I'm a middle of the road guy.
What the world needs now is compromise.
We are living in the most partisan time I can remember. The left and the right can't agree on anything. "Let's agree to disagree without becoming disagreeable" is a nice notion that everyone says, but very few follow. Society needs more compromising.
Driving Southern California freeways, I avoid the fast lane. No matter how fast I go, even well over the speed limit, there will inevitably be someone behind me who wants to go faster. So, rather than hold anyone up, I may as well move to a center lane. Its the opposite problem in the far right lane. People go too slow. I want to get around them, to go a little faster. So I stick to the center lanes.
Its the same in life. In politics and social issues I always seem to be in the center lane. Because, as in driving, I usually find faults with both extremes - and favorable things on both sides.
I have right wing friends who flood me with emails touting their conservative views. I think they must get all their opinions by watching Fox News and listening to Rush Limbaugh. On the other hand, I have liberal friends who would never watch Fox. They, apparently, form their opinions by watching the other mainstream networks, or by reading major newspapers. I try to watch Fox from time to time (can't stomach Rush). I read three newspapers. Although all try to be somewhat balanced, one major paper is obviously liberal, another is somewhat neutral, and my local paper is obviously biased on the conservative side.
I find valid arguments on both sides, then try to form my opinion on issues by balancing both sides. In other words, I try to stay in the center.
Perhaps the most contentious issue of our time is health care. The liberals argue that we are one of the richest countries in the world, yet we have some 40 million people without health insurance. They say we are the only developed nation with such a poor system of delivering health care to our citizens. Their answer is "Obamacare". Conservatives agree there is a problem providing health care for everyone. But they think there are too many flaws in "Obamacare" to make it a viable solution.
Because I am a middle of the road guy, I think there are some parts of "Obamacare" that make sense. I think health insurance should be sold across state lines. This would encourage more competition, which in turn, hopefully, would bring costs down. Also, we need to change tort laws that allow people to sue doctors for malpractice and have juries award them millions of dollars. As I understand "Obamacare", appointed committees would have the power to make decisions on health matters, instead of doctors. That's not good. And, requiring everyone to buy a product or be fined doesn't seem the American way.
These are only partial answers to the problem. If the Supreme Court disallows "Obamacare" we will still have all those uninsured millions. I certainly don't have a solution. And it looks like no one else does either.
Most everyone I know is upset about illegal immigration. Conservatives worry about the costs of health care at hospital emergency rooms, about free breakfasts and lunches at schools, about illegals not paying taxes. Liberals point out that these folks (mostly Latinos) take jobs that legal Americans won't take - like back-breaking jobs picking vegetables and fruits. There is even an essay making the rounds called "A day without a Mexican", where we would have no maids, no nannys, no dishwashers, etc.
Again, I try to take the middle ground. President Bush once said we were not going to deport eleven million illegal immigrants. I agree. We need to prevent more from coming, deport the bad ones, like the ones with criminal records, and find ways to make the rest eventually become citizens. The latest idea is the "Dream Act". The idea is that young people who were brought here as infants or very young children should not be deported to countries their parents came from, where they may not know the language, the customs, etc. Many of these young people may be high achivers who could become valuable, contributiing citizens. So, the Dream Act is to help them go to college - if they qualify. Even give them financial aid.
My right wing friends point out, with, I think, validity, that helping pay their college costs and letting them become citizens would only be one more enticement to lure more illegals across the border. Maybe so. My middle of the road opinion is to require they enlist in one of the armed forces or a government service like the Peace Corp (is there still one?) And after a minimum service of two or three years, they have earned the right to become citizens and to apply for the same kind of financial aid for college as any other citizen.
Liberals contend a woman must have the right to do with her own body as she chooses. They point out the world is overcrowded, that the expectant mother may not have the means to raise a child, to feed it, educate it, etc. Many are little more than children themselves. Catholics, and other Christians belive that at the point of conception we are talking about a human life. To abort is tantamount to murder. They say there are plenty of people anxious to adopt unwanted children
Taken to the extreme, religious conservatives believe taking the mornng after pill would be a sin and should not be allowed. I disagree. I think the pill would be a logical way to prevent an unwanted pregnancy. On the other hand, the extreme liberal view is that partial birth abortions should be permitted. I find the very ideal horrific.
My middle or the road position would be to allow abortions only in the first trimester. Three months ought to be enough time to figure out what to do - we're talking about human life.
As an extention of the discussion about abortion, there is now an issue about who should pay for contraception. Catholic hospitals and other organizations because of their religious beliefs, say they should not be required to provide insurance for their members that would include covering the cost of contraceptives such as birth contol pills. Those opposed, who beleive the government is within their rights in insisting on this coverage, beleive that the churches want to impose their religious beliefs on others. For example, suppose a non-Catholic, working for a Catholic hospital, wants the insurance her job provides to include the cost of contraceptives.
