unastronaut*

Feet on the ground – head in the clouds.

Everything in moderation, here I stand

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One of the biggest gripes I have with the climate of modern politics is that the moment you reveal one position on one issue, you are labeled. You can either be a flag waving, gun toting, Bible thumping, English-only speaking conservative or a soy burger eating, latte drinking, secular, high society liberal. It seems like nobody ever recognizes that everyone as wildly differing views, and don’t fit so nicely in those categories we’re given.

John Adams, one of my political heroes, essentially lost his second term for not being partisan enough. He refused to line up before the issue was at hand. I believe in much the same. I also believe it is possible to get America and Congress specifically to where very few things remain on the docket. It may sound idealistic or even absurd, but I believe that is what the Founding Fathers intended by the phrase ‘to form a more perfect Union’ in the Preamble to the Constitution. I wanted to write out just what my positions are on specific issues. This is based on the organization of issues at glassbooth.org with some variations.

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On Abortion and Birth Control

  • I support a woman’s right to choose because they are always the most informed on the situation and the realities of a child being brought into the world and their own health concerns. I would also urge the federal government to leave this issue to the states, this is an example of the power of federalism.
  • I support emergency contraception because it is simple, early, safer and to be blunt the earth has a population problem. The United States doesn’t feel that problem, but it exists.
  • I support abstinence and sex education, with an emphasis on sexually-transmitted diseases. Children tend to do the opposite of what you tell them. Don’t just tell them not to, tell them why not and how to be safe if they disobey. It’s called mitigation, much more effective than the all-or-nothing policy of abstinence-only education.

On Civil Liberties

  • I support extending habeas corpus to Guantanamo Bay detainees, knowing the crimes of the accused will not harm national security.
  • I oppose waterboarding and any form of physical or psychological torture, first on the grounds that the counter-terrorism community believes it is ineffective in retrieving actionable intelligence. Especially in a ticking-time-bomb scenario, we need something that produces results. Torture simply undermines democracy.

On Crime and Punishment

  • I support the death penalty as a matter of federal concern, again I believe individual states should decide.
  • I support a drastic rethinking of the drug war, marijuana scheduling and decriminalization. Non-violent drug offenders should not end up in prison, rehab maybe.
  • I oppose mandatory minimum sentencing, instead I support the implementation of Initiative, Referendum and Recall in every state so that judges may be recalled if they do something against the interests of the public. The criticisms of this system are the same as when it began here in Arizona in 1912. That should tell you something, and as a resident, it works. Propositions brought up by the people allow us to offer legislation, which is especially useful in areas where politicians may fear backlash for proposing or voting for divisive legislation.

On Education

  • I support the elimination of the Department of Education thereby eliminating the No Child Left Behind Act, electing to trust the states to use their own existing education departments to compete with each other.
  • I oppose funding schools based on property tax in the area, this is de facto segregation an serves to create socio-economically segregated schools. With all funding coming from the state level, all schools within a district should receive the same amount per pupil and districts with more schools should be given bonuses. This would discourage branching-off to favor one or a smaller group of schools. There is a school within 5 miles of University of Phoenix Stadium where the Arizona Cardinals play that doesn’t have maps in its social studies classrooms.
  • I strongly support across-the-board raises for schoolteachers, progressively based on level (elementary, middle, secondary). There is absolutely no reason teachers shouldn’t be able to afford to live in whatever neighborhood they are teaching in, on their own salary. Teachers across this country are many of the ones facing losing their homes due to predatory lending and yes, false optimism on the teacher’s part.
  • I oppose standardized tests at the national level. States should be free to do as they please in this regard, but I ask this question: are the tests in the poor schools the same as the ones in the wealthy schools? It’s interesting we put them on the same scale, but not in the same building.
  • I oppose vouchers for education. The biggest problem with vouchers is the disparity in cost between your average private school and the amount these vouchers would grant. In Arizona, private schools’ tuition averages about $6,000-9,000 per year. Schools are only paid on average just shy of $4000 per student, per year. Anyone with another few grand can easier afford to send their children to nice schools, but poor families who have no way to pay or transport their children are out of luck.
  • I oppose merit-based pay. There is no fair way of brokering this system. Teachers who inherit stronger students (affluent areas with less crime, strong feeder schools) are at an advantage. This would only serve to discourage any teacher from looking to work in areas in highest need of teachers.
  • I support a period of mandatory public service for youth. When you feel like you own the house, you take better care. It’s the same with a nation, everyone should take part in building it and making it better.

On Environment and Energy

  • I support taking action to reduce the impact of Americans on the environment. Preliminary debate should be aimed at collecting the issues which establish consensus, such as gaining energy independence. Not only would renewable energy sources stabilize our economy and create jobs, but also reduce fossil fuel dependence (if not emissions).
  • I support pushing for international consensus points on the issue of environmental friendliness. Begin with broad and basic examples, and work with the international community on a truly global problem.
  • I support a cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions, where businesses may purchase carbon credits to offset emissions. It would really do nothing but push money in different directions, but it would reward those who are best on the environment. In my eyes these are well aligned incentives.
  • I support the pursuit of nuclear energy. We’ve got to get past stigma and phobias to realize, cleaner is better than dirty and dependent. We should always be working toward the best, most efficient and cleanest energy sources available. The problem is becoming complacent.
  • I strongly support a drastic effort to improve public transit, not only within urban centers but also interstate. There is no reason we cannot have bullet trains and an alternative to the airlines, one that doesn’t take days to reach a destination or confine us on a small bus with odd people.
  • I support increased fuel standards for automobiles in the United States. If only to make sure the domestic auto companies can compete, because in reality we’re getting killed in the auto market. It isn’t really even wise to buy an American car if you truly want to make the best purchase for your own self-interest.

On Gay Rights

  • I support civil unions for gay couples. I wouldn’t oppose gay marriage in any way, I just know this issue is the kind of thing that will require baby steps to overcome the hypocrisy in any “separate but equal” government stance.
  • I support extending spousal benefits to same-sex couples, to strengthen those families. They are, in fact, families. They shouldn’t worry about custody or inheritance if one dies simply because they aren’t a traditional couple.

On Gun Control

  • I support background checks for the purchase of firearms. This is just a matter of conscience. Our government keeps better tabs on people buying fertilizer than guns. I don’t think it should go any further, but making sure people aren’t violent criminals isn’t too much to ask.
  • I oppose a ban on assault rifles. “When guns are outlawed, outlaws will brandish cologne.” Did I get that right? No, that was Dave Barry, but I do think that if we outlaw assault rifles then the only people who will have them will be true violent criminals.

On Health Care

  • I support a universal system of health care. I believe that modern technology and government transparency will make this system work. The exact same people will be doing the diagnosis, treatment and surgical procedures so I don’t understand why people think the service would crumble. The truth is, you can go to Canada, you can ask a Canadian. They will tell you, their system works and people are happier and healthier. This would have collateral effects far beyond just health care.
  • I believe the government involvement in health care would help to bring costs down, because the pharmaceutical companies wouldn’t be able to swarm such a large group at once.

On Immigration

  • I support a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants existing this country. The process of deportation would be lengthy and expensive.
  • I support deportation of all illegal immigrants convicted of a felony. With some exceptions, such as known gang members with a history of deportation and re-entry.
  • I oppose a physical fence along the US-Mexico border. Barriers don’t keep people out, they keep you in. Whether you realize it or not, this kind of thing will make us no safer but will speak volumes to the rest of the world and future generations. A border fence would only bolster the human smuggling trade and send business into a dangerous criminal cartel.
  • I oppose making English the official language in the United States. This is frivolous and sort-of xenophobic, and would only create problems getting care or court services. We should instead be mandating all American school children learn two or even three languages throughout their school years, beginning in elementary school.

