Eight years ago in this space I put out something called "Quick and dirty position paper," intended as a guide to where I stood on several hot-button issues of the day. With traffic around here inexplicably increasing of late, and mindful of the possibility that my views might have, um, "evolved," I decided to take a second look at these issues from whatever current perspective I might have.

The first issue listed was abortion, about which I said:

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.

Of course, this is before I learned that the nation's leading abortion chain was involved in the grisly trafficking of body parts. Their response has been "No, we're not" alternating with "We didn't do anything illegal." Screw that. They need to hang for this, and the hanging needs to be televised.

On 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.

To add: While I wouldn't particularly want to take away a property owner's right to declare a "gun-free zone" on his turf, two words need to be kept in mind: sitting ducks. I expect him to take the appropriate measures to enforce the ban — patrol it himself, if need be — or be charged with contributory negligence should some deranged malcontent open fire on the premises. And since said malcontents, often as not, actually are deranged, we need to ask ourselves why the hell we have so many of them. If it's a mental-health issue, we need to find some sort of solution. (If it's merely the dreaded Outside Influences, I'm keen to reduce their influence.)

On what used to be global cooling, then global warming, then generic "climate change":

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.

Mark Alger once said that the pertinent question here is "What is the optimal temperature of the planet?" I figure once that's answered, the solutions will fall into place. I'm not holding my breath.

On the matter of energy, and the production thereof:

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.

This, of course, should have been "7200 kWh." The price of alternative energy is dropping, as one might expect; the point at which it can take over entirely is still fairly far off.

On health care, and paying for it:

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.

This approach becomes more difficult as fewer and fewer people have actual employment from which to decouple such insurance. The idea of ACA — get more people into the system — was reasonable enough; however, the implementation, not exactly unpredictably, involved robbing Peter to pay Paul and hoping to gain Paul's vote. I am now expecting a single-payer plan to be established, once the appropriate graft channels have been opened: it might be as early as 2020. (GOP ranting about "repeal" of ACA is hilarious; I once tweeted that Mitch McConnell couldn't repeal a breakfast order at IHOP, and I meant it.)

Finally, on that gay-marriage thing:

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.

Which I did, once I figured out that (1) I had more gay friends than I thought I did and (2) it is never a good idea to screw over your friends.

I'll be pushing 70 eight years from now; maybe I'll have an excuse to revisit this stuff once more.

The Vent

  1 August 2015

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