Alarming News

July 27, 2004

What do you care about?

A friend of mine asked me recently who I thought he should vote for. My liberal readers may be happy to know that I don’t automatically say ‘Bush’ (but should be equally horrified to know that I’m asked this question all the time). I asked him what his major issues were and he said he would get back to me with a short list. It got me thinking that the summer before a presidential election might be a good time for me to lay out my own list. Here goes:

1. War on Terror. My choice candidate will understand that the war on terror is just that, a war, and he will act accordingly. This is the mother of all issues for me. If I thought, for one second, that Bush would falter or waiver from the war on terror, that he would ease us back into the September 10th blissful ignorance, he would not have my support.

2. Smaller government/low taxes. I know, I know, Bush is a big spender so how could I still like him? Well, first of all, see #1 above. Everything is a far second to me these days. Nothing will matter, not government spending or entitlement programs, if we’re all dead. Additionally, in order for me to vote against Bush because of his spending, I’d have to believe that Kerry would have more fiscal restraint. Now really, how many liberal career politicians have any such restraint? I love Bush’s tax cut and I think it needs to be made permanent.

3. Social Security Reform. I do not believe that Social Security will exist by the time I am eligible for it and it angers me to no end that I’m forced to pay into a system that will never benefit me. I would like to be able to use even a fraction of the money and invest it as I choose. Unfortunately, it seems that neither party is all too interested in making necessary changes. Too bad.

4. School Vouchers. Public schools, particularly in urban areas, just don’t work. It costs about $12,000 to educate kids in the decrepit public schools of NYC. My private school in Brooklyn, on a hill with grass and a class size of about 15, cost less. Parents shouldn’t have to send their kids to failing schools. They should be allowed to take the money that would’ve been spent on behalf of their child in public school and use it to send their kid to the school of their choice.

5. Gun rights. I know it’s odd that a Jewish girl from New York City is as pro-gun as I am. Peter visited me in Georgia and on his last day there we went to Kennesaw, the town famous for its law requiring every Head of Household to own a gun. They have near zero crime. The last murder they had was recently and it was someone being beaten to death. The murder before that was over a decade ago and it involved a knife. The big joke about gun control always involves Washington D.C. As you may know, guns are completely illegal within DC borders. Funny how it manages to be in the top 5 for gun deaths each year then. Making guns illegal insures that law-abiding citizens will not have guns while thugs and criminals certainly will. I worked with someone recently that was pro-life and saw that as his major political issue. He said ‘I just don’t trust candidates that aren’t pro-life’. I feel much the same way about gun rights.

These are my top 5. I have other issues that I care about but really, number one is, by far, my most important. So, readers, I invite you to share your 5 in the comment section (but please, don’t be like John Kerry- don’t just say ‘the economy’, actually offer what you believe might be working solutions). I’m sure we’re in for some interesting reading.

Posted by Karol at 10:03 AM |

Topic stealer. I was about to post a similar “issues list!” Bastard. I mean b%$^#rd. (Don’t want to get banned for running afoul of your comment policy.)

Posted by: Dawn Summers at July 27, 2004 at 12:07 pm

Good post. Here is my totally right wing vision.
1. Homeland security. The defense of American citizens means a hell of a lot more to me than if Iraqis are free or if Palastenians and Israelis are killing each other. That means pulling troops out of countries that can defend themselves (Germany and Japan come to mind) and having them in the US. While the best defense may be a good offense, despite invading Iraq and Afganistan, Al-Queda is stil out there and so is Bin-Laden. I have grave doubts about both Bush and Kerry who both seem more concerned about international affairs than what they should focus on: “establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.”
2. Preserving American culture. Crack down on illegal immigrants; maintain English as the language of this republic; restore the Western traditions that this nation was founded on; restore religion (including the God whose Son died for us which is the religion of the overwhelming majority of this republic) to the public square. Again Kerry and Bush are awful on this issue. No, W. with his open borders policy is lousy on this one.
3. Smaller government/lower taxes/states rights. Like Karol, I agree that W. is bad on this one with his massive defecits, increase in government spending (not all of which went to the war on terror-indeed his increased funding for the National Endowment of the Arts is a blow in the war against religious Americans). I think a lot of cultural issues can be decided at the state level. If Nebraska wants to be pro life and pro gun fine. Let them. If New York wants to be pro sodomy marriage and wants to kill unborn babies, let them. Schools can be controlled at a local level. And of course, lower taxes across the board. I think allowing states to have their own standards will allow communities to stand up against a tyranical central government and big businesses that sponosor filth (if you doubt this, look at your tv or listen to the radio) as long as it makes them cash. Yes libertarian values lead to libertine ones. Again, Bush and Kerry are both terrible here.
4. A republic, not a democracy. Abolish the direct election of US Senators, leash in the Supreme Court and the judicial branch which are both out of control. Maintain the electoral college. Let states that want them have term limits. Yeah. Neither of the Yale boys are touching this one either.
5. Free trade. This one speaks for itself. Bush is no good here either based on his whole steel tarrif pander. Not that Kerry is any better.
If my state is close in Novemeber, I will vote for Bush who will at least maybe appoint someone to the SCOTUS who will reign in the federal leviathin. If Nevada looks like a blow out, I’ll cheefully vote for Michael Peroutka. At the end of the day, we have two parties that fight for two branches that are meaningless. The only thing they fight over is who will be our unelected robed masters who make laws, shoot down laws and are responsible to nobody. Not exactly what Jefferson and Madison had in mind.

