Not-So-Random (Political) Thoughts for November 8th…

Thank God the election is over! The ads are – as expected – gone, and in a few days the signs will all be gone and we will be forgetting about this stupid mess for 2 years. (Unless, of course, you happen to be the President, or someone who cares about Politics…)

Pretty much everything and everyone I voted for won, with a few exceptions:

  • James Kidd, a friend of mine who I felt would have done a good job as Sheriff, lost big-time to Richard Meyers.
  • Gwyn Gulley (whose name I misspelled) lost to Ed Prochaska. (The only thing that sucks about this was that this was the one I disliked choosing: Both I felt deserved it, and both ran good campaigns where the only thing that annoyed me was the number of times they aired – which paled to everyone else.)
  • In a race I could not vote on, Greg Tuite lost to Ronald Wait.
  • For more results – and everything else I voted on – go to my local newspaper’s coverage list here

So, no more ads – but some more thoughts…

The Harlem Township Smoking Ban

Most of you who know me know that you’ll only see a cigarette in my mouth if I am acting or on stage – I have no desire to smoke. You also know I don’t care whether you smoke around me or not, and that I’ll sit with my friends whether they smoke or not. What most of you may not know why I am extremely disappointed by the results.
You see, you have to follow the news for the past few years to understand. In 1997, the major tobacco companies in America agreed to a settlement that cost them $368.5 billion over the next century. How much they’ve actually paid, and whether it was upheld by Congress or not, I don’t recall, but just as an old woman could get third degree burns from her coffee, sue and win, it opened the doors for many more people to sue the tobacco companies and the states and counties to put stricter laws on cigarettes. Ancient history, I know, but please follow…
Most people considered this a major victory for non-smokers, and lawyers gobbled this up like a rabbit in a lions cage where they haven’t been fed for days. For the next few years, people filed a few lawsuits against the big companies, and while you can imagine most lost, a number of them did win with big results. The latest trend in this war was to create smoking bans in various areas.
This now considered a victory for health officials, they now turned their targets to the next big problem: Obesity. First was the same push by the government to get kids active, almost shortly after the push to get kids to stop smoking and doing drugs. Then there were the regulations and restrictions against companies and smaller lawsuits for various things at restaurants, But, until people started winning the Tobacco lawsuits, nothing was ever really said or heard about restaurants getting sued. First, there was Caesar Barber, whose big claim to fame – suing McDonalds, Burger King, and Wendys over his obesity. That would be thrown out, but more would follow.
This ain’t the only area to be concerned about: of course we’re all aware about the entertainment industry’s ratings and how all of them came to be, as we are also aware about all of the ridiculous lawsuits that have happened in the past. A trend has come from all of these, however, that has made things ugly: These people use Children and public safety as their weapons, and throw the blame at the companies who make the products, not at the consumer who should be responsible enough to know that the cigarette they’re lighting up or the quadruple-double-decker taco they’re eating is going to kill them. They claim that the blood-splattering video game they’re playing while the gangster rap hip-hop music they’re listening to while the latest gorefest film is on TV is going to rot their minds and damn their souls. It’s not possible for someone to be responsible for their own actions that bring them into the messes they make themselves, it’s the fast-food joint who made the taco, the cigarette company that wrapped that cigarette, the sick-and-twisted video game designers who created such a battleground, the gangster rappers who put words to music, and the movie and television companies who make and air these scary films, who are to blame. Let’s not have the people who are responsible enough to pay for said items be allowed to get the; oh no, that would be too easy.
Which brings me to why I am against the smoking bans: The government should only make sure that I am informed enough to make my own decisions, not tell me how to live. They should make sure that people who want to sit in a restaurant with both smoking and non-smoking have that choice, and that every place that allows smoking has proper ventilation to keep those that don’t from getting sick. They should not, however, force or tell people that they can not do something that they should otherwise be allowed to do.
The problem is, you start regulating one thing, you feel the need to regulate other things, and this is what has happened. We are steering ourselves slowly but surely towards a THX-1138 / 2001: A Space Odyssey / 1984 Orwellian future, in which the government controls everything we do, and we have no say over it. At some point, people are going to throw their hands up, say “screw this” and either leave the country or fight it. (And before anyone says that the United States can’t lose this battle, remember what happened to the great empires of old: Rome, Greece, Egypt…. I’m sure the Chinese have some great stories, or the Africans…)
People need to get out there and stop the nonsensical laws and lawsuits being applied today. That means getting out there and voting against things like smoking bans, new health laws, lawsuits against companies based on people’s own irresponsibilities, and so on. Many of the problems we have today are not the responsibility of the companies that create them but of the individuals who choose not to be responsible for themselves.
Had I lived in the area of question, you’re damn straight that I would have voted against the smoking ban.
Thank you to the wonderful people who thought that they had to vote for it. Expect to hear from me when you go after the stuff I do like.

