Saturday, May 5, 2012

In which I share my political opinion

In lieu of yesterday's post I decided to talk about something that I haven't really discussed in a while: politics.

Touchy, yes, I know. Interesting, yes, I know.

 In the past I've always been pretty vocal about who I supported and agreed with, but this year I find myself a little more reserved. One reason being that I'm not nearly as argumentative as I used to be, and another reason being that I can actually vote this year. My opinion now has the weight of a vote behind it. I can actually help campaign for a candidate and truly support them. Freshman year I was a self-proclaimed Libertarian. Don't ask me why, I think I probably just said that to sound cool or something. This year, I don't know what I am. 

My freshman year I was a strong Obama/Ron Paul supporter despite their different views on policy. This year I'm not quite sure about Obama. Don't get me wrong, he's a good president, and the only complaints I have to make this year is one directed towards gridlock. I truly think he would have got more done if it weren't for the fact that the Republicans did everything in their power to slow any progress. Ron Paul, on the other hand, might end up being a bit different. Sure, he's running as a Republican right now, but I feel like his ideas are more like that of a third party (especially since he previously ran under a third party). Here's why I'm going to vote for Ron Paul in the primaries (and hopefully in the elections):
  1. He's going to cut $1 trillion within his first years in office by eliminating 5 cabinet departments like  Energy, HUD, Commerce, Interior, and Education. Oh man. I can practically feel the look of disdain dripping off some of your faces right now. "Cut education?!" Yes. Cut education. And just think about it. If our school systems became privatized, there would be more competition and more incentive to receive the best education possible. In my opinion, public schooling has removed any sense of gratitude that kids in America have towards education. Waking up every morning to learn seems like a chore. Fail for the year? NBD, we have free education. One can always just repeat a grade on the school's dime. With privatized education, at least people would value learning again. Teachers would be better compensated, and maybe, just maybe, we can do away with state standardized tests that hinder holistic learning. Kids are now trained to pass those tests, and they aren't allowed to be curious outside of the realm of what they need to know in order to pass said tests. Schools compete for government money and grants, and the money they receive is correlated to their pass/fail rate on these tests. 
  2. America will be more competitive in the global market because of his plan to lower corporate tax rates. Because of this, investment would rise. He also wants to end taxes on personal savings, which means that families will be able to save more money and build a nest egg. The idea is to return America back to a capitalistic nation fueled by competition and innovation (Ayn Rand anyone?), meaning that no matter crisis America finds itself in, the innovators, entrepreneurs and dreamers will prevail and heal the nation. The American dream and grand opportunities would once again be available for everyone.
  3. He believes in state rights, and thinks that individual states should regulate things like abortion, marijuana, and marriage. Personally I like this idea. I live in Texas, meaning that my state would probably not approve of any of the above, but I have the liberty to move to a state that does, and vice versa. Ron Paul himself is a pro-life supporter, but keep in mind, he was an OBGYN for a significant amount of years before he ever dreamed of being a politician, and not just some pig-headed guy telling women what they can and cannot do with their bodies. As far as marijuana goes, I'd be more than happy if we could regulate it and tax it like cigarettes or alcohol. 
And I have many more reasons, but I feel like those are the main reasons. Obviously I feel more strongly about the education aspect than I do about anything else, but that's mainly because I'm a student.  Every day I'm surrounded by apathetic students that couldn't care less about the precious opportunity that they are presented with, and think of school as a "prison." No. I'm sick and tired of that kind of attitude.  I think everyone should have access to a quality education, but I also think that people should WANT it.

The only candidate that can provide a solution to this problem, in my eyes, is Ron Paul.

Again, I can feel the eye rolls from some people. I'd love to hear your opinions though, and I know I don't usually ask for comments, but I'd love to hear what you have to say on the topic of this year's presidential election. 


  1. It must be totally different to consider candidates as an actual voter in the election. I'm a bit envious!

    I'm not a huge fan of Ron Paul, but I can't quite put my finger on why (other than the obvious things, like various past issues). I just have a hard time trusting him.

    I like President Obama, but the way his hands have been tied by the Republican Congress is frustrating. I think people need to stop blaming him for everything, because he hasn't had the ability to do much in the way of fixing things.

    Just my thoughts; I tend to focus more on my state's completely abysmal government, since that is more acutely influencing my life.

  2. I respectfully disagree with your position on education. What other benchmark besides standardized testing can you use to measure educational progress, especially at the lower grade levels?

    What happens to the children who can't afford to go to private school? What can you do to stop children from dropping out of school because their parents can't pay the bills? Funneling money away from public education will only widen the disparity between those who can afford private education and those who can't - and wouldn't that exacerbate the problem of children in some school districts feeling that school is a "prison"?

