I’ve deliberately not done many political pieces so far on this blog. It’s not really my focus. But as elections draw near every few years, I find myself getting sucked in by the whirlwind of constant coverage. I think it’s better when people don’t know my true political biases, because they are only a small part of what makes me, me. Too many people are defined by their political ideals.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gone from liberal to more libertarian. I consider myself a moderate Libertarian, if there is such a thing, which there doesn’t seem to be. What does moderate Libertarian mean? It means I believe in limiting rules both on the social and economic side. That’s the litmus test. The fewer rules that intrude on our lives the better off we are. That’s why I can’t buy anti-abortionist ideology as a Libertarian position. I can respect why Ron Paul feels that way, as a former doctor and moral man, but I can’t stand behind it because it limits us in an arbitrary way. It is a moral imposition on others who may not feel that way. I can be against abortion but not stand in its way and force every mother to have a child she doesn’t want, so the child grows up unwanted and unloved and becomes a burden and menace to society. I believe this is the correct expression of the Libertarian platform ideal on abortion which says, “Recognizing that abortion is a sensitive issue and that people can hold good-faith views on all sides, we believe that government should be kept out of the matter, leaving the question to each person for their conscientious consideration.” The only way to keep governments out of the matter is to err on the side of allowing something so that reasonable people can make their own choice. When the government says you can’t have an abortion, they have made the choice for you. Everyone needs to make their own choices and deal with the consequences. Don’t limit cigarettes because some people will die of cancer. There are warnings all over. The information is available. It’s up to people to tend their own garden. Fewer rules. More choice.

Moderate means I don’t agree with some of the Libertarian ideals. I think many Libertarians wish the founding fathers would just rise up from their graves and run the country again. But they’re never coming back and we can’t have laws written as if they were here. The men and women who fill their roles today aren’t cut from the same cloth. We also can’t roll the clock back and run the show the same way we did 200 years ago. Economies are more complex now. That’s why I don’t think we should end the Fed, because I can’t imagine giving monetary policy to the same politicians who draft bills that are larger than your average door stopper fantasy novel. Most Libertarians can’t stand politicians and then they want to turn around and give monetary policy to them, so it can change with every election cycle? You think these guys are idiots and yet you want them running monetary policy? It makes no sense. The Fed is the lesser of two evils. And I don’t go in for the gold standard. I can’t imagine limiting the economy based on some shiny metal we dig out of the ground. Again, that is just arbitrary nonsense. We made up gold’s value, because some cave man dug it up years ago and it was shiny. It has no real value other than what we gave it.

What I do like about Libertarian ideals is the desire to limit the scope of our rule sets. Simple equals better. Nudge people in the right direction, rather than compelling them. As I get older, I’ve become more conscious of the unintended side effects of rules. A few celebrities die and suddenly regulators step in to make it harder for doctors to dispense pain pills. My psychologist got cancer recently. He needed morphine for constant pain. This is a man who never takes pain pills if he can avoid it. This is a man who exercised and ate well most of his life. And yet he had to shop doctors to find useful medication. Unintended consequences are the side effects of a desire to protect everyone from themselves. The deeper we go down that rabbit hole, the harder it is to stop.

An example of the over complicated laws we make today is the health care law passed under Obama’s stewardship. The health law Congress passed has created 100,000 categories of things that we can file for, including nine codes related to injuries from parrots and six related to flaming water skies. Does that seem insane to you? Don’t believe it? Neither did this forum poster who wanted to check out the truth in that statement. Check it out for yourself.

More regulation means more paper work. That means more cost. The Economist has a great article on the over-regulation of America. Take the Dodd-Frank Law. It had a noble goal: to prevent the banks from causing another melt down and increase transparency. The last Wall Street reform bill, Glass-Steagall, enacted in 1932 after the melt down that preceded the Great Depression, totaled 29 pages. Dodd-Frank comes in just a bit shorter than the Lord of the Rings at about 848 pages and growing. It won’t be long before our leaders are writing laws longer than the Mahabharata. Unintended consequences and loop-holes follow. Now it costs $150,ooo for hedge funds to comply and get all the forms filled out, which are spawning like a Hydra. That’s more money than most people make in a year and it doesn’t take complex math to realize that money won’t be going to hiring another person.

Is the contraceptive debate another unintended consequence of universal healthcare law? Because government is getting in the health care game, social conservatives can bring up the contraceptive debate. This debate is a direct outgrowth of the law. Now we have to decide if religious companies are compelled to cover contraception. Without this law, we never have the debate. Unintended consequences.

