Man, I don't think I have ever slept this much in my entire life. I ended up completely blowing off yesterday, with the exception of the 4 hours I drove in the morning. I took a 4 hour nap in the afternoon then went back to bed around 11pm last night and slept until 8 o'clock this morning. During those waking hours I loafed here in the truck, played with the cat, wrote in my journal, and web surfed a little. Needless to say I won't make it to visit New York today. Oh well, I have two trips planned for next month anyway. I find it kind of amusing that in a year of driving, some of the intersting places I go already seem to feel "old hat".
But before I get on the road and finish up my trip, I thought I would take them time to formulate part two of "My politics". I will begin this one with a preface as well, more general information about my overall politics. I am a firm believer in capitalism. Capitalism is the equivalent of social Darwinism. Competition is necessary to achieve continued evolution. Without it, stagnation would ensue. I have no problem with basic needs and services being socialised to a certain extent so that all may benefit, but it is the competitive nature of capitalism which fosters innovation. Visions of utopian, communal socities on a large scale are not only naive, they impede the continued evolution of mankind. This is not to say that capitlaism is without its perils. A truly free-market is dangerous, giving rise to monopolies in its most extreme form - thereby once again negating the spirit of competition. It is a delicate balance, fraught with trial and error. As suspicious as I am of "trickle down" economics as a matter of public policy with concern to tax programs, I recognize its validity in market economies. When comparing the "poor" of a market economy with the poor of socieites without them, the difference is glaring. As one immigrant noted, they came to the U.S. because here, even the poor are fat. Consumerism creates excess goods and plenty of unskilled work which beneift the impoverished directly and indirectly. A wealthy government provides services and programs which ease the blow of poverty. Comparing the poor of the U.S., Cananda, Japan, and Western Europe with those of underdevleoped nations or "communist" China is like comparing apples to oranges, if you will excuse the cliche.
My politics, part two
Why is there a distinction made between "basic" education and "advanced" education in our society where "basic" attempts to educate to the lowest common denominator at a minimum of cost to keep it available to everyone while higher education is not? To me, this becomes the fundamental argument for "privatized" education. By privatized, I don't mean corporate per se, but like state sponsored universities as well as truly private schools. Competition breeds innovation and creates a market by which the wages and talent of educators will increase. Many people worry about the effect of a privatized education system on poor children. The fear is that the inequality in the resulting education system will present
an unfair playing field. As opposed to... what? Inner city and rural school sytems in the current public school system? The notion that privatization will somehow make the education system more inequitable is ludicrous. I propose structuring the primary and secondary education systems much like the higher education system: competition for enrollment based on merit and performance. Primary grades should probably be community supported and all inclusive, much like the community college system with advancement to middle and secondary levels more competitive. Middle and secondary institutions could cater more to the specifics interests and needs of it's students with respect to vocational skills and/or educational goals. Students could carry course loads at levels they find challenging or comfortable and the notion of graduating at a specific age and year of school could be abolished. Our curent higher education system is virtually an open field. Anyone who wants to receive some form of post-secondary education in this country is purely capable of it. There are enough private and state sponsored grant, loan, and scholarhsip avenues that make this possible, regardless of class or background. Sure everyone can't go to Harvard, but everyone can receive a reasonable, quality education or skill training with some effort and desire. I don't see why a similar structure couldn't be achieved at the middle and secondary levels. The bottomline as I see it, is that the public education system presumes a certain level of resistance - whether it be a lack if interest on the student's part or a lack of involvement by parents and therefore, educates our children at a much lower baseline. This is due to our compassion whereby we assume that we can raise every child to a certain level if the opportunities are there. Herein lies the problem. there will always be an underclass, a working class, and poor. Everyone should have the opportunity, but the reality is that everyone is not going to be a lawyer, doctor, accountant, etc. There has to be a point at which we recognize this. And sometimes, this is by choice. I know some incredibly intelligent people who are content to be a working stiff so long as they have a reasonable amount of free time, a pack of cigarettes, and a few bucks in their pocket. They have all the opportunity in the world at their feet and they choose not to puruse it because they simply don't want to. By the same token there are absolute morons with delusions of adequacy but willing to work to achieve a station in life that they desire. "Be cool, stay in school" slogans are fine but education is not the secret to the meaning of life. Further complicatiing an individuals life by not allowing them to get a driver's license before they are 18 because they drop out due to life circumstances or personal choice is not helping matters. A friend of mine who had a child while very young had an incredibly hard time as a young mother because she could not drive. She had to drop out of highschool due to her pregnancy and transporting a child to and from daycare and maintaining a job were further complicated by this little wisdom of our legislators in Kentucky. She eventually went on to get her GED and is currently getting vocational training as a dental hygenist now that she's in her early twenties. I guess I feel that mandating education to the point that it is a matter of law is over the top. Sure education is important and a certain amount of it should be prescribed, after all, ignorance breeds distrust, fear, and even hatred, but there should be a point at which forcing it upon someone who is clearly disinterested or unreachable is recognized for the good of everyone.
