Sunday, 13 January 2013

Political compass...

1.  If economic globalisation is inevitable, it should primarily serve humanity rather than the interests of trans-national corporations.

    'Humanity' here is an abstract pretext.  Most people don't know what is best for themselves, let alone others.  The imputation here is that, if speaking for the good of 'humanity' is usually the guise which charlatans hide behind, then I would rather err on the side of the devil that I do know.  So no, I would strongly disagree with this statement.  I understand the bottom line of corporations, and can thus fight accordingly; I can't understand some ambiguous notion of 'humanity.'

2.  I'd always support my country, whether it was right or wrong.

    Strongly agree.  Though Canada has its shortcomings, among which are a crippling deficit on both the provincial and federal level, a lack of jobs, an ineffectual and often annoying healthcare system, and a flawed infrastructure, I don't think that any other political system or national concept could do a better job.  If North America could be considered a 'family,' I see the U.S as the belligerent, albeit successful oldest brother which disowned its parents, Canada as the 'responsible,' magnanimous middle sibling which can nonetheless fight back when pissed off, and Mexico as the perpetually irresponsible youngest brother.  Canada is a great country, and I would never choose to live anywhere else.  I'm proud to be Canadian.  Strongly agree.

3.  No one chooses his or her country of birth, so it's foolish to be proud of it.

    Wrong!  If 'pride' were a matter of 'choice' and not based to some extent off of 'ascribed statuses,' then I don't see how there could be any dignity at all.  It's important to have a sense of national identity, though this like anything else can be taken too far and should never be gone about haphazardly.  Knowing your circumstances, accepting them, and utilizing them to your advantage is an integral part of being a human being.  Life can be a meritocracy in some places, but this isn't always an idyllic state and there will always be many glass ceilings.  Strongly disagree.

4.  Our race has many superior qualities, compared with other races.

    The 'white man's burden' at work?  I truthfully have little knowledge of other races.  All of my friends/family are white/caucasian.  Though I did live in a more racially eclectic place for a time, this was in the United States and was a suburban area, so it was much more of a melting pot.  I've read both "Uncle Tom's Cabin" and "The Turner Diaries."  I've seen both caustic racism and 'political correctness' at their best and worst.  Neither works well when taken to its extremes.  I've known many white people (including myself, from time to time) who fall under the 'white trash' label.  Likewise, I've known racial minorities who fit many of the racial stereotypes proscribed by popular literature.  I agree with this, because it's never good to deride oneself towards the benefit of somebody who you don't even know.  I will never fully understand the tribulations that other races have endured over the ages, so it would be wrong of me to trivialize their struggle by saying that I 'strongly agree' with this.  Likewise, I will not efface myself for evils which I have never perpetrated.  I'm not a big fan of the whole "the sins of the fathers" deal.  I won't give a stranger something at the expense of myself and my loved ones.  So, I would have to settle with a diplomatic 'agree.'

5.  The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

    Ephemerally.  If they can help me in a provisional sense, I will trust them sometimes, so long as I have something to hold over them later to keep them in line.  So, I'll tentatively disagree.

6.  .Military action that defies international law is sometimes justified.

    Strongly agree.  Circumscribing a national agenda to conform to international standards is one step closer to a unilateral police state.  Whoever dominates international political circles will be the people carrying the biggest sticks.  Whether this is ethical or not isn't up to me to decide.  I agreed with the American invasion of Iraq because yes, George W. Bush was a shameless looter and conceivably a war profiteer, but at least he was honest about it.  Right wingers tend to be brutally honest.  At least he stole from someone else's people, where Barack Obama has stolen from his own people through tax hikes and bailouts.  Arguing that there are other countries needing American intervention and aid *more* than Iraq doesn't hold water, either.  The 'WMD' propaganda may have been a fallacy, but the only sin I hold the Americans guilty for in that respect is bad PR.  A good government will always lie to its people, because it does the dirty jobs that nobody else will.  

