Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Essay Answers to Someone's Facebook Political Quiz

I took this quiz. But I found the questions wanting in that they were often misleading, too black and white, and in at least one case self-contradictory. And in many cases addressed things that the government shouldn't have any role in.

You got to answer the questions with 5 degrees of agreement, along with a weighting of how important the issue was to you. My real answers were too often more like "none of the above".

I decided to reproduce the quiz here and actually answer the questions for real.

1. The state should restrict abortion in all or most cases.

Yes, I think it is the taking of a human life, and the state should protect human life. I would be willing to compromise to the first trimester, though, knowing what I know about the physical development of the human embryo and to get rid of the practice of late-term, especially partial-birth abortions all together. Not my ideal solution, but then again it hasn't been the anti-abortion side that's been the least compromising, either.

2. Unions were indispensible in establishing the middle class.

Probably, but unions were not originally institutionalized by the Government, nor should they be given special consideration by the government.

3. In nearly every instance, the free market allocates resources most efficiently.

A straight, strong, "yipper" on this one.

4. Public radio and television funded by the state provide a valuable service the citizens.

Public radio and television should be funded by those members of the public who find it valuable. If it is valuable in and of itself, the government doesn't need to fund it.

5. Some people should not be allowed to reproduce.

In practice, or by law? ;-) But seriously, it should not be against the law for individuals to reproduce.

6. Access to healthcare is a right.

No more than access to food or housing is.

7. The rich should pay a higher tax rate than the middle class.

I don't see any reason for this except to satisfy the egos of those with Robin Hood syndrome.

8. School science classes should teach intelligent design.

Schools should be private, and private schools should be able to teach whatever creation theories they desire. As long as schools are public, I see nothing wrong with presenting alternate theories as such that can be explained as "yes, this is one theory" and lay it out. Of course, they should do that with all theories, including anthropogenic global warming.

9. Marriage must be heralded for the important role it plays in society.

Yes. But not by the government.

10. Sometimes war is necessary, even if it means you strike first.

Sun Tzu was right. Often the best defense is a devastating offense.

11. Patriotism is an overrated quality.

Blind, blanket patriotism is bad. Patriotism, in general, is good. Reflexive anti-patriotism, on the other hand, is at least as bad as blind, blanket patriotism. Probably much worse.

12. Radio stations should be required to present balanced news coverage.

Radio stations should distinguish between opinion and news, but let the market decide what it wants to listen to.

13. Government should do something about the increasing violence in video games.

No. Parents should, if they think it's important.

14. If our leader meets with our enemies, it makes us appear weak.

Way overly simplified question. But if we're talking about Ajmadenijad, the issue is is it makes him look strong. If we're not going to get anything out of it -- and we're not, we and others have tried again and again and again -- we should let them rot in isolation.

15. We must use our military from time to time to protect our supply of oil, to avoid a national crisis.

That in and of itself is not a good enough reason. If there are other compelling reasons to protect a country that happens to be a supplier, there is nothing wrong with that.

16. Strong gun ownership rights protect the people against tyranny.

Absolutely. The founding fathers went on at length about this with very compelling arguments. We as individuals have an inalienable right to effective self-defense, as well as, as a group -- recourse to redress a tyrannical governmnent.

17. It makes no sense to say 'I'm spiritual but not religious.'

I'm not sure what this has to do with politics. No, I don't think it makes no sense. But I think it's often a dodge.

18. It is not government's responsibility to regulate pollution.

This is one place the government probably should be involved, but it should be subject to scientific and not political oversight as well.

19. Gay marriage should be forbidden.

Gays can do whatever they want and call it whatever they want. However, Government doesn't have any business defining Marriage as it is a social institution and not a government institution. It is free to recognize whatever unions it needs to for the enforcement of contracts.

20. It should be against the law to use hateful language toward another racial group.

No. Which is why this violates the first amendment, plus "hateful" is far too subjective. Whether or not I think people SHOULD use "hateful" language ... that's an entirely different question.

21. Government should ensure that all citizens meet a certain minimum standard of living.

No. This is the realm of individuals and groups in society. It's a very slippery slope when Government gets involved, and we're already way too far down it.

22. It is wrong to enforce moral behavior through the law because this infringes upon an individual's freedom.

Murder is immoral. It is not wrong to have and enforce laws against murder. Some people consider wearing short skirts in public immoral. It is wrong to have and enforce laws against wearing short skirts in public. Most people consider public nudity immoral. This is why laws like these should be left to local communities, the way the country was initially designed. Pretending laws don't enforce moral behavior and -- that laws can be separated from morals is fantasy.

23. Immigration restrictions are economically protectionist. Non-citizens should be allowed to sell their labor domestically at a rate the market will pay.

This is two different questions. 1) Immigration restrictions can be economically protectionist, but there are other good reasons for immigration restrictions, which is far too vague a term in the first place. 2) Non-citizens being allowed to sell their labor domestically at a rate the market will pay really doesn't have anything to do with immigration, since immigration implies becoming a citizen or at least acquiring some legal status. But the answer is, yes, non-citizens who go through proper channels should be allowed to sell their labor domestically at a rate the market will pay.

24. An official language should be set, and immigrants should have to learn it.

Absolutely (or get somebody on their own dime to translate for them). There are a few things that a nation needs to have some cultural adhesion. Plus there's the overhead of everybody having to learn a zillion different languages just to work the counter at McDonalds or to have that many copies of government forms and that many more people who can read the answers.

