Hey all. Lots of things have been going on lately in my life and a lot of things will soon be happening for this Xanga. It doesn’t seem like anyone’s reading, though. Well, this is as much for me as for anyone else. Haha, yeah I know, that sounds hella lame, but whatever.
In the next few days I’ll be posting some thoughts about my own life, as well as a preview at columns to come. For now, though, I want to post a column – well, you might call it a manifesto, actually – at what exactly my own politics are. I have written out my stances and ideas on a wide variety of political issues (just so I don’t forget) and I decided to convert them into a sort of platformish format and post it here. This is a very long read, but if ya’ll want to know where I’m coming from, I’d highly recommend it.
My Vision For Government
This is my conception of what the United States federal government should be and do. It might be kinda sappy and cliché at first (I’ll try to avoid that) but I’ll get into plenty of solid, substantive details. (Most of the stuff here comes straight out of a “personal political platform” that I keep and update from time to time.)
As a liberal Democrat (see “donkey vs. elephant” from the June 28, 2004 entry of this Xanga), I believe that the federal (or national, if that helps) government should take an active role in regulating the economy and businesses and promoting the general welfare of the country, but should refrain from meddling into citizens’ personal lives. I believe in a government that serves as a friend, not an oppressor, and one that helps everyday people in their everyday lives, rather than slap on restrictions and limitations. I believe that my political ideology expressed in this column is fairly consistent with most liberals and/or Democrats, and I am proud to be counted in both groups.
I believe that the government has the right and responsibility in taking on the roles I outlined above. Why? Because the government is the instrument of the people, and because of that, there are three reasons why the government should be used in this manner. First, being the instrument of the people, the government has the resources, ability, and power to act for the general good that few, if any, private companies or interests have. Secondly, because it is the instrument of the people as outlined in the United States Constitution, the government and the government alone has the responsibility and the will to help the people, a responsibility and will carried by no other entity. Thirdly, because the government is the instrument of the people, it alone can be held accountable by the people. No corporation or private company can be held accountable and controlled to the same degree by the people as the government can.
I divide the issues into three categories: public interest (which is economic and general welfare stuff, mainly), foreign (which has to deal with how the USA interacts with other countries) and social (about how government deals with cultural and lifestyle concerns).
Note: The words “the government”, when shown in this text, are largely referring to the national (federal) government of the United States. I’m not dealing with the government of California, or Cupertino, here.
Another Note: The following is a really really really looooooong-ass read. You might need a few hours to go through it. I didn’t try too hard to make it interesting, either; it’s mainly for hard-core political junkies or people with a lot of patience. It’s really comprehensive, though, and it lays out pretty much all my political ideas and lets people know where I’m coming from. If you’re gonna read it, I suggest you print it out and read a hard copy instead of staring at the comp screen.
Public Interest Policy
To invigorate the economy, money should be placed in the hands of low and middle-income classes to increase buying and selling and thus, boost the economy. I support this “trickle-up” system because
- The poor/middle-income classes would benefit more from subsidies than people who are already rich would.
- The poor/middle-income classes would spend money more reliably than the rich would because they are more economically “desperate”, which produces an incentive to spend money.
This way, more people will buy products from the rich businesses, and wealth will trickle up. The rich will get their moneys later, but in the meantime should have enough to live on. At the same time, the poor (who are the ones who most need the extra bucks) get enough money to pull themselves out of poverty and benefit the businesses at the same time.
This means, that to keep the economy going, what we should have are “demand-side tax cuts” – tax cuts directed at the low and middle classes. We should also have public works in relation to the general welfare to create jobs and improve the country at the same time. Cuts in spending, to me, are highly undesirable; freezes or even tax increases would be much more ideal. The only exception is that of the budget for the Department of Defense. Deficits are occasionally necessary as a consequence of economic policies; however, unlike the Republicans I do not believe that they should be long-term nor be allowed to become too big, because then they irreparably cripple the government and its ability to help the country.
