On another post, our fellow Alexandrian, JMK has written extensively about what he believes and how he arrived at his current beliefs. Much of his material makes sense. He does, however, once again insist on inserting on an otherwise thoughtful piece, his classification of me as a “leftist.” While I have decided it is of little use to argue with him for reasons stated elsewhere, I think it might be of some value to state some of my personal beliefs for the record.
- I am absolutely opposed to use of torture or any related form of dehumanizing captives whether in war actions or police actions.
- I am opposed to use of capital punishment. Once a violent felon is captured and proven guilty, that person should be housed in a humane manner but without access to society for the remainder of his or her life. For those who committed murder, parole should not be a consideration. The only difference in event of psychosis should be the nature of the confinement and the nature of medical treatment. Permanent incarceration should still be the result of violent life taking, with the exception of self defense.
- I am personally not in favor of abortion. However, I am absolutely opposed to imposing religious based proscriptions on persons of other religions or no religion. Since virtually all anti abortion legislation is religious based, there is no place for such legislation under our Constitutional law. Similarly, there is no place for redefining of when “personhood” begins.
- I am opposed to legislation (or Constitutional amendments) that limit citizens of the US from engaging in contractual relationships. In my view, marriage is a contract. The function of the government is to act as an intermediary and, if needed, adjudicator, of legal repercussions of that contract. This is a legitimate government function. Prohibiting homosexual citizens from personal contracts is no different than prohibiting them from car purchase contracts. For what is worth, in my opinion, that applies absolutely the same in regards to multiple (three or more partners) personal contracts. In order to engage in a contract, a person must be able to give consent and must enter the contract in a consensual manner. Thus, animals, dead persons, minors, and other entities not able to give valid consent should not enter personal contracts. Any laws infringing upon the rights of citizens to engage in contracts should be overturned as they infringe upon the freedoms of all of us.
- Our military forces exist to protect us from foreign threats. This means, quite simply that we should be sufficient powerful to either deter or quickly quell any threat from foreign entities. This does not mean that we should “sacrifice” our soldiers (or sailors, marines, airmen, or coastguard) in wars of offense or to overthrow a government that we perceive to be evil or despotic. I agree fully with those who do not believe our military should be used for internal police actions (i.e., they are for opposition against foreign threats). I should add that, if we decide that military action is needed, that action should be “full bore” so as to be completed as rapidly as possible. While incredibly violent, such full action will lead to the fewest casualties in the long term.
- Our police and related forces exist to protect us from internal threats. They should be prepared to take action necessary to intervene against those who would initiate violence or other force against other citizens. They need to do so within the constraints of our legal system.
- Ours is a republic with some democratic features. Over the past 150 years or so, we have gradually moved toward more democratic rather than republic method of governance. In any event, we have fairly effective means of protecting from both despotism of groups (or individuals) or of the “majority.” For instance, even if 80 percent or so of our citizenry were to be in favor of prohibiting some subgroup of citizens from voting, it is very likely that legislation enacting that would not succeed. As long as we continue to make possible that sort of abrogation of despotism, we have a fair chance of remaining free.
- I do not own a firearm and doubt that I would be able to use one except in extreme exigency. However, I am opposed to legislation limiting your right to own a firearm. I doubt very much the efficacy of firearms in protecting us from despotism but see no reason to engage in debate on the issue. I must admit that I find little to justify private citizens owning assault weapons but am not willing to support legislation prohibiting that.
- Our freedom of speech is our single most important bulwark against despotism. The nuances between my disavowal of your speech and the government disapproving of speech by either of us should be clear. Sadly, that does not often appear to be the case. To make it easy, I can say pretty much anything other than to threaten someone or encourage violence with impunity. You can encourage others to boycott me because I said, “under God” in the pledge of allegiance is an inappropriate insertion. However, if President Obama (or, if he is elected, President Romney) asks the Secret Service (or other entity) to “encourage” me to not make that statement, that is unConstitutional in the extreme.
- I find the historical narrative found in Darkness at Noon, The Gulag Archipelago and in Man is Wolf to Man to be disturbing. Use of confession to “prove” guilt in the absence of significant corroborating evidence should disturb all of us. I believe that much of what led to several of the first ten amendments to the Constitution related to their concern about government either forcing confessions or simply taking property from those the government found to be an irrirtant.
