Archive for August 6th, 2010

The Conservative Case for Legalizing Pot and Gay Marriage

August 6th, 2010 No comments

Yes, legalizing marijuana and letting gays get married are conservative positions. In fact, you can make the conservative case for these things simply by paraphrasing Tea Party slogans:

Git yer goddamn gub’ment hands outta my private life!

Conservatives are petrified with fear that the government is coming for their guns. Well, they’re not. But they are coming for your pot. In 2008, the government arrested 847,864 people for marijuana-related crimes, only 93,640 of which involved anything other than possession. If you’re simply suspected of selling pot, they actually bust into your home with guns blazing, terrifying your children and shooting your dog:

They don’t bust down your door for drinking alcohol, and alcohol is a much more debilitating and dangerous drug than marijuana.

Conservatives should stand up for an individual’s right to put substances of their own choosing into their own bodies. Yes, they can make reasonable exceptions when it comes to truly dangerous drugs like heroin, but if they really care about Freedom they should insist on the freedom to smoke a little grass. About 70 million Americans (roughly 4 in 10) have admitted to trying marijuana at least once in their life—are conservatives saying that 40% of Americans are criminals?

And when it comes to gay marriage, conservatives should be even more in favor of allowing it because it goes to Freedom of Religion. Most conservatives would agree that however you choose to worship the Lord is your own business, and while they may disagree with many people’s interpretation of God’s word they would almost certainly agree that the government has no business telling any church what sacred rituals it can or can’t perform.

But a ban on gay marriage means the government actually prohibits churches from marrying gay couples. Many churches have no problem with uniting two people of the same sex in holy matrimony and they would do it if they could.

Now, conservatives don’t have to like gay people or even tolerate them, but what right do they have to tell a church that does embrace homosexuals that it’s not allowed to? How would they like it if some fundamentalist Islamic interest group lobbied to ban women from receiving Holy Communion because they believe it’s an affront to God? If one religion has no business telling another religion what to do, then why shouldn’t the same be true for different denominations within the same religion?

People who are prejudiced against gays can still hate them—they can still refuse to acknowledge that these couples are really married in the eyes of God—but what other Christian denominations do is none of their fucking business and it’s none of the government’s business either.

If conservatives were actually ideologically consistent, they’d insist that the Freedom they hold so dear include the freedom to smoke pot in your own damned home and the freedom to marry whomever you damn well please.

The Party That Cried “Deficits”

August 6th, 2010 No comments

If some smart-aleck shepherd kid screams that his flock is being attacked by a wolf and the townspeople rush to his aid only to find no wolf in sight, they’re much less likely to come running the next day should he try to dupe them again.

But if a political party in the minority screams that the majority party is running up the federal deficit to dangerous levels and the citizens give the majority back to that party only to find that they increase the deficit even more, the lesson is apparently not learned.

There’s an old saying in Tennessee…

I have as hard a time wrapping my head around macro-economics as the next guy, but this article by Financial Times chief economic commentator Martin Wolf is well worth taking the time to understand. I’ll try to explain the key point as best I can.

One of the best indicators of how well the government is managing the deficit is the ratio of public debt to Gross Domestic Product. The larger the ratio, the less financial leverage the economy has. If the government is fiscally responsible—it takes in more revenue and spends less—that ratio goes down. If the government is fiscally irresponsible—it takes in less revenue while spending more—that ratio goes up.

Republicans want us to believe that they’re the fiscally responsible party, that it’s those rotten tax-and-spend democrats who are running this country’s economy into the ground. But in the same breath they call for more tax cuts, which by definition decrease revenue, thus pushing up the debt-to-GDP ratio. They call it “supply-side economics”—the idea that tax cuts somehow pay for themselves.

This is how it’s gone over the past thirty years:

Since the fiscal theory of supply-side economics did not work, the tax-cutting eras of Ronald Reagan and George H. Bush and again of George W. Bush saw very substantial rises in ratios of federal debt to gross domestic product. Under Reagan and the first Bush, the ratio of public debt to GDP went from 33 per cent to 64 per cent. It fell to 57 per cent under Bill Clinton. It then rose to 69 per cent under the second George Bush. Equally, tax cuts in the era of George W. Bush, wars and the economic crisis account for almost all the dire fiscal outlook for the next ten years.

Here’s how it works: When republicans are in power, they cut taxes and increase spending, driving up the debt so high that when democrats take over they’re left with a fiscal mess. Republicans then revert back to their “We’re the party of fiscal responsibility” posture and oppose everything the democrats want to do on the grounds that the country just can’t afford it. The democrats buckle to this pressure and try to balance the budget, which then allows the republicans to resume their tax-cutting and increased-spending when they get back in power.

Republicans aren’t really opposed to spending—they just don’t want to spend money on the middle class. They have no qualms about spending exorbitant sums on military equipment and subsidies for oil companies, but if you ask for a little extra money for the unemployed they suddenly turn into budget hawks.

This November, it’s likely voters will go to the polls and reward republicans for all their faux deficit-hawkery with more seats in Congress. The republicans will repay those voters by extending the Bush tax cuts, thus causing the deficit to continue exploding.

A wise man once said…