Searching for the Moon

Shannon Clark's rambles and conversations on food, geeks, San Francisco and occasionally economics

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Posted by shannonclark on November 4, 2002

Vote

really I mean it

and while I would like you, my readers, to vote for intelligent, responsible public servants, voting for someone who represents you is the crucial thing here

I am staunchly, fiercely independant in my voting.

2000 was the first year I voted for a major party candidate for President (Gore), previous years I voted for an independant candidate (Perot).

My challange is that I am strongly a social liberal – I do not want social conservatives holding major (or minor) offices, where they can seek to impose their beliefs onto everyone, and where their wrongminded views (such as anti-aboration, anti-family planning, anti-gay etc) policy views can become the law of the land and the views held by the judges and leaders of our country.

But on the other hand, I am also strongly anti-union, for very similar reasons – I am against anyone seeking to impose their views and opinions by force onto others. Unions, are, I find, generally counterproductive entities – they enrich a few senior members, create a generally inflexible and unadaptable work environment, and act as a drag on the economy as a whole.

This is not to say that I think employees should be underpaid and overworked – I very much do not. But I do think that unions tend to create environments that are against creativity, impose higher costs, for little to no gain for most parties involved.

Union dues and other costs (whether paid by the employees or the employers) are monies taken away from either the employees directly, or from the company to invest in other ways (including higher wages, better environments, better technology, additional training).

The higher costs and inflexibility created by unions must then be passed along to the rest of the economy – certain businesses are less productive, likely charge higher wages, and are likely less competitive than other firms. Look at industries such as the Steel industry here in the US – strongly unionized, very badly managed, and now imposing trade restrictions in a vain attempt to prop themselves up (trade restrictions that even most Republicans agree are one of the worst moves of President Bush’s administration). Or look at the recent labor dispute with the longshoremen on the West Cost Docks – this was not a dispure about wages, benefits, or even working conditions. Rather, it was a dispute against the installation of labor saving technologies – because this threatened union jobs. So, a few thousand union makework jobs (which if they could be replaced profitably by technology they are) are now holding up process across the country and productivity in every sector involved in trade or export. This in turn means less selection for shoppers, higher costs, and reduced profits for firms in all sectors and industries.

So, in any case, every election season is a dilemna for me – there are very few Republicans I will vote for, as most have been tainted beyond comfortable levels by the social conservative parts of the Republican ticket. At the same time, the more that unions support the Democratic candidate, the less and less happy I am with them.

I do vote, indeed I have voted in every election for which I was legal to vote in (may have missed one primary) – but I do so unhappily many years.

I do not think that I am alone in my political position. I am liberal on social issues – I feel the government should not be imposing religious positions (such as anti-abortion or anti-gay) views on the rest of the country and indeed the world. Further, I feel strongly that the seperation of Church and State is key, that Free Speech is vital. I may infact go further in some positions than most liberals – I’m very open to the concept of legalization of many currently illegal drugs – not, mind you, because I have any interest in them myself, but because I think that regulated but legal they take currently illegal and out of the system transactions and make them legal (and thus also taxable). I personally am not interested in current legal drugs such as alchohol, let alone illegal ones – but I do think that legalization, regulation, and taxation has much greater net benefits to society than the current “war on drugs” – and that this benefit extends around the world.

At the same time, I think that sensible tax policies would tend to be many of the positions taken by Republicans (though I differ with them over the “tax cut” – I think it was a stupid piece of policy, not just because they took ten years to implement it. Mostly because rather than cut taxes that really impact the majority of people’s bottom lines – such as payroll taxes, or cutting tax situations that have significent negative impact on the investment climate – such as the double taxation of dividends, or the crazy loophole filled corporate tax policies – the tax cuts were very strange.) I’m also a strong opponent of estate taxes – why should the accomplishments of a lifetime be cut in half (or worse) when someone dies?

Further, I think that taxes such as the Alternative Minimum Tax are the real hidden flashpoints of tax policy – because they have not been adjusted for inflation, they will be imposed on a growing number of very typical average American families. This burden imposes little real benefit to the government, plenty of pain and costs to the economy, and leads to counterproductive incentives.

Further policies such as the current Medicare/Welfare ones which penalize people for trying to make money (very rapidly, well before earning a living wage, people start to lose benefits of far greater value than their earnings – such as health care or child care support!).

I am a business owner – so I might be expected to be a Republican.

I am a White, urban male – so again, I might be expected to be a Republican.

I live in Chicago – so perhaps I would be expected to be a Democrat.

I am neither – though at the moment, I plan on mostly voting for Democrats this

But you, the reader, get out there tomorrow and vote.

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