Friday, June 29, 2007

Conservative or Liberal?

Today I was thinking about where I stand, politically. In general I must admit that I don't take a political stance. I don't vote (for people, anyway) and often avoid discussions of a political nature because I think they too often become frightening. However, at the risk of alienating some of my readers, I think I'd like to investigate some of my political philosophies.

First, I have to admit that I began this task by looking up the Wikis for Conservative and Liberal. I have often been told, and suspected, that I lean a bit toward the conservative edge of things. Looking over the Wiki page for conservative, though, I'd say that doesn't so much fit me at all. SO then I moved to liberal... there we have it. I am much more like what they call a classical liberal. Yay, I have a defining label :) but what does that mean to me?

I guess you could say that my basic ideal for government is that it should intrude upon my life as little as possible, be as fair as possible, and be practical. Sounds good, right? but what does that mean?

It means, first of all, that as an adult I should be assumed, by government, to be responsible enough, and smart enough to make my own decisions. I don't think the government should have the ability to tell me what I can or cannot do until or unless my actions infringe upon the rights of others. So things like stealing, assault, harassment and even speeding should be illegal since each of them hurts, or endangers, other people. But the government has no reason, or right, in my view, to tell me I can't buy beer after 1:30am (even though I don't drink) or that I can't smoke pot (even though I don't smoke pot) or how I should raise my children.

In regard to fairness, I think government should attempt to be as fair as possible to the most people it can. That everyone should have a vote and that each individual voice should carry the same weight... basically that while minorities should be protected and free, as everyone is, that their rights should not supersede the rights of the majority. I guess this is the utilitarian in me: the greatest good for the greatest number of people.

And then we have practicality: One of my biggest problems with govt. today is that it is absolutely impractical and wasteful. We spend more money on Bureaucracy to run things than we spend on the things themselves... that's just silly IMO. Take the IRS, for example, there are thousands upon thousands of rules and so much silliness that it is unwieldy and ends up wasting a great deal of the taxpayers money. I can't see why we don't adopt a simple flat tax for everyone. It would be infinitely more fair and save a great deal of money and frustration for citizens. What? Tax cuts for the rich? Actually, for the richest people it would likely be a tax increase. And anyway, I can't understand the graduated income tax. Why are we penalizing people for their success? Under a flat tax system they would still pay more tax, even a higher percentage of their income in tax, but in a way that is fair and easy.

how? Well, every flat tax system I've seen starts with an amount of income that is exempt from tax and then taxes all income over that number at a fixed rate. Let's say the base number is 10,000$ for a single person (though it's always higher than that). So if Rene makes 10,000$ of income in 1 year she will pay no tax... her tax rate then being 0%. If she makes 15,000$ the next year she will pay $750 in taxes (if the flat tax rate is 15%) which would make her actual rate of taxation 5%. If she makes 150,000$ then she will pay 21,000$ in taxes and her actual rate of taxation would be 14%. So, in effect, because of the base untaxable income, the tax system is graduated to a small degree (since you will pay a higher percentage of taxes the more you make until you reach the maximum of 15%). I'm not so worried about the actual baseline or the percentage of taxation, just that it is equally applied to everyone. I've never understood why we should punish success... especially since our complicated system wastes so much money and has so many loopholes for people who can afford to buy the right accountants and lawyers (oh yeah, no loopholes in a simple flat tax system). Warren Buffet, just recently, said that he was appalled to find out that he paid a lower tax rate than his maid... that certainly illustrates the unfairness of our system. And for a doctor, who has spent 12+ years educating himself for his profession, I can't see the justice in charging him upwards of 50% of his income in taxes.

Taxation is just one issue of govt. where we seem to be crazily bogged down and wasteful. You can see this same phenomenon in nearly every branch of government.

I just want to see a common sense approach to governance; accountability of both our citizenry and our elected officials; fairness to not only the richest and poorest of this nation, but to all of us who fall in the middle; and a system that rewards honesty and protects liberty. I'm afraid I ask too much.

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