I believe in an increased minimum wage, unemployment benefits, and social welfare to help those in need get back up on their feet. I do not support the 1996 Welfare and Medicaid Reform Act (which was advocated and signed by Democratic President Bill Clinton) because I oppose restrictions on the eligibility and duration of welfare benefits.
The government has the responsibility to look out for the general welfare, which means that it has the duty of creating and using public programs and public works and infrastructure. Specifically, the government could sponsor or continue to sponsor affordable housing projects to create jobs for the jobless and homes for the homeless. The United States government should also assess the performance of the United States Postal Service and use the assessments to make improvements in areas of consumer complaint.
Other areas that the government could and should be responsible for are transportation (roads, bridges, tunnels, public transportation services, etc.), sewage/public health, land improvement (fences, ditches, drains, etc.), anti-poverty programs, the Postal Service, public media and broadcasting, science/technology, the social sciences, culture and the arts, health care, education, entitlements like Social Security and Medicare (more on that later), and any other areas and issues I can’t think of right now. The government should be responsible for allocating funds to expand and maintain programs for these areas, and even if and when the United States is “perfect” in all these areas, the government would and should still have to spend a reasonable amount of money to maintain excellence in those areas.
With specific regards to the sciences, arts, and humanities, these are important fields for the United States because they not only have practical benefits, but also contribute to our knowledge and appreciation of our universe, and allow us to develop our myriad abilities for the intellectual and creative stimulation of ourselves and others. With this in mind, I advocate increased appropriations for government agencies for the sciences, arts, and humanities, including (but not limited to) the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the U.S. Geological Survey. The budgets of these groups should increased as much as the budget situation at the given time allows, and the increased funds can be packaged so that one-third would be mandated for increasing staff, one-third would be directed towards research and education programs, and one-third would be discretionary funds, used however the agency wishes.
I want to clarify that my extra attention on the sciences, arts, and humanities, as exemplified by the extra paragraph devoted to those areas above, does not mean I don’t want increased government appropriations for the other areas in my laundry list as well. I want healthy funding for all those areas!
In regards to Social Security, I do not want to see it privatized; instead, I support former Democratic Vice President Al Gore’s idea to put budget surplus funds into a “lockbox” system that would protect Social Security funds from being diverted into other areas. As for pensions, I support an idea that Representative Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.) advanced in 2003: a universal pension fund (transferable from job to job) that would supplement the Social Security fund.
I opposed the 2003 Medicare Improvement Act that the Republicans and a few traitorous Democrats passed last fall because it’s not improvement at all. It directs too much money towards private companies when it is the federal Medicare program that needs funds. It doesn’t allow for importation of safe foreign drugs or the production of cheaper generic ones. It prevents the government from negotiating for lower prices on prescription drugs. And its prescription drug benefit is done through private companies, not Medicare itself. I would have supported a bill that would channel money to Medicare itself, and have Medicare, not private interests that don’t necessarily have the public good in mind, provide for our senior citizens.
Health care is a right, not a privilege. At the moment, I support a “single-payer” plan of national health care that would cover every American and would be funded by taxing corporations. Costs may be shouldered by co-payments of no more than $20 or, if absolutely necessary, taxing citizens. Private companies will still be allowed to exist, of course, but the national health care system would be available to all. Those who prefer a private system can opt to choose one. In this way, the system will be similar to U.S. public education – you can always go to a public school for free (not including taxes), but if you’re willing to spend more money you can go to a private one. Physicians would be paid based on how much work they do, rather than getting a fixed rate for salary, as is the case in some communist and socialist countries. This would ensure that physicians have the proper incentives to do their best for their patients. Implementation of this system would begin first with covering those without insurance. Eventually, this system will be offered to every American, rich or poor. All doctors and hospitals in the United States would be required to accept the plan and any patient covered by it. I believe that because government, not business, is the steward of the people and is more easily controlled and held accountable by the people, that it should be responsible for the citizens’ health.
