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My Politics – a summary

I have a pragmatic streak, and it informs my positions, particularly around education and health care. I was liberal when I was young, although because of my grandfather and father I was anti-communist before I could speak. Reagan’s “Tear Down This Wall” speech caught my attention, and the fall of Soviet communism forced me to rethink my overall political philosophy. Clearly, Reagan was doing something right. I vote and am registered Republican (as was Martin Luther King), although I frequently view the Republican politicians as the lesser of two evils.

I am an adult convert to the Roman Catholic faith, and practice my faith diligently. I believe in the church teachings around social justice, but substantially differ with the Church on the best ways to promote a just society. God gave us freedom in the Garden of Eden, and increasing the role of government in social welfare decreases freedom. The Church seems eager to have government take on a paternalistic role in the interest of improving <<insert cause here>> and I disagree. In my experience a free market is significantly more just than government.

I believe in good and evil, that American democracy is force for good in the world, and that communism and radical socialism are evil.

God bless America!

Abortion, Assisted Suicide, Death Penalty

I am strongly pro-life.  Abortion is the defining issue of our time, much as slavery was the defining issue of the 19th century and the fight against communism the defining issue of the 20th century. Roe v. Wade should be overturned and abortion should be illegal unless the life or health is seriously in jeopardy, because the baby is an individual deserving of life and legal protection.

Suicide  is immoral, but don’t think government should interfere in a choice one person makes that doesn’t interfere with the liberty of another.  However, medical regulation should insure that greedy (or tired) relatives, insurance companies or “death panels” don’t press old folks into “suicide”.

I don’t have a moral problem with the death penalty, in fact a compelling case can be made that it is just.  However, I only support it in the most extreme cases (Timothy McVeigh, Saddam Hussein) because our system has proven less than reliable in the application of capital punishment. Also, it is just too expensive and takes too long given the legal hurdles, so it is not generally worth it.

Health Care

My libertarian thoughts conflict with my compassionate instincts on health care.  The current system is a mess, horribly expensive, wasteful, and bloated, but clearly nationalized health care will be far worse.  Logically, increasing the free market aspects of health care will improve it.  But, I don’t like the idea that people may die because they can’t afford medical care or medication. I believe that we need to continue with a private health care system, but there needs to be strong regulation around insurance and patient safety, and a safety net for the poor.  I also believe that any changes we make need to be incremental in nature, and we need to observe the unintended consequences and make adjustments as necessary.

Immigration

I agree with the sentiment inscribed on the Statue of Liberty.  America is a country of immigrants, and we should welcome immigrants and refugees “yearning to be free.”  My father’s family immigrated in the 1940s.

However, welcoming immigrants does not mean automatic entry and wide open borders.  We must have secure borders to reduce the risk from terrorism.  Immigration should be through controlled channels to catch our enemies and keep out criminals. Welcoming immigrants does not mean perpetual social services for immigrants unable or unwilling to support themselves.  America is a land of opportunity, but that should not include the opportunity to live on the dole.   Welcoming immigrants does not mean catering to their cultural and language preferences.  Immigration to America has been positive because the immigrants assimilated in all of the meaningful ways.  America runs on the English language,  and follows the Christian calendar and holidays.  If an immigrant is unwilling to accept this, they can go somewhere else.  It is ridiculous and divisive that the California has to give the driver license test in 31 languages.  The ability to speak, read and write basic English should be required for naturalization and for permanent residence.

Education

I differ from strident libertarians in that I support mandated elementary education and the public financing of it. The country needs literate citizens, for economic reasons as well as for civic reasons.  However, the Federal Government has no constitutional basis to be involved in education, let alone to have a cabinet level department.  The complicity of the teachers unions in the fall of American public education is disgraceful.  I do not support the existence of public schools, because in the aggregate they are failing.  A voucher-based education system will work well, particularly in those areas most poorly served by public education.  States and/or counties can regulate and accredit schools and manage the voucher payments.

Taxation

Thomas Paine said “That government is best which governs least.”  Taxes are necessary to support government, and government is necessary to protect us from each other and from other governments.  I don’t like when government uses tax policy to change behavior (i.e. mortgage deduction, charity deduction, tax credits for hybrid cars, etc).  I despise the progressive income tax, because it punishes productive behavior (work, saving, investing) and punishes most those those doing the most economic good. And the obscene amount of time that Americans and American businesses spend figuring their taxes is utterly wasteful.  I am OK with a flat rate income tax, particularly if the deductions and credits are minimal.  But I would most like to see a consumption tax such as the Fair Tax.

Other Thoughts

  • Marriage is between 1 man and 1 woman.
  • You can’t make a color-blind society by setting color-based quotas.
  • I am a pragmatist, and the War on Drugs has been a failure.  Recreational drugs should be legalized, regulated and taxed, similar to alcohol.  This will de-fund the gangs and organized crime in America and the cartels in Latin America. Certainly, recreational drug usage will increase, but the overall impact will be positive.
  • Similar logic holds for prostitution.  Although prostitution is immoral, it is between consenting adults and much of the harm is exacerbated because it is illegal.  Prostitution should be legalized, regulated and taxed.
  • Jerry Pournelle is an interesting guy, and my thinking matches his quite a bit.

Interesting Videos

The most powerful piece of the “Tear Down This Wall” speech given by Ronald Reagan, at the Berlin Wall, on June 12, 1987.


An excerpt from the 1964 “A Time for Choosing” speech given by Ronald Reagan,  considered by many to be the most effective speech ever given on behalf of a politician.

Milton Friedman talking about the economics of medical care and socialized medicine.

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Continuing the Discussion

  1. Why I Oppose the War on Drugs – Tom's Tribulations linked to this post on October 18, 2010

    [...] my political view summary post: I am a pragmatist, and the War on Drugs has been a failure.  Recreational drugs should be [...]