When I say I'm a liberal, it is because the liberal party, with its facts-based views, is the closest party to my beliefs. So, let me show what my king-of-the-world world would be like...the if Labgrrl was in charge view, not the 'liberal' view.
Let me make this clear. None of these points exist in a vacuum. The requirements for most of them are dependent upon the others existing. My view, for example, that a second DWI (or a first with massive modifications to the charge) should pretty much lock you up for life requires the sane drug policy, sane legal system and sane healthcare paradigms. It doesn't work for today.
#1. Sane Educational and Child-Rearing policies.
We should spend the hell out of money on education. Our policy should be facts-based, and it should be multidisciplinary. In a perfect world, we don't even need the kids to do 6 hours of school, or even more, because they are saturated with facts. They get facts at home, in their games, in their entertainment. Education should be based on what works, not arbitrary grade levels. Or even age. Educational policy makes sense, and the conservatives like to say we like to need to spend money to make money. We need to send money to make money on our kids. We need to fund the hell out of it. If it takes 10% of us being teachers, then that's what we need to do. Make it competitive. Encourage parents to want to have the smartest kind on the block. Encourage situations where kids too young to be educated in schools have access to an educated stay at home parent, educated parents make educated kids. Yes, I support a concept of professional parenthood. I think the world needs to change before we go there. People on the right who oppose this should explain why, if they so love the 1950s model of parenting and school, they are not willing to even spend 1950s era percentages of money on education. If you went to school in the 1970s, or the 1980s, there is a very strong chance your school was built as a result of post-WWII spending on schools. You probably went to school in a 20-30 year old building. Unless you went to school in a 70 year old building, from the first time those policies were funded (and in part with private funds.)
Addendum: This goes beyond merely being pro-choice, by the way. I believe pregnancy should never be accidental. We don't have the current science to do it well, but if you GENUINELY BELIEVE that life begins at conception, you should be preventing conception that isn't intentional, and providing support to keep those who make the choice to have children to be as healthy as possible when they make that choice. Let's be honest, a lot of people who are against birth control or abortion aren't against 'killing' the 'humans' that they believe begin at conception. More than half of naturally occurring conceptions NEVER IMPLANT...people who genuinely believe a conception makes a human, even before implantation, will acknowledge that humans enjoy sex, and preventing that accidental life from ending is the goal, not stopping people from having sex. If you oppose people having sex, don't LIE and say it is about life. Just admit you oppose people having sex. If you don't oppose people having sex, and you believe that life begins at conception, preventing ALL accidental pregnancy is a no-brainer... More, and better, forms of birth control...not less. Since too many people is a real thing in the world, we should also support those who chose to not have children. Raising a kid to adulthood is estimated to run about $300,000 at a minimum. Maybe we should think about giving a serious tax break to non-parents. Since everyone would be invested in having everyone's kid healthy and educated, maybe we should offer a living stipend to people who voluntarily choose to become intentionally infertile. If we all knew our own health statuses and the like, it would be a big deal. This is close to me right now for two reasons: 1. If my 20 year old kid gets sick because of the autoimmune shit I have, it will devastate me. If I could've known it was there, and it turns out to be genetic, I would've not had a kid...under any circumstances. 2. I'm currently on a drug treatment that causes thalidomide-level birth defects (Pregnancy category X) and is one of the worst of the worst on that list. Fortunately, that drug usually induces miscarriage across the board, but if I somehow got pregnant the fetus would probably die, and take me out with it. I had to have a frank talk with my doctor about conception prevention...and I'm in a monogamous relationship with someone of the same gender. Maybe everyone should understand their risks like I do? Maybe we shouldn't even think about getting pregnant unless we've at least had a screening for some things?
#2. Sane Healthcare and Work policies.
As with education, we should spend the hell out of money on healthcare. If you have an educated populace, you will have a healthier populace, but there are things we can do (some we do not yet have the science for) that will encourage people to be healthier. There was a time when these views were universal: Access to clean water, vaccination programs, healthy lunches, research-based advice on what to eat, etc. Prevent the preventable, try to reduce the unhealthy things based on lifestyle (again, this should be science based, not 'judgement' based), encourage the things that make long life, and stop ignoring the facts. For example, if you could have 3 people work for 6 hours each, and be unlikely to die of exhaustion related disease or stress-aggravated conditions, it should be brainless to think to hire 1 person and expect them to do those 18 hours of work in 12 hours. Most science professionals are in this position, understaffed and underpaid, and doing the work of two to three people, we should see overwork as as dangerous as it is. And it is. Those are just facts.
