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SALT LAKE CITY -- The man behind the "Our America" initiative hopes it will help him become a contender for the 2012 presidential race.
Since the launch of the initiative in December 2009, former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson has visited 32 states trying to put a voice to what he says is national outrage over America being bankrupt and possible solutions.
Johnson told KSL Monday morning, "I think there's an awareness in this country I've never seen before in my lifetime. That awareness would be that we would actually address the problems we have, and that is the fact we're bankrupt."
"Really, we need to be cutting, we need to be looking at reducing spending dramatically when it comes to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, defense, go right on down the list," he said.
He said what's resonating most with people is the common sense notion that you cannot spend more money than you take in. "You can't do that year after year after year, and that's what we've been doing," he said. "Bankruptcy will manifest itself in our dollars not being able to buy anything."
He also thinks inflation is on the horizon.
He supports legalization of marijuana and cites cost benefit analysis.
"Half of what we spend on law enforcement, courts and prisons is drug related -- about $70 billion a year. What we're getting for that is we're arresting 1.8 million people a year in this country; we have 2.3 million people behind bars. We have the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world. I've come to the conclusion that 90 percent of the drug problem is prohibition related not use related. That's not to discount the problems of use and abuse," he said.
"Legalize marijuana, control it, regulate it, tax it. It will never be legal to smoke pot, get behind the wheel of a car and do harm to others. It will never be legal for kids to smoke pot. But I think you could argue it will become a lot less of the problem -- the problem is that we're arresting so many people for doing an activity that for the most part is safer than alcohol," he said.
The initiative describes itself as a national issue-based advocacy committee. Key issues include: Solving the economic crisis and creating jobs; lowering the federal deficit; civil liberties; fighting the war on drugs; immigration policy; and taxes.