Taking a political quiz
I just took Advocate's for self-government's political quiz
. When I first took the test, I scored libertarian. Then I thought about it, in various contexts, and took it again, and scored left-liberal. Then I thought about it some more and landed smack dab in the center. Then I thought about it some more and threw the test out entirely.
I'd like to talk today about how phrasing shapes thinking. Tests like this need their assumptions tested. The only thing I learned from this test is that we all need to test our assumptions once in a while.
1) Military service should be voluntary (no draft). I answered yes to this one. America has arguably not needed a draft since WWII. Getting rid of the draft has improved the quality of our armed forces tremendously. But if we had not had a draft in WWII, or in WWI, or (for that matter) the civil war, we'd be saying yessah, masta Hitler.
2) Government should not control radio, TV, the press or the Internet
. This one became a maybe. A far better question is: "Do you believe that media should be concentrated in the hands of a few?" My answer to that, is a resounding "NO!". I can't believe any red blooded American would say differently.
The question then becomes, how do you prevent media from being concentrated in the hands of a few
? And there lies the rub. How do you do that? Market forces seem to push inexoriably towards media concentration. So far as I know only government can prevent it. I leaned libertarian while our newspapers, tv, and radio became monopolized, dull outlets for homogenized pap, and I regret it. I get my news now from the internet and from overseas. I don't want to see the internet go down the tubes, too.
3) Repeal regulations on sex for consenting adults
. But: some days, I believe that childbearing and childrearing should require a license. Other days I think that being anti-contraception or anti-abortion should automatically require you to adopt as many children as you can afford, and then some.
4) Drug laws do more harm than good. Repeal them
. I'm in favor of replacing half our tobacco fields with marijuana fields and then taxing the hell out of it. It would make for a mellower america. But planting poppies is right out. I'm a little extreme about my hatred of heroin, but I have cause. Similarly, other drugs that lead to destructive behavior should be strictly regulated - methamphetamine and cocaine, notably, but also sugar, carbohydrates, and caffene. I don't have much against the various hallucinogenics, except that they lead to use of patcholi. Take pot off of schedule 1 and put patcholi there, PLEASE.
5) People should be free to come and go across borders; to live and work where they choose
. In an ideal world, yes. It's not an ideal world.
6) Businesses and farms should operate without govt. subsidies
. Welfare for big business - no. Farms have historically failed due to weather, bad planning, and lack of investment. I don't have a good answer for farms.
7) People are better off with free trade than with tariffs
. Again, in an ideal world, yes. Tariffs are used to fight off other tariffs, and I don't know a better way to deal with the issue.
8) Minimum wage laws cause unemployment. Repeal them.
No. Minimum wages establish a baseline for legal employment.
9) End taxes. Pay for services with user fees.
No. Anyone want to pay a toll every time they reach an intersection? No one likes taxes, and I'm all in favor of reducing transaction costs with market forces whenever possible, but some things can best be dealt with by eliminating transaction costs in favor of a general tax.
10) All foreign aid should be privately funded.
No. I'd go into this one at length, drawing on historical analogies, like "Big Sugar" in south america, but I've lost my enthusiasm for this test.
The questions asked, and the boxes ultimately we are put in (libertarian/liberal/centrist/conservative) don't adaquately describe my worldview. If you think about it, you may find that your worldview doesn't fit either. We need new labels for how our ideals align.