For the past month or so I have noticed that this forum lacks any concentration of direct explanations by the posters themselves on their own socioeconomic and political views. I am curious what drives people to hold the beliefs that they do, and was inspired by a thread in LAOT where the posters there revealed what drives their religious (or non-religious) beliefs. What I'd like to do is have people just explain a bit about what got them to where they are and what they believe in a more direct fashion, rather than in bits and pieces that show during various debate threads. If you're not shy, please include some demographic information, a little history of where you grew up, what sort of education you have, and what sort of political environment you were raised in. These sorts of things influence our views, obviously. Please share, and don't muck up the thread with douchebaggery. If you want more details about someone's views, just ask them instead of flinging shit. I'll get the ball rolling... (YOU DON'T HAVE TO EXPOUND ON THE SAME "CATEGORIES" THAT I DO. THEY ARE JUST WHAT I WAS THINKING ABOUT AT THE TIME) ------------------------------------------------------ Hometown: Indianapolis, IN Current residence: Irmo, SC (attached to Columbia, SC) Other locations I've lived in: W. Lafayette, IN Education: BS Nuclear Engineering, Purdue University I'm a regular white guy who grew up in the midwest. My parents are conservative. Mom doesn't care much about politics, but my dad is pretty right-wing (even had a stint listening to Rush Limbaugh ). My dad and I like to get into heated debates about politics because he swings hard right and I'm more moderate. My own views are roughly categorized as libertarian (small 'l'). In generic words, I'm an economic conservative and a social liberal. I'm a strong advocate for personal responsibility, community awareness, individual and community-driven charity, local & state government that answers close to home, and the basic set of ideals laid out by the framers that people should be able to live free of interference and restriction, to pursue their own happiness. Obviously I am influenced by the law of equal liberty concept. My beliefs all revolve around a core belief that people solve problems for themselves and those around them, not governments, and that the tendency over the past centuries to shed responsibility to governments is only leading us down a path of apathy, dependency, and weakness. Politics: I am strongly opposed to nationally legislated "positive rights" and their necessitating having a national welfare state because I believe that people should be allowed to fail and learn from their mistakes, but with the philanthropic caveat that it is up to friends, family, and community to take care of those who have fallen on hard times, and not a federal government. It is for these reasons that I oppose national social welfare programs, but am more likely to support local ones if they are constructed in such a way to discourage dependency and encourage responsibility. With the right direction, such programs would help close the gap between charitable means of assistance and the needs of people incapable of helping themselves. The key in all this is community leaders and local officials that must answer to their neighbors and friends. Accountability and avoidance of political entrenchment are necessary for such ideas to really work. I absolutely abhor the concept of career politicians, political entrenchment, and powerful national government that can too easily abuse the apathy of the population. Not surprisingly, I am less than thrilled with the current state of the federal government and many of the changes it has undergone during the 20th century. Economics: On the more economic side of things, I'm a big fan of free markets, but I am not a purist of any sort nor an anarcho-capitalist. I think market failures and falterings should not all be instantaneously and viciously attacked by economic controllers of a government and knee-jerk reactions of politicians pandering to a spooked populace, but more carefully watched or very gently tended to when absolutely necessary. It is worth noting that my idea of "absolutely necessary" is pretty stringent, and does not mean engaging economic muddling every time a market is judged by someone to not be "perfect." I am opposed to our current national banking system as administered by the Federal Reserve because it has allowed for too much abuse of monetary policy which has greatly devalued our dollar over the past century. Political parties: Party politics disgust me because they promote mindless fanboi-ism, serve as an excuse for people to be closed-minded, and discourage political awareness. I wouldn't hate parties so much if they didn't work so hard to apply a stranglehold to political ideas and turn every debate into ugly false dilemmas and ultimately serve as vehicles for career politicians to sell themselves to a populace bribing them with their own money to keep them in a perpetual state of apathy and fear. Because national parties in the here and now almost universally seek to expand the powers of the federal government (a salesman with nothing to sell won't be in business for very long), I tend to oppose their platforms. Government: I am basically a minarchist. As stated before, I believe it is up to people and communities to look out for themselves and their best interests because they are the ones most capable of making the necessary changes. Obviously I don't have much faith in federal governments to do those same things because the scope of interests of communities and individuals sharply contrast with the scale on which the national government operates. The history of western nations and particularly our own country has shown us repeatedly that we're far better off looking out for ourselves on a smaller scale than the national government is or ever will be. Influences: Alexis de Tocqueville, Adam Smith, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Thomas Paine, Herbert Spencer, Ludwig Von Mises, George Reisman, Ayn Rand, Milton Friedman, John Locke, Friedrich Hayek, Bertrand Russel, George Stigler, Isaiah Berlin, Robert Nozick, Immanuel Kant, Ronald Regan, Barry Goldwater, Ron Paul and others I can't remember. Feel free to ask questions.