In a world dominated by magical thinking, superstition and misinformation, give yourself the benefit of doubt. This is one skeptic's view of the Universe.
"Tell people there’s an invisible man in the sky who created the universe, and the vast majority believe you. Tell them the paint is wet, and they have to touch it to be sure."
“If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed”.
“Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense.”
The person who is certain, and who claims divine warrant for his certainty, belongs now to the infancy of our species. It may be a long farewell, but it has begun and, like all farewells, should not be protracted.
-climate change is not a hoax.
-women should make their own moral decisions regarding their bodies.
-gay is not a choice but discrimination is.
-I believe separation of church and state is the ONLY guarantee of religious liberty.
-I’d prefer not getting into another ground war in the middle east.
-economies grow from the middle out, not the top down, consumers are the job creators.
-oil is a finite resource under rapidly growing demand and our future depends on getting off of it, sooner than later.
-I want investment in education and infrastructure.
-there is ZERO discernible difference between George W Bush and Mitt Romney, except maybe their vocabularies.
-most attacks on Obama are based in demented conspiracy theories or a completely willful misunderstanding of words like “socialism”.
-bonus: I’d like every racist in the country to be bummed out on Wednesday.
The idea of being a fiscal conservative appealed to me intellectually. The idea is not that roads don’t need to be built, or that people don’t need assistance. It was, for me at least, that government wasn’t the most efficient way to get these things done. Private industry, being actually profit motivated, had incentive to do the jobs much more efficiently than government could. Therefore, smaller government made sense to me. To me, it was simply about how to get things done the most efficient way possible, and looking at government waste and red tape it seemed clear to me that government wasn’t it.
And then there was Ayn Rand, of course. I saw the logic of the Randian philosophy…yes, people who work hard should get paid for it, and should be rewarded. Highly skilled and intelligent people should be entitled to the fruits that their brains and skills give to them.
And in the utopias outlined in the Rand novels, it worked. The heroes were fucking geniuses and the other people were dolts. Never were the heroes motivated by anything but excellence.
And, being young and naive, I never even noticed how unrealistic the worlds that Rand created were. Being naive, I never thought through past the neat little conservative ideology. It never occurred to me that maybe reality didn’t fit into simplistic conservative solutions.
Can a private, profit motivated industry be more efficient than a government body? Absolutely. Can a private, profit motivated industry necessarily be counted on to perform what’s best for society as a whole instead of their own best interest? Absolutely not. Look at the privatization of the prison industry. Prisons make profit, and the more prisoners there are, the bigger the profits. It is in the private prison’s best interest to incarcerate as many people as possible, and thus we find private prisons paying money for ever harsher laws to fatten their pocket books. There are few who would argue that this is in the best interest of society, even though it may be “cheaper” to society’s pockets.
Welfare, it can be argued, is government enforced charity. Since not paying taxes is a prisonable offence, it can even be said that welfare is charity at the point of a gun. Giving to charity is something that makes someone feel good about oneself, and paying taxes really does a sucky job of this.
Charities, however, can in themselves be horribly crooked and inefficient. If we can agree that society as a whole is better off without people dying on the streets of starvation, or having children raised homeless and uneducated, then it simply behoves us to look for the way to help the most people in the most efficient way possible. Charities even when properly run cannot always provide reliable assistance. Government, inefficient as it often/usually is, can at least provide consistency necessary for people to truly help themselves.
We can also take it as a moral imperative that helping out those in need is the “right” thing to do. This imperative never actually occurred to me as a Republican, because the question of HOW to help out others is not something that is part of Conservative philosophy, at least not from my understanding of it.
I considered myself a fiscal conservative but a social liberal. In the 80s, voting for a Republican didn’t seem as damaging to social liberalism because the politics of encoding conservative morality into law didn’t seem to be as big a goal as it seems to be today. I was ignorant on the subject of abortion, and actually limiting the rights of women or minorities seemed like things out of the Fifties. We didn’t need to worry about such things in a “modern” age like ours, did we? The attempt to legislate moralities based on Biblical bullshit 20 years later left me flabbergasted.
Why was I a Republican? In summary, it was because I was naive and I liked simple rules. It wasn’t because I was an evil person who wanted to throw pregnant mothers out of their homes. It’s just that these mothers never factored into my way of thinking.
Reality has a liberal bias, but that does not mean that all liberals have a better grasp of reality than all conservatives. Reality is fucking complex. Neither pure liberalism nor pure conservatism (if such things exist) can fully answer the needs of a large and complex society such as ours. Ideologies provide guidelines and rules of thumb, but only through a thorough study of social realities can we truly find the best answers to social dilemmas.
So, take from this what you will. And vote for Obama on Tuesday because he’s objectively better than the other viable alternative.
Peace and stuff,
Well said, Steve.