Monday, February 13, 2006

On Government Size and Reform

Because Ryan has recently made a post on the state of conservatism and my admission of certain failures within the Democratic agenda seemed to startle some, I’ve decided to further explain my view on government size.

I view it kind of like getting in shape. I have no problem with it gaining a little mass, but we need to trim the fat. I think government should help those who need it without allowing people to become a complacent drain on the system. I have no problem with radical reform of our welfare state; it is flawed, in some cases, DEEPLY flawed. At the same time, that doesn’t mean that we should simply scrap it or give up on the notion that everyone in the United States deserves a fighting chance of success.

I personally know people who are in fact drains on the system. They don’t work, reproduce, and collect assistance with a sense of entitlement. That’s bunk, but it is also a difficult situation. As a society, I think we are morally obligated to at least protect the children they produce, but we must coerce the parent back to work. I think Clinton’s working welfare reforms were a great first step, but more must be done along those lines.

At the same time, I know some who are in genuine need of assistance. These are they types who work 40 + hours a week and make less than $20,000 a year. Usually people in this situation are doing the jobs that many would never wish to do, yet they are positions that are valuable to us as a society. These people deserve support; they deserve at least some level of assistance in order to have the opportunity to better themselves (such as greater financial aid for college). However, under the current system, they are often shut out by those who abuse the system but are able nevertheless to better extract assistance from the government.

In the end, I believe in a stronger government, one that is there to help the citizens who need it the most in their times of need. If this creates a “bigger government,” so be it; I don’t believe in sacrificing the working poor over empty rhetoric that rejects any notion that government can benefit its citizens. However, I do believe in a trimmer government, one that rejects a welfare-supported impoverished leisure class and that has a clear but fair tax code that aims to balance the budget.

Really, is all that too much to ask for?

In Defense of "Elmer Fudd" Cheney

The words above are rare for me, I know. My first reaction was shock, then bemusement about Cheney’s accidental shooting of his lawyer friend (I mean, Cheney just kind of LOOKS like Elmer Fudd, and the nightly talk shows are going to be hysterical).

However, at today’s White House Press Conference, the media attacked press secretary Scott McClellan because the information was first released through the private rancher on who’s land the incident occurred.

While I’m usually in favor of any reason to go after the corrupt and power-hungry Bush administration, in this case I think the media is making a mountain out of a wabbit hill---eer…molehill.

Though an interesting footnote in history that Cheney is only the second VP to shoot a man while in office (the first was Aaron Burr’s assassination of Alexander Hamilton in the infamous dual), this incident occurred in Cheney’s private time on private land; it was accidental, not criminal in any way. Just as I thought President Clinton’s sex life was none of our business, the same lapplies to Cheney’s private life; this accident is really none of our business.

There are very serious issues that face our country right now, including grave concerns about various activities undertaken by the present administration. Perhaps the media should focus on them instead of an unfortunate accident. It is past time for the media to act responsibly and report on issues that matter, instead of whatever real or created “scandal” will draw the most attention.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

On the Lighter Side

I received this as an email from my sister, and couldn't resist posting it:

This year, Groundhog Day and the State of the Union address occured on the
same day.

As Air America Radio pointed out, "It is an ironic juxtaposition of
One involves a meaningless ritual in which we look to a creature of
little intelligence for prognostication, while the other involves a

Monday, February 06, 2006

The Pen is Mightier (Still)

In my student teaching, I am currently covering a unit on American Imperialism. If you recall your history class, you will remember how “Yellow Journalism” pushed the public opinion towards war (specifically the Spanish-American War). Now, before you sigh and ignore what you expect to be some rant about our imperialistic adventures in Iraq, stick with me – at least THIS post isn’t about that. I merely wish to point out that the media maintains a powerful influence in world affairs.

For proof, one need only look to the Muslim world, as consuls and embassies burn over a political cartoon that originally ran in a Danish newspaper. A single cartoon is now at the forefront of the news and is dramatically shaping world affairs, just as the Yellow Journalist of the 1890’s were able to change their world and push it towards war. Though we can only hope that this incident does not end in violence, it is evidence that the pen of the journalist still yields a lot of power.