Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Left, Right or Stuck in the Middle ?

Having been entertained by a non-political article I'd read on line some time ago, I sought out a used copy of one of the author's books, Democracy: the Painted Whore, without doing further research on the author, one Hal O'Boyle. On reading the book I was disappointed to find that Mr O'Boyle, a full-blown Libertarian, holds many opposing views to my own, something that wasn't clear from the piece I'd originally read. Ah well, I thought, that'll teach me to do more research - yet it is good to read other points of view from time to time, and this guy does have a nice loose, engaging and often amusing style.

The book, published in 2008, contains a set of articles by Mr O'Boyle, written for his weekly column, The Extremist in a Florida newspaper.

In one article titled Left, Right and Center, after discussing the USA's two political parties and their "differences", he offers this:

Happily there remain some key questions that allow us to transcend the old and increasingly meaningless distinctions of Left and Right. Your answers to them will place you along a different, more meaningful continuum, that between freedom and slavery, rather than between Left and Right.

The following is a quiz devised by an organization called The Advocates for Self-Government. It gives a much more accurate picture of the real diversity in the American political spectrum than traditional distinctions of Left and Right. Take a moment to take the world's Smallest Political Quiz.

Give yourself 20 points if you agree with a statement. If you are undecided score 10. If you disagree score 0. There are two sections, Personal and Economic. Just 5 statements in each.
Try it.

(I found when drafting this post that the quiz is online here, so to save typing fingers I copied it from there:

Personal Issues

Government should not censor speech, press, media, or internet.

Military service should be voluntary. There should be no draft.

There should be no laws regarding sex for consenting adults.

Repeal laws prohibiting adult possession and use of drugs.

There should be no National ID card.

Economic Issues

End "corporate welfare." No government handouts to business.

End government barriers to international free trade.

Let people control their own retirement; privatize Social Security.

Replace government welfare with private charity.

Cut taxes and government spending by 50% or more.

Mr Boyle goes on to say:
Add up your score. If your total score was 70 or under you might want to consider a move to Washington DC, North Korea, Cuba or some other communist hellhole. You are a Statist who believes Big Brother is better qualified to run your life than you are.

If you score between 70 and 140, you are a Centrist. Depending on how different your scores were in the two sections, you lean left or right. A higher score on the Personal section points Left, and vice versa. Depending on how far above 70 your score is, you are probably comfortable living right where you are. Lower scores might prefer Massachusetts, higher scores Florida, Wyoming or New Hampshire.

If you scored 140 or higher, you're one of those rare birds like Ben Franklin, James Madison or the firebrand John Adams, who value freedom above security. Someone from the earnest, sometimes geeky, but always lively Libertarian Party wants to talk to you. If there were such a place you would probably move to Ayn Rand's fictional Galt's Gulch tomorrow.

This writer confirmed once again that he is a classical liberal, neither left, right nor center, scoring 200, and looking for the Gulch.

Well.....this writer scored only 80, or 90 at a tight pinch. Centrist? No! Stuck in the middle I ain't! Sorry Advocates for Self-government, your quiz doesn't work for me. Please can I hitch a ride to Cuba with the 70 or unders ?


mike said...

I always prefer the "if, then, else" type of questions. The questions presented by O'Boyle are too one dimensional. I scored 80 for personal and 20 for economic issues, but I don't find that to be reflective of my potential responses, if more information were provided. His questions remind me of how loop-holes develop when old laws are repealed or new laws are implemented, because no one foresees the if-then-else implications.

An example is his question, "Repeal laws prohibiting adult possession and use of drugs," which I favor, but only to remove drug addiction from the justice system toward a mental health system; I would want the government to monitor-and-or produce the drugs produced for consumption, ie, no black market drug suppliers. If the drugs are consumed by injection, there has to be a syringe-exchange program to decrease diseases, and there would have to be psychological therapy provided to the user concurrent with a drug dosage reduction program leading toward recovery from addiction. I also favor taxation of the drugs.

I could agree or not agree with each question, depending on the variables presented, which O'Boyle doesn't provide. I'm often solicited for feed-back when I have to call or e-mail regarding a problem I'm having with a product or service provider. The questions are the same type as O'Boyles, with no room for wriggle. The questions make assumptions which may not be valid. The questions are often irrelevant to the complaint. I find these type of questionnaires padded to favor the manufacturer or service provider...makes them appear more positive. Of course, there's always the person that provided assistance to me that lets me know a questionnaire is on the way and will greatly reflect on their well-being, so please complete the survey. Ay!

mike (again) said...

P.S. - my e-commerce company for my site often over-charges me for various functions and I can spend hours with repeat phone calls rectifying their mistakes. Their customer assistance people are very efficient, courteous, and helpful. I always receive a survey for their assistance.

The last question on the survey is, "Based on the assistance you received today, how likely are you to refer us to an acquaintance?" Well, I'm very UNLIKELY to refer them, because I'm always calling their customer assistance. Yet, they pose the question in a unique fashion. Their website home page bears the statement that 98% of their customers would refer them to an acquaintance. Hhmmm...wonder where they got that number!

Twilight said...

mike ~ As mentioned O'Boyle was using a ready-made "quiz devised by an organization called The Advocates for Self-Government.... - Smallest Political Quiz" so we shouldn't blame him too much for the questions. :-) But yes, I had the same reservations as you did about it.

Questions can be slanted to achieve the results desired in most cases. That's why political polls are virtually useless.

I'd have answered ideally with....."yes but only if.....",or "do you mean......or ......"? As it was, I assumed the quiz was meant only half-seriously....some padding for his column perhaps.

Nothing, but nothing is going to swing me from left to centre. that's probably not a good thing, but there it is. :-/

♥ Sonny ♥ said...

Your PERSONAL issues Score is 70%
Your ECONOMICS issues Score is 40%

I'm a Centrist according to the quiz.
I consider myself more left but I answered honestly and the score above is what I got.

very interesting:)

Twilight said...

Sonny ~ Hmm. I wonder how/who defined the political center for this quiz. A different quiz master might have a center set quite differently.

ex-Chomp said...

Democracy as a Painted Whore is particularly well chosen word

Twilight said...

ex-Chomp ~ I thought so too !