Monday, October 25, 2004

Political Beliefs

With the election fast approaching (thank goodness), I thought that I might make my one political post pertaining to how I am going to select who I vote for. Being an independent, I vote based on who I think is the best, not on party lines. In my mind, neither of the two candidates running will do a good job, but it's a fact that one of the two is going to be our president for the next four years. Instead of explaining why I back one or the other, I would rather look at the major issues in the political spotlight and how I feel about each of them. I'm admittedly not a political pundit, and I might not know all of the details behind some of the facets of how politics works, but from where I stand, this is how I would run our country if given the opportunity (but hopefully that won't happen as I don't trust myself with the job!).

Social Security: Personally I think the battle to keep social security active is a hopeless losing one. The government hasn't been able to keep their hands out of social security funds and when you combine that with social security payments not being enough for retired people to live on and the ability of current workers to fund their own retirement funds, I feel the entire program should simply be axed.

People need to take some personal responsibility for their futures. One of them is putting money away or investing it for the future. I also don't like the fact that if I am using an alternate form of retirement planning, such as funding a 401(k) or other plan, I can't opt out of the government's social security plan. I would love to remove myself from the social security pool, but I can't. Social security is going to eventually fail and I'm willing to let it happen now.

The War in Iraq: To start off, I don't think we should have been there in the first place. I didn't have a problem with going after Osama and Afghanistan because they were related to the attacks on the US, but a pre-emptive strike on a nation that we "thought" might have weapons that they "may" use against us just didn't sit well with me. As it is now, I really think that we should get out of there while we can. Along with getting out of Iraq, I think we should pull out of the Israel/Pakistan area as well. I know that horrible things are going on over there, but we need to focus on our own country instead of sticking our noses in other people's problems.

I've been told that this a naive viewpoint and that it will only lead to more attacks on the US, but I tend to disagree. If we pull out of middle eastern conflicts, I see us as becoming less of a threat. If we're not bothering anyone over there, then what reason would they have for attacking us? Spite? Maybe. Some overriding hate fostered by what we've done over there in the past? Maybe. I seriously think, though, that if we stay out of their business, they won't be as apt to want to attack us.

Taxes: Well, I'd have to be an idiot to say that I don't want higher taxes. I understand that our government has to pay for everything it does one way or another (or at least it's supposed to). What I don't like is the richest portion of our nation having to pay what are some of the lowest percentages. Because they have so much money they can hire lawyers that make so they don't have to pay very much in taxes. My solution has always been a flat income tax--everyone pays 20% of their income or something like that. After thinking about it for a while I can see how that would really hurt some people who don't make a lot of money and it still wouldn't hurt the rich too much. A sliding tax rate seems like the best thing, but I really do think the rich need to pay a lot more than the middle and lower class. It just sucks that all of the rich people hold the power so there's no way they're going to make it so they have to pay more.

Global Trade/Economy: This is a tough one. With our economy dwindling because of so much outsourcing and foreign competition, I'm somewhat at a loss of how to solve the problem. What company wouldn't want to use cheaper labor to produce their products? Because that's the mentality of most businesses, they use the labor markets of other countries which in turn leads to more unemployment here. I've tossed around the idea of imposing tariffs on goods from companies that employ such practices, but I don't know how well that would work and what the WTO would have to say about it. The only real solution I can think of leads into my next topic, education.

Education: This is extremely important to me. I believe that everyone needs to have an education, and a good one at that. I went to a public school in a small rural area here in Minnesota so it wasn't too bad of an experience. I got a decent education, but when I made the transition to a private college education environment, I realized how unprepared I really was for an intensive learning regime. Thankfully I adjusted quickly (and being my high school valedictorian probably helped a little), but I don't think everyone can do that. To offset the cheap labor offered in other countries for menial jobs, we need to educate the majority of the people to a point where they're capable of doing tasks more complicated than asking someone if they want to supersize their meal. I would have no problem paying more taxes if I knew that the money I was paying was going to help out our countries schools. Oh, and on a side note, I don't believe in school vouchers. The money should go towards funding our public school system.

Health Care: I don't have a lot to say about this topic except that I don't like the gigantic subsidies that pharmaceutical companies are getting from the government. I really think that the billions of dollars we're pouring into their pockets is unnecessary. I also don't like the policy that is in place involving the use of drugs from other countries, namely Canada. If they can get medications to us for cheaper, why not use theirs? (I know, this gets back to my argument about world trade, but when it comes to someone's health, I think we need to help as many people as we can for as little money as possible).

Gun Control: I personally don't like guns at all and will never own one, but they do have their uses. People should be able to own guns if they want, but there should be a strict regulation of what types of guns can be owned. I'm completely against assault weapons, handguns, and other weapons that are horribly unnecessary for what they'd be used for. Owning rifles for hunting or target shooting is ok, but I don't like other types of weapons in the hands of everyday people.

Abortion: I don't approve of abortion in the least. I think that life is something that is sacred and abortion treats a human baby like a disease that needs to be purged for someone to continue living normally. A baby is not a disease. There's thousands of people waiting to adopt children and I see that as an acceptable route for unplanned pregnancies, not termination. I hate killing for any reason, and abortion kills innocent people for some of the stupidest and most selfish reasons that I can think of.

The Environment: I really think that we need to do more to protect our environment. Pollution in big cities is out of control. More and more open land is being developed into urban sprawls and industrial areas. I would like, as much as possible, to see it remain natural land. I know that the population is expanding and businesses are expanding, but I really feel that we should protect nature.

So, now you know how I feel about some of the big ticket topics in the election. It's easy to see that I don't line up exactly with either candidate, but for my vote, I'm going to have to go with Kerry in this election. He might not line up with all of my values, but I feel he might do a better job than Bush would for another four years. We'll find out pretty soon which one we get, though, and then hopefully all of the political talk will die down.

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