Hello, Reddit!

I am Jon Lott, independent candidate for the U.S. House in Massachusetts’ 8th Congressional District. I’m running because we are moving closer to an environmentally-driven collapse, and I want to help stop it—or at least insulate ourselves from the coming disaster. Shoutout to my buddies at r/collapse and r/environment.

I think many of y’all understand the danger we’re in: the UN IPCC said—2 years ago—we have 12 years to take serious action to mitigate climate change. As usual, we did nothing, and are risking rising sea levels which threaten to displace hundreds of millions (billions?) of people over the next 50 years, worsening drought and desertification in parts of the world, worsening flooding in other parts of the world, unprecedented waves of global migration, food and water shortages, and increased instability across the earth—and that’s not to mention the not-totally-unrelated pandemic and Depression 2.0 which has erupted worldwide, or the invasive species and changing climate patterns that undermine our fragile ecosystems.

You don’t have to be an environmental expert to learn the truth and try to make a difference. I am not a climate scientist; I’m a teacher, officially. I’ve taught a bunch of subjects (Latin, World Cultures, American History, Economics, Leadership, U.S. Government, ESL) across several schools in the United States (in Connecticut and Mass), China (in Xiamen and Chengdu), and Saudi Arabia (in Abha).

I was in China (Feb 2018—July 2019) when the US-China trade war began, when Xi Jinping wrote his name into the constitution and removed term limits for himself, and when Trump met Kim Jong-Un (in SE Asia but whatever). Basically the twilight period of Americans in China; I took the hints and got out, coincidentally a few months before COVID-19 hit. (I also got to meet and interview China’s first climate striker, shoutout to Howey Ou.) After China, I taught at a university in Abha, Saudi Arabia, for a year (during which Saudi had its oil war, opened up tourist visas for visitors, and then began a strict 3-month lockdown), returning home in May on a U.S. repatriation flight, and then declared my candidacy in June 2020, very late in the process—with fewer than 2 months to get my name on the ballot.

This is not the first time I’ve run for office, but it is the biggest office I’ve sought. 4 years ago, in 2016, I ran for (and lost) Massachusetts State Senate, when I was just 24 years old. Earlier in that year, I also hitchhiked across the USA (from DC to LA, in March) in 17 glorious days; I later wrote and published a book about the experience, Hitchhike America, which didn’t sell well. Buy a copy today!

Anyway, it’s one month to Election Day, and some people are voting already. There is no Republican in my race (the GOP resistance in Massachusetts has pretty much fallen apart, except for the Governor) so this is one of a very very few number of Congressional races with an independent vs. one major-party candidate (Congressman Stephen Lynch, whom I respect). Here's the campaign website!

AMA about the campaign, living and working overseas, hitchhiking, climate, politics, Seinfeld, or anything else.

Follow me on Twitter

Follow me on Instagram.

My Proof: https://twitter.com/MrJonLott/status/1312397566957490177

Edit: more proof: https://imgur.com/smsReS9

Comments: 557 • Responses: 96  • Date: 

adultdoubleknots530 karma

Saw the proof. Still not convinced that isn’t Shia LaBeouf and this is part of prep for a project.

MrJonLott149 karma

Just do it!

cleopatraz104 karma

Will you condemn China for their treatment of Uyghurs and work to raise awareness for them?

If so, how?

MrJonLott115 karma

I condemned Chinese Uighur oppression elsewhere in this AMA, and I will do so again. I 100% denounce China's wretched behavior when it comes to Uighurs (and Tibetans, and Hong Kongers).

If we want to change China's behavior, it has to come through global sanctions and a total boycott of all the companies profiting off China's near-slave labor in Xinjiang. We don't have sovereignty over Chinese land so this is the best we can do, barring military action.

bmoregood82 karma

What in your experience as an English teacher in China/SA makes you equipped to save us from the climate apocalypse you mention? How intensive were the requirements for those roles?

MrJonLott4 karma

I have a MA teaching license in several subjects and I'm pretty well qualified.