For example, contrary to what a lot of people preach, obesity is not a result of being lazy. My pulmonologist's clinic has a great group for people who have lung disease and want to lose weight (that can be very hard, to use me for example, I'm supposed to limit walking around, so, as you can imagine, the gym 3 days a week isn't happening) and nearly to a one, these people are working 10-12 hours a day, eating one high-calorie meal a day because it's all they have time for and the Burger King is between home and work. The successes in the program aren't the people who spend the right number of minutes at the gym or take on a fad diet. The successes in the program are the people who change their lives to bring things into the correct ratio for their bodies. If, for example, a person takes a 10% pay cut but goes down to an 8 hour day, they stop eating the one high calorie meal and break the cycle of wake up-go to work-eat-collapse from exhaustion-sleep, their blood pressure goes down, their cholesterol goes down, and if their health hasn't been wrecked, they have an overall better chance of living a long time.
This strikes home for me because I probably would not have gotten sick the way I got sick, or as young as I did, if I had been aware that my lifestyle was killing me. I did not work 12 hours a day, but I worked more than 8 most weekdays, and an additional 4-6 every day on the weekend. I went months without a day off. I was fortunate enough to have the skills required to not do the job-to fast food-to sofa-to bed thing, but I literally could not tell when the exhaustion was from lack of sleep or when my blood started to not get enough oxygen. It took almost 4 years before I even began to see that going months without a day off was *wrong.* We need to listen to the experts on this. We do. We need to completely change the way see a 'hard worker.' We need to work *smarter* instead of work harder. And yes, that might mean our future world has a 4 day a week workweek, or a 6 hour a day work day. I don't know. What I do know is that we can use technology and the like to reduce the number of work hours needed, and instead of having one person working 18 hours, we can have three people working six hours. Here's another thought. The reason a company will often hire one person to cramp 18 hours of work into 12 hours, instead of hiring three people for three 6-hour shifts is because of having to fund benefits for people. If we see healthcare and retirement benefits as something you get because you are born in a place that values your citizens, and separate them from the work place altogether, it becomes financially advantageous for the company to hire those three workers, who can keep on top of their health and wellness, instead of that one worker, who may well become disabled because they can't. I also think that people who can no longer work should have other opportunities other than doing nothing. More retraining, and more alternate means of doing work.
3. Rational drug views, and harsh penalties for violating the facts-based laws.
I manage, somehow, to piss off both sides on this one. I believe that every drug should be legal, over the counter, and taxed to hell (which MAKES US MONEY.) I believe we should have fully funded science based treatment programs. Those treatment programs will not just be for the guy who abuses cocaine. If you are 'that guy' who can't function without pot, the wake and bake dude whose life is fucked up because you spend every waking minute either stoned or trying to get stoned, then we need to treat the underlying condition that's causing that. If you've never met that guy, good for you, but those of us who've been friends with that guy know better. We need to see addiction as the problem, not what you're addicted to that's the problem. People should be allowed to experiment, preferably in a safe environment, with tested compounds, and the ability to get help if things go wrong. Yes, I do believe if you have a job that requires you to work 36 hours in a row once in a while to get out the top product, you should be able to go to the cocaine machine if that's how you want to do it. I also believe that if the thing that makes you cope with the crazy job is being able to melt into a warm pool of morphine-laced goo when you get home, that should be available. This view of mine is based on being in the real world. I know at least 20 products in your house that the designer was probably drugged when he made it. I know more health care providers in high-stress positions who are doing narcotics off the job than those who ARE NOT (some of them, who are in positions with drug tests, just drink instead.) We've rationalized this by "medicating" for many people who are only barely in need of their medication.We've got college kids on ADHD drugs because it makes them focused beyond what's normal for college kids. We are already doing this stuff, let's make it based on science instead of who holds the patent on your drug.
This means actual science, not fake science. So, yeah, if your drug of choice is bad for you, you don't get to claim that you want to support it because it helps another person's nausea. If you want it for escape from pain, then that's why you take it. If you take it because it feels good, that's why you take it. Don't lie about why you like it.
...and you don't take it while you're pregnant, because you don't get pregnant by accident in this world where I'm in charge.
This one makes my wife furious, but I believe in this scenario you have no excuse for a second DWI, for example, and you need to face the maximum possible penalty if you do it. Getting into a vehicle, and trying to control it, while you're under the effect of a drug that stops you from being able to control it is exactly like spraying bullets into a house. Sure, you MIGHT NOT hit anyone, but we'd never say it was okay because you might be able to do it. This one, too, may require a change in the way we do things. If we're on top of our health, and driving with a critically low blood sugar, we're as out of it as the guy with a few beers in him. Maybe there are people who CAN drink and drive...or maybe the solution is something else altogether. Maybe cars are just too big to be driven around by us...I don't pretend to know. However, if the world with rational drug laws, education and healthcare were to exist, people who tricked others into doing drugs, people who decided to be stupid when they knew better, and people who intentionally risked the lives of others could not be tolerated. Which leads to...