I understand, however, that such a plan will take time, initiative, brainpower, and a friendly Democratic-controlled government to become reality, and frankly we don’t have any of that as of this writing, so I support the interim steps Democrats are advancing. During the Democratic primary season of the 2004 election cycle, some good ideas were brought up about health care (especially since President George W. Bush (R) apparently didn’t have any real ideas of his own). Representative Dennis J. Kucinich (Ohio) and former Senator Carol Moseley Braun (Ill.) supported a single-payer plan almost identical to the one I highlighted above (I have to admit that I got a lot of my ideas from Kucinich). Missouri Representative Richard A. Gephardt (who I mentioned earlier) had a sensible plan to require and pay companies to cover their employees. Senator John F. Kerry (Mass.) and former Vermont Governor Howard Dean advanced an idea to open the federal health insurance plan to the uninsured. These were all good ideas, and if Kerry, the presumptive Democratic nominee, is elected this fall along with a Democratic Congress I’m sure we can succeed where Democratic Presidents Harry S Truman and Bill Clinton (tragically) failed.
The United States should deal with its own security in a defensive manner by shoring up defenses and boost domestic security (particularly at the nation’s borders, airports, seaports, and any other port or mode of entry) rather than destroying “hostile” or “rogue” nations. We should repeal the unconstitutional portions of the Patriot Act; the country’s situation is not dire enough to warrant any unconstitutional provisions in any law. I would reduce appropriations for the Department of Defense and direct funds instead to the Department of Homeland Security; this would ensure that we not only avoid unnecessary conflict abroad, but we’re safer here at home from all enemies.
We should uphold current environmental laws while promoting new ones. We must protect our natural resources – air, soil, trees, water, wildlife, etc. – with vigor. Fuel cell cars and alternative energy sources should be pushed faster. No drilling or other economic/resource development should take place in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve or any similar park or preserve owned by any level of government. I oppose energy deregulation; I believe energy should be owned or regulated by the government so that companies do not abuse their power (and try to raise energy prices by depriving the people of it). Same with water, gas, and other utilities.
In regards to education, I oppose school vouchers. To improve schools, national standards like a national exit exam should be set and schools should be required to meet them. Money should be allocated to the schools, school boards, or states to improve quality of curricula and facilities. Accountability oversight commissions (or school boards) consisting of students, parents, teachers, administrators, and (of course) bureaucrats/politicians should monitor accountability and shore up schools where necessary. We must fully fund Special Education and Head Start. For that matter, we oughta do what President Bush has failed to do and fully fund the entire No Child Left Behind education program. (Gee, what a concept!)
The government should ensure that media conglomerates do not form and that competition in the media remains healthy and spread amongst as many firms as possible. Regulation of the content of the media, however, constitutes a violation of free speech and expression and also represents stifling of the free marketplace of ideas. Indecency laws are too subjective, unjust, and stifling, and should be repealed. I support greater funding and involvement in publicly-owned (government-sponsored) media and broadcasting; obviously, the content of such media would have to diverse and cannot be used as a mere mouthpiece of the government.
The United States should remain impartial and neutral towards the political/military affairs of foreign countries, and not get involved in foreign conflicts that don’t directly affect American national security. War and preemptive strikes should be avoided at all costs. Preventive doctrine and regime changes are unjust and should be discarded as national policies.
In the so-called War on Terrorism (which is a stupid name, by the way) we have to maintain focus on al-Qaeda and other anti-American groups first and foremost. We can’t forget them in foolish pursuit of countries that may or may not have weapons of mass destruction unless those countries pose a credible and imminent threat. If any country is suspected to have links with the aforementioned groups, make sure the links are strong (i.e. Afghanistan, rather than Iraq) before moving to sever the links.
I have strong reservations about free trade. I certainly support the idea of an international minimum wage mandated by the WTO (which was Gephardt’s idea). I support the revision of NAFTA and all other trade agreements to include fair labor and environmental standards, and I’m glad that Democrats have by and large come to a consensus on this.
