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April 23, 2006
I'm thinking about....

1. Taxes - I'm okay with taxes being fair.

For instance, I find it fair that people who are buying houses and raising kids get tax breaks I don't get. (The house thing mostly because building, selling, buying, repairing, and furnishing houses is a nice chunk of our economic activity.) (The kid thing because, well...because kids are expensive. And I like kids. But people shouldn't get bigger tax breaks after two. Replacement-level reproduction. That's all.)

I find it fair that we "cap" the maximum tax rate at something less-than-exhorbitant, but it needs to be much higher than the rate paid by the poor. I don't dislike the wealthy because they're wealthy and I don't want to take their money away unfairly but, as I've said before, they get more out of society than the poor do, so it's fair they should pay more. They get better water, sanitation, policing, schools, parking, neighbors, noise ordinances, and a dozen other things. They should pay extra for these little extras.

2. Social support programs - I'm in favor of these.

(I hear the gasps of surprise.)

But. We need properly funded opportunity programs. Not just financial support programs. And we need a long-term commitment to these programs. We need to create them, implement them, and monitor them, making changes as required.

The poor are not, by and large, poor because they're shiftless, lazy, and incapable of success. They're poor because no matter how you fancy-dance around it, they don't have the education, opportunities, and cultural supports required for success. The rare person who "succeeds" in spite of these handicaps is the exception and their stories of how they done it aren't really that useful to those who lack that crucial, unmeasurable (and innate) single-minded focus. Human beings are mostly creatures of the herd, comfortable when milling about in the midst of like-minded/lived others.

Anyhow. If we want to raise the poor out of poverty, we have to spend the money to raise their social and cultural standards to the point where a decent job doesn't seem like a fairy-tale joke.

3. War - I'm agin' it.

Yeah, okay, sometimes there isn't a good alternative.

I'm against unilateral, pre-emptive war.

I'm against wars of aggression, and no matter how you touch up the paintwork and burnish the brass on our invasion of Iraq, this is a war of aggression.

This is illegal, by all international laws. It goes against our culture, our social standards, and our understanding of all that it means to be "an American." When you toss in mass slaughter of civilians, wanton and wholesale destruction of a country's infrastructure, and the hidden and not-so-hidden torture of prisoners of war, there is no good, there is no benefit we can reap from this war that is worth 10% of what it's costing us today and will cost us in all of our tomorrows.

It's the act of a morally stunted bunch of retards whose fascination with the pornographic violence of the battlefield (via movies, never real life!) obscures the stench of death handing over the Middle East. The brain(less)-child of a band of pie-in-the-sky idiots who excused every past failure of their policies by pretending that the problems were anomalies and not reflective of fatal weaknesses in their philosophy. The abject failure of a batch of failure-prone theorists whose acquaintance with reality is limited to the payoffs, handoffs, and tradeoffs of corrupt corporate America.

In the meantime, Afghanistan, the country we invaded with some cause and with a real chance of building a long-term success story both for them and for us; Afghanistan is sliding into chaos and destruction.

War. It ain't good for us. We ain't very good at it. We weren't ready for it. This Ain't 1864, Bush Ain't Lincoln, We Ain't Winnin'.

I'm agin' it.

4. Choice - I'm for a woman's right to ownership of her own body

There are no caveats, no exceptions, and no half-measures.

5. Equality - Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. - I'm pro and con on this one.

We have all long agreed that "liberty" is not really inalienable. If you break the duly agreed-upon laws of the land, you can rightfully be deprived of liberty for a set period of time.

Society's "right" to infringe upon the "life" bit is under debate. Not as much debate as I'd like, but under debate.

The third one gives a lot of folks a lot of problems.

If your "happiness" is a dog barking for three hours in the middle of the night, you'd better live ten miles from anyone else. You can't be "happy" in a way that infringes my actual happiness (i.e., my ability to sleep at night). Your "happiness" has a real, a measurable negative effect on my happiness.

Ditto for when you get home from work at 3:00 a.m. and decide to unwind for an hour or so by working on your Harley, which has developed this worrying habit of backfiring every fifteen seconds. If your neighbors egg your house, I will understand. I won't approve, but I'll totally understand. You can't pursue your happiness at the expense of ruining the quality of life of all your neighbors.

Your happiness is painting your house yellow? Go for it. Your happiness is living in a neighborhood of none but yellow houses? Unless you own every house in the neighborhood, it ain't gonna happen. You cannot pursue your happiness at the expense of my freedom to paint my house blue. If I want to paint my house fire-engine red, I have the right to do so (assuming I haven't signed any legal agreement not to do so).

Your happiness is pre-marital abstinence and post-marital fidelity? Go for it. Your happiness is fixed on everyone following this path? So not your right. Your right to pursue your happiness does not include a right to infringe on anyone else's happiness.

Your happiness is white picket fences. Okay, but your neighbor's preference for natural wood is equally their right.

Your happiness is heterosexuality. Fine, but your neighbor's preference for homosexuality is equally their right.

Your happiness is going to church every Sunday? Fine, but mine involves sleeping in and then reading the newspapers on the balcony while I drink coffee for two hours. To each their own. (Contrary to the propaganda you've been fed, what someone else believes does not infringe upon your beliefs unless your beliefs include unacceptable mandates on forced conversation and repression of other beliefs.)

Your happiness is hating everyone who isn't like you? It's your right to be as big a jackass as you want. In private. What you can't do is act on your beliefs in a way that infringes on the life, liberty, and/or happiness of others.

And this, contrary to what some might think, includes infringing on the life, liberty, and happiness of your children. Outside socially acceptable standards for discipline and education, your offspring have as much right to have their own minds, their own opinions, and their own beliefs, as anyone.

When I stop to ponder the subject, I fully believe that raising your children to be social misfits, raising them to be misogynistic, racist, or religiously intolerant is equal to child abuse. You are materially damaging their own right to the pursuit of happiness by teaching them that life is about fear and hate.

Posted by AnneZook at 06:51 PM