7.  There is now a worrying fusion of information and entertainment.

    Yes, but it's good for both the economy and the private consumer.  Delineating what is 'information' v. 'what is entertainment' is very imprudent if you're raising a generation whose bread and butter is 'constructive games.'  This is the reality, so denying it is useless.  I think there's a huge pedagogical future in store for games, among other things.  Using popular mediums to educate is a singular tool, and doing otherwise is stupidity.  I feel that entertainment pervades schools too much...i.e you'll always have teachers trying to be students' 'friends,' which exists at both the secondary and post-secondary levels...but these are institutional flaws rather than conceptual ones.  They can be seen as the 'unwritten code' of life.
    I'm a very literate person, so my itinerary mostly centers around the 'fusion of entertainment' when it comes to literature.  If you find a book that does this and does it well, you'll always remember that book.  I've seen instances of incredibly smart/precocious people trying to write 'novels' with some intermittent pop savvyness thrown in for good measure, and the result is an information manual.  You can practically hear the author telling you that it's time for bed every five minutes.  I also think that there's a well-understood place in the world for 'pulp fiction.'  Stephen King makes a terrific argument for it in his memoir "On Writing."  He asserts that this is what a 'story' is, and I agree that something can be entertaining without a litany of specialized verbiage.  Don't give me a book that's also a movie script.
    Those of you who know me are probably sick of me trying to proselytize you, but an extraordinary folio of a book which creates equanimity between 'information' and 'entertainment' is David Foster Wallace's "Infinite Jest."  Hell of a book.  Just saying.  So, disagree.

8.  People are ultimately divided more by class than by nationality.

    Strongly disagree.  I'm in circumstances just about as straitened as they come, yet if I stint and save for long enough, I can take the love of my life to fancy places and not be judged at first sight (in terms of race, anyway).  People have deeply ingrained cognitive responses which will *always* discern between race, whether this be a simple observation (i.e "his eyes are blue" or "she is in a wheelchair") and which will, at least for the foreseeable future, create stigmas.  The reality is that I can and have rubbed shoulders with very wealthy people despite being somewhere around the poverty line myself.
    Few people aside from idiots are blatant 'racists' anymore, but political correctness has in practice driven racism 'underground' and created a backlash that will arguably be as strong in 50 years as the abolitionist movement was in the 1860s.  People are sick and tired of feeling like their every move is under scrutiny, terrified of walking on eggshells when it comes to saying anything at all to a visible minority.  So yes, for the time being, nationality is an ever-present, if hopefully not ineradicable, factor.

9.  Controlling inflation is more important than controlling unemployment.

    It really is an interchangeable idea, but, given the fact that the welfare state has made it easier for many people to subsist off of social assistance than find 'honest jobs,' I would say that controlling inflation is important so that everyone can afford basic standards of living.  Soaring price hikes are nobody's friend.

10.  "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need" is a fundamentally good idea.

  This impinges on human dignities, is impossible to regulate with current methodology, and works well on paper.  In truth, it places a tremendous burden on the highly proficient, perpetuates dependencies, and is just a lot of hardship for everybody.  Strongly disagree.

11.  Because corporations cannot be trusted to voluntarily protect the environment, they require regulation.

    This is internecine fear-mongering which just harms everybody.  I don't pretend to know what the 'common good' for everybody is.  I respect a corporation's right to do whatever the hell they want, so long as I possess the self-awareness and requisite skills necessary to fight back should I disagree.  To the victor, the spoils.  Regulation will never work.  It just creates calumnies and obfuscation on both sides.  Yes, corporations obliterate ecosystems every single day.  But, if not for those corporations, the same people who appreciate the views and the wilderness hikes and the clean drinking water would be deprived of basic amenities.
    I am a wilderness lover myself, but I believe that it's necessary to stay one step ahead of the corporations rather than legislate them.  This is just the sort of Pyrrhic victory which has always inspired revolutions.

12.  It's a sad reflection on our society that something as basic as drinking water is now a bottled, branded consumer product.

    Not in the least!  If people are impressionable enough or need it enough to buy it, it's a simple supply and demand equation.  The free market is sacrosanct when it comes to stuff like this.  The moment the demand disappears, the moment Dasani will be obsolete.

13.  Land shouldn't be a commodity to be bought and sold.

    Strongly disagree, because I don't have a better methodology for parceling it out.

