I've taken the Political Compass test twice now, and both times it has placed me just slightly left of center on economic matters (most recently, -2.00) and a bit more significantly anti-authoritarian (-3.90) on social matters. It's perhaps an odd place to be, but it seems to fit: I am, in general, a believer in free markets, but I am not persuaded that every single problem on earth can be solved by them. And while in some areas I fall among the social conservatives, I don't necessarily think that it's the proper function of government to enforce social mores.

If the preceding sounds vague, well, it is. With that in mind, here's a list of issues and what I think about them, and you can interpret them however you like.

Abortion:
I generally take a dim view of this procedure, but I question whether the Feds have any business having a policy one way or another. Should Roe v. Wade be overturned, I will not be unhappy; on the other hand, should my state seek to outlaw the practice in the absence of Roe, I will vote against the ban should it end up on the ballot. On the not-all-that-related issue of contraception, I don't have too many qualms about it, even in Plan B form, and I think that if you really oppose dispensing these things, perhaps you should have chosen a career other than pharmacy.

Guns:
I think most gun-control measures are a travesty, quite apart from anyone's interpretation of the Second Amendment, and I tend to oppose them on general principle unless they're so obvious as to be beyond discussion: I would not, for instance, support concealed-carry for middle-school students. Teachers, that's another matter entirely.

Changes in climate:
We flatter ourselves that we, an insignificant carbon-based life form, can actually destroy a planet. Most of this noise comes from professional charlatans like the United Nations, where everyone yearns for a "better" world which invariably turns out to be worse, and it's even better if the Americans can be forced to pay for it. What's more, the idea that climate ought to be static, unchanging, is purely delusional: such conditions exist nowhere in nature, except perhaps in deepest space, where the temperature hovers around zero degrees Kelvin and any degree of warming whatsoever is remarkable. "But we'll lose species!" We lose species every day, including some we haven't even found yet. Save your tears for something you can actually do something about.

Energy policy:
This is one area where the market actually works fairly well. Fossil fuels aren't going to disappear overnight; however, they are likely to become more expensive, if only because the supply, while not precisely calculated, is certainly not unlimited. I think the big switch to ethanol is mostly a boondoggle, intended to buy farm-state votes; it might stretch gasoline supplies a bit, but it will never be more than a minor player. Where I live, wind power is price-competitive with electricity generated by coal or natural-gas plants, and I buy most of my juice (7200 kW annually) from the windmill. We could, I suspect, use a lot more nuclear plants, and we might get some if we could overcome the ick factor.

Health care:
This is one area where the market isn't allowed to work, since government in one form or other pays for such a huge percentage of it, and since so much of the system is dependent on anomalies written into the tax system. Short of cutting the government out of it, which isn't going to happen, the most logical approach would seem to be decoupling health insurance from one's employment and having individuals shop for the coverage they need (or desire) rather than taking whatever the boss has chosen to offer.

Same-sex marriage:
I have in the past taken the don't-mess-with-things approach. Opponents, however, seem overly anxious, not only to quash the idea, but to take steps to insure that gay couples have no rights at all, which strikes me as both loathsome and counterproductive. And I'm not buying the marriage-is-threatened line, either: a trainwreck like, oh, Britney Spears/Kevin Federline has done more damage to the institution than any gay couple ever did. I suspect I'll end up on the pro side of this issue eventually.

The War on Terror:
There is only one way to fight a war: with the expectation, not merely of surviving, but of winning. If you can't do that, get out of the way and bring in someone who can. Simple as that.

This is, of course, only a sampling: there are many more issues out there. Or you can look at this, as I do, as the setup for an excuse to do a Part II somewhere down the line.

The Vent

#521
  16 February 2007

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