A basic level of healthcare should be available to every individual. Life is an essential right recognized by our Declaration of Independence and should be protected by free access to medical care supported by the state. The scope of the Health Department clinic needs to be expanded to State sponsored hospitals which offer the full range of surgical and other medical services necessary to preserving life. Simple subsidization of the private medical establsihment by the state in not enough. This is not to say the private medical industry should be abandoned, it should co-exist. State sponsored systems which provide basic services will always be infierior to the private sector where goods and services are provided based on demand and the ability to pay for them, but at least every individual regardless of their financial situation will have access to medical care. People wishing the convenience of a personal physician will still have the opportunity to pay for it through health insurance or otherwise, but the lack of money or access to health insurance should not create a system by which the basic advantages of healthcare are not accessbile to anyone. All doctors will serve their residency in state sponsored hospitals as a condition of thier licensing by the medical board, before pratcising in the priavte sector should they choose to do so.
Repeal the 16th amendment and abolish individual and corporate income tax codes and establish a federal sales tax. Let's face it folks, we are a consumer economy. Tax should follow the money. The people with the most money to spend would foot the largest portion of the tax bill. There should be probably be a scale, different taxes for different services and goods (i.e. food, luxury items, etc). The current tax code allows for people with more money to pay someone to decipher the tax code to pay a proportinately lower amount of taxes. A federal sales tax would level the playing field. The increase in prices for goods and services would be roughly proportionate to the increased income due to not paying federal income taxes. This would also encourage savings, since, in essence, any savings would be "tax-deferred" allowing interest to grow before it is spent and thereby taxed. There are probably impractical consdierations for this idea which I haven't considered, but it looks good on paper.
Information and expression, in of itself, is not dangerous. I personally think we need a Constitutional amendment to broaden First Amendment rights to explicitly include "freedom of expression" and "freedom of information" which is simply implied by freedom of speech and press. Individuals should be guaranteed the right to transmit and receive any and all ideas of expression and information within the same general guidelines currently used with respect to speech and press.