I am not much a middle-roader here. I don't beleive the church should be able to forbid their employees, Catholic or not, to use contraceptives. But I also don't believe they should be required to pay for them, or to pay for their insurance companies to provide such coverage.
My right wing friends insist that we are not having global warming, or "climate change" as they prefer to call it. They point out that for eons the earth's weather has been changing. Liberals, enviromentalists, "earth firsters" claim the "greenhouse effect" is exacerbating the problem. They say if we don't take steps to counteract it, one day ciites along coastlines all over the world will be flooded - among other disasters.
My middle of the road opinion is that it is ridiculous to claim global warming is not happening. There is ample evidence to see that it is indeed happening. Icebergs are melting. Floods are more common. So are draughts. And hurricanes. The argument ought to be whether humans, industry, utilites, etc, are exacerbating global warming or not, not whether it is happening. An overwhelming majority of the world's leading climatologists and scientists say it is happening.
Liberals point out all the killings in America - more in proportion than other developed nations - is the result of Americans love for guns. Conservatives counter that out constituion guarantees us the right to bear arms. They tell us that when guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns. I tend to agree with the conservatives on this one - to a point. I don't think there is any need for anyone to own a machinegun. I don't think letting citizens run around with Uzis in their cars should be covered by the constitution. Our forefathers could not have looked that far ahead.
Liberals believe everyone ought to have the same rights in this country. They believe sexual orientation is not a choice and no one should have to suffer for their inclination. Conservatives believe that allowing gays equal rights, particularly in the case of letting gays marry, would somehow damage the institution of marriage. I am with the gay rights liberals on this one, but with one caveat that brings me back to a middle of the road position: I prefer the former don't ask, don't tell policy for the military. In the Navy I lived aboard ship in very close proximity to many men. I would not have felt comfortable showering or whatever knowing there were gays among us.
Conservative writers tell us that 49% of the people in America pay no income tax. They say that the top 3% of wealthy people pay something like 80% or 90% of the taxes in this country. They oppose ending the Bush tax cuts for corporations. Liberals claim there are so many loopholes in our tax system that wealthy people don't pay their fair share. They say Romney pays a lower tax percentage than does his secretary. I don't know what to believe or who to believe. Loopholes should be closed. Maybe a flat sales tax on every product and service would be the answer. I want the country to take the middle road on taxes - whatever that is.
Liberals believe everyone deserves a good life. No one should be homeless or hungry, especailly in a rich country like ours. Conservatives think we are spending so much on entitlement programs that our whole economic system is on the verge of collapse. I think there are people who deserve a helping hand, but there are also lazy people who just don't want to work. They think that industrious people who worked hard to get through college or learn a trade, or who invested money in a business that became succesful, should help them out because they were not so "lucky". As a middle of the road approach, I favor helping those who need it, but requiring them to do something in return. I like the "workfare" concept. Let those who need help from taxpayers contribute something to society in return. For example, they could clean the roads, pick up litter, erase graffiti, babysit for working mothers. If they had to do chores like this a couple of days a week they would have an incentive to find more profitable ways to spend their time. Of course, there will always be those so handicapped one way or another that they are truly unable to pitch in. So they should get true welfare. But I suspect the percentage of people now on welfare that would truly be unable to do anything to earn their help from the government is small.
There are folks who think everyone should get a college education. They point out that we are far behind many other nations in higher learning, in math, science, etc. They beleive it makes sense to take out student loans that will take years to pay off. But we don't need everyone to go to college. We will always need carpenters, mechanics, welders, plumbers, electricians. So if a young person is not eager to go to a college or university, encourage them to learn a trade or profession that does not require a higher education.
We are the strongest nation on earth militarily. We should fight back when attacked. But we don't need to continue spending billions for more ships, planes, bombs, weapons. We already have far more than any other nation. The only good building more does is provide jobs for those in the defense industry. And we don't need to have our troops all over the globe. We could bring them home to protect our borders, our airports, our utilities, dams - things terrorists might be likely to attack.
Compromise isn't easy. Following the middle of the road can be tough. That's why I am a registered Independent.
Read my books
If you like nostalgia, and particularly if you like motorcycles, you may enjoy my book, OVER THE HANDLEBARS, a collection of previously published motorcycle stories from way back when. You also may enjoy my book THE NEXT BEST THING TO SEX, which is about motorcycle racing way back in the 60s. And if you would just enjoy a look back at the sexy, sinful sixties, check out my book, A WAY WITH WOMEN. You can read them all on a Kindle or just on your IPAD, or even just on your computer for just $2.99 each from Amazon.com. So, go to my website to order - motorcyclenostalgia.com.
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