Duncan "Atrios" Black, an acknowledged Big Name on the left side of blogdom, has suggested a series of issues which, in his opinion, bloggers of a leftish persusasion probably would agree on. Inasmuch as I don't have much use for the left-wing brand of foreign policy, I'm concentrating here on domestic issues, which Kevin Drum has thoughtfully provided in a separate list that he refers to as "the serious stuff, anyway." Each plank of this quasi-platform will be followed by my reaction on a 1-to-5 scale, where 1 is "Strongly disagree," 5 is "Strongly agree," and 3 is "Who gives a flying fish?"

  1. Undo the bankruptcy bill enacted by this administration
    I didn't think much of that bill. My original comment: "I don't think bankruptcy should be viewed as just another personal financial tool, but I don't think it should be redefined purely for the benefit of the creditors, either." 5

  2. Repeal the estate tax repeal
    The only real justification I've ever seen for the "death tax" is that it gives the government one last chance to stick it to some rich bastard. I don't think this is a legitimate function of government. 1

  3. Increase the minimum wage and index it to the CPI
    In general, I favor an increase in the minimum wage; it's pretty much failed to keep up with its original intention of making it possible for the lowest-paid workers to stay above the poverty line. However, I think the Consumer Price Index should be limited by law to research purposes: nobody's paycheck, or whatever, should be indexed to it, as so doing inevitably magnifies the increases therein farther down the road. And those union contracts which are indexed to the minimum wage are, in my opinion, equally dubious. 3 overall

  4. Universal health care (obviously the devil is in the details on this one)
    I complain quite openly about the cost of my own health care; however, I can't see any good reason to tax me an extra ten grand a year to save me four or five grand in medical expenses, and that's the most likely effect of making it "universal." Still, absent a more concrete proposal, I am loath to dismiss this with a 1. 2

  5. Increase CAFE standards. Some other environment-related regulation
    CAFE standards don't actually work until nine or ten years down the road when most people have replaced their guzzlers, unless you're willing to require everyone to buy a new vehicle built to the higher standards. And if you think there's a devil in the health-care details, imagine what's lurking in the environmentalist agenda. 1

  6. Pro-reproductive rights, getting rid of abstinence-only education, improving education about and access to contraception including the morning after pill, and supporting choice. On the last one there's probably some disagreement around the edges (parental notification, for example), but otherwise
    I can go along with the contraception-access stuff (and I have no philosophical problems with the morning-after pill), and abstinence-only programs seem to have been a trifle oversold. Still, this isn't going to be enough to push me into the Friends of Planned Parenthood camp. 3 overall

  7. Simplify and increase the progressivity of the tax code
    Simplify, yes, definitely; increasing the progressivity works against simplification and therefore is to be avoided. Frankly, I prefer as flat a tax as possible, even though most of the projections I've seen indicate that it won't save me a whole lot of money at all. Call it a philosophical thing. 2

  8. Kill faith-based funding. Certainly kill federal funding of anything that engages in religious discrimination
    Show me where in the First Amendment it says that religions aren't allowed to discriminate, and we'll talk. 2

  9. Reduce corporate giveaways
    Absolutely. No question. 5

  10. Have Medicare run the Medicare drug plan
    I have some serious doubts whether we should even have a Medicare drug plan, but what we have now is a confusing mishmash of overlapping services that confuse even the ostensible overseers thereof, and that doesn't benefit anybody. 4

  11. Force companies to stop underfunding their pensions. Change corporate bankruptcy law to put workers and retirees at the head of the line with respect to their pensions
    I like this in principle, but the end result is going to be more and more firms abandoning defined-benefit pensions altogether. (The Law of Unintended Consequences in its purest form.) On the other hand, there's no reason upper management should have first claim on pension funds either. 4

  12. Leave the states alone on issues like medical marijuana. Generally move towards "more decriminalization" of drugs, though the details [are] complicated there too
    Assuming this is what the states want, and various marijuana bills suggest that it is, I'd favor this. 5

  13. Paper ballots
    Preferably not with built-in ambiguities (cf. "hanging chads" and such). Electronic gizmos are, at this stage, not sufficiently trustworthy. 5

  14. Improve access to daycare and other pro-family policies. Obviously details matter
    Well, yes, they do. I'm not quite sure how one would improve access to daycare, though it certainly sounds good. The vague "other pro-family policies" bit, though, drops this a notch. 3

  15. Raise the cap on wages covered by FICA taxes This being a "regressive" tax, which might be even worse than a "progressive" tax, I'm inclined to agree, though I'm thinking that the whole FICA system needs a rework. 4

  16. Marriage rights for all, which includes "gay marriage" and quicker transition to citizenship for the foreign spouses of citizens
    Should we find that the only way to insure the legal rights of a couple, and their presumably-adopted children, is to allow gay marriage, then gay marriage should be allowed. I'm not entirely convinced that we're at that point yet, but if it happens, it happens, and I will not complain. Foreign spouses? Definitely. For that matter, we need to put a little speed into the actual production of citizens from our burgeoning numbers of immigrants. 4 overall

Fifty-three out of a possible 80, or 3.31 average per item. From this I conclude the following:

  • I'm closer to the center than some of you might have thought, at least on domestic issues;
  • Were these the only issues around, the Democrats might actually win back a house of Congress in '06.

But don't go breaking out the blue pixels just yet.

The Vent

  14 May 2006

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