“I’m a conservative, but…”

Around a week ago, a user named “DanBlather” started an interesting thread on the Straight Dope Message Board. The title of his thread was “I’m A Liberal, But…”, and in his post Dan talked about how, despite his “liberalism”, he was in favor of school vouchers and nuclear power, hated Al Sharpton and Jessie Jackson, and wholeheartedly supports a “national ID card” for boarding airplanes and proving eligibility to work in the US, etc.

Others jumped in the thread, and soon there were dozens of “I’m a Conservative, But…” or “I’m a Liberal, But…” posts. It made for fascinating reading. While I’ve known for years that most people are not “100% conservative” or “100% liberal”, it’s amazing to see how people deviate from their “core beliefs”, as well as why they do so.

For example, despite overall “liberal” opposition to the death penalty, it seems that most self-proclaimed liberals in that thread are in favor of the death penalty in instances where guilt is beyond doubt and the crime is especially heinous. In fact, I was surprised by the “screw ’em – hang ’em in the public square” attitude that most “liberals” in that thread displayed. And it was also surprising to see that many of the liberals in the thread were opposed to illegal immigration outright, while “conservatives” were in generally in favor of immigration through an amnesty or “guest worker” program.

In any case, I thought I’d add my own thoughts to the hive mind… so here goes:

“I’m a conservative, but…”

– I’m actually more of a libertarian. I was an active member of the Libertarian Party of Georgia in the 1990s, but I eventually came to the realization that the Libertarian Party is a bunch of “thinkers”, not “doers”. Libertarian Party meetings started to feel like a bunch of teenagers sitting around, smoking dope and talking about the “awesome band” they were going to form one day. Remember how the “awesome band” never saw the light of day, but the guys would still get together and talk about it once a week? Welcome to the Libertarian Party! So I decided that it would be better for me to hang out with the “libertarian wing” of the Republican Party than be a member of the LP itself.

– It makes me physically ill to see CEOs get nine-digit salaries while entry-level workers at their companies get “starvation wages”. Look, I’m all for a country where people can get rich. And I have no problem with CEOs making 5, 10, or even 20 million dollars a year. But when a CEO gets paid $90 million a year while entry-level tech support people make $8/hour, something’s just wrong. And don’t even get me started on “golden parachutes”; it’s obscene that a CEO could run Home Depot or Countrywide Financial into the ground and get $150 million to leave! Interestingly, I don’t want to increase taxes on “the rich”, nor do I want a special “CEO tax”. I just wish that society would demand a stop to this… immediately.

– I think the federal tax on gasoline (but not diesel) should be tripled, quadrupled, or even quintupled. While “tax breaks” and subsidies are all well and good, automakers simply won’t invest real money in major fuel efficiency or alternate fuels until American consumers demand it, and the easiest way to get that demand is for gas to be $8/gallon. Diesel gets an exception in my book because most of the 18-wheelers that move goods across the country run on diesel, as do most buses and municipal fleets.

– I’m all for nuclear power. In fact, I think the United States should built hundreds of new nuclear plants. Nuclear is the cleanest form of energy we have (except for solar or hydroelectric, which just don’t work in all areas). If electricity is the future of automobiles, our overall demand for electricity will skyrocket. Rather than use coal-burning plants, we should switch to nuclear wherever possible.

– I’m not “for” abortion, but I don’t want to make criminals out of women in desperate circumstances, nor do I want to make criminals out of the doctors and nurses that want to help them. Having said that, the thought of a single abortion in the United States makes me profoundly sad.

– I’m not in favor of “gay adoptions”. This is not because homosexuals couldn’t be great parents, but because other children can be so cruel.

– While I’m absolutely opposed to “gay marriages” in the Anglican Church, I really don’t give a shit if gays want to get married at the courthouse or in some other church that supports gay marriages. I honestly don’t.

– I think the “Religious Right” has done far more harm to the Republican Party than anyone can imagine.