At the end of the day, we just need people to vote properly on environmental legislation. It doesn't matter who they are or what background they came from. To pick a controversial congressperson, AOC was a bartender who is now a champion for climate policy, despite not having a background in hard science.

If you keep gatekeeping climate change, then you'll never broaden the coalition of people that we need to build to actually fix it—or at least insulate ourselves from the coming collapse. I've been reading about collapse-related stuff for years now, and I feel I have a better grasp (and deeper involvement) on what our future will look like than most of Congress.

We need teachers and people with experience overseas, especially in super-relevant countries like China and Saudi Arabia. Can you name any congresspeople who lived in China/Saudi and understand it from the inside?

The_Collector41 karma

I would say Judy Chu probably understands China pretty well.

MrJonLott2 karma

100%. But it's a small list she's on.

thismyfanaccount63 karma

What are the major differences between you and the democratic party? Also, it seems like you have many extremely difficult to achieve ideas (such as a Second Constitutional Convention). Are those ideas just what you would want to see happen in an ideal world or do you actually have a plan on how to get it done?

MrJonLott82 karma

Do I think I can arrange another constitutional convention? Hell no. But it'll never happen unless people start talking about it. Andrew Yang single-handedly brought UBI into the mainstream, and now some people are seriously discussing it. And Yang almost certainly won't be the President when that gets signed into law, if it ever happens. Move the Overton window!

Just like the Green New Deal. I have no illusions that America will ever pass the GND as it currently stands. But by making noise around it, we can increase pressure on elected officials to enact at least part of it. These are ideals to strive towards. A first-term congressperson can't usually accomplish much.

I think the Democratic Party's plan is to keep kicking the can down the road, while softly continuing the surveillance state and overseas expeditions. I don't see a lot of backbone when it comes to climate or tax issues. And I lean conservative when it comes to guns, immigration, and the so-called nanny state. And there are some issues I believe that no party wants to touch with a 10-foot pole (like taxing religious institutions and having a second constitutional convention).

ZLBuddha11 karma

What do you think of the current Dem platform's plan to solve the climate crisis by creating millions of new jobs?

MrJonLott29 karma

Any plan to solve the climate crisis needs to address our current levels of consumption, which are unsustainable. I think we need to think big when it comes to climate, bigger than the Democrats' official platform. But their plan is miles better than the GOP's.

Jeramiah-7 karma

What's your stance on the democratic party loudly calling to ban guns?

MrJonLott-6 karma

Not sure what loud call you're referring to, but it sounds foolish. Luckily for them, the Democrats appear to have a large lead in most congressional races, plus Biden is bigly leading Trump.

uReallyShouldTrustMe27 karma

I agree with most of your positions and am very interested in politics myself. However, as someone who has lived abroad for quite a period of time, I would find myself... kind of... at odds or not fit to be trying to represent Americans in my district if I haven't BEEN there recently.

I don't mean this in a dick way, just in a realistic way. How do you still feel connected enough to represent the people of your potential constituency given you have lived abroad for so long?

MrJonLott11 karma

I was only abroad for about two and a half years, which I don't think is long at all, considering I was also born and raised in the district, and a lifelong legal resident of the district. I don't see this as a problem, but in the end the voters will decide.

DoinkMcNuggets24 karma

Hey Jon, I was one of the people who signed to get you on the ballot back in June at a local grocery store. My question is if there was one drawback that was so positive working and teaching overseas what would it be and why? Also I wish you nothing but the best in your campaign

MrJonLott28 karma

Thank you very much for signing my nomination papers!

There definitely are drawbacks from living overseas. For example, I missed my sister's wedding reception (she was married privately earlier but I missed the party), for which I'm deeply regretful. I've gotten food poisoning in China, and I probably could've made more money if I had just stayed put in the United States. Like a lot of things, I think they're a lot clearer in hindsight, but I don't regret the time I spent out in the world.

samspy0073 karma

It was just a sweet party. Lots of people didn't make it, don't be too regretful! 😜

MrJonLott3 karma

Awww, thanks.

FEwood18 karma

What did you think of the book More Guns, Less Crime by John Lott?

