Tag Archives: Politics

What’s government for?

In the simplest terms, our country was founded on an idea that every person has a right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”  This was derived from John Locke’s similar belief in “life, liberty, and property.”  It is the government’s duty to protect these rights.   Police protect our lives and property domestically, and the armed forces protect us from foreign threats.  But the government is so much more that just police and military.  Forming and living in societies has allowed us to move away from hunting and gathering and subsistence agriculture.  By division of labor, we’re able to specialize in a trade, send our young to schools, and have more leisure time.  Currency developed to make transactions simpler (What you don’t want my chickens?)  Government has grown to regulate agriculture, balance the rights of laborers and corporations, preserve our natural resources, monitor food and drug safety, provide a social safety net, and on and on.

Today, among recession, unemployment, skyrocketing health care and education costs, multiple foreign wars, growing support for LGBT equality, and many other issues, we’ve seen the rise of the Tea Party.  Now, I used to be an objectivist/Libertarian.  I thought “The Fountainhead” and “Atlas Shrugged” were brilliant.  But those books showcase an unrealistic utopia.  No one had a sub par education because they were born in the wrong neighborhood, there wasn’t a stay at home mom left with nothing when her husband decided to abandon his family, mental illness didn’t exist.  The Tea Party wants to cut government spending so they can have lower taxes.  Too bad for you if you don’t have insurance or want to marry your same-sex partner.  The Tea Party supports a strict adherance to the Constitution, nevermind that the preamble specifically says to “promote the general Welfare.”  Our country wasn’t founded to create millionaires or laud people who were lucky enough to be born into healthy, wealthy, intelligent families.  America is for everyone.

If you’ve ever played a sport or were part of any type of team, you’ve probably heard the saying that a group is “only as strong as the weakest link.”  If our country is a team, the homeless, unemployed, ill, etc are our weakest links.  We cannot progress as a whole and leave these less fortunate behind.  Our country supports public education because an educated populace is important for a functioning democracy, our economy needs trained workers, and academically engaged children are less likely to become teen parents or criminals.  I think this rationale extends to other government-run social welfare programs.  We cannot expect people to be good citizens when their basic needs such as housing, food, and health care are not met.  Of course we must find a balance in these programs to make sure we are teaching men to fish, not just handing out fish.  And yes, there are charities that care for these needs but they’re not in every community and not everyone is welcome (for example, some shelters turn away gay or transgender people).

I hate myself for saying this, but I do agree with the Tea Party on one of their points.  We should be auditing government for waste.  Are consultants overpaid?  Do politicians need the lavish offices and expense accounts they have?  Are we sending Social Security checks to dead people?

For me it comes down to this fundamental question: Can government achieve what liberals and progressives want for a price that conservatives can accept?

 

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Tonight’s way too late political thoughts

A Tea Partier spit on Rep. Emanuel Cleaver and called him the n word; another called Rep. Barney Frank a “faggot.” A number of Americans believe Obama is a Muslim and a foreigner. Chris Matthews guest Dana Loesch insisted racism and sexism have nothing to do with their objections to healthcare reform and the rest of the Obama agenda. If that’s the truth, they better come up with better arguments than ugly ad hominem attacks. She also denied that Tea Partiers ever suggested secession. Even Fox News reported talk of secession at an anti-tax rally with Texas governor Rick Perry. While trying to defend Tea Party views, she shouted and talked over the host and other guest. Sorry, Ms. Loesch, I’m not buying it.

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How about being a little more Christian?

ReligiousTolerance.Org and one of my high school religion teachers (a Catholic deacon) assert that of the nearly 300 suggestions from Jesus on how to live and believe that are recorded in the New Testament only 3 pertain to sexual ethics.  And of those 3, none address homosexuality.

WhatMormonsBelieve.Org has little to cite from “The Book of Mormon” to support the church’s opposition to homosexuality.  It seems all they could come up with was “the natural man is an enemy to God” (Mosiah 3:19) and that through the grace of Jesus weaknesses can become strengths (Ether 12:27).  I know little about “The Book of Mormon,” but neither of these seem to explicitly condemn homosexuality.

I don’t believe in the literalness of the Bible, but there are many people who do.  If you’re a believer of Jesus and the New Testament, you need to see how minute Jesus’s concern was for sexual issues versus his concern with poverty and “loving your neighbor”.