14.  It is regrettable that many personal fortunes are made by people who simply manipulate money and contribute nothing to their society.

    Making money is a solid 'proclivity' in itself.  Were it easy, more people would do it.  The only way that somebody in that position could 'contribute nothing' to society would be if they sat on their enormous fortunes and let them moulder away to nothing in banks.  Money creates jobs, jobs create gainfully employed people.  This is a misnomer.  I do not hate wealthy people as a rule because I am not one myself.  I'm sure that there are many lucrative assholes out there, but there are just as many earnest, hard-working people who deserve every cent that they earn.  Strongly disagree.

15.  Protectionism is sometimes necessary in trade.

    Never.  Zellers has now been ousted by Target here in Canada, an enormous loss for protectionists.  When it comes to food, amenities, furnishings, and consumer goods, though, I would far rather get the best product for less than know that buying domestic is creating jobs here.

16.  The only social responsibility of a company should be to deliver a profit to its shareholders.

    Absolutely.  If other outreach activities accentuate positive PR and underscore this bottom line, so be it.  But, should I ever invest in a company, I would want a solid return on my investment, not a mini-lecture on my obligations to everything else which would probably be serving some private itinerary anyway.

17.  The rich are too highly taxed.

    Strongly agree.  Again, I am not very wealthy myself, but I don't hold a grudge against rich people.  If they choose to make political and/or private sector donations out of their own volition, then I admire that.  Likewise, if they're too parsimonious and create discord as a result, then they will eventually either be displaced or will subdue their dissenters.  Nature will take its course.  I'm ambivalent about spending my entire life trying to make money, but I'm reluctant to endlessly try and gauge a little bit more out of people who do.  I don't understand how can people can spend their entire lives making a fortune and then see it get whittled away by taxes which go to fuel many of the rich 'assholes' who I mentioned in an earlier question (i.e $3 million for Obama to go to Hawaii).

18.  Those with the ability to pay should have the right to higher standards of medical care .

    Yes.  There should be a basic standard for everyone, which is one of the best things about Canada, but privatized health care helps keep a lot of jobs domestic and creates marginally less of a burden on the public system.  I would agree with this, albeit not strongly agree.  A mixed system is good.

19.  Governments should penalise businesses that mislead the public.

    Absolutely not.  This is fatuous, because advertising itself can be seen as 'lying.'  People should be responsible for their own media literacy, should know how to distinguish between sagacious and misleading advertising.  If a child chokes on a toy and dies, or if a drug turns out to kill, etc, then I believe that these victims and their families reserve the right to litigation/publicity, which speaks for itself.  But, penalising companies for 'misleading' the public is way too arbitrary and inherent in the process of doing business that it becomes a gratuitous idea to begin with.

20.  A genuine free market requires restrictions on the ability of predator multinationals to create monopolies.

    That's a misnomer, so no.  Curtailing market expansion is just another method of protectionism, one which may promote inferior domestic products over superior ones promoted by companies which have established a foundation for success elsewhere.  

21.  The freer the market, the freer the people.

    This aphorism brings us back to the allegorical Garden of Eden.  Create a forbidden fruit, and people will always find a way to get it anyway.  Curbing consumer tendencies is useless.  Very true.

22.  Abortion, when the woman's life is not threatened, should always be illegal.

    Correct.  If you're not prepared for the natural result, don't enter the playground in the first place.  There are plenty of easily obtainable contraceptives which can, with minimal inconvenience, be used to prevent conception about 98% of the time.  I have nothing against adoption, etc, but abortion is another way of saying that it's okay to kill the most vulnerable being conceivable (no pun intended).  Besides, 'illegality' before Morgentaler didn't stop anyone from getting abortions anyway.  'Illegality' may dissuade some people from making a very poor choice, which is a good thing in the same way as drunk driving laws may save one life in a thousand.  It's one of those "better a hundred guilty men go free than one innocent man go to jail" utilitarian propositions.