On Iraq and Foreign Policy

  • I support beginning withdrawal of troops from the war in Iraq and a shift in focus to Afghanistan and Osama bin Laden.
  • I support the President urging China to cease selling weapons to those committing genocide in Sudan and urge Hu Jintao to meet with the Dalai Lama.
  • I support a lifelong commitment to the health and mental well-being of anyone who enlists in the military.
  • I support a foreign policy of tackling all issues diplomatically. I’m tired of presidents who think 4,000 dead American servicemen is better than even trying to a conversation with an adversary.
  • I support multi-lateralism in every major global action, through the United Nations or NATO.
  • I support using foreign aid to combat poverty and disease, and to provide business opportunity through microcredit loans.
  • I support ending the trade embargo with Cuba and beginning a new era of relations with our neighbor ninety miles from Florida.

On Medical Marijuana and Drug Policy

  • I support doctors making marijuana available for medical use. Many medical professionals would put their years of education and professional reputation on the line for something that millions of Americans believe should be legal for medical purposes.
  • I oppose federal raids on sick or dying patients prescribed medical marijuana, and their health care providers. This is cowardice and going after the lowest man on the totem pole.
  • I oppose the wasteful War on Drugs. The money only creates a giant bureaucracy and a court and prison system flooded with non-violent drug offenders, costing the taxpayers billions.
  • I support the rescheduling of marijuana, from Schedule I to Schedule III on the federal drug scheduling system. Compare for yourself.

Schedule I

  • The drug or other substance has a high potential for abuse.
  • The drug or other substance has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
  • There is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision.

Examples: Heroin, LSD, Marijuana, MDMA (Ecstasy), methaqualone (Quaalude)

Schedule III

  • The drug or other substance has a potential for abuse less than the drugs or other substances in schedules I and II.
  • The drug or other substance has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
  • Abuse of the drug or other substance may lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence.

Examples: Anabolic steroids, ketamine (Special K), synthetic THC (Marinol)

On Social Security

  • I support privatizing social security. While simply stopping the highway robbery of the social security trust fund would probably right the ship, privatizing is more American. To be honest, nearly everything needs competition. Everything that isn’t a matter of true government concern. I think the government is more responsible for promoting a healthy population than for giving them peanuts by garnishing their grandchildren’s paychecks during retirement, but that’s me.
  • I oppose raising the earnings cap on social security. The more you make, the less you need social security for retirement.

On Taxes and Budget

  • I support the elimination of the Internal Revenue Service in favor of a Fair Tax system, which generates the same revenues by taxing consumption rather than income. The dumbest thing America does is tax the one thing it needs every able-bodied American to do, work. We don’t tax rampant consumption aside from marginal sales taxes, which often create negative externalities which tax dollars must address. Under the Fair Tax, you can make as much money as you want with no increase in tax due to income. Read more about the Fair Tax.
  • I support an amendment requiring Congress and the President to balance the federal budget every year.

On Trade and Economics

  • I support free trade with few restrictions. Trade can be the most powerful vehicle for positive change in the world, we must always prepare for creative destruction.
  • I oppose any increase in the federal minimum wage. This generally only leads to more inflation with little actual benefit in the long run. In the short run hours are usually cut, so the benefit is moot.
  • I support many government subsidies for farmers, however I believe fruits and vegetables are disgustingly underrepresented(around 3% of overall subsidies). This relates to illegal immigration as well, because if we subsidized fruits and vegetables more we might be able to attract American workers to pick strawberries in California or lettuce in Arizona. Just a thought.
  • I support normal trade and diplomatic relations with China. Our President should, however, continually be urging Hu Jintao to meet with the Dalai Lama and make visible strides in the area of human rights.

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Let me know if there’s anything I should add to this list, and feel free to discuss my stances. You don’t need to waste your time just to attack, but reasoned debate is very welcome.

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Written by unastronaut

April 15, 2008 at 10:31 am

Posted in barack obama, Blogroll, current events, Economics, economy, education, election, government, hillary clinton, illegal immigration, iraq war, john mccain, kiva, microcredit, philosophy, Politics, ron paul, vote 2008

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