A Liberal Sensibility in an Election Year

Liberal this - liberal that.  The neocon pundits constantly equate being a liberal with all manner of evils.  In an election year these kinds of things become more important.  But what is a liberal?   I don't claim to know.  But I am considered a liberal (I consider it a complement) and this is what I believe.
I believe in the most fundamental of liberal precepts; 'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you'.

I believe that the preservation of liberty requires a strong defense; but the incestuous and ruinous feeding of the military industrial complex is not the same thing as security.

I believe that civic investment would be greatly aided by a term of national service.

I believe that being a just and fair people is a heavy burden that our enemies might exploit; but the far greater danger is from those among us who would exploit fear to erode our liberty from within.

I believe in the precepts of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness; but this does'nt guarantee contentment or success - merely that the law and opportunities should be fairly and equally applied.

I believe that a country as great as this must chose to aid those of its fellows who are in need through no fault of their own. The greatness of a nation is really measured by how it treats the least fortunate of its people.

I believe in accountability: personal, professional, financial, legal, corporate, governmental, journalistic and societal.

I believe that truth and honesty are more important than winning.

I believe that foreign debt brings foreign influence that isn't always supportive of the best interests of our people.

I believe that immigrants refresh the well of national ambition and hope and prevent the social stagnation that limits other nations.

I believe that accepting cultural difference does not mean tolerating abuses of human rights.

I believe that public education is crucial to the preservation of liberty by the elimination of ignorance and the expansion of opportunity for all citizens and as such deserves every resource we can muster.

I believe in being open-minded but that doesn't mean endless debate on fringe beliefs.

I accept that people should be free to believe as they will, but that it is reasonable and prudent to consider the effect of revealed beliefs on the critical thinking skills required of those who would govern.

I believe that government money should not support promote or sustain any organizations or activities based on any faith or creed.

I believe that if faiths wish to participate in the political process then they should no longer be afforded unfair benefits such as freedom from taxation.

I believe that the cold perspective of science and the application of the scientific method are our best hope for addressing social, moral and national needs both now and for our future.

I believe in living within our means both personally and nationally which means hard choices that should be shared equally by all.

I believe that neither unbridled capitalism nor socialism is a viable and stable long term economic model. There is a happy medium.  A just system must reward ambition, innovation and hard work while punishing greed, deception and predation.

I accept that wealth confers many advantages but having a disproportionate influence on public policy should not be one.

I believe that government is the least corrupt of our choices for providing for the common good. 

I believe that while a conservative wants his or her children to be better off than they, I believe a true liberal wants his or her children to be better people than we.


Jared said...

Are you running for office? Can I recommend it?

Pliny-the-in-Between said...

Hey jared! How are you?
No not running for office just definning what i'd like to see in a candidate

Jared said...

I'd settle for just half of those in a single candidate.

I'm not too bad, got laid off a few weeks ago, was doing environmental testing for almost a year. I'm going back into IT, seems much more stable, has better pay, and fewer hazardous chemicals. I could tell you some seriously scary stories about coal power plants, particularly lignite ones...enough mercury per cubic meter to make a barometer...

What's most unusual about the current political climate is that neither party seems to pay much attention to factual evidence. They cherry pick data until it fits their agenda.

Pliny-the-in-Between said...

Sorry to hear about your difficulties, though as you say, it's probably healthier in the long run - is that plant one of those clean coal plants we keep hearing about?

Unfortunately you are right about the reality disconnect on both sides of the political map.

Jared said...

Well "clean coal," aside from being an oxymoron, refers to several technologies they use to reduce mercury, SO2, and NOX emissions. Some of these do help, namely Syngas conversion which heats and partially oxidizes coal into CO and H2 which is then run through scrubbers before burning. Using coal in this way produces similar stack emissions as natural gas, but cannot use the existing coal power plants. Other technologies include additives (bromine, mostly) and steam treatment of flu gas.

The only way that actually works for all types of coal is syngas conversion, but this is also relatively inefficient and expensive and would require coal to be much cheaper than natural gas. Lignite and sub-bituminous plants should already be closed, bituminous and anthracite plants aren't as bad.

There's your Coal 101 class.

Pliny-the-in-Between said...

Good to know - while on the subject, what's your take on hydrofracking related to natural gas?

Pliny-the-in-Between said...

Good to know - while on the subject, what's your take on hydrofracking related to natural gas?

Jared said...

Wow, that's a deep question...

Just like oil drilling, there are many environmentally responsible ways to do it and many more potentially disastrous ways. If the formation is truly hydrologically isolated, it is fine.

Three options exist for the environmental issues is brings up, I like the second option, but here they are:

1) Formations that should be considered for hydraulic fracturing should be isolated, very deep (>2 miles) and have multiple layers of nonporous rock between them and any aquifers. Additionally, geological fault lines should be completely absent from the formation. Other types of fracturing should be employed for less isolated or shallower formations. Fracturing itself can create capillary seams for liquid to travel through unless the formation is deep enough and induce activity in pre-existing and stressed faults. This is why depth is an issue.

2) The biggest problem with shallow gas formation fracturing is not the gas, but the fluid used. Exclusions for fracturing fluid under the Energy Policy Act of 2005 should be reversed (322Bi and 322Bii). This would force fracturing fluid to be compliant with the Safe Drinking Water Act and eliminate non-methane contamination of drinking water. Methane, being mostly insoluble in water below 1000 psi at 10°C, cannot result in drinking water contamination, it is the other compounds in the fluid which are dangerous.

3) Alternatively, requiring more extensive geological mapping of well site candidates and mandatory computer based reviews of these raw data from geological mapping (removing the possibility of cozy regulators; it's hard to bribe a computer) would also go a long way to reducing environmental impact. For this solution, I would propose a government run geological company that does the geological testing of areas paid for by the company seeking to drill at a location. The data gathered is then turned over to both the company and the regulatory body.

As with most problems, TIMTOWTDI...

Pliny-the-in-Between said...

Thanks Jared, I have some land and was approached for rights to the NG. Your comments compliment what I found in my research, particularly that we should not be using pressurized carcinogens as fluid where there is any chance of aquifer contamination.

Geologically, the area in questions has a lot of fractured limestone strata with excellent natural spring water sources. It would have been a shame to have ruined those. So I elected to decline.

Jared said...

Good call.

The only thing better would have been to agree, but require the use of only nontoxic addatives in the fracking fluid (as defined by OSHA) and full disclosure of all chemicals on site with quarterly surprise soil, water, and fluid testing (GCMS, ICP, and HPLC) by an EPA certified independent lab of your choice at their expense. This has happened in a couple of places that I know of as of March 2012. The added unpredictable oversight does make them follow the rules a bit more closely.

Companies that agree to these terms are the ones we want to keep in business.