The Enhanced-Precision Political Quiz

Version 7 release, updated August 2012. More options. More objective. More up to date. And pretty close to a final version. Please report bugs/omissions in the blog after you are done.

There are multiple-choice questions for each issue, followed by a question on the relative importance of the issues. The property rights questions are in green while the personal freedom issues are in sky blue.

Important note: in the interest of objectivity and flow this version of the Quiz does not strictly order the answers from bigger government down to smaller government as Version 6 did. So read all the options before choosing.

For those looking to test their results with others on a forum from before August 2012, the classic emotion-measuring version is here. But perhaps the better option is to convince the forum members to retake using the new version. It is considerably less biased— maybe even unbiased (whether I completely succeeded in being unbiased is for others to determine).

Trade Policy

The classical economists Adam Smith and David Ricardo made compelling cases for free trade. Specialization and comparative advantage benefit all trading partners. But did their proofs take into account the modern welfare state, minimum wages and pollution regulations? Are first world nations such as the U.S. giving away their seed corn to rising mercantilist powers such as China, while hurting their working classes in the bargain? Then again, what of the complexity, corruption and crony capitalism which can arise when the government tries to offset foreign export subsidies with retaliatory tariffs, counter subsidies, etc.?
What should the U.S. trade policy be?
A. Continue as currently, more or less.
B. Get rid of all tariffs, quotas, and export subsidies.
C. Aggressively enforce existing trade laws, retaliating against foreign subsidies which hurt domestic industries.
D. Increase tariffs and/or pull out of some/all of our trade agreements.
E. Implement an all out industrial policy.
F. Get rid of the existing reams of tariff schedules and trade agreements, but tax imports implicitly by having a national sales tax. This sales tax could replace Social Security taxes, the federal income tax, or both.

Military Draft

Our all-volunteer military is working but it is expensive, and federal deficits are ballooning. Furthermore, some people worry that most of our military is coming from limited regions/demographic groups of our country. On the other hand, some say that resorting to a military draft is a form of slavery.
To what degree should military service be voluntary?
A. No draft now, but keep draft registration in case of a really big war.
B. Restore the draft, but only for home defense forces. Foreign occupation duty for low level wars such as Afghanistan should be for professionals only.
C. Restore the draft and use draftees for both home defense and foreign adventures.
D. Like B, but without a lottery. One year of civilian national service for those who don't do military service.
E. Like C, but without a lottery. Two years of civilian national service for those who don't do military service.
F. No draft, but expand the pool of qualified volunteers by offering military training in high schools, colleges, and as low pay summer work programs with no future obligations.
G. No draft, and don’t call up reserves for long term foreign occupations. Reserve forces are for quick staffing up only. After that, foreign wars should be professionals only.
H. No draft, and don’t call up reserves for optional wars (such as Iraq) period.
I. Like H, but even allow even professionals to quit in between battles (with appropriate financial penalty). Soldiers performing police actions should be volunteers in the same sense that police are volunteers at home.

Mortgage Crisis

The housing bubble has only partially popped. Despite billions in bailouts, the financial system is still shaky. Millions of homeowners owe more on their homes than their homes are worth. Moving to find a better job is thus hindered. Should we do something more? If so, how do we avoid creating another bubble? Or does a future bubble matter?
What should we do about the ongoing mortgage crisis?
A. Inflate the currency to bring nominal incomes and rents in line with current home prices.
B. Give out grants to homeowners based on how desperate they are.
C. Buy up surplus housing and demolish it to soak up excess supply.
D. Two of the above.
E. All of the above.
F. Do nothing beyond what we are doing now. The bailouts, new homeowner tax credits, and HARP suffice.
G. Let prices continue to fall but eliminate negative equity by granting existing homeowners the value of their future mortgage interest deductions as a lump sum payment applied existing mortgages, Then eliminate the mortgage deduction to avoid future bubbles.
H. Pop the remaining bubble. Eliminate all bailout programs. Yes, some people will learn a hard lesson, but others will gain by being able to afford homes on the cheap.
I. Pop the bubble even harder. Eliminate the remaining bailout programs, Fannie and Freddie, and the mortgage interest deduction.
J. Crush the bubble. Pop as above and go to a gold standard to eliminate inflation.

War on Terror

After the World Trade Center attack on 9/11, the United States embarked on a campaign of introducing democracy by force of arms and taking out terrorist cells abroad. It seems to have worked. We have suffered no major terrorist attack at home since, and democracies are sprouting all across the Middle East. But the price has been enormous in terms of treasure and lives lost. Did we overreact? And in the longer run, have the recent wars inspired as many future terrorists as we have taken out? Opinions vary.
What is/was the appropriate military response to terrorism in the 21st Century?
A. What we did. The U.S. response, including the wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq, was appropriate and sufficient.
B. More. We should intervene in Syria.
C. More: we need to stop Iran for getting nuclear weapons, by force of arms if need be.
D. More: there is another country or countries not mentioned here that need military correction soon.
E. Two of the above additional interventions
F. All of the above additional interventions.
G. Less. Taking out the Taliban and Saddam Hussein were worthwhile, but we shouldn’t have stayed for the extensive nation building afterwards.
H. Less. Afghanistan yes. The second Iraq war no.
I. Way less. We should have used letters of marque and reprisal against Al Qaeda instead of invading Afghanistan.
J. Much less. Even the first Iraq war was a mistake, as was Desert Shield. Saddam was Saudi Arabia and Iran’s problem.
K. Way less. They hate us not because we are free, but because we are over there. We should focus on energy independence so we can end our involvement in the Persian Gulf. Levy a large tariff on OPEC oil and/or spend some billions on a serious energy policy.
L. Way less. Let’s get completely out the Persion Gulf now, without waiting for energy independence.
M. Way less. Get out the Middle East entirely now. And let Israel defend itself.

Health Care

Medical costs are exploding, bankrupting individuals, corporations, and governments. Some blame the excessive use of insurance: moral hazards, lack of shopping, blizzards of paperwork. Some blame lawsuits and/or excessive licensing requirements. Others point to lack of preventative care for the poor, and emergency rooms clogged with poor people who cannot get care elsewhere.Recently, Congress passed the Affordable Care Act ("ObamaCare"), an incredibly complicated piece of legislation which is currently phasing in. Many on both the right and left believe ObamaCare is a mere stepping stone to a single payer system. Others say ObamaCare is pretty close to what the Republicans proposed in response to HillaryCare.
What should we do about exploding health care costs?
A. Give ObamaCare a chance. Stay the course.
B. Stop messing about. Enact British style single payer system now. (Government paid medicine by default, but paying doctors out of pocket still legal.)
C. Everyone should have equal health care. Enact a Canadian style single payer system. (Paying doctors out of pocket illegal.)
D. Repeal ObamaCare and go back to what we had before, perhaps with some tort reform.
E. Repeal ObamaCare and have an individual tax deduction for health insurance instead of requiring people to go through their employers to get the tax exemption.
F. Repeal ObamaCare and replace tax free employer provided health insurance with a capped tax credit. (A tax credit gives the working poor incentive to buy health insurance. A cap gets rid of the subsidy for “Cadillac plans.”)
G. Repeal ObamaCare and the employer provided health insurance exemption. Instead, give all citizens a health insurance voucher sufficient to buy a catastrophic health insurance policy. This better insures the poor, which leaving it to the market whether to pay ordinary medical bills out of pocket or buy more than catastrophic coverage.
H. Repeal ObamaCare, the employer provided health insurance exemption, Medicare, Medicaid, and most restrictions on practicing medicine. Let nurses handle the mundane illnesses. Let pharmacists recommend and sell medicines to the already diagnosed without requiring expensive prescriptions.

Marijuana

Marijuana is in many ways as soft or softer a drug than currently legal drugs. It is far less addictive than tobacco, and induces far less belligerent behavior than alcohol. Making marijuana illegal is Prohibition all over again, an enormous subsidy for gangs and organized crime. Then again, marijuana does have health hazards, and long term use can cause paranoia and resistance to "working for The Man." Can we field an army with marijuana legal?
Should marijuana be legalized?
A. No. Keep current laws on the books.
B. No, and crack down on states which de facto legalize marijuana through lax "medical marijuana" laws.
C. No, and expand enforcement. Throw the book at rich white users the same as we do with poor blacks.
D. Partially. Legalize medical marijuana, but with a stricter definition of medical than California uses.
E. Partially. Use California’s medical marijuana laws as a national model.
F. Decriminalize only. Make marijuana possession and dealing a fineable offense, with fines in proportion to amount found.
G. Yes. Legalize marijuana outright, but tax and regulate it like we do hard liquor.
H. Yes. Legalize marijuana and don’t regulate or tax.

Public Education

Public education is a key component to a successful democracy, or an example of democratic socialism — depending on whom you ask. Regardless, pundits all over the political spectrum claim that U.S. public schools are worse than they should be. They point to better test scores by students all over the world to back their assertions.
Should our system of public education be significantly reformed?
A. Yes, we need more class time. Extend school hours to match standard work hours.
B. Yes, we need more class time. Extend the school year and get rid of the long summer break when the kids forget what they have learned.
C. Yes, we need better trained teachers. Require graduate degrees to teach and pay teachers accordingly.
D. Yes, we need more discipline. Require school uniforms.
E. Any 2 of the above.
F. Any 3 of the above.
G. All of the above.
H. No, our system has its problems, but it fosters creativity and universal citizenship.
I. No, but we do need more funding for our existing system.
J. The schools need competition to keep administrations on the bounce. We need more charter schools and other forms of public school choice.
K. We need more competition. Grant school vouchers for students who go to private school (at a fraction of the marginal cost of public school).
L. Charge partial tuition for public schools and grant scholarships for poor students. (This gets around the religious freedom problem that vouchers present.)
M. Sell off the public schools and grant school vouchers for all children.
N. Sell off the public schools and completely separate school from state. Let charities figure out how to educate the poor.

Hard Drugs

Hard drugs such as cocaine and opiates are dangerous, both to the users and those around the users. They are addictive as well, so the “right to choose” argument is weaker than it is for softer drugs like marijuana. On the other hand, making these drugs illegal subsidizes dangerous criminal gangs, and diverts users from the dilute forms (coca leaf tea, smoked opium gum) to the more concentrated forms (crack, heroin).Finally, because discreet drug use is operationally a victimless crime, we require police state tactics in order to have any chance at successful enforcement.
Should we change our laws against hard drugs?
A. No. Keep the laws we have on the books, and enforce at current levels.
B. No. Keep existing laws and extend vigorous enforcement. Treat rich white users as harshly as poor minorities caught with hard drugs.
C. Increase the penalties for possession to those for dealing so the courts don’t have to prove intention to distribute.
D. In addition to existing enforcement, seal the borders so cocaine and opium cannot get into the country.
E. Keep the laws, but back off on some of the more aggressive police state tactics (no knock searches, civil asset forfeiture...). Instead, seal the borders and search for the drugs at border crossings instead of doing dangerous no-knock searches on citizens.
F. Yes. but legalize the more dilute forms only (cf. coca leaf, smokeable opium).
G. Legalize hard drugs for licensed users only. (Like Timothy Leary’s proposal. License drug use like we license drivers and pilots.)
H. Legalize dilute forms for licensed users only.
I. Legalize hard drugs for limited jurisdictions only (Nevada, Indian reservations…), like we do for casino gambling today.
J. Legalize dilute forms of hard drugs for limited jurisdictions only.
K. Legalize dilute forms for licensed users within limited jurisdictions.
L. Legalize all hard drugs period. Punish only those who cannot handle their highs and hurt others.

Other Welfare Programs

Work is not always available, or the pay is not enough to live on. Bad decisions and bad luck happen. Without some time of safety net (either public or private) people suffer even in a wealthy society. However, many claim that existing welfare programs discourage work, saving, marriage, and other productive habits. And government welfare as a whole is bankrupting the nation. Finally, many people are falling through the cracks of the existing system. Though the government spends billions, many poor people still suffer today.
Should we change or eliminate our government welfare system? (For the purposes of this question, don’t consider Social Security, healthcare programs, or public education, as we cover those elsewhere. Also, do not consider government aid for the truly handicapped as part of this question; let’s just consider those who don’t need a caregiver or be institutionalized.)
A. Keep the current programs of food stamps, monetary supplements, public housing and child care as is more or less.
B. We need more welfare. Repeal the welfare reforms of the Clinton era.
C. Even pre-Clinton welfare was too stingy. Expand and/or add to existing programs and promote them more aggressively.
D. Trim existing programs.
E. Block grant the programs and pass responsibility to the states.
F. Pass responsibility to the states without block grants. (Cut federal taxes and let the states raise taxes as they see fit.)
G. Replace federal welfare and tax deductions with a universal stipend for all adult citizens. Let the states and/or charities handle the outliers.
H. Eliminate all government funded welfare. Let private charities care for the needy.

Immigration

The United States and other developed nations have welfare systems and minimum wage/job conditions laws designed to set a minimum standard of living for all citizens. This minimum standard is way above the standard of living for billions of people in poorer nations. This leads to massive immigration pressure. Immigrants — legal and illegal — enter rich nations like the U.S. willing to do hard jobs at minimum wage or less. Consumers of their labor benefit, but many citizen laborers suffer and some of them go on welfare raising the general tax burden. We currently set immigration quotas far below the demand, with the result of millions of illegal aliens residing within the land. Since they are illegally here, they cannot safely call the police, so alien communities are ripe pickings for organized crime. But getting them out would be a civil liberties nightmare.
What should the U.S. immigration policy be?
A. Open the gates! Borders are artificial. Let the welfare system crash and shantytowns bloom. Overall, more people benefit with fully open borders.
B. Raise the quotas a bit, but favor skilled immigrants.
C. Keep the existing immigration laws.
D. Raise taxes on poor but give all citizens a monthly rebate check. This could be the “prebate” promoted by the Fair Tax folks, or making the income tax flat towards the bottom coupled with a citizen’s dividend. This ensures that all guest workers are net taxpayers.
E. Seal the borders but don’t violate civil liberties trying to hunt down illegals already within the country.
F. Institute a national ID in order to catch illegals within the borders.
G. Reduce the immigration quotas so we can assimilate the immigrants we have.
H. Do two of the above three options (seal borders, national ID, reduced quotas).
I. Do all of the above three options to reduce immigration.

Guns

The Second Amendment was written in a time of open frontiers and muskets.Today, gunfire disturbs the peace of our public housing projects and mad men gun down crowds with large clip semi-automatic weapons. Then again, guns can also deter crime, and an armed populace can make life difficult for an aspiring tyrant...
To what degree should guns be regulated/restricted in the modern age?
A. None. Any system of registration is an invitation for future seizure. The Second Amendment guarantees the right for civilians to own military grade firearms.
B. Less. We need more upstanding citizens carrying concealed weapons so criminals and mad men can be stopped quickly.
C. About the same as we do now.
D. A bit more. Require registration and background checks for pistols and semi-automatic rifles but not for shotguns and bolt action rifles. (See this proposal.)
E. Ban large ammunition clips.
F. Ban all semi-automatic weapons from civilian use.
G. Ban all pistols and semi-automatic weapons from civilian use.
H. Ban all civilian firearm ownership entirely.

Sex Industry

If you own your body, why can’t you sell it or images thereof? On the other hand, love and marriage are precious and declining. If cracking down the sex industry would save marriages, then wouldn’t this be worth the price? But is the sex industry responsible for the decline of marriage?
To what degree should the sex industry be legal?
A. None, outlaw pornography AND strip clubs.
B. Much less, outlaw pornography OR strip clubs.
C. Less. Make it harder to get pornography, but allow it for determined adults. For example, all dirty images on the Internet should be behind paywalls.
D. Current law: outlaw and regulate as we do now.
E. More legal. Keep strip clubs and pornography as legal as they are today, and legalize prostitution as well.
F. Completely legal. Eliminate geographic restrictions on strip clubs, and legalize prostitution as well.

Social Security

Like a Ponzi scheme, Social Security was a fantastic deal for the first recipients, and a less good deal for those coming in late. Unlike a Ponzi scheme, Social Security is theoretically sustainable as long as we are willing to set taxes high enough to handle two workers per retiree. Defenders of Social Security can point to its safety; detractors can point to how the major stock indices have outpaced wages even taking into account recessions.
How should we fund Social Security as the Baby Boomers retire? Should we continue Social Security?
A. Raise income taxes and let the Treasury pay what it owes to the Social Security trust fund as needed.
B. Increase payroll taxes as needed when the number of workers/retiree goes from 3/1 to 2/1. (This would boost employee/employer FICA taxes from 6.2% each to close to 9% each.)
C. Invest payroll taxes in the stock market so Social Security reflects asset growth vs. wage growth.(Note: this would turn the Social Security Administration into an enormous pension fund, controlling a sizeable fraction of the stock market.)
D. Ramp up the retirement age so the average number of years for receiving government checks is brought back down to 5. (But what about manual laborers whose bodies lose strength at the current retirement age?)
E. Means test Social Security payouts. (In effect this is a retroactive tax on retirees who saved enough for retirement on their own.)
F. Replace Social Security with a purely aged-based MINIMUM income (comparable to current minimum Social Security payouts) funded out of general revenues.
G. Replace Social Security with a forced savings plan for the young. Pay existing retirees and the soon to be retired out of general funds.
H. Let people plan their own retirement. Convert existing obligations into Treasury bonds and give them to existing retirees and the soon to be retired.

Abortion

When is abortion murder and when is it the moral equivalent of clipping fingernails? Opinions differ. Should we leave this question purely as a matter of personal choice or should the State intervene at some point?
At what stage in pregnancy should abortion become illegal? (Not counting medical necessity.)
A. After birth. Before birth it is purely a woman's choice.
B. At the age of viability outside the womb.
C. At 'quickening' (the stage when fetal movement first becomes noticeable to the mother).
D. The stage when fetal heartbeat is detectable with medical instruments.
E. Upon implantation. That is, outlaw all abortion save for rape or incest.
F. Upon implantaton. Outlaw all abortion without the rape/incest exceptions
G. Upon conception. Outlaw all abortions and conventional birth control pills.

Importance

How important is each issue? Which issues most affect your votes? (You can skip this section if you consider all issues equally important.)
Issue
Who cares? Somewhat ImportantVery Important
Trade
1 2 3 4 5
Draft
1 2 3 4 5
Mortgage
1 2 3 4 5
Terror
1 2 3 4 5
Health
1 2 3 4 5
Marijuana
1 2 3 4 5
Education
1 2 3 4 5
Drugs
1 2 3 4 5
Welfare
1 2 3 4 5
Immigration
1 2 3 4 5
Guns
1 2 3 4 5
Sex
1 2 3 4 5
Retirement
1 2 3 4 5
Abortion
1 2 3 4 5