23.  All authority should be questioned.

    No.  Either maintain your legitimacy as a source of power, or get out.  If someone is doing their job well as an authority figure, then they won't be questioned.  It's only abuses of power which warrant insight, a fact discordant to the entire leadership process.  We've seen far too many instances of "meet the new boss, just like the old boss" throughout history.  The oppressed becomes the oppressor.  Desiring power is not a credential for having it.  It's more admirable to believe in something, though it be the most abhorrent cause imaginable, than to believe in nothing.  Some dissent is inevitable, but these voices should be silenced with either bribes or coercion.  Failing to do so creates an ineffectual leader who deserves to be deposed.

24.  An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.

    Strongly agree.  If you're dumb enough to get caught, then pay the price, and learn from your mistakes next time.  Vindication is very important.  See the Durkheim study which posited that Protestants commit suicide far more often than Catholics because Catholics have a pretense of 'atonement.'

25.  Taxpayers should not be expected to prop up any theatres or museums that cannot survive on a commercial basis.

    I don't frequent either, so strongly agree.  

26.  Schools should not make classroom attendance compulsory.

    Past a basic formative universal education which instils literacy skills and basic math skills (up to age 13 or so) no.  Everything beyond that should be private schools focusing on a certain area; scholastic, or vocational/technical, or athletics.  If every person could do one thing and do it well, you would have people better qualified for the future than folks who could do a little bit of everything.  We live in a very occupationally specialized world.  I 'agreed' with this, but didn't 'strongly agree,' because I see a basic elementary education and testing process as very important.  It should be compulsory, but nothing beyond that.

27.  All people have their rights, but it is better for all of us that different sorts of people should keep to their own kind.

    Strongly agree.  Violent criminals, narcotics addicts, sex offenders, etc should be segregated from the rest of the population.  Rehabilitation programs should be made available to them, though.

28.  Good parents sometimes have to spank their children.

    I see spanking as a sexual activity between mutually consenting adults.  That being said, some children need to be spanked, and aren't; likewise, some children should not be spanked, but are.  Every time a parent spanks a child, they should remind themselves that there is a strong probability that this same child will be responsible for taking care of them, the parent, during their twilight years.  I would disagree, but tentatively so.

29.  It's natural for children to keep some secrets from their parents.

    On paper?  No.  Unfortunately, it has been said that "every family is dysfunctional in its own way," and this will almost invariably happen.  So no, it's not 'natural,' but is an unfortunate inevitability of the times.

30.  Possessing marijuana for personal use should not be a criminal offence.

    I've never used drugs myself, aside from alcohol (never even smoked a cigarette, in fact), but I see no reason not to legalize weed.  Drug laws were ratified in the 20th century as a way to persecute minorities.  It started with Chinese railway workers and opium dens, and progressed from there.  A free market would be way easier to control than the current one, which only illustrates the seeming ineptitude of the government to stop it.  

31.  The prime function of schooling should be to equip the future generation to find jobs.

    Strongly agree.  Many universities seem to have forgotten this.  I ascribe to the idea that 'artists' and more liberal-arts-minded people are born, not made.  So many people spend four years in university thinking they can write, then graduate, can't find a job, and realize that they've been screwed.  There should be many tools available for artists, but a university education is not one of them.  

32.  People with serious inheritable disabilities should not be allowed to reproduce.

    *Serious inheritable* disabilities?  As in, inheritable disabilities carrying a death sentence, like HIV or something similar?  No.  I think that no parent has the right to create a child whose short life will be filled with misery, suffering, and persistent anguish, knowing beforehand that this will be the case.  I fail to see how any responsible, loving parent could wish that on their child.  More minor hereditary conditions with physical/mental impairments should be up to the discretion of the parents. 

33.  The most important thing for children to learn is to accept discipline.

    Yes.  Those with astute minds will learn how to work the system accordingly, but need to learn early that nobody will support them in this attempt.  Think "Ender's Game."  The idea is to create a critical-minded child not through indulging his every whim, but through convincing him that he must learn how to circumvent hazards to achieve his goals.  The best parent is not one who tries to be a child's 'friend,' but rather one who instils a real sense of critical awareness, one who the child knows will always be there should he, the child, earnestly need something.