- I find the polemics surrounding the current fiscal crisis and the related Federal deficit to be of no value to the nation or to our economic status and future. Neither side is willing to engage in honest assessment of the situation nor to consider effective and economically sound solutions. The Republicans wish to slash taxes and some domestic spending while increasing DoD spending in excess of those cuts. The Democrats wish to slash DoD budgets, increase taxes on about two percent of the population, decrease taxes on the rest, and continue present domestic spending at about the same levels. The Libertarian party (this year) proposes slashing DoD, cutting domestic spending, cutting taxes, and eliminating a number of imprisonment “victimless” crimes thus cutting prison costs. While the Libertarian party program is the only one making at least some fiscal sense, the chances of it getting enacted even if, by some miracle, Johnson should get elected is about the same as the chances of my winning a Nobel Prize for physics.
- I believe in a public funded education system. The future of a nation depends upon educating its youth (as Diogenes observed a couple millenia ago). While private education is a viable choice for some, it is not a viable choice for many of our citizenry and we as a nation cannot afford to have a significant percentage of our citizenry uneducated. That said, the present public education system is being dismantled and crippled by assaults from the religious fundamentalists on one side and from socialistic pseudoscientific garbage on the other. They also face numerous other threats from funding, poor preparation of educators, nebulous standards, McCarthyesque legislators, and so on.
- I am opposed to sacrifice in any shape or form. When someone asks for a sacrifice, they are asking that you give up something of value for which you will receive nothing of value in return. Traders exchange value for value and do not request that the other trader give more value than is received. Yet, the concept of “sacrifice” permeates our society. Both right and left sides of the political structure encourage us to sacrifice for our nation. As long as the nation provides security for its citizens to engage in honest trading and relationships, there is no need for sacrifice. Sacrifice is needed when it is time to steal from the citizenry.
- I believe that climate change is an imminent threat. Whether anthropogenic or natural in cause really does not matter. We need to be taking steps preparing the nation for those aspects that can be predicted. These include change in location of shore line, rainfall distribution, agricultural challenges, and a number of related changes our children will face. To date, all I see in the public arena is another polemical battle over whether it is real, who is at fault, whether we can afford to plan, etc.
- I see some validity in affirmative action functions. For those wishing to understand my reason for that position, I suggest reading James Farmer’s Autobiography, Lay Bare the Heart.
- For what it is worth, my personal recommendations for addressing the federal deficit would include:
* Increased taxes for ALL taxpayers
* Include some degree of needs testing for determining Social Security payments
* Increase Medicare premium and include some degree of need determination
* Cut the DoD budget significantly. Do this through major cuts in foreign based troops, elimination of Congressionally dictated weapon systems that are not requested or needed, paring down of the size of current strengths, and close a number of domestic bases not needed for training and maintenance of fighting capability.
* Slash tax breaks and government subsidies for established industries. Farming, petroleum, wind, sugar, banking, automobile, and a number of other industries are mature and should either stand on their own or fail and yield the field to competitors. There may be some justification for subsidies intended to help “foster” evolving industries but these should be limited in amount and duration.
- Until such time as the world wide economy begins to recover, it is highly unlikely that the US economy will be robust. In the meantime, we can only hope and pray that neither of our two major parties screw things up so badly that we cannot lead in the world wide recovery.
- For what is worth, I am agnostic. I see no need for a God to explain the cosmos. I also see no need for a God for man to develop and institute an ethics system. I see no reason to insult my religious friends so tend to not argue with them unless they initiate the issue and, even then tend to avoid ridiculing their beliefs. I confess to occasionally teasing them.
There are a whole lot of things on which I have no present opinion. For instance, I see no value to be achieved from the new voter ID laws but fail to see them as a serious threat to our nation. I have not included much on health systems in this rant. For the time being, I find I cannot find strong support for or against the Affordable Care Act. I agree that our system needs some major modification. I just don’t, at this point, see a viable alternative. I do know that those who condemn the US system for its many failures frequently misuse data to support that condemnation. Our nation leads the world in a number of health care areas. Our shorter national life expectancy can be accounted almost entirely through the impact of violent premature deaths. Frankly, it is not the responsibility of the health care system to keep people from killing each other and running their automobiles into fixed or moving objects. I must say that I find it disingenuous for politicians to condemn our short life expectancy versus other nations while doing almost nothing to make life safer.