    Poor education is underlined by inadequate incentives to teachers to work in less affluent school districts, and the consequent decline of educational quality in those areas. Is education something that should be reserved to those who can afford to buy it? Don't you think raising the baseline standard for education in the public sector is necessary before focusing on privatizing education?

  3. @Boyd I understand where you're coming from. I've had a few friends tell me that they disliked Ron Paul not only because of his policy choices, but because of some instinctual feeling.

    I don't know. I don't get that sort of vibe from him.

    Also, in no way do I dislike President Obama, but because of the Republican Congress's inability to work with him, I don't see the point in voting for another four years of policy gridlock.

    @Is Thank you for your comment! It brought up points that I should have addressed in my actual post. The issue I have with standardized testing is its correlation to federal funding. Students are presented not with an out-of-the-box, wholesome way of learning, but with formulaic condensed facts that will guarantee the right answer on a test. To me, that's not learning. That's prepping.

    Schools pressure teachers to teach students how to pass those tests, not how to learn or retain knowledge. I've had many teachers tell me how much they disliked state benchmarks due to the simple fact that they can no longer engage their students in experiential learning. I feel that children should be taught a wide variety of materials so that they will be able to pass any test presented to them.

    As far as children not being able to afford private schooling, there will always be charities and philanthropic organizations that will be more than willing to fill the gaps, so long as the students actively seek those options. And just like any other business, there will be schools willing to cater to those students at a reasonable cost, just like there are businesses willing to cater to individuals at a cheaper cost.

    I do think that raising the baseline standard for education is necessary, but I don't see it happening unless education is privatized. As long as the government continues to funnel money to states for public schooling, not much is going to change. The schools would rather do what they are told in order to get the dollar amount that they want than do what is best for the children.

    I still stand strongly by the fact that privatization will result in more competition not only among students to get into a prestigious school, but teachers to perform at their highest level so that they may teach at a prestigious school.

    Again, thank you for your comment!

  4. Well ever since I've heard about him I have loved Ron Paul. I especially like his foreign policy, and his plans to stop all the stupid wars that no one wants, and maybe start trying to rebuild America's international image. I don't get why so many American's think that the world loves them, when the vast majority do not. I don't really think that privatizing education is a good idea though. By removing public and state funded education you may in fact be stripping people of a chance to learn. There are some people that probably wouldn't be able to afford it. I think that all education should be free. Some people are not going to want to learn, and privatizing education will not help solve that problem at all. Some people just aren't academics. The education system needs to be changed, yes, but it doesn't need that big a change.

  5. NOOOOO. Just kidding.

    I'm not a fan of Ron Paul myself, although I do think he would be better than most of the previous Republican candidates. Obama perhaps hasn't been the Messiah president that so many Americans were hoping for, but how could he possibly be? He's got a bad rap because he began his term during a recession that began BEFORE he took office, and because he's faced so much blind opposition on the behalf of the Republican Party, where he's viewed as a wicked Socialist bent on destroying our country, despite his attempts to work together and compromise with the Republicans.

    I really don't feel like privatizing education could conceivably be a good thing for America, especially this far into the existence of public education. Yes, the majority of the public school system is in dire need of reform, but I think it needs just that: reform.

    Given that such a significant percentage of students who attend public school cannot afford an education, how could they possibly pay their way through 12+ years of schooling? In your comment above you mentioned charity and philanthropic organizations, but being realistic, would those really be adequate to produce the colossal sum of money required to provide financial aid for the colossal number of students unable to pay for their education?

    I feel like in an ideal world, privatized education could potentially work, but I'm also afraid it would turn out to be even more of a disaster than we have already found ourselves in. And I agree with you on the subject of standardized testing and the problems that come with it, but I think that's something that can be changed without taking drastic measures like completely cutting public funding for education.

    And the same goes for departments like Energy, which I think is of utmost importance. We can have wiser spending and save money while still better accomplishing the task the department was created to do. If the government doesn't take measures to promote conservation and environmental regulations, who will? Certainly not a self-absorbed capitalist society motivated by business, where protecting the environment may not always be economically beneficial.

    On the topic of foreign policy, I'm divided. I think war is terrible, and I am opposed to all forms of violence. Still, I think that foreign policy is a complicated issue, and I need to learn more about it before I can say anything.

    You did make some good points. And I'm incredibly jealous that you get to vote.

    But if you vote for Obama, I'll give you a dollar.

  6. While I don't necessarily agree with your choice in presidential candidate nor stance on some of the issues, I respect your opinions and ability to vocalize them in a rational, intelligent way.

