Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Issues

There are too many different issues out there for which I have an opinion on one side of the political spectrum or the other to label my self as a Democrat/Republican, Liberal/Conservative. I'm more of a Moderate/Centrist, but I still don't like the labels. So instead of picking one or another, I'll tell you how I feel about a number of these topics. I'll try to make it as black and white as possible, and I'll try to note the fuzzy areas as necessary.

1) Gun Rights
Most people should be able to own a gun. However certain people (i.e those with certain mental disorders, convicted criminals, etc.) should be barred. Making gun ownership illegal doesn't stop people from owning guns, just as making murder illegal doesn't stop it from happening. There are already laws partially restricting people from owning firearms, yet it doesn't stop them.

2) Abortion Rights
A woman should be able to do whatever she wants with her body. A woman should not necessarily be able to do whatever she wants with her unborn child. There are distinctions to be made about how far into a pregnancy one may terminate, such as when survival outside becomes viable. However, even if you believe it to be against your own moral or religious code, it's not hurting you any if someone else does it.

3) Gay/Lesbian Rights
Gay, lesbian, homosexual, bisexual, transsexual, transgender and yes, even heterosexual individuals should be able to marry whomever they want. Marriage is a license between two people validated (or not as the case may be) by the government. In this day in age, whether it has anything to do with religion or a personal commitment is up to the eloping couple. As above, even if you believe it to be against your own moral or religious code, it's not hurting you any if anyone else weds.

4) Voting Rights
You should be required to prove citizenship when voting. If you are not a citizen (local, state, U.S. or otherwise) then your opinions should not carry weight in our democratic process. I'm not allowed to cross the border into Canada (or any other country) and vote in their elections, so why should they (or anyone else) be able to do the same in ours?

5) Foreign Policy
Similarly, we in the United States have little-to-no right to impose any beliefs or opinions upon other countries. In a matter of saving lives, one could argue the need for our involvement in a foreign conflict. However, we should abide by the democratic principles of the United Nations (as ineffectual as that may be)  and the rest of the world community. If all we are doing is running in at the first sign of anti-American trouble, then we mostly serve to make others hate us more. What's more, we have enough problems that need to be addressed at home that we already don't have enough money to deal with.

6) Taxation
Taxes should be flat, or better yet, based on consumption (i.e. pure sales tax revenue). There should be no loopholes, exemptions, or freebies -- for anyone. There are some details that should probably be addressed beyond this point, but that's a post for another time.

7) Religion Rights (I)
If you want to live a non-secular life, then you should have every right to do so. However, any action to impose your beliefs on anyone else through law or policy should be limited. It is important to note that 'imposing' one's religion is not the same as 'sharing'/'spreading' it - everyone should be free to worship in public without fear of retribution from others.

8) Religion Rights (II)
Religion has no place in school. There are many facts about the world that have been and can be proven by science that should be learned by everyone, especially those in the public education system. If you have a different belief, then as incorrect as you be, you should be allowed to teach it to your own children, but you have no right to force exposure of my child to those beliefs.

9) Wealth
Some people in this country just make too much money. However true that may be, and however much I despise the system that allows it, the government is not the one who should take more from them to make ends meet. If they have too much money, it's because they were born into it (so then who am I to take what they have?), the company that pays them can afford it, despite how much work actually goes in to make that salary (in the case of business executives and celebrities), or ultimately because the general population pays for it (see previous note). If you really want to make the system more equal (speaking private sector), then stop giving the rich more money for nothing. -- For dealing with taxes, see item #6.

10) Public Aid/Assistance
If you receive any kind of 'free money' from the government, you should be held accountable for the responsible use of that money, and your need should be validated before you receive it. Bottom line, if you have nicer, fancier things, or you have fewer financial worries than me, or if you are wasting that money on 'fun' things like concerts, movies, alcohol, drugs, smart phones, second houses (yes, this happens/ed) or any other non-necessity, and you receive any kind of assistance from the government (charities are generally separate, minus tax-breaks which means the money is the same thing), then we've got a problem. Give me my money back.

There is definitely more to say, but I'm running out of steam. Perhaps the rest will come at a later date. In the meantime, what do you think? Am I wrong? Tell me how.


  1. I receive so-called "free money" from the government, and I have some "nice things"... granted, my nice things do not come from the government money directly, but the idea that you cannot have both is a little draconian. I understand being upset with tweekers driving pimpmobiles and talking on their smartphones while buying steak and lobster above market price... but when I can use my government money to buy a prime rib roast at $4/lb and take advantage of my credit score to finance a nice TV with low monthly payments, I'm going to. Further, being on government assistance does not preclude someone from being able to save small amounts every month to put towards something "nice", or take out lines of credit. The issue is that there is no efficient, reasonable, or worthwhile way to distinguish between people like myself, who make good financial choices in crappy situations, versus fraudulent leeches off the system. It pisses me off, but it's not something with a practical resolution.

