Saturday, February 24

A Political Conundrum

It's no secret that I'm a Republican: I'm a College Republican (secretary for a semester), I have a bunch of Republican friends, I helped Republican campaigns (all but one lost), and I run a conservative student newspaper. I feel like I'm in a closet.

I was apathetic up until civics class in 9th grade, and then I went diehard Republican. I witnessed socialism this summer in Europe and all August long, I thought long and hard and questioned my beliefs. Looking around, I came to find that my beliefs are closer to the Libertarians than the Republicans.

I still agree with the Republicans, I guess, but I'm willing to trade social issues for economic issues. I used to be really strongly against gay marriage and abortion, but if I could, I'd make a deal with Democrats. I'd cede them those issues to cancel social security and most of the federal executive departments.

Religious people, no offense to God, Who I truly hope and believe exists, rub me the wrong way. As it was put in Monty Python's Holy Grail, King Arthur is explaining to the anarcho-communist peasants why he's king:

King Arthur: Her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite, held aloft Excalibur from the bosom of the water signifying by Divine Providence that I, Arthur, was to carry Excaliber--That is why I am your king!

to which the peasant replies: Listen--strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate of the masses; not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.

I kind of cringe inside whenever a politician or anyone starts talking about religious things in public. For me religion is a private thing. If we go around letting it dictate policy, then we'd end up back in the Middle Ages, just like in the Middle East.

Another thing, back in high school, I was having an animated debate with some people and I was accused of only thinking and not feeling at all. I promptly told the people, who were liberals, that they're only feeling and not thinking at all. Animals can 'feel'. People are unique because they can 'think' and so that's what we should do. A welfare program may make you feel good, but what incentive is there to not be on welfare (teaching a man to fish versus giving him a fish, as the saying goes)? It doesn't fix it; it only makes it tolerable.

Competition in the free market is the best solution. There is no perfect way to distribute and produce, but free capitalism is the best humans can come up with. If there's no profit motive, then no one would be motivated to put their neck on the line to make risky decisions with responsibility, no one would work those extra hours to come up with the next great thing, and no one would make the risky investment to let the ideas take off.

Europe is socialist. Once you hire someone, there are a ton of rules about how long they can work, how much vacation, how much pay, how much benefits they get if you have to fire them. (That's where we're headed by the way) Therefore, few companies can afford to risk hiring someone that might be crappy because they won't be able to fire them until they retire. France's unemployment runs about 12%, and it's nearly 25% for young adults. In the U.S. our economy is doing great and unemployment is around 4-5%.

In my environmentalism class, there's a lot of bad things said about free trade and globalization. For instance Mexico used to be able to feed itself, but since NAFTA, their farmers can't compete with ours and they have to import our corn. If our government and other ones didn't get involved with farm subsidies, then the playing field would be level.

As Thoreau put it "the government that governs best governs not at all". People seem to get upset that politicians and the bureaucracy are crooked. Of course, there's lots of money involved. If you eliminate the cookie jar, then people can't be stealing the cookies. Example: the hundred million dollar Alaska Bridge to Nowhere.

The government getting involved with things only screws them up further. You've probably been to at least a few sporting events in your life. I've been to countless high school games. The worse games happen when the referees think they're playing in the game. The point of the referee is to enforce the rules without bias. The government is our referee between the individual and every other individual, company, etc.

The government messes up nearly everything. Take for instance, urban planning. (Read Jane Jacobs) How many non-dysfunctional public housing projects has it created? We've given our cities to it. By creating zoning laws, it forced America into the car culture. Zoning created the suburbs and subdivisions, where the only way to get around is by driving. Now you need a car to get anywhere. Wait until the oil runs out. I'm going to laugh hard.

The government should stop subsidizing things. Airlines, farmers, car companies, people who live in cities below sea level or in natural disaster prone areas, (dare I say education?). Perhaps the reason why the government has to give billions to the airlines every few years is because there's too many of them. Perhaps they have to give money, our tax money, to automakers because they build crappy cars that can't compete internationally. I say "Live and let die."

I've always been a "suck-it-up" kind of person. Someone has a problem, tough beans. If life gives you lemons, make lemonade (or kill someone by ramming them down their throat). All I want is for the government to protect my property and I will pay my taxes and not make a stir. I don't expect to be entitled to anything or receive anything unearned. I don't want to mind anyone's business and I don't want anyone minding mine. For example: I really could care less who's banging whom. "Don't want an abortion," so the chant goes, "don't get one". But they never say, "don't want a gun, don't get one".

