Radical? I don’t think so.

Some might call me a radical, which is amusing since “radical” is pretty much the farthest thing from what I am.  Radicals usually have a end goal that they want to get to, some utopian idea that they think will make everything better.  Fact is, I’m rather conservative in this respect.  I believe not in radical change, but in incremental change.  Incremental change allows for small adjustments should they be needed.

I’m not an anarchist, who believes that we can live without leaders.  One thing I’ve noticed about people is they really, really like having someone else to blame if something goes wrong.  And some people don’t really want to make monumental decisions.  They’re happy to let someone else make the decisions and take the blame.

I don’t want to nationalize the oil companies.  In fact, for starters pretty much the only thing I want from them is, first, to actually be held financially liable for their “accidents.”  If a fine isn’t actually painful, it’s not a fine, it’s a payoff.  When they dump millions of gallons into the oceans and get a slap on the hand and apologies for even that, there’s a problem.  They have no motivation to make the kind of mistakes that lead to the oil spills if it doesn’t hurt them when it happens.  Oh, sure, their PR takes a hit, but their profits don’t.

Universal healthcare isn’t really a radical idea.  Not when every other industrialized nation has some form of it.  Health insurance companies, before Obamacare, were little more than bloated leeches that didn’t have to actually serve their clients.  If individuals got screwed over, that was just too bad.

I’m even moderate on guns.  I don’t have a problem with the 2nd Amendment.  I have a problem with people who don’t grasp that there are people out there who should not be encouraged to purchase or carry firearms.  Your chronically unemployed, drunken brother in law might have the right to own a gun, but no one in their right mind would suggest he needs one.  I have a problem with irresponsible people who leave weapons where children can find them, people who would, up until that moment, likely argue exactly how responsible they are and curse anyone for questioning it.  And I have very little patience for those who would argue that it’s only a few children killed… more are killed in swimming pool or car accidents.

Yeah, and laws are passed to prevent such things.  If a kid wanders into your yard and drowns in your pool, you’re held responsible.  You can even be civilly sued for it.  If a kid finds a gun and shoots someone, they write it down as an “unfortunate accident.”  Nothing accidental about it.  It’s negligent.  If a guy showing off his weapon to his friends accidentally shoots his daughter, it’s not really an accident.  It’s incompetence.  It’s complacency.  And it’s damn irresponsible.

Not everyone needs a weapon, not everyone should be encouraged to own a firearm.  No one with any class at all would tell a suicidal person to go buy a gun, yet the rampant promotion of gun ownership quite likely puts them in the hands of those who might be suicidal.

Not everyone needs to own a gun.  I’d be happy if the NRA just said that for a change.  “Yes, you have the right to own a firearm.  But do you need one?  Are you someone who will properly care for it and not use, store, or carry it improperly? Have you had firearms safety training?  Do you know how to assess a threat and determine whether lethal force is necessary?  Are you frightful and jumpy?  Do you have a problem with anger management or impulse control?

But, no, the NRA will never do that.  Why?  Because the NRA stopped representing responsible gun owners a long time ago.  Now they’re just a sales and justification arm for the weapon manufacturers.

See… here’s a little secret. Not everything needs another law to deal with it.  Sometimes we just need a sea change in attitude.  If your hillbilly dumbass of a brother likes to get drunk and play with his guns, maybe he shouldn’t have them.  It’s just a thought.

Complacency kills just as quickly as malice.  Except when it’s malice that kills you, at least someone will come along and bust the person who does it.  If complacency kills you, you’ve only yourself to blame.

I will admit, this last might be a radical notion, but only in the sense that I’m a lone voice saying something no one else is.  I’m not saying change the law as much as I’m saying change our attitudes.  Change our perspective.  Guns belong in the hands of those responsible enough to handle them with respect and care.  They do not belong in the hands of idiots and assholes.

I don’t think raising the minimum wage is a radical idea.  Oh, I know… they argue that only a small percentage of our workforce is making minimum wage, so what’s the big deal?  Well, here’s the thing.  A lot more people are making just over minimum wage.  There are people out there who’ve gotten tiny raises and who are lucky if they manage to stay ahead of any minimum wage hikes.  You raise the minimum wage, you help them too.  In fact, if you raise it enough, you might be giving a lot more than just the minimum wage earners a boost.

The first couple years at Target I got decent raises.  And then they got stingy.  They actually went so far as to change a performance review after the fact to keep within the guidelines from the home office to keep raises to a minimum.  Six years later, I wasn’t even making a dollar more than minimum wage, and that was after being a peer trainer (that’s like a trainer who doesn’t get paid any extra for extra work) and acting as an effective supervisor when they didn’t have anyone else to do it.  You know, people who were actually paid for it.

So, yeah, I think the workers on the bottom are getting hosed.  Radical?  Not really.  At least, I don’t think so.  It’s not radical to want these companies to share a little more of their profits with those who make it possible.  If profitability and productivity have gone up, but wages remain static, they’re getting those profits from the increased productivity of those they refuse to reward for it.

I think war should be our option of last resort.  We should never seek a war.  That doesn’t mean we should back down from those who’d confront us, but if we engage in wars of choice, we lose any moral high ground and give others the excuse to do the same thing.  Crimea is Putin’s Iraq.

Diplomacy isn’t always talking to people you like.  Sometimes you have to talk to your enemies.  Sometimes you want to talk to your enemies, especially if by doing so you can keep them from making decisions that might be harmful to your interests.  Gunboat diplomacy is very limited, and rarely works the way some people hope it will.  You rattle your saber at someone who knows you can’t afford to engage, you just end up looking like a jackass.

Before I really got into politics I considered myself a moderate.  Many of my views haven’t really changed, though they’ve grown more nuanced.  I believe that there are some industries that shouldn’t be profit driven because it’s actually detrimental to their purpose.

I’m on the fence about term limits.  I’m not sure it’ll solve what I see as the main problem, which is the revolving door between Congress and the industries congress is supposed to regulate.  I’d actually put a five year moratorium on moving from government into the private sector.  You have to leave government completely for five years before you can take job with any industry you were involved in regulating.  No quid pro quo allowed.  And don’t tell me this isn’t an issue.  It’s obviously an issue when a congresscritter loses an election and heads off to a job as a VP of a company that was under the jurisdiction of a congressional committee on which the congresscritter served.

I want this country to be a place of hope for every citizen, not just the fortunate ones.  I want everyone to feel as though they have an equal chance to succeed, not to be limited by their gender, their race, their economic class, or even their traumas and invisible wounds.  I want to see people become bridges rather than obstacles.  I want to see people reaching out to help others, not strike them down or push them away from their goals.

I may be a liberal, but I’m no radical.  Incremental, thoughtful change is what I advocate.  Change for the better, allowing the option to change directions should the need arise.  The only goal is improvement, not some defined end point where things will be great.  I distrust that sort of thinking.

Of course, there are things that I don’t think can be handled by government.  They can only be done by individuals.  Being a bridge rather than an obstacle is a personal choice.  You can be a hand-up or a backhand.  That’s on you.

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