    On the other hand, my choice not to have children I can't afford means that I'm not eligible for the basic health care services that would make it easier to prevent pregnancy. I can afford the $9/mo for the prescription at walmart, but not the doctor's visit to write the prescription in the first place. You didn't write anything here about Obamacare but I can tell you with certainty that it still does not provide "affordable care" for everyone. I do wonder what you think about the Affordable Care Act.

    As for people making too much money... I do think on some personal level that the wealth disparity in this country is pretty bad, but consider the loss taken if there's no incentive to work or retain cash on hand. The solution to wealth disparity is not to unceremoniously remove wealth from individuals because of some arbitrary limit on what's "fair" for a person to have. If you struck it rich, won the lottery, or whatever, how would you feel knowing that your children would see very little of it when you died? Seems pretty pointless, then. You might as well just live paycheck to paycheck and spend frivolously while you're alive.

  2. To tell the truth, I'm almost more surprised by the number of agreements. You seem to have taken a bit more time in responding that I took to original put this all together. Thanks for the consideration.

    Each bullet point can probably be expanded to a whole post or more, so I do realize I cut much of the conversation short on my end. 


    I had actually spend a good amount of time responding but I lost it somehow. :-/

    Anyway, here are some of those thoughts rehashed...

    1) More of an issue I think is the mentality that violent acts solve problems and the reality that violent acts may earn you some notoriety. I don't blame video games or Hollywood, but news media sure love a good story.

    4) A homeless person who is a citizen is still a citizen... Minorities should have no trouble getting identification, so I never really understood that argument to begin with. My point is not that I believe there to be rampant voter fraud. Instead, I mean to say that there does not seem to be any harm in preventing even a small potential amount. I don't see why people should be offended when asked to prove they are who they say they are.

    5) I agree. I simply failed to state that point in the first place.

    6) I disagree that the poor would pay a disproportionate amount based on a consumption tax. I concede that same fault exists with the flat tax concept, and I don't see a feasible solution without making it at least somewhat progressive. I do prefer a sales tax option over flat tax. For consumption, those with lots of money tend to spend more than those with less. The taxes could be arranged similar to the current sales tax arrangement in that certain purchased (such as those for fresh produce) are actually not taxed. This way those on the less wealthy end of the economic spectrum could still receive necessities without having to worry about all their money being spent on taxes. Meanwhile, those spending as much money on their car as some spend on their homes (if they can even afford to buy a home) would still pay in a good deal on those big-ticket items.

    7) Agreed on your first part. I'd prefer not to single out any one religion or group, but instead treat all equal. Give them all the same allowances and/or restrictions, unless they pose a threat to the safety of others.

    9) I disagree with taking money from someone when they die/give it to someone else. While I agree that some people shouldn't have 'earned' as much as they have in their life, just taking it at an essentially arbitrary point in time doesn't really fix the problem. If that's the plan/intent, then it should be taken off the top.

    Regarding CEO pay, I agree with the limitations you put forth. Someone making big (and arguably important) decisions for a big company should be incented to do well. A high salary helps that. However, someone in that role doesn't necessarily put in that much more effort (when measured with dollars) than the factory floor worker who's on his/her feet 50 hours a week.

    I still want to emphasize the public's contribution to celebrtities, who make millions upon millions for nothing. It makes no sense to me that parents pay money for their child to play a game that an adult may receive an obscene amount of money to play.

    10) A cost-benefit analysis would be preferred, but even if a full set of investigations isn't a real option, then some formal method of public reporting or other means to flag abuse would be much appreciated.

    Thanks again for responding. I do appreciate the conversation.

  3. Responding only to point #10: generally speaking, yes, I would be okay with this practice to a degree if the costs overshot the benefits in the short term. The mere fact that nobody is looking now enables some to cheat the system with no repercussions, and having some validation would deter at least some individuals. That deterrent could potentially reduce the need for such programs, which could be scaled back at a later date. (I have no factual evidence to back this up this hypothesis, so please point me to some studies if you know of any). 

    But more than that, as I hopefully made clear in the original post as well as in my response to Julie, while the wasting of government funds is bad enough, it hurts more psychologically when I personally am paying for someone else's (who doesn't need it) betterment while losing out on those same benefits. In other words, if the money is to be wasted, I'd rather it be 'wasted' on giving someone a job and incentivizing others to cease their own involvement in the waste.
    To be clear, I am not supportive of a complete abolition of all welfare services. Those who are disabled or between jobs and really trying to get/keep a job, among others, should get help if they need it. My problem with 'entitlement' programs is when people feel entitled to receive these benefits as their way of life rather than the crutch to help get them back on their feet. Case in point: This video is a more extreme situation than those I am personally aware of, and surely it is not the most common example, but the fact is these people exist. I also know for a fact that there are people out there who don't abuse the system and I don't think they should be punished as well (by taking away all support). Performing some amount of background/follow up checks would allow these programs to continue for them.


Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. I will usually do my best to respond as quickly as I can. I would like to encourage conversations between myself and others in this way, so please feel free to speak your mind!