The Republican Party’s Core Beliefs

December 13, 2012

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One of the most interesting things about the modern Republican Party is their strange penchant for pushing and/or believing in ideas that can be factually proven as incorrect or at the very least incompatible with their “core beliefs.” I’m not entirely sure what Republican “core beliefs” are, but from what I can gather from Fox News snippets and what my friends say, they want small government, low taxes, and lots of personal freedom – or at least the freedom for their state to choose what defines personal freedom.

On the first issue, small government, let me start out by saying that the single biggest expansion of federal government since FDR came from … no. Not Barack Obama. Not Bill Clinton, either. It wasn’t Jimmy Carter. Not even JFK. The single biggest expansion of the US Government came from George W. Bush and his creation of the Homeland Security Department . The Reagan administration, after lambasting Jimmy Carter during the 1980 presidential campaign for governmental spending, actually spent MORE than Carter did.  So according to what they say, Republicans favor small government and lowering government spending, but according to what they do, they actually increase government size and spend more? I wonder why Mitch McConnell is so intent on criticizing President Obama for government spending, yet he voted along with the vast majority of George W. Bush’s spending, and Bush’s rate of spending was higher than Obama’s.  I don’t remember him ever once criticizing Bush’s spending record.


Next we get to Republicans wanting low taxes. This one they actually seem to deliver on, wanting to lower taxes across the board, but especially on those poor, overburdened millionaires. Yet the reasons they claim taxes should go down just don’t seem to mesh with reality. First and foremost they say that so-called “job creators” aren’t hiring because their tax burden is too crushing. Yet history disagrees with that assessment – in fact whenever the marginal tax rate on upper brackets is lowered history has shown lower growth. In fact the Congressional Research Office came to the same conclusion:

There is not conclusive evidence, however, to substantiate a clear relationship between the 65-year steady reduction in the top tax rates and economic growth. Analysis of such data suggests the reduction in the top tax rates have had little association with saving, investment, or productivity growth.

I would love to get Mitch McConnell or John Boehner in a room and get their opinions on those facts.

Finally we get to the issue on personal freedom. One of the Tea Parties greatest cries against that “socialist, fascist” Obama is that he’s crushing our personal freedoms. As I wrote about in my last article, the NRA supported Mitt Romney in this most recent presidential election, dredging up scary stories that Obama was going to be personally taking all your guns and this was despite the fact that in Obama’s first term he actually loosened gun laws, and in Mitt Romney’s term as governor he signed a gun restricting bill into law.

In addition, Republicans seem to be on the side of banning “gay marriage” (or as my gay friends call it, “marriage”) despite the fact that no factual evidence to say it’s better or worse than heterosexual marriage. Go ahead, search the internet and find a non-biased site that offers peer-reviewed and cited facts showing somehow that men marrying men or women marrying women is somehow worse for society, children or the marriage itself. If it’s no worse for people, does not infringe upon others, and is not being forced on society (legalizing same-sex unions will not force churches to marry anyone), why is it being suppressed by Republicans?

Finally on the personal freedom issue, I was very happy to see that Washington State has legalized marijuana for recreational use. Two of the most recent Republican presidential candidates agreed with me. Ron Paul and Gary Johnson actually said they would not only legalize marijuana but also consider even more sweeping changes such as ending the war on drugs and pardoning anyone in prison for non-violent marijuana crimes.  Sadly the rest of the mainstream Republican candidates ranged from a non-stance – Rick Perry stating he’s personally against any use, but ok with states deciding medical use – to a psychotically harsh stance -Newt Gingrich sponsoring a bill that would see the death penalty used for people importing more than 2 ounces.  Seeing as there’s little evidence that marijuana is worse for you than alcohol or tobacco and much stands to be gained from the taxation of legal marijuana, including a drastic reduction in violent crime, I wonder once again why Republicans would go against their stance on personal freedom here.

So to sum it up, I have a hard time giving any support or even credibility to a political party that says one thing and then does the polar opposite. I’d actually LOVE to see a more viable Republican party because frankly I’m sick of the vast majority of Democratic politicians. As a friend of mine says often, “We don’t need a 3rd political party, we need a 2nd one.”


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Losing the War On Drugs

November 19, 2009

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The two big wars the US is involved in these days are getting less and less popular by the minute, thanks in part to the 24-7 news coverage modern technology brings us.  I personally was fine with our invasion of Afghanistan and very much against our invasion of Iraq, but that’s not the topic I’m going to rant about today.  I want to talk about a “war” that the US has been losing for decades:  The War on Drugs.

The War on Drugs fought its first losing battle in 1969, when Richard Nixon used the term to describe a plan to intercept marijuana at border crossings in Mexico.  That lasted 20 days because of the burden on state border guards who had better things to do than inspect legitimate traffic for illegal materials.  Thanks in part to Nancy Reagan, the anti-drug campaign saw a huge media push in the 80’s – we all remember “Just Say No.”  It’s received quite a large amount of funding, too:  $600 dollars.

Yes.  $600 dollars.

A second.[1]

The Federal government alone spent $19 billion dollars in 2003 fighting illegal drug use.  When you combine state spending the figure for this year is already over $40 billion dollars.  Surely those large sums of money are doing some good, right?  85% of high school seniors say it would be “very easy” for them to get drugs if they wanted, and that figure has never dropped below 82% in the last 3 decades.[2]  Doesn’t congress hold budget inquiries for misused or misspent federal funds?  We’ve had our elected officials in Washington get involved with professional sports multiple times in the last decade, yet none of them are questioning why we’re spending billions a year on a war that has seen no improvement.  Imagine if McArthur was still trying to re-take the Philippines in 1951, appearing before congress like Oliver Twist asking for more gruel.  That would have gone over well.

Add this economic sinkhole to a controversial yet widely accepted fact that marijuana, in terms of lung health only, is less harmful than cigarettes.[3]  In addition, the United States Department of Health and Human Services published a study in 2002 that showed less than 1 percent of Americans smoke marijuana on a daily basis, and just a small percentage of those were considered dependent.[4]  Personal anecdote time:  I know at least a dozen people who smoke pot multiple times a year.  All of them are productive members of society, holding jobs or making good grades in school.  Cigarette smoking cost the US almost 200 billion dollars a year between health care costs and lost productivity time (those smoking breaks add up!).  Pot doesn’t look so bad compared to your average Camel or Kool now, huh?

We have a war on drugs that is wasting vast sums of money and a drug that doesn’t appear to be overly harmful.  What is the point I’m trying to make?  We should legalize marijuana and tax it.  A recent Frasier Institute study showed that the price of .5 grams of weed on the street is about $8.60 while the cost to produce it was only $1.70.[5]  While that’s quite a profit, there are reasons for it, the biggest being it is illegal and not currently industrialized in this country.  But imagine if the government could get a decent sized chunk of that revenue.  In 2005 the Federal Government made 7.7 billion dollars on tobacco tax, and the state governments took in over 13 million combined.[6]  While not as many people would immediately jump to smoking pot, a big chunk of money would be simply saved from that $600 dollars a second in addition to the tax revenue you would generate.  A recent projection showed nearly a billion dollars a year could be made from the taxation of marijuana.[7]

I would think the tax revenue and savings alone would have Republicans jumping on the bandwagon to support this cause, but I fear pandering to the religious right and socially conservative crowd is the reason they don’t.