Why I’m a liberal – pt. 1

This was a series of posts I attempted in the past on a previous blog.  I may reprint those at some point, but I figured I’d start over.  I’ll start posting whenever I see something in the news I feel defines me and differentiates me from those with other political views.

What got me thinking about this the other day was the attacks on Mitt Romney over his time at Bain Capital and his recent gaffe of saying he likes being “able to fire people” who give him bad service.  The gaffe is really just a poor choice of words.  Had he framed it as choice, which is the point he was making, it would have been fine and everyone would be happy with the quote.  But when you’re taking fire (sorry) from your own party about firing lots of workers to make a company profitable, the word “fire” should disappear from your vocabulary.

I feel for him.  It’s one thing to call yourself a business person, it’s another to have to deal with the realities of running a business.  A couple months ago I was talking with a friend about how my business opinion varies from my political opinions.  I’m a bleeding heart liberal, but I work for a company that owns 7 stores.  We’re taking losses in one area (in terms of sales compared to previous years, not profit, but our profit is taking a small hit overall) and when discussing what I would do to help turn things around, cutting expenses is only part of it.  I’d close 2 of our worst performing stores and layoff some of our poorer performing workers.  I might ask some workers to switch to part-time to keep their jobs just out of empathy because in reality it would be more profitable to fire them and replace them with  workers at a lower pay rate.

That’s what goes through my mind, and I’m a liberal.  But that’s the reality of business.  It’s better to layoff 100 people so that 1000 people can keep their jobs.  You may have to sacrifice a few jobs to save a company that employs a lot of people, and through your spending keeps other people in other companies employed as well.  That’s how the economy works.

This is why I believe our tax dollars should go towards unemployment benefits and other social safety nets.  I believe businesses should pay taxes to allow for these safety nets to exist (and individuals should do the same – it’s like insurance.)

I believe businesses should be allowed to make whatever decisions they need to make themselves profitable.  I believe that we as citizens should pool our resources (through the government) to take care of one another when  we we’re effected by those decisions.  I also believe that the government should ensure that businesses, in the pursuit of profits, don’t put us in harms way (much like there are laws to keep us from assaulting one another – which we would totally do if there were not).

Drug companies need to sell drugs to make profit to fund research and development.  That will, at times, mean their drugs are too costly for the people who need them to afford.  That’s where we should come in.

Conservatives say this should be taken care of by the private charities or your local community.  Well,  I live in Austin, so there’s a good chance I could find a local charity that could take care of me if I fell.  But what if I live in a small town with only 1000 people.  Should I just die?  I know that’s a bit hyperbolic, but seriously, if I lose my job (and insurance) because a company needs to meet its shareholders projections, I should just “suck it up”?

If we were a small country private charities and non-profits could handle all the social problems, but we’re a large country, with many small population centers.  The federal government is the only one capable of helping people in both Little Rock and Chicago.  I’m glad my taxes go to help those who need it.  And if I should need it one day it will be there for me.

That’s one of the reasons I’m a liberal.

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