On civil liberties:
An administration currently run by supposed liberals thinks that it's ok for government to secretly seize phone and Internet records of citizens, without the kind of explicit search warrant contemplated by the Fourth Amendment.Sounds pretty ominous, right? But what is the government actually "seizing"? If a data search includes an anonymous telephone number, which the government, by law, cannot further distinguish or analyze because it is not "terrorism information," what exactly has the state seized, and is it protected by the Fourth Amendment? There's an existing data-mining technique available to the government with your phone number, address and name already in it. It's called a phone book. To answer the question about what the government has "seized," I've begun to use what I like to call the Green Shirt/Green Hat analogy:
Let's say the government can know where everyone in a green shirt with a green hat is at one specific time but doesn't know who that person is, where they're going, whether they're going to change out of the shirt and hat at any time soon, their address or any other distinguishing information. Moreover, specific rules state that the government cannot inquire further about that person at all. Is the government's knowledge of that information a privacy rights violation of your or my green-shirt-and-hat-wearing selves? I don't think so. In fact, I don't think it's even close, and that's because the government really doesn't know shit and, furthermore, the compelling interest to know that information is the potential for preventing the mass death of Americans. As an example, the census is about 1,000x more invasive. What compelling interest does the government have to take a census? Answer: The state does have a compelling interest to take a census, but it is not the potential for preventing the mass death of Americans.
Now, I don't pretend to speak for Democrats or Liberals or Progressives, and I certainly can't speak for anarcho-Libertarians, Libertarians or the People's Front of Judea, but as a baseline for reasonable people I'd say that governments have to keep secrets. General and then-President George Washington kept state and military secrets from the other colonists and then-American people. So did Abraham Lincoln, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt kept a lot of them.
What are some key areas where you might find the government maintaining secrecy? I would think that matters to do with war and counter-terrorism are a good starting point. And if a government can keep citizens safe without violating their Civil Liberties, shouldn't the government have the power and even the duty to do so? If a government with that power and duty failed to exercise it, wouldn't that government be negligent?
On private vs. public sector:
More and more of the government is being contracted out and privatized, even the most sensitive state secrets, not to mention basic public services. Even the U.S. armed forces depend increasingly on private mercenaries. ...Now I can see where this would be a huge divide between the anarcho-Libertarians and the Libertarians. You see, the Libertarians want everything privatized, and the anarcho-Libertarians hate private companies. Big problem there. Me? I hate many private companies because they gain too much power through monopoly, shared interest (i.e. the oil consortium, trade and lobbying groups), as well as the ability, through money, to buy votes and public opinion. I do, however, realize that capitalism is the system that we live in, and it has been pretty good to Americans in the past as long as we ensure strict regulation. I don't want to have to barter with my dentist, as I don't have a single chicken to my name. On the other hand, I also don't want to pay $10,000.00 (US) for a simple cleaning because dentists have finally realized that getting together as a monopoly would benefit them financially. As for the recent move to privatize government functions, I would point to this:
This is the first recession in a century when government employment and public services were cut rather than expanded to compensate for the weakness of the private sector.
The states colored in red above are what we like to refer to as "Red States." They do a lot of silly things in Red States, and even in some Blue States like Wisconsin or Michigan, where Red Republican governors have decided to strip the government bare. Also, in those Red States, they have the right by virtue of the Constitution to send legislators to Congress, and those Red Legislators have decided to strip the government bare.
I like government. It is important to have one--and one that works well--to maintain a civilized society, to regulate business, to maintain a safe environment and balanced ecosystems, to thwart terrorism and, if absolutely necessary, fight wars. So, for me the solution to the "privatization problem" seems pretty simple: We need more Blue Governors and Blue Legislators, and much fewer Red Governors and Red Legislators.
