Tag Archives: government

What I’ve Been Reading: April 26

Mormon flow chart for your soul? Check.

This is a little gross. Isn’t there a better way to deal with the geese than just killing them en masse?

I wish I could spend money. Er, had money to spend and felt comfortable spending it.

“Fair” is an incredibly subjective term when we speak in terms of taxes. In one way, a flat tax is fair because everyone pays the same percentage. But in another way, that same flat tax is unfair because it has a larger effect on the purchasing power of the poor than of the wealthy. Same goes for progressive tax schemes and just about any other tax scheme out there. One thing is for sure (I agree with the author of this piece on this point), raising taxes on those earning less than $20,000 would be insanely stupid. Especially given the greater efficacy of the EITC as compared to welfare programs.

There are pluralities in favor of gun rights and gay marriage in the United States. How much of an overlap do you think there is? (I’m in it, so don’t say “none”)

Don’t leave your iPad on a plane… also known as “slow news day”?

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More Representatives A Fix For United States Government? Filled With Questions

A lot of people say “big” government is a problem and in certain contexts I agree*. Would a larger number of representatives in the United States House of Representatives help or hurt this problem?

How many of our current governing issues are actually due to insufficient representation? Is the ratio of 1 rep. to 700,000 constituents the major reason why representatives and other politicians are so convinced it is their personal views we are so interested in (and not how well they will represent the people who elect them)?

Could a lower number of constituents per representative along with term limits make our representative democracy more representative of the population? By this I mean would it help to bring up representation of minorities and women to reasonable levels?

*Bureaucracy, when very large, is not usually very efficient. This is a generalization, but I don’t much care because it’s just my opinion. I think there are a lot of cases in which less government would be better.

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It’s Okay to Teach Medically Accepted Facts, Right?

I recently read somewhere (unfortunately I can’t remember exactly where – it may have been an article, a blog or a comment section or some combination thereof) the opinion of a socially conservative Republican on sex education. This particular individual believed that teachers should not be able to share opinions (particularly: favorable views of homosexuality or sex) and “safe” sex should not be taught in schools. They really did put safe in quotes.

While I could go on and on about the effects abstinence-only sex ed has on the sexual behavior of high school students (*cough* none *cough*) or about how great it is to teach students about safe sexual practices, I won’t. All I want to say is: do we not want to teach students the facts?

Put the whole (ridiculous) “teach the controversy” evolution creationism anti-science stuff aside, just briefly. Put the positive vs. negative views of sex aside, briefly. Put all similar issues aside, briefly, and tell me: do we or do we not want to base our educational system off of facts?

STIs and STDs are medically accepted facts. Condom usage decreasing the incidence of STDs/STIs is a medically accepted fact. HIV’s existence and the ways it can be transmitted are medically accepted facts. The rates at which different types of contraception (including natural family planning) prevent pregnancy are medically accepted facts. You do not have to make and share a value judgement about sex to teach medical facts. We teach other medical facts in our schools without controversy – first aid, CPR, how an embryo is formed, how the kidneys work, etc.

Students should learn about the human body. They should learn about sexual organs and their functions because they are part of the human body. They should learn about STIs and STDs because those diseases/infections affect people in their age group, like many mental illnesses that students learn about.

For what it’s worth, I do not recall my sex. ed. teachers giving any sort of opinion on sex. We studied different STIs/STDs, the sexual organs, and the process of ejaculation, ovulation and fertilization. We briefly studied the different forms of contraception and what their purposes were (condoms offer protection against STIs/STDs**** and prevent pregnancy while the birth control pill only prevents pregnancy, etc.). No one ever said, “Sex is good,” or “Sex is bad.”

Most of the arguments that these social conservatives* make are about how teachers shouldn’t be teaching their opinions or values to the students. If this is true, then these people should be in favor of the facts, right? And the facts are everything I mentioned above with the one addition – not having sex, when followed 100% of the time, is the surest way to prevent pregnancy and STIs/STDs.  They shouldn’t argue** with the decision to teach facts (especially about which there is no controversy, manufactured or otherwise).***

*I’m specifically talking about social conservatives against sex. ed. (abstinence-only sex ed is an oxymoron so it doesn’t really fall into “sex. ed.”)

**There’s another argument to be had here – that many social conservatives are hypocrites because they say positive views of homosexuality shouldn’t be allowed to be taught in schools, but students should be taught that sex outside of marriage is wrong. In other words, they say the teaching of values they don’t espouse is wrong, but the teaching of their values is fine. Anyway, that’s a topic for another post.

***Some of you may be thinking, “But sex is good, and that’s a fact!” I agree, but I understand that that particular fact is actually controversial since certain religions claim it’s only good between a married couple who are trying to procreate. :p

**** It was pointed out to me in the comments that condoms don’t protect fully against all STDs/STIs, but then I don’t think I claimed that they did. Just clarifying.

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According to Eric X. Li, Superior Government Means…

Oh look, an angering op/ed post about the superiority of China’s political system. It fails to account for people like myself who believe in inalienable human rights without having any faith in a higher power. The author may have a few intriguing points, but ultimately just sounds like a crazy person to me.

I’m pretty sure he said it’s okay for government to curtail individual rights severely (the suppression of the Tiananmen Square protests were, according to this man, better than the alternative – so killing hundreds or possibly thousands of innocent civilians is better than…what, exactly?) if it’s in the best economic interests of a country. The United States has its flaws, but at least our government is based on the consent of the governed.

And yes, many Americans do have somewhat of a blind faith in human rights, but not every American does. Many Americans, myself included, view human rights as a very good “end” to aim for, not just because we’re told it is, but because living in a world where we are free to speak our minds without living in fear of the repercussions is a beautiful thing. A government free to curtail human rights is not a government for, by and of the people, and there is no guarantee that such a government has intentions that are best for the people. My government is not my father or my parent, allowed to ignore or suppress what I say because I’m too naive to know better, and I don’t believe people need a government that functions in that manner, although this author apparently does.

I’d rather live in a free state in decline than live in China, where political dissenters disappear and people can  be held in jail without being charged. Where the infrastructure is so fraught with issues that children die in their schools because of earthquakes. And where corruption is so rampant that schools aren’t even built to proper safety standards.

China’s political system is only superior to the United States’ system if superior means more likely to kill or imprison innocent civilians for speaking their minds.

 

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