17 October 2008

Having a Voice: Taking a Stand

One of the many reasons I like to blog is the importance I feel it is for me, and anyone, everyone, to have their voice heard, or at the very least, to have a voice. Perhaps I won't discuss politics at work. Perhaps I won't talk HR-shop with friends. Perhaps I won't dwell on food with family members. But I know I have at least one reliable venue where I can express myself on my own terms.

We are living in times which seem to be a pivotal moment in our lives and our society. The presidential elections, the financial markets volatility, the economic recession, the culture wars, the war on terror, and the frighteningly forgotten climate crisis. How we address and eventually resolve these and other heavy matters will have deep and long lasting effects on our lives and the lives of our descendants.

I can think of no better time than the present, and no better forum than my own blog, to take a stand on some matters. Things that most of us keep to ourselves.

2008 Election - Well, it's no secret I support Barack Obama for president. I deeply respect John McCain's decades of service to the country and I admire his courage and endurance for his lengthy POW experience, but he is 8 years too late. He would have been a better president than W., but unfortunately he lost to Karl Rove in South Carolina back in 2000. Now, he is too old and politically weakened by his on-again, off-again relationship with the Republican party. Obama may not bring as much experience as some people would like, but his style of inspired leadership, his cool temperament, his multi-cultural upbringing, and his ability to rally so many young and previously jaded voters, is what I believe the country needs to get back on track.

Public Schools - For all the parents, politicians, activists, educators, over the many years and decades, who have tried to fix our schools with so many tries and so many failures, I must say that it is clear to me, the underlying root cause of underperforming schools is simply the excessive power exercised by the teachers union to unfairly protect the employment of underperforming teachers. When competition and business driven performance is introduced to schools, improvements are made. Teachers, like all workers, deserve some degree of employment protection, but not at the expense of the schools' performance. The teachers unions should be limited in their influence. Charter schools and vouchers are good ideas and can work if intelligently implemented.

Abortion - I am pro-choice. There has to be a balance between valuing unborn life against valuing the right to privacy. I've grown up with Roe vs Wade as the law of the land. I remember the pro-life protests during the 80s and early 90s which culminated with the bombing of clinics and murder of doctors who performed abortions, thus disenfranchising most protesters who could not associate with such violence.

Capital punishment - I generally oppose the death penalty, as do nearly every industrialized country in the world except the U.S. The idealist in me says in order for our society to say murder is wrong, we have to also uphold the idea that we won't also murder convicted criminals. I am willing to be pragmatic for extreme cases, specifically mega-mass murderers. I did not shed a tear when Timothy McVeigh was executed. Nor Saddam Hussein, although he was not executed in the U.S.

Foie gras - the vegan extremists who want to ban this French delicacy have used fattened duck liver as a wedge issue to ultimately slip and slide the country down the path of banning all meat. They mistakenly attribute human sensitivities with how the ducks are fed and twist it into misled public support. The city of Chicago was desperately embarrassed by their foie gras ban, which was repealed last May. The worse episode was when a California purveyor of foie gras products had his store severely vandalized and his family video taped by eco-terrorists.

Same-sex marriage - as many of my friends know, I am an enthusiast of weddings, and I appreciate the significance of the marriage begun during those weddings. For the government and society to restrict the right for a person to choose who they can marry is simply a grave social injustice. When the state of Massachusetts began allowing same-sex marriage, the thread of society certainly did not unravel. When California began allowing same-sex marriage, there was absolutely no detriment to my marriage. I actually believe my marriage is stronger by the institution of marriage being more in line with the principle and constitutionally protected right of equality. Proposition 8 must be stopped. Over the centuries, the concept of marriage has always slowly evolved - it wasn't always about love and wasn't always about individuals choosing on their own who to marry, so it is misnomer to say there is a "traditional" marriage concept. Prop 8 is an insult to our sense of fairness and it represents a prejudice and repression that remains an ugly side of our society.

Globalization - we are so far beyond the opportunity to stop globalization, it is actually a bit ridiculous that it continues to be protested. International trade and the deep economic interdependencies between countries and continents have rapidly developed for so many decades, we are at the point where tiny countries that most Americans haven't even heard of are engaging in modern commerce and are raising the global competitive bar. All the fear and loathing of globalization should be redirected at fostering stronger international ties while also boosting our education system so American workers of the future have a decent shot at being competitive. I support free trade, I support jobs being moved in and out of the U.S. (there is such as a thing as in-sourcing, where foreign companies hire Americans into good local jobs), and I support smart regulation to protect Americans from dangerous products and unhealthy food.

Creationism - whether it's called intelligent design or creationism, it is junk science and has no place being taught in public schools. The rhetoric is so flimsy when it comes to intelligent design, I'm pleased most Americans don't buy into it. The tiny towns in rural America which fought to have textbooks in schools which tried to mistreat evolution as an unproven theory look backwards and ridiculous. As Carl Sagan so eloquently stated in his book and PBS TV series, Cosmos, "Evolution is a fact, not a theory. It really did happen." It is the rock-solid foundation of our understanding of the immensely diverse and beautiful world of biology, a repeatedly proven phenomena which is highly consistent with the science used to develop modern medicine that we all rely on, and it does not have to be inconsistent with widely accepted religious principles.

It feels good to express some of my views. Whether you agree or disagree, that's not my concern at this moment of writing. Feel free to comment here or discuss. You should have your voice heard.  I hope to express more of my views here.