School Referendums

I am glad to see that Rockford had enough sense to see the continuation of the taxes the Rockford School District asked for this year; in spite of the mismanagement of money by the school district, and the recent budget blunders, the school district is setting up to do well for the children. Not everyone won, however: Also popular school votes in the area showed 2 disappointments in North Boone School District and Belvidere School Districts both having their referendums voted down. This is even more disappointing when you consider that both are growing areas where the money is just as needed to expand and improve their schools. I can only hope the administrators choose to bite the bullet on themselves instead of taking it out on the kids, and that in the future the people in these areas, if asked again, will do the right thing.
As I said before, it’s easy to blame the districts, the teachers and administration for the need for money in a school district, when in reality there are a lot more factors, including poor – if any – parenting, costs of running and maintaining a school, the needs and demands of colleges of students that actually want to get ahead, and the restrictions and regulations of local, state and federal governments on school. While I personally feel that many of these administrators on the school boards get overpaid when compared to the people who do the dirty work – teachers – I also feel that, even if they lowered their pay to nothing, they would still have budget issues, much of which would stem from the operations of the schools themselves. Just as much as parents need to be involved in their kid’s schoolwork, teachers need the access to tools that will allow them to teach their students properly, which is the biggest reason to vote yes in a school referendum.

National Concerns

Of the other hot-topic social issues on the table in other states (straight from Yahoo.com):

Gay Marriage Amendments were voted for in 7 of the 8 states that they were up for. This is is one where the only reason why I care is because of how I feel about the public in general. I get sick of hearing marriages and divorces because of irresponsibility. I will be honest when I say I have only known a few gay people – lesbians, in case anyone is curious – and they are more responsible, from what I have seen, in relationships than their heterosexual counterparts. It’s general proof that, in spite of the tolerance in America today, many people still misunderstand have prejudices against certain people.
Abortion measures get voted down. This is good for one reason: the laws that were passed restricted abortion so severely that those that should have the legal right to choose – those that, for medical reasons, should not have a kid, as well as rape and incest victims – would not have been able to have them, either. I do feel it needs to be restricted, because too many who should not do it get it done and abuse the system. We should not condemn to death, however, anyone who would survive without having the child otherwise. (This goes double for the person whose child would die as well.)
Claire McCaskell won her battle in Missouri. Why should you and I care? Many saw this as the battleground for Stem-Cell research, as the Battle between Actor Micheal J. Fox and Radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh. While I would like to say that enough of the people had enough sense to look beyond the issue, the fact that a prescription-drug-addict had to attack a person suffering from a life-changing and permanent disease like Parkinsons probably upset a lot of people, myself included. (I hope someone decides to take his show off the air permanently – I’m not against freedom of speech, but I am against people who have no room to complain about the actions of others, yet attack people who try to do the right thing.)
Nevada and Colorado rejected proposals to legalize marijuana. I’ll spare you the jokes about all the potheads being busy with Mister 420, but not my opinion that rejecting it was a stupid mistake. While I am against it for the purposes that people would use alcohol and cigarettes for – their own free will – I am a firm supporter of the use of the drug for medicinal values and reasons. (For those of you who want to know why this would be a big issue, go here and read what I wrote before about my mom’s BF. He smoked the stuff and lived 3 months longer than expected (As far as I know), where as my grandmother didn’t and passed away in a month. Both had cancer, even though it wasn’t the same and he was younger. What would you think?)
And from Slashdot: A few issues on video gaming were up in the races, by way of the people in the elections. While some of these are easy to see in who won, at least one of these people lost, and that’s a good thing. (Just for the record, Illinois has one on the list, and I only voted for him because he was the lesser of 3 evils. When you can’t win, even voting for “Mickey Mouse” is a lost cause…)

Final Thoughts for political year 2006

Before anyone thinks of lashing against me for any of my views, remember this: I voted for the people that I thought would do the best job, not for the mistakes they made. I voted for those things I felt was right, and that included taking as much of the negativity in as I could. In most cases, there was no black-and-white winner from me; there was a lot of grey, and I chose those who I thought were of a lighter shade. I based my decisions on my beliefs, which are themselves the culmination of my experiences and observations. There were only a couple of things where that decision was difficult, and one where I chose a friendship – the only difference – over who’d be better, as both equalled each other out.
I don’t expect people to agree with me, and i know some of you won’t agree on everything, but I do hope that you will have the respect of not attacking me for my views. Some of the stuff I mentioned is relatively minor to me: for example, abortion probably won’t affect me, other than for the desire to hit the protesters and churches who choose to show pictures of aborted fetuses. Some of them do affect me, however, and in those issues, I have chosen to take a stand. I’m not gonna sit by idly while people decide what I will like or do, and I won’t let people restrict what or how I am going to voice my opinion on things. I try to respect and understand both sides of the story whenever possible, and have no problem with people telling me i am wrong in what I view. I respect your views; I hope you can respect mine.

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