Comment

Right to have an abortion

I believe quite strongly in a woman's right to choose.  A woman should have control of her own body and be the individual with the power to make the decision to have the child or  not.  However, I do believe she should discuss the matter with the father of the fetus and respect that he does have an opinion.  But in the end the decision rests with the woman who is pregnant.  

Comment

Comment

Gun control

I believe that we should repeal the second amendment.  They’te talking about what age a person should be allowed to buy an assault rifle, who needs an assault rifle? Why do politicians take money from the nra so they are beholden to them? Let’s get rid of the guns.

Comment

Comment

Guns

Technically, I'm a libertarian socialist/anarchist. I have a strong belief in individual liberties (which i place in a different category than the liberties of institutions, which i believe need far more limitations than individuals do), but believe in a larger government to address issues than individuals are unable to directly affect.

I see the need to keep and bear arms as necessary on multiple fronts. First, the individual needs the right and ability to protect themselves against threats to their life and safety, including lethal force if necessary. The precise tool for applying lethal force should be left to the individual, as the individual is best equipped to know what tool is best for themselves. Police are inadequate to protect an individual, as it may take police far to long to respond (if they respond) to threats or violence against a person. Secondly, the nature of power is to seek more power. A government will always seek more power to itself, rather than seeking to give more freedom and choices to the people it governs. Revolution is sometimes necessary to redress grievances (to borrow a phrase). Without access to weapons, the individual and people as a whole are unable to revolt effectively. (See also: Tiananmen Square, Syria, etc.) I'm aware that this is a deeply unpopular view among progressives, and yet i see God-King Trump and his attempts to usurp more power and restrict liberties (press/speech, religion) and wonder if there will be a peaceful transfer of power once he's thrown out (...*if* he's thrown out). Broadly speaking, i think that most restrictions on firearms and civilian ownership of other weaponry should be removed, although i strongly support keeping firearms away from people that have already committed crimes. As with other rights, i think that any fees associated with 2A rights are an attempt to prevent people from exercising their rights.

I think that viewing firearms as a right for hunting misses the point completely. I'm quite comfortable with governments restricting what kinds of firearms can be discharged, and in what locations as a matter of public safety, but I'm not comfortable with bans on ownership of any kind of weapon. (From a practical standpoint, I'm opposed to nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons in civilian hands, mostly because governments aren't supposed to have the latter two, and the world is trying to minimize nuclear weapons sure to their civilization-ending possibilities.)

I recognize that there's a problem with gun violence, but i think the collective right to self-defense against crime and government tyranny is more important than any individual criminal act. I also think that gun violence should be addressed at a root cause through public violence reduction programs; gun violence should be treated as a symptom to as problem, rather than the problem itself.

Comment

Comment

Social Secuity and Medicare/Medicare reform

Our nation has talked over the last several decades about SS running out of money, but the legislators keep kicking the can down the road. I don't believe in deficit spending as it puts the burden to pay the deficits back on our kids, their kids, and the generations that follow. We need to fix the problem now. Same with Medicare. There are some simple fixes, but no one has the fortitude to correct them. Grandfather everyone in the programs currently. Provide a 5 year implementation time period for those close to retirement to get things in order and understand the impact of the changes coming. Why stop SS taxes at $128,000? We should implement the tax across a persons income, and not put any limits on only an individuals first $128,000 of income. This will increase the pool of dollars available for helping to preserve the system. Limit the benefits able to be garnered, or tax them at higher rates for those individuals that have large incomes in retirement. This is a safety net program, not a retirement program. So if you are fortunate enough to have a great pension at work, make a lot of money during your lifetime so that you are set for retirement, these safety net dollars should be allocated to others that need them to have enough for a basic income in retirement. Update the inflation index to payments to match the actual inflation numbers more closely as this will reduce the increases over time. Same for Medicare/Medicaid. The only way the system works is if everyone pays in. If our policy is to treat anyone that comes into an ER then everyone should have to carry insurance, in case an accident happens and they need it. If you want to drive a car on the roads in the US, you buy insurance to do that. Hopefully you never need to use that insurance. We need to look at the use of hospitals in the same way.

Comment

Comment

Unions

Unions have traditionally been strong supporters of the Democratic party, and vice-versa. However, knee-jerk support of union positions is not in the party's or the country's best interests. A relevant and topical example is what is sometimes known as the 'right to work' or 'fair share' debate.

In some states, employees who are not union members are required to pay their 'faire share' of union costs, on the argument that unions represent all employees. When unions negotiate better pay or pension rates that benefit all employees, staff who do not contribute to union costs would be 'free riders' - they would benefit from improvements without sharing any of the cost. Following this line of thought, Supreme Court precedent has long held that non-union members benefiting from union action may be charged a 'fair share' of the union's negotiating costs.

