Government Provided Welfare

For Version 6 of the quiz, I had a question on overall government spending, and one on retirement. This time around I want to be more specific. Federal spending includes welfare, military, entitlements, law enforcement, farm subsidies, and more. Cannot cover all the bases in reasonable length quiz, but I think hitting the biggies individually is in order. Welfare is a biggie. It is so big that it deserves to split into multiple categories, at least:

  1. Retirement/Social Security. Already in V6, but I think it should stay in for V7. It is both a middle class entitlement and welfare for the working poor.
  2. Public Education. The upper middle class would probably save money if it were privatized, but what would happen to the children of the working poor? So I declare it a welfare program.
  3. Health care. The big issue of the day. Medicaid is considered welfare, but given that we are debating healthcare in general as a nation, and Medicaid changes are part of Obamacare, healthcare related welfare deserves its own question.
  4. Other welfare: food stamps, monetary aid, earned income credit, childcare, public housing, etc.

Not sure if we should have a separate question relating to government care of the severely handicapped, but I think the welfare question should not address this topic. The issue is welfare for those who could theoretically work.

So how about:


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. On the other hand the existing welfare programs are accused of encouraging sloth, fornication, and other unproductive 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.)

  • Keep the current programs of food stamps, monetary supplements, public housing and child care as is more or less.
  • We need more welfare. Repeal the welfare reforms of the Clinton era.
  • Even pre-Clinton welfare was too stingy. Expand and/or add to existing programs and promote them more aggressively.
  • Trim existing programs.
  • Block grant the programs and pass responsibility to the states.
  • Pass responsibility to the states without block grants. (Cut federal taxes and let the states raise taxes as they see fit.)
  • Replace federal welfare and tax deductions with a basic income guarantee (unconditional free money for all adult citizens). Let the states and/or charities handle the outliers.
  • Eliminate all government funded welfare. Let private charities care for the needy.



What have I missed? Is this too long-winded? As a rule I do intend to be a bit more long-winded as I want to include more options, including some creative options not currently in the public policy debate.

Note that in the ordering above, I didn’t go from most government to least government monotonically. Instead, I started with the status quo and then grouped similar answers. I’m thinking of alternating between ending with the extreme libertarian answer and the extreme authoritarian answer to reduce bias. This does require more careful reading than the original quiz, but this is going to be a web only quiz. The original quiz was designed for booth deployment, where the test takers are impatient.

What think ye? Please comment below.

Keep the Importance Question?

Currently, in version 6 of the Quiz, after you answer all the issue questions, you are asked to rate the importance of each issue on a 1 to 5 scale. Furthermore, you cannot see your results until after you do the rating. When I do test runs of the Quiz, I find answering all these a bit tedious. But my perspective is not a user’s perspective.
How does this feel to those of you taking the Quiz for the first time? Is this a useful input of your opinion? Or do you feel the issues are equally important more or less? For the next edition of the Quiz, should I:

  1. Keep the importance question as is?
  2. Keep it, but default all the answers to 3, so users who wish to skip over it can?
  3. Get rid of this question?

Please respond in the comments. Thank you.

Issues for the Next Quiz Edition

The burning issues of today are considerably different from those of 1999, when I wrote the first edition of Quiz2D. The last change to the Quiz was in 2004, and that was primarily a rewording of the previous question set, attempting to make the tone a bit less strident.

Think of this post (and other posts under V7 Update) as forum thread kickoffs more than blog posts. Feel free to add your comment even for months old posts. I want opinions from a wide range of people – from liberals to conservatives, from libertarians to totalitarians – on what subjects the next edition of the Quiz should cover.

Property Rights Issues

I originally called this axis the economic axis in accordance with the traditional Nolan Chart, but gun rights are more of a civil liberties issue than an economic issue. But gun rights do fall under property rights; you can use guns to defend your property. This is why America’s political Right tends to defend gun rights more than the Left does. (But we do have plenty of examples of liberal gun rights defenders ranging from the early Robert Heinlein to the Black Panthers. Gun rights are a civil liberty issue as much as it is a property issue. It’s just that today the defenders of property rights are the louder defenders of this right.)

Some possible issues for the updated Quiz:

  • Guns
  • Healthcare
  • Affirmative action
  • Eminent domain
  • Monetary policy
  • Welfare
  • Unions
  • Education
  • Civil asset forfeiture.
  • Bailouts
  • Environmental regulations
  • Workplace regulations
  • Contract enforcement
  • Farm subsidies
  • Consumer protection
  • Trade policy
  • Wealth transfers (either by progressive taxation or other means such as a universal stipend)

What have I missed? Which of the above do you consider the most important? The least important?

Personal Liberty Issues

The person liberty issues have perhaps changed even more than the property issues since I last changed the Quiz. Since I created the first edition of the Quiz we have had the War on Terror: monitoring, torture, and humiliation by the TSA. In parallel, many police departments have moved from the Mayberry Sheriff to the Imperial Storm Trooper school of law enforcement. And then we have Hollywood and the music industry wanting to have storm trooper rights of their own in order to crack down on pirates.

Back when I first wrote the Quiz I had a hard time coming up with enough personal liberty issues. Today, I could come up with many more. Maybe I’m becoming more liberal. Anyway, the current list off the top of my head:

  • Surveillance
  • No-knock arrests (storm trooper policing)
  • Torture/Detainment (of foreign combatants)
  • National Service (military draft or mandatory bedpan service…)
  • Rights of the Accused (perp walks, rough treatment in jail before trial, delayed trials, etc.)
  • Punishments (Three Strikes laws, etc.)
  • Immigration
  • Copyright
  • Marijuana
  • Hard drugs
  • Sex Industry (porn, strip bars, prostitution)

What have I missed? Which of the above does not belong?

Issues Left Out

I have intentionally left out some major hot issues of the day because they don’t cleanly fit into the Nolan Chart political model.

Consider global warming. Currently, action on the issue comes mainly from the Left. But this is not inherently a Left/liberal issue. One could call for a carbon tax on purely conservative grounds: an excuse to get rid of the income tax, a tax on the enemies of the U.S. (if on oil), a tax which is not on labor or capital, but a sharing of God-given resources. One could imagine an ultra progressive Leftist (say, Lyndon LaRouche) attacking environmentalists as reactionary. We should turn Earth into a socialist Trantor, or be building artificial habitats on Mars or some such. In light of such sci-fi views, staying on Earth and preserving nature as is is a conservative, or even reactionary, position.  That climate action is associated with the American (and Western European) Left was a choice by the respective factions. It could have gone the other way.

The same holds for some other controversial issues such as abortion and military intervention. Maybe I’ll have a future post delving deeper on why I have avoided these issues in the Quiz.

But maybe I should include some of these anyway, but just not use the results for scoring. Might gather some interesting data: how many eco-conservatives are there? How about pro-life liberals?

What do ye think? Worth recording? Or would this make the Quiz too long? Please discuss in the comments below.

The Quiz2D Blog Begins

What? A blog?? How very 21st Century!

From the days long past when the Enhanced Precision Political Quiz was a java applet, the quiz simply gave “scores” and recommended pages off site. Then, I started archiving some of my early writings on Libertarian Party strategy. [Note: I a no longer a Libertarian Party member; this is for historical interest only.] And a few other barnacles accumulated, including, briefly, an online store for buying T shirts and bumper stickers.

And now, finally, a blog. I figured that it is long overdue to have a public place for people to provide feedback on the quiz. Many are too bashful (and spam-fearful!) to send an email, and some are so angered by the content of the quiz, that I would rather not receive their email — better to vent spleens in the open.

But far more importantly, I want lots off feedback and feed forward: the Quiz has become horribly dated. It still references the Clinton Administration(!) It is long past time to update the questions and possible answers. I could simply note ongoing discussions in the news as well as the private feedback provided over the years and whip together some updates, but why not open source things a bit. To wit, I want:

  • What issues do you consider important? I want to hear from members of all political factions on this.
  • Am I wording the questions fairly? I want to get rid of the bias of the earlier versions of the Quiz. (The bias had a reason, which has since become obsolete. This could be the subject of a post in and of itself…)
  • Do you prefer a short quiz or a longer quiz which is more likely to contain the answers you want to give?

These questions apply to an upgrade of the traditional Nolan Chart based quiz. In the future I aspire to introduce quizzes based on other dimensions than economic/personal liberty/authority.

I may throw in some commentary on the current political situation as well on this blog. I will try to avoid pushing any particular ideology. Instead, I will nitpick logic errors on all sides and comment on how our voting system fails to provide sufficient permutations of issues. For example, where is the candidate who calls for higher taxes and for spending cuts in order to reduce the deficit? Which party could such a candidate run under? Under what party could a candidate run who wants to replace the federal welfare system with a basic income guarantee? What of the conservative who wants a carbon tax to fight global warming (and tax our enemies)? Which combinations do you think are wanting?

And, of course, I will suggest some creative alternatives, both for voting systems, combinations of issue stances, and out of the box solutions. Pick out the ones you like.