MrJonLott23 karma

Haven't read it. I've been mistaken for that John Lott almost as much as the philosopher John Locke. One day maybe they'll be mistaken for me.

bozorush9 karma

Bro I love that attitude

MrJonLott11 karma

Thanks, bozorush! Big ups!

flibberti9 karma

Why did you take a mugshot of yourself?

MrJonLott10 karma

My original IAMA proof was rejected because the mods thought anyone could've been answering these questions, I'm not sure. So I took that selfie.

canadadryistheshit9 karma

MA-2 Resident here

What are your thoughts on Canadian and Icelandic health care systems compared to the US? I'm about to turn 26 and fall off my parent's health insurance.

In my life time, I would like to see health care given to citizens free of charge for inpatient visits.

MrJonLott14 karma

I am a strong supporter of a Medicare-for-All single-payer system, and the pandemic should've made the necessity of this clear to Congress. I don't know about Iceland's system but Canada's is better than ours—though not without its flaws.

illimitable17 karma

You're exceptionally well-traveled. Does that make people suspicious of you? I can imagine that your unconventional ways of living, like going abroad and hitchhiking, make you look weird to some narrow-minded people who may not have gotten out much.

Do you think your chances would be better if you had gained your world knowledge through time in the armed services? Would your story be better if you were just a lawyer or something?

MrJonLott6 karma

I don't even mention to people that I hitchhiked across the country because I don't want to get pigeonholed in their minds. I already have long hair and a beard and I'm young, so it's clear I'm not a typical congressional candidate...but in the past 4 years, I think the political gates have been thrown open in a way where people from all sorts of backgrounds are viewed a little more seriously, which is great.

I think experience abroad looks great to voters, especially in an important country like China (and Saudi to some extent too). Congress needs more people who've spent time in the belly of the beast, who understand these nations from the inside, from a perspective different than the military.

Obviously a law degree or military service would help any politician, but life's too short, and I ain't gonna borrow the money for 3 years of law school.

illimitable17 karma

I'm a returned Peace Corps volunteer. The number of US people who have experienced life outside the US is exceedingly small! I don't think you'd win here in Tennessee. Xenophobia would prime people to paint you as "other" just for living abroad. It's a shame, because this experience brings a lot of perspective to the table.

MrJonLott3 karma

Thank you for your service! Where did you volunteer?

Lupin_The_Fourth6 karma

Why should I vote for you and not Vermin Supreme? He promises Unicorns for everyone what are you promising?

MrJonLott10 karma

A cleaner earth

samspenc6 karma

Thanks for doing this and all the best! A few questions come to mind, hope it's OK to roll it all into one post:

  1. How hard is it running as an independent candidate today?
  2. What are your goals for fundraising?
  3. If you don't raise the minimum amount you need to compete, do you have a Plan B to continue as a candidate without raising enough funding?

MrJonLott13 karma

  1. I've never run as a party candidate so I'm not sure how it compares, but I get the impression it's much tougher being taken seriously (though my young age also contributes to that perception). On the flip side, any voter in the district can sign my nomination papers, which makes getting on the ballot a little bit easier. There's certainly a good reason why few politicians are independent today; ask me again in a month.

  2. I'd be happy if I raised just $2000 from this AMA, but it's fine if I don't get a cent. The official campaign fundraising goal is classified.

  3. By getting on the ballot, I've already qualified to compete on the ballot, and my campaign strategy was structured around the presumption that I wouldn't raise much money. My opponent has literally 19 years' worth of name recognition and a 6 or 7-figure war chest, so it's an uphill battle. It's been Plan B from the beginning!

AutoModerator6 karma

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MrJonLott6 karma

Extra extra proof: https://imgur.com/smsReS9

Addahn6 karma

Where in China were you teaching? I’ve been in China for about 5 years now and different cities have a different feel!

MrJonLott5 karma

Xiamen and then Chengdu, but I've travelled all over China, Kunming, Ürümqi, Xi'an, Beijing, Guilin, Guiyang, and more. Where are you at?


Oh man I wanted to teach in Chengdu. It's such a cool city, probably my favorite in China. Ended up in Beijing though.

