unastronaut*

Feet on the ground – head in the clouds.

Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Radical change we could agree on?

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Income Tax is the most ridiculously counter-productive tax we could possibly impose in terms of productivity. We want Americans to be productive. We want them to earn, to create things that others may buy, to create jobs. We do not want them to limit productivity in order to maintain a balance. Americans aren’t about wading in the middle, it’s our tax system that creates people like a friend of mine who always worked 36.5 hours, the minimum average to keep his full-time status, but where he figured that the rest of his check would all go to taxes. He was an accounting major, so I’m sure his math wouldn’t have been too far off, and he always seemed to have more take-home pay and get more back on his returns every year.

A consumption tax would serve the public good, be a better model for a more-free market, and most of all put the balance of incentives back in order. We want people to earn, to save and contribute to the circular flow of money within their communities. We don’t want anyone to shy away from work. If I work my ass off and save enough to buy a house with cash, that’s good for a lot of people. Sure, I may cut out some bank middle-mannery but who wants to argue they deserve to finance those who are inherently more responsible than their own management? If I’m keeping all of my money, I can afford to account for the taxes to buy a nice place in America, where many people enjoy resort-style amenities just for existing in a nice community. If I want to buy five platinum-plated Maseratis, I’ll be prepared to take the hit, but don’t punch me for punching in.

NI4D – The National Initiative for Democracy is the hidden-in-plain-view answer to many of our political woes. Last I checked, there are 11 states using some form of public initiative system. How else would things like medical marijuana get on a ballot? Or ever get a vote of any kind? Or gay marriage bans, for that matter? There are many things that make sense to the general public that are simply too dangerous for any politician to approach, let alone a majority of Congress. Throughout my college days I came across a lot of people who didn’t vote, but were somewhat informed and had an opinion. Even those who vote in Presidential elections rarely vote in off-year and local elections. Voter turnout does not really reflect a complete political apathy, more an apathy with the effectiveness of the current voting system.

Enter the national initiative. If the majority of Americans do not want a war, the majority should be heard. If a majority of residents of a state support a doctor’s right to prescribe medical marijuana, a conservative or pandering legislature should not block the will of the people on a state’s rights issue. If a majority of the public believe that a doctor may refuse to perform certain treatments based on their religious beliefs, I don’t believe any law could Constitutionally coerce them otherwise so long as this is made clear to the patient before their life is in the hands of the doctor. The Bill of Rights mentions the rights of the people in the 9th Amendment, and again as a part of state’s rights. This is better served in those 11 states with initiative systems, and referendum and recall can also be a better way to clear the haze of our current political system. All of the nonsense calls for resignation, all of the political posturing on issues the speaker doesn’t even believe will ever come to a vote and the back-and-forth nature of our failing two-party system would at least see some improvement and at most clear the way for real public discourse, real participatory democracy.

Concerning gay marriage: I say again, can the government simply refuse to define a marriage in any way? Let churches or individuals have the right to define their own “marriages”, and simply allow for all couples seeking to join their lives to be unified in the governments eyes. The slippery slope argument doesn’t fly here. The US has a long precedent of defining such unions as a union of only two, consenting adults. We have laws restricting the marriages of children which are legitimately in the public interest. Lately some ultra-conservative Congressmen have been comparing homosexuality to pedophilia. This is ludicrous and gets a gut reaction in many ways, but I’d offer one rational argument without gut involved. By definition, pedophilia violates legitimate laws in public interest. Sure, there could be homosexual predators out there, but as Chris Hansen proves there are predators of all stupid persuasions. But a union of consenting adults should not be the government’s business to deny one group if it is permitted for another.

If marriage is a religious practice, the sanctity of which should be defended, then it should remain out of the government. What the government should do is have a system for defining next of kin in a humane way, with the utmost priority on individual freedom to choose who is considered a spouse by a hospital.

I’m often accused of being an ultra-liberal or whatever you’d call it, but those tags really are just how others see you based on the conversations you’ve had. Sure, if you’re talking to me about health care, I sound a bit more on the liberal side. But if we’re talking about guns, I’m never really accused of being a conservative. That’s odd considering I don’t think any American should need to choose a “favorite Amendment” from the Bill of Rights. There was a specific reason our founders first defended speech, press and religion then our last line of defense second. This is not a “hunter’s” Amendment, although along with defense, we should be allowed to enjoy sport. It is the first line of the Constitution that says… and if you fail to obey the Kings of America as prescribed by the first three words of the Preamble… we’re not, ya know, gonna take it. The contentious issue here for many liberals is hinged on people like Glenn Beck, who think you start talking about getting guns ready. Paul Revere didn’t ride around practicing his speech. He wasn’t the lead character in ‘The Boy Who Cried Wolf’.

In all honesty, your guns will never be taken away. You’ll be able to feel more confident in that fact if we enact a national initiative system, but at the very least liberal politicians are not a monolith against guns. I was listening to J.Douche Hateworth on the radio the other day and he played a little “comedy” piece that described a terrorist with a knife coming at a family, he said if the father is a liberal he’d quake in his boots and think of pacifism. First of all, a terrorist with a knife? Second of all, his scenario says both fathers have a loaded weapon. You think liberals make bad fathers, Hayworth? Why don’t you come at me with a knife and see how liberal I am?

