Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Congressman Issa's DC Autonomy Legislation

[in response to the legislation as described at sites such as WaPo and DCist.  I CC'd Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, DC Mayor Vincent Gray, and the DC Council]

Dear Congressman Issa,

This is with regards to your proposed legislation regarding the District of Columbia.  I'll start by saying that I support increased fiscal autonomy for DC and, in general, also support overall efforts to limit taxpayer financing of abortions.  While I'm not necessarily against abortion per se, I find agreement with you in that I am not supportive of my taxpayer dollars financing it.  I can therefore appreciate you intentions with this legislation.

However, I also believe that the abortion debate should not be fought over DC.  If it really is such an ideological battle that you wish to begin within the halls of Congress, then it is an issue that should be levied upon the entire country; not singling out but one jurisdiction.  This is akin to legislating that abortions be limited in San Francisco but readily financed in San Diego.  Such legislation must either be made at a purely national level or, barring that, left to local governance.

I am a big supporter of a smaller federal government and a stronger local government, but this legislation's efforts regarding abortion -- regardless of whether or not I agree with its intent -- is in direct contradiction to our conservative ideals.  Sure, I know that if left to its own devices: DC would otherwise continue to spend my taxpayer dollars on abortions for low-income families, and yes: I do not agree with it... but as long as it is a decision made at the local level: the decision is at the very essence of what it means to be a democracy.

I urge you to split the legislation apart: one bill for increased fiscal autonomy for DC; and if you really believe it is an issue that must be legislated in our current national situation: propose a separate bill for reducing federal taxpayer dollars across the *entire* country -- not just one small subset.

Thank you for your time.

Friday, November 11, 2011


I've had this blog named for ages but haven't quite found the time to do much with it.  Sure enough, I expect that posts will be irregular at best -- mostly written when time allows & motive exists to try and craft the words as eloquently as I can.  At this point I don't know to what degree I'll moderate this blog... comments are on for now and I expect civility if anyone ever does start commenting.  I reserve authority to delete those that aren't.

A bit about myself: I span pretty much every spectrum and can usually appreciate the argument of both sides to a debate... pretty much the only thing I'd disagree with is the notion that there are only two sides.  To try and hit some of the more distinctive details, though:

 - I tend to favor local government, believing the federal government's role should generally be geared more toward an educational presence, identifying best practices from smaller jurisdictions and helping to share how those experiences might best be applied to other areas.

 - I emphasise "local" government rather than necessarily saying small government.  I believe that a more socialised local government can be better-responsive to the specific needs of its population while being more readily available & answerable to its electorate.  In addition to a more powerful presence as a voter, it's also psychologically easier to be willing to help your neighbor than it is to help a stranger hundreds of miles away.

 - I am fiscally conservative when the economy is good; fiscally liberal when times are bad.  More specifically: we should be saving up larger "rainy day" funds during those sunny days.  And when the monkeys start throwing feces at the fan (seriously: that metaphor works in so many ways), there's a greater contingency fund to pull from.  Private industries and citizens, at a macro level, inherently act for their own personal good; not the public benefit -- that's where a government is to step in.  Of course, one problem is that democratic governments are run by people who are themselves acting in their personal interests... not to fault them; it's just an extension of the private industry/citizen situation -- each delegate must answer to their specific electorate and has little incentive to give heed of other areas.

 - I tend to be socially conservative but vote as a social liberal.  This is primarily because much of my social conservative side comes from spiritual beliefs, but I am an ardent supporter of the First Amendment's clause that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" ... that is, if it's a result of my spiritual beliefs and I have no non-spiritual basis for it: I'm going to vote with what I think it right in the here-and-now regardless of the ethereal impacts.  If I think something is a sin: I just don't do it myself.  As long as it causes no direct harm to others: I believe so-called sins are for God to judge; not myself nor others.

 - And while I'm on the subject of religion: I identify best as Pluralist.  I was raised among Mennonites but never really an avid church-goer... I much prefer reading various books beyond just the Bible and coming to my own opinions.  I strongly identify with all Abrahamic religions -- they're all the same God with the same scripts and the same prophets; just a slightly different take... but the messages are the same; and I reiterate that the God is the same.  I also favor many of the philosophical and traditional teachings of Buddhism, Daoism, and Shintoism.  Pretty much the only religion I haven't quite broken through with (yet) is Hinduism, though I have at least read its more prominent texts.  However, I'm also an engineer and have a science background... I strongly believe that science and religion can coexist quite peacefully.  Science is for what we know; religion is for what we don't know; and there will always be a copious supply of both.  And while I do believe in the supernatural, I also believe that the supernatural world still obeys physical laws and can be detected through physical means; we just haven't grasped or understood those effects yet.