Saturday, December 27, 2008

What I Want is Freedom

The best I can do is be true to what I value. I value education, the mind, reading, writing, etc. I value my personal freedom -- and equal freedom for others. (Unfortunately, "freedom" can be "from" or "to" and I am a "from" sort of person. Freedom from people / authority matters to me.)

Am I a "capitalist pig" in theory? Absolutely. But that doesn't mean I personally care about money, power, or anything material. I care about my family, my students, and my community. You don't teach at a university seeking wealth, and most freelance writers aren't wealthy either.

My "fight" (when I have the energy) is against limits on my choices.

It is the fight against the state of Minnesota telling doctors off-label uses of medication is illegal. I wrote a 50+ page paper on the subject after the doctors here informed me I couldn't take the same meds as in California due to state laws.

It is the fight against federal officials trying to dictate K-12 educational content and uniformity, when our system is supposed to allow and encourage local educational control and standards. It is the fight to allow teachers to develop their own curriculum, within minimal state guidelines -- instead of sucking the life out of teachers with pre-packaged syllabi and "learning programs" from huge publishers.

It is the fight against idiocy like the Patriot Act, illegal wiretaps, cameras everywhere (I hate CCTV being on public streets), ISP monitoring, and jerks like NY state A.G. Andrew Cuomo telling Internet providers what services must be dropped. (Cuomo managed to get Usenet service dropped by ATT and Comcast because *some* people sent pornography via the Usenet. Now, I can't read computer-related postings. Lovely. I ended up reporting on this for a magazine.)

It is the fight to make my own choices, without being "protected" by the state. But, the state doesn't trust my doctors, doesn't trust me to teach writing, doesn't trust me to behave without being monitored... doesn't want me to be free.

I'm against power. It really is that simple. I could list hundreds of things I think the government should not be doing, but each of those came about to "protect" some group of citizens. From the "war on drugs" to No Child Left Behind, it's all in the name of protecting us.

Blech.

The problem is, most people want more protections. More regulations. More federal control.

I think large corporations welcome this.

Goldman Sachs (study the list of current and former executives) will do great with whatever happens to the economy. Wal-Mart gets tax breaks and special treatment in almost every state. The "big guys" game the system -- which is not a free market, really capitalist system.

Minnesota's limits on drugs benefit the Mayo Clinic and the major insurance companies located in this state. The state has chosen the winners, and the losers. Small medical clinics cannot afford all the waivers and legal hassles for some things, so you end up doing what the state wants and the companies / organizations with the best lobbyists win.

I see many threats to freedom. Thankfully, I still believe the U.S. is somewhat more "free" than European nations. Try to avoid CCTV in Europe. Try to publish an expose on government secrets. Heck, the British traded away freedom in the name of security long ago. Unfortunately, I fear we've already joined in the rush to be "protected" from everything.

In such an environment, the "little guy" stands "little" chance of winning.

Politicians from across the spectrum want to control us, to protect us. What differs is only which aspects of life they want to control. As a Supreme Court justice said, the only difference between a Republic and a Democrat is which freedoms they don't think should exist. Democrats would do away with the Second and Tenth Amendments (already have, in reality: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.") while Republicans seem to think the First, Fourth, and elements of several others are annoying and should be optional.

I'm simple... let me live my life, with as little interference as possible.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Political Isolationists

This morning I was listening to an interview with Bill Bishop, author of The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded America Is Tearing Us Apart. A few hours earlier, I had been reading the Washington Post online, skimming reader comments on the Detroit automaker mess. There, online, were prime examples of The Big Sort and the results of political isolationism.

"Progressives" seem to truly believe that Republicans "hate the working class." Not just some Republicans, but every Republican. Of course, this is absurd, since many Republicans -- including political leaders -- come from the working class. In fact, Bishop pointed out during today's interview that Republicans are overwhelmingly middle class while the "progressive" wing of the Democratic party tends to be richer, better educated... and isolated.

In some ways, this isolation is unavoidable. Academics must live near universities. Universities tend to be located in urban centers. These urban centers don't quite relate to the more rural or exurban areas of America. The creative class moves to be near these intellectual centers. The "left-leaning" areas become increasingly rigid and polarized.

Having left the exurbs and rural areas, the progressives leave behind a more conservative, traditional, and working class community. Population densities are declining in these areas. At least for now, so is the political influence of these vast, less populated regions.

Being moderate, even "classically conservative," means I feel isolated living in a city. My ideas are insulted. The values of my family are insulted. Anyone not progressive enough must be an idiot. This means that to the isolated, self-righteous leftist, Republicans are either uneducated hicks or greedy businessmen (never women) exploiting the less educated.

The angry comments on the Washington Post pages indicate the left believes in a conspiracy theory. The right is taking over the world. It's all about global corporations. Republicans are "rethugs" and "cons" among other names. No one could possibly believe in capitalism, traditional liberalism, or individualism. Anyone claiming to believe in classical liberalism, free market conservatism, must be lying.

How can anyone blame the government for the current financial mess? (Which I do, of course.) Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae? Blaming these government chartered agencies seems so unfair. It's business that ruined the economy!

Of course, that so many "progressives" are rich business people doesn't seem to register with the left. They're different.

People really need to have more friends from across the political spectrum. It might help see how alike we really are. Not likely to happen, though. I know I want to move to somewhere rural... away from the leftists. Sadly, I'm sorting myself.