At this point I diverge from the Tea Party as represented in this poll. I think Obama's choice of Evergreen Chapel as a home church is laudable, I think our best years may be ahead, I'm generally happy with the reform of health insurance company practices, I don't feel there is a racial bias in the White House, I'm cautious about vague terms like "smaller government," and I feel that policies should favor the poor in this time of economic upheaval.
So far we're about 50/50. Looking at the Contract from America gives me far more food for thought than expected. Let's look at the article's points one by one, beginning with the preamble:
Individual Liberty: I'm with this 99 percent. I want my freedom of expression, of religion, and of economic choices to be protected. I want to be able to speak, read, and write freely without worrying that the government is invading my privacy; to practice my faith openly without fear; to be able to marry regardless of gender; and to be able to purchase herbs, tarot readings, hemp products, and local edibles without government interference. That said, I do like having food inspectors to make sure I don't buy hamburgers tainted with Mad Cow disease and I think it's reasonable to have a license for gun ownership, as a gun is just as lethal as a car in uneducated hands. So I have no issue with my economic freedoms being limited by basic concern for my safety.
Limited Government: I do think the government should have a limited presence in our daily lives. They shouldn't be concerned with what I'm reading or what happens in my bedroom between consenting adults. It's none of their business if I burn non-addictive herbs for their scent or for their relaxation properties. However, I recognize that my effect on other people is limited, while corporations, insurance companies, and Wall Street can have a disastrously detrimental effect on society at large if allowed to function unchecked. A corporation's first priority is profits, not the welfare of the society it exists in, so regulation of industry is for the public good.
Economic Freedom: I think this is a bit redundant, and I've already expressed my thoughts on this.
1. Protect the Constitution: I think identifying the Constitutional right of each piece of legislature is a fine idea, as long as it doesn't become a tool to reinforce bizarre interpretations of the Constitution.
2. Reject Cap & Trade: I don't think industries should be able to buy and sell emissions allowances. I think giving incentives for companies to reduce their emissions, and take steps to "green" their businesses, would increase domestic jobs.
3. Demand a Balanced Budget: County governments in the State of Georgia must have balanced budgets to remain an incorporated government entity in the state. I think it's reasonable to ask our government to be fiscally responsible in this manner.
4. Enact Fundamental Tax Reform: I am in favor of the general principal of tax reform, but I advocate a simple graduated income tax over a flat-rate or so-called "fair tax" scheme. That could be another article entirely.
5. Restore Fiscal Responsibility and Constitutionally Limited Government in Washington: Creating an "Internal Services" to police the Constitutionality and efficiency of government offices sounds like a disaster, quite frankly. Aside from the irony of creating a new far-reaching government entity to ensure the government stays small, one of the biggest areas of waste in the federal government is the military. How would this task force handle that while protecting national security? How Constitutional is the war in Iraq, and what is the exact total of money, arms, and lives that could be saved there with greater fiscal and moral responsibility at all levels of the federal government?
6. End Runaway Government Spending: Capping spending by inflation and population growth may sound good at first, but I'm skeptical on the wisdom of such a scheme. I would rather the government have flexibility to adapt to contingencies rather than be bound and financially strapped for cash in an emergency. That said, I don't have any better ideas.
7. Defund, Repeal and Replace Government-run Healthcare: I've already stated I'm in favor of the health care reforms enacted by the current administration, but this section of the Contract is worded broadly enough to do away with Medicare and Medicaid, which would be a disaster to millions of our elderly.
8. Pass an "All-of-the-Above" Energy Policy: I agree that we need to take a fresh look at our energy options in the U.S., but I also think that means we need to seriously promote alternative energy options. The oil spill in the Gulf has hurt the livelihood of the men and women living along the coast, from fishermen, to shrimpers, to folks in the tourist industry. We need to make sure our energy investments going forward are responsible, clean, and fiscally sound. Ranchers can harvest wind energy in the same pastures they run their cows. That's the kind of solution that helps the American farmer and works toward solving our energy issues.