12. Intellecutal property
This is a really sticky one for me. On the one hand, the Constitution is very explicit about guaranteeing that an individuall's rights to life liberty and property shall not be abridged. On the other hand, intellecutal property is a very shady sort of property. Once people discovered they could begin making commodities out of an idea or art, the whole notion of intellectual property became a complex and twisted issue. Toss in the idea of personal privacy and the issue just becomes even more complex. I can make an audio recording of the engine of my truck running. That recorded sound belongs to me, since I made the recording. This, in essence, is the argument used by the film and recording industries. However, if I record someone speaking or videotape someone and use it for commercial purposes without the knowledge and consent, I am technically invading their privacy. Certain distinctions are made on this issue between "public" and "private" giving rise to paparazzi and what-not. The rise of technology and media has made this a very sticky issue and one which will takes years to sort out, if ever. And I'm not sure where I stand on it. It used to be that mass reproduction of intellectual property wasn't an issue due to its practical limitations. A painting was a paintaing and a book was a book. Reproducing these in any large quantities for personal gain was merely impractical. It was either one of a kind or it required expertise and substantial resources to make mass duplications. I'm inclined to think that software companies, fiml studios, and record labels will eventually cease their witch hunts for individual users engaging in piracy. The cost and time of monitoring the internet for these individuals will prove to be not cost effective. The recording industry recently made 218 arests. Woohoo, a fraction of the millions worldwide. Eventually they will narrow their scope to individuals seeking to make profits from their piracy in large scale rather than the 12 year old kid downloading Justin Timberlake songs. A rather half-hearted foray into street vending in a metropolitan area will yield you DVD copies of every movie in first-run, complete with case and artwork, yet they operate in public openly and for profit. There is still tons of money to be made in these industries: it is the equivalent of saying "Well, we only made 10 billion dollars this year as opposed to 8 billion dollars this year". They will eventually accept it as a cost of doing business in the area of recordable media and concentrate on major offenders. One possibility is the creation of proprietary media like Sony is famous for doing, but that would require a major overhaul of current equipment and a unilateral move to do so. And even then, someone would eventually figure out a way to decode it. The rise of media piracy is basically a mass revolt that is impossible to monitor, regulate, or enforce. The only option will be to accept it.
13 Anti Smoking laws
This should be left to private sector and not made a matter of public ordinance. Sure, private businesses which are open to the public are subject to basic regulation to insure the safety of employees, fire codes, health regulations, etc. Anti-smoking proponents use the argument of providing a safe work place for the employees when seeking to place public smoking bands in communities. The fallacy of this argument is that there are lots of jobs which are dangerous. My job is relatively dangerous, on the roads. Police officers, construction workers, firemen, the military: all of these professions come with risks that people accept when considering potential employment. Many companies in the private sector have laready instituted smoke-free work places as a result of health insurance carriers, property insurance carriers, or simply to appeal to thier customer base. Private businesses such as restaurants and bars should be free to allow smoking to their clientele if they choose. People don't have to work in them or patronize them if they choose not too.
14. Presedential Election Processes and general Campaign Reform
The current presendtial election process is antiquated and should be abolished. There is no need for an electoral college any longer and should simply be a matter of popular vote. The presidential primary process, likewise should be overhauled. I propose a primary election by which the field is weeded out to three cadidates, regardless of party. An intermediary election would be held to narrow the field to two, again, regardless of party with a final run-off election for the office. It has become apparent in recent years that the office of president is being claimed more and more by people with very marginal victories. In 1992, Bill Clinton declared his election a "mandate of the people". An election that garnered him barely 40% of the popular vote (due largely in part by the presence of Ross Perot). In the 2000 election, we gained a president due to voting inconsistencies in a state governed by his own brother. Our most powerful elected official, and arguably the world's should not be subject to hese issues. Dispense with the idea of "party nomination". If another person of the same party wants to run against a currently seated president he should be permitted to do so. Likewise, the other parties shouldn't feel they have to put only one person out there for the race. Let them all run and weed them out in a three part election process with the final one being a two person race, regardless of party. We might end up with a two Republican run-off, or a two Democrat run-off. But the final election should be only two people so that a clear majority can be obtained and unquestioned. The intermediary election process will give more voice to third parties and the potential for two perfectly qualified candidates of the same party to present their platforms to a more attentive public not concentrating on 9 candidates at once.
I support maximum capaign contributions from individuals and corporations. Sadly, our election processes have been relegated to dollar pissing contests. The person with the most support from special interests with big bank books rises to the top and owes the most favors upon election. I favor campaign laws which would prevent candidates from addressing the platforms, politics, and practices of their opponents in commercial advertising campaigns. They should be solely about their own name recognition and the issues they stand for. Let the public make the distinction between the differences and leave a candidate's political and personal history to the media to report on.. This will reduce the amount of mud-slinging and keep the campaigns more on track with issues.