Monday, December 17, 2007

Romney vs. Huckabee

It's been rather interesting to watch the recent developments in the Republican primary race as Huckabee has unexpectedly become a real viable candidate. I always liked him and a while ago commented to someone that I would seriously consider voting for him if he was more of a serious contender. Well, he is now, and I am taking a hard look.

While I do think Mike Huckabee has made some poor comments recently, particularly about Mormonism, I've been most disappointed with Mitt Romney. Rather than reacting with class and digging in to his own campaign, he's started running a couple of ads that single out Gov. Huckabee and attack his record. Now, to be clear, Romney's ads are hardly the mudslinging we often see. (The first two-thirds of them point out similarities between the candidates, making them more of "contrast ads" rather than "attack ads".) But still, I would rather a candidate tell me why I should vote for him, let the other guy make his case, and then let me decide. I don't need to hear about why I shouldn't vote for your opponent because that doesn't convince me that you are any more qualified.

So with the Ohio primaries still a ways out, I consider myself undecided as to who I will end up voting for. I am still leaning toward Romney, although maybe not as much as before. But I am definitely glad that there are finally some other good candidates I feel I can support. (I don't feel that I could really get behind any of Guilani, McCain, Clinton, or Obama. Although I did take a pretty good look at Obama. The other three I haven't been impressed with at all.)

Anyway, it's midnight and I'm going to bed.

SM

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Global Warming in Ohio

I'm really not sure what just happened today. Some guy was standing out in the absolutely freezing snow and ice trying to recruit donations for his environmental group that is trying to combat global warming. And I donated. Wait, it gets worse. I bought Glenn Beck's new book An Inconvenient Book, but before I could read it, I felt guilty so I went out and grabbed Al Gore's movie, An Inconvenient Truth. I'll be watching it tonight... before I read Glenn's book.

If anyone knows where I lost my conservative ideals, would you please comment and let me know where they are. I would like them back.

SM

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Principles and Politics

All I really want in politics is for someone, anyone, to show me that they have a set of principles that guide their positions. I just don't seem to see much of that.

A primer on what I mean my principles. The way I see it, every stance on every political can be analyzed by breaking it into two pieces: 1) The stance itself (i.e. "pro-life" or "pro-choice") and 2) The reason, or principle, for that stance (i.e. "murder is bad" or "women control their own bodies"). There must also be a system of logic that connects the principle to the stance (i.e. "Murder is bad -> a fetus should have the right to live -> abortion is murder -> pro-life" or "women control their bodies -> a fetus is part of the woman's body -> pro-choice"). Broken down this way, I believe that our debates would be much more productive. We could identify the stance and principle the candidate stands for, discuss how appropriately that principle is being applied to an issue, and then vote for who best represents us.

That's a crummy explanation of something I think is extremely important, but I'll proceed anyway. To better understand why I believe some of the neo-con hatemonger stuff that I do, I thought I would list some of the principles that guide me and try and explain how I see that principle apply to an issue.

1) Principle: "People should be allowed to govern themselves." And I'm not talking about democracy, I'm talking about everyday life decisions. This is why I generally am in favor of small government. If the government doesn't have to do it, then it shouldn't. And if it does, the government organization closest to the people it affects should be deferred to first. That is, local municipalities should be responsible for education policy, not the federal government. Sorry Mr. President, but No Child Left Behind is not a good idea. It's coercive and doesn't consider the needs of everyone it affects. Let the people be the people.

2) "When certain assumptions are met, the free market and therefore capitalism works." This is the economist in me coming out, but I think it's a solid principle seeing as it has hundreds of years of data supporting it. Because I believe this, I always look very skeptically at anything that increases our taxes. Frankly, if I want it, I'll buy it myself. I don't need the government to pay for my health care. If my employer doesn't provide it, I'll buy it myself or find a different employer. Now, there are public goods and goods with large externalities that people aren't going to be provided efficiently by the market. In these few cases, taxes are appropriate and I gladly submit myself to them. Such things are, to use broad examples, national defense, certain infrastructures, and crime prevention.

3) "People should be responsible for themselves and their actions." Sensitive liberals, please stop reading. If you're poor, it is not the government's job to provide you with food and shelter. Get a job. The American Dream of going from rags to riches only works if you are willing to invest some sort of effort. If you are going to sit there and whine because the government didn't save you from Katrina, then you are far too dependent on the government and not nearly enough on yourself. Now, before I get shot for being so harsh, let me be clear: I do not hate the poor. In fact, I donate to charities as much as I am able. Jean Valjean taught me that lesson a long time ago. I believe that we as individuals should help other individuals in need. I do not, however, believe that it is appropriate for society to force individuals to help others by redistributing income: i.e. Medicare. The federal government's involvement in individual-level charity should be to encourage and fund to some extent private, charitable organizations. The feds should not think they are a charitable organization themselves. The Congress is far to big and unwieldy to provide in any sort of efficient manner. There are good things, and Medicare is a GOOD thing, in principle. But there are better things, and private charitable organizations are generally better. We should encourage them rather than do their job for them. I believe this will actually make things like health care and subsidized living more affordable and more accessible. So, liberals, you can still help the poor. And conservative tightwads, you SHOULD help the poor. Just not through the government. The government happens to be more efficient at other things.

4) "Moral truths really do exist." This is a more dicey topic and I'll address it more later when I have more time, but it can be summed up using gay marriage as an example. Homosexuality really will ruin any society that embraces it. It really is an evil practice. Not sure, ask the residents of Sodom and Gomorrah. Society cannot support evil and immoral practices. That doesn't mean you're not allowed to do what you want. I'm not advocating that society punish homosexuals either. But it cannot accommodate it either. I actually like the military's "don't ask don't tell" policy.

I could go on this forever, but I'll stop because I'm late for a meeting.

So please, flame me for this post. Seriously. I welcome open-minded debates. Besides, I'm sure I have probably not explained things clearly anyway. And I'm also sure I'm dead wrong in a few places too. But I want to get better. I think we all do. And I think we all have more in common that we realize. But to figure that out, I believe we have to be transparent with the principles we believe so that we can decide, together, how to best apply them.

SM