Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Let's talk politics.

Near the end of the debate, Obama and McCain were discussing education. Education is one of the areas where I do tend to identify with the Republican party, and it's one of the areas that I think McCain has right. During this part of the debate, I became intensely interested in what a friend of mine, who happens to be a teacher, thinks.

Recently, I had a discussion with a guy who happens to be one of my very closest friends. This friend happens to be a Democrat, but talking with him, I was honestly surprised on how much common ground we could find. Sure, we had our differences too, but if Congress was more like the two of us, I can imagine that there'd be a lot more compromise and a lot less bipartisanship.

Finally, while I have many friends, I just want to mention one other. This friend of mine has done his damnedest to avoid any sort of political discussion. He often reminds me that you should never talk about religion or politics in bars, and when some of our other friends discuss politics, he'll try to change the subject. This is, in my opinion, sometimes worse than blind fanatical loyalty to a party. There are bloggers out there who are deceptive, who are crude, who will defend the most heinous behavior of members of their chosen party while quickly criticizing even the most minor offenses of the other party. That's shameless hypocrisy, but at least they're engaged. At least they care about who's running our country, and at least they have opinions about what policies matter. Our forefathers declared independence from Britain... they fought and died for the right to have their voices heard in government. Saying that it doesn't matter, ignoring how the government makes and carries out its policies, hiding from political discussion and generally ignoring anything related to politics is, to me, irresponsible.

With that in mind, I want to invite EVERYONE who's ever read this blog, whether they've registered or not, to post in the comments section for this post. I don't want to know which party you registered with, or who you plan to vote for. I definitely don't want to hear any criticism of anyone, any attacks, or any useless comments like you might see at the DailyKos, like "Sarah Palin is a stupid idiot! She should go back to shooting moose instead of running for Vice President!" What I would like to see is some honest discussion on what you think of some of the core issues. I'll go first.

Economy: I don't think regulation is the answer, and I don't think deregulation caused the financial crisis. I think government interference is largely responsible for this mess. People like Andrew Cuomo more or less pushed Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and other banks to give out loans to people who really couldn't afford them, in the name of "diversity" and helping minorities.

Foreign Policy: I don't see the need to suck up to the UN or Europe or any other country. A lot of the countries that don't like us didn't like us during the Clinton years either. Many of them are envious of our status as the world's remaining super power. There is nothing wrong with looking out for our own interests.

Iraq: Going to war in Iraq was a stupid distraction that's taken time and resources away from the hunt from Osama bin Laden. Hussein was a terrible human, but so is Hugo Chavez, Kim Jong Il, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejdad, and frankly I think Kim and Ahmadinejad are greater threats to U.S. security that Hussein was. Bad decisions have consequences, though. You cannot just cut and run away from the problem. We took Hussein out, we're responsible for helping Iraq to build a stable government that won't lead to civil war or become a nesting ground for terrorists.

Education: Throwing more money at public schools is not going to solve any problems. The D.C. school system is one of the worst in the country; it's also one of the most well-funded. Teachers Unions have made it difficult to get rid of under-performing teachers, as well as reward teachers that do. Vouchers, charter schools, and other forms of school choice are positive, create competition, and have a proven track record of results.

Abortion: Personally, I am against abortion in all but a few circumstances. However, individuals have to deal with the consequences of their own actions, and frankly, I think there are more important issues facing our nation than overturning Roe Vs. Wade.

Taxes: The lower the better. If the government can't balance the budget, they should start cutting spending on stupid stuff like the National Endowment for the Arts instead of raising taxes. I applaud Obama's plan to cut taxes for the middle class, but I don't think that taxes should be raised on anyone. This is class warfare, it's redistribution of wealth, and it's socialism 101. In rewards the least-productive members of society in the form of federal money, either directly through welfare programs or indirectly simply by forcing others to pay the majority of the tax burden, and it penalizes the most productive members of society by forcing them to pay more than their fair share. I recall a time, when I worked at Gamestop, we'd get a increase in the number of transactions (if not in actual dollars) around the first of the month, when people got their welfare checks. An employee sold a a very cheap used game to one fellow who showed up the first weekend of every month like clockwork. I informed the employee that he, in effect, bought the game. He asked how. I asked him, how did the customer get his money? Welfare. Where does welfare money come from? Taxes. Who pays taxes? And my poor employee just deflated as he realized that, as a member of the working class, he pays taxes.

