TurtleMode on “Politics”

It’s Independence Day!  Or the 4th of July.  But I prefer Independence Day.  To me, calling it the 4th of July cheapens the true intent of the holiday.  Sort of like Memorial Day sales.  I love capitalism, but certain parts of it like the extravagant commercialization of holidays tend to irk me sometimes.  Maybe it’s just a sore spot for me, but one of my favorite periods of history to study is the American Revolution.  Ask me who the top 5 best Presidents are in our history and I’ll list off our first 5:  Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe.  In that order.  They literally created the United States.  Everyone since then is just riding on their coat-tails.

But with the celebration of Independence Day, there always comes with it an uptick in “Politics”.  Why are conversations and viewpoints on how our country/state/county/city should be governed so polarizing?  It brings people to anger sometimes, myself included.  Social etiquette tells us that politics is among of group of topics that we shouldn’t discuss but with our closest family and friends.  Is it because an attack on certain political viewpoints is internalized as an attack on ourselves?  Or is it because it can touch so many aspects of our lives at once?  I love to discuss politics but know that not everyone does for fear of offending other people.  But I’m going to take a risk here and expound on my political views that I’ve started expressing in my Introduction post and my post on the Paris Climate Accord.  Be open minded, I know I am.  A common saying in economics is “opinions change when the facts change”.  I think that can be applied to politics as well.

Above all else, I support Individualism.  I think this may best be expressed by a quote from Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand: “I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine”.  Put another way, it’s perfectly fine to be selfish and consider your needs above the needs of anyone else.  But by subscribing to this idea, you have to realize that other people are not responsible for your life and how you choose to live it.  One of my favorite thought experiments is imagine you are walking along by yourself in the woods and you come across a deep pond with a young child that is obviously drowning in the middle of it.  What would you do?  A perfectly reasonable response would be to save this child.  But let’s change the scenario a bit.  What if the pond has a sign next to it that says, “Do Not Swim, water contains radioactive contamination that can lead to cancer”.  Or maybe you can’t swim at all yourself.  Would you attempt to rescue the child then?  It’s okay if your answer is no.  There is no wrong in self-preservation.

It’s my strong view on self-reliance and independence that form the basis for my political views.  But I also think it shouldn’t be confused with lack of empathy for those less fortunate.  It just shouldn’t be a requirement forced on you by law that you must care for the less fortunate.  In the absence of programs such as social security, Medicare/Medicaid, welfare, etc., I believe that most people would voluntarily contribute to supporting the less fortunate.  But it’s not immoral if you don’t.  Maybe it can best be thought of as an expanding set of concentric circles of whom you should help with the center being the highest priority and the exterior the least priority.  For me, it would go in this order:  Myself, my family, my friends, my neighbors, my city, my state, my country, all of humanity, all of life.  The last two are another sore spot to me as I too often witness people condemning welfare while donating money to the humane society.  I feel that humans should always be placed above other animals or plants, no matter how the commercials tug on your heartstrings.

I’m also in favor in the reduction of regulations to the bare possible minimum.  I understand that certain regulations are in place to establish physical safety, but I think it should stop there.  Employment is one place that I think is way too over-regulated.  Two examples are minimum wage requirements and any type of age or gender restrictions.  Insurance is another regulation that I think has gone too far, particularly the requirement for health and auto insurance.  I’ll elaborate on insurance in another post as I am very anti-insurance.  Going back to employment regulations, I think that the intent behind many regulations is misguided.  The governing bodies that piss me off the most are athletic related such as the NCAA.  Anything that denies people the chance to earn money is ridiculous.

What’s interesting is my view on individualism leads to my support of ideas that are both Republican and Democrat.  I always find myself leaning Libertarian, with support for minimal rules and regulations.  The Republican ideas that I support are minimal taxes with minimal government spending on entitlements (social security, Medicare/Medicaid, welfare, etc.).  The Democrat ideas that I support are social freedom:  pro marriage between anyone, pro-choice, legalization of drugs, etc.  To sum it up, “live and let live” is the best way I can put it.  Don’t try to project your ideals on the general population.  In the end, what is best to remember today is the men and women that fought and continue to fight for our freedom to have varying political opinions.  Mine aren’t the same as any of yours, and it is our right to disagree.