Thursday, May 10, 2007

Political Survey

I found this meme on Aielman's blog. I refer to his opinions in my responses, so it might be a good thing to read his blog first before reading mine.

-Do you believe in a higher authority/power?
There's not enough conclusive proof for me to be positive in either direction, though I'd like to believe there in a benevolent creative power. I do believe, however, that if such a higher power exists, then the world's religions don't have the slightest clue as to its real nature. I believe that one can believe in evolution, while at the same time believing in a higher power -- such a higher power could have set evolution in motion at the beginning. Who knows? Aielman's answer quite possibly could be the correct one.

-If so, are you an member in one of the many organized religions?
I am not a member of any organized religion, though I see nuggets of wisdom here and there in most religions. I am too independent of a thinker to accept all the tenets of any particular religion part and parcel, however.

-If so, do you practice regularly?
Not applicable

-If so, which organized religion are you a member of?
None -- I'm just a good old-fashioned sinner

-Do you believe in relative or absolute morality?
I'll have to go with Aielman again on this one -- I believe absolutely that morals are relative. Human beings are too complex to address ethical issues with a rigid, black and white, yes/no mindset. Not allowing for shades of grey is inadequate, not to mention usually inaccurate as well.

-What country do you live in?

-Should religion and government be kept separate?
I believe in both freedom OF religion and freedom FROM religion. People should be free to follow whatever religion they choose, in private and in public. As Thomas Jefferson once said, "But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg."

With this in mind, I see no problem with kids in school having Bible clubs, praying at sporting events, celebrating Christmas, celebrating Halloween, and so on. Nor do I have a problem with comparative religion classes, studying religions from an objective standpoint. But this means the free expression of ALL religions. Wiccans should be able to freely wear a pentacle pendant, Muslims, the hijab, and so on.

However, I don't think public schools are the place for school sponsored instruction in religion from a believer's standpoint. You don't go to a house of worship to learn math, so I don't think a public school is the place to promote any sort of religious belief.

Similarly, while I believe that people voting or serving in government will naturally be influenced by whatever belief system they subscribe to, I have a problem with them attempting to impose their sectarian beliefs on everyone. As an example, a religious person who does not believe in abortion can express that faith by never having an abortion nor being a party to one, but can also believe that they cannot make that decision for others.

-What is your position on evolution?
Again, my beliefs are congruent with Aielman's -- I believe that the universe has always, and continues to evolve.

-Are you in favor of abortion (voluntary termination up to 22 weeks, 24 with medical referral)?
Yes. I think the argument where life begins is a moot point. The mother, the host to a developing life, should always have the greater rights. It's an essential privacy issue -- if a woman doesn't have the right to manage her own body as she sees fit, this endangers whatever other rights she may have.

-Should the state be allowed to discriminate based on gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, other?
No. Exclusion from whatever positions should be based on failure to pass entrance tests, not on the accident of birth.

To use Aielman's example, even if 99 out of 100 women cannot perform a certain military task, the 100th women shouldn't automatically be barred because of the other 99. Standards should not be lowered to allow more women in, but the ones who can pass the original standards have earned a place.

History has shown us that whenever society has said women can't do certain things; that they are incapable, women have proved them wrong, every single time.

Aielman's concerns about unit disruption and the like were also expressed when women began serving as regular patrol police officers in the late 1960s. It was said that a male officer would be distracted by wanting to protect his female partner and it would negatively affect his performance in a crisis situation.

But female officers are now de rigeur everywhere; none of the fears about female officers were manifested in any great degree. I served with female officers and I can assure you, they are just as good, on the average, as male officers. They went through the same academy training that I did and earned their certifications, same as me.

So far as gay soldiers go, I'm in agreement with the late Senator Barry Goldwater, "I don't care if a soldier is straight; I only care if he shoots straight."

Aielman said, "You need to change more attitudes in civilian life before you try them in the service. In this day and age, we can't afford the disruption." I don't think Harry Truman thought this was a valid consideration when he desegregated the armed forces right after World War II -- racist attitudes were still quite prevalent among most Americans in those days.