The problem with this argument is that unions do not _only_ negotiate benefits. They also advocate political positions - indeed, some argue that even benefit negotiations are inherently political activities. Thus, non-union members required to contribute 'fair share' are also required to support political advocacy that they may not agree with.

Employers sometimes attempt to deal with this response by allow non-union members to claim back the amount of their deductions that cannot be attributed to negotiation cost, or alternatively, that can be attributed to political activity.

I have personal experience with this. In my case, as a non-union state employee, 'fair share' was deducted from my pay and sent to the union. I was quite willing to take the risk of non-representation, or to be responsible for negotiation my own pay and benefits, but this was not an option. I eventually claimed back the non-negotiation portion of my 'fair share'> I found the process needlessly limiting - I could only make my claim during a two week annual window, and with the right (hard to find) paperwork. When I did succeed with the claim, I found the amount returned to be very small - about 10% of the total. I found this calculation not to be credible relative to the level of political advocacy I knew the union engaged in.

I was troubled by the need to claim back the amount - why should any of my 'fair share' support union advocacy by default? Note that this was not about the positions the union took - many of which I agreed with - but about the fundamental fairness or rightness of the deduction to begin with.

I believe that unions were important elements of progress in the country, and continue to play an important role. However, I also believe that support of unions should be voluntary. The Democratic party seems willing (even eager) to block 'right to work' action (eliminating 'fair share') not because they believe it to be right, but because they believe such action will lead to lower union income. I believe unions, valuable as they are, should stand or fall on their own, not through enforced donation. That's the right way to support labor.

Comment

Comment

Guns

I hate guns. I do not want to own one, hold one, or even see one. I don't have much experience with them, but they represent the potential for ending a life or doing life-altering damage in just a split second. Once you pull the trigger you cannot change your mind. It differs from other dangerous things because there isn't much separating the decision to use one and actually shooting someone. No time to cool off if you're angry. It allows emotions to make decisions without input from the brain. I've heard that having a gun in ones home is the single biggest risk factor for getting shot.
And yet... there's the second amendment. All I ever hear from second amendment folks is that good guys with guns make us safer. I don't buy that for a second. I don't even care about the hunting argument. But there is one reason we must uphold the 2nd amendment and that is to protect ourselves from the government. Until a year ago, it didn't seem likely that we would need to protect ourselves from government. I think most of us believed that most people would be treated fairly and ethically most of the time when dealing with government. But that's not the case anymore. Remember Trump's threat to imprison Clinton? And the Republican majority that I hoped would be a buffer from Trump's craziest ideas has shown their true colors. We can't call ourselves a democracy when the president is locking up his former opponents, with very little pretense about it. If this is how he behaves before he's even run for a second term, how bad is it going to get if he wins a second term? What if he wants to lock up all registered dems and he orders the police or the military to do so? Our only chance is to fight for our freedom with guns, the way our founding fathers did. We need to be able to make the agents of the government think twice before taking away our freedom, and guns are the only way we stand a chance.

Comment

Comment

regulation

I believe that we have too many regulations and/or too little ability for individuals to override or ignore in a common sense way regulations on the books that are too costly given a cost/benefit analysis. There are so many regulations that I can't possibly go through each one and where I differ so I will just take one:  the ADA.  Now, this regulation was popular in both parties when enacted and, in fact, signed into law by the first President Bush. I like the idea and think it is very sound to include it in new construction and in some remodels, depending on the situation (cost/benefit).  That said, I have seen in my tenure as a housing facilities manager that it has been required in many absurd situations in which there is no way to override the decision with common sense.  For instance, any remodel of an apartment at my college requiring bringing it up to ADA standards even though we had many apartments that were fully up to ADA standards.  Now, this is a hilly college where very few people with mobility issues choose to come to school.  There was more than adequate housing for any situation for any disability, so why make them all be upgraded - often adding 30% to the cost while decreasing the livability for those who were in the space. The reasoning was that someone with a disability might visit the place.  Come on?  The cost/benefit is not reasonable. That's just one of hundreds of examples I could give.  We have to find a way where common sense can prevail.  The left does not seem to feel this is an issue and, in fact, responds dramatically whenever there is a hint of a change on this (such as the recently passed bill in the house that would change requirements for ADA lawsuits - I am for that change.)

I will give another example.  Recently, on King St in Santa Cruz, the city needed to repave. But to do so, they had to change every intersection to the newest ADA standard.  Now, all of them were sloped for wheelchairs and have etching of the concrete for the blind, but the new standard are raised dots for the blind.  So the cost to City from a simple repaving to this massive project was many times what it would have been.  Again, come on?  The City is going broke from pension obligations, there are pot-holed streets all over the city, there is a massive homeless problem, there is severe water problem, etc - and we have to change to bumps??  This does not pass common sense nor any sort of cost/benefit analysis.

