Hey, guys! Julie Borowski is a popular Libertarian on YouTube who I am subscribed to. She recently released a video where she asked self-proclaimed liberals ten questions. I’m a self-proclaimed liberal. I like answering questions for attention on the internet. Here we go.
1.) Gun ownership is rising among women and minorities in the age of Trump. Do these people have the right to defend themselves with guns?
This is a thinly veiled “Why do you want to take away guns/people’s right to defend themselves?” question, so I’ll address that with more detail. In short: I don’t. Gun control is only ever extensively talked about in the wake of a mass shooting, at least as far as liberal circles go, and it comes across as rather Pavlovian to me. See someone do bad thing with gun -> associate gun with bad things.
There are a myriad of factors that I believe contribute to America’s shitty gun violence record, factors both socio-cultural and individual, many of them–if not being wholly unique to America–at least being very stereotypically American. Guns and their revolutionary symbolism have carved themselves out as a part of the American identity and gun violence (particularly the perpetrators of it) is sensationalized in American news media; the “American Dream” is oftentimes conflated with a guarantee of success and/or contentment, and our poor mental health practices and warped sense of “self-care” don’t make failure to launch much better. You’re pretty much just waiting for some poorly adjusted dude to take up arms for his hyper-specific, revolutionary personal cause rooted in his own feelings of striking out at a larger society that owes him more. And that’s excluding the ones who are just psychopaths who feel like shooting people. There are also multiple countries with high rates of gun ownership per capita without our mass shooting problem, and places with much less gun ownership with equal or worse gun crime. At that point, the existence of readily available fire arms seems more like the cherry on top of the Ticking Time Bomb of Poorly Mitigated Homicidal Tendencies Sundae than one of its baser elements.
The counterargument to that would be “Well, it’s not really a sundae without a cherry,” and, sure, having so many readily available firearms isn’t overly helpful to the rest of that. But trying to ban guns outright as many of the more extreme liberals suggest or place more limits on the legal purchase of guns in order to curb mass shootings is like instituting carding policies to curb underage drinking. It just won’t work. There’s too much booze everywhere. It’s too easy to get. And the general cultural surrounding booze isn’t one that’s going to stop a 16-year-old from downing 6 shots of cheap drug store vodka if that’s what they wanna do.
As a liberal, I am for more gun control policies, but I’m not operating under the delusion that they’ll do much to mitigate mass shootings. Most of the gun deaths in the United States are unintentional (accidentally shooting yourself or others) or suicides, and those are the things I am personally focused on when I say I want more gun control–mandatory safety and usage training, higher standards and longer wait periods for purchase, less places with a license to sell firearms, limitations on what can be purchased based on the situation, higher legal cost to improper gun safety, etc–because those things actually are able to be positively changed through legal gun purchase policies. So if those minorities and women actually know how to handle their firearms safely and don’t leave their pistol in their purse for a seven–year-old to get a hold of, more power to them.
2.) Can you acknowledge the difference between banning birth control and not forcing somebody to pay for it?
Yep. I’m on the fence about the whole birth control thing. In the end of the day, free/subsidized/cost effective birth control is something that I think we as a modern, developed society should have; but it’s not something that I think is a women’s rights issue like many liberals like to paint it as. There are many cases where women take birth control for medical reasons–to correct hormonal imbalances or help with crippling menstrual pain–and the argument can be made that in those cases birth control should be treated as any other necessary prescription covered by company health insurance. I can see why people don’t think birth control should be subsidized in the case of a lady just wanting to have sex without condoms, though. It doesn’t seem overly necessary.
That being said, readily available and financially accessible birth control is a social utility that I support very much. One of the main reasons that I could never be a libertarian even though I agree with them on a lot of things is that libertarians don’t really acknowledge when things are social utilities. It’s just “I don’t directly or immediately benefit from this, so why should I have to use my money to pay for it?” Yes, you do benefit from it, hypothetical internet libertarian. As it turns out, living in a society of healthy, educated people who didn’t get pregnant at 15 is something that makes things better for everybody.