Posted by: Von Bek at July 27, 2004 at 12:34 pm

at least you were trying to be impartial with the fellow.
I would have tried to convince the person that my list was their list, and then they would vote for the same person as me.

Posted by: cube at July 27, 2004 at 12:46 pm

Karol, some questions. First, I have no real comments on 2, 3, 5. I think Kerry would be more fiscally responsible then Bush, but admit it is a crap shoot and depends on point of view and there is no point in us arguing on that. I think you are dead on on #3. While I think the rationale for your #5 point is overly simplistic to say the least, if you believe in gun rights, I respect that.
On school vouchers. First, let me say that I think that a properly constructed voucher program is constitutional. Second, I don’t think many of them are because many do not include the right to jump to other public schools (rich, suburban public schools are, in many cities, better than most of the private schools), which raises serious separation of church and state issues. But leaving that aside, I’ll assume you are talking about a voucher program that gives full choice and is, therefore, constitutional (in my mind).
As a policy matter, however, how do you expect a real voucher system to work? While the concept is appealing, I can never get past the following thought experiment of different structures.
(1) If, it is a lottery and allows a few people to get vouchers, how does that address any real problems and what about the people that lose the lottery?
(2) If it is a system that gives everyone their public tax dollars (on an average basis or actually paid in?), how does that help those who still cannot afford to send their kids to private schools? Further, will this not just further degrade the public schools since the more affluent and upper middle class will get money back for sending their kids to private schools, taking away dollars from public education and putting public schools further in the tank.
(3) If it is #2 plus extra money to make up the difference for the poor people, well who is going to pay for that?!?
I think America’s most important resource are its people and I don’t think we invest enough in educating our populace. It is by no means simply a question of money (personal family responsibility is very important as well), but I think America should invest more money in making sure that all children can get a decent education and that we should raise standards. This is necessary if we want to maintain our status as the global economic leader. While vouchers sounds appealing as a free market solution, I have yet to see anything that answers the above questions from a policy point of view.
Finally, in the war on terror, if your attitude truly is, let’s make this a war and take it to the terrorists, how can you not at least question the effectiveness of this administration? I am not suggesting that you should think Kerry should do a better job, or that you should vote against Bush on this basis, but there have been so many failures and mis-steps by this administration…whether it is not committing enough troops to Afghanistan or Iraq…whether it is turning the U.S. from a country with tremendous international sympathy coming its way after 9/11 to probably our lowest post WWII level of international moral authority (based on how others view us)…whether it is the many mis-steps in Iraq. And I am not even addressing the global issue of how the Iraq move was an ineffective way to combat terrorism and a waste of resources (if anti-terror was the goal), I know we disagree on that one. How can this Administration’s actual actions against the war on terror not concern you in some way?

Posted by: Signor_Ferrari at July 27, 2004 at 1:40 pm

Von Bek:
You have outlined the most important issues of the day but I think it makes sense to vote for a Third Party especially if you are in a swing state. The only way the politicians and the media will pay attention to those who do not support the status quo is by spoiling what would have been a victory on Election Day.
And I am not sure what kind of justices GWB will appoint. I will not vote for GWB just so we might get more Souters.

