That’s one example identifying what the problem is and coming up with a realistic solution for it. In the book I talk about four other reasons why college has gone up so much, this is just one of them.
John: Then people get frustrated because you can come up with the solution and then what’s going to happen now? What lobbyist is going to pump money in and get behind that because they want to see education and teachers benefit from it? Then the other side are the colleges who don’t want to have that. Now they hire lobbyists and start threatening people. It becomes not about who’s right or wrong, but who can win and line their pockets. How do we deal with lobbyists and greed?
Steve: One of the subjects I discuss in the book is that there are a number of things that stymie us from making the advances that we need to make, even when we know what the solutions are. One of them is the disproportionate impact of special interest, another is identity politics and political correctness.
John: Talk to us about identity politics, for the Layperson who may not know what that is.
Steve: Identity politics is where every problem is framed around race, who you are, not what kind of person you are, but what group are you born into and that now defines you.
John: That is the actual racism that is coming out of the political agenda.
Steve: There is now a new racism that is developing, ironically, on the concept of trying to fight racism. They are developing a new type of racism so now in schools, our kids are being taught there are two groups, you are either part of the exploitive class or the exploited class. Which are you? It’s terrible because you have a lot of minority children who are being told that they are not good enough, not smart enough and the “man” and the “system” are going to hold you down.
John: The white man in particular, and as a white man I find that to be offensive. I work every day of my life.
Steve: It is in a sense because of your white privilege, right?
John: I worked every day of my life and got nothing.
Steve: On the other hand, now you have these young white kids who are being told they are bad because they’re born into the class. They may not think they are racist, but they are told they are. There are books that actually say this and teach this garbage.
John: It’s like massive brainwashing on the national level.
Steve: The underlying factor is that there is truth to the fact that there has been institutional racism in America. People have been held down because of policy.
John: There are bad cops, racist cops and racist policies in society.
Steve: There is racial profiling and there are bad cops and there is police brutality, people have been held down because of racist policies. But to say that America is a racist nation and that we should teach our kids that the purpose and founding of America was to embolden slavery, that’s a lie. That’s not true. This is what I attack in the book, because you’re hurting the people, you’re trying to help by not being honest about what the problems are and what the solutions are.
John: That’s what I love about you, you really work across party lines. You are always more about what’s right and wrong, good and bad and what’s good for all of us. What’s the endgame for you? You reached a great level in your political career, you work for an amazing law firm, you have your own business that is going well, your book is coming out. Is it all to help America or is to line your pockets with a few extra dollars?
Steve: I’m sure I’m not going to make any money on this.
John: No one really makes money on books, I know I made a few bucks and get residuals but it was more about the message than the money.
Steve: It’s all a vanity trip. It’s cathartic right? You just have to get it out. I love doing it. I’m a big networker and that’s been at a standstill since COVID, so I used that time to write the book.
John: I know I saw you all the time at events I was donating time to.
Steve: But now it’s dead, nobody’s been out in months. So, I thought I am going to go to the beach and write this book. I basically compiled a lot of my previously published provocative and controversial articles that were published in the Washington Times, The Examiner and the New York Post, I’m a regular contributor at Fox and Newsmax, and put it all together.
John: Now I’m going to reel you in for Model Citizen Magazine too.
Steve: That would be the cherry on top. I decide to put it together, organize it and write around my perspective as to what the problems are and what the solutions are. What I like about the book is that it’s not chronological or sequential, you don’t have to start at page one and go all the way through, you can pick a chapter.
John: So it’s not a memoir?
Steve: It is not a memoir at all, it’s not about my life.
John: I was wondering how much of your life is in there.
Steve: Actually my first book, “Bias in the Media”, had a section with a background on my life, how I got to that point of my career, but this one is all about problems and solutions, so that anyone from Maine to Alaska can read it, democrat or republican, and can identify with it.
John: Do you think it will help?
Steve: I hope so. The point of it is to get the attention of decision-makers. it is gratifying that I wrote an op-ed that was published about a month ago and it was about how I think Attorney General Barr should do something about these riots and violence in our cities. The state prosecutors and the state mayors are not doing anything about it. They’re sitting on their hands and people are getting murdered. If they won’t do it, I think Barr is responsible to do something about it. My idea was to go after Antifa with the RICO statute in the same way we went after the MS13, the mafia and the KKK, with the RICO statute. Three weeks later there’s an announcement that they’re going to do just that. Do I think that they necessarily read my letter? I don’t know.