I’m no gun liberal in terms of ever wishing to take away the guns of any law-abiding citizen. I’m not sure that extreme restrictions on gun possession are the way to get the “more dangerous” criminals. If you look at the example of Al Capone, who was finally brought to justice on racketeering charges. The man ordered countless murders, but we get him for tax evasion? Don’t get me wrong, at the time it was a victory and having a definite criminal in prison is never a bad thing. But how many innocent people do go to jail? How many non-violent offenders serve time for marijuana possession? We can get the little fish, right or wrong, but we have trouble with the big fish? That’s essentially the same logic some liberals use that says driving through a school zone with a legally owned and registered weapon is automatically a crime. It’s pathetic when you consider that most legal gun-owners use their weapons for sport or self-defense. Sure, people stretch the definition of self-defense all the time, but that’s going to happen in society. The answer is more education. More organizations like the NRA who promote gun safety and tradition, and they need to be in the mainstream. The NRA shouldn’t automatically be considered one with the Republican party, although it’s most ardent supporters are often conservative. Gun ownership should be promoted among all law-abiding citizens, because at least one flying spaghetti monster knows that criminals will always have weapons.

“When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.” I can’t find the original source of that quote, although in looking I found a great quote from Charlton Heston speaking on Fox News back in 1997: “There’s no such thing as a good gun. There’s no such thing as a bad gun. A gun in the hands of a bad man is a very dangerous thing. A gun in the hands of a good person is no danger to anyone except the bad guys.” What we should do to curb gun violence is create more good guys, through lifelong education and a societal emphasis on family of some kind. I know adopted kids who are great successes and legacies who have fizzled out, and it all came down to involvement. If people are involved in the lives of children they will learn to act as responsible people do, if children are raised with every amenity money can buy with no relationship with parents or some caregiver they will look for a role model somewhere. Think of the ratio of crap-to-awesome at any given mall. I’d argue that you’re taking the same gamble by allowing your child to pick any role model from their lives in your absence. Sure, they could end up with an amazing role model somewhere but it’s a gamble parents don’t have to take. Well, they shouldn’t have to take.

This is where I can get more liberal on people, but I simply can’t believe you can support both family and bite-sized government. Health care is a part of this. Healthy parents can work without getting sick as often, imposing less of a burden on the family’s budget and productivity. Children’s health care helps give all Americans a chance to grow up and contribute to society rather than being punished by the circumstances of their birth. I do not advocate wreckless takeover of health care by the government, but a quick read of the Preamble would establish that the federal government has some responsibility to our health at least in terms of keeping us productive and safe from potential pandemic. The more free we are to be productive and contribute to society, the more we all benefit. We will all have different ideas about how to get us there, but I think we’d all agree on the benefits of a healthy society.

These are just some ramblings. I just wonder if we all agreed on the results we wanted, the discourse on the methods might be more civil.

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Three things everyone can do to make the economy stronger

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I go AWOL every now and again, but certain things pull me out of hibernation. This week’s shenanigans on the Hill have been tacky melodrama at best. There are so very few politicians who know anything about economics, but many know something about theatre. 

If I wanted to hear something completely familiar delivered by a bad actor, I’d have watched a Tom Cruise film. Here are three things we can all do to make the economy stronger. These aren’t things we can all read which will simply make the economy stronger, but things anyone and everyone can do.

  1. Mind your wallet. Ask anyone you know if they’re in debt. When everyone has a little debt, it amounts to a lot of debt. Debt, at a certain point, creates friction in our economy. Get out of debt, start spending your money again and you’ll already be helping.
  2. Attempt to understand the economy. Look up terms you are fuzzy about. Get as realistic a vision of a ‘better economy’ that you can. It won’t happen overnight, but it also won’t happen with our heads buried in the sand.
  3. Understand that the economy is not partisan. The economy doesn’t care if you call yourself a Democrat or a Republican. The economy is not waiting for anything. It won’t suddenly ‘do something’. It is simply a machine to circulate money, and it needs lube.

Written by unastronaut

February 7, 2009 at 9:09 pm

Marriage is gay

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Prop 8 in California and Prop 102 in Arizona have been the buzz around the water cooler and the subject of daily protests in the street since last Tuesday. Gays are trying to get married, folks. It will ruin civilized society. Much like miscegenation did in 1967.

This is the one issue in national and state politics where I wonder just why I haven’t heard my argument before. Maybe it’s out there, but generally this debate is like two trains passing in the night. Here’s my question: why is the government involved in marriage at all?

There’s absolutely no need for the government — on any level — to recognize or fail to recognize any couple’s love for one another. None. The government is not in the love business, and clearly the “threat” of gay marriage does not hinder anyone’s ability to love another human being. All marriages should be seen as a civil union by the government, and churches can recognize the bonding of souls (or 55-hour Britney Spears marriage extravaganza) in whatever way they deem appropriate.

