For the good of all

This blog post explores point #2 mentioned in ‘A new beginning.’ If you haven’t read that post, it is recommended reading before reading this post.

Good policy is one that is made in the best interests of every citizen in the country. That is the gold standard one would aim for. In practice, it ‘s hard to make policy that is in everyone’s best interest. Any policy is quite likely to inconvenience some and perhaps even affect some adversely.

A well-run democracy would be one where decisions made, and laws passed take into account the vast majority of the populace. If we look back at the history of American democracy, it was more or less doing this, despite how bad it might seem, given mistakes such as allowing slavery and not having universal suffrage. These were addressed in time due to great leaders, elected or not, and due to movements forming around such leaders that led to a change in practices and enactment of necessary laws.

So what changed?

Corporate lobbying picked up in the 70s and has since had tremendous growth. Up until the 70s corporate lobbying was largely done individually by a corporation, but that changed with the Business Roundtable. By the 80s corporate lobbying was very well established.

Lobbying in itself isn’t bad. But too much of anything is harmful. We now have a system that is mostly driven by corporate interests and very little by public interest groups and labor groups.

The dismantling of America

There is a lot of talk about how American is the land of the free and how we have the best. Is this true?

The pioneering spirit of America was tamed in many ways. Here are a few:

  • Taxes on your income: Income tax was passed by Congress with the 16th amendment to the constitution in 1909 and ratified it in 1913. Prior to that Lincoln (by approval of congress) imposed a 3% tax on income in 1861 on income greater than $800, to help pursue the Civil War. Congress repealed this in 1871.

    Clearly what was done in 1861 was need based — to deal with an emergency. The motive for the 16th amendment was an effort to increase revenue while reducing the burden on the poor, as tariffs which were the primary source of income for states and federal government affected the poor.

    It is ironical that more than 7 million Americans get pushed below the poverty line due to income taxes. Why do we have this situation? Because we don’t have inflation-adjusted income taxes, resulting in onerous taxation as the years go by.

  • Reduction of medical choice: America used to be well known for homeopathic medicines, colleges, and doctors. Homeopathy had gained recognition in the US because of its success in treating the many disease epidemics rampant at the time — including scarlet fever, typhoid, cholera and yellow fever.

    The American Medical Association and the Drug companies couldn’t have this, as this created a system that was not very remunerative. You see natural substances can’t be patented and the drug companies couldn’t have this. The AMA felt it was under threat with the popularity of homeopathy and used double-blind studies to discredit homeopathy. Double blind studies wouldn’t make sense for homeopathy — due to its holistic approach to matching a remedy to a patient. Dr. Bill Gray’s book “Homeopathy Science or Myth” provides a good account of how homeopathy was decimated in the 1920s.

    A homeopathic remedy costs about $10 – $30 and lasts a long time. Compare this to the 100s of dollars for an artificially made drug (which does nothing to cure, but merely palliates or suppresses a symptom). This is profit at play. Profit is dictating policy, either through direct or indirect means.

    And we now have a health crisis in this country and crazy health insurance premiums. Is this the land of the free? India, a young democracy (but the largest) has more freedom when it comes to health than the United States.

  • School choice: With the advent of public schools and school districts, the country has created inequality of the worst kind. Anyone should be able to go to any school, and with such a system, you have the fluidity of access to good schools and a way to prevent appropriation of a school by a community. The district based system has created poverty on an ongoing basis by restricting access to good schools for the economically poor or lower middle class.

    This further limits the choice of where people can live and the consequent urban problems such as long commutes for parents.

  • A socialist agenda: The Affordable Care Act (a.k.a Obamacare) is being touted by many as socialist. But it goes back to the institution of Income tax and the subsequent introduction of Social Security taxes and Medicare taxes.

    These are well-meaning measures (except income tax), but could have been handled differently. For one, a self-managed system of investing, including investment in metals and real-estate could have created more security for individuals than a state-managed fund (which has no accountability or transparency).

    401K plans were an opportunity to allow for something like that, but Wall Street lobbies have ensured that 401k plans can invest only in the stock market. This is an example of the greater good sacrificed for the interests of a few.

  • Globalization: Globalization is great if you are a corporation or a business owner that can source materials and finished products from another country that has a lower currency value than the US dollar.

    The interests of the ordinary people have been fully forgotten. Where is the factory worker going to get his pay, with factories disappearing? This was a question that was never asked and never answered. The result is we have ghost towns around the country and a lot of broken lives and misery.

