Today my good friend Charles Archibald sent me a lengthy message on Facebook, as he’s beginning to understand politics, the election process and important social issues. This post is dedicated to him, and it is my answer to his questions.
I want to make clear that these come from my worldview as a Christian, a Latter-day Saint, a Southerner, a conservative who leans libertarian, and a capitalist. I also want to make it known that I’m not a political scientist, by any stretch, but I have extensively studied the political process, the constitution, the Founding Fathers and many political theories and histories. Nonetheless, I’m thoroughly flattered he would come to me with such a comprehensive list.
I present to you his questions in italics, along with my answers, in normal type.
It seems most economic policies could be placed on a sliding scale from complete government control to complete laissez-faire.
- Where on the scale is best for America? This is a hotly-debated question, and I think it’s because we’re such a large country with many different cultures (and frankly that’s both the beauty and frustration of being divided into individual states.)
You see, politics is all about compromise, so policy-makers will have to collaborate with other policy-makers who likely disagree with them. The issue that we’re facing with our current congress is that neither party really wants to actually let anything from the other party get done, and no one really respects different points of view.
A well-respected PBS documentary once described our nation’s economics as sitting on a pendulum, with Marxism/Communism on the left, and complete laissez-faire on the other. Obviously, we’ve never actually been on to either end in this country, and for the most part we’ve stayed in the center, except in the Great Depression Era, when FDR’s popular left-leaning policies were implemented in an effort to save the economy from certain doom. FDR took us off the gold standard, implemented modern welfare, and laid the groundwork for social security. The core argument is if the economy would have actually gotten better without World War 2’s production or if it would have stayed stagant/gotten worse.
A more recent example is when George W. Bush was at the end of his presidency, the pendulum, both in policy and public opinion, was swinging more to the left again, and has basically continued in that direction through today. Again, left-leaning stimulus was implemented, including the TARP funds (bank & Wall Street bailouts) and The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The effectiveness of these stimuli is still under consideration. Many on the left feel as if it did it’s job, but those of us on the right seriously worry that it’s going to continue a pattern of over-corrections in the market.
- What are Socialism, Communism, and the United Order and how are they all different?
Socialism is basically a left-leaning policy that sits between the free market and communism. It’s also been referred to as a “mixed market.” Essentially, the state regulates business and taxes them to be able to fund social programs. Most of the time, the further left they go, the state ends up running off businesses and the people are left with a rapidly-declining GDP, with much less money actually being pumped into the economy through individual spending.
The scale on where the mixed market should lie is the continued debate between republican and democrats, but it’s important to remember that neither party is actually for a fully free market. Right wing and centrist Republicans, as well as Blue-dog democrats, feel that there should be some taxes and regulations, but caution that too much taxation will kill incentive. Socialist Democrats seemingly disregard the law of incentive when it comes to taxation because they feel the need of social welfare outweighs the need for profit.
Communism is when full state control has been realized, when any and all production is given to the state for them to distribute, essentailly at gunpoint. People generally have very little incentive to gain wealth because they know the state will take it all.
The United Order is similar to communism, but the key difference is that everyone has the same ideals and has chosen to live in such a setting and understand by putting in their best effort, the community will strongly benefit. Thus, no one is being forced to hand over their goods: they’re doing it out of their own free will.
I personally feel that socialism and communism are Satan’s solemn mockery of the laws of tithing consecration, respectively, because moral agency is eliminated in choosing how to spend one’s money.
- As prices soar and wages stagnate, how can we facilitate Americans escaping poverty? This complication is extremely complicated. Going back to free market vs. communism, I don’t think the state can effectively eliminate poverty, ever.
Whenever prices soar, though, the market is likely inflated by high taxes. I would strongly advocate lower taxes, because that puts more money back in the hand of employers to give to their employees, who can then save it so the banks can loan it, or they can spend it and increase production of the places where they choose to do business.
You and I can do good things, as well, by starting businesses and treating those who work for us fairly by paying them what they’re worth, providing benefits, and helping them invest their earnings wisely with retirement planning and financial counseling.