    Perhaps it's just where I'm from and thus don't know differently, but most of the sentiment from Floridians is anti-Obama and generally anti-democrat. Now, I wouldn't have a problem with this if those people could actually cite why they don't like Obama or why the don't like democrats. Using hateful, slanderous rhetoric from Fox News doesn't count. Neither does saying "he hasn't done anything" when he clearly has, or else what has been doing for four years?

    I don't know much about Ron Paul, so this blog post of yours has essentially been my foray into his platform. That said, he seems kind of...dopey. While I understand this shouldn't be a big deal, (or matter at all) I think having a President that looks presidential is important, especially when it comes to foreign affairs. I think this is why, albeit mostly subconsciously, there has never been a woman elected the "highest position of power" (though Congress holds most of the cards, and even they aren't at the helm) in our country.

    I admire your support of a particular candidate, but, like you said, unless he runs in a third party, it will be Romney on the election ballot.

  7. The reason why we subsidize public education is because we believe it produces positive externalities. A more educated population correlates with lower crime rates, economic growth, self-governance, and higher quality of life measures, all of which we believe are beneficial to a society and compound with the number of people educated in a similar manner.

    You simply can't achieve this with private education on such a scale as is necessary for the country - there isn't enough money. I would question anyone's ability to disprove me on the point that you can't educate people privately on the same scale as you can publicly.

    The total spending on K12 is billions upon billions of dollars every year. When you consider that the median income in the country is around 45 thousand dollars a year, and ten to 12 thousand dollars a year is spent per student by the government, the majority of the country would not be able to fund the cost of a PUBLIC school education, much less a private school education (the costs of which are 30, 40 thousand dollars a year). If private educational facilities were expected to cut costs for the sake of lower-income families, it couldn't drop to lower than the ten thousand dollar range anyway - which would come at the expense of better education, wouldn't it?

    Pressing those who can't afford it to rely on charities and philanthropic organizations to fund their schooling is idealistic, but would be fundamentally inadequate - not because people don't want to help, but because there are just too many people who need that funding for public education.

    I'm from Connecticut, from a particularly affluent county - and I know for a fact that my parents could not have afforded to pay private school prices for me for 12 years and then still afforded to pay for my college education. And if I couldn't have afforded it without severe stress to my parents and to myself, I'd be hard pressed to see how people in less-affluent areas could.

    In CT, 98% of students are educated in public schools. In higher education, 80% of students attend state schools. In the most successful education countries, Finland, Switzerland, all have strong public education systems funded through the state, in ways that ensure that those in lower socio-economic brackets can benefit.

    There are flaws in American education, yes, but it's necessary to fix public education, not cut funding entirely - privatizing education will not somehow stimulate public schools to "step it up" - because public schools rely, and should rely, on government funding. That's what makes them public schools. The answer isn't giving up on public education, it's reforming it with more comprehensive teacher assessments or new methods of testing that can be simultaneously standardized and more flexible, to allow for the holistic learning that I don't think anyone is against, but that is incredibly difficult to quantify on a large scale.

  8. I don't think education should be privatized. As someone who has taken a lot of education classes (I'm minoring in it), I understand the importance of federal legislation concerning public and private education. If they cut the department, there would be no one to regulate educational standards, and there would be a severe shortage of federal aid, which would mean that states (who already have a hard time with aiding the achievement gap), would have to increase taxes (wah wah wah, I'm okay with taxes, though) like ad valorem and property in order to make up the difference. In short, there just isn't enough money to have it privatizes, especially in a society where we feel like education is a right. I strongly believe that education is a right.

    RP wants to get rid of educational aid, which I think is horrendous.

    I'm in the same boat as you with most of this, but I don't believe in cutting the educational department.

    Also, I really doubt that cutting mandatory education would be beneficial. We as a society have not been raised to be grateful.

    Also, if it is privatized, does that mean that parents will be responsible for funding their child's elementary and secondary education? If so, how much? Is that fair? No, I don't think so.

    Also, not all funding is based on a pass/fail ratio. I agree that it is a large percent, but not primarily.

    Go you.

  9. Ahh politics... always an iffy subject.
    Politics in Australia has been what people who care about it would call 'interesting'. Some weird shit has been happening over the last 24 months nation-wide, and it's all a bit shaky.

    At least I think it is, but I'm not sure because I tend to ignore politics as much as possible. I'm not a fan of it at all, in case that weren't apparent. Of Australian politics anyway. It's just in such a shit state over here. Everyone is so petty and childish, and it feels like nothing is getting done.

    Instead of clogging up your wall with my bleating, I think I'll do a post on it. Thank you, ma'am.

    But it is good to see people out there do care about politics and their ability to influence it and enforce positive change. I guess maybe I'm just too cynical.

    Anyway, post in-bound from me sometime soon on this topic.