Saturday, June 04, 2011

Politics 2.0 Part I: The Right to Life

So last time I posted about politics I very badly offended one of my best friends. Sorry about that. Let's see if it happens again...

Its the year before a year divisible by four. That means its not a leap year AND like cicadas all the local wahoos, weirdos, and politicos emerge from their three and three quarters year long hiatus all attempting to take over the poly-sci world. I do not claim to be an economist, a political scientist, a political junky or even much care for politics. I think there is too much politics in politics and too much saying one thing and doing another, or whatever pleases your constituents--sorry pocket books. I think there are too many bloodsucking bureaucrats (That word itself is bureaucratic it has too much ink to sift through to even get at its meaning.), but I do have some of my own hairbrained ideas I would be most honored if any of the hair brains took heed of (Ack!, to use a phrase from the late cartoon Cathy--I have ended a sentence with a preposition, to switch to a phrase from Churchill, "That is something up with which I shall not put." o well.).

So, what are my views on politics? What should our nation be doing? They are as follows:

I believe that as Americans we are entitled to three basic rights: The right to Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Note, I said basic, not unalienable, they are close, but not quite the same. I don't think anyone should have the power to take these right away from any individual; however, I do believe that an individual can forfeit his/her/gender neutral term for the third possible case for gender possessive rights. If an individual chooses to conduct an action or actions outside of the legally accepted American parameter space then the rights associated with that system of being American may possibly be null and void. I do think we should hold a high standard for our prisons and prisoners. In fact, I think our prisons should hold themselves to the highest standards anywhere in the world. I do think we must adhere to the principle of no and unusual punishment--though letting prisoners themselves choose between life, death, or something cruel and unusual dreamed up by their victims does seem like an interesting justice system. I think one of the things that makes America truly great, head and shoulders above other nations is the respect we show even for the lowest of society for our prisoners. Our prisons are not places of squalor. They should not be places of torture. They are not places of forced confessions and coercions. And even though a person has committed a crime they are still a person and must still be treated with dignity. I think what happened at Guantanamo was wrong the extent of the tortures and embarrassment prisoners were put through. I think it was effective in the short term in that the events transpired probably did lead to a number of confessions and vital information that probably did indeed keep America safe. But I think the events of Abu Gharib and Gitmo ultimately gave a black eye to the sacredness of the American justice system. By resorting to these tactics we are no better, no different, than the prisons of third world, nicer and more electric maybe, but if we must resort to these methods on our prisoners we are no better. I think measures should be taken to insure those kind of abuses of humanity do not happen on American soil.

Moreover, I think since a right to life is so very high on our national priority list I think the death penalty should be frowned upon. I don't necessarily think that it should be eliminated all together. I do not think it is fair that the American people should pay thousand of dollars a year to keep terrorists alive, especially while life is, a future bomb might be. In the case of terrorist who have killed hundreds or thousands and who if left alive could potentially plot even greater destruction I think there can be no choice but death. But even they must be given a fair trial and given dignity even to the end. How can I say that So and So deserves dignity! Why XtyX did YtyY to my little blankety blank and she didn't have dignity why should they?! Because we are better than them and will not meet brutality with brutality but rather it is our charge to fight brutality and oppression with kindness and generosity. Our justice system is based around Judeo-Christian concepts of legality, as such I believe it must also embrace Judeo-Christian morality (that is not to say that the American justice system must necessarily sanction Judeo-Christian theology, just its concepts of morality.). In general I am opposed to the death penalty.

Are people inherently good or evil? I think we are both. We are inherently human. Any given person has the capacity to do either great good, or great evil, or even both in the same lifetime. I am reminded of the biblical accounts of Judas. Jesus Christ, some say he was the son of God, some say he actually WAS God, regardless he probably had a LOT more knowledge and insight into the thoughts and characters of his disciples chose Judas to one of his closest associates. Of course Judas betrays Christ, but is he immediately stricken down? Does God seek justice and revenge on the man who gave his only begotten son into the hands of the ancient Sanhedrin mob? No. Judas' death comes about from his own hand. He kills himself by hanging from a tree. I have long wondered what would have happened if he hadn't killed himself but instead had devoted himself to spreading the word of the error of his ways. How powerful would his, to use an LDS phrase, testimony have been if he had been brave enough to live with the consequence of his actions rather than run and hide from his misdeeds. Similarly, relating this back to more modern times, how powerful would the testimony of a tattoo covered ex-convict gang banger CEO be the younger generation.