While I believe that society should be race-blind, at this point most people are still unable to view different people on an equal basis. Therefore, I think that affirmative action, on a non-objective, non-quota basis, should be upheld so long as it is implemented based on the local ethnicity concentrations. I think that the most important thing we can teach our children, is to accept and embrace people of different race, gender, religion, sexual orientation – whatever – so that one day we’d have a society that would no longer need affirmative action.
I support abortion rights up to the point where human life begins. Because this point has not been ascertained and is highly controversial in nature, I defer to the U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade (1973) that protects the right to abortion in the first two trimesters but allows states to regulate abortions in the third. I personally oppose “partial-birth abortions” but I think that states, not the federal government, should have the right to ban them, and then only if they are done in the third trimester. The federal government does not have any constitutional power to ban it at all – that, along with the lack of an exception for the health of the mother, is why I oppose the partial-birth abortion ban that was passed in 2003.
I believe that a terminally ill conscious patient has the right to have an actively assisted suicide if recovery is determined to be unlikely or impossible, the patient is fully informed and of sound mind, and if he or she truly wants to die and has expressed it in writing. The suicide must be done in a humane and speedy manner prescribed by government officials, physicians, and ethicists. In order to guard against difficult situations involving a terminally ill unconscious patient (i.e. in a coma), every person should be required to write a statement, renewed every ten years, on what s/he would prefer should s/he ever be in such a situation. In the case of those who failed to write a statement who end up in a coma, vegetative state, etc., as well as those who are not of sound mind, family members or other people with intimate relations with the patient should be able to make that choice.
I think that the possession of firearms is a constitutionally protected right and the government should see that it does not meddle with legal purchases and use. However, the government should close the gun-show loophole and require background checks, waiting periods, and gun registration no matter where the gun is purchased.
I’m not going to touch death penalty and criminal justice at this point because I’m still ambivalent on the issue. On the one hand, I would support the DP because I believe deterrence is key, but on the other hand I do not want to see innocent people executed and I have doubts about the DP’s actual deterrence value. So I’ll leave this topic alone for now and hopefully will come back with an update in the future. I do support rehabilitation programs for nonviolent offenders. I also support making prisons less opulent and more spartan and miserable – not only to deter criminals and send a message but also to save government money. Don’t make the living conditions too horrific, lest they induce riots.
The government (at all levels) should not sponsor any religion, nor should it have or produce any religious motto, symbols, decals, etc. The government should remove “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance, “In God We Trust” from U.S. currency, and the Ten Commandments from U.S. courthouses and schools, as well as religious services in Congress and any other religious symbols or procedures sponsored or endorsed by government.
Citizens may, of course, display the Confederate flag or decals on private property. As for its display on public property, I think that this is something that state or local governments must decide on. I have no personal problem with display of Confederate flags or symbols on the property of any level of government.
LBGT’s (Lesbians, Bisexuals, Gays, and Transgenders) should be given the same rights and privileges as everyone else, specifically marriage. What the government could do, is to take the package of marriage licenses/certificates, benefits, and responsibilities, change its name to “civil unions”, and then offer it to any couple of any sexual orientation. This way, we can assuage the concerns of social conservatives that the “tradition of marriage” would be defiled by legalizing it for homosexuals (because it wouldn’t be called “marriage” anymore), while at the same time achieving legal equality and civil union rights for LBGT’s. Of course, I would support simply extending marriage privileges to LBGT’s and just calling it marriage, but I doubt that the American public would agree with that (at least not until the far future).
Pending evidence that drug use actually causes users to pose a threat to or harm others, all drugs should be legalized, regulated (for quality, authenticity, and safety, the same way foodstuffs are regulated), and taxed. Tax revenue would be used to fund drug rehabilitation programs. Of course, if a certain drug is actually found to infallibly induce people to commit crimes, then yes it should be banned; otherwise, drug use is a personal and lifestyle choice and the government has no place making that choice for individuals.