4. Educational and culturally based Prison reform.
I've worked for a prison, do not tell me that prisons do not form cultures. There is a subset of crimes that are heavily influenced by a person's culture, and putting them from that culture into prison culture is like substituting one addiction for another...it doesn't work. These aren't cultures based on your race, ethnicity or religion, but gang cultures and the like. Maybe you can't get released from prison on a gang offense unless you've learned a new trade, changed your name, removed all your tattoos and swear to never contact your old associates again. I DON'T KNOW. What we do know is that "punishment" rarely works and "rehabilitation" doesn't work often enough. So we need to change what we do. I have a suspicion, however, that the second you fix the drug laws, keep people healthy (including mental health), stop 'accidental,' pregnancy, educate people and put people to work....I suspect that suddenly the number of people in prisons goes down, and this MAKES US MONEY.
5.If you preach "American Exceptionalism," STOP DENYING IT IN THE NEXT BREATH.
If the United States is "The Land of Opportunity" and "The Greatest Place on Earth," and if capitalism is "The Best form of Financial Governance," if you believe these things are true, then facts-based government is something we should have no problem doing. This means healthcare and childcare, sane work rules and sane drug laws. It means schools based on what works, and hospitals based on what works, and prisons based on what works. IF THE UNITED STATES IS AS GREAT AS YOU CLAIM, WE CAN HOLD IT TO HIGH STANDARDS.
6. It should be competitive to get into the armed forces, and going to college should rely on the poverty draft and people with no other choices.
This may be the hardest cognitive change for anyone who has made it this far to deal with reading. Let's not lie. Let's not say that there are not bulletheads in the armed forces who are too stupid to breathe. LET'S NOT LIE ABOUT SHIT ANYMORE. I know this, some of my friends and family are (or have been) their commanding officers. There are a lot of members of the armed forces who are smart, savvy, dedicated to their country, people who follow rich familial military traditions, people who believe the military is a worthwhile endeavor. There are also people who join the military because they are "big dumb jocks" who think that's all they can do, or who join because there is nothing else they can do to get out of their community. We have intentionally created this military. On dark days, when I am in a bad mood, I think we do this because we give them guns and technology. Think of it, if the only people who can operate a tank are too stupid to foment a revolution, those are TOTALLY the people who the government needs to be driving a tank, right? I've had one of these bulletheads stand not three feet from me and say "I'm just serving out the rest of my time until I can get out and" then proceed to list a slew of benefits he can actually get (as a veteran) and then a bunch of benefits he must've imagined. He believes this because of his recruiter, and that man is the last person who should be representing our country in the military. I've got another friend who constantly complains his life after the army is the same as his life before it...he was promised a lot by the poverty draft.
If you're in high school, and you show exceptional abilities, we should recruit the hell out of you. We do this to an extent. I won't lie. I was a full-scale hippy in high school, and after I took my PSATs, the Marines contacted me once a week for the next year..even though I said very mean things to the recruiter. Phoenix, whose standardized test scores were better than mine, was recruited even harder, but that's her story, not mine. Everyone in the same 'gifted kids' classes as mine got recruited hard. NOT A ONE JOINED THE MILITARY (Well, I don't know that none did EVER, but we all planned to go to college).
We like doing tests on our kids. If a kid shows ridiculously high spatial reasoning or problem solving, or is exceedingly strong, or is exceptionally curious or whatever, we should recruit them. The Army and the Navy should fight over the smartest kid in the High School like college recruiters over the best football player in the state.
Our founders did not want a professional military, and we basically ignore that, so let's admit that we believe they were wrong and make a professional military that's hard to get into and has serious benefits for the people who do it. Something big...more than 'we will get you out of poverty.' Furthermore, let's change it so that you don't need to be able to march for miles in the sun to serve your country. You know that kid drinking Mountain Dew and pwning everyone in the FPS? I would like HIM to be piloting the drones. If we're going to use that technology, do it.
Maybe we need another military force altogether for the smartest kid on the block? Maybe we need the actual Chair Force...or have the NOAA and Public health people better funded. I don't know. I want my military to have the biggest brains in the world. I want my government to take the only guy I ever met who was scary smarter than me and recruit him into military intelligence...I want my government to be giving the department of defense cancer research money to the government-sponsored lab with 6 people born here with a combined IQ above 1100 instead of the 60 people, half of whom are post-docs from other countries only here until they the credential or experience their government sent them here for. I want to have a military smart enough to worry about. Not just for us to worry about, but for other people to worry about.
Leave the going to school forever and ever to the people who either need extreme education because their fields are so specialized they need that level of detail or who are otherwise too stupid to breathe.
I say this as a person whose body (the meat) is killing her, and who does have a graduate degree (which I pulled a 4.0 for.) Let college be the default when you don't know what the hell you want. Throw a student at classes until they find what they can do. Leave the exceptionalism to the exceptional people and use them to our benefit.