Political Compass Test – Comments

Well, the political climate is hot, thanks to Clinton vs. Sanders and the political anomaly that is Donald Trump. So I decided, maybe I’ll take a take a political spectrum test, to see who might align with my views. And I did it. You can take the test that I took for yourself here.

Now, I don’t want to make myself out to be someone that sits on the sidelines and just snarkily remarks on the status of the world. I’m part of the system as much as any of you are. So I’ll put my results at the end. Really, I’d just like to go through the statements, what they are saying, and maybe some comment on my interpretations. So without further ado, let’s get started.

S1: If economic globalisation is inevitable, it should primarily serve humanity rather than the interests of trans-national corporations.

This is a difficult statement to talk about; the conditional aspect of this is very important. It requires a bit of definition shuffling. I believe the very concept of full globalization implies a one society. To go back to my favourite example – that in which President Nixon refers to the citizens of… Earth as Earthicans in Futurama. Since we’re all one nation, the idea of trans-national corporations has to be shifted to corporations based on one region of the Earth to another, let’s say Americas to Europe.

Now we get to the crux of what I believe the statement is suggesting. Living in different regions of the world implies different needs. As good suppliers, it is your responsibility to make sure that the people that need your goods receive them, rather than to make sure that your profits are maximized. This means you can’t locally hike prices based on needs in a specific region (higher demand – higher prices). Who makes sure that businesses can’t gouge consumers? Why, the government of course. Essentially, the statement is “Government should be permitted to make corporations serve the needs of the people”. So I imagine if a person is starving and cannot afford food, they will be provided food. This isn’t a new concept, it’s practically the foundation of welfare. The question that I would personally ask myself is who decides what ‘the needs of the people’ are. Or to put it back into the phrasing of the original statement, who decides what ‘serves humanity’?

The film I, Robot (which, as an Asimov reader, I am truly offended) includes this theme as the core of the film. It’s a great film though, 5 stars out of 5 if you ask me.

S2: I’d always support my country, whether it was right or wrong.

I feel like this statement is a test for dangerous nationalism. And this includes the ‘good’ dangerous nationalism and not just the ‘bad’ dangerous nationalism!

It seems ridiculous in concept but then again, people have been known to demonize people (perhaps in a joking manner) based on the outcome of a coin flip. So it’s definitely within our nature and it’s an easy trap to fall into. I’m running into my issue of moral relativity here (a topic for another day!) so I’ll stop myself here before I tangent. I hate to use this example because it’s so simple but if you’re a German in 1943 and you disagree with what the Nazis are doing, do you fight for the Nazi cause or do you defect?

S3: No one chooses his or her country of birth, so it’s foolish to be proud of it.

This is the ‘lite’ version of the prior statement. The core statement is whether or not it’s foolish to be proud of this you do not choose. Things like nationality, parents, sex, talents, species, all of it. Should you be proud of being a white male? Should you be proud of being a black gay female? I believe that this runs into the religious line of reasoning. If it brings meaning to your life, even if it’s effectively meaningless, is it okay to be proud of it?

S4: Our race has many superior qualities, compared with other races.

At the core this sounds like a racist statement, but I don’t think so. Some traits are more prevalent in other races than others. Black people have naturally slanted foreheads. If one is taking, say blunt trauma to the head from the front, black people have a natural advantage compared to other races. There are likely other examples of this.

S5: The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

Depending on your definition of friend, this statement changes meaning. I prefer ‘The enemy of my enemy is my ally’ because it only implies like goals, rather than camaraderie. Of course this can get hairy fast because you can have two enemies that are enemies themselves (like the nations in Orwell’s 1984)!

S6: Military action that defies international law is sometimes justified.

One might normally think of this as “do the ends justify the means”, which can seem radical. I feel like this sort of statement is used as an attack on morality. “You were willing to cheat to win, therefore your victory means nothing”. I prefer to ask the question, “does there come a point when the ends justify the means, and where is that line drawn?” The statement specifically is probably addressing a case example of would it ever be justified for a country to nuke another country.

S7: There is now a worrying fusion of information and entertainment.

On its own, information and entertainment being combined seems like a great idea. The more entertaining something is, the more likely you are to retain the information it contained. I still remember Mitch Hedberg (bless his soul) jokes but I have no idea what my Uncle told me about women when I was young. The problem arises when the entertainment value detracts from the information being disseminated. Perhaps some of the entertainment aspects get mistaken for informational aspects by the audience leading to a horrible conclusion. Who knows. Is this happening?