The Republicans could be making huge strides in the economic arena, but they seemed to have abandoned that to get stuck in the fight over social issues. I think they could have made lots of friends across the country by fixing economic things. I think that's what made Reagan so popular. For example, social security (privatize or even opt-out!) or education (vouchers to let kids go to whatever school they want).

On a side note, it makes me happy to think that in the 2040's social security is expected to go kaput. In 2040, I'll be 54. I'll have paid the taxes for most of my life to get nothing!

So, as I've laid it out, I feel like a Libertarian hiding in a Republican closet. I don't really know what to do. It seems almost too easy to be a libertarian. Imagine a debate between the GOP, the Dems, and Libertarians. The GOP would say that there's a certain way to fix a problem, the Dems would suggest throwing money at studies and discussions, and the Libertarians would say that the government shouldn't even deal with it. Besides, there aren't very many libertarians for whom to vote, anyway. Also, if I remember correctly, the Althouse said something about how "a libertarian has to look inside himself to see whether he has a soul or not" (I'd link to it, but the search crashes because her blog is so big).

The Republicans are the party of Lincoln, T.R., Goldwater, and Reagan. I hope it's salvageable. It seems that they've been hijacked by the social issues people lately and the sky doesn't seem to be clearing anytime soon, unfortunately. My "Quotationary" tells me that David Broder said "Anybody that wants the presidency so much that he'll spend two years organizing and campaigning for it is not to be trusted with the office." 2008 doesn't look too bright. The Democrats are not to be trusted and the GOP isn't putting up anyone good.

On a side note, if I were president this is how it'd go :
year 1, cut half the programs
year 2, cut the other half
year 3, cut half the taxes
year 4, cut the other half

Of course, a lot of other stuff would happen in between, but I'll spare the details. Let me just say, there'd be a lot of office space for rent in Washington. (I turn 35 in December of 2021, so the earliest I could run would be in 2024.)

Anyway, that's what I think about politics. I feel relieved to get that out. So what should I do? Suggestions?


Anonymous said...

Hey I understand that you "don't expect to be entitled to anything or receive anything unearned."

I can't help but wonder. Are you practicing what you preach?

Have you given up all of your student loans? Have you made sure you're not receiving any federal assistance?

Are you going to transfer to a private university that doesn't accept federal dollars? There are still a handfull of them out there, I understand.

Are you accepting financial responsibility for your parents when they get older? I'm sure if your mom and dad understood your principled stand they would give up there social security and let you pay for their retirement instead.

Of course it might be hard to get home to see your parents because I'm sure you wouldn't want to drive on a federally funded highway.

Mike said...

Well, I don't have any student loans or federal money. I do have a scholarship that comes from WI. It is pretty hypocritical, I suppose, to be going to a public university, though. Here in Wisconsin, it's in the state constitution from 1848 that the state has to create a public university. First of all, there probably weren't more than a handful in the state at the time, and it desired more. Perhaps it stipulated that because educating people makes the most bang for the buck. The state gets an increase in innovation and progress that translates into higher tax revenue over a lifetime.

About federal highways, they hesitated to build federal works until the National Road which was to speed up settlement of the West, which was the former Northwest Territory. Highways facilitate trade. And they probably ought to at least charge a toll.

(My hippie environmental studies professor says that the oil's going to run out in a decade or two. Doesn't it seem silly to be spending billions on something that'll only be useful for 20 years?)

I guess, I mean I tend towards thinking these things, but any ideology shouldn't be used exclusively. Things should tend back towards less government but obviously, the government is always going to be involved. Things like highways are good but they may not ever get built if left up to the private sector. People and goods used to get around on railroads. The government never had to build any, but the government gave land grants to the railroads to get them to built west much more quickly and expedite the expansion of the country.

I think the federal government should sit on the side and mostly just blow the whistle from time to time and not be out in the court swatting the ball around.

Universities, I believe, are charted by states, though chunks of their funding comes from the feds. I think there is a difference in the role that the federal government plays compared to a state. Up until the Civil War, the United States "were", afterward the U.S. "was". The federal government was originally made up of the states, that's why people don't elect the president, or senators originally.

The federal government is supposed to set up the rules and be a arbitrator. The states are the governments that should do the acting. Because then, one is free to move between states to get the situation that one prefers. Also, different ideas and schemes can be tried and tested.

Finally, yes, I do plan on taking care of my parents.

Dorshorst said...

Stick with the Libertarian or Independent tag. Make the Republicans (or Democrats) do something to earn your vote.