Many political debates here have included references to The Political Compass, which uses a set of 61 questions to assess one’s political orientation in terms of economic left/right and social libertarianism/authoritarianism (rather like the “Libertarian diamond” popular in the US).
And so, every so often I will begin a thread in which the premise for debate is one of the 61 questions. I will give which answer I chose and provide my justification and reasoning. Others are, of course, invited to do the same including those who wish to “question the question”, as it were.
It would also be useful when posting in these threads to give your own “compass reading” in your first post, by convention giving the Economic value first. My own is
SentientMeat: Economic: -5.12, Social: -7.28, and so by the above convention my co-ordinates are (-5.12, -7.28). Please also indicate which option you ticked. I might suggest what I think is the “weighting” given to the various answers in terms of calculating the final orientation, but seeing for yourself what kind of answers are given by those with a certain score might be more useful than second-guessing the test’s scoring system.
Now, I appreciate that there is often dissent regarding whether the assessment the test provides is valid, notably by US conservative posters, either because it is “left-biased” (??) or because some propositions are clearly slanted, ambiguous or self-contradictory. The site itself provides answers to these and other Frequently Asked Questions, and there is also a separate thread: Does The Political Compass give an accurate reading? Read these first and then, if you have an objection to the test in general, please post it there. If your objection is solely to the proposition in hand, post here. If your objection is to other propositions, please wait until I open a thread on them.
The above will be pasted in every new thread in order to introduce it properly, and I’ll try to let each one exhaust itself of useful input before starting the next. Without wanting to “hog the idea”, I would be grateful if others could refrain from starting similar threads. To date, the threads are:
Does The Political Compass give an accurate reading?
Political Compass #1: Globalisation, Humanity and OmniCorp.
#2: My country, right or wrong
#3: Pride in one’s country is foolish.
#4: Superior racial qualities.
#5: My enemy’s enemy is my friend.
#6: Justifying illegal military action.
#7: “Info-tainment” is a worrying trend.
#8: Class division vs. international division. (+ SentientMeat’s economic worldview)
#9: Inflation vs. unemployment.
#10: Corporate respect of the environment.
#11: From each according to his ability, to each according to need.
#12: Sad reflections in branded drinking water.
#13: Land should not be bought and sold.
#14: Many personal fortunes contribute nothing to society.
#15: Protectionism is sometimes necessary in trade.
#16: Shareholder profit is a company’s only responsibility.
#17: The rich are too highly taxed.
#18: Better healthcare for those who can pay for it.
#19: Penalising businesses which mislead the public.
#20: The freer the market, the freer the people.
#21: Abortion should be illegal.
#22: All authority must be questioned.
#23: An eye for an eye.
*Proposition #24: * Taxpayers should not be expected to prop up any theatres or museums that cannot survive on a commercial basis.
SentientMeat (-5.12, -7.28) ticks Disagree.
I do not wish to live in some monotonous McCulture where the market only supports a handful of mega-museums and super-theatres in faraway metropolises. Every reasonably sized town should have some access to local history and genuine culture, whether or not such things are bottom-line profitable, and I advocate using taxation to help ensure this.
This is not simply a demand that my personal tastes of Renaissance art, Beethoven and Shakespeare be subsidised while romantic comedy films, country music and WWF wrestling get no such help. It is a recognition that the educative value of some less popular art forms is worth subsidising, even disregarding the benefits from providing jobs, a focal point for the community and encouraging a sense of pride in local heritage. Education does not take place solely in the school classroom, nor solely to children, and only an ultra-capitalist would contend that education is not within the remit of taxation. (Incidentally, I even consider NASA funding to be educational in nature - each new discovery reported on the news barks the question at us like a overzealous schoolteacher: How did we get here?)
For example, one might spend a great deal of money on a copy of The Merchant of Venice for every child in a class, when a visit to a local theatre to see the play live might provide more “bang for the government buck” overall, though this would be impossible if the market supported fewer theatres putting on only crowd-pleasing productions (as it surely would). Another, personal example was a recent trip to Italy where I happened upon a splendid old theatre in which the local council had sponsored a photographer to show his work from the Amazon in an incredibly effective setting, all for free entry. This was just any old small town, and pretty much every resident I spoke to had visited the exhibition - no elitist subsidising here, I felt: the population seemed happy that their taxes were being used like this.
Now, of course, where government helps individual businesses there is always scope for abuse and mismanagement. We must ultimately be prepared to let some museums and theatres die if their income from private sources (tickets/donations/sponsorship etc.) is simply a pathetic trickle instead of a steady but still not quite bottom-line-adequate flow, and not every tiny hamlet justifies its own museum or theatre. Government might never be as efficient as the free-est market, but neither must they be clueless rubes throwing out tax revenue like confetti. The proposition said “prop up”, not “support entirely”, which seems eminently reasonable, ie. a slight “lowering” of the bottom line rather than removing it completely. (And note that there will there will always be controversy over what kind of performances or exhibits receive help. I would only hope that the few crass or banal works which didn’t really deserve it did not threaten the contributions to the genuinely worthwhile and educative majority.)
At the end of the day, as in so many other of these threads, one’s response comes down to whether local cultural heritage (or even education in toto!) is the concern of government. I believe that if limited government help might provide cultural and educative opportunities which would likely only exist in faraway capital cities under a free-est market, then such funding is worth it - another example of interfering with the market for the common good.