S8: People are ultimately divided more by class than by nationality.

Two groups of people meet, they split, and recombine. Will they naturally tend towards those that share their culture or their class? The problem I see with this question is what’s high class in say… Siberia is not really what’s high class in the United States. Will high class Siberians naturally get along with high class United States citizens?

S9: Controlling inflation is more important than controlling unemployment.

This is a hairy question. Inflation is the devaluing of currency. Unemployment is… well, not being employed. On one hand you want to make sure what money you have is worth something. On the other hand, you want to make sure your country’s inhabitants are getting money. Which is more important? Is it better to have a lot of people working for nothing or to have a few people working for something?

S10: Because corporations cannot be trusted to voluntarily protect the environment, they require regulation.

Two assumptions must be made here. The first is that the environment is something that we are obligated to protect (what defines protecting the environment?). The second is that there are factors in business which do not incentivize protecting the environment. Is it cheaper to disregard the environment? Can you produce more product if you protect the environment? If businesses are efficiency games, then these factors count against protecting the government. The question then becomes, which is more important – the right of individuals to run their businesses however they like, or the environment?

S11: “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need” is a fundamentally good idea.

Everyone has their niche and everyone should be provided what they require to fill it. I feel like this is meant to be a more positive expression of communism. Hold on a sec, let me see if I can quickly find the source in a Google search. […] Looks like I was right. Though I attributed it to communism, seems it’s a general socialist concept. Okay.

S12: It’s a sad reflection on our society that something as basic as drinking water is now a bottled, branded consumer product.

This is kind of a snarky remark about society. What’s next, air? (Maybe) I guess the lament is that people are paying for the same stuff that comes out of their faucets. Of course this is justified if you live in certain areas of the United States (or planet I suppose) which do not have access to reliably clean water and you can only be reasonably sure of the safety of bottled water.

S13: Land shouldn’t be a commodity to be bought and sold.

I believe the basic idea is that no one can own the land because who decides who owns the land? Well, to be frank, the person with the bigger guns and the bigger army decides. But this is a general concept question, so let’s just ignore bigger army diplomacy for now. It’s really an interesting statement because it forces you to think about what does it mean to ‘own’ land and whether or not we are justified in our claiming, buying, and selling of land. What right do we have to say that we ‘own’ land?

S14: It is regrettable that many personal fortunes are made by people who simply manipulate money and contribute nothing to their society.

Is it a shame that people can essentially gamble with existing money and make a fortune? The first thing I think of is moving stocks around. Is it a shame that people can see market trends and where they are headed and move their money to profit of it? Or should I say… prophet off it? ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

I believe at the core of the question is a belief that if you’re not providing a service to humanity via growing food, pulling material from the ground, teaching the youth, etc., you should not be able to accrue wealth. But I guess we then have to ask whether or not moving stocks is a type of service? Hmmm…

S15: Protectionism is sometimes necessary in trade.

Is it sometimes necessary to tax incoming goods to make sure local markets can compete? I suppose the better question is why can’t local markets naturally compete? Local resources aren’t easily accessible leading to less product? Other countries are just better at producing cheaper product because of wages or technology?

S16: The only social responsibility of a company should be to deliver a profit to its shareholders.

Do you damn all but the investors? If that involves gouging the consumer or hurting the workers, is it acceptable as long as it returns a profit?

S17: The rich are too highly taxed.

I feel like there’s actually an objective way to analyze this statement. If a person generated 1% of the nation’s wealth, do they pay 1% of the overall taxes collected by the nation?  In the United States, I believe the answer to the question that I POSED is no.

S18: Those with the ability to pay should have the right to higher standards of medical care.

If you can afford to pay for better medical services, do you have the right to access these medical services? Should the amount of money you have play into what quality of medical care you receive?

S19: Governments should penalise businesses that mislead the public.

I get a little personal over this one because of the anti-vax movement.

If a business claims to provide a service that they do not provide or if their product does not do as it was advertised, should the business be penalized?

Lord, I wish. There have been so many times I’ve walked into McDonald’s and seen like the most delicious burger on their menu. I order it, and I get like… plastic looking stuff. What’s that all about?

