Views on the Issues

I start from first principles —

I believe government is at best a necessary evil, and at worst a nightmare. Its purpose is to referee, not actively participate in the game we all find ourselves in. It is not here to bestow favors and privileges on some, and deny those same privileges to others. I believe we have put the government in charge of too many privileges – which forces us to fight one another, in some cases for survival over those privileges. We have gotten turned around and there is a long road to recovery.

I believe that people are generally smart enough to run their own affairs if given the chance to evolve into their role in Life.

I believe the whole idea behind representative government is to represent the people of one’s district or geopolitical boundary; however, by selecting a particular candidate that is also a tacit endorsement of at least some of their biases and publicly espoused opinions. In general, I favor less government-more freedom in just about everything, so my view is that the people of a local district should have the MOST say over the decisions which directly affect them, rather than being governed by people living thousand of miles away or even a hundred as in the case of Austin. The goal therefore is to make it easier for the local folks to have a voice in the operation of their own government – whether it is scaled back or scaled up, more local control makes the most sense to me, and the most local control is with the individual.

My goal is to make it easier for local people to take control of their own lives. In the last session, there was talk of a state-wide law on chickens. I thought to myself, why not a nation-wide law on chickens? The state law sounded good, in principle, because the law was about overturning the archaic laws of local districts on whether one could keep backyard chickens or not. But, if the State of Texas involves itself in my backyard, what is next? Could it say that I can’t have cats? It probably wouldn’t, but in principle it sounds like it could and I’d rather not open that door.  I believe the problem is not that some local governments have laws about chickens, rather it is that the local people are often powerless against those governments. Thus a real solution might be more about making it easier for local people to challenge or to change their own laws, rather than mandating one-size-fits-all laws from the state. Since local governments are a creation of the State, the State does have a say, but really ought to let local folks run their affairs as much as possible.

Below is a summary with additional bullets that you can click on to see more details.