MrJonLott9 karma

To be honest, just based on the pollution, I can't recommend teaching in Chengdu. But you know all about pollution in Beijing.

Stick to the coast of China, lurkers!

Dutch_Midget5 karma

How are the teaching etiquettes different in the US, China and Saudi?

MrJonLott22 karma

My Saudi students were the most respectful students I've ever taught—but they were also the only university students I've ever taught. Conversational, down-to-earth, very mannerly. Teachers have to dress quite well and avoid certain topics, but otherwise etiquette is ordinary.

In China, there was pretty much no dress code at the schools I taught at. A few Chinese teachers came to work in flip-flops occasionally. Students generally didn't take foreign teacher lessons as seriously, since it was nearly impossible for them to fail the classes. You still have to avoid talking about certain topics (Taiwan). My Chinese students were rowdy, but it was mostly in good fun.

In the US, I find teaching to be fairly stiff, to be honest. One of the things I like about teaching overseas is that (for me, at least) there is less administrative pressure and the students fell less stressed, too. The general atmosphere is less fun at most of the American schools I've taught at.

Spacey_G5 karma

Would you say that in American schools, there's a sense that the stakes are higher? I remember being implicitly taught that getting good grades and standardized test scores was an absolute necessity to a healthy, balanced adulthood. Especially in high school, there was a collective feeling that we couldn't screw up academically or our lives were over. I went to public schools in an affluent suburb of Boston where 90+% of students went on to college after HS. I'm not sure if this was a symptom of the town culture or if it's typical for schools nationwide.

MrJonLott6 karma

The stakes are very high in America for a lot of college-bound students. I taught in Greenwich, CT and Needham, MA, and there is definitely a culture of stress among many families...even though it really doesn't matter that much what college you go to in America if it's not in the Top 20 or so schools.

But the stakes can be pretty high in China, too. I think students only get one chance to take the gaokao, which is like the Chinese SAT test, and the results can literally determine the course of your life. Some of my students would take a week off school to cram for the test. Saudi was very relaxed.

Dvsninja5 karma

What is your stance on the war on drugs?

MrJonLott20 karma

End it! If the government cannot prove why something should be illegal (with data), then it ought to be legal.

Kunimasai5 karma

Do you recommend hitchhiking as a form of transportation?

MrJonLott11 karma

Depends who you are and where you are. In Saudi Arabia, it's a pretty easy and reliable way to get around; I've heard similar things about New Zealand. In America, you can wait 4+ hours without getting a ride, so it's not reliable. Now that the coronavirus is out, I can't honestly recommend hitchhiking in most places. It builds character and trust, though!

Trayaweigh3 karma


MrJonLott4 karma

The only way out is through the ballot box. Vote them out!

Chrsmulkey3 karma

Hey Jon. I'm a Mass resident and was wondering about your specific stances on the gun laws in Mass.

I moved to Mass a while back and while I've never had a problem obtaining a gun in any other state anti-black legislation like those in MA,NJ,CA and NY continue to affect minorities like me to this day.

Because of the police ability to chose who gets a license even after passing a background check it leaves mass residents like me high and dry on having to leave the state and go through a private sale just to arm ourselves while waiting on out LTC to process. (This is legal and is covered under the 60 day registration wait)

Any FFL in New Hampshire could probably explain this quandary to you.

I would like to know if you plan of fighting the systemic anti-black LTC legislation that blocks my 2nd amendment right and my civil rights to life & liberty.

This is something that many Neo-Liberal democrats who passed these anti-black crime bills over the past 30 years (Bloomberg) have basically used to subvert black Americans right to defend themselves against violent criminals.

Do you plan on correcting this form of systemic racism and moving us to a more equal system like NH?

MrJonLott2 karma

Thanks for this. Did the police tell you why you were denied a gun license? I'm not a lawyer but I might look into the feasibility of suing them, just see if it's possible. That kind of discrimination has no place in society. Whatever standards our background checks are holding people to must apply equally and be fully transparent.

4LKqE6nFn7Sz2 karma

Do you say s-ow-dee or saw-dee?

