Saturday, September 28, 2013

An Unholy Trinity

Gun Control

Do you want to alienate 2/3 of the country? Then have a deeply held opinion on those three topics. Of course those topics aren't unrelated - at least not in America. If we ignore the cause du jour that is The Affordable Care Act (pejoratively known as Obamacare), these three topics are the litmus tests that conservatives must pass to be admitted as members in good standing into the Republican Party. Global warming has actually risen to almost the same level as this unholy trinity, but I suspect that will change in relatively short order.

Just so there's no misunderstanding, I have my own personal views on each of these topics (surprise!) and I'm now going to share them (surprise! again).

Abortion: I am neither priest nor doctor, so I have no religious or medical grounds to influence my beliefs. Moreover, I'm a man; I'll never have an abortion or even consider having one. Given these circumstances, if all the women of the country want to get together and pass laws restricting or forbidding abortion, then I'll not likely complain. But I'm not copacetic with a bunch of men (usually old, usually white) deciding the matter. And I am an old, white man.

I can glimpse the rationale of religious fervor against abortion. Glimpse, but not fully understand. Religious freedom means you are free to practice *your* religion; it does not mean you are free to impose your religious beliefs on me. Hindus believe that cattle are sacred. Are these same Christians willing to pass laws banning the slaughter of cows? No, they're not. They want their specific religious morality imposed on everyone, but would be the first to scream, "Unconstitutional!" if another religion's beliefs were imposed on them. In other words, after due consideration, if your grounds are religious, if someone tried to force you to have an abortion I'll be one of the first to defend your rights. Until then, kindly STFU.

Gun Control: This is really a twofer; I get to piss off both sides :)

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

No, this does *not* mean you have the right to own a gun for self-defense.
No, this does *not* mean you have a right to own a rifle for hunting.

Sorry, NRA-types. There were versions of the 2nd Amendment that had clauses explicitly including hunting and self-defense as part of the rationale. Those versions were voted down. Got that? They were rejected. As a consequence, laws banning handguns or hunting rifles are *not* unconstitutional.

What it *does* mean is you have the right to own an M-16, AK47, Uzi, etc. And no restrictions on whether it's fully automatic, either. Magazine size restrictions? Nope. Grenade launchers, anti-tank weapons, Stinger missiles - I'd probably allow those as well; if your militia is going to defend against a modern invasion it needs to be able to take out tanks and helicopters.

Now, the weapon(s) you own may not be your personal choice. We can haggle over the practical implications of "well regulated," but the general gist is clear: military weapons need to be in the hands of the citizenry. Turn in your hunting rifle and get a .50 cal machine gun.

Taxes: Taxman, taxman don't tax me, tax that man behind that tree ...

First, no one wants to pay more in taxes.

Second, balanced-budget amendments betray a basic ignorance of how an economy works.

Third, no man is an island. If you think there's a single wealthy individual or company in this country that 'made it' without government assistance or support, you're wrong. If you think that 'innovation' is the result of private enterprise, you're wrong. It is basic science research paid for by TAXES that has fueled discovery, innovation, and invention.

Fourth, did you learn anything from the Clinton years, the Bush tax cuts, or the fiscal crisis of 2008? What did conservative/libertarian/free market economists predict in 1993 when Clinton's budget was passed? The exact opposite happened. What did they predict in 2001 when the Bush tax cuts were passed? Kind of just pissed away all the gains made in the Clinton years, didn't we? And what did they predict would happen with the stimulus package passed under Obama? Seen skyrocketing interest rates, *increased* unemployment, and HYPERinflation? Anyone? Hello, hello?

I'll close with this: The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness. -- John Kenneth Galbraith

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