- What is the ideal economic responsibility of the government? What is the government’s job? My opinion is that the government was actually instituted for our good. I do believe, however, that it should stay small, allow the states to govern as their people ask, and ahere to the constituition.
The primary role of government is protection. We are guaranteed life, liberty and property in the constitution, meaning the government can’t take it away unless we are felons, as well as free speech, personal defense, and certain civil rights.
The federal government is not obligated to feed us, clothe us, or provide us medical care, however. If the people ask for it, it creates a dangerous dependance that someone else has to pay for, and is, I believe, the primary reason our national debt. If the people of a state want such programs, that should be left to the state itself.
- Please tell me about America’s tax policy.
Can I skip this question? >_<
Seriously, though, it’s far, far, far to complicated, but let’s keep it simple here.
Income taxes in America are imposed on a curve: the more you make, the more you pay. Because America is such a mix of culture, it goes up and and it goes down. Congress has the power to levy taxes, and we have the chance to represent our opinions by electing representatives and senators to vote for or against proposed taxation.
We’re taxed several different ways: Sales tax (which includes both good and services), federal income tax (used for many purposes including social security, medicare and more), state income tax (most states but not all states levy such a tax), property tax, estate (death) tax, gift tax.
Additional taxes may be levied from person to person. What is paid is decided on an individual basis, and individuals may write off business expenses.
Captial gains taxes are imposed when your investments (real estate, stocks, bonds) increase in value.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA/Obamacare) imposed 24 new taxes on Americans, including the infamous penalty for not having health insurance (gag).
New taxes are imposed regularly. Democratic/liberal/centrist policy usually raises income and other taxes, while conservative policy usually lowers them.
I’m no CPA, but I do understand there are many ways to shelter oneself from taxes. Democrats would seek to close any of these loopholes, and those of us for the free market would like to see everyone have as many tax loopholes as possible.
Currently, the only financial instrument that is tax-free is cash-value life insurance.
- Should it be changed? How? Why?
I would love nothing more than to see our tax code simplified. I believe taxes should be flat, low, and based on earned income, because it will pump more money into our economy to buy assets, create cash flow and strong savings.
- What credence do you give the push for renewable energy and pollution reduction?
I think the EPA is the stupidest creation there is. It’s the core exemplifaction of executive overreach. I think enviromental standards ought to vary from state to state.
As for renewable energy, there is some legitimacy to it, especially when we consider solar power, but the government has hijacked this idea of renewable energy in an effort to eleminate the oil and coal industries, and far too much taxpayer money has been spend on unreliable technoligies.
I do believe the oil industry could be more responsible, but we can’t control what goes on in most of the world, especially the middle east. As long as there are cars/modern transportation, there will be need for oil.
Concerning electricity, nuclear enegy has definitely proven its effectiveness, as has solar.
Concerning water, it should be kept clean, but modern tech can clean water so very well, so I’m not terribly worried. Desalinization is certainly underrated.
There should be fines imposed on companies that dump dangerous waste into rivers/lakes/oceans, because that puts life in danger, and that’s unnacceptable.
- What policies would best help?
See above- leave it to the states to decide. The situation is different in Utah vs. Massachussets, so locale can better decide the action, rather than the disconnected fed.
Legislators are often accused of corruption. They have no term limits, are paid handsomely (and chose their wage), and are often swayed by men and organizations with money.
- Should a term limit be made? How would it or wouldn’t it help?
I seriously believe term limits should be imposed, and it should be done as a constitutional amendment. It would ideally have the following provisions:
- 4 terms (8 years) for the house of representatives
- 2 terms (12 years) for the Senate
- Adding certain offices to the Executive branch that are elected, including the Secretaries of State, Treasury, Homeland Security, Defense, and the Attorney General.
- Limit of time allowed as a justice of the supreme court, but still appointed by the President and ratified by congress
This would re-balance power, minimalize special interests groups’ influence on the legislative process. It would likely keep one political party from having too much power for too long, and would allow for less overreach within the executive branch.
- How do we fight corruption?
That’s a really good question. Corruption, is unfortunately, a very arbitrary concept in Washington and in any given state’s politics. I would probably define it as receiving bribes, pandering to special interests, gerrymandering congressional districts, and other dishonest practices that don’t fairly represent the people.
I believe as long as there are no term limits and special interests groups, there will always be corruption, especially when personal gain for both power and money are at stake. Such is the risk of a republic.
The problem is that the executive branch essentially has been given a lot of the power congress once had, and is essentially allowed to do whatever it wants without ramification. The Obama administration, particularly, has engaged in many corrupt activities, with the Fast and Furious gun scandal at the top of that list.
What congress hasn’t given, the members use for their own personal gain of power; that’s an undisputable fact.
As long as there as strong groups like the Tea Party caucus, however, I think there will never be complete corruption.
- Should their wage and/or benefits be altered? How and why?
The state of Utah does it best: the members of its congress only receive $11,000 per year, and are only paid for the days the legislation is in session. The Federal government would do well to follow suit. A higher salary than $11,000 would be fine, but I feel it should not exceed more than $90,000 for congress and $150,000 for the Senate, and should decrease by 10% every time a representative or senator is reelected.
Immigration and refugees are a hot button topic.
- What should we do about illegal immigration? What about their U.S. born and raised children?
I’m all for building a wall, especially in the most dangerous areas of the border. I think if we continue to financially squeeze Mexican drug cartels by legalizing and regulating drugs, it could help, but the violence and continued currency issues in Mexico are the main reasons people continue to come here illegally.
ICE and US Border Patrol, as well as the armed forces and local law enforcement want to do something about it, but their hands are tied by current policy. The DHS needs to crack down and give a directive to round up and deport all violent offenders.
A budget needs to be found for stronger border security. Border states need to be allowed to also enforce these laws with their own relative needs.
As for non-violent illegal immigrants (the media likes to call them “undocumented” immigrants), they also need to be given ultimatums:
- Learn English and pass a basic english test
- Go through the immigration process, receive green cards and tax IDs
- Get a legal driver’s license
- Get a bank account
- Pay a tax penalty for breaking our laws
- Not be allowed to wire money outside the country for a certain amount of time
- Unpaid community service or military service
- Obtain a GED or prove graduation from high school/college or a valid reason why they can’t
- Children born to illegal immigrants should not automatically be citizens, but should be given that opportunity when they turn 18 years old, and go through a similar process as their parents.
- Legal immigrant’s children should be given citizenship upon birth
This process would seriously deter illegal immigration and would fund the necessary walls/stronger borders.
- What do we do with the thousands of refugees fleeing Africa and the Middle East?
We should let as many as we can into our country, but we should do it safely, and certainly not en mass. Helping others get here and get on their feet is the American thing to do, but again, these people need to go through a legal process to ensure they aren’t terrorists seeking to destroy us.
- No regulation, some regulation, iron regulation, or ban entirely? Why and how?Should this differ state to state and city to city?
“A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”
Minimal regulation is necessary since the 2nd Amendment absolutely guarantees this right. Those who say it doesn’t don’t understand 18th-century writing:
- The militia, at the time of the writing of the constitution, was all free people. If anything, the definition of free people has been expanded since slavery was abolished women’s rights were established.
- Preambles were used in the 18th century and early 19th century to disclose the “why” before the actual statement was given.
- If it were written in today’s language, it would likely read, “All American Citizens, over the age of 18 years, with the exception of convicted violent felons, shall have the right to keep and carry a firearm for personal and home defense, for the purpose of maintaining a free state. No governing persons or body may infringe upon this right.”
- “Shall not be infringed” is very clear language. It’s because of this phrase that whenever gun laws are challenged in the courts, they don’t hold up.
The permit system is probably a good idea, in theory, but all it does it license those who legally hold guns. More effective is having serial numbers on guns themselves, thus tracking to whom it belongs.
Cities such as Chicago, Detroit, New Orleans and Los Angelas are all examples of gun control not having it’s intended effect, and Chicago is the exact opposite, where the ghetto of South Chicago is a blood bath. Contrast that with an attempted mass shooting last year in Texas where two terrorists affiliated with al-Qaeda went to shoot up a party at a museum, but were quickly dropped by two people who were legally carrying.
Should everyone own a gun? Well, that’s their choice, but the law says we should be able to buy one if we want it, to carry it, to use it to defend ourselves, our families, our properties and anyone else who might be in danger.
Personally, I’m glad I’ve made the choice to carry a gun. It’s saved my life once and prevented me from being robbed/jumped on three separate occasions. Ask me to tell you the stories sometime and I’ll be happy to share them.
Liberals would have us believe the average citizen should not carry a weapon or even know how to use it. If they truly were educated in the ways of the founding fathers, their writing and thoughts, as well as educated on how guns work and how to use them, they likely wouldn’t push for the garbage gun control that has failed to withstand a court decision or effectively prevent violence.
Abortion: None, some, open, or other? W&H?
As a form of birth control, it’s abhorent. President Spencer W Kimball describes it as an “ugly sin.” It’s taking the innocent life of a child who did not choose to be conceived. The methods used are violent, depraved in disgusting.
Occasionally, a pregnancy will occur because of rape or forcible incest. The Church teaches abortion is not a sin in this case, but should still be very carefully and prayerfully considered. Also, if the mother’s life is endangered by the pregnancy, it can be considered without ramification.
I do believe it should be kept legal for these purposes. I also believe that a minor should never receive an abortion except in the case her parents and the father (and his parents, if a minor) consent, if it was not rape or forcible incest.
Abortion for any other reason should be stopped, especially mid and late-term abortions, which involve tearing the child limb from limb, or jamming scissors into the child’s skull and vacuuming out the brain, or even poisoning it with saline.
Along those lines, Planned Parenthood should be stopped from doing these types of abortions, and the feds should watch them closely, up to and including observation and videos with warrants, to see if they are committing murders on children who have been born and are breathing.
Thoughts Net neutrality: . Yes, no, some? W&H?
Terrible idea. It’s definitely slowed down internet browsing speeds. The FTC had the authority to make it a utility, but it was still a terrible, anti-business idea.
Same-sex marriage: . Yes, no, some? W&H?
I’m fine with civil unions, contractually speaking, but I do feel the state should get out of issuing marriage licenses. Let the Churches handle it.
Morally, I’m very opposed to homosexual relationships, but I don’t believe it’s the government’s job to regulate it. Liberals have essentially turned this into a civil rights issue, but it could be a non-issue and a lot of tax dollars could have been saved if the government was out of the marriage altogether.
Religious freedom and separation of church and state Thoughts:
The constitution is clear that there should be no endorsed state Church/religion, but it doesn’t mean we can’t talk about God and Christ, Allah, prophets, morality, the devil or other religious ideas in public forums. To this day, invocations and benedictions are given at Presidential Inaugurations.
Interestingly, the left attempts to guilt the whole of Christianity into feeling the need to help the poor and take care of the earth by using terms such as “Socialist Jew” to describe Jesus. It makes me sick; Jesus was not a policitican. He taught consecration on the individual, voluntary level, which is not the same as forcing someone at gunpoint or even the simple threat of jailtime or fines if they don’t pay their taxes that fund social programs with these forced transfer payments.
Racial and religious issues
- How bad is racism and religious discrimination in America?
It’s not as bad as the media makes it out to be, but I can tell you that it’s gotten worse the past 9 years since Barack Obama started running. There are definitely racists in this world; I have relatives who are racist. I call it out when I see it.
However, the left uses it as its end-all argument about why we conservatives don’t like President Obama’s policies (I actually think he’s a decent man, just has terrible policies.)
Occasionally, there will be limited, isolated instances of true racism by someone in authority, but the media jumps all over it to try to paint all white people as racist. Moreover, the recent emergence of the arbitrary idea of “white privlege” looks to me, someone who is mostly white and grew up with zero privlege, who has had to work for everything he’s ever had (I literally have bought 90% of the nice things I have with my own hard work), who was rejected from several colleges and grad programs even though I was fully qualified, feels that Affirmative Action has ruined fair chances for all people to gain what they’ve worked for.
- What ought to be done?
Get rid of affirmative action. Seriously. We can’t regulate free speech, however. I feel a religious return to the principles of Christ would make life a lot easier for everyone. Preaching the gospel will solve a lot these type problems.
- What is it? 2. What should it be/do?
Let me be clear: my wife is a feminist, and so is my sister. They, along with other third-wave feminists, strongly believe it means “equality.” Their fights for fair pay and anti-rape legislation are to be applauded.
I, however, disagree that the basis and objective is equality, and have been able to find no true, clear definition for what it means. For Madeline Albright, it was about woman power, and as far as I can see, it’s extremely sexist in it’s objectives. Many feminists, including the infamous Kate Kelly, are man-haters.
The fruits of feminism sow discord wherever they go. Hard feelings follow, and I feel that no real solutions can be permanently accomplished by those women who have such hate toward the male gender.
And to be snarky, gender studies are useless and don’t get anyone who holds such a degree anywhere in life unless they emphasize learning actual skills during their studies.
Political parties and Campaigns
- Harmful, helpful, or somewhere in between?
George Washington did, in fact, warn against having political parties. This would have been an ideal situation, but government in general has always been divided into factions since the time of ancient Rome.
Understanding a little more American History is important, also. The Democratic-Republican party is the mother-party of both parties we have today. At the time of its formation and shortly therafter, there were the federalists (for a stronger, central government) and whigs, which weren’t too dissimilar from the present right-winged ideals.
Today, however, we have two major political parties, the Democrats and the Republicans. The problem with this system is that it’s bilateral, and each party attempts to paint its ideals and agenda as mutually exclusive from the other. Frankly, it’s a living, breathing false argument of either/or choices. Such cognition is considered unhealthy, in the world of psychology.
Each party has some good ideals and some bad ideas, and everything else falls somewhere inbetween. However, what’s important to Democrats vs what’s important to Republicans is very, very different. If you listen to the recent primary election debates, you’ll hear entirely different topics being addressed.
Business Insider politics put out an article this week showing exactly what these different topics are. Rarely do the topics converge on both parties.
For example, Republicans tend to talk about ideals and Democrats tend to talk about groups of people. As a result, there is serious miscommunication about what they are.
Democrats tend to think that Republicans don’t care about people. Quite the opposite, most Republicans wish simply care for the poor and afllicted on their own terms, not the government’s.
On the same lines, many Republicans see Democrats as baby-killers. Most Democrats (regular, everyday ones, not the ones in Washington) them abhor the idea of an abortion, but want to keep it legal simply because they don’t want the black market to take over a serious medical procedure.
- Should there be a third or fourth major political party? Should we abolish the party system altogether? Is there need for reform? Other thoughts?
I would love nothing more than to see the party system go away entirely. It would kill the dialogue of right vs left, and we’d actually start talking about issues. As for the moment, it’s just ad-hominems and two entirely different worlds.
I do dwell within reality, though, and know that the establishment in Washington won’t have it, so unless the states pass a constitutional amendment abolishing parties, it’s not going to happen. We’ve had two major political parties in play since the 1700s, whether it’s the Federalist vs the Democratic-Republicans, the Democrats vs the Whigs, the Republicans vs the Democrats.
Worth noting, the Republican party is in serious trouble, and I can see the serious possibility of the Libertarian party and the Tea Party rising up in its place, which would be good and provide true contrast to the Democrats.
The Democrats’ biggest strength is their ability to unite people of many different cultures and mindset, and the other party could learn from that.
- Campaigning Politicians are stereotypically dishonest. A fact check review of many of what current politicians say supports this stereotype. What should be done? Can we do anything about this? Does it even matter?
Before we go tossing everyone from office, I do feel like the truth can be twisted to show one’s opinions as right or wrong. I also feel like the journalists in charge of “fact-checking” are also dishonest and tend to lean to the left in their checks.
However, we need to change who we are as Americans, before our politicians change. The way our system is set up, it reflects the American people’s daily operations and values. As a country, we have become immoral, unchaste, corrupt, lying, conniving, and any other negative trait I can think. We’re obsessed with money, we’ve devalued the family (both in the traditional sense and as the basic unit of society), and we can’t get a hold on crime and corruption.
If we want our politicians to change, we need to change as a culture, return to the basic morality on which this country was founded. This would start by ousting people who show such dishonesty without regard to its consequences.