MrJonLott2 karma

It depends to whom I'm speaking, but usually the latter.

FaustusC2 karma

What's your stance on the Chinese treatment of Uighurs?

What's your opinion on Saudi having actually been there? Seems lovely.

Why have you chosen to teach in countries that seem to consider human rights jokes?

MrJonLott2 karma

You can't change these societies until you understand them. I see my time there as helping the relations between our nations.

Obviously I condemn Chinese repression of Uighurs (and Tibetans, and Hong Kong, etc). I even flew to the capital of Xinjiang, Ürümqi, to see the status on the ground. Why do many Americans still continue to buy products from companies which outsource their labor to China's brainwashing facilities?

And I condemn the extrajudicial killing of Jamal Khashoggi and the general repression of women in Saudi. That being said, Saudi Arabia is improving (unlike China). The religious police have been disbanded, women can supposedly drive (I never saw a woman driving though in my whole time in the kingdom, though), and certain freedoms are slowly being realized. Lasting change takes time, and we must continue pressure to improve the Saudi government.

QueenJackathy2 karma

That’s awesome that you’re running. To be honest, though, I didn’t hear of your campaign (maybe because I’m not currently living there) but how do you plan to get the word out for your campaign?

MrJonLott6 karma

It's complicated! I challenged my opponent to a debate (I'm not expecting a response) and appealed to several TV shows and internet personalities to have me on, but I've been stonewalled by almost everyone. This AMA is part of the strategy.

NotAPropagandaRobot2 karma

Do people look at you weird when you hitchhike? And sis you ever have any weird experiences while hitchhiking.

MrJonLott3 karma

Yes, and yes. You meet all sorts of weird characters thumbing it.

NeitherStyle92 karma

Are you actually Shia LeBeouf in disguise?

MrJonLott3 karma


tonoocala2 karma

what are your thoughts on US imperialism and its history intervening in Latin America (which includes Puerto Rico) ?

MrJonLott4 karma

They were almost all counterproductive and nasty affairs. The situation down there would've probably been more stable if we had just stayed out.

9McNuggets2 karma

how was Abha?

MrJonLott2 karma

The weather was totally not what you'd expect from Saudi Arabia. It was quite nice.

Today_i_might_wait1 karma

After living and teaching internationally just how disappointed are you in America at this stage in your life?

MrJonLott2 karma

Nothing shocks me anymore.

helloreddit001 karma

Did you teach internationally for the sex? I'm a democrat and it's annoying seeing so many idiots try to be democrat politicians. where are the bill clintons? fucking first we got some mexican bartender and now a sexpat teacher. give me a break.

MrJonLott1 karma

Would a sexpat go to Saudi Arabia?

evanthebouncy1 karma

I'm from chengdu. Thank you for teaching in my city. What did you teach and did you get around to understand our local language and food?

MrJonLott3 karma

I taught a kid named Evan...you're not him, are you?

I taught a bunch of things at an international high school down there: U.S. History, U.S. Government, Economics, Leadership, and English.

I never learned much of the Sichuan dialect but I became very familiar with the spicy food famous in Chengdu. Roujiamo, lamien, hot pot, I love authentic Chinese food!

EvilTwin21461 karma

You mentioned going to China and Saudi Arabia to teach, from an outside persprctive, these nations have oppressive governemmts and/or socio-political norms. What interested you in these nations, did your opinoin of them change while you were staying there and would you go back in the future if things remain as they are?

MrJonLott3 karma

I doubt I'll ever return to either nation (although I'd like to visit Hong Kong), but I wouldn't 100% rule it out. I do worry that I might get rejected for future visa applications, though, so I'll probably just never try to go back.

China interested me because it's the competitor to the United States. It's big and rich and powerful and Americans don't really understand it. There are countless Chinese cities with over 10 million people, but the average American can probably only name 3 cities in the whole nation. Our China blind spot is embarrassing; outsiders know little to no Chinese history. How many historical figures can we name from pre-1800s China?

Saudi interested me for similar reasons, but the salary (tax-free) was quite attractive too. Life is short, and I want to see the world!