"Hey homies, I wuz a first class thug. I did my time. I realized that wuzn't who I really wanned to be yo. I changed my ways. You can too. You don need to be involved wid gangs to be successfu just look at me. When I was involved with the South Side Pink Pony Killaz I was afraid for my life. I was running all the time. Now I am a fortune 500 CEO my net worth is 12 times the entire street I controlled as a street thug. You can do this too it just takes stayin in school, hard work and stayin out o trouble yo.

Yea right like a tat covered punk gangbanger kid has what it takes to run wall street. Why not? They survived the inner city, which I hear is at least as cut throat and investment trading. So, Donald Trump, you want to run for president? You want to make a difference in this world? Find someone on the streets and train them. You did it with the apprentice. You can do it again. You have enough to lose and you might just make the world a better place. But that is not what this massive missive is about. This is an electronic foray into my thoughts on politics, and where I left off I was discussing the American justice system. The ideas espoused in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter bring to mind the high and lofty ideals that anyone can repent from and over come any challenge thrown at them. I think this same mindset should be the one we hold for American prisoners. Anyone can come back from anything. I think our prisons should exert a greater effort on training skills, on teaching coping mechanisms, on providing counseling. I think the nature of prisons must be more than a locked adult babysitting chamber. And more like a center of learning what does it mean to be a successful American. I think if we are paying the food, room and board of hundreds of thousands of individuals for years on end they should be doing something to earn their keep and their should be some spectacular product produced in the end. Crime is often associated with poverty. Education has shown time and again that it is the antithesis of poverty. Why not relate the two. If you are imprisoned you are not getting out until you can complete an education?

Alright you tree huggin' Libral why am I paying my hard earned tax dollars for sendin' some two bit con-man to higher learnin'? Because you are actually paying to keep them out of prison rather than see him again in a few months because Joe Prison amoeba knows no other life.

But won't that ENCOURAGE kids to commit a crime to get an education?
Make the incentives to stay out of crime even stronger. Provide a well advertised nationally funded program where if your household income is below the poverty line and attend school you go 18 years without a criminal record you are eligible for a scholarship to any school in the nation. Bam! Crime rate drops in half.

But what about the kid who already committed a crime?
If you confess your crime, serve your time and go out and somehow make your community a better place. Your crime gets taken off your record.

We have a right to life. This doesn't just refer to our prisoners. You and me, we have a right to life. Life is sustained by having healthy air, clean water, available food that won't make us sick. I think also we have a right to not just life but a high quality life. It is the responsibility of the federal government to insure that there is NO company out there in the business of taking our lives no matter how slowly. This might mean that it should be the responsibility of the U.S. Federal Government to regulate life taking industries such as tobacco and I think criminals should be prohibited from obtaining a firearm. But I also think it should be the responsibility of the government to make sure our food is safe (ah good the USDA is doing this--excellent, but are they also monitoring the preservatives and gooky stuff in our junk food/fast food?), that our air and water are ingestible without intiction of toxic chemicals (the EPA is supposed to be doing this but they have no teeth and rich corporations have all the clout. Case in point consider some statistics I learned in my Utah Master Naturalist class: Water in the Great Salt Lake has 25 times the allowable mercury levels but nothing is done about it. Our air and water is so polluted here in the Salt Lake Valley that 1 oz of fish per year is the recommended safe allowance. Ducks, of which millions use the local lakes as resting spots are contaminated with enough heavy metals as to pose lethal health concerns. The list goes on and on and my toxic city is not the only culprit.). I believe it is the responsibility of the federal government to oversee and insure that the earth, wind, and water for every user of fire is not beleaguered by a plague of noxious elements, no matter how rich or powerful their source.

