I mean, who'da thunk it? Here all this time I thought I was a
free-spending librul who wanted communism and free thinking.
But a fellow named Gary DeWaay on Usenet showed me that, in fact, I'm
for small government. He gave me a list of things that, for some reason,
Republicans and Teabaggers aren't real happy to see. Here's that list:
End all anti-abortion legislation
End all foreign war involvement
End the Patriot Act
End all wiretapping
End the death penalty
End the drug war
End all waterboarding
Release all prisoners convicted of victimless crimes.
End all government censorship
Allow gays to get married
End all anti-immigration legislation
Restore full habeas corpus
Offer amnesty to illegal aliens
End all three-strikes legislation
Slash military spending
Start eliminating our nuclear weapons
Become isolationist in foreign policy
Neutrality towards labor unions
Allow all stem cell research
I don't see anything there I can disagree with. There's some I would
temporize on – I don't, for example, have a problem with wiretapping if
permitted by a lawfully issued warrant in accordance with the law, and
flag-burning already IS allowed. I wonder how many hundreds of billions
of dollars we would save each year if we implemented all 22 items tomorrow?
Let's take a closer look (some, like 3 & 13, or 11 & 15, overlap, so
I'll only respond once on those:
On abortions, Freakonomics put forth the notion that it was the
liberalization of abortion laws in the 60s that led to the drop in crime
rates in the 80s. Unwanted children tend to be more likely to get
involved in crime and drug abuse and end up in abusive family relations.
For those who think abortions are immoral, I have a simple suggestion:
don't have one.
The US has no business in Iraq, or Afghanistan. They are illegal
occupations, and they are costing the country hundreds of billions. The
US death toll in Afghanistan recently passed 1,000, and of course, there
are thousands more maimed who will require care for decades to come. It
also makes little sense that the US should have over 700 bases overseas.
Just who is America supposedly protecting Germany from these days?
The Patriot Act gives the government terrifying power to simply make
people disappear. All it really takes is for the government to suppose
that their intended victim is a terrorist. After that, they need only
pay scant attention to the bill of rights. Obama and the Democrats
disgraced themselves this week by renewing it for another year.
Wiretapping: with a lawful warrant, sure.
End the death penalty. Study after study shows that it has no deterrent
value, and there are over 100 people who were tried and sentenced to
death in a court of law who are walking free today, after subsequent
evidence showed they were, in fact, innocent. In Texas, where justice is
a savage joke little better than that to be found in Saddam Hussein's
Iraq, they actually take pride in executing innocent people. Government
should never have the power to take life, other than in war.
Ending the drug war would save tens of billions, and treating drug
addiction as a medical problem rather than a crime billions more. Up to
one third of the prisoners in the country could be pardoned of drug
offenses, saving more and perhaps making American prisons a bit less vile.
The government has no business in torturing anyone. It is immoral, and
doesn't work. The US should have a holiday in which they burn Dick
Cheney and George w. Bush in effigy once a year to show their contempt
for these vile, vicious little men.
Ending government censorship might not result in better TV, but it would
open the door for people to try. It's worth noting that the best TV
shows are all on the uncensored premium channels.
Gay marriage is a matter of basic civil rights, and more and more, looks
like it will be the law of the land soon enough. Government should stop
calling what they do “marriage” – that's a religious term. The
governments of the states issue civil unions, legal contracts. If a
business can't refuse to honor a contract with someone who is gay, then
nobody has any business disputing the contract of anyone who is gay.
Immigration: the US has the right to secure its borders, but it does not
have the right to lure people in and then say they are entitled to no
rights. Immigration built America, and today, some of the most gifted
and productive people are immigrants. Treat them fairly.
Three strikes legislation was a bad idea to begin with, and the way it
was implemented by politicians wanting to look “tough on crime” has been
hideous. From “three violent felonies”, it went to “two felonies and a
third crime of any kind”, and was applied to single events where
multiple charges could be brought. D.A.s are always happy to pile extra
charges on if it will help secure a conviction. This results in people
getting 25 to life for stealing a bicycle, or a slice of pizza. I would
add eliminating mandatory sentencing; the role of a judge is to balance
justice and the law, and a mandated sentence often thwarts that. Given
the severity of such, juries are often reluctant to convict in cases
where some one committed a relatively minor crime and faces life in jail
as a result.
Military spending: the biggest single source of government waste is the
military. Many contractors are nothing less than criminal, and the
recent legislation the Republicans put through in their misguided effort
to strip ACORN of funding should be used to eliminate a lot of those
criminal contractors, and give the government a stick to threaten others
into at least keeping their contractual obligations.
Nuclear weapons: given that the US can lob a nuclear weapon with
pin-point accuracy anywhere in the world, how many does the US really need?
The repressive role of government on behalf of big business is fairly
evident, and not least of that is the usually hostile attitude toward
labor. If workers had a completely unlimited right to unionize, a right
upheld by the government, there would be no need for minimum wage laws,
or 40-hour work weeks, or any of that. Give workers a level playing
field, and watch the society grow immensely strong and wealthy, the way
it did after the war.
One item Gary didn't have on his list was the one where government is
its most repressive and overbearing: means-testing. Anyone who has had
to apply for assistance can tell you nightmare stories of having to
reveal all assets, and having workers snoop to ensure they aren't trying
to pull a fast one, and being required to “spend down” – divest assets –
in order to receive badly needed medical care or child care. People find
it degrading and even humiliating, and it exists only because
Republicans want to stigmatize aid, in the mistaken belief that it saves
money. Tales of government spending billions to eliminate millions in
fraud are rife. Public option would eliminate health-related means
testing right away, and should be eased for other kinds of assistance.
People should be able to get help when they need it without having to
bare their lives to gimlet-eyed government bureaucrats.
Now, I still consider myself a liberal. But if those views make me a
small government conservative, well, by gosh, I guess that's what I am!