The Eclectic One

…Because labels are a poor substitute for thinking

A reader asks: Bill, are you a liberal?

Posted by Bill Nance on September 2, 2008

Short answer: it’s a stupid question. Sorry to sound intemperate, but it really is.

I’ve written somewhat extensively on the utter idiocy of labels. Progressive, liberal, conservative, etc. mean nothing. They don’t describe most of the people who claim them, much less anyone else.

I’m not going to write a position paper. I’m not a political candidate. But I will try to explain a few of my views.

Voter registration? Independent. I have never registered with any political party nor do I intend to do so. I have in the past voted for Republicans, Democrats and Libertarians.

Role of Government:

In essence I believe government is there to do what people cannot do for themselves. This involves many things beyond the obvious national defense, policing, road paving etc. So I can hardly be defined as libertarian.

Things like social security, anti-poverty programs, disability insurance etc are some examples of things individuals cannot without assistance, or through strictly private programs, manage alone. Health-care for instance has been something individuals have not been able to manage on their own for a long time now. 90% of Americans could not afford to pay for their own health insurance, for instance. And employer-provided programs don’t help when your job gets out-sourced or you have a chronic condition which makes it virtually impossible to get insurance. In such cases, government has the duty to step in.

Philosophically I believe in plain fairness. Doctrinaire libertarians love to talk about only equality of opportunity. But the fact is that not everyone has the same opportunities, and I’m not talking about race. I’m talking about economic background, quality of parenting received, educational opportunities and yes, even IQ. I don’t expect a retarded person sweeping floors to be paid what a rocket-scientist would be paid. But I also don’t think it’s right that in the richest country on earth, that person should be forced to live in dire poverty so the company can make an extra .0005 cents a share on it’s earnings statement. Nor should someone who who’s abilities stop at “you want fries with that?” As for the best way to fix that? I’m not going there.

We don’t live in “true” market economy, and we haven’t since the days of Teddy Roosevelt. Those claiming otherwise are ignorant or liars. We’ve seen unfettered capitalism and it isn’t pretty. 1% of the people wealthy beyond imagining, a tiny middle class, and 90% of the population living on the edge or in the middle of third-world-like poverty. That’s what this country looked like in the 1880s. If you think regulation of capital is a bad thing, I suggest you have a look at energy costs in California circa 1999, or maybe the many massacres of workers trying to organize for collective bargaining and a wage that didn’t pawn their souls to the company store. The “good ole’ days” my ass. Minimal regulation is one thing. NO regulation is just stupid.

I’m a staunch supporter of Federalism.

Giant bureaucracies and remote legislators in Washington DC are a rotten way to deal with the vast majority of government duties. Insisting that the people of Rural Mississippi adopt programs designed for cities like Chicago and New York is not just inefficient and stupid, it’s creeping totalitarianism.

The federal government’s responsibility is pretty clearly defiened in the constitution. What it does these days has been deliberate application of judicial fiat to expand that role far beyond what it was meant to be, and what it should be. Sure, times change, the feds need to get into some areas the framers could have never imagined. EPA is a good example. Not because it’s so wonderfully run, but because air pollution doesn’t stop at state lines. But mandating school curriculum? Oh, please.

“Illicit” drugs are another issue where the federal government has no business making laws. Import/export? Smuggling? No problem, that’s the proper job of the feds. The rest is up to the states. If California wants to legalize marijuana, that’s their business.

Abortion? I’m Pro-choice. I love Roe-vs Wade’s approach to abortion in general (1st 2 trimesters are hands-off, third is up for regulation). I am firmly in favor of giving women the almost unfettered right to no-hassle abortion. But I adamantly disagree that there is any “right” to abortion in the constitution, or any reasonable interpretive position on it. That ruling wasn’t about law, it was about policy. The feds have no business here. This is a state’s rights issue. And to insist that the residents of Alabama or Nebraska be stuck with rules which suit California or Washington is wrong on every possible level. If you live in a state where you don’t like the laws, MOVE. It’s a big country. (I speak from experience, having relocated 1200 miles from “home” with $600 in my pocket, no job, no place to live where I was going and a car that was just this side of a junkyard. So please, no poverty arguments.)

National security

I’m a hawk. I not only am adamantly in favor of strong national defense, I think we should be using it more often than we do. I will never, as long as I live, forgive GHW Bush for failure to stop the genocide and ethnic “cleansing” in Bosnia and Croatia. We could have stopped it, we SHOULD have stopped it. -I guess there was no oil there. Bill Clinton gets similar low marks on this front, particularly regarding Rwanda. But the blame also lies firmly with the right-wing nutjobs who penned him into a corner about using military force. I’m highly critical of Clinton, but not without qualification.

The war in Iraq? I was for it, but not the criminally incompetent way it was carried out. Shrub ahould have been impeached by his opwn party. He would have if they weren’t partisan hacks.

Gay Marriage? States rights, but full faith and credit still apply. Deal with it or amend the constitution.

Gun rights? I can put 6 rounds into a 2-inch group with a 1991A1 Colt .45 after 12-years of not shooting. -Answer your question?

And that should give you a fairly clear Idea. Again, liberal, conservative, libertarian etc. are pretty meaningless. I am what I am, as Popeye said, and so too should you be.

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