The Enviroment: Climate change (not global warming anymore, since average global temperatures have begun to decline) is real, but I question how much if it is actually attributable to human activity. We know that the earth was much warmer during the time of the dinosaurs, and we also know that earth has gone through at least four major ice ages. Considering that all of that has occurred before the Industrial Revolution, I think there's a lot of evidence that indicates that climate on the earth has fluctuated in the past, and will undoubtedly fluctuate in the future, regardless of human activity. I do not support the Kyoto Protocol, as it was really more of an attempt to hamstring the U.S. economy (it would cost us a substantial portion of our GDP to implement while leaving countries like China and India exempt, for a projected net change of less than one degree). I don't see much cause to be obsessed with environment as if we would somehow save the planet as long as the rest of the world is still polluting. That said, it is still in our best interests to minimize pollution, develop clean energy technology, recycle, and be a little more environmentally aware.

Gun rights: Statistically, I don't think taking away guns has lead to any reduction in violent crime. There are always alternatives, like knives, and in any case, if someone is going to commit an illegal act like murder, rape, or robbery with a weapon, I don't think they're concerned with whether or not their weapon is legal. But the most important issue here, I think, is that the right to keep and bear arms is guaranteed by the Constitution. If we let the government take away this right, how many other rights can they get away with abolishing?

Health Care: Health care is a privilege, and perhaps a responsibility, but it is NOT a right. I don't mind the government providing tax credit toward getting health care, and I don't mind STATES providing health care assistance for children, but federal health care for everyone? This is, like taxes, redistribution of wealth. There is no such thing as free health care; someone has to pay for it, mostly through taxes. Besides, how many of you have ever been the DMV. I'm sure a lot of you have, to get driver's licenses or renew said licenses. I'm sure that, for most of us, it's been an unpleasant experience. Now, imagine if every visit to the doctor was like that. And before you say that government health care works in other countries, I'll point out that we're not other countries. Imagine OUR government doing it. Yeah...

Gay Marriage: This is a thorny issue, because I think what a lot of us are really arguing are semantics. I do not support gay marriage. I do support gay civil unions, and equal rights for civilly-joined couples that heterosexual couples enjoy under the law with regards to things like hospital visitation, inheritance, and taxes. Gay couples deserve a legally recognized civil union. By definition, though, marriage is between a man and a woman. Marriage happens to be recognized legally as a type of civil union, but marriage isn't defined by government. It's defined by thousands of years of human history and tradition. Call gay civil unions anything but marriage, though, and I'll support it.

Energy: Energy independence is important, and NO options should be taken off the table. We should drill offshore. If oil companies have the leases to land, drill or sell it to someone else who will. We should build windmills, solar panels, and nuclear plants. We should support clean coal. We should invest in renewable bio-diesel. Whatever it takes to stop importing oil at ridiculous prices set by OPEC and speculators from countries that want us dead.

Okay? Now your turn. I'll also try to answer any questions any of you might have, as long as they are respectful.

1 comment:

Bing said...

Here is what I think.
Economy and tax: Capitalism has its flaws and always goes through circles. Every time when bubble busts, businesses re-shuffle. It's natural selection. Those who diversify risks and have financial discipline will survive and benefit from the economy downturn and become the future giant. In that sense, recession is not all bad. It provides opportunities. If government wants to help business, help those who did it right, not those who failed. High tax damages economy. Corporate and investment capital will flee domestic market to avoid tax, which will further reduce employment and domestic growth. Employment tax credit is the way to go. Low tax, more employment will boost spending and return health to economy.

Government: I'm for small government; just enough to provide national security, education, a fair business environment and basic help to citizens to get back on their feet. It's the worst thing to make people dependents of government and kill their motivation to work hard to make a better life.

Iraq: It's a bad start but we can't go back to change the past. So do it right. Help Iraqis to rebuild their country. We can still have a good ending. Remember it's the winner who writes history.

Education: I don't understand why teachers are well paid; not all well performed but still can go on strike to ask for more money. If we run schools like business with performance based pay, I'm sure we will see improvement. Parents should also take responsibilities. Teachers can't do their job if parents don't support them.

Health care: the cure is to find ways to lower the cost and boost competition. Import drugs. Offer insurance incentives for healthy living. If there is anything mandatory, it should be the weight control.

Energy: We have to be energy independent. It not only affects our daily life, also is a national security issue. Let's drill offshore, build nuclear power plants and encourage alternative energy choices. Government can offer prize for inventions and tax credit for using green energy.