34.  There are no savage and civilised peoples; there are only different cultures.

  All cultures are savage.  Homogeneity has nothing to do with it.  Indigenous tribal feuds in Africa used to consist of six or seven deaths during the nineteenth century.  This was a 'war.'  Canada lost 158 soldiers in Afghanistan between 2003 and 2012. 

35.  Those who are able to work, and refuse the opportunity, should not expect society's support.

    *Expect* it?  Absolutely not.  Use existing resources according to one's own ethical discretion?  Yes.

36.  When you are troubled, it's better not to think about it, but to keep busy with more cheerful things.

    Ideally, yes, but this is not always possible.  As someone who has and continues to be at the forefront of mental illness, I can understand this.  I had serious compunctions about both this and the prior question, as I myself have been using social assistance since September 2011 in one form or another.  Though mental illness is not my only concern, it has definitely played an enormous role in the inclinations which I have experienced over that time.  I try not to use any more than I absolutely require, though.  I used to see it as my clown allowance.  People laughed at me (or pitied me, as the circumstances may be), and I chose to see my impecunious situation as 'compensation' for that, feeling that, no matter what I did, there were some labels I could absolutely never fight despite years and years of continually trying.  This year, I'm seriously considering trying to make a change.  Impetuous or wrongheaded?  Maybe.  I choose to see it as yet another tradeoff; one string of disadvantages for one string of disadvantages.  That idea only really started to fall apart when I began seeing my current fiancee, and realized that women actually could see me as something other than a 'palace eunuch.'  With that enormous confidence booster there, I feel prepared to try and work past some of the other concerns.

37.  First-generation immigrants can never be fully integrated within their new country

    I'm not acquainted with many immigrants presently,though I did know a fair number at one time.  In their case, probably not, but it all depends on the cultural/linguistic heritage.  I'll give them the benefit of the doubt on this.  That being said, I think it's wrong to admit more people to the country when there's still a paucity of jobs for people who are already here.

38.  What's good for the most successful corporations is always, ultimately, good for all of us.

    Yes indeed.  A more disingenuous approach to this question would be the assumption that successful corporations and rampant poverty are mutually exclusive, which they're not.  Yes, decisions affecting millions are often undertaken by a small handful of people, maybe not even people whose personal integrity I would vouch for, but I trust the autonomy of the individual more than I distrust such individuals, if that makes sense.  I don't see any better way of feasibly organizing people en masse than the one that we currently have.  South Park put this idea really well in the episode where Cartman gets a 'flashback.'  It's important to the success of modern democracy to be able to do something 'bad' (i.e environmental harm, mass layoffs, inflation, tax hikes, etc) while simultaneously being able to denigrate it through 'rights.'  Very smart.  Corporations benefit many, many people every single day, and I think that the world would be a way worse place without the Bill Gateses and the Mark Zuckerbergs.

39.  No broadcasting institution, however independent its content, should receive public funding.

    No, but it's really just a choice between censorship/biases vs. corporate interest when it comes to ad wars.

40.  Our civil liberties are being excessively curbed in the name of counter-terrorism.

    Strongly disagree.  Law enforcement/first responders rarely get credit where credit is due.  For every large scale incident, there are dozens of others stopped in the burgeoning stages because law enforcement stepped in and had the resources they needed.  Government by definition exists in a state of tacit compromise with the governed.  People exerting these 'liberties' should be capable of doing so despite government suppression, because accepting anything as a God-Given Right is one step closer to complacency and exploitation.  Folks have no 'rights;' they believe what rich and powerful people want them to believe, and act on the good graces of these people insofar as they are incapable of acting autonomously.

41.  A significant advantage of a one-party state is that it avoids all the arguments that delay progress in a democratic political system.

   Strongly agree.  That's a no-brainer, I think.

42.  Although the electronic age makes official surveillance easier, only wrongdoers need to be worried.

   Very true, but are 'wrongdoers' restricted exclusively to people impugning on publicly ratified laws?  No.  Power will always be abused.  So, whether the entity labeling 'wrongdoers' is the Canadian constitution or an angry teenaged 'hacktivist' leaker working out of a basement, it's our responsibility as people to be aware of this because, if somebody wishes it, we will be held accountable.