Aceisking121 karma

How would you say the long term national objectives of China and Saudi differ from that of the United States?

Who's national system is more suited to achieving their objectives?

MrJonLott1 karma

Great question.

China's long-term objectives are closer to being realized than America's or Saudi Arabia's. China wants to consolidate its power over its own citizens, win neighboring countries over, expand, and dominate the economy of the world. That's not so different from the secret ambitions of most powerful nations, but they are well on their way. Their political system (which is really a kind of soft totalitarianism) is the best suited for such an aim, but it violates many human rights along the way and it anti-democratic.

Saudi Arabia wants to consolidate its influence in the Muslim world and dominate the oil market—which it has already done, in a way, through OPEC and OPEC+. But their oil won't last forever, and Saudi Vision 2030 (a grand modernization scheme) isn't progressing to schedule, and not likely to be realized. At the end of the day, geography will enforce its limits. Most people seem fairly satisfied with the absolute monarchy, though, given their situation.

What the national objectives of the United States are is hard to even know these days. Trump has no interest in governing and Biden's vision seems like a soft rehash of Obama's plan, which as far as I know, was a strong international influence and a comparatively healthy economy at home. I don't think we've had a President who wanted America to Think Big in recent history.

28carslater1 karma

Given your on the ground experience, I have an interesting foreign policy question. In 2015 when King Abdullah died wild rumors were flying about regarding an internal power struggle within KSA. I cannot find a reference now, but I know I read in the international press at the time about the presence of Israeli fighter jets at Rihyad airport, which was suggested to be a message of backing Salman during this struggle. Subsequently after Salman's accession, KSA and Israeli ties improved significantly and Salman's son Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) emerged as the de facto ruler of KSA. MbS's detention, torture, and extortion of his cousins at the Four Seasons in 2017 seems to confirm there may have been a divided family and MbS was conducting a purge to secure his power. When MbS's father leaves this world, what is the most likely succession scenario in your opinion? How likely is there to be another internal power struggle and where would the citizens stand?

MrJonLott2 karma

It's my understanding that MbS will accede to the throne if King Salman dies. He might chafe with some of the older conservatives but I think he has all the support nationally and internationally to become King.

There were rumors (later proven false) of King Salman's death in early March, and then again this September. Could these have been created to see how the royal family and other coalition members might react? I don't know. There is probably a more complicated Saudi Game of Thrones going on that we don't know anything about.

As for the citizens, I think most of them believe MbS is the legitimate heir (there are old posters of MbS and Salman plastered throughout the kingdom, it's a real branding exercise) and would support him. But in the end, the regular people would just be happy to go about their daily lives without interference, no matter who's King.

Lobstaman1 karma

Hi Jon, what are your thoughts on ballot initiative #2: Ranked Choice Voting?

MrJonLott2 karma

Yes on 1, Yes on 2!

suicidetrucker11 karma

Why are you running as an independent when you obviously should be the socialist candidate?

MrJonLott2 karma

I'm not a socialist, and I'll get more votes this way.

Moosemayor1 karma

If given the opportunity would you hire a body double?

MrJonLott1 karma

There's no need...

WeatherIsNiceUpHere1 karma

Are you aware of any independents running for the 7th district? Ayanna Pressley doesn’t exactly match my views. I don’t see anyone else that fits your profile

MrJonLott5 karma

Nobody is challenging Ayanna on the ballot. Ayanna is being challenged in a bizarre write-in campaign by the Republican Rayla Campbell, but I doubt she represents your views.

shevildevil1 karma

Do you support full Taiwan independence from China?

What is your opinion on MA's current gun control considering it is one of the most strict compared to neighboring NH where it is one of the most lax?

MrJonLott2 karma

The goal should be peaceful Taiwanese independence, but I would support US military intervention to defend Taiwan if it were attacked.

I don't have a firearm, and I have no interest in getting one anytime soon. I don't personally have a stake in that fight but I think Mass wouldn't have any problems if they loosened up a little bit (and made driving through Mass with a firearm easier). I don't know any specifics on NH gun laws.

Jet_Fixxxer1 karma

Are you a native Massholenian? ;) If not how long have in lived in the State? I like the candidates I am voting for to actually know the state they will be representing. As a New Englander who reside in MA it rare to see someone from New England use y'all. My son does as my wife is a Texan.

MrJonLott2 karma

Born and raised in Stoughton, MA. I just like using y'all


Have you ever played the Ori games? Which one is better? What do you think of the environmental messages?

MrJonLott3 karma

Never heard of them. The only video game I play these days is Pokémon Showdown.

picklesismyhomie1 karma

Hi. You spent 17 days hitchhiking across the USA? I find that incredibly interesting, probably because I spent the better part of three years hitching all around the continent of North America.

My question is rather pointed, not gonna pretend otherwise, but it is a genuine one: why on earth did you bring that up? What does your week and half adventure have to do with anything? If those questions are irksome then ignore them and instead answer me this: what was your most wild story from your time running along those yellow lines?

MrJonLott2 karma

I bring it up because it's an interesting thing that makes people click on the AMA. If I had gone to space for 12 hours, I would've listed that, too.

goldenblacklee1 karma

Hello i have 3 questions.

1.on your website the state your stance on drugs.

"I support the federal legalization of marijuana. The Drug War was a failure. If the government can’t substantively defend why a drug ought to be illegal, it should be legal. Many—but not all—drugs should be decriminalized.

Can you expand on this? The war on drugs is intrinsically linked to our immigration issue. What are your thoughts on drugs apart from weed? Cocaine or opioids for example?

2.Your plan for education seems great i like the increased focus on life skills. What do you think of restricting government loans for college to only STEM fields that actually require the education? How do you plan to stop employers from just requiring a degree by default?

3.What are your opinions on gun control? Your website says:

I have no problem with law-abiding Americans owning firearms, as long as they have passed a background check.

What do you think would reduce gun violence and murders in general? Do you support universal background checks, assault weapon bans, magazine limits, licensing and mandatory training?

MrJonLott3 karma

If the government can’t substantively defend why a drug ought to be illegal, it should be legal. Many—but not all—drugs should be decriminalized.

This goes for cocaine, opioids, LSD, heroin, etc etc. We know that the government smothered research on some of these drugs for generations. If we aren't willing to do the research to justify why something should be illegal, then the default should be legal. I don't want to legalize heroin—we have data to support keeping it illegal or (as I favor) decriminalizing it. But when it comes to other less serious substances (marijuana, khat, synthesized psychedelics, etc), about which the scientific literature is not entirely negative towards, then we shouldn't keep those illegal. Decriminalize or legalize those.

I don't think it's fair to restrict loans to STEM-only. I don't think the government can or should force employers to change their requirements; this has to be a big cultureshift in business.

Regarding guns (I support a universal background check), and all violence, I think America is suffering from serious mental illness. Emotional intelligence, sanity, overprescribing medicine, cognitive dissonance, depression, paranoid thinking. I don't limit this to Trump supporters or any political party or any background. I genuinely think we're losing our ability to make sense of the world. We need to do more than empty lip-service to the problem of mental illness.

tonoocala1 karma

what has been the weirdest experience you encountered while hitchiking? animals following you, odd characters trying to give you a lift, finding any crazy items on the side of the road, etc?

MrJonLott2 karma

I found a ziploc mag full of small change and some notes about Jesus in Arizona. I got picked up by two Tenneesseeans (?) who spoke with such a thick mountain drawl that I had no idea where I was going, and in Oklahoma my driver asked if he could blow me!

Count123451 karma

Sal paradise?

MrJonLott1 karma

Is that you, Dean?

1nite1niteonly1 karma

Did you hop freight?

MrJonLott1 karma

No. Too risky for me to try that, although I'd love to.

appi1 karma

What is your impression of the growing sinophobia in America? In reaction to the president's recent diagnosis, I have seen multiple members of congress and other government representatives suggest we hold China accountable for attempted assassination. Even on reddit, in this very AMA, anything short of complete denouncement brings about accusations of being a Chinese bot or blind nationalist. How do you recommend we denounce credible atrocities without succumbing to manufactured consent?

