For someone who has been blogging both on this site and on MySpace and Facebook, I have never posted a comprehensive statement of my beliefs. Certainly, I'm lefty in many ways, but there are lefties and there are DFH's (dirty fucking hippies). I fall in the former category and not the latter. But what does that really mean? Rather than beat around the bush, here are my beliefs, in broad categories.
1) Economic Policy
I'm a Keynesian in terms of what to do during economic expansions and contractions. In other words, during a recession, government (state or federal) should expand their spending to make up for the lack of spending from the consumer and business sectors. When the economy is good to great, government should cut its spending so as to not crowd out investment.
But government intervention in the economy is an absolute must. Government has the ability to do the big things that private enterprise cannot. For instance, during the early years of U.S., Philadelphia was the country's largest city. It has a great natural harbor, is surrounded by scores of natural resources, and by way of the Delaware River, was easily connected to interior of New Jersey, etc. New York, by contrast, was relatively isolated. Then New York State built, from taxpayer funds, the Erie Canal. Suddenly, New York could connect easily with the Midwest, and the NYC has been dominating the East Coast ever since. In my view, government must take part in these big projects, not just to employ people during their construction, but to build the economy for years after. Private business, which needs to make a profit cannot do that.
Also, capitalism depends on certain factors to work right - perfect information, low barriers for entry of competitors, etc., which don't always exist in the world. Government regulation to make the market work better is a good thing.
Lastly, when it comes to government spending, I like the idea of spending on big things that help everyone. Welfare, while important, is unpopular because it privileges the poor over everyone else. So, there should be a social safety net, but it should exist like Social Security - everyone pays in, and everyone benefits. That's why I want comprehensive health care reform - everyone should be able to benefit.
2) Social Policy
I believe that government should stay out of our personal lives. It should not dictate how we pray, who we pray to, who we love, or what we do to our bodies. Now, naturally, there are limits - the biggest limitation is whether the exercise of freedom impedes on someone else's exercise of freedom. Also, if there's an issue of public health or safety, then by all means action should be taken. But I can't stand the nanny state bullshit that tries to censor language, ideas, or behaviors. As far as guns go, I believe the best way is to have some kind of test to determine if a person can own a gun safely, after which, the person can own as many guns as he or she pleases. On abortion, I believe that women control their own bodies, and they get to do with them as they see fit. At the same time, those that oppose abortion have every right to try to convince women to do otherwise.
I believe that the death penalty is appropriate in some circumstances, but it is overused. I still don't know what to do about drugs, but I believe the current "War on Drugs" is counterproductive.
3) Foreign Policy
First and foremost, the policy of the U.S. should serve American interests. When we are attacked, we should attack back. Where there's a threat, it should be dealt with. But U.S. foreign policy should be intelligent policy. Let's take Iraq, for instance. Back in 2002-2003, I was absolutely livid about the decision to invade Iraq - not because I bought that Saddam was a nice guy, but because even if he had WMD, he was more likely to use these weapons against his neighbors. In other words, I looked at Saddam's past behavior, studied the political dynamics at play, and was able to determine that invading Iraq was a bad idea. That's what U.S. policymakers should do. In the long term, is using military force in America's best interests? Good foreign policy considers that, bad foreign policy does not.
If anything, this separates me from the DFH faction - I believe in the use of military power when necessary and when in the best interests of the U.S. I believe in the death penalty, and I believe that gun ownership is not immediately a bad thing.