    And we need Obamacare? If one can’t pay his bill because his factory closed or laid off, what is one going to do with Obamacare and how is one going to pay the premiums?

    Trump is getting so much attention because he clearly sees what Globalization has done to the economy. The 1% vs. 99% is a result of ill-formed policies such as Globalization.

    Trade is good, but not the trade of finished products at the expense of locally finished products. All finished products are a competition to local production. Raw material import and finished good exports have to balance more or less.

    The welfare of natural persons is as important as the well-being of artificial persons (corporations), and that begins with ensuring that people can be employed and live with dignity.

Decision making and policy should take the good of the vast majority into account. If policy making were done in such manner, we wouldn’t have the poverty levels we have now. It is morally reprehensible to tax people that make as little as $12,000 a year.

There should be no taxes for anyone making under $60,000, and it should be inflation linked so that we don’t have the situation recur in another 10 years.

Don’t let the government take care of you. Let it serve you with good policies that help you do your thing. Special interests, be it lobbying by teacher’s union or big pharma, are the enemy of the public good.

Extremes are counter-productive

This post expands on #1 from ‘A new beginning.’ If you haven’t read that post, it is recommended reading before reading this post.

Extremes here, refer to an extreme leftist view or policy or an extreme rightist view or policy. These are counter-productive, and we will examine how that is so.

Before we move further with the examination of such an extreme view or policy, it is important to understand what a leftist view is and what a rightist view is.

A quick trip to the wikipedia article on left-right politics defines what left is and what right is. It defines left as the “party of movement” and the right as the “party of order.” I don’t like that definition very much as it defines it in the context of France.

The Wikipedia article also puts racial equality in the left wing and not in the right wing. Racial discrimination does not always hold true and in the United States, the Republican Party which is the bulwark of the right, has been home to President Abraham Lincoln who abolished slavery in the 19th century. So apparently what is considered ‘right’ in France doesn’t necessarily translate as ‘right’ in the United States. Although, if one examines the general thought of an average right leaning person, he or she might carry racial biases. Then there is what one hears about ‘opposition to immigration’ in the right. Again this is not a universal right view. And immigration has been extended to condone illegal immigration… which is absolute insanity.

Enough said on what others think about right and left.

Here is what, I think about what is right and what is left.

Right

  • A religious world-view.
  • Fiscal conservatism.
  • A desire to retain what exists and a desire to cherish the past.
  • A general preference to lower taxes.
  • Favors lower regulation.

Left

  • A secular world-view.
  • Fiscally non-conservative, due to a socialist bent.
  • A desire to embrace the new, often uncoventional.
  • A general preference for higher taxes or progressively higher levels of taxation.
  • Favors higher regulation.

If you examine these five major areas that define the Left and the Right, people who gravitate to the Left or the Right, do so based on where they see themselves in these five areas.

When one gets very extreme on the Right or very extreme on the Left, it gets ugly. Lets examine how.

Worldview

When one takes a world view that is exclusively religious or secular in nature, it can get pretty hard to see another point of view.

Most people are pretty decent, they have their religious world view, profess it, expound it, but don’t deny you your freedom to do what you want, as long as it doesn’t hurt another being. In other words, there is tolerance or even better an appreciation of a different worldview. The vast majority of people, in my view, are of this kind. But if you listen to traditional media or the rhetoric out there, it seems like such a group is in the minority. No truly religious person can harbor hate for another, just because another is different.

Extremes in world view, be it religious or secular, creates a problem. Herein comes enforcement of one’s worldview on another or others, denying them their right to their worldview.

An extreme right view has resulted in bans on abortions, homophobia, supporting civilian weaponry that is fit for battle use, etc.

An extreme left view has led to enforced vaccinations with no regard to religious beliefs, promoting promiscuity and homosexuality as if it is normal human behavior and teaching it to be so to children, a reliance on science to the exclusivity of intuition and what one might call knowingness.

Neither of this is healthy.

A rational centrist view would be this:

  1. Instead of banning abortions, work on addressing the social factors that contribute to it. Such work can be in the form of education to prevent unwanted or teen pregnancies.
  2. Homophobia would be replaced with understanding, but would also not talk about it as being normal and talk about marriage equality. Normal is what a majority of the populace does. A normal distribution is more likely to describe human sexual preferences. A few outliers, don’t have to occupy the national consciousness.

