Jesse 'The Mind' Ventura on Politics, Porsches and Paddleboards
by Kenneth Rapoza
Call him Jesse
The Mind or Jesse The Body Ventura, the
former pro-wrestler and Minnesota governor talks to me about his
latest book, DemoCRIPS
and ReBLOODicans, crazy tax policies, and why hes
more Occupy than Tea Party.
two p.m. in Minneapolis, three p.m. in New York. On the phone with
Rapoza: Id recognize that voice anywhere.
[chuckles, signature Jesse] Its a hard one to miss. Good to
talk with you today, Ken.
KR: This morning
on The Takeaway, Joseph Stiglitz was talking about income inequality
and the growing inequality of opportunity in the U.S. Youre
a Vietnam vet. Are we more divided now than we were then, at least
We were more divided then. The true turning point as a nation was
when the National Guard shot four students dead at Kent State. Were
divided, but they havent shot anybody since.
KR: Would you
send your kids to war today?
be a conscientious objector. Youre going to war for corporations,
not for people. Smedley Butler, a general in the Marine Corp., said
that about our interventions in Central America. Its a very
well known critique about U.S. wars.
heard it many times. But theres a different kind of division
now, not just politically right and left. Were seeing a class
division creep in. The rich really are getting richer way
richer in fact and the middle class are definitely getting
poorer. I was surprised to see, but you write a lot about that in
your book. Youre a one percenter. Whats it all look
like to you in Minnesota?
Well, for one, our property values have dropped by over 20% but
my property taxes havent. Why is it that our homes are worth
less and middle class Minnesotans are worth less but are property
taxes arent coming down?
KR: I dont
know. You tell me. You were the governor.
Not anymore. And I dont miss it one bit. Thats all policy
decisions at the state level. I gave taxes back when I was governor.
They cant even balance their budget and its state law to do
so. You know where our taxes go?
KR: Let me
JV: Well, a
lot of it went to bailout out banks and the rich. During the last
Great Recession or whatever you want to call it, Ill have
to quote the Wall Street protesters, the 99 percent lost money.
But the rich made money. They got wealthier thanks to policies that
helped them get wealthier. They didnt get wealthier because
they are smart investors.
right about that. Even Citi says so.
JV: You want
to hear something funny about taxes?
KR: Is that
a joke, like a Polish man walks into a bar?
No. But its laughable. Im learning to paddleboard. In
Minnesota you need to get a license to paddleboard because the board
is over nine feet long. So you have to pay a fee. And you have to
wear a life jacket.
tell me Jesse The Body isnt wearing a life jacket
on a paddle board.
If I showed up with a life jacket to protect me from the wake of
a boat thats maybe a foot high Id be laughed out of
the lake. This is the stuff politicians can agree on. These are
the kinds of policies we the people get.
KR: They must
have hated you in Minnesota. An independent who doesnt have
to raise money because getting publicity for you isnt a problem.
one of the few people who actually made money as governor. I spent
less money to get elected than I earned. Everyone else pays a million
dollars to get paid a hundred and twenty grand. When I was governor,
I was up against both parties and they vetoed me all the time. On
that front they were united. They vetoed my balanced budget because
they thought it would make my re-election bid less likely for the
voters so they could turn to one of the two gangs again. But I didnt
run. That surprised them. And now they have around a $5 billion
deficit, worse than Wisconsin.
KR: What do
you think about [Wisc. governor] Scott Walker?
JV: I think
he beat [Tom] Barrett because he had more money. Whoever gets the
most bribe many can put the ads on TV. And now with Citizens United
and SuperPACs unleashed, these groups can lie about their favorite
candidate and the politician isnt held responsible for the
content. I think every politician should wear a NASCAR race suit
at this point.
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© 2012 Forbes