S20: A genuine free market requires restrictions on the ability of predator multinationals to create monopolies.

So I have a problem interpreting this one myself. I split the statement half and half. The ‘predator multinationals to create monopolies’ is all one thing. So the statement is saying free markets require government restriction to stop monopolies from forming? I’m not sure if that’s what the statement is really saying so I won’t go further into it. If someone fully understands the statement, please, feel free to comment, email, something. Tell me what’s up.

S21: The freer the market, the freer the people.

The less the government inserts itself into the process of getting goods to consumer, the more free the people are. The question I had to ask myself is whether or not freedom as an individual had a causal relationship to the government influence on the market.

S22: Abortion, when the woman’s life is not threatened, should always be illegal.

My next blog post will likely be about this topic. The conditional of non-threatening pregnancies is probably added to make this purely a question of whether or not the parents have responsibility to see that which they’ve created (whether intentional or not) to term. It seems, however, that rape pregnancies would still be illegal in this conditional.

S23: All authority should be questioned.

This is a weird statement. I’m not sure what to make of it. My primary interpretation is if Uncle Sam tells you that he’s doing something, you should always know why. There should never be a ‘for your own good’ answer that doesn’t include HOW it’s for your own good.

S24: An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.

Again, odd statement. I’m not sure if it’s advocating Hammurabi’s Code but I can only assume that it is. So, do you agree with Hammurabi’s Code?

S25: Taxpayers should not be expected to prop up any theatres or museums that cannot survive on a commercial basis.

I believe this statement is more of a concern about HOW taxpayer money is being spent. If it’s being spent in the name of the arts, and it’s not making returns, should it be spent on the arts regardless? The question you need to ask yourself here is what’s more valuable – the experience provided by these establishments or your money. Should you protect your bottom line more than the cultural arts?

S26: Schools should not make classroom attendance compulsory.

This is a question that I actually like. You cannot teach someone that will not be taught (look no further than internet arguments for that) but does that extend into the schools? Is it not the job of the teacher to make the students want to learn the material?

I have a lot of ‘beef’ with the United States public education system, so I’m biased here. If attendance were not compulsory, classrooms would (hopefully) be filled with people that actually want to learn the material. Classes would then be able to move a bit more smoothly. The rubrics used for teaching evaluation would then be a bit more applicable in the way of learned material. I wonder if it would also promote a more positive classroom experience in the way of convincing outliers to want to learn. If the teacher is regarded as the gaoler, then all of the students band together in suffering. But if the teacher is not the gaoler, and students that don’t want to learn arrive, THEY become the outlier. This presents social pressure for them to either learn the material or leave. I personally believe this pressure will push them towards wanting to learn more than quitting. Maybe I’ll do a post on this one.

The follow-up question I would ask is – if children are not in school, where are they? What are they doing? Who’s watching them?

S27: All people have their rights, but it is better for all of us that different sorts of people should keep to their own kind.

This is ‘soft racism’ by my interpretation. We’re all equal but it’s best if we stay with our own. White should stick with the whites. Blacks stick with the blacks. It’s for the best.

S28: Good parents sometimes have to spank their children.

I recognize that many readers were probably spanked as a child (myself included) but the question you should probably ask is why. Did this promote a healthy learning environment? Let’s say you got caught playing with matches. Your parents spanked you. Do you avoid playing with matches again because you understand why playing with matches is a bad idea? Or do you avoid playing with matches again because you understand the dangers associated with it. Do you understand why your parents did not want you to play with matches? Did the spanking provide anything of value to the lesson or was it just a tool?

S29: It’s natural for children to keep some secrets from their parents.

Really? How does this play any part in where you lie on the political spectrum? Whatever, doesn’t need explanation or inspection.

S30: Possessing marijuana for personal use should not be a criminal offence.

Needs no explanation. Though I would like the reader to consider the natural extension to other goods. If the argument is marijuana should be illegal despite it not being used to harm others, does it then extend to… say… ramen? (I swear I’ve lost like 2 years of my life for eating that stuff)

S31: The prime function of schooling should be to equip the future generation to find jobs.

I love these education questions. Okay, so the premise is straightforward, but I have a question. What would the prime function of schooling be if not to equip the future generation to finding jobs? And should this other thing really be a prime function or a side function? Or will it come naturally if the prime function of school is to equip the future generation to finding jobs?

S32: People with serious inheritable disabilities should not be allowed to reproduce.

Any Nazis in the audience? This is a social argument. We always want to make society better. Better people, better pizza, Papa John’s. If people have disabilities, are they less useful to society? And if they are less useful to society, should they be culled to make way for people that are more useful to society? I feel at the core is the recognition of a ‘carrying capacity’ of the environment. The most efficient use of the resources is the optimal strategy for maintaining a healthy society. Let’s say you have to choose between two people to let into your survival compound in the zombie apocalypse. If Person A requires more resources than Person B and Person A does not benefit the compound more than Person B, which do you take?

S33: The most important thing for children to learn is to accept discipline.

Seems to me that the idea is that children are supposed to learn that some things cannot be changed. Know your place, and do what you must. If you are disciplined, it is because you are in the wrong, regardless of reason.

S34: There are no savage and civilised peoples; there are only different cultures.

Ahhh, this statement. So the basis is a concept of cultural relativity. What’s acceptable in another culture might not be acceptable in your culture, and that’s perfectly okay. You’re not permitted to call a culture savage or civilised because you don’t have the proper perspective of the other culture. Cultures cannot be put down or raised up. They’re just… different.

S35: Those who are able to work, and refuse the opportunity, should not expect society’s support.

Go back to zombie apocalypse example: If you can produce resources and choose not to, are you entitled to consume resources provided by others?

S36: When you are troubled, it’s better not to think about it, but to keep busy with more cheerful things.

Escapism. If something is bothering you, do you address it or do you distract yourself with fantasy or something.

S37: First-generation immigrants can never be fully integrated within their new country.

What does it mean to integrate fully? I feel like with all standard definitions of integration, the answer should be fairly obvious to logical thinkers.

S38: What’s good for the most successful corporations is always, ultimately, good for all of us.

Is this the trickle-down economics question? For anyone unfamiliar, trickle-down economics in its simplest form is this. If businesses have more money, they’ll employ more people and make more product. Selling this product will give them more money which they can use to pay their employees more or hire more employees. I believe this runs into the same issues as communism in its assumptions of the people at the head of such businesses.

If the businesses are doing well, does everyone eventually benefit? On what time-scales does the ‘all of us’ benefit? How are we all receiving these benefits? What are these benefits?

S39: No broadcasting institution, however independent its content, should receive public funding.

I feel like this goes back to that arts question. If an institution is providing a service to the people, should it be provided public funding? I suppose the issues arise in who ‘wants’ the service. If I have a left leaning radio show, why should taxpayers on the right that vehemently disagree with my views be funding my show? If I’m a true independent, why should the left and right be paying for my show? It’s an argument over what public goods are useful to you.

S40: Our civil liberties are being excessively curbed in the name of counter-terrorism.

This calls for a quote of the Benjamin Franklin variety.

“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” – Benjamin Franklin

Do you think we are moving in the direction in which the acts being taken to stop terrorism is an act against personal liberty? Just an example – suppose you’re flying in the United States via commercial airliners. You will come across a TSA agent. They’ll scan your stuff, and they’ll scan you. They’ll even make you take off your shoes. All of these measures are designed to stop security threats from entering the planes. Are these measures excessive? At what point do they become excessive?

S41: A significant advantage of a one-party state is that it avoids all the arguments that delay progress in a democratic political system.

I actually addressed this one in another post… somewhere. Probably one of the ones where I’m quoted as saying “If Donald Trump gets elected President of the United States, it’ll only prove that democracy is working as intended”. Anyway, it’s quite obvious that a one-party state can make progress quite quickly. It can also backtrack progress quickly. The question is whether or not this is an advantage or a disadvantage.

S42: Although the electronic age makes official surveillance easier, only wrongdoers need to be worried.

The higher the technology, the easier it is to track things like location and money. If you’re a good little citizen, this shouldn’t affect you. If you’re up to shady business, we can track you from where you’ve been. Do you believe that only wrongdoers should be worried as surveillance gets better? I suppose it comes down to how much you trust your government to judge what determines ‘wrongdoing’.

S43: The death penalty should be an option for the most serious crimes.

No explanation needed.

S44: In a civilised society, one must always have people above to be obeyed and people below to be commanded.

Odd statement. A naturally thing is to think of it like a ladder. This introduces the logical consequence is that there must be a bottom rung and a top rung, so the statement could hold true for N-2 individuals. But there’s no requirement that there be a ladder structure, so it can hold true for all N individuals. The problem I see with this is accountability. When someone screws up, whose fault is it? Well if it’s not their fault, it’ll wind up being everybody’s fault through chains of command.

At the core though, I think it’s a promotion of class structure.

S45: Abstract art that doesn’t represent anything shouldn’t be considered art at all.

Personal opinion – no explanation needed.

S46: In criminal justice, punishment should be more important than rehabilitation.

So the criminal justice serves two purposes. To rehabilitate those that have broken the law (if possible) and later release them into society after they have learned their lesson (and their crime wasn’t too… terrible?). The other purpose is to remove dangerous entities from society. Of course the easiest way to remove these dangerous entities is to kill them but that would be inhumane. So they live out their lives in concrete boxes.

Your answer to this question probably lies within how you view lawbreakers. If you see them as people that have disrupted the order and need to be punished, then you probably want the focus to be on punishment. If your focus is more on what causes people to commit crime, you probably want rehabilitation.

S47: It is a waste of time to try to rehabilitate some criminals.

Natural follow-up? Are some criminals so depraved they cannot be successfully integrated into society?

S48: The businessperson and the manufacturer are more important than the writer and the artist.

Not much to say here. The question is how do you perceive the humanities. Do they provide a lesser service than that of the person putting widgets in your pocket?

S49: Mothers may have careers, but their first duty is to be homemakers.

Gender role statement it seems. Should the mother damn all else if it’s necessary for the child? Does the father get no say in this? Is there no way to delegate (get a babysitter) or is that not acceptable?

S50: Multinational companies are unethically exploiting the plant genetic resources of developing countries.

I have no idea what this question is asking so I’m skipping it. My guess isn’t educated enough to place it here.

S51: Making peace with the establishment is an important aspect of maturity.

So this statement REEKS of Presidential Primaries so I checked the last updated date of the survey: January 27, 2016. I don’t know if the Sanders/Trump phenomenon caused this question to be added to the list, but it seems highly suspect.

The idea is accepting that the party heads know best is ‘an important aspect of maturity’. I don’t like this statement’s inclusion.

S52: Astrology accurately explains many things.

Listen, I went to graduate school for physics. I… I’m not going to touch this one.

S53: You cannot be moral without being religious.

No explanation needed – and mine is probably biased.

S54: Charity is better than social security as a means of helping the genuinely disadvantaged.

Is it better to rely on goodwill or is it better to rely on the taxpayer? The problem with goodwill is that it’s not a reliable source of income. Blood donations are a great example of this. They explode after disasters but they’re needed all year-round (RED CROSS PLUG: IF YOU CAN GIVE BLOOD, PLEASE DO SO REGULARLY!) People that need blood can’t always get it. But imagine if everyone had to give some small amount of blood every two weeks. Would people that need blood always be able to get it?

S55: Some people are naturally unlucky.

What is this, the astrology thing again?

S56: It is important that my child’s school instills religious values.

I believe the important thing to ask is what kind of religious values do you want that school to instill in your child. If it’s religious adherence to the scientific method or to… something else?

S57: Sex outside marriage is usually immoral.

No explanation needed.

S58: A same sex couple in a stable, loving relationship should not be excluded from the possibility of child adoption.

No explanation needed.

S59: Pornography, depicting consenting adults, should be legal for the adult population.

What are these questions? Where are they coming from? Did they run out of authoritarian questions?

S60: What goes on in a private bedroom between consenting adults is no business of the state.

No explanation needed.

S61: No one can feel naturally homosexual.

No explanation needed.

S62: These days openness about sex has gone too far.

This seems like an opinion on desensitization. Have we become too used to sex being everywhere?


That’s everything folks. 62 statements. As promised, here are my results.

chart

My personal opinion is that it’s about right. I might be a little further right than that but not by much. According to the same website’s charts of the current potential presidential candidates – I would guess that Sanders is closest to my position. I personally think that their chart places everyone a little further right than they really are. Of course, political stances can be complicated. But we have the broad strokes.

This post didn’t really have much of a lesson. It’s just a for-funsie. Hope you enjoyed it.

Artemis Hunt

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Political Compass Test – Comments

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