Welcome back to the second half of this endeavour!
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.
#24: Taxpayers should not prop up theatres or museums.
#25: Schools shouldn’t make attendance compulsory.
#26: Different kinds of people should keep to their own.
#27: Good parents sometimes have to spank their children.
#28: It’s natural for children to keep secrets.
#29: Marijuana should be legalised.
#30: School’s prime function is equipping kids to find jobs.
*Proposition #31: * People with serious inheritable disabilities should not be allowed to reproduce.
SentientMeat (-5.12, -7.28) ticks Strongly Disagree.
Anyone can have a baby with a serious disability. This proposition would appear to arbitrarily target those who already have such a condition, even though it is entirely possible that their baby will be born healthy while a healthy couple’s baby is born with their condition. There is a word for such double jeopardy, ie. punishment of one born with some affliction by denying them the joy of parenthood: eugenics.
It might be that such a policy could reduce the frequency of that condition in future generations, thus reducing suffering in the long run. However, I would counter that the suffering which such a policy would immediately cause to those denied the choice of parenthood would take a heck of a long time to redress, and perhaps would never be compensated for since the genes are still carried by those without such disabilities and thus the condition’s incidence may not actually become that much less frequent.
Far better, say I, to seek to cure that condition, or to select from a reproductory sample of the afflicted person a zygote which tests negative (a mere refinement of what occurs naturally in many cases anyway - the failure of a blastocyst to implant in the womb.) I feel that the suffering in this scenario effectively falls to zero (unless one contends that single celled organisms can ‘suffer’, in which case one should really be lobbying for a ban on antiseptic.)
Civilisation has long since reached a point where people with tragic conditions can enjoy fulfilling lives and contribute to society - we can rejoice that Stephen Hawking’s parents were not barred from reproduction, for example. We might argue about precisely what constitutes a “serious disability” and whether embryo screening is therefore appropriate, but I would suggest that this is peripheral to debating proposition #31. On its face, it is a vastly authoritarian contention which I would think few to none of us here would ascribe to without some pretty strained interpretation.