    The most important thing when it comes to lesbian or gay persons is this. Treat them as you would want to be treated. Yeah, such a person is different, but treat them as you would want to be treated. If that is adhered to by one and all, then half the social anxiety around this issue will disappear.

  3. The right to bear arms would be limited to weapons of reasonable power. After all, you are not going to allow an average citizen to carry a nuclear weapon.

    The Random House dictionary defines arms as firearms and firearms is defined as “a small arms weapon, as a rifle or pistol, from which a projectile is fired by gunpowder.” The second amendment is sacred, but it also has to be reasonable. There is this whole subject of what causes the kind of mass killings/shootings, and I will cover that in a separate post.

  4. Science is great. I love it. I have made my living due to a scientific bent of mind. But what also appalls me is that what is promoted as science is accepted as such, without questioning who is speaking? Does the person or institution speaking have a vested interest in promoting a certain worldview or achieving a particular outcome?

    Vaccination is one subject that brings this to light, as does the belief that psychotropic drugs are truly beneficial. Who is behind these? What is the real science behind this? What are the real numbers behind these? Any person that says they are scientific should examine the facts and the credibility and motives of the entity or entities promoting these. A blind acceptance of anything branded as scientific is no better than a blind acceptance of anything that is branded as religious. Here the extreme leftist is no different than the extreme rightist.

    A person that has a truly scientific mind would be one who examines something oneself, sees that it is true and then accept it so and when found not to be so would reject it.

The problem with being too leftist or two rightist is that the mind is too fixed to entertain a different worldview and is actually looking for data to support ones prejudices and promotes opinions as facts and doesn’t examine facts put forth to truly vet it, as to source, validity of the data or study etc. How could such minds work together as officials or representatives or as the President to achieve cooperation and consensus and get things done? The grid lock seen in Washington for the last 8 years, is just a flat out unreasoanblness of both the left and the right, but it also arose from a President who was unwilling to be bi-partisan and was unwilling to achieve consensus.

This then is the view of the rational centrist: A scientific inquiring mind, a mind free of dogma, a mind that is truly free and is humane and understands the human condition but also aspires to improve it, not by force or enforcement, but by education and enlightenment.

It takes work to be a rational centrist, to be a moderate. But it is worth it, for that is the way to a better future. This the direction that elected officials and representatives should be moving in. Party affliations can’t come in the way of serving the people and serving them well and that requires a free mind, a mind that can take on a different viewpoint and change a viewpoint.

Rationality with a centrist viewpoint, is the way to a better future.

 

 

 

 

 

A new beginning

This is the post excerpt.

Welcome to ‘The Rational Centrist.’ We are a site dedicated to all those that are tired of the rhetoric of the left and the right. If you are sick of the democratic party or the republican party or if you just want a different viewpoint to augment your own political and social views, this would be a good blog to follow. We would love to hear your feedback.

We need a new beginning, one that marks cooperation as the keystone to progress and civil discourse.

Rationality has to be defined first, for, without a definition of what it means to be rational, we can’t go too far on this journey of a new beginning.

Left or right, there is rationality. What underlies those views, are the assumptions and beliefs, which come from the viewpoint taken. Your viewpoint determines what you value, what assumptions and beliefs you take or agree with.

Our hope is to create a shift in viewpoint. This is not an easy task, and that is why we begin with defining what a rational centrist viewpoint would be and here is take one of it:

  1. Extremes are counter productive.
  2. Any policy, law or regulation must take into view the wellbeing of all citizens of a nation.
  3. A government exists to serve the people.
  4. Decision making should be based on data.
  5. Solvency of individuals, organizations and governments are vital to social stability.
  6. Long-term social, economic and environmental health are important and should have due weight in policymaking.
  7. The basic building block of a nation and society is the family, and social health depends on the financial, emotional and ethical health of families.
  8. We need a way to help or support each other.
  9. Policy and decision making should be free of special interests.
  10. Democracy is not likely the best system possible but is likely the one that is most workable.
  11. Representational democracy is fine as a system, as long as all representatives are highly ethical and are not unduly influenced by lobbying.
  12. Direct democracy is now possible given the technology, but it will take a constitutional amendment and a much wiser populace for it to be better than representational democracy.
  13. We will always need leaders.
  14. Nations help create cultural units that are large enough to be self-sustaining.
  15. We need a true assembly of nations with proportional representation. An anarchy of nations is not a very safe way to live.

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