43.  The death penalty should be an option for the most serious crimes.

    Yes, I think so, but I also believe that, in the worst cases, juries should be presented with psychological testimony describing which would be more efficacious for the accused; a life sentence without any chance of parole (a real life sentence, not this 25 year stuff) or execution.  Some people would legitimately fear a life sentence more than execution. 

44.  In a civilised society, one must always have people above to be obeyed and people below to be commanded.

    I believe that, to whatever extent possible, there should be respect/basic courtesy for everyone, but yes, this sort of hierarchy is the only pragmatic way to go forward in urban society.

45.  Abstract art that doesn't represent anything shouldn't be considered art at all.

    Emphatically disagree.  Social strictures and art should rarely go hand-in-hand, though one can always be representative of the other.

46.  In criminal justice, punishment should be more important than rehabilitation.

    Strongly agree.  People dumb enough to be caught need to learn the consequences; namely, that there will always be somebody with a bigger stick.  Play by the rules, or at least appear to.

47.  It is a waste of time to try to rehabilitate some criminals.

    Yes, quite.  Many people are incorrigible, and those who are too pliable probably deserved whatever they had coming to them in the first place.  Nothing is more dangerous than indecisiveness.

48.  The businessperson and the manufacturer are more important than the writer and the artist.

    In a social sense, yes.  I have few pretensions towards success in that sphere.

49.  Mothers may have careers, but their first duty is to be homemakers.

    Very true.  Homemaking is an indispensable task, no less so than breadwinning.  The problem isn't that homemaking is necessary, but that there's a discrepancy in how each role is seen socially.  Mothers who choose to stay at home should be seen as contributing members of society just as much as their colleagues in the business world.

50.  Multinational companies are unethically exploiting the plant genetic resources of developing countries.

    No.  Use it or lose it.  Unfortunately, development is an ineffable aspect of nature, one which may never fully be curbed.

51.   Making peace with the establishment is an important aspect of maturity.

    Of course!  Either rebel in subtle ways or be put down with little effort expended on the part of those who resist you.  I once heard an excellent story about a Jewish man who infiltrated the SS during the Second World War.  He took part in the murders of many of his countrymen, but also helped hundreds of Jews escape.  Rebellion should be undertaken knowing that there are some things you can never change.  It should focus, first and foremost, on the things you can.

52.  Astrology accurately explains many things.

    Strongly disagree.  I have no reason to believe in horoscopes.

52.  You cannot be moral without being religious.

    'Religion' insinuates an external source of belief, like a church or a denomination, so I would say no.  I believe that over 90% of people consciously or unwittingly predicate their actions on the existence of a God or gods, but this is spiritual, not religious.

53.  Charity is better than social security as a means of helping the genuinely disadvantaged.

    Neither source of subsidy is 100% efficacious; both have a high recidivism rate, and both can and do become lifestyles for those who sincerely have chronic problems.  So, I disagree with this.

54.  Some people are naturally unlucky.

    Based on what I've seen, absolutely.

55.  It is important that my child's school instills religious values.

    Absolutely.  A formative understanding of God can be a really good thing.

56.  Sex outside marriage is usually immoral.

    Yes, but part of loving is learning who one can and should take mortal risks for.  Nothing is more important to me than the happiness of the woman I love.

57.  A same sex couple in a stable, loving relationship, should not be excluded from the possibility of child adoption.

    No, they shouldn't.  I think that children being raised by homosexual couples are far less at risk for dubious behaviors than their counterparts in the public system.

58.  Pornography, depicting consenting adults, should be legal for the adult population.

    No, I would have to strongly disagree with this, because it perpetuates sexual self-sufficiency in many cases without exploring other options.  Porn tends to be for people with either too much money or too little imagination.

59.  No one can feel naturally homosexual.

    Not too sure on this.  I'll tentatively disagree.  Homosexuality is a social positive these days, as it creates fewer babies and adopts a lot of them who would otherwise be homeless.

60.  These days openness about sex has gone too far.

    Strongly agree.  Promiscuity bothers me, regardless of the orientation.

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