-Do you believe intelligent design should be taught in schools?
It's fine in a comparative religion class, but has NO place in a science course.

-Do you believe civic or military service should be required?
I wouldn't require it, but it's ok to have strong incentives to encourage it for both sexes.

-Do you support the death penalty?
Very reluctantly. And I believe it should be used very sparingly, only for the worst of the worst -- the Jeffrey Dahmers of the criminal world for whom there is no hope of rehabilitation.

-Do you support the legalization of marijuana?
I agree with Aielman's statement wholeheartedly: I support the legalization of all recreational drugs. Prohibition doesn't work, and we're losing trillions in tax revenue. It's another of the libertarian privacy issues for me. I am naturally wary of "Nanny laws" where the government acts in the role of a parent.

-Do you support affirmative action?
I've got mixed feelings on this. I think affirmative action was good in the short run, to bring previously-discriminated groups up to speed in order to have a fair chance to compete in today's society, but these programs should not be around forever, lest they turn into reverse discrimination.

-Do you support euthanasia?
Yes, it's another privacy issue about the ownership of one's own body. In the Terry Schiavo case, while I was glad that she was finally allowed to die, I wasn't very impressed by the passive, starvation method they used, which I found cowardly. We can euthanize our suffering pets in a quick, humane manner, but we cannot do so for our human loved ones. Where is the dignity in standing by passively as a person slowly starves to death over a period of weeks, when an appropriate combination of drugs would mercifully end it in minutes?

-Do you support cloning?

-Do you support embryonic stem cell research?
Yes. I think the key to beating many diseases is in this form of research.

-Do you believe in global warming?
Though more research needs to be done, I think this is an issue that should be taken seriously. A "better safe than sorry" approach is probably the most prudent course to take until we have more conclusive proof either way.

-Do you support gun control?
Again, I agree with Aielman. Stringest attention to background checks, safety and proficiency training, and waiting periods are all common sense guidelines. My experience in law enforcement showed me that most criminals don't get their guns from gun shops, anyway. Banning guns would serve only to take them out of the hands of law-abiding citizens, not criminals.

-Do you support nationalized health care?
I believe in universal health care for every American and that it shouldn't be tied to one's employment status. Millions of working Americans have no health insurance, and millions more stay in unsuitable jobs just for the health insurance, and many Americans work well beyond retirement age for this as well. I also think more jobs would be created, if employers could get the health insurance monkey off their backs as well.

-Do you support wall building to discourage illegal immigration?
First of all, I don't blame the illegals for wanting to come here. They're only interesting in bettering their situations, like any of us would be. I do, however, blame the corporations who bring them here to take jobs away from Americans, especially in times of high unemployment.

That being said, I do think that illegal aliens ought to be deported, but I welcome legal immigrants who go about it the right way. The only exception I'd make is for those whose lives would be in danger if they remain in their own country -- I think this country should have suspended the immigration laws for the duration of World War II for all the Jews fleeing the Nazis, for example. However, this exception doesn't apply to the illegal aliens from south of the border.

Perhaps a better thing would be to help beef up the Mexican economy and to help get rid of their corrupt government, so that people would want to remain in their own country. Leaving this situation unchanged will assure we'll have many more illegal immigrants in the years to come.

-Do you support term limits?

-Do you support campaign finance limits?
Probably a good idea.

-Do you support welfare?
Yes, as a safety net measure to insure a minimum standard of living and to prevent homelessness for those down on their luck and for those weaker members of society unable to compete in the open market.

-Where do you consider yourself on the political spectrum typically (Left, Centrist, Right)?
On most tests, I come out as a left/liberal libertarian, with more of an emphasis on the liberal label. I am a civil libertarian, especially concerning issues of freedom and privacy, but I also firmly believe in the safety net concept that ensures a minimal threshhold of standard of living. Economically, I'm more of a classic liberal.

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