Politics Test, Part II

Continued from Part I

12. Professional athletes are paid too much money.

Strongly Disagree.

Since such judgments depend on one’s personal subjective value hierarchy, it’s hard to see what that has to do with politics. So, I take the question to mean something like: professional athletes should be paid less and teachers should be paid more, and the government should regulate such levels. But athletes are only paid what you, as fans, are willing to pay them in the form of ticket purchases, trademark apparel, products they endorse, and so on. If enough of you quit buying those things, athletes will be paid less, much less. Since I believe in freedom, I can only answer the question for myself, which, whether I think athletes are paid to much, not enough, or just right, my only valid action in the matter is to decide my own level of spending, if any. What you choose to spend your money on is none of my business, and so this cannot rightly come under the purview of "public policy," assuming there should even be any such thing.

13. Tradition is a reliable guide in deciding what’s right.


This was a tough one, because some of the stupidest things you’ll ever see in your life are done in the name of tradition. It’s the chief refuge of the robotic and unthinking: we do it that way because we’ve always done it that way. Still, I must acknowledge the value, to an extent, of settled knowledge and wisdom. In other words, it’s impractical to spend one’s life continually reinventing the wheel. But I don’t strongly agree, because there should always be room to question such settled knowledge and wisdom and there should always be an emphasis on improving the status quo. In a more political context, we live within a macro tradition called western civilization. I consider it a reliable guide for advancing civilization, in part, because contained within it is the seed necessary to take us to the next level of individualism and rationality.

14. When I’m talking to someone and I find out they’ve served in a war, I respect them more.

Strongly Agree.

As the test says, it’s designed for Americans, and so we’re talking about American wars, which I consider predominately just wars. In spite of the fact that they are conducted by the state, as Billy Beck says, "sometimes it’s just necessary to kill the bad guys." Whether or not it was the state that took on Hitler, for example, and the communist outbreaks that followed, these guys needed to be dealt with and I respect the man on the ground who takes up that charge. I served, though not in wartime. But I was prepared for that, if the need arose, and I have no regrets. That said, I would never support the draft in any context whatsoever.

15. If I’m dating someone I like to know where they are and what they’re up to at all times.

Strongly Disagree.

I don’t know what this has to do with politics, other than that a person insecure enough to have to keep tabs on someone else at all times is likely to want to keep tabs on what you’re doing in your own bedroom, in the privacy of your own home, with other consenting adults.

16. It bugs me when somebody names their child something like ‘Sunshine’ or ‘Charm’.


Here, I just take the question as given, without really any political implications. I find it distasteful when people try to make some ideological point in naming, dressing, or coiffing their children. Leave the kids alone. That said, I’d never think to forcibly impose my preferences on others.

17. Only literate people should be allowed to vote.

Strongly Agree.

This requires accepting the premise of a democratic state in order to answer the question. So, yes, given that there is that silly "franchise," please limit it to competent people. I’d go several steps further. Given that it’s here, as far as the eye can see, I’d prefer people not only be literate, but intelligent. Owners of land and businesses would almost certainly be an even better standard. I doubt any of this would do much good, but I was always somewhat fond of the suggestion contained in one of Heinlein’s novels: that in order to unlock the voting machine, the citizen had to first solve a polynomial equation. I can’t see how we could be any worse off for it. Then again, there’s an awful lot of commie intellectuals… See how impossible it is when you have to accept an invalid premise from the start?

18. People raising children have a responsibility to live up to society’s standards.

Strongly Disagree.

People, whether raising children or not, have a responsibility to live up to their own standards. There is no such thing as "society’s standards." All standards originate with and pertain to the individual. There’s no way to establish a set of standards that non-contradictorily subsumes the individual standards of everyone, so the only thing that can be meant by "society’s standards" is those standards agreed to by some and imposed upon all the rest. There is but one objective standard that applies to all individuals everywhere, at all times: the prohibition of initiating force against any one or group for any reason, at any time; no exceptions, ever. Period. This would apply to initiating force against children that is outside the scope of protecting them and teaching them to become responsible adults.

19. The separation of church and state has demoralized our society.

Strongly Disagree.

The church, like the state, is an authoritarian institution. It has also proved itself to be totalitarian when it can get the chance. Getting the church out of the state hasn’t improved the state, per se. It has improved the church. Though it baffles me that people can’t seem to reason through right and wrong exclusively through the brain power in their own heads, I understand that many look to their churches for moral guidance, and I agree with the wholesome nature of at least some of that moral guidance (and vehemently disagree with a whole lot of the rest of it). Since the church no longer has the power of life & death over its flock, it seems to me that to what extent its congregations are morally guided, they are choosing to do that under no threat of violence, and this was not the case when the church was the state.

20. The ‘Word of God’ exists only as human beings interpret it.

Strongly Agree.

Of course, I don’t believe in God. To the extent he exists, he exists as a figment of people’s imaginations. So, likewise, his word is a product of human imagination and there are any number of interpretations for what that word actually is. Even if God actually existed, there would still be plenty of disagreement as to his intent and purpose. To wit: the U.S. Constitution.

21. Blind patriotism is a very bad thing.

Strongly Agree.

Blind anything is a very bad thing. Blind patriotism is just another form of blind obedience, and of course, commanding such obedience is the supreme wish of every state and every politician. Politicians, and some religious leaders, want to think for you; they want to make your decisions for you and believe themselves fully and completely more competent than you to attend such matters. Falling into that false-authority trap is to suspend your own capacity to reason, the natural result being incompetence at life, which is a bad thing. A very bad thing.

22. We need stronger laws protecting the environment.

Strongly Disagree.

We need no laws protecting the environment because we should have no laws protecting the environment. Each and every environmental law that now exists is a theft of someone’s property, no less so than if you went down to your local Wal Mart, surrounded it with agents and guns, and dictated its business affairs and operations. I love a beautiful and wholesome environment (I go camping), and with the single exception of untouched nature, I find the best-cared-for environments exist on private properties. Humans take care of and usually improve what’s theirs. I’m all for conservationist movements, and could even find myself supporting some of them, if: 1) they cut out the steaming piles of bullshit they call "science," and 2) their aim was to first purchase the land they wish to preserve.

Coming soon: Politics Test, Part III, 22-33.

Update: Here’s Part III.

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  1. Kyle Bennett on October 2, 2005 at 07:34

    I'm basically with you on all of this. I chose "disagree" on the tradition question, but mostly because of the word "reliable". Traditions, as you say, are a very valuable repository of milennia of human thought and experience. They can and often do go badly astray, locking people into some rigid behavior that no longer or never did have any relevance or rational basis, but they still represent overall something that somebody figured out or discovered that has provided value at some time.

    But "reliable" implies to me something along the lines of your discussion of "blind" patriotism. To take tradition as correct a-priori, and follow it without continuously reevaluating it is a huge mistake. Its proven value kept me from strongly disagreeing, but I can't agree with descibing them as "reliable".

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