Republicans answer my 28 questions, but still leave me baffled. At least they tried.

Last week I asked “28 questions for Republicans” because I’m utterly flabbergasted by how anyone can support a president like Donald Trump or the cruel and reckless agenda laid out in the GOP’s 2016 platform.

The response was amazing. Instead of all the vitriol I expected, I actually got some thoughtful responses via comments and email.  One who called himself Josh asked me 20 questions, which I published along with my answers.

Then Bill Yarborough and Jay Kruger (who took care to mention he’s actually a Libertarian, not a Republican) took time to answer all of my questions. Kruger did so in the comments section for my 28 Questions post. Yarborough posted a link to a separate page. Pulling them together and responding took a while, but several days and a few thousand words later, I’m done.

Many of my fellow liberals may want to call Bill Yarborough and Jay Kruger “stupid” or “callous” or “brainwashed.” But it’s not as simple as that. These two conservatives are clearly intelligent and also clearly care about our country and the partisan divide enough to reach out and share their thoughts.

When Republicans answer my questions, I’m not going to look a gift horse in the mouth no matter how much I disagree with them. Although some of my responses may come across as vehement, I’m still grateful to them.

But what I find odd is that — despite often being nice people — conservatives seem to have a distinct lack of empathy and ability to relate to anyone’s experience other than their own. They also appear to base their policies on their beliefs and how they feel things should be, rather than on facts and what’s proven to be effective and fair. Most frustrating is their idea of the U.S. Constitution as a fixed document that enshrines our right to carry guns with no regulations whatsoever, but not our right to freedom of religion and freedom from unconstitutional laws promoted by right-wing “Christian” zealots.

But what strikes me the most is how conservative policies are so often all stick and no carrot.

For example, they embrace the late economist Milton Friedman‘s radical, anti-Keynesian “free market” doctrine, including that nasty part about companies only being responsible to shareholders, not their customers, their employees, or their communities. Yet they never mention that Friedman also advocated a universal basic income to offset the economic disruptions of unrestrained capitalism and to encourage the sort of charitable work that is socially useful but not profitable.

[CLARIFICATION: A reader correctly pointed out that I failed to note that although Milton Friedman originated the idea of a basic income, he envisioned it as a negative income tax, not a grant. Obviously, that wouldn’t help people who can’t work or ensure the tax breaks would provide enough to live on without a higher minimum wage and threshold. Still, the concept has evolved and nowadays even some