Posted by: Dan at July 27, 2004 at 1:46 pm

My list:
1. Democratizing the Middle East
2. War on terror
3. Tax cuts/spending cuts
4. Ending Social Security
5. Privatizing education
Pretty similar to yours, actually. It was hard to fit them in to just 5 – that’s why I had to put tax cuts and spending cuts together.

Posted by: Yaron at July 27, 2004 at 2:17 pm

When do you think Social Security will not be there for old people? Any studies on this?

Posted by: PAUL at July 27, 2004 at 3:13 pm

I’ve heard anywhere between 30 and 50 years from now, if the system isn’t altered. Even the people who defend it agree with that, I think. But there’s a whole bunch of assumptions thrown in there about future economic growth, future spending, demographic changes, etc. so there can’t be a definitive answer.

Posted by: Yaron at July 27, 2004 at 4:00 pm

the GAO (was the general accounting office will have a study on that)

Posted by: cube at July 27, 2004 at 4:43 pm

I just got my SS Statement from the SS administration. They predict my SS payments when I retire at different retirement ages.
So are they being dishonest?
Gore wanted to put SS revenue in a lockbox. I think Bush promised not to use SS money also. Bush has broken that promise to make his record breaking deficit look less horrific.

Posted by: PAUL at July 27, 2004 at 4:53 pm

Von Beck,
how do you “restore religion to the public square?”. I love the idea of strengthening American culture, but I’m not sure if I want to see the government involved in it. The eaxamples of that would be France and the Soviet Union, and you know what happened to those cultures.
1. War on Islamofascism
While the current threat to this country is manyfold, the backbone of anti-Americanism is jihad. Until it is broken, domestic tranquility will remain a fantasy. Put more pressure on Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria. At home,
go after CAIR and similar organizations.
3. Spending
Stop giving money to preachers of Anti-Americanism, aka Social Science professors, who keep turning our Universities into their churches
4. Immigration
When letting thousands of people into this country, know who you’re letting in. Base your criteria on how a person can harm or benefit your country, not on how much they are suffering.
5. Foreign Relations
Resist white-washing of dictators and appeasement of terrorists. With countries like Sudan on the UN security council, the “international community” looks like a joke. The US is the only political entity who can bring some clarity on what can be considered a ligitimate government. The world has become too small for the US to bury its head in the sand.

Posted by: Ivan Lenin at July 27, 2004 at 5:17 pm

Two points about Social Security.
1. The statement you get from the government is not in “2004 dollars”, it is the amount you will receive when you retire, whatever year that will be. So, if the statement says you’re getting $2,500/month, realize that if you retire in 2040, taking into consideration inflation, the 2004 equivalent (what you could purchase with that money) will be consirably less, especially if you’re a long time off from retirement. Mine says $3,000 or so/month, but the equivalent, adjusting for inflation, will be around $1,200.
2. Even with that dismal payout, SS is using a formula that assumes that the “trust fund” income will meet expenses. To meet the expense level that gets you that $800/month will require raising the current 10.4% or so (half paid by you, half by your emplyer) going into SSI today, the Social Security Administration reports that taxes will need to be raised to 18 percent by 2032. Tax increases have been tried many times in the past. In fact, our politicians have raised the Social Security tax more than 30 times. (It started at 2 percent of the first $300 earned.)
Or, cut benefits by 1/3 (you get $575 instead of $800).
Some will damn the messenger, but CATO (a free-market oriented group) has a great website about it: they have a SS calculator that is quite an eye opener.

Posted by: Sean at July 27, 2004 at 5:20 pm

1. War on Islamofascism: The president should wake up every day figuring out how to take the war to the enemy. Certainly we should consolidate the gains we’ve made in Iraq and Afghanistan, but I’d also like to know what happens next? What about Iran, Syria, Saudia Arabia, North Korea? I’d like to see at least one, preferably two of these repugnant regimes ended within the next four years. Kerry’s support rests almost entirely on the promise that he wouldn’t do anything so bold. Bush might. Advantage: Bush.
2. War on Islamofascism: This is by far the most important issue, so it goes twice.
3. Social crap: Ideally I’d like a president that wasn’t a social/religious conservative, and didn’t support extreme measures like amending the consitution over culture wars issues. This is a huge disadvantage for Bush, obviously. But, given 1 and 2, what can you do?
4. Spending/size of government: As conservatives have pointed out ad nauseum, Bush hasn’t done much of anything to shrink the size of government and has done way too much domestic spending. But, I agree with Karol that Kerry would be even worse. And, I like tax cuts. They’re good things.
Advantage Bush.
5. Education: The Democrat’s rely on the the support of Teacher’s Unions who are universally opposed to any reform of the education system, and anything that creates any accountability for public school teachers. So, it’s always better to vote Republican on this issue.