Civil unions should be defined as a bonding of social interests, not any sort of relationship between only a man and a woman. For those with the slippery slope argument handy, I’ll point out that every one of these arguments was made about miscegenation (marriage between races) back in the 1960s. Every last one of them. Care to point out one such example of miscegenation actually “mongrolizing the races” as people said at the time?

Now, before I get hit with arguments from the opposite side that “separate, but equal” is never equal, note that I don’t think the government should recognize anything as a marriage. It’s merely — in their eyes — a union of civil interests between two people. I think the reason this argument isn’t presented is that it combines the points of conflict and would created a knee-jerk reaction from both sides. But then again, sometimes we react that way when trying to do the right thing.

Written by unastronaut

November 12, 2008 at 6:31 am

A suspicion about the electoral map in 2008

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This is what I imagine could be possible in the very real world if all voters who have shown interest throughout the entire campaign — on both sides — shows up on Election Day (or voted early). If the race were to end up being close, with McCain winning the traditionally red states of North Dakota, Louisiana, Montana, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia & Arizona, holds Nebraska’s 2nd district and then locks down Florida, Pennsylvania & Ohio – the Republican will win the White House for a 3rd straight term 270-268. But if you have any doubts about any of those states, Obama should be the next President of the United States of America. President Barack Obama. I, for one, have doubts in all of those states. My doubts come from polls and first-hand accounts of the mood in many “red state” lines I’ve read in various blogs on the new 4th Estate. 

I’m not claiming to be an expert on anything nor am I really making a prediction per se, it’s more like what my gut would bet the farm on if I had like $3 left after losing my life savings, home and car in Vegas. I tend to look to fivethirtyeight.com, pollster.com and early voting statistics from the George Mason University Department of Public and International Affairs. Call me crazy, but I think the election can only be won for McCain with a LOT of voter suppression on Tuesday. Go to 270towin.com, make your own map and if you care link to it here. I’m curious to see where others think this race could go.

Written by unastronaut

November 2, 2008 at 5:26 pm

$150k for clothes? John McCain thinks it erodes public confidence

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This ‘maverick’ tag must just be slang for a Republican flip-flop. How else would McCain’s supporters, particularly those excited by the pick of Sarah Palin for VP nominee, justify their admiration for a man who gained his reputation as a maverick by trying to move his own party out of a state of ignorance? McCain supported the so-called amnesty bill, for which he was called a maverick. For this he was also hated by the same people holding signs boasting the label.

Senator McCain was first opposed to the Bush tax cuts, saying it unfairly benefited the wealthy. Apparently somewhere along the way Cindy tapped him on the shoulder and showed him her $4.2 million tax return because he’s now in favor of making those same tax cuts permanent. From his own tax cuts, his family would receive over $730,000 which still makes me wonder how that will somehow trickle down. Maybe there is a legitimate explanation, I’d just like to hear it.

His most recent maverick escapade was picked up by ThinkProgress. The news broke this week that more than $150,000 was spent on Sarah Palin’s wardrobe in her 2 months as GOP VP nominee. Granted, this is not a huge deal. It’s not near as startling as Senator McCain’s recent “agreement” with Jack Murtha, who basically said people in Western Pennsylvania are racist. But something like this does reveal another opportunity to call McCain a maverick. After all, he used to believe that campaign funds being spent on personal clothing eroded the public confidence.

MCCAIN: Madam President, the amendment before the Senate is a very simple one. It restricts the use of campaign funds for inherently personal purposes. The amendment would restrict individuals from using campaign funds for such things as home mortgage payments, clothing purchases … and vacations or other trips that are noncampaign in nature. […]

The use of campaign funds for items which most Americans would consider to be strictly personal reasons, in my view, erodes public confidence and erodes it significantly.

Written by unastronaut

October 23, 2008 at 11:04 am

McCain supporters for the Constitution

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It’s truly great to see some of the subtle stances of the McCain campaign and individual supporters as of late. It has really been too little, too late considering McCain and Palin have been the ones stoking the fires of racism and intolerance. Here some McCain supporters surround another group who are distributing ignorant, un-American bumper stickers. The Muslim supporters of McCain are right to be offended, but that’s what happens when you turn the election into a “Who’s more American” contest.

Of course, the McCain campaign has silenced this true patriot because he’s Muslim. It’s funny how we teach our kids how we grew painfully out of slavery and went through the civil rights movement and are all better for it, then the next wave of “other” comes around and we resist the opportunity to make the same progress.

Written by unastronaut

October 20, 2008 at 12:56 pm

The inherent injustice of trickle-down economics

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This point is simple. Trickle-down economics is the idea that lower taxes for the wealthy and for corporations will lead to jobs being created. So let me get this straight, we let the wealthy have more money in hopes that they’ll let the poor work for it? You mean to tell me the people who complain about “lazy welfare recipients” want us to give them money, so we can work for it? That’s ludicrous.

If everyone has purchasing power in this country, demand will dictate that jobs be created. If everyone were better off, the corporations would be better off in the sense that their customer bases would only continue to grow. When the economy tanks, even the corporations suffer, but they are some how immune to creative destruction (fossil fuels, bullet trains) or risk (banks, united airlines, chrysler). This nation is strong on the backs of the 300 million, not on the pocketbooks of the wealthy few.