Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Go Ahead; Make My Hole

In my younger days, when I lived in conservative Johnson County, Indiana, I was more politically liberal. When I moved to liberal Lake County, I was politically conservative. Now I'm in Indianapolis, the second most liberal county in the state and I find that I lean heavily liberal again. But I hesitate to pigeonhole myself because I still lean conservative on some issues. So I'll leave it to the readers to pigeonhole me. Let's play "What is My Ideology!"

Here are the issues:

1. Social Issues - I am totally, 100 percent liberal on things like women's rights, abortion rights, gay rights, and any other kind of personal freedoms you can think of. I think it is none of the Government's damn business to address or limit anyone's right to do whatever the hell they want as long as they are not in any way limiting someone else's rights in the process, or causing harm to others or to society. And I guess there's a gray area as to what constitutes harm (or likely harm) to society, but I mean actual, empirical, measurable harm (such as driving drunk).

2. Union Issues - Unions have had a positive influence, historically, on working conditions and wages. However, somewhere along the line they got too powerful. When I read about things like a factory worker who is between job assignments and temporarily just chilling out, who wants to pick up a broom and sweep a little, but he is not allowed to do it because it isn't in his job description, it tells me the union there is a little too powerful. And I never did like it when the union forces a worker to join them in order to be hired at a certain business. Compulsory membership sounds like a violation of personal freedoms.

3. Race Relations - I am completely against any form of race discrimination in jobs, schools, or anywhere else. At the same time, there are cases where, in order to correct a past wrong, there has been the equivalent of legal reverse discrimination. They call it affirmative action and I'm completely against it. I was also completely against busing to achieve racial desegregation, but that stuff is pretty much over, thankfully. I have personally never committed any form of forced segregation or been the purveyor of racial discrimination in any form. Therefore, I should not be denied any job or college entrance due to the fact that I'm not of color. I, personally, have not been. But it happens and it shouldn't. That being said, my personal taste is that I don't like and I don't understand the ghetto culture. It's not just black teens and young adults that are involved in this, but it started there. I'm talking about big baggy clothes, sagging pants, hats on sideways or backward, hoodies, and especially rap "music." I realize it's a cultural thing, but I believe that there are so many people of all races who abhor this cultural trend that it actually may interfere with a young person's ability to land a good job or to avoid being the target of racial profiling. I believe that if the ghetto culture were to go away, race discrimination would go down.

4. Entitlements - Social Security and Medicare are not entitlements. We all pay for those through payroll taxes. However, things like the SNAP program, Medicaid, and WIC are entitlements that I support, but with caveats. They should be, as intended, a social safety net to prop those up who have fallen on hard times temporarily. The same is true for unemployment compensation. Any person getting a welfare check from the government should be put to work by the government, doing anything they are able and qualified to do: digging ditches, stuffing envelopes, typing, working in a nuclear power plant, etc. And there should be a limit on the amount of time they are allowed to draw their benefits. During the time that I've been a teacher, I've discovered something about the students whose families are on food stamps or other forms of welfare. Most of them exhibit an attitude of entitlement. They don't appreciate anything. The school gives them free textbooks, so they throw them around and tear them up. Why not? They didn't pay for them. They get free food in the cafeteria, so they have food fights or just throw it in the garbage. Or sometimes they go back for seconds and whine when they're refused because the school can't feed everybody twice. When I was a teacher in Lake County, I was sponsor of the Student Council. Every year we would have a food drive. We collected food and money, then handed out baskets of canned goods and meat to those on the free lunch program. In the five years that I was sponsor, I remember getting only one thank you note from one of the recipients. We didn't do it for thanks, but it would have been nice if more people appreciated what we were doing.

5. Guns - Except for hunting rifles and shotguns, I'm against them all. I would be in favor of repealing the Second Amendment and then passing laws to remove all guns from people's hands (except those mentioned above). But since that will never happen, how about making a national gun registry and make everyone who buys a gun from anyone register it. And if that gun is ever used in a crime, then whoever it is registered to should suffer some legal consequences.

6. Religion - I'm against religion in all its forms, but especially fundamentalist religion. Fundamentalism is probably the single greatest inhibitor of progress in the world. I'm also completely against government funding for anything that even smacks of religion, including vouchers for private schools run by churches. I'm against opening public meetings with prayers and against mentioning God in any government slogan. And when freedom of religion runs up against any other freedom laid out in the Constitution, I believe any of those rights should trump it. There should never be any special exceptions put into laws on account of religion.

7. Immigration - I'm in favor of allowing children up to age 18 into this country and then finding a place for them. I'm in favor of the DREAM Act. I'm in favor of some kind of amnesty for any undocumented immigrant who currently has a job and is supporting a family. But the border does need to be secure to keep drug smugglers and criminals out.

8. Drugs and Alcohol - I'm in favor of legalizing marijuana as long as it is regulated and taxed, with a portion of the tax proceeds going to drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs. And since I live in Indiana, I'm in favor of changing the law to allow liquor sales on Sunday in all venues that currently sell packaged liquor or beer.

9. Taxes - Taxes should be a thing that very rich people have to pay. Those who earn less than, say $50K per year for a family of three should pay no taxes at all. Middle income people should pay, say 10 to 15 percent tax. Ultra rich people should pay 50 percent or more tax with no loopholes and limited deductions.

10. Education - There should be a national curriculum, mandated and paid for by the federal government. It should be developed by educators, and it should be very strong in all four core areas: math, language arts, science, and social studies. Public education, including K - 12 and undergraduate post-secondary education, should be free and funded by a combination of federal and state taxes. As an addendum to this issue, I also completely support more science education, because there are far too many people who still do not accept proven scientific facts, such as climate change, evolution, GMO safety, and vaccine safety.

11. States Rights - States are not people. They should have only the rights granted them by the federal government. (Yes, the Founding Fathers got this one wrong.)

12. Government Spending - The government is charged with making sure we are protected and that our infrastructure is in working order. Since we now spend way more on defense than the next few countries behind us combined, we should divert some of that money to infrastructure, scientific research, and education. The government should also be in charge of providing free healthcare to all citizens. If those who can afford it want special health care, they can pay for an upgrade. To pay for all this, just divert funds from the Pentagon and increase taxes on the wealthy.

Ok, so now where do you pigeonhole me politically and/or ideologically?

  • A. Leans conservative
  • B. Moderate / Middle of the Road
  • C. Leans liberal
  • D. Solidly liberal
  • E. Something Else (What?)

Thank you.

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