There is only so much money we have to address our massive problems. We could save a bundle with a little common sense in the regulation world.

Comment

Comment

Tax

While social programs and safety nets are required, the funding through higher level of taxes is not the only option. We need to look at reducing other aspects of government expenditure to support social programs rather than increasing taxes in general.

Comment

Comment

same sex marriage

For me, the idea of same-sex marriage should be more about encouraging committed monogomous relationships than it is about support for literal biblical moral arguments against homosexuality.  The level of hypocrisy surrounding what is or isn't moral about uncommited multiple sexual relationships between consenting adults depending on whether they are gay or straight seems obvious to me.  However, it gets lost in translation when the literal biblical position against homosexuality per se is allowed to trump the higher moral standard of committed monogomy.  I wish that the conversation could be broader and less of a litmus test which is so often espoused by the far right.

Comment

Comment

Requirement of voter ID

I believe that having prospective voters secure a valid ID will benefit the voter in the long run. Although there may be short-term difficulty, a valid ID will help poorer voters obtain benefits such as bank accounts, government services and access to other areas that require ID for entry or participation.

As we help otherwise disenfranchised voters register to vote, we should develop a method for the voter to obtain a widely recognized ID that will enable them to vote and to establish checking and saving accounts, obtain loans, enroll in government aid programs and obtain jobs. A widely recognized ID would help those voters to obtain services they could not obtain with no ID. 

Comment

Comment

gun control

Emphasize on second amendment rights appears out of date with the modern society. Other developed countiies with strict gun control are much safer.

Comment

Comment

Global trade policy

The Democratic policy has historically been aligned with protectionist policies--aligning with trade unions and select industry groups calling for trade protections and tariffs. I am a fierce defender of the benefits of free trade which is realized for all citizens. Study after study has demonstrated that although select populations can suffer (e.g. when manufacturing shifts from one market to another) the broader benefits are net positive for the world. 

Comment

Comment

crime -- support the death penalty and harsh penalities

While I understand that there are issues regarding race and income and who receives the death penalty, my husband, who is an attorney, makes a good argument for keeping the death penalty, as a way to get criminals to work with the system and agree to plea for a lesser sentence. 

More generally, I believe there is evil in the world, and there are just some people in society who should not be able to be a part of society.  I would like harsher sentences on those who commit child abuse and domestic abuse, because we still have a paternalistic society that seems to overlook the seriousness of such issues.  

Comment

Comment

Belief in an individual's personal responsibility.

While I believe that many less fortunate members of our society require social help, I'm also convinced that those people should strive to improve their situation.  They should be encouraged in bettering themselves by the appropriate withdrawal of social help.

My party's belief regarding social help, which I largely share, is as follows:

* Socially weaker members of society who are unable to earn enough for risk-free living should be entitled to social help.
* Retired people should be guaranteed a level of income that would allow them to maintain a comfortable lifestyle.
* People should be given free basic healthcare and education or vocational training to be able to participate in the workforce.
* Society should recognize that substance abuse is an illness and should offer anyone free counselling/treatment.

However, this system is ripe for abuse.  I believe that people who have become socially dependent due to their own faults or have shown no desire to improve their social situation should have much of their benefits limited or withdrawn.  For example:

* A person who abused their right to free education to receive a degree that renders them unemployable may only receive vocational training determined by their society, and not unemployment benefits.  In other words, no unemployment benefits for college-level degrees if there are no other mitigating factors (chronic illness, for example).
* A person abusing medical care may have free care withdrawn (drug addicts, alcoholics, etc., who don't avail of the treatment as outlined above).

In some regards, we respect the personal choices of adults.  Whether it's voting, gun ownership, car ownership and driving habits, and much more.  While we should recognize that not all of us are equally fortunate and should do everything to help the lesser ones, we should respect all personal choices and treat people accordingly.

Comment

Comment

I see great value in providing financial support to low income families for the purchase of a home.

The hylothesis that I would urge my conservative audience to consider is that considerable benefit and value to the society of the USA would be generated through taxpayer supported programs and appropriated funds that target responsible home ownership by low income families, irrespective of the ethnicity or minority status of these citizens.

The social benefits of home ownership are fairly well documented. Frequently cited examples include the development of a stable family environment, lower crime and delinquincy rates, improved overall living standards, better neighborhoods and more stability in the value of residential housing stock.  

If such benefits are indeed fairly traceable to successful home ownership, it seems that the policy question is not whether home ownership should be encouraged among these groups but rather what is the best mechanism for achieving it.

I believe that direct taxpayer support of such a program is not inimical to the conservative agenda, but rather closely follows a conservative canon by directing a well defined portion of federal tax dollars to support hard working families of limited means in their effort to build private wealth and secure a stable future.

