Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Political Spectrum

My Political Views
I am a left social libertarian
Left: 6.32, Libertarian: 4.38

Political Spectrum Quiz

I found this test very American-centric. The opinion on cutting military spending was a problematic one, for example, since our military is massively under-funded, so even though I don't support offensive military action, I would support them being adequately funded for peacekeeping and sovereignty duties. However, it was clear the question was geared to Americans, whose military has a black budget and is inclined towards offensive military campaigns, so I would support cuts to their military spending. Regardless, my results are fairly predictable. I think I'm less libertarian in reality than the quiz indicates, since I support government taxation to fund social programs to a greater extent than the questions asked could explain, but again, it was clearly US-centric.

The quiz divides it up into foreign policy and culture specifically as well:

My Foreign Policy Views
Score: -6.77

Political Spectrum Quiz

My Culture War Stance
Score: -7.43

Political Spectrum Quiz

No surprises there. I like peacekeeping and I don't like governments trying to legislate their religious morality on everyone else (big shocker there, I know).

Now might be a good time to outline (briefly) my position on several major issues:

I am pro-choice. Pro-every-choice. I believe both that women have an absolute right to their reproductive freedom, and so abortion should be both legal and easily available, but I also believe that women should not be criticized for choosing motherhood as a career path. Feminism gave us the ability to choose something other than being a housewife and a mother. That doesn't mean we are obligated somehow to not pursue that option.

I am pro-gay in general and pro-same-sex-marriage. Being gay is not a choice, nor is it somehow immoral in the least. Marriage is not a special word that only religious people get to use. It is the name of a legal contract that two people choose to enter that has secular consequences. It can have spiritual consequences as well, but the religious ceremony and the legal contract are two separate things. My favourite argument is this: if marriage is solely a religious commitment, why can I, a mouthy atheist, get married in a hall by a justice of the peace to another atheist as long as the other atheist is a man? If marriage is a religious thing, you should be trying to annul all the atheistic marriages, not all the same-sex ones. My second-favourite argument is that it's been legal here for nearly five years and so far, no divine retribution. Either your god doesn't care, or your god doesn't exist. Either way, you're wrong.

I am also pro-universal social services, so pro-universal health care, pro-welfare, pro-universal drug plans, and pro-subsidized higher education. I think our health care system needs work (and could benefit greatly from creating a fast-track qualification program for foreign-trained doctors), but it is a great equalizer. If no one ever needs to worry about paying a hospital bill, they are far more likely to seek treatment before things become critical. Freely available health care improves the health of the whole population and gives the poor the same ability to maintain good health as the rich. In the US, I hear a lot about the inequality of the races. I don't think race is the problem anymore. At one time, visible minorities were oppressed and became impoverished as a result, and then, despite the civil rights movement, they couldn't achieve equality with their white oppressors not because of racism, but because of their continued poverty. There was no support system to keep them healthy and fed, no universally funded education system to help them learn, and no subsidization of the costs of higher education to help them get better jobs and so to give them a fair chance at achieving true equality. The problem in the US now is poverty more than any remnants of a racist past. A better social support structure would eliminate a lot of the inequalities like no anti-racism equality plan ever could.

I am anti-war. I am patriotic, and I can see the justification for some past conflicts, so I support the sacrifices of the military. I will never belittle the dangerous position they put themselves in for our sake. But I think world conflicts are only exacerbated, not solved, by war. Peacekeeping, diplomatic negotiation, and economic sanctions are all better ways of managing foreign conflicts than killing people.

I am also anti-gun. Hunting, fine. Police, fine. Sport shooting, fine. Personal handguns? No freaking way. Those aren't for shooting moose or ducks. Those are for killing people. The less guns there are out there, the less guns the criminals have access to. And we have very few gun murders in a year in this country, the majority of those being gang-related, not as a function of criminal activity against innocent citizens. If ordinary citizens don't have guns, most of the time criminals don't bother getting them either. But if everyone has a gun, it's more likely that someone will get shot. Especially if those people with guns are not experienced hunters or trained to handle guns, but ordinary people who don't know enough about using a deadly weapon to be expected to store it safely and to keep calm in a dangerous situation.

Obviously, I am anti-morality legislation. Legislating religious beliefs into "blue laws" or other rules that have no value as laws except to impose the morality of a single belief system onto everyone in a population is not only ridiculous but also unsupportable by the principles of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. As an atheist, those sorts of things mostly just piss me off.

I am, however, anti-hate speech. This may seem at odds with free speech, but I believe that if it is a narrow enough definition, it is a very important tool to prevent the spread of hate and continued oppression of minority groups. I do think that the government in a democracy has a responsibility to protect the minority groups, even though they are elected by the majority. People shouldn't be able to get away with trying to convince people that some group is worthy of derision by publicly decrying them with hate speech. Hopefully one day hate speech laws will be irrelevant. But for now, they are a way to protect minority groups from propaganda meant to damage them just for belonging to that group.

I am pro-capitalism, but only with industry regulations and anti-monopoly statutes, as well as unions and minimum wage/workplace safety laws. Competition produces a healthy economy and a better quality of life in a country, but unregulated capitalism produces a 95/5 problem where 95% of the wealth is held by 5% of the population. Social responsibility and some government regulation helps that wealth spread out a bit.

Finally, I am anti-censorship. Hate speech should have consequences, but should not be hidden. "Bad" language, video game violence, and pornography are things that we should learn to adapt to and respond appropriately to, not things that we should try to ban. Parents should control what their children are exposed to based on their parenting philosophy, but the violence and nudity still exists and needs to be dealt with, not censored.

Overall, I think that putting someone somewhere on a political spectrum is maybe too simplistic. A person's views are not one-dimensional or even two-dimensional; they are so multi-dimensional that each person has a political spectrum position that is not exactly the same as any other person on the planet. That is why I don't like labels for political opinions in general; I am left-wing in relation to my own country's definition of the word, but other than that I'm not willing to use many other labels, because (as seen above) there are just too many to list in an easy package of opinions.

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