Rules create all kinds of consequences. Take marijuana control. It’s outlawed but people want it, so industrious people spring up to give it to them. It’s a big risk to get you weed. Who takes big risks? Criminals. Because it is illegal, it increases risk, the price skyrockets because economics are about supply and demand. Make something harder to supply and that gets built into the price. When criminals make lots of money through great risk what happens? They kill to protect it. Because they kill, good and well-meaning men and women in our border patrols and DEA get killed, which creates a vicious cycle. The men and women of law enforcement lose some of their own and so they dig in further and fight back. That puts more pressure on the cartels, who in turn get more vicious and the law of survival of the fittest takes over. The stronger and more cunning rise to the top. For every criminal killed or imprisoned, three more spawn in their place, because the demand for the drug has not subsided. It never ends. Unintended consequences. In reality, both the DEA and cartels are misaligned resources. They are people who would be better served in a different role, but because society suppresses something that people want, we have to allocate resources (money, people, time) to the delivery or control of those drugs, otherwise those resources would be productively spent on something completely different.

When alcohol was made illegal, it directly corresponded with the rise of organized crime, which spawned to help create the large-scale infrastructure needed to move and transmit something that lots of people still wanted even though it was illegal. Before prohibition, gangs were not organized. However with prohibition, they had to get better at their jobs, creating strict centralized hierarchies, as well as distribution chains and management. All of these things are intricately and infinitely connected like pearls on a string. One follows the other.

In society, we have to accept that some people and some businesses will fail. If everyone passes the test, then it’s not a test, it’s a ceremony. We can’t have no child left behind. We have to keep laws practical and simple. The best way to do that might be to say Congress should only meet a few times year, so they don’t feel compelled to keep adding to the stack of laws we already have on the books. The human mind feels compelled to keep solving problems. And if there are no problems to solve, it creates its own made up problems, so it has something to do. This is our nature.

I want to see a truly practical candidate come to the table, but I don’t see that happening. It seems nearly impossible for us to get a candidate that is fiscally conservative but socially liberal. To me that seems the most consistent position, one that is both practical and compelling and one I believe would resonate with the majority of Americans. I am hoping for this against a rising tide of divisionism and stupidity.

Rick Santorum is the perfect example of a useless candidate, a person who despises Iran as a country run by al-Qaeda like fanatics but is incapable of seeing that by bringing his own brand of moralizing to the forefront he is a mirror of that ideal that he hates. He is imposing one group’s religious beliefs on everyone else, under the guise of “religious freedom.” While much of his policy makes sense from a fiscal perspective, his social policy is assinine. Nobody cares about contraceptives except a few radicals. Even most Catholics don’t roll with the Pope on this issue, because it is a matter of personal choice. When a politician starts talking about things that go on inside the domain of your own home he is on dangerous ground.

Santorum also unwisely demonizes higher education. Forbes has an excellent article on how he sees higher education as “indoctrination mills.” Of course, this is absurd. Every single member of the Republican leadership, including Santorum, attended multiple levels of higher education. It appears they all resisted the indoctrination just fine. Santorum went to Pennsylvania University, received a master’s degree from University of Pitt AND went to law school at Dickinson Law. When our entire economy is based on knowledgeable workers, and labor has been moved overseas because it is cheaper, where would the jobs come from when people have no education? My girl worked hard and put herself through college. When she got out, she found it didn’t mean much. It was basically the new high school diploma. Let’s go ahead and demonize getting an education in a time when people need it more than ever. This makes no sense whatsoever on any level. Even if many of the teachers at colleges are liberal, that is not always the case, people make their own decisions and choices. We are not all stooges who goose step to whatever our teachers tell us. If you feel that you are incapable of making your own choice when a teacher has a different political bias than you, then I feel sorry for you.

I want to make something clear for you. When I watched the Republican debate in Arizona the other day I saw the candidates deflecting the question of contraception, in order to create more intrusions into your personal life. When asked about whether they support contraception the politicians immediately switched the topic to be a discussion on Obama mandating Catholic companies to cover contraception. That is not the question. In logic this is both a Red Herring and missing the point. All politicians are masters of using illogical arguments to skip answering real questions. The questions of using contraception or mandating coverage are two different subjects all together. Conflating them confuses the issue. You can be easily in favor of the choice to use contraception with your lover and not in favor of forcing people with different beliefs to pay for contraception. Politicians don’t want you to think about that. They want you confused. To illustrate how these are two questions, note that in 2005 78% of Catholics said they believe the Pope should allow Catholics to use birth control. To be clear, this is a poll of Catholics, not even the larger American population. That’s a huge majority of the religious population, that Santorum claims to represent, but clearly doesn’t. Now lets look at the poll of people who support the Obama contraception mandate rule. There we find that only 57% of Catholics support it, still a majority, but much slimmer. Only 43% of white Evangelicals support it, a smaller minority of the overall Christian population, despite their oversized voice, which is who Santorum actually represents. But notice how they are two very different questions that politicians are trying to collapse into a single issue?

Americans are clear; we want fewer rules, fewer mandates, and less intrusion into our lives. This is our history and what made us great. Each man and woman can determine their own fate. We have not always hit this ideal. We’ve often fallen short, but it’s worth fighting for again and again. This comes out when we ask clear and true and honest questions. It all depends on how the question is phrased. Ask the right question and the evidence is clear. Ask a misleading question, that misses the point, and you get the skewed data that politicians love so they can manipulate and divide us, creating more rules, consolidating power and dictating their own moral structures.