Representative Ryan’s balanced budget

Paul Ryan’s 2012 budget proposal would have balanced the budget by 2040. His 2013 budget proposal would have balanced it by 2023, but it wouldn’t have touched Medicare, Social Security, and would have increased defense spending. To balance the rest in 10 years would have required nearly a 50% cut in other discretionary spending such as – Medicaid and children’s health insurance, food stamps, child tax credit, unemployment assistance, veterans benefits, transportation, education, and medical research. This isn’t a knock on Paul Ryan, but just the arithmetic of what painful cuts or tax increases would be required to balance the budget in the next few decades.

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Blame the people, not their representatives

democracy originated in Greece and was adopted by the founding fathers here, but both groups knew the big flaw in this system. ergo, Plato’s philosopher-king and the founding fathers’ electoral college and checks and balances. and the flaw is that people are ignorant, hooked to self-interest, and engulfed by that strong emotion – fear. when a representative institution has an approval rating of 10% but an incumbency rating of 90%, the problem isn’t the institution but the people whom they represent. and the second biggest culprit is the media with this accurate description of what it is doing: “false equivalency – the practice of giving equal media time and space to demonstrably invalid positions for the sake of supposed reportorial balance – is dishonest, pernicious and cowardly.” (Bob Garfield – theguardian.com)

Healthcare insurance

The liberal-left thinks government knows best and is the best vehicle for social progress, ergo the liberal-left wanted a single payer government sponsored health insurance for all. The conservative-right thinks individuals know what is best for them, and individuals also have the responsibility to take care of themselves so the burden doesn’t shift to the state. Ergo, the conservative-right wanted a market-based health insurance where private companies compete for rates and coverage, but it is the responsibility of the individual to take insurance or pay a fee so that in case of emergency, the state doesn’t suffer while paying for the irresponsible individual’s health issues – either through ER visits, disability payments, unemployment payments, and lack of economic productivity of the ill/disabled individual who could not afford treatment. It was a true government knows best vs individual liberty and responsibility. Except today, for a faction of the population, socialism of medicare is untouchable, and mandated private health insurance is socialism.

The perilous path of government shutdown

When two parties run on a single issue in the general election and one party wins the most votes in the presidential, senate, and house elections…you know the people have spoken on the issue. It was true in 2004 about the Iraq War, it was true in 2012 for universal health care (disclaimer: Democrats won the popular vote in the Senate in 2004 and the House in 2012 without winning majority of the seats in either chamber). Opposition to that war was as passionate as the opposition to the affordable care act. But in a constitutional democracy, the only thing that matters is the ballot box, not the decibel level of the opposition. The people supported the Bush Doctrine of spreading democracy and rising military power, just like the people supported the candidate campaigning on universal health care for two elections in a row. The people turned against the GOP in 2008 because of mismanagement of the mandate in 2004, just like the people will turn against the Democrats in 2016 if the ACA is disastrous. But the point of a presidential or a parliamentary form of government is that a candidate or a party campaigns on an issue, and is allowed to implement those policies if elected and given a chance to let it work. If a party, person, or a faction cannot accept that and holds a nation hostage, then the precedent set will be the end of representative democracy.

Speed never killed anyone. People who can’t drive kill people. Only way to stop a bad driver going at high speed on a crowded street is for a good driver to chase him down at high speed on a crowded street. It works in movies where the good driver has perfect driving skills and does not hit any innocent bystander! – Logic of the Gun Crowd…

Make voting easier

A 102 year old lady should not wait in line for 6 hours to caste her vote. Make voting easier. It is the first and foremost right of a democracy. The party that sat in silence at voting reform proposal, this is the reason why you are becoming a regional minority party.

Military Spending

we spend 63% of our federal individual income tax on the department of defense (29% of the entire federal revenue). that $716 billion represents 42% of the world’s military spending. i think it is immoral for an advanced society, deeply in debt, to spend that much on the military (a 133% increase in the last 12 years).

Urban folks vs rural folks

New York metropolitan population – 19 million. In big cities like this, you cannot survive without government. It is needed everywhere – from security to sanitation to public transportation to education…you name it. Try libertarian-ism in these cities and you will have anarchy. On the flip side, take the case of Wyoming – population half a million. For anyone living in a small town or rural area, government is an abstract idea located in state capitals or DC which only passes restrictions and rules and takes away your money. And you do not even see much or any benefits coming out of government in your daily life. These people have known individualism most or all their lives and therefore government is just onerous. Same thing with conservatism vs progressiveness when it comes to cities vs rural areas. For someone earning minimum wage in NYC, you can work 80 hours a week and be barely able to pay rent. For someone in rural Montana or Wyoming, if someone is dependent on government help it means that person is lazy and not working hard. $40000 salary will earn a person some comfort in Pittsburgh. That same salary in NYC will make you choose between staying with your parents and buying a car, or renting your own place and commuting 3 hours each day. And conservatives are right to gripe about those who abuse government help, which truly exists but in a small quantity. And liberals are also right to gripe about social conservatism from people who have never met anyone different or experienced anything different. And these are two diametrically opposing ways of life and viewpoints and both sides feels that the other side lives in an alternate reality. But a harmonious society can only exist when both sides see the other’s point of view and see where the other side is coming from. For example, the city progressives can show their rural friends that being socially liberal is not immoral, but having learned to accept new ideas by being exposed to such people who are just as good as themselves. Similarly, a rural conservative can tell the city person that restricting deadly weapons in a densely populated area might make sense, but making it applicable to someone in a ranch or in the countryside is pointless. The best way to learn the other side’s point of view is by living in their shoes for a while. Have a conversation why the other side thinks the way they do. Do not demonize them. In the end, folks on both sides of an ideological debate are good people.

Guns, Germs and Steel

After reading Guns, Germs and Steel…I am ambivalent about the book. It does make some good points about geography and natural resources. But it felt too politically correct and misses one very important point – the choices that people make. Geography and resources are important for the start of civilization. But how can one explain the rise of powerful nation-states over the last few decades and centuries? I believe that is where choices come into play. Would the United States be the same nation if it was the Protestant Republic of America? What if Lincoln has said “let them secede”? Why was it so easy for a tiny nation to conquer the Indian subcontinent? Or compare the state of Pakistan and Bangladesh today, which were the same nation only four decades back. Would there have been a Hitler if Britain and France had not humiliated Germany in the Treaty of Versailles. I believe as much as surroundings give a head start to how civilizations develop, it is the choices we make as a people and society that determines the state and standard of our lives.

Guns, Moral Theology, and Biology

everyone has an opinion on how to stop, or if we can stop, these mass-murders. some say gun control and some say guns don’t kill, people kill (I have heard it for years but my brain has yet to understand the logic in it). some point to Good and Evil and how we cannot stop Evil because some people are just Evil (but is good and evil as clear as black and white? were the people who spread the Good Words through guns and sword really ‘Good’?) both points are valid. but how about adding a third point – mental illness. why do we stigmatize mental illness and tell the person “oh just stop being crazy” and ridicule them? the brain is just an organ after all. do we tell a person who is having a heart attack that he/she should stop having one and start pumping blood properly? we can talk about guns and moral theology, but let us not forget and trivialize biology.