On the note of staying alive, I think instead of Democratic Obama Care, or the Republican Ha Ha Sucks To Be You Care, what if there was a third alternative. I rather enjoy having the best trained doctors in the world. I think doctors and nurses and other medical industry staff should be well rewarded for their courageous day to day life saving actions AND they have each spent most of their lives training to be in the profession they chose. I have NO problems with a $21,000 medical bill. I think those doctors and nurses earned every penny of it. I do have a problem with PAYING a $21,000 medical bill. The biggest problem I have with paying it, is I can't. Having socialized medicine I don't think works. I have heard, possibly exaggerated stories of how long people have had to wait to get substandard inferior care in places where medicine is government controlled. The feds are great bureaucrats but they aren't physicians. I also think leaving insurance to the individual is not the fairest or best method, it leaves too many people out in the dust who can't afford the world class doctors our country is proud to support. The alternative I suggest is a subsidy. If our federal government can support farmers for not growing food and pay fisherman double market value for over catching food then certainly the government can subsidize an industry devoted to saving people's lives. In my plan people still have insurance if they can afford it and if they want it. If you have it you get help with medicines you get access to the best of the best in the doctoral and life saving world. Basically you got the way cool platinum health pass and the rest of us get economy class, but its not the government saying who you can go to. The doctors still charge their fees but the feds help pay some of their salary so doctors in theory don't have to charge as much making them more affordable to those of us with lower or no-wer insurances.

If life is so very paramount, I do not believe it is enough for doctors merely to treat us when we are functioning below the standard operating parameters. I think it is the role of medical researchers to figure out ways of keeping us alive and healthier longer, long before our symptoms linger. As such if I were president of the United States of America I would increase the budgets of the National Institute of Health and I would boosts the National Science Foundation's budget as well. Those organizations discover the things that keep us alive and make life worth living. I would also boost the budget of NASA after all if life is our first almost unalienable right why not look for alien life. Its a leap, but I think NASA is just too cool of a program for it to dwindle into obscurity just because we hope the private sector can do better. Oh yea NOAA should get some greens to study the blues too 'cause what is life without a planet for us to exercise our right on.

In the essay I am exploring all of the aspect of the U.S. government that are connected to our right to life. To me this also means insuring that life as we know it continues to exist that we are not wiped out by war. I am eternally grateful that we have one of the most technologically advanced well funded armies in the world. I do not mind paying for an army to keep our shores and citizens safe. I do whole heartedly object to being kept in a state of fear and using the big bad "them" as a ploy to keeping American citizenry cowed and in a state of fear authorizing anything the government deems necessary as a protection for my safety. I think the previous presidential administration overused and abused its powers of warfare. I think Darth Cheney is far too much like Orwell's Big Brother for my liking. I think it was disingenuous and down right devious of the government to keep us in constant fear of attack by ever present terrorists that turned out not to have weapons of mass destruction after all. I think the government needs to keep us safe, but also informed, at least as much as they can. I am ok with spending big bucks on the military just don't abuse the trust we place in you with that cash in hand.

For tonight's ramblings I have just two more points. I mentioned quality of life. I think education definitely falls into this realm. In an ideal world teachers and Sports Super Heroes would exchange salaries (even for a day would rock!). The best doctor someone who saves lives by the hour makes at best around 2 million annually. An awesome teacher who changes countless lives over generations teaching possibly hundreds per year. The guardians of our children the caretakers and custodians of knowledge culture and youth over their teaching life time might make a million if they save well and plan ahead. The worst B grade athlete who puts a ball in a hole makes millions of dollars a day and complains about how little he gets paid to PLAY A GAME. Children don't want to work hard in school--why should they they will have a boring low paying job with no glitz and glamour. If a student works hard instead at sports they could be famous, make millions, and be a superstar. (Without thinking of probabilities or consequences) Who wouldn't want that sort of life style. Oh yeah and since kids now have to be superstars they have to start young... and there goes childhood and play time lost to overzealous OCD scheduling mommies. Its no wonders so many kids are screwed up these days.