You get less teenagers having unplanned and unwanted babies, firstly. That, in turn, has a net positive effect on decreasing poverty rates because you no longer have people trapped in the cycle of poverty because they had a kid they couldn’t afford who then grows up to continue that cycle. Libertarians should be happy about this, because statistically less poverty means less welfare being handed out. In the case of not-poor people, birth control helps out a lot with general family planning, and men and women are apparently more comfortable around each other when they know the pill is involved. That’s an interesting fun fact for ya.
3.) Over 60% of babies believed to have Down syndrome are aborted in the US. Is that not ableism?
“Ableism” is a stupid fucking term that does nothing but make a joke out of legitimate cases of disabled people being mistreated. Now that that’s out of the way . . .
I’m fine with mild eugenics practices, actually. I’m all for providing incentives for people with highly heritable genetic disorders to not have kids, is all I’m saying. Down syndrome isn’t like autism where there’s a pretty good chance that your kid won’t be that bad. No, Down syndrome is almost a guarantee that your child is going to have a shortened life, and one where they will always need someone looking after their most basic of needs. So if two parents want to stop all the fun times and rainbows that come with having a child with a debilitating, life-long intellectual disability, I’m not gonna stop them.
4.) How can creative, free spirited people support socialism–a top-down approach that crushes individualism?
I don’t support socialism. The “socialist” societies that armchair liberals point to as proof that socialism works are, in reality, capitalist societies that also just have really high taxes that go to funding social programs like health care and public housing. Sweden is not full of socialists. People who say that do not know what socialism is. Actual socialists societies either don’t last very long or have extremely low standards of living for the majority of the populace–Cuba being a good example. I don’t like socialism.
I support having a capitalist society backed up by a strong social safety net and state/federal programs that would allow individuals to work towards their own goals and fulfill their potential without having to worry about things like, “Oh shoot, paying for my blood cancer treatments is going to put me and my family in debt for eternity.” or “Oh shoot, I was born to a poor single mother, so, statistically, I just got screwed out of the college education that’s pretty much necessary for any kind of upward mobility in 21st century America.”
That being said, our current social systems are in dire need of reform. It’s gotten to the point where, for many people, going on welfare is a more practical option than finding gainful employment. And when that is the case, you’re not necessarily encouraging improvement or using welfare as a last resort for people who genuinely need the help, which it should be. You won’t hear any argument from me there.
5.) Many say that the rich don’t pay their “fair share” in taxes, yet the top 20% pays 84% of income taxes. What exactly is “fair share”?
I just want to note that the tagline under the Wall Street Journal article she shared was “And the bottom 20%? They get paid by Uncle Sam.” They get “paid by Uncle Sam” because they’re actually impoverished and require government subsidies to be able to maintain acceptable living conditions, dude. That whole “1% of American’s own 99% of the wealth” tagline hasn’t changed much sense the Occupy Wall Street days. The bottom 20% of Americans aren’t rolling in cash because they got $300 back from the government at the end of tax season. Stop being a dick.
The progressive tax rate we have currently I think is fine. As it stands now, the top earners pay a bit under 40% income tax on their personal earnings, less than that if they have a spouse or dependents. “Top earners” here means anyone grossing ~$500,000 a year. It goes down from there. Most of the top 20% are in the $350,000 range, who have an average of 33% income tax. The issue is that the United State’s income inequality *insert rainbow and/or scare chords here* is so skewed that comparatively lower incomes are taxed higher amounts just because the income brackets to determine tax rates have become so wonky. You could make an argument for how taking 33% of a $350,000 gross paycheck is too much, and I may even agree with you. But those people get charged that because the borderline non-existent middle class and growing lower class has ensured that anyone who even barely scrapes the six figure salary is considered a “Top Earner” and gets taxed like one.
