In honor of tomorrow's US elections, I give you:
Ten political positions that some people probably want to throw things at me for.
1) A foreign policy that does not acknowledge that people around the world have genuine grievances with the colonizing West in general and the United States in particular is doomed to horrible failure. Acknowledging that other people might possibly be pissed about American exceptionalism, imperialism, and meddling in their internal affairs is not unpatriotic, it's not being a damned fool.
2) Corporations are not people. As they cannot fulfil the obligations of citizenship or face the consequences that actual people do for their actions, due to not being people and all, they do not merit the same access to choice that people get. In other words: I'll start to care about corporate "free speech" when a corporation can do time for negligent homicide.
3) Neo-Prohibition does not work; those who do not learn from history, doomed to repeat, etc. It funds organised crime and terrorism; it ruins lives; it is fundamentally racist. And if that wasn't bad enough, the "War on Drugs" is fucking expensive, and even if we really want to waste our money on increasing crime, destroying families, locking up nonviolent drug users, and other idiocies, we can't afford to be that stupid right now.
4) Prevention is cheaper than crisis response. Harm reduction works better than wishing problems just wouldn't happen. Education and opening access to options improve things in the long run. This applies to health care access, sex work, sex education, drug use, juvenile delinquency, same-sex marriage rights, and approximately everything else in the political universe.
5) The question of "when does life begin" is totally irrelevant to the political discussions it appears in. The answer is "probably somewhere around four billion years ago", give or take half a billion, and if you think otherwise you need to be locked in a small room with a biology textbook that includes a section on the refutation of spontaneous generation and the development of omne vivum ex ovo. When it matters that there's life there may be an interesting question, but that's a completely different field.
6) Anyone who says "get the government out of the business of marriage" needs to be slapped, and then have explained to them in very small words about the whole fact that we have an entire branch of government there to sort out people's legal contracts, and what makes marriage such a sooper-speshul legal contract that it should get excepted from that? (Oh, you think marriage is religious? Enshrining that in the law's a violation of the Establishment Clause.)
7) While I'm on the subject, marriage should be gotten the hell out of the tax business. The sensible filing for taxation purposes is at the household level, and marriage is simply one way of establishing a household relationship -- one that is both the only one effectively recognised and woefully inadequate for addressing the variety of households extant. Households are not now, and never have been, all single people and marrieds-and-their-offspring. Some people have extended families, unrelated dependents, or other broader setups. Some people have untraditional family structures. Make it as annoying to establish and dissolve a household unit as it is to establish and dissolve a marriage if you have to, but fucking sheesh.
8) The US economy is structured in a manner that is fundamentally anti-family. The evidence is overwhelming: hours in our work week, vacation time typically available, health care costs, access to parental leave time for births/adoptions, and that's just stuff I can think of official statistics for off the top of my head. Not things for which there are statistics that I can't think of off top of head, or the pervasiveness of culture of overwork to replace self-value, or the tendency to work people double-time rather than hire more workers, or the fact that large numbers of people have to work two or three part-time jobs to bring in enough to care for their families and still don't have any goddamn health care.
9) Political name-calling makes people look like they're stuck in a rather petulant childhood. I don't care if it's Nobama or McSame, Democraps or Rethuglicans, or any of the other oh-so-grade-school variations. "Libtard" is one that's been going around my sports group a lot, and I'm sure there's an equivalent conservative one but I've probably killfiled whoever uses it. All the cries of "commie" are like the schoolyard braying of "gay"; if they are, who fucking cares? Liberal, conservative, progressive, socialist, and so on are not Bad Words to throw at the other children after pulling their hair and then run away tittering in the corner with your little clique of puerile delinquents. (Neither is "Muslim".) It doesn't reveal you as clever, it reveals you as an uncreative brat who needs a time-out and possibly a nap. Stomp your little velcro-sneakered feet all you like, but as long as you continue with that tantrum you're going to have to sit in the corner.
10) Formulating things in terms of "rights" is a defective way of arranging policy. Speaking of petulance, how often does one hear a sullen, "Well, I gotta right," in response to some critique? Operating in a rights-based framework feeds an attitude of entitlement that, frankly, the US doesn't really need. Too many absolutes in the picture, and too many mistaking a right to one thing for a right to something only peripherally related -- how many times have you wanted to say, "Your right to free speech does not obligate me to listen to your idiocy"? Frame things in terms of what people can do, not what they have a right to do, and you start to actually have some nuance.
03 November, 2008
In honor of tomorrow's US elections, I give you: