The World According To Me

Okay, I just took the “Are you a neoconservative?” quiz at the Christian Science Monitor website and it tells me that I’m a liberal. Okay, so I disagree with President Bush on a lot of things, but I don’t think that’s quite right. I want to explain my position, just to help myself be more clear about it.

Nation Building/Regime Change/Foreign Policy in General: Attempting to remake the world in the express image of the United States is a mistake, and does little but provoke the hatred of the billions of “have-nots” around the globe. I honestly believe that the best interest of the United States is to pursue the best interest of every other nation. Can we provide significant, infrastructure-building humanitarian aid (rather than simply food handouts)? Can we help to improve communications systems and education? Can we help to improve economies by teaching sound fiscal and monetary policies by example?

Which leads us to National Debt: $8,407,057,651,820.76 as of April 2006, that is, eight trillion four hundred and seven billion fifty-seven million six hundred fifty-one thousand eight hundred twenty dollars and seventy six cents. (See the Bureau of the Public Debt for up-to-date statistics. The fact that we have a “Bureau of the Public Debt” is itself a sign of its enormity.)

The continued insistence of politicians in both parties to finance government spending by expanding the national debt is not only bad policy, it’s dishonest. Every single cent of that debt has to be paid for one way or another, whether it’s by causing our economy to tank through crowding out of private investment (money put into federal bonds can’t go into private capital investment,) or by an insane tax increase – this will be paid for by us. No supply-side or demand-side or ghetto-side economic policy is going to expand the economy by enough to create an extra eight trillion dollars worth of revenue. The simple fact is we either have to raise taxes, or cut spending, or hold out until the bubble bursts. I favor eliminating tax loopholes and decreasing spending.

China: China’s human rights abuses, past and especially present, cannot be ignored. While I’m not entirely sure if this justifies our withdrawal of preferred trading status, it makes me consider that possibility. That regime has on its record the oppression of the Fulan Gong movement, refusal to accept the fact that Taiwan is no longer part of their nation but is de facto independent, continued use of prison labor and the Laogai prison system (the Chinese equivalent of the Soviet Gulag), violent suppression of dissidents (not just in Tienenman Square), and the obligatory suppression of free speech, press, and religion in general.

However, all of the current fear-mongering talk about Chinese military buildup and the need of a radical United States response to it is more of self-fulfilling prophecy than mere observation. China will eventually become a free nation not by any external aggression but by the actions of its own people. Our goal should be to avoid provoking a conflict but to be firm on human rights issues. Let’s mold China into a friend as much as possible. Let’s let their rising economic and political power be a benefit to their people as much as possible. No Chamberlain-esque รข”Peace in our time” appeasement, but not blind, hawkish hate either.

Alliances: I’m with George Washington, who warned against “entangling alliances.” That’s not because I think international cooperation is impossible, or that organizations like NATO don’t have (or never have had) a place. The real reason is because I have read Isaiah in the Old Testament.

Huh? What does that have to do with anything?

Actually, Isaiah has everything to do with our situation. Isaiah consistently warned his nation against trusting in alliances with Egypt or with this or that nation. We need to be wary of trusting in alliances with foreign powers as well. During the Revolution, we cultivated the favor of the French, who then leaned clearly towards the Confederates during the Civil War. During World War II we cultivated the help of the Soviets, who turned out to be cunning opportunists and our worst enemy for the next 46 years or so. We gave arms and assistance to Afghanistan in their fight against the Soviets, only to end up invading their country later on. We supported the Shah in Iran. We withdrew support from Batista in Cuba, allowing Castro to come to power. We threw all kinds of support at “democratic” Russia, which turns out to have been a false friend veering towards dictatorship again. Now we’re trying to build up India as a counterweight to China, and on and on.

Do you see a pattern? I think that we need to listen to Isaiah’s advice and focus more on becoming a better people than on finding salvation in foreign powers.

Welfare: This is pretty simple: some people are indeed so incapacitated as to be unable to support themselves. This includes some elderly citizens, the mentally handicapped or severely mentally ill, or the physically disabled. “Handouts” in the form of Social Security checks and the like are appropriate to support those who truly cannot support themselves. They are foolish when given to those who are capable of gainful employment. Here’s why:

If somebody is poor, uneducated, living on the streets, etc., the way to turn their lives around is not by giving them “a steady diet of government cheese” – handouts will merely perpetuate their dependency. The key is to make any such handouts dependent on their willingness to work – or if they’re unable to work – to get an education. An education is really what the government should be paying for. Then, after the person is educated (assuming they stick with it) they should be able to get a job. If after a certain grace period they are still unemployed, the government gradually reduces and then eliminates its handouts.

Okay, what’s wrong with this idea? Really, if somebody still refuses to work after having the opportunity of a free education and government support, then they are asking for a life of squalor and poverty, and they have little to complain about except their own selves. Well, there are some potential difficulties:

  • Who qualifies for such support?
  • Who qualifies for continued support as an elderly, handicapped, or otherwise disabled person?
  • Should single parents get support for an education, or simply get support for childcare? (I’m in favor of an education)

Immigration: The motto I hear repeated most often is “Let them immigrate, but let them do so legally.” I agree entirely with this. However, the unspoken sentiment is, “Let them immigrate legally – fortunately, it’s practically impossible to do so, so we won’t have to deal with unfamiliar people coming into our country.”

America is for everybody. No, not everybody all at once. We’re not just going to open up our borders and let whoever wants to come rushing in. But we have to remember another motto: “We’re all immigrants.” None of us were born here in the United States because we’re somehow better than others and so deserve greater opportunities. We pretty much just got here by chance. So we have absolutely no right to make America into an exclusive club. That’s a great way to encourage anti-Americanism and to wreck the moral foundation of our thriving economy all at the same time. Let them immigrate legally, and make it possible for real, significant numbers of people to do so. And not just the wealthy citizens of other countries. What happened to this idea?:

“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

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