MrJonLott1 karma

We have to be able to make a distinction between standing against the Chinese government and the Chinese people; you can definitely be against China while not being an anti-Chinese racist. We oppose Putin and Russia without personally hating Russian people and their culture. And China is our adversary, as well as an opportunity and a threat (so is Russia). The situation is complicated.

If you're talking about holding China personally responsible for COVID-19, I would say that's unproductive. Its origins were almost certainly natural and not a bioweapon. And there's nothing we can do about stopping the release of the virus anymore; it's out there now, and it's our responsibility to fix it.

I think a global coalition of sanctions that gets at China's economy is the best way to force China to change—although they just might not. At long as you stay true to your own principles, you resist becoming wrapped up in manufactured consent.

complexashley1 karma

As someone who also wants to teach overseas, how hard was it to reach that point for you? Do you see that option being avalible any time soon amidst this pandemic?

MrJonLott3 karma

How hard was it to reach what point? Actually leaving the States and doing it? It took a few months to prepare all my documents and by then I was itching to go.

I think much of the international teaching market has been put on hold because of the pandemic, but there are still opportunities in countries with better pandemic management than America. I don't expect it to be an option for most people until at least fall 2021. But who knows, the second wave is coming and this has been a wild year.

2HotdogWater61 karma

I’m curious as to what kind of differences there are in the curriculum you teach in different countries, are they more open about their history than others? And since you have been in these places first hand what countries are doing better academically and how can we follow their footsteps?

MrJonLott1 karma

In China, where I taught American history, among other things, we are explicitly told (sometimes it's the first item in a teaching contract there) not to talk about Taiwan. My students were defensive about talking about Hong Kong, Xinjiang, Taiwan, and other political issues, but I could do indirect probing of their beliefs, and I'd often draw unspoken parallels to China's history with America's. Saudi curriculum avoided many sensitive topics altogether.

The older Chinese people I spoke to are generally of the opinion that Mao was a pretty bad leader and he made a bunch of mistakes, and life would probably be better in a more free society—but they know they cannot criticize him openly, so they just gossip among themselves.

In my experience, American students are generally better students than the students I taught in China and Saudi. But America could follow their lead and dramatically drop the price of college.

BurgerPleaseYT0 karma

Looks like you traveled to a lot of places, that's cool.

What's your favorite burger joint?

MrJonLott3 karma

I don't eat at restaurants these days...but I gotta say In-N-Out Burger!

africanasshat0 karma

Ever met any of the Seinfeld cast?

MrJonLott1 karma

Not yet!

RDeb0620 karma

Hi ! I was wondering what are the diferrences of education system between US and the other two countries you visited ? Do you think USA has better education system ?

MrJonLott3 karma

I think K-12 is best done in the United States, compared to what I know of China's and Saudi's systems. Although I will say, China has this very convenient (for the students, anyway) system where the students all belong to a cohort and they are assigned a classroom. The teacher moves around between classes and the students don't have to leave their desks. It dramatically cuts down on hall traffic between classes, which is especially effective in coronatimes.

When it comes to university, I simply cannot endorse the American model, which is pretty much a gigantic wealth transfer project that often doesn't prepare its students for the real world. In Saudi, the government pays Saudi citizens to go to college. Chinese university is a joke from what I'm told, but at least it doesn't cost that much.

ford12acing-2 karma

What do you think about the projection of the democratic party? They have been behaving like fascists nazis, and then calling everyone else fascists and nazis.

Also, Do you think China and Russia will reward the democratic party for their allegiance and if so what will the reward be?

MrJonLott3 karma

This is a ridiculous bad-faith question

SkyWanderluster-5 karma

When you say you hitchhiked across America, do you mean you went from Canada to Ushuaia, Argentina? Cuz I expect more geography clarity from a teacher with international experience.

America is a continent.

MrJonLott2 karma

There's North America and South America, two different continents. There are 7 continents in total.

I hitchhiked across North America, which is a continent. It's also very common practice for Americans (citizens of the United States) to refer to their country as America, fyi.