I was with my breakfast group on Friday morning when one of my friends asked about my political affiliation. I had to pause a bit before answering. I have probably voted for more Democrats than Republicans lately, but over the long haul it has been about an even mix. Either way I usually hold my nose. So, I didn’t have a ready answer.
But I did recount a recent incident that stirred my political predilections. I was sitting in my office one afternoon when a nice young firefighter came in. I greeted him and asked what we could do for him. He was checking to make sure we had fire extinguishers and that they were in working order. We had one, but the receipt showing date of purchase was not taped to the outside so he wrote us up.
In the past month I have been audited by my bank (which had to audit me as part of their upcoming audit); I have had to provide classes on company time for 3 employees who have to pass a new federally mandated national licensing exam (total cost per employee approximately $1000); I have been audited by the Texas Workforce Commission (one day); I have been audited by the Texas Office of Consumer Credit Commissioner (3 days); I have submitted 3 separate government reports; and had my fire extinguishers checked by a freshly scrubbed newbie.
These events triggered some serious white man rage. I was going to try to counter balance this rage with a healthy dose of white man guilt by going to see “The Help” later this week. But instead I decided to put myself through a quick examination of where I currently stand on various issues.
I don’t talk about politics too often. I think it’s largely a game of egos and obscene money on both sides of the aisle. In terms of whorish behavior I don’t think there’s a dime’s worth of difference between the two parties. And there are too many petty distractions. The Obama birth certificate bullshit or the investigation into the investment by Rick Perry in a video chain that sold (“gasp”) pornographic videos. He wanted the investment to make money I presume.
I am mystified by people who see the world in absolutes. I have never been the type to do this. To me the world screams shades of gray and every other color in the spectrum. I also try to avoid categorizing and demonizing people who disagree with me.
But categorizing and demonizing could have made this such an elementary exercise. For example, look at this fella. I’m probably “for” everything he is “against.”
Or this guy. Representative David Wu, Democrat from Oregon. I’m probably “against” everything he is “for.”
But one appears to be a nut job right winger and the other appears to be a nut job left winger. So where do I stand? Here is my manifesto for today. This is subject to ongoing revision.
- I believe most Americans are hard working, decent people who want to earn an honest, fair wage.
- I believe most privately held corporations understand the importance of accountability and try to do the right thing.
- I believe most publicly traded corporations also want to be good corporate citizens but are too often beholden to earnings and Wall Street.
- I know that the only thing that will save our future is the health and prosperity of these very corporations.
- I believe there is far too much government waste and regulation. Pensions and federal payrolls are out of control. When a school superintendent makes $375,000 per year and can retire at age 60 with a pension that pays 80% of his salary, it is a recipe for disaster. The same holds true when a firefighter is going from business to business checking fire extinguishers instead of fighting fires. There should be radical cuts in government spending. But we will not work our way out of debt by spending cuts alone.
- I believe in a flat tax. But until that is accomplished I don’t think we should rule out the expiration of the Bush tax cuts. I often hear the argument that 50% of the population pays no income tax at all. However the bottom 50 % of wage earners account for about 2.5 % of the wealth in this country. Even if you add every one of these people to the tax rolls you will not move the needle in any meaningful way. Bill Clinton raised taxes and presided over one of the longest periods of economic prosperity in our history. Even Ronald Reagan (after his 1981 tax cuts and when unemployment was above 10%) raised taxes 7 times during his 2 terms.
- I believe in term limits.
- I think the debate surrounding most social issues has been hijacked by the extremists in both parties.
- I believe our courts, while imperfect, are the only places where average Americans still have a fighting chance. As a result I am opposed to most tort reform.
- I think the single biggest problem we face is an uneducated workforce. But our money should go to teachers and not administrators. I believe teachers unions are only interested in preserving the status quo. The status quo will not work. We need to radically rethink the way we educate our children. According to UNESCO, in the next 30 years more people will be graduating from college than the number combined since the beginning of history. As Tom Friedman wrote: We had to find our job; our kids will have to invent their job.
11. I believe we should have a sensible immigration policy that gives immigrants an opportunity to come here and establish citizenship. (Here I sound like a Democrat but keep in mind that Ronald Reagan granted amnesty to over 3 million illegal aliens during his Presidency.) Get these folks out of the shadows and onto the tax rolls.
12. I believe that gays should be accorded the right to establish a legally recognized marital union.
13. I believe in a strong, smart, nimble, mobile military. But there is no way we can sustain our military budgets as they currently stand. I also believe the “trade the devil you know for the devil you don’t” foreign policy in the name of democracy, while perhaps well intentioned, is short sighted and ultimately disastrous. (eg. Iraq, Libya).
14. I believe global warming is real and needs to be addressed. I also believe that it makes good business sense for corporations to reduce their carbon emissions.
So where does that leave me? Ah the hell with restraint and decorum. It really is easier to demonize. So I guess I’m somewhere between
Out here in a sea of gray.