I’m going to talk about something here that may be, but hopefully will not turn out to be, explosive: politics. Specifically, my views on certain things, because several things have been weighing on my mind recently, this is one of them, and I’m hoping that putting some of it out in a relatively coherent form will keep it from taking up more of my own headspace.
First, let’s get the obvious out of the way: I’m a liberal. I have probably mentioned that in the past, but it hasn’t changed. I don’t necessarily mean that I’m a Democrat – I am, as it turns out, but only because it’s the one of the two major US parties that comes even kind of close to some of my views. I’m not necessarily tied to the Democrat ‘brand’, so let’s avoid that one and stick with my views of various topics.
First, the one that might be closest to me, health care. As am American, I believe in the whole ‘life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness’ deal, and to get the ‘life’ part, you need your health. The US healthcare system is pretty badly messed up, and if there were a way to tear it down and rebuild it in a way that not only helped most of the people who need it most but keep most of the people who are employed in it employed gainfully, I’d do that. Because I suffer from the ‘pre-existing condition’ of major clinical depression, before the ACA went into effect I couldn’t get any kind of health insurance on my own, which sucks – my medications, with any insurance coverage, run $500+ a month, and many doctors won’t see you even for a routine check-up if you don’t have insurance. I know the ACA is far, far from perfect; I have a friend who has been kinda of screwed over by the restrictions on it, and the legalese makes my head hurt. But it’s better than what we had – and I think it still needs to be vastly better. Everyone in the US should have the ability to get affordable healthcare. I’m not an expert by any means, but I would love a system that somehow gave everyone healthcare without bankrupting people.
Second, education. I’m kind of an academic, so this one, too, is close to me. I have a BA, and MA, almost got a PhD, and I’m trying to go back and get an MSW. I know an education can be valuable, even if that value may not always be in getting a great job.And I know an educated populace is going to be better prepared to figure out what to do with the government and the general running of the country. I think there should be some kind of standard across the country for pre-college education; there’s no reason that, for instance, Iowa needs different pre-college education requirements than, say, Nebraska, or Missouri. There are 50 states, but those 50 are all part of one country, and knowing that a high schooler three states over from you is getting basically the same kind of information as you when you go to high school is good. It makes college things easier, as well, because then colleges have an easier time knowing what students should know by the time they get to college. And one state, or a couple, should not be essentially running the show as far as textbook materials are concerned, especially when that material is blatantly not true and pushes an agenda – this article on the Texas Board of Education’s effect on textbooks is kind of scary. I know that the process will almost always be political to some extent, in one direction or another, but I think every effort should be made to keep things as factual and educational as possible.
Third, I think minimum wage should be higher. Now, I’m biased, because right now I work for minimum wage, or just above it, but in my mind, the ‘minimum’ in minimum wage should be, essentially, the minimum amount one can earn at a full-time job and not require other funding to support oneself and afford food, housing, and other necessities. I know this would be hard on some businesses, but on some of the largest, they keep wages that low because they can essentially get the government to then subsidize their employees – this article notes Walmart as one of the big offenders here, costing taxpayers billions in public assistance so they can pay their workers less – and then turn around and profit on the assistance, given that many people on government assistance shop at Walmart because of low prices. To put it simply – if someone cant’ survive on what they are making when they are working a full-time job, then something is wrong. If an employer values a position so little that he/she/it won’t pay enough for a worker in that position to live on it (assuming the position is full-time), then eliminate the position, because it clearly isn’t necessary. If you need a full-time position filled, then pay that employee enough to live on.
I think the government needs to re-prioritize some of its spending, too. I know infrastructure spending isn’t exciting or sexy (though I recommend watching this John Oliver clip on it, because let’s face it, the man is both right and hilarious), but our country runs on it, and our, nationally, is…well, kinda falling apart. Meanwhile, as of last year, we have spent over a trillion dollars on a new fighter plane design that we don’t even have a working version of yet (look up the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program). We could probably have rebuilt every unsound road, bridge, dam, and other infrastructure installment with money left over for that amount of money. So I think we need to look at our government budget and see where things actually need to go – not where some congressman wants extra funding to go just to get re-elected, but where government money needs to actually go. Rebuilding infrastructure would be a good place to at least do some looking into.
I could say something about corporate influence – like the idea that corporations can be people, and that they can have some kind of moral control over their employees, like Hobby Lobby. Or the idea that money can be seen as speech (which is true, as long as we’re clear that that speech is bribery). But to be fair, while I have opinions on these things, I have no good sources to offer that can explain things more clearly, or that contain anything resembling facts. And without some kind of fact base, I don’t want to get into a political flamewar. I’m open to talking about these things – I am not a fervent political operative by any means. I would just prefer to have an intelligent conversation about these kinds of things, without the assumption, on either side, that the other person thinks the other arguer is somehow stupid, mentally deficient, or some other kind of insulting terminology.
So, that’s what’s going on in my head right now, at least partially. If you want to talk about any of this, get in touch with me. I promise I will make every effort to have a cogent, intelligent discussion. And if nothing else, we can talk about John Oliver and FIFA, which is always a good time.