Alright Mr. Smartie Pants, what do we do about it?
Education has to start in the home and be cheered on by the parents, but the feds can't regulate the parents. What the feds can do is dink around with education a bit. I think it is a laudable goal for us to have the best educated public, but our push for the best is making us loose what makes us unique. I think our uniqueness comes not from our math or our science but from our creativity. I am deeply saddened to think of the loses of art, music, drama, dance and all the other fineries of life laid by the wayside in favor of standardized testing. We are not China. We do not need to be China. We do not need standardized students so why have standardized test. We are leaving no child behind because we are holding all children back. To be the best in the world we need to make school fun. We need teaching methods that don't revolve around talking heads but rather excited pupils. A significant chunk of funding needs to be thrown at the entire United States school system. School needs to be a safe fun place where people want to go. If given the choice of ditching or going school should be an exciting and welcoming enough place students will want to choose school over ditching. Standard tests are hogwash. Evaluate teachers instead on the success of their students a decade later. Grade teachers not how many As Bs Cs Ds and Fs but rather on how many BSs, MDs, PhDs, JDs and they receive. And for that matter why are we penalizing the teachers in the hardest roughest neighborhoods sorry you fail because your are only giving everything you have got pouring your heart and soul into what you do and you fail because it still wasn't enough and maybe never will be. Education needs to be technologically up to date. It needs to be safe. It needs to be fun. School needs to be filled with art and song, musicality and individuality in every way possible. And teachers need to be making about 50k+/year.

Finally, the last of tonight's rantings, and probably the topic that will net me the most hate mail...abortion. I am pro life. I think all life is sacred. In my biology class I set my nematodes free. I nearly cried during a mouse dissection. I can't go fishing because I hate impaling the worm. Me being pro-life does not however make me anti-pro-choice. I think abortion runs smack into the two values held most dear by the American people. Neigh unto unquestionably, we are granted the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. So which one wins, life or liberty? I do not think abortion should be taken lightly. I don't think it should be done simply on a whim. I don't even think its the best option. But I certainly don't think it shouldn't be an option. I think abortions will happen whether or not we fund them. Personally, I would rather have the assurance that if an abortion is being done it is done by the most skilled professionals possible. Further, simply because I do not like the idea of an abortion, does not mean that I should take away your right to have that choice. So I would encourage my family not to pursue that route I won't take that liberty from you. And lastly the final two most compelling reasons I support abortions are that a woman whose pregnancy endangers her life should not have to sacrifice herself so that a baby can enter the world unloved and uncared for. I think it is unconscionable to ask a mother to have to die for offspring if she is not willing to. And compelling reason number two, what about in the case of a rape? How horrible it would be for a mother to look at what is supposed to be her pride and joy and remember instead a horrible act forced upon her. How horrible would it be to know as a child that you weren't wanted that your father forced himself upon your mother and you exist simply because it was against that law to prevent your creation. If there is even one case where abortion is legal then it must be available for any who wish to seek it, for I do not think it is the place for a doctor to act as bouncer. Alright miss J. Doe I can only do this abortion if this was the result of a rape, so will you please fill out this form describing in detail the events on the night of the rape. Oh sorry, this is only the result of a spring fling, or oops it was consentual at the time sorry I can now no longer perform this abortion. To me it seems that it is not the doctors place to ask the reasons for the abortion, the doctors role is to simply inform of other options and if the party is committed to perform the act with absolute safety for the mother not to ask her reasons why.

Herein discussed in the first of a three part series on "What is the role of Government?" are my thoughts on abortion, education, the military, health care and a number of other fields. Tune in next time for more errant ramblings pertaining to the size of government, finances, the environment and what ever other topics I get around to complaining/pondering about. Till next time 0.

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