Finally, on the issue of privatizing the function of government, I believe the quote above is incomplete in such a way as to render it misleading and harmful. In that quote, there is no distinction between what Democrats, for the most part, and Republicans, almost unanimously, have attempted to do on this subject. Just by way of a tiny example, there's the fact that a Democratic President demanded approximately a trillion dollars in economic stimulus; whereas, a Tea Party House of Representatives has not voted on a single jobs bill and has voted on numerous occasions to de-fund government. Quite an important distinction in my mind.
On financial sector reform:
The financial collapse and presidential election of 2008 were a moment for political reformers to dismantle the Wall Street power that caused the financial collapse and did such damage to ordinary people. But the moment passed with only feeble reforms, which are being dismantled daily as lobbyists eat away at the regulations...
Again, this looks like a bone of contention between the anarcho-Libertarians and the Libertarians. Not speaking for any other Democrat or Progressive or Liberal except for myself, I also want increased regulation, no more monopolies, and the end of "Too Big to Fail." The best answer to this plight is one we've seen before: We need more Blue Governors and Blue Legislators, and much fewer Red Governors and Red Legislators. Specifically, and most importantly, we need a Blue House of Representatives. Cynical anarcho-Libertarian types might argue, "But, Blue Legislators in the House wouldn't get the job done, they're too beholden to special interests." The somewhat-less-cynical reply is, "What is your solution, and, please, 'burnng down shit' is not a solution?"
On health care reform:
A health reform that professes to use government to move us closer to universal insurance coverage is actually a command for people to buy insurance from private industry, which is fatter and less efficient than ever.Well, on this, at least, the anarcho-Libertarians and Libertarians can agree, if for different reasons. The former don't think they'll ever get sick ("So why should I have to pay into any system?"), and the latter think the government should have no involvement whatsoever in the health care system ("If I want to curl up in my own den and die like a free, but fatally-ill, wolverine in the wild, then that's my business!"). Of course, this is the very epitome of anti-social behavior. It is all about the "I" and the "me," and not about the "we" and the "us."
Speaking only for myself as a Democrat, a Liberal and a Progressive, but not speaking for those groups, or the anarcho-Libertarians or the People's Liberal Front Movement of East Judea, I believe that a government not only has the power but the duty to ensure that as many people as possible have access to health care, that as many people as possible are not turned away from health care because of pre-existing conditions, and that as many people as possible who can't afford health care be provided it. (I understand the economic argument for providing health care as it costs less in the long run; but my belief is that health is so intertwined with "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness," that it is a duty of the state.)
Now here's the thing: I'm also realistic enough to understand that in our form of government change doesn't always happen quickly, and that it sometimes happens incrementally. It is not always perfect or even close to it. With that in mind, then, the government's duty vis-à-vis health care becomes the duty to enact the best possible system feasible at any particular time. I believe we did that.
In conclusion, I believe that government is necessary, that it should be available to help us, to regulate our behaviors, and that it should have the power and the duty to protect us when necessary and appropriate. I'm not paranoid about "Slippery Slope" arguments--such as we are becoming a police state watched over by the East German Stazi--because I know that we are here to stop that from happening, and even if one branch of government should ever be compromised, we have two others and a military to stop it. I believe that cynicism is trending, but like all trends, it will go away, probably as soon as our economy booms again. I believe that the best solution to all of our short- and long-term problems is to elect a majority of Blue Legislators in the federal government and Blue Governors in as many states as possible. I will admit to being cynical about how the cynics seem to ignore this very possible solution.
Finally, I am not cynical about today's youth and young Democrats. First of all, they've grown up in both the least racist age in America and the most conspiracy theory riven. They, for the most part, will know not to believe everything they read on the internet or see on Fox News. Secondly, they're not Fox News viewers. Thirdly, they know which party or splinter group started two wars and which one ended them; who's policies caused the Great Recession, and who's brought us back to recovery; which party or splitter ended DADT, and which one fought it tooth and nail, and etc. And, lastly, they're too intelligent to fall for thinly-veiled invitations to join Rand Paul's peculiar freakshow.