We need look no further back in time than the 2008-2009 timeframe to appreciate the disasastrous consequences of ill considered federal intervention in the private economy of the United States.  The narrative on the ensuing housing collapse and financial meltdown has placed the blame for the crisis on many factors, but in my personal view, none were as far reaching or as damaging as the housing, tax and bank regulatory policies of the U. S. government.  I believe these policies highlight the dark side of Hamiltonian Federalism and the dangers of over reach and manipulation of the private sector by a centralized federal power in the name of fair and affordable housing.

By redirecting investments into the housing sector, forcing banks to make mortgage loans that were otherwise considered too risky to make, adopting tax policies that encouraged borrowing against the equity in a home, encouraging relaxed underwriting standards for housing and several other questionable actions, the federal government played a central role in creating a very extensive and damaging financial crisis.

With obvious benefit of hindsight, it seems very clear that the far more conservative and responsible path would have been to require the legislative branch to enact tax policies specifically designed to provide limited and appropriate subsidies for down payment assistance or other aid to facilitate home ownership of working citizens of limited financial means. Such would have directed valuable support where needed without endangering the entire financial system of the country. 

Such tax policies are entirely consistent with a fiscally and socially responsible philosophy and should be an integral part of the conservative viewpoint.

 

 

Comment

Comment

Gun Safety

Not a big supporter of 2nd, believe guns have their place but sale and purchase should be heavily regulated.

Comment

Comment

federal regulation of pot

As a lifelong Democrat, I warmly remember when I was in grade school how northern Democrats took much of the lead (with reasonable Republicans) in enforcing new Civil Rights legislation. Since the post-Civil War Const. Amendments, part of the explicit price paid by (southern) states to come back into the Union was for them to respect the areas in which decisions of the federal government were supreme. States' Rights is a stupid rallying cry when the question is clearly in the purview of the federal government. With growing societal tolerance for pot use, many states have been effectively thumbing their nose at the fact that what is sanctioned as permissible by a lot of states is still illegal under federal law. And as the current administration makes noises about actually starting to enforce these laws over the states' implied or explicit permission, people on the political left are using it as a reason to rail against that administration. But respect for federal authority means the states' permissive view on this issue has to be subordinated to federal policy. (Similar issue with "sanctuary cities," but I can understand the conflict between what the states or subdivisions like cities want vs. what the federal government pursues - but I am a little more tolerant of the tension because I have no deep seated views on whether pot should be legal, and therefore I focus on process than the effect on people. So it's a clearer issue for the purpose of this question/study.) 

Comment

Comment

Amnesty for hard working immigrants deeply involved in their communities/churches/schools and not committing any crimes

Hello, My name is Mary Jo and I am a Ophthalmic Technician in a large Ophthalmology practice in the DC/NorthernVirginia metro area, which is full of immigrants both legal and illegal. It is an extremely diverse area with people from all over the world!  While many patients I see are on VaMedicaid and from Middle Eastern countries with no jobs, no grasp of the language and little love of America, many are also Hispanic.  They are very polite, very grateful for the opportunity to receive such fine medical care, and most of all, they are fellow Catholics/Christians and extremely hard workers who seem to truly be trying to make a good life here.  I am Catholic as well.   Several times a year a great team of 3 ladies clean our home.....a very hard working team does our yard work from March to November and many times we have hired local 'immigrants" to do heavy work we are now getting to old to do ourselves.  I talk with all of these people and am honestly impressed with their devotion to family , faith and community.  They work longer harder hours than anyone else I know without complaint.
    I know that , as a Conservative, I should join in being more hard-core 'deport them all".  I am very much in favor of deporting every single gang member or criminal and do not want them in my community.  I want 'the wall' to help stop the endless flow of drugs into the USA and of course I believe in LEGAL immigration going forward.
   But, those good, kind, hard working immigrants attempting to make a better life here for their children.....I believe they should be given a path to citizenship.  I don't feel that sending them back would be beneficial to them or to my community.  Daily personal experience has shown me that there are good "illegals" and bad ones too.  

Comment

Comment

End of DACA program

We should consider Ending DACA program or No Dreamers program to illegal immigrants residents in America.

Our President wants to get America great again and put America first on all policies, the president also wants to build a wall along the US and Mexico borders to deter illegal immigrants coming to America. Stopping the Dreamers policy will support the notion to get America great again.

The majority of Dreamers are of Mexican heritage, they came to US for better living to provide dreams for theselves and their children.  Some bad Dreamers use the loophole of the policy to hid in US. These criminals dreamers reside in US and showing their bad behavior in our society, they behave like theft, raptist, robbery and killer. 

I personally is a direct result of the chain immigration. When I arrived at US,  I had a hard time to adjust.  During those  days, I never thought of being a theft, raptist and drugs dealer to harm US. That is why so important  to end the deamers to come in,  while we're making America great again. 

Comment