  • Reform school spending, standardized testing, and funding. +
    • Standardized testing has gone too far. =
      It seems to me that standardized testing may have started out as an idea to help, and perhaps it did, but it seems that the pendulum has swung too far and now school districts basically gear up for the test. Why? Well, it seems that their funding and bonus checks are connected to test performance. Most of the teachers I have ever met don’t teach for the money, but that doesn’t mean the school districts aren’t impacted by the connection of funding to test scores as they compete for resources and career growth. Something needs to be done to revisit this area.
    • Required teaching methods limit the teachers too much. =
      I remember discussing a method that was “required by the district” with one teacher. She commented that although she couldn’t say it in front of the principal or district, the method was originally successful in an area where people are accustomed to dirt floors and wasn’t working here. It seemed to me that she was afraid to speak up due to the system design.
    • Smaller class sizes and tailored learning experiences. =
      In many ways, our school system is designed like a factory. Admittedly, smaller class sizes might mean more property taxes, but I do wonder whether the problem is more to do with allocation of funding away from other things that could be spent on teacher salaries – to draw in more talents and even provide more tailored learning experiences.  Some of us are better at math, and others at literature. One-size-fits-all is a result of the industrial revolution and the realities of cost constraints, but now a days we have a wide range of technology and other solutions to reduce costs and tailor the experience. Consider the below quote of noted psychologist Carl Jung:  =
        “I felt a downright fear of mathematics class. The teacher pretended that algebra was a perfectly natural affair, to be taken for granted, whereas I didn’t even know what numbers really were. They were not flowers, not animals, not fossils; they were nothing that could be imagined, mere quantities that result from counting. To my confusion, these quantities were now represented by letters, which signified sounds…Why should numbers be expressed by sounds?…a, b, c, x, y, z, were not concrete and did not explain to me anything about the essence of numbers… As we went on in mathematics, I was able to get along more or less by copying out algebraic formulas whose meaning I did not understand, and by memorizing where a particular combination of letters had stood on the blackboard.… Thanks to my good visual memory, I contrived for a long while to swindle my way through mathematics. A mathematical statement leaves the hearer cold when it evokes no images or associations. It is as if the words were uttered in a foreign language. Indeed, mathematics is often taught as if it were a foreign language, with only the most arbitrary connection between symbols and objects.… The problem is not the symbols themselves, but that our teaching of arithmetic detaches numbers from the stuff of life…I have seen otherwise intelligent students turn in bizarre arithmetic solutions which they never would have considered acceptable if they had been using words instead of symbols. It was as if they were stringing together foreign terms according to some set of rules, without any ideas what the words meant… Emptying ideas of their sensuality does not produce meaningful learning or discovery, as some of its (the new math’s) proponents maintained, but mechanical and arbitrary learning. What must be criticized is not abstraction itself, which is too much a part of the human mind to be discarded, but abstraction at the expense of the senses.
    • Reduce federal incursion in State arena. + Primarily by supporting the Texas Sovereignty Act or other mechanisms to reduce federal incursion. There are other paths and they have their value, but to me this one shows the most promise. I’ll write more about that later.
    • Encourage individuals and local communities to run their own affairs. + What is good for the goose is good for the gander as they say. While I support reduced federal incursion in the State arena, I also support reduced State interference in local or individual matters.
    • Eliminate property tax on improvements, at least.  +
      • Ideally, there’d be no taxes, but … =
        the ideal world and current reality have different constraints. In an ideal world, there’d be no forced finance of government; however, at the minimum I think we can strive towards eliminating taxes on the people’s labor. Likewise, improvements on the land such as houses, buildings, etc. are built by someone’s hands and shouldn’t be taxed. Likewise, while sales or consumption taxes do have their strengths, relative to income tax ( built-in upper tax rate limitation; and more importantly,  leaving the taxation choice with consumers) they are also again, on the people’s labor. I see the simplest path towards resolution as simplification of the Texas tax code and making it much easier for local people to challenge tax rate increases in their respective municipalities. If anyone truly understands our Texas tax code and thinks it is a shining example of how to tax, please send me a note to correct my view, as I see a complete mess of a system
    • Reduce the number of criminal acts. +
      • Simplify the Texas laws to simplify down to “real crimes”. =
        Real crimes involve stealing. What? All wrongs involve theft of some sort, but not all wrongs are crimes. There is stealing someone’s life (murder), their work/labor/time (fraud), their trust (lying), their words (plagiarism or slander/libel), their reputation (slander/libel), etc. Only some of those thefts may be worthy of confinement or other deterrent. The punishment should fit the crime. There is also threatening to steal someone’s life, labor, etc. In my view, the things we decide to be crimes (actions punishable with jail or loss of life or liberty) need to be worthy of one simple question:
        • If I see someone doing something I don’t like, when am I willing to use violence to stop it? At what point will I use violence against that person or burst into their home in order to intervene?
        • Further, the laws need to be simple to understand – criminal acts could be listed out on a table that fits on a postcard.
    • Sunset legacy laws or old blue laws as they are called.  +
      • I grew up in a small town with a large population of people with Czech heritage. We used to sing a song with the verse: “No beer today, no beer today, you can’t buy beer on Sunday”. This law seems outdated to me and there are others. I’d like to begin the process of reviewing and cleaning up old laws. I believe this can open the door to a simpler legal code and less money out of all of our pockets.
    • Freedom to choose one’s self-defense.  +
      • I own several weapons and have since being a child so I am personally accustomed to guns, but I know many are not and many are truly afraid of them. I expect the best path for folks who are genuinely concerned about other people with guns, is to be well armed. Consider how the USSR and the USA avoided global thermonuclear war via the deterrent of assured mutual destruction, apparently. Did either side really want nukes or to nuke the other side? Of course not, yet they were both caught in a dangerous game.  Consider this – if you are truly that worried about people with guns, you’d probably have one to defend yourself. If not, candidly it sounds more like hyperbole to me. But, you don’t want to be armed. I get it. Neither do I. But, alas … alas – this world, it is so rough sometimes.
      • Leave decisions of appropriate use of force in personal defense up to a jury. =
        The laws for when it is ok to use force for self-defense are complicated. It shouldn’t be that way.I think that we shouldn’t interfere in people’s self-defense; however, if they do act inappropriately, we already have crimes for stealing lives on the books. I’d say that if there is a situation where person used his weapon inappropriately (such as shooting someone in the back while they were fleeing), then it is up to a jury. Perhaps the state would keep a nice table of how juries decided on different situations.
      • Gun control laws were originally racist – they were meant to inhibit people of color. =
        While I think the laws in Texas have come a long way since the passage of gun control laws to keep former slaves at bay, we also have room to grow.  
      • Statistics become irrelevant in unique situations. =
        On a large scale, I know that one side can go get their numbers, and another side theirs, and we can have a big debate on the topic, but  those numbers become irrelevant once considered for an individual or situation. There are risks on either side, but in my opinion, it is not my place or yours to make decisions on self-defense risks for people. Some people are probably more likely to get shot by their own gun, than actually defend themselves. Yet, we should let them make their own choices. That’s freedom, and that’s what America is about. 
      • There are already enough guns in America for every man, woman, and child to have one, and then some.
      • Lastly, the question is still this – at what point do you intervene, personally? =
        Play the situation out – imagine you realize your co-worker just might be one of these shooters, but you aren’t sure. You’re scared maybe, but don’t want to accuse this guy of being something he’s not somehow? At what point do you, personally, intervene and take his guns? Tell me more on my page