So I guess the point I’m trying to make is that such huge disparities in income do not help what libertarians already consider to be an unfair system that punishes success. If the bottom 20% wasn’t sub-poverty level, the progressive taxes wouldn’t hit mid-level earners nearly as much.
6.) Do you really trust the Trump administration to have control over your health care?
No. But I’m also not a fan of the fact that my grandmother can work for 40 years, with almost no vacations or sick time taken out for the entirety of those four decades, and still be plunged into bankruptcy-inducing debt because her lifetime of physical labor did a number on her knees and spine, and those surgery bills don’t come cheap. I guess she should have just worked harder if she wanted to afford her necessary and unavoidable medical treatments that stopped her from being able to work, amiright?
Without any sarcasm, I can be against Trump (which I typically am) and still think universal health care or something like it should be a goal we work toward as a country. Obamacare did some good by helping those without health care, but you can’t ignore the fact that it screwed many people who already had health care over. That being said, Trump’s alternative does nothing but make that situation worse.
My main issue with the universal health care argument, in an American context, is that those you see arguing for it so often don’t seem to understand that it would be a major overhaul of multiple different areas. European countries that have universal health care also have very strong public initiatives to remain healthy and do what they individually can to mitigate the need for direct medical intervention because they know it cost society as a whole money. Meanwhile in America, we have “fat acceptance” and Michelle Obama can’t try to make school lunches include actual vegetables occasionally without getting pushback from both the public and hegemonic school-lunch manufacturers like Tyson. And that’s just the social side of things.
The different types of health problems facing the US would also have to be taken into account, ie, the higher rates of specialized problems which we actually do have superior health care for (in regards to the people who can afford it anyway). Would that care quality drop in the face of universal health care? If so, how do you mitigate that? We’d also have to dismantle the largely corrupt insurance and pharmaceutical companies that benefit heavily from private medicine, which probably isn’t even possible. It would be difficult on all counts to get a universal health care system that actually worked and wouldn’t be overburdened by corrupt actors or the public’s own incompetence. We kind of just don’t live in a society or have a culture where this would be an easy transition to make. With all that in mind, if someone was actually willing to address all those issues instead of just making blanket statements about how universal health care is great, I’d support that.
7.) Isn’t it hypocritical that Bernie Sanders, who preaches Democratic Socialism, has three houses?
I don’t begrudge Bernie Sanders his three houses. Good for him for being able to afford those unnecessary summer homes or whatever the fuck they’re for. I’m a poor person. I don’t know why someone needs more than one house.
Democratic Socialism does not entail “no rich people who have more money than other people and who spend that money.” It’s about being against corporate bureaucracies that have more of a say in governance than democratically decided policies; and it believes that the workers and consumers who are affected by economic institutions should have the most control over them through things like cooperatives or consumer representatives, with an emphasis on consumer demand as the driving goal behind what these cooperatives/representatives rally for or produce. The notion that it’s inherently against the accruement of wealth isn’t overly accurate. It’s more against the accrument of wealth through means that ignore or discount the interests of the larger populace and its democratically determined wishes.
Personally, I see a lot wrong with the above game plan and many of their other beliefs, which is why I’m not a Democratic Socialist. But, playing Devil’s Advocate for a second, they don’t hate rich people. They hate corrupt rich people. If you can convince them that Bernie Sanders is corrupt, you’d have a point about hypocrisy. But there’s an extra step there that you’re missing.
8.) Anti-discrimination laws say that wedding vendors cannot deny services to gay couples. But wouldn’t you prefer these business owners expose themselves as homophobes so you know who not to give your money to?
I’m also on the fence about anti-discrimination laws, as I believe I’ve pointed out before. In the end of the day, I’m on the side of instituting them as a means of ensuring civil rights. Even so, I do think it’s really weird and questionable that someone can face federal recourse for refusing to do something as benign as make a cake or take some photos. I think libertarians ere on the side of dismantling anti-discrimination laws, and I wouldn’t go that far, but I see the point they’re making about them oftentimes being really weird in practice.
Also, many liberals have fallen into some rather hypocritical circles wherein anti-discrimination laws are great . . . until they aren’t. You can’t refuse service to a gay person or a black person because discrimination is bad, but if someone has politics you don’t believe in, discriminating against them in regards to the civil rights they’re afforded is not only fine but a moral imperative! It’s annoying to say the very least.
9.) Why do so many liberals want to ban controversial speech? Do they think only speech from the right is going to be targeted? Remember: the government has a history of cracking down on anti-war and far-left speech.
I don’t want to do this. Freedom of speech is incredibly important to me, and I’m actually viscerally disgusted by people who look at the hate speech laws of Germany or the media censorship of Australia and say that the US should strive to be more like that. You are born with a fucking right that hardly anyone else in the world has, and you think it’s a bad thing because letting mean people say mean things without legal punishment or censorship “shouldn’t be tolerated.” Don’t support a certain power if you wouldn’t be okay with the political other getting a hold of it, as they invariably will. The power to censor and socially shame people for wrong think is awesome until the pendulum swings back around and “offensive content” takes on a new meaning. And to all my liberal friends out there: Gen Z is more conservative than the Baby Boomers. Give it a few more years, and the speakers getting de-platformed are going to be the ones you agree with, and I doubt you’ll be spouting the platitude about how “it’s not technically censorship” when that happens.
10.) Will you admit that raising the minimum wage will price out some young or unskilled workers out of a job?
Sure. Just having a minimum wage at all does that. If you’re going to make that argument, you might as well just argue from the position of demolishing the minimum wage entirely. I would not agree with you there. The minimum wage was instituted as a means of curbing one of the many forms of worker exploitation that rocketed up during the 20th century. And, I’m sorry libertarians and conservatives, I don’t think you have the “right” to be exploited out of fair payment for your labor like a six-year-old who doesn’t know that $1 isn’t a lot of money. That’s also assuming that it necessarily must price workers out of a job, which isn’t the case.
If you’re talking about small businesses and mom-and-pop stores, you’d have a stronger point; but in regards to huge companies like McDonald’s or Wal-Mart, the threat of a raised minimum wage is largely a manufactured one. It’s like diamonds: They’re expensive because the people who sell them want them to be. For example, a few years ago Papa John’s (a chain pizza place) got into hot water for making this exact argument for why it couldn’t give its low level employee’s basic, bare-bones health care. “Oh, if we did that, we’d just have to fire people because it would cost too much.” Someone actually did the math, though, and released it to the public, revealing that it would not put a dent in Papa John’s net income at the end of the year to provide health care. I’m talking “We made $1,000,000 last year, and now we’re only making $999,800.” levels of insignificant.
For a Wal-Mart example, regional managers are actively instructed to make sure that the people below them don’t work enough to receive benefits even if they want to work more. And, from personal experience, they are petty as fuck about it. There was one time where, if an employee didn’t take any vacation days, they’d be up for a holiday raise. One of my coworkers who never took any vacation time didn’t get that holiday raise because they counted her checking in for work late one time as her taking a holiday. So, would ya look at that, we don’t need to give you that raise we promised anymore. In short, corporations are assholes, and saying that we shouldn’t have a raised minimum wage because it would provoke more assholery on their part doesn’t endear me to the notion.
If you want to talk about the nuances of this, I’d be up for it. Should it be different for every state, based on the cost of living? How about rural vs. suburban/urban? Should you raise it for full time workers or workers above a certain age, but keep it the same for the people who are just there for some extra spending money. Should small businesses have this requirement, and if not, should they be given some kind of subsidy to make up for the increase in competition from larger actors? Things like that are legitimate questions that many people, once again, overlook in favor of making nice-sounding statements about how we should just have this good thing. There are details that need to be addressed in the application, if it is to be applied competently.