Southern Man

Friday, May 14, 2010

Core Values

When Southern Man is asked his opinion on some political or social issue, he measures his response through the following personal beliefs:
  • What consenting adults do in private is no one's business but their own.
  • You are responsible for the consequences of your actions.
  • Your rights end where mine begin.
Some of Southern Man's friends (including pretty much all of those who self-identify as "liberals") don't grasp that the first of these requires that they cannot self-righteously tell other people how to live. It's also tough on his many evangelical Christian friends who often cross the line between spreading the Word and denouncing the lifestyles of others. It's difficult for Christians to accept that if they are to be left alone to practice their personal lifestyle and beliefs they must allow others the same privilege. Others don't accept that they, and they alone, are responsible for their actions; one dear friend in particular is a perpetual victim who simply cannot see what she's doing to herself. And of course others think that they can live wild and free without regard for the well-being or safety of those around them.

Southern Man's views in the realm of law, liberty, justice, and responsibility are:
  • There can be no crime without intent.
  • So-called "victimless crimes" are, by and large, not crimes at all.
  • All laws restricting the private activities of consenting adults should be stricken from the books.
  • You are responsible for the consequences of your actions, to both the State and to anyone harmed by those actions.
  • Marriage is a religious covenant governed by the Church; the State should be concerned only with civil unions, not marriage.
The last requires some explanation. The real problem with the various forms of non-traditional marriage is that the notion of marriage is inexorably intertwined with our welfare-state benefits system. Southern Man holds that you should be free to create whatever living and/or marriage arrangements that suit you, but grants that the State benefit system may choose to acknowledge certain forms of civil union but not others. In other words: if you think you can handle three spouses, go right ahead, but don't expect Social Security to provide full benefits to all three after you kick the bucket.

In the vast world of sports and entertainment (which Southern Man largely ignores) he holds that:
  • Content on the so-called "public" airways should be closely restricted.
  • Content on "paid" channels and other media should be unrestricted but accurately labeled.
  • Professional sports and entertainment are businesses with which the State should be uninvolved.
  • Purchasers of content contained in media of any form should be free to make copies of that content for personal use or to transfer content from one media to another.
Southern Man is a big fan of content labeling. He doesn't really care what the content is and indeed favors complete freedom to create that content to be whatever you want - he just wants to know in advance so he can choose whether or not to partake. Southern Man is also not bothered by the sky-high paychecks of entertainers and sports professionals; if the business warrants their salary, so be it. And if Southern Man buys a music CD, he figures he's already paid the artist and doesn't need to pay again to make a backup for the car or burn some of the tracks to his MP3 player.

And in the larger realm of local, state, and national politics Southern Man holds that:
  • The State should acknowledge the clear meaning of the Constitution in which the rights of the Individual are paramount and the activities of the State closely restricted.
  • Individuals should acknowledge that the State is not your nanny. Individuals have the right to participate in unhealthy or dangerous activities, and are thus responsible for the outcome of those activities.
  • The State should be blind to the race, color, gender, size, shape, sexual orientation, or whatever of Individuals, with no preferences granted nor rights withheld based on those distinctions.
  • The State consumes wealth; it cannot create it. Therefore the State must be restricted from growing faster than population, inflation and GNP warrant and indeed should be reduced to a more appropriate size relative to those metrics.
  • The State must cease their generations-long habit of spending more than revenue.
  • The State must cease their generations-long habit of promising benefits that cannot be delivered.
  • The State must cease their generations-long habit of subsidising a permanent welfare class.
  • The State should overhaul our retirement system from top to bottom, including:
    • Option to invest retirement funds into private accounts.
    • Increase of retirement age and reduction of benefits until the existing Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid system is solvent.
  • The State should overhaul the tax system from top to bottom, including:
    • Income tax reform: increase the personal deduction, but eliminate most below-the-line tax credits (particularly the Earned Income Credit). Individuals should be allowed to keep most of what they earn, but not get back more than they put in through deductions.
    • Corporate tax reform: replace much of the current system with a simple, progressive gross-receipts tax not subject to deductions.
    • Sales tax reform: eliminate tax on basic necessities; increase it on luxury items.
    • Usage tax reform: all usage taxes must be committed to the sector taxed.
  • The State is obligated to provide certain basic services and/or regulations that insure:
    • A strong national defence.
    • A police force dedicated to the motto "to serve and to protect" and committed to respecting the Constitutional rights of all individuals.
    • A robust and accessible transportation network, including roads, rail, and air.
    • A robust and accessible telecommunications network, including phone and Internet.
    • A Post Office serving all addresses in the country at a flat rate.
    • A fair and equitable system that encourages legal immigration coupled with security of our borders to prevent illegal traffic.
  • The State should acknowledge that the private sector is far better at providing basic goods and services than the State, so the State should maintain two-tier systems that guarantee basic services to those in need coupled with free-market providers for those who are willing to pay more to get more, including:
    • A health care system that provides basic services to whose in need, coupled with private insurance and health-care professionals that provides those additional goods and services for which the client is willing to pay.
    • A basic education system focused on acquiring basic skills and accessible to all through State schools, coupled with a voucher system to allow those who desire to do so to use a portion of the taxes they pay towards education to defray the expenses of private school.
    • Reform of the current system of agricultural subsidies to ensure the continued stability of that market without giving unfair advantages to certain sectors.
  • The State should be committed to an energy program that ensures energy independence for our country, with no dependence on imports from abroad.
That last bullet point is one that Southern Man trots out for every science class he teaches. The USA has two largely independent energy infrastructures: one to make electricity and one to run transportation. Virtually all of our electricity is produced by domestic sources, the majority of our transportation runs on imported petroleum, and there is very little crossover between the two. To compound the problem, a fair amount of that imported petroleum comes from countries that don't like us very much. Southern Man favors building lots and lots and lots of new nuclear power plants coupled with increased development of and reliance on hybrids and fully-electric cars so that the transportation sector can draw from the electrical-production infrastructure rather than on imported fuels. More nuclear power and cars that run on electricity has the added benefits of increased safety and sharp reductions in the pollution that results from burning fossil fuels.

So just what kind of political creature is Southern Man? He sure as hell will never affiliate himself with the party that long stood for slavery, succession, and segregation and today depends on division, class warfare, and redistribution of wealth to a permanent welfare class to buy their voter base. He's long voted Republican and is proud of their history and achievements but is dismayed by their recent tendencies towards big government and by the excesses of the so-called social-conservative wing of that party. He can't join with the Libertarians, who have the right ideas on personal liberty but naively ignore the reality of a hostile world that requires both a national defence and border security and the necessity of some degree of oversight and regulation to temper the excesses of an otherwise free market. So he calls himself a "Tea Party Republican" and at such events he finds himself surrounded mainly by disaffected Republicans who also dismayed by the size and scope of government and the increasing losses of personal liberty and freedom, who generally ignore the social conservatives, and who focus on the big national picture of overspending, debt, and intrusion into our lives with the intention of rebuilding their party from the grassroots up until it returns to the core values for which it once stood.

But Southern Man has no desire to remake the Republican Party in his own image. There are those positions that are appropriate to a political party, and others more appropriate to the members of that party. The most fundamental of Southern Man's personal values, and that from which his entire value system is derived, are:
  • Love the Lord with all your heart and soul and strength.
  • Love your neighbor as you love yourself.
Southern Man does not pretend that he is the living embodiment of the Great Commandment. He does try his best and with God's help will do a little better every day.


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