Day By Day

Monday, May 15, 2006

Are You a Liberal? Take the Test and See

The Big Boys of the blogosphere are playing around with this one, so I thought I'd give it a try. Two left-wing bloggers, Atrios and Kevin Drum, came up with a quiz to test whether or not you are a liberal. Several big bloggers have answered it here, and here, and here, and here.
1. Repeal the estate tax repeal. I have no strong feelings on this one way or another, but I suspect that only committed liberals [and of course, people who stand to inherit big bags of money] care strongly about this issue. Color me agnostic and, for that reason, not very liberal.

2. Increase the minimum wage and index it to the CPI. No way!!! This is utterly irresponsible. It would increase unemployment, stimulate inflation, and as Dan Drezner notes, could set of an uncontrollable wage/price spiral. Bad, bad idea!

Universal health care (obviously the Devil is in the details on this one) Quite true, and without specifics I can’t make a judgment. The current system is broken, and for half a century we’ve been digging ourselves into an ever deeper hole, but none of the proposals I’ve seen are acceptable. In the end I would support means-tested government funded catastrophic health insurance, which is where Bush seems to be heading.

Increase CAFÉ standards. Some other environment-related regulation. Nope! Market solutions are the only way to go on this one. Government interference in the market should be minimal and limited to support for technological experimentation. Remove the price supports for grain farmers.

Pro-reproductive rights, getting rid of abstinence-only education, (This seems to me to be pretty futile, kids attitudes toward sex are not formed in the classroom – just quit talking about it) improving education about and access to contraception including the morning after pill (Information about contraception is fine with me, but the government shouldn’t be subsidizing it), and supporting choice. On the last one there’s probably some disagreement around the edges (parental notification for example), but otherwise. (Like most Americans I am opposed to abortion on demand, but don’t want it criminalized. It would help if it were severely stigmatized, though.)

Simplify and increase the progressivity of the tax code. Simplification is fine – get rid of the targeted tax breaks and penalties; progressivity should be moderate; the total tax burden should be lowered.

Kill faith-based funding. Certainly kill federal funding of anything that engages in religious discrimination. No, and no!

Reduce corporate giveaways. This is part of tax simplification. Generally I would agree because subsidies interfere with market operations. If, however, a subsidy (like keeping defense contractors in business) is necessary to the national interest it’s fine with me.

Have Medicare run the Medicare drug plan. I don’t know. Color me agnostic on this one.

Force companies to stop underfunding their pensions. Change corporate bankruptcy law to put workers and employees at the head of the line with respect to their pensions. Sounds good until you think about it. Companies and unions are forced by federal law to underfund their pensions – some insane idea that sounded good when it was proposed about not allowing them to keep slush funds; Moving to the head of the line when there’s nothing to disburse isn’t a big gain and would certainly inhibit investors. Bad ideas, both of them. Remove the silly regulations that are already in place.

Leave States alone on medical marijuana. Generally move toward “more decriminalization of drugs, though the details complicated there too. Since I don’t do drugs, I don’t give a damn about this one. I do feel, though, that there should be some effort to keep them away from kids.

Paper ballots. Each State runs its own elections. Keep the Federals out of it.

Improve access to daycare and other pro-family policies. Obviously details matter. Dump your kids in some government-run facility? No thanks!

Raise the cap on wages covered by FICA taxes. No, that’s an easy one.

Marriage rights for all, which means “gay marriage” and a quicker transition to citizenship for foreign spouses of citizens. Leave marriage regulation to the States and make the path to citizenship easier for all immigrants.

So how did I do? Three maybes; two I don’t knows; and only one half agreement (number 15). I don’t fully agree with any of them. Does that make me a conservative? Maybe; I’m certainly NOT a liberal. But I have plenty of bones to pick with the conservative “agenda” too. Like most Americans I don’t fall comfortably into either camp.

Try it yourself and see where you come out.

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