– I think the entire public school system needs to be scrapped and something else put in its place. Our current system is simply broken. As it stands now, if Little Johnny gets a bad grade, he can run home and whine to his parents; since both of his parents work to keep the family afloat, it’s far easier for them to pick up the phone and whine to the school instead of actually being parents and riding Little Johnny’s ass about studying. School administrators are terrified of lawsuits, so they cave to Little Johnny’s parents and revise his grade or give him extra credit. Little Johnny then grows up knowing that all he has to do is whine to get his way. And school administrators are bound by silly “zero tolerance” rules that forbid aspirin, tiny pocket knives and “offensive clothing” on students. They need their hands untied to give effective discipline in schools.

– I’m all for legalizing “natural drugs” like marijuana and mushrooms, and I’m for decriminalizing most other drugs. We could then take the $50 billion a year the feds and states currently waste in the “War On People Drugs” and use it for rehabilitation and education.

– I don’t think that there should be universal heath care, but there should be less regulation, fewer lawsuits, and more capitalism in the heath care system. Why is it that health care for our pets is cheaper, more efficient and more user-friendly than health care for ourselves? Seriously – the next time I’m sick, I’m going to my vet , not a damn doctor!

– I’m against drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. It won’t help gas prices in the short term and there’s not enough oil there to make it worthwhile in the long term, so there’s no point in screwing up nature for it.

– I think balancing the budget is more important than either lower taxes or social services.

– I’m not sure that banks and financial markets need increased regulation, but I’m all for keeping a closer eye on them. A very close eye.

– I think the airline industry needs to die. No more handouts for them (or almost any other industry). If you can’t compete, go out of business already.

– Speaking of, I fully support a “Passenger’s Bill of Rights”. The amount of shit most airlines put their customers through is absolutely insane.

– Though I’m against government meddling in most markets, I wish someone would do something about the rampant “nickel and diming” taking over American commerce. Take the airline industry for example. At first, it might actually seem fair that airlines are now charging people for additional bags (or, as is the case nowadays, the flyer’s first bag). After all, if I’m on the same flight and have only carry-ons, why should I have to pay to transport someone else’s luggage? Likewise it only seems “fair” to charge more for window and aisle seats, since those are the most desirable. However, I can’t help but feel that the whole thing is a trick that lets airlines advertise low fares, yet nickel and dime their customers for an additional $200 when they get to the airport. If the “real cost” of a flight is $450, airlines shouldn’t be allowed to advertise it for $300, then add $150 in BS charges when the flyer arrives at the airport!

– TicketMaster is a monopoly, pure and simple. Some TicketMaster “fees” are required by the city\county\state\venue, so you can’t actually fault TicketMaster for them. However, it’s true that TicketMaster’s own fees have actually increased in the past few years – not declining in either real dollars or as a percentage of the ticket price. Take the Sheryl Crow\James Blunt show at the Tweeter Center in Mansfield, MA on July 30, 2008: face value of the tickets is $26.00, but TicketMaster adds $19.67 in fees per ticket to the show (a markup of 76%). For New York Yankees home games, you can buy a $5 ticket from TicketMaster, but it’ll cost you $8.38 in fees to do so – a markup of 167%! Even worse are the new “parking included” charges added to many tickets, which adds $5 to the cost of each ticket – even for people carpooling in large numbers (8 people in 1 van = $40 in parking fees, which is outrageous in many parts of the country) or people that opt to take public transportation (planning to take MARTA to that concert at Philips Arena? You and your friend are still paying $10 to park, even though you’re taking a train). TicketMaster’s entire business model is based on bullshit, and I wish some courageous attorney general or federal official would step up and take them to court!

– I don’t give a shit what it costs, fix the Hubble Telescope! I don’t want to hear “oh, we don’t have the money for it!” Please! Out of a $2.9 trillion budget, you can’t find $500 million, or $1 billion to fix the most important scientific instrument ever created? Bollocks!

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