Using numbers from the LDS’s own website, church members donate about $9.1 million a year for humanitarian work (and I respect them for that).  I figure 1 percent of Jesus’s teachings touch on sexual ethics, so if Mormons want to oppose gay marriage it would make sense for them to use about 1 percent of their charitable donations to support Proposition 8.  That would be about $91,000.  But no, Mormons contributed more than $17 million to the “Yes on 8” campaign.

Why the disproportionate concern with homosexuality?

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Fun with John McCain

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Share your thoughts with President-Elect Obama

Write to Obama here.

What I wrote:

Dear President-Elect Obama,

First, congratulations on your victory!  This was the first year I caucused, and my first presidential election when I didn’t feel like I was choosing the lesser of two evils.  My elation at your win didn’t last long, however.  Wednesday afternoon, I was crushed to hear of the passing of Proposition 8 in California.

My point in writing to you today is to implore you and Mr. Biden to rethink your stance on same-sex marriage.  While it’s exciting to see gays making progress and gaining acceptance, I find civil unions an unacceptable compromise.  Even if civil unions are made to grant every right that is conferred to heterosexual couples by marriage, it’s not the same thing.  When I hear people supporting civil unions but not marriage, the phrase that sticks in my mind is “separate but equal.”  In 1954, the Supreme Court decided that “separate is inherently unequal.”  That was true of education then, and it’s true of civil unions now.

I know that you probably also view marriage as a states’ rights issue, but as a constitutional law professor, you must understand the harm in using the U.S. Constitution and state constitutions as tools of discrimination.  Please do everything in your power to influence the repeal of gay-marriage bans that now stand in 40 states and pledge to veto any proposed federal gay-marriage ban.

Thank you for your time, and good luck in your Presidency.

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too busy, too tired, becoming too apathetic

Just a few quick thoughts:

Fall Pledge Drive on KUOW

“Holding Politicians Accountable”

I can’t believe HRC has more members than the ACLU…

…and how are French movies so French?

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I’m boring lately

What I’ve been up to:

Olympics

hangin’ with my new housemates

incessant iPod listening

wtf Russia?!

deep thoughts about morality outside of religion (flashbacks to Phil 105: Intro to Ethics)

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Candidate Crisis?!?

I’m not really expecting anything to come of this, but what if neither presumptive candidate is Constitutionally eligible to be President?

Obama campaign presented a forged birth certificate.

Arizona law professor says McCain isn’t a natural-born citizen.

Clinton vs Huckabee?

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How much voting is too much?

When I first moved here, I thought Seattleites and Washingtonians must really like to vote.  Now, three years later, I think that the city and state government really like to make us vote.  That way politicians don’t have to risk making any unpopular decisions.  I thought that the point of electing officials was to choose people who you think will carry out your wishes or act in your interest.  While I do think ordinary citizens should be somewhat educated on the issues so we know which politicians to support, we are too busy with our daily lives to discover all the nuances of public policy.  I understand having public comment sessions for different projects, but ultimately I wish politicians would make the decisions.  On one hand, I’m glad that Seattleites got to vote to reverse City Council’s “nanny state” four-foot rule in strip clubs, but should the final details on how we replace the viaduct, increase public transportation, acquire & fund parks, and improve Pike Place Market really be put to voters?

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I made it onto the radio yesterday

I left a message on the Conversation Feedback line on KUOW about this cartoon:

Read about it, hear my comment, listen to the whole program here.

Of course they only played the beginning of the message I left, making me sound like I was basically saying nothing. Listening to the entire show, I realized pretty much everyone was saying the same thing that I did: Yeah I get that it’s satire, but what about the people who don’t get the context? Will people believe that The New Yorker is supporting various rumors about Barack & Michelle Obama?

Considering that this morning, I once again thought about something I’ve pondered a few times. I find it offensive enough that people think Obama is lying when he says he’s a Christian, but the deeper problem is the concern that he’s a Muslim. So what if he is? Not all Muslims want to participate in violent jihad. A 2007 Gallup poll showed that Muslims worldwide and Americans equally believe that attacks on civilians are unjustifiable. I’m also amused by the idea that someone trying to hide that he’s Muslim would decide to portray himself as a member of a church with a pastor who spouted “Africentrism and black-liberation theology.”

While looking for a picture of the cover to post here, I found this article which seems very similar to my blog post–only more eloquent and informed.

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