John: But it is an opinion of many people like us.
Steve: That’s right. if I write something and somebody else picks up on it and writes about it, sooner or later maybe change for the better will happen.
John: The brave writers.
Steve: Right. Some are concerned about the “cancel culture”, I am not. That’s the beauty of being independent and on my own, I say whatever the hell I want and if you don’t like it, that’s your business.
John: They have no recourse.
Steve: Even when I was an elected official, I had that mindset. if you don’t like it, vote against me. I was not politically correct and ironically that’s why I think I got to the popularity I did. I was polling around 75% – 80% when I was County Executive, and it’s because I didn’t take the easy way out. I didn’t ask what the New York Times editorial board wants me to say. No, I put forth what I believe and let the chips fall where they may. It’s not Democrat or Republican, it is common sense.
John: Politically neutral, which I am also
Steve: I am right of center. I started off as a progressive guy, I discuss in my first book that I grew up as a Democrat, my father was a democrat, very, very liberal in many ways. I believed the government was there to help people, but when I got in, I started to see that the way to help people is not necessarily spending more money. i saw people’s taxes going through the roof, the middle-class getting strangled by taxes and seeing all this money coming into our coffers and being wasted on this garbage and I thought let me rethink this.
John: Whenyou have entire communities on welfare, there is something wrong.
Steve: That is a big chapter of my book, how to break the welfare cycle. It is actually white liberals from the 60s and the policies that they developed that are trapping minorities and families in poverty for generations. Here’s a perfect example, I have a friend who owns a business and who hired somebody off of welfare. He wanted to give them a raise, but the next day the owner got a call from that person’s social worker telling him he cannot give the raise.
John: Becausenow they’re going to lose their welfare.
Steve: Yes, they’re going to lose their benefits. So, what happens here is that there is a short-term gain by holding on to the benefit, but then in the long-term, that person is trapped in poverty. They are never going to go get out. So, I came up with ways to change that. To allow people to get more money without losing the benefits so you don’t disincentivize people to work. That’s what we do in this nation. If someone has another child, they get more money. If a husband or the father of the children live apart, they get more money. Who did this? White liberals in the 60s and the 70s. They doomed a generation to poverty. We can get them out, but you have to have the guts to change the system that traps people in it.
One more point on that, some people say that racism is doing it and it did have a lot to do with it early on, and still to an extent, but how do you explain the fact that immigrants from Nigeria and Africa come over to this country and out-earn African-Americans and also earn as much as white people do?
John: Or more.
Steve: How is that happening in such a racist society? I’ll tell you, it’s because they weren’t born into a welfare system. That’s the point I make in my book, so that people can read this and get a different perspective. it’s not just spending more money, that doesn’t solve the problem. It hasn’t worked for 40 years.
John: I know. Some people talk about basic universal income.
Steve: It’s funny that you should mention that, it’s in my book.
John: I wrote about this last month that the stimulus program is universal basic income.
Steve: It’s actually one of the first articles and one of my first chapters. How ironic is it that as a conservative, I can favor increasing the minimum wage and increasing wages for lower-income people and possibly implementing a universal income? But only with this caveat, it must also be coupled with the dismantling of the welfare system.
John: Amen to that. I believe that’s the right way to go.
Steve: I quote from a book called “Pour No More”, by Peter Cove. He was an architect of Bill Clinton welfare reform package. He started off as a big-time liberal, trying to help people with the welfare system and then he realized it was trapping them and he thought that trashing the system and giving people the money directly was better. Then they would be able to get a job and not be penalized by losing their direct money.
John: The infrastructure for welfare costs so much more. It’s so ridiculous.
Steve: Exactly, and here’s the question; how do you get the money to do all that? If you dismantle the welfare system, you actually have more money and, here’s the biggest reason why it could work, because everything you make over and above the basic amount you receive from the government, you keep. There are no benefits to lose, so now you have incentive to work and not stay home on the couch. Unless we understand the underpinnings of the problem, we’re never going to get out of it.
John: It’s only going to get worse, so I’m with you on the universal income. One more question, we have an election coming up and There’s a lot of he said she said. There’s constant investigations and accusations and some of them are relatively ridiculous, especially with the amount of media coverage. What are your thoughts on this upcoming election? I don’t know, I wouldn’t vote for either Biden or Trump. Who do you think is going to win?
Steve: I think probably Biden. I know there is a silent majority and a lot of people won’t admit in polls, just like in Brexit and just like in 2016, they didn’t want the backlash for voting for Trump. I think there will be that underlying current, but last time Trump got very lucky. All the stars and moons aligned. Remember a woman named Jill Stein who ran on the Green Party, she really won the election for Trump.
John: I thought the FBI won the election for Trump when they threw Hillary Clinton under the bus right before the election. I was like they just handed the election over
Steve: I don’t think that was it. I think it was more Trump’s position on trade and immigration that helped him win in those key states that Hillary ignored. The irony here is that in 2016, there was a kind of a realignment of voters where it used to be Democrats had been the party of the working class, the white working class.
John: Yes, the middle-class.
Steve: Yes, and the Republicans were the Wall Street crowd. Now, Wall Street is totally behind the Democrats, ironically and it was Donald Trump who said to the people in the rust belt, who had your jobs shipped to China, that he got it and Hillary was ignoring them. It’s amazing how that turned around. He was lucky to win because Jill Stein pulled enough votes in. She got 1% in Michigan and Wisconsin, but those votes for Stein were enough to shift it Donald Trump. He only won Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan by 80,000 votes combined. If you shift those votes, he loses. Hillary won 3 million more votes nationally, so the odds of Trump repeating that are very slim because the Democrats get it now. They’re not going to make that same mistake to ignore those areas. Anything can happen but…
John: Some people say he’s going to jail after this because of the rape charges and all those other problems.
Steve: That can go both ways. I think there was a coup attempt after he won.
John: It was obvious to most of us.
Steve: I’m talking about the higher ups within the “Deep State”. When you read some of the real documentation, what they had and they admitted that with Peter Stoyck, there was no there, there. Yet they pursued this matter for two years which threw the country into turmoil. With all that said, let me give you my perspective as to who I am politically. I did not vote for Donald Trump. You’re asking me for my prognostication, I’m the wrong guy because I predicted Hillary was going to win last time. I was telling all my friends, and I’ve been a Republican since 2010, that Donald Trump was the only one who couldn’t beat Hillary Clinton and that we were crazy to nominate him. I couldn’t understand how anybody supports Trump. He’s mean, he’s nasty, he’s uncouth, he’s impulsive and has no political core and you’re supporting this guy? These are smart people, but they said they wanted to blow up the system.
John: So, we can start over.
Steve: That’s what they said, not literally, but they want to dismantle it.
John: A lot of women can’t stand him.
Steve: Exactly, and I thought you’re picking the wrong guy, but in actuality he was the one guy who could win because he had the right issues. Immigration and jobs and trade, and he followed through on them, but with that said I still don’t like the man.
John: I don’t think anybody likes him.
Steve: I don’t want my grandson to grow up like him. I’d much rather have my grandson to grow up like Barack Obama, who’s a good man. But I also thought he was a terrible president. I thought he made wrong judgment calls time and time again, and I have to say that despite the fact I do not like Donald Trump as a person, I’m not far off on his policies.
John: That’s the thing. He is the first president to go after China, the first president who’s looking at all these things and getting things done. I have photographed POTUS many times and he was always a gentleman to everyone so it is a bit shocking to see how he acts at times.
Steve: He got us out of the Iran deal, which was a terrible deal. He put pressure on Iran, he isolated them and now we are having peace in the Middle East. On the Paris Accords, I have a whole chapter on climate change. I’m a Republican who says climate change is real. Climate change is being accelerated by human beings, there’s no doubt in my mind that is the case.
You can say that climate change is real, but not agree with the crazy Democrats on the left, like AOC and some of these others that think the way to fix climate change is to destroy the American economy. Now the Paris Accord, which a lot of people have never read and don’t understand, gets support in knee jerk fashion. Supporters think it’s great and are ready to go for it. They feel Obama put it together, that the world is coming together and as a result we’re going to solve climate change. It’s bologna. Read it. You know what it does? It says the United States of America, the only country on Earth that has a precipitous lowering of the carbon footprints since 2005, should be handcuffed, but China and India, the biggest polluters on the planet, go unabated. They think we should support that, and its nuts. So, I do support Trump on stopping that. But I think he’s a bit of a denier, which is wrong. I think a lot of people would agree with me that I’m not a Trump sycophant, nor am I a “never-Trumper”. I take each issue on its own merits and write about it accordingly.
John: I have another question for you. You and I seem to be politically aligned. I am neutral for the most part and do lean right. I like to tackle issues and put questions out there to people through the stories I write, or my columnist write, or Model Citizens write. There is one topic I wrote about recently, which is income inequality.
Steve: One of the chapters in my book, the first chapter in my book, is about income inequality.
John: We are talking about three billionaires who have as much wealth as half of the American people. That is not what our forefathers and founding fathers wanted for our country. The financial equivalent of kings, queens and monarchs. How do we solve that now?
Steve: I agree with you on the monopoly side of this issue. I think we must do something about chopping down these monopolies. Teddy Roosevelt would never have allowed Facebook, Google and Amazon to get this big. They wield way too much power and are really squelching free speech. They are part of the “cancel culture”.
John: With censorship.
Steve: They’ve got to be knocked down.
John: They are preventing entrepreneurial companies from growing, from starting.
Steve: With that said, I take a different perspective on the amount of money that they make.
John: I’m just talking about three particular billionaires that happen to have as much wealth as half the country.
Steve: I write about the fact that in America you can get filthy rich, as compared to these other countries where they want more income equality. I ask, would you rather be in a place where everyone is stagnant and equally poor and not able to move forward? Or be in a country where there’s a lot of disparity of income, but the pie is always growing. With that you have to add into the equation a safety net for those who are down on their luck. But I caution you to be very careful about killing the goose that laid the golden egg. If you look at growth in the world and things that make life better like the iPad, 5G and new drugs that save our lives like statins and things like that, they all come from America, not socialist countries. They are not coming from China, or Russia.
John: That’s right China just steals our stuff.
Steve: That’s right. Innovation is coming from here. You can be a Bill Gates, who came from nothing in his basement, or Steve Jobs, and be incentivized and know you can create the next thing that changes the world and become filthy rich. I’m okay with that, if everyone is sharing in the benefit of the innovation. I have a whole chapter on that where I note that the poor and the working class did better under the eras of Democrat John Kennedy, Republican Ronald Reagan and Republican Donald Trump. Why? They all implemented across-the-board tax cuts. Many people disagree with that, they think it’s better to tax the rich people. In 2013, Barack Obama raised taxes on rich people, and it led to 1.6% growth. An anemic growth. The worst we’ve ever had in any recovery since the Great Depression.
John: You just move your money overseas, that’s not a cure.
Steve: Exactly right, there was a 35% corporate tax rate. Democrats were saying we’ve got to tax corporations more. Then Trump came in and said no, that is forcing our money to go where the taxes are lower.
John: To all those tax shelters everyone knows about it overseas.
Steve: Trump comes in and cuts the tax down to 21%. Did people get rich on it, damn right. They did, but you know what else happened? Working-class and middle-class had the first wage growth, over 3%, that they’ve had in 20 years.
John: And everybody went to work.
Steve: Yes, everyone was working and then guess what happened? When people work, there’s less money that has to go into welfare. You actually get, and some people don’t believe me when I say this, but it’s a fact that you get more money into the treasury when you cut taxes. The rate is lower, but more people are earning and so even with a lower rate people are making more money. The result is that you are taxing more money and actually receive more for the treasury coffers to do things that you want to do to help the working class. That’s what this book is all about, educating the public about what works and what doesn’t.
John: So for our readers and your fans, please tell us again the name of the book and where to get it and congratulations on your nomination to be a Model Citizen.
Steve: My book is called “Solutions to America’s Problems”, it is best to go on my website steve Levy.info and from there it is just a click or two to choose an ebook to your iPad or a paperback. I hope people will check it out.
John: I do think they will. Thank you, Steve.