Posted by: Eric Deamer at July 27, 2004 at 5:46 pm

Simple. “Under God” in the Pledge; prayer in school; restoration of religious symbols to public areas during holidays (that mean’s mangers, not Santas). I think the success of the Gibson film makes this more likely. Perhaps the dealers of filth on Madison Avenue will figure out Chesterton’s maxim: America is a nation with the soul of a church.

Posted by: Von Bek at July 27, 2004 at 6:23 pm

Paul, there’s only one thing stupider than our current social security system and that’s putting the money in a ‘lock box’ which earns zero interest.

Posted by: Karol at July 27, 2004 at 7:22 pm

The Social Security statements are dishonest in the sense that they may not be paid if the trust fund is depleted and the payroll tax is less than social security payments. This is expected to happen within a few decades.
Your obligation may be paid as expected if funds do not run out. This may happen if the payroll tax is raised, general government revenue is used to make up the shortfall or the economic and/or demographic trends are more favorable than currently predicted.

Posted by: Dan at July 27, 2004 at 9:02 pm

Since when are the North Koreans Islamofascists?
And if the history of the Clinton administration is any guide, we get less spending with a Democratic President combined with a Republican Congress. Republicans in Congress are more likely to fight against wasteful spending proposed by a president of the opposite party.

Posted by: Dan at July 27, 2004 at 11:42 pm

Thanks Sean and Dan for the SS info.
Karol, Spending it on other things like Bush is doing isn’t earning interest either and it’s a big reason why it ain’t going to be there for us when we retire. If it was in the lockbox we might get something back atleast.

Posted by: PAUL at July 28, 2004 at 2:26 am

I agree with all of your points! Not as much onthe bandwagon of #5 though…
I find it odd that my friends always question who I might vote for…I do not necessarily say “Bush” either…
My manifesto can be found here. ; )

Posted by: Jennifer at July 28, 2004 at 4:47 am

While I am not american and therefore less entitled to make a list for the coming election. I like everyone else in the western world am for better or worse affected by what happens in the United States. Therefore my list is what I would vote on if I were an American and as someone affected by the United States.
1. Foreign Policy. Stop the nonsensical policy of forced democritisation in the Middle East. One you have no right to do so and as has been seen on other blogs such as the ramblings journal you guys get very annoyed when foreigners such as myself criticise your electoral debacle in florida and call for UN monitoring. You do not have the monoply on democracy and freedom in the world. Secondly it doesn’t work. Germany after the 2nd World War is not any where near comparable to what we all hope will happen in Iraq. The arguments for this have been done to death and in anycase i am one quarter german and have spoken to family members who were alive and politically conscious at the time, one my flatmates in the last year is German and he and 4 or 5 of his german friends all agree on that.
The Israel/Palestine solution must be addressed fairly for once. This has not happend since Oslo in 1993.
If you want European support then rein in the xenophobic, morons like Sean Hannity, John Gibson and Bill O’Reilly. Following 9/11 your NATO allies invoked article 5 i think of the North Atlantic Alliance on dubious grounds. Based on your current behaviour what do you think the chances are of us doing so again if 9/11 were to be repeated? practically zero. Despite what FOX says you are not all vulnerable to a terrorist attack at any point. For 3 decades Americans sponsored the IRA in its bombing campaign. Despite many attacks the feeling in London was NOT that we were all going to be blown up and to be brutally honest Londoners had more to deal with than you lot have had.
2. Social issues. Homosexuality is NOT an abomination the bible not withstanding. Learn some biology messrs O’Reilly and Hannity. Abortion is not pleasant but at the end of the day it should be up to the woman to choose.
3. Economy. Your deficit is at a record level. Tax cuts for the super wealthy are ridiculous, INCREASE the top rate of tax, end the legal and tax loopholes that allow people like dick cheney to stash their money offshore and claim the can’t pay tax. At the same time give the bottom end a tax CUT to stimulate spending at that end.
A Federal minimum wage that puts recipients ABOVE the poverty line and grant a sensible tax incentive to any small business that will struggle as a result of a minimum wage.
I can’t comment on your social security as i know nothing about it.

Posted by: Nick Saunders at July 28, 2004 at 7:00 am

Thanks, Nick, for that revealing look into the “enlightened” European mindset. Wow, if we follow your advice maybe we can turn into the military and economic powerhouse that Europe is.

Posted by: Yaron at July 28, 2004 at 9:53 am

Paul, Gore got laughed at by just about everyone for his lockbox comment. Why are you holding on to this nonsense?

Posted by: Karol at July 28, 2004 at 12:46 pm

Well lets examine somethings shall we.
Number of terror attacks on Britain by AQ: ZERO
Number of terror attacks on France by AQ: ZERO
Number of terror attacks on Germany by AQ: ZERO
Number of terror attacks on Spain by AQ: ONE
could this have anything to do with the fact that the nations above have tried to push for a FAIR solution to Israel/Palestine?
Or perhaps is it because we do not demonise muslims and come out with crap against their religion?
Question Two. How many major terror threats has Britain solved by engaging in dialogue with the opposing party? Three that i can think of.
1. IRA in 1998.
2. Cypriot guy whose name escapes me in th3 1970s.
3. ISRAELI terrorists ie stern gang in 1948.
EU may not be a superpower in economic terms but we managed to make 300 million dollars worth of trade sanctions stick on you lot in march over your steel tariffs.
In terms of military the British special forces regularly kick the sh.t outta your marines and delta force. British army has an incredibly low opinion of your army and to be frank it is justified. All of the soldiers and PARAs i have spoken to including one last night say the same things. Freindly fire and RAMBO.
Lastly. the EU is not hated the world over. You lot are surprise surprise.

Posted by: Nick Saunders at July 29, 2004 at 9:23 am

Let’s see… Al Qaeda have never attacked Israel itself. But they have attacked Bali, which has no strong position on Israel. And the biggest target of their attacks has been… the Israel-hating Saudi Arabia. There are reasons for all of this, but as you could guess they have nothing to do with Israel and the Palestinians. While it’s admirable that you would like to ascribe your policy perspective on to a mass-murdering terrorist organization, in this case your attempts will remain fruitless.

Posted by: Yaron at July 29, 2004 at 11:01 am

could this have anything to do with the fact that the nations above have tried to push for a FAIR solution to Israel/Palestine?
FAIR to whom? Who decides what’s FAIR? God? William Shakespeare? Yasser Arafat?
3. ISRAELI terrorists ie stern gang in 1948
Wow, it is Yasser Arafat.
British army has an incredibly low opinion of your army and to be frank it is justified
Nick Saunders should know. Entire America is ashamed because of Nick Saunders’ low and FAIR opinion about our military.
Lastly. the EU is not hated the world over
Neither is Burundi.

Posted by: Ivan Lenin at July 29, 2004 at 3:08 pm

Hey don’t offend Burundians!

Posted by: PAUL at July 29, 2004 at 4:20 pm

i never said your military i said your army. Id love it if the EU nations could stick 7 aircraft carrier battlegroups off china. My point was despite your media to the contrary you don’t have the best trained army in the world and never have done. Until your Special Forces can survive exercises against the SAS, SBS and Royal Marines without being administratively slaughtered wholesale don’t take the mick out of the EU nations militray power. By the 1980s 50% of NATOs ground forces were GERMAN not AMERICAN.
Bali bombing yeah OK thats a fair point I can’t argue with.
Burundi. How long did it take you to trawl through an atlas to find that name? Whether you like it or not (or perhaps more accurately give a toss or not) the United States lost all the goodwill that 9/11 brought. Ann Coulter, Bill O’Reilly et al can pontificate all day long about European jealousy etc but it comes down to one thing. Your behaviour is why you are unpopular. The same as England’s behaviour in Ireland and Scotland for several hundred years is why calling an Irishman or Scotsman English is an invitation for a smack in the mouth.
A majority of the nations of the world with diverse and often conflicting aims cannot all be wrong about one issue.

Posted by: Nick Saunders at July 31, 2004 at 2:46 pm
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