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March 02, 2003
What am I?

Pursuant to a previous entry where I said I was going to be thinking about what I'm for, as opposed to my recent history of just being against this Administration and everything it stands for and does, I've been thinking.

(Warning: This is not a news-based, link-heavy entry. You might want to go elsewhere.)

I believe that a federal government that's too large is wasteful, inefficient, and prone to corruption through sheer negligence, if not by intent. On the other hand, a state government, through sheer efficiency, could restrict freedom by being able to so much more closely monitor individual citizens. It's a tricky issue. (How much "control" should be ceded to a federal government by the people and by the states is a tricky question and one that was under hot debate a couple of hundred years ago by people smarter than me. I don't intend to expose my ignorance on this subject in this forum, so I'll move on.)

I believe the federal government exists largely to insure that equality and opportunity are, as nearly as possible, equal in Los Angeles and Jackson, Mississippi, but I do understand that there are issues such as interstate roads and commerce, national treaties, armed forces, and other bits of business that are more appropriate to a federal government than a loose collection of states.

Anyhow.

I believe we need fewer laws making it illegal to feed someone else's parking meter or make love to our consenting, adult partner and more laws regulating the behavior of corporate entities. Laws such as one making election/political party contributions from non-U.S. based, non-U.S. taxpaying corporations illegal.

(Side note: Businesses become "inhuman" when businessmen have no time for people in the press of adding up the right numbers. Achieving the presidency of any company should be treated like a white-collar crime and come with a mandatory 10-20 hour a month "community service" penalty to remind these CEO's of the society they live in and the consequences of their actions.)

I also believe in the local or regional ownership of a divided and largely unrestricted media. I believe that local ownership and wider competition can produce better and more even-handed coverage of all events, not just those our government and their corporate partners want us to hear about.

I know there is a danger that raunch-fests like Limbaugh's and Savage's will prosper in such an environment, but I believe that most people will either choose to stay away from unreliable, biased programs and gravitate toward news and events coverage of quality and intelligence. If not, they will at the least eventually tire of the relentless, one-note hatred of that kind of program and turn with gratitude toward more rational programs.

I realize that that sounds idealistic, but bear in mind that honest, even-handed coverage of events is not necessarily synonymous with boring, dry, and dull coverage.

I believe that both the news and entertainment media in this country have come to the habit of treating citizens like half-wits because it's easier to produce broad, meaningless programming to appeal to the shallowest instincts of a majority than it is to consistently produce programs of quality and depth targeted toward different interests. The media is so fixated on winning all of the market (an unrealistic goal) that they refuse to focus on any of the market specifically. As a result people have come to expect nothing but mindless diversion from either the news or entertainment programming. They gravitate toward the lowest common denominators of intelligence, whether it's a ranting, frothing "shock jock" who chooses his words to shock and titillate or a quasi-"reality" program that promises all of the thrills of blood and suffering with few or no real consequences.

Sensationalism has replaced the issues that used to produce honest emotion. Cheap thrills have replaced the heat of disagreement on issues of importance.

(I can never decide if the entertainment industry began producing short, regimented programming segments because our lifestyles were becoming so fast-paced that we demanded this short-attention-span theatre or if we became used to the fast, immediate gratification of "sound-bite" news and entertainment because we were "trained" to it by television, so I'll leave that one open for the experts.)

digression

When I was growing up I was taught that there were three "unmentionables" in polite society. You were not to bring up sex, politics, or religion. (Some add 'money' to the list.) I went along with it but I've never understood or agreed with it. What is more fun to talk about than sex? What's more important to be informed about than politics? What breeds better understanding between differing groups than comparison/contrast of religions?

Why are we allowed, if we're "polite," to discuss anything except the subjects that really matter?

/digression

I believe in citizen oversight and freedom of information. I think the government should have to prove "national defense" before it can keep any government information out of the hands of citizens. I think there should be no such thing as a government meeting, of any sort, that is off-limits to the public.

I believe there should be no emergency so dire, no "national crisis" so urgent that any one part of the Bill of Rights or the Constitution can be overridden to allow the government to deal with it.

(So what if that makes their jobs harder? No one promised them a rose garden, okay?)

I believe that laws prohibiting the formation of monopolies in any field should be vigorously enforced, but not so vigorously as to hobble the true expression of a free-market economy. (Don't punish Microsoft because they're huge. They won the market. Live with it. If you can prove they're using their power to drive other companies out of the market or, more importantly, prevent others from joining the market, that's a different case. If it's just spitefulness by the losers, then tell them to take it to their mothers.)

I believe that the environment should be a primary concern of the people and the government, as should the education of each new generation of children. We need the planet more than the planet needs us and all the immortality most of us will ever get resides in the upbringing we give our children.

I believe in equality of all citizens and, as far as practicable, legislation that insures a level playing field.

I believe in taxes. Taxes for regulation and oversight of private business are a good idea. Taxes for public transportation are a good idea. Taxes to pay the salaries of policemen and firemen are a good idea. Taxes to support good public schools are a good idea. Taxes to promote the public interests are good. We need parks and wildlife and monuments of our past.

I believe in the viability of a welfare-to-work system for the poor (although not in the form that exists now), as I believe in Medicare and Medicaid for the elderly, the disabled, and the poor.

I didn't have a point. I was just thinking about these things and decided to inflict them on you here.

Obviously I'll be voting with the Democratic party because I can think of nothing worse for this country or the world at large than four more years of Bush/Cheney, but I'm not actually a Democrat because as nearly as I can tell, the Democratic party leadership doesn't believe in most of this stuff.

Posted by AnneZook at 03:24 PM


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