25. Whatever maximizes economic growth is good for the people.

This is too black and white. In general, I'd say yes. But "whatever" is far too inclusive.

26. Racial issues will never be resolved. It is human nature to prefer one's own race.

It is not up to the government to resolve racial issues that do not interfere with the constitutional rights of persons of particular races. It is up to you and me. It may be human nature to prefer one's own race, but it has been shown that this can be easily overcome. It's not about race. It's about culture. And yes, some cultures are better than others.

27. People with a criminal history should not be able to vote.

What kind of criminal history? Crimes past a certain threshhold, I wouldn't have a problem with.

28. Marijuana should be legal.

Absolutely. You are free to ruin your life (or use it responsibly) as long as you don't interfere with the constitutional rights of others.

29. The state should fine television stations for broadcasting offensive language.

Ideally, parents should be in control of what they and their children view on television.

30. It does not make sense to understand the motivations of terrorists because they are self-evidently evil.

They are self-evidently evil. But that doesn't mean it doesn't make sense to try to understand their motivations. Sun Tzu was right. Know your enemy. But I don't mean "understand" in an "I feel your pain, bro" sort of way. More of an "understand" as in know what your enemy is mentally capable of, what they might and might not try.

31. The lower the taxes, the better off we all are.

Another absolutist question, to which the answer would be "no". But back in the real world, it has been shown that there is a "sweet spot" past which higher taxes mean government revenues actually decline. Taxes are always a drag on the economy, regardless of the question of necessity. And the government has no business taxing for things it shouldn't be charged with in the first place. As for needing taxes at all, one of the things Government is charged with is Defense. This takes revenue. So clearly, there has to be SOME taxation.

32. Minority groups that have faced discrimination should receive help from the state to get on an equal footing.

No, private individuals and groups should organize to convince the population that all men really are created equal. However, my freedom of association should mean I get to hire and fire and include or exclude anyone I want to on whatever basis I want to.

33. It is wrong to question a leader in wartime.

No. But it is wrong to continuously assail the leader with speculative allegations and assumptions for political gain. There's criticism, and then there's what happened to the Bush Administration.

34. Tighter regulation would have prevented the collapse of the lending industry.

Regulation and other government meddling in the market led to the collapse of the lending industry.

35. It makes sense and is fair that some people make much more money than others.


36. Toppling enemy regimes to spread democracy will make the world a safer place.

Probably. Doesn't mean we should go around doing it for that sole purpose.

37. The state has no business regulating alcohol and tobacco products.

Sure doesn't.

38. If an unwed teen becomes pregnant, abortion may be a responsible choice.

If the mother's life is in danger or she's in danger of serious bodily harm, it may be. There's no other reason to kill a baby.

39. International trade agreements should require environmental protections and workers' rights.

Depends on the scope of the protections and how you define "rights". I mean, remember I don't think health care is a "right".

40. Gay equality is a sign of progress.

For Progressives, it is. But that is not my religion, it is theirs, and I think the first amendment has something to say about that.

41. The state should be able to put a criminal to death if the crime was serious enough.


42. The military budget should be scaled back.

As with every government program, there is probably a lot of waste. But a strong defense is necessary for the preservation of freedom, for there are those who wish to take it away. Sadly, many of them now live among us.

43. Economic competition results in inumerable innovations that improve all of our lives.

The proof is in the pudding, Jack!

44. It is not our place to condemn other cultures as backwards or barbaric.

Sure it is. Why is our perspective any less valid than anyone else's?

45. When one group is slaughtering another group somewhere in the world, we have a responsibility to intervene.

We do not, unless we have a treaty with one of the parties that says we do.

46. We'd be better off if we could just lock up some of the people expressing radical political views, and keep them away from society.

Another loaded question. Sure I think we'd be better off, but that doesn't mean we should do it.

47. Unrestrained capitalism cannot last, as wealth and power will concentrate to a small elite.

Capitalism has never been unrestrained. Wealth and power may concentrate, but it will be allocated mainly to the job makers, the risk-takers, and the hard-workers. No system is perfect, but it's better than allocating it to a self-appointed intellectual and political elite, which is what happens in every socialist country.

48. It is a problem when young people display a lack of respect for authority.

Yes, but it's gonna happen. They're not finished maturing. Many of them never will.

49. When corporate interests become too powerful, the state should take action to ensure the public interest is served.

"Too powerful" is subjective. The public should decide what the "public interest" is. My definition of "too powerful" would be if the corporation were to somehow merge with government interest because the government deems it in the public interest when the public feels differently about it. This is generally called "Fascism". For instance, if the government bought controlling interest in a company, or the company convinced the government to bail it out. Since the government would be involved in this power in either case, the action the government should take in the public interest would be to dis-involve itself.

50. A person's morality is between that person and God only. Government should not get involved.

Once again, there's the murder argument, and the de-centralized local community laws argument.

51. The state should not set a minimum wage.

The market should set wages.

52. A nation's retirement safety net cannot be trusted to the fluctuations of the stock market.

The government should not be responsible for any retirement safety net.

53. Offensive or blasphemous art should be suppressed.

Not by the government, nor should it be encouraged by the same, and it definitely should not be funded by tax revenue.

No comments: