Am I losing my bend to the Left?

I'm 42 years old and I still consider myself a raging liberal. I'm completely gay for liberal icons like Obama, Kucinich and Weiner. (yes, yes - I'm gay for Weiner haha) And yet ... and yet ... I feel myself pulling right on some social issues. There are a few things that I'm starting to have trouble with, to question - and wonder if my beliefs are screwed on straight. Here they are:

  • I understand that governments need funding to run essential programs and that taxation is the primary method for getting that funding. But is it right that the IRS hounds individuals for money - to the point that they fly airplanes into IRS buildings - while leaving corporations free of taxes for all their billions in profit? Even though I'm an Australian citizen and have been living in Australia for 11 years, I'm still supposed to file my 1040 every tax season and declare any income earned here. (As well as pay taxes here in Australia) Not many countries do this, but the IRS has a very long arm and appetite for individuals.

  • I know that there are a lot of people who need help -who were born with real disadvantages that make it very difficult for them to escape poverty. I do think that it's the Government's role to help and give people the chance at least to get an education and pursue the American dream . I like that. But I also feel like institutional welfare can create generations of weak, poor people reliant on handouts, demoralised and worse off than they would be without the help.

  • Despite the recent accidents in Japan - I still believe in nuclear power. I've seen the graphs on heavy metal released from coal plants, rare elements required for solar panels and think it's still our best, greenest hope for energy in the future. This puts me at odds with many of my friends.

  • I like the free market. As an Internet nerd - I'm fascinated by people who solve little problems on the web and turn it into a business. It gives me a thrill and inspires my own creativity. Not to make money - but to make something neat and useful.

  • I'm generally optimistic about the future - this isn't something that I share with most of my green buddies. There's a lot of doom and gloom on the horizon - I have mates who won't have kids because of the looming eco-apocalypse. But I believe in technology and that eventually we'll use it and our augmented brains to work things out.

  • I believe in small, efficient governments. I don't know if they exist. I've worked off and on over the years as a contractor and consultant to various levels of government. More than just a Republican talking point - there really is a lot of fat and waste in the public sector. Sometimes it's been me. In a similar vein to institutional welfare - government jobs can also be employment projects. This is more of a problem here in Australia than the US - but it sometimes happens there too, on the state and local level.

  • Religious convictions bother me - I try to shrug it off but it's hard when it's such a big part of some peoples' lives. In my mellowing though, I've even found a way to rationalise that. It's possible, as some philosophers and physicists have noted, that our entire universe is a simulation being run on some type of cosmic computer. If that's true - then anything is possible - angels, devils, heaven - whatever the programmers coded for. It's a bit silly, but it helps me not to grit my teeth when the Jehovahs come knocking on the door.

I'm sure this is a change that most people go through - questioning their beliefs when confronted with half a lifetime of real world experience. A mellowing of outlook. My parents (especially my father) were very liberal and non-religious when I was a kid. Dad died a card carrying atheist and I hope I have the conviction to do the same.

I hope that my changing views don't just mean that I'm getting old. There's that saying about "anyone in their 20s who is a Republican is a heartless asshole, anyone in their 40s who is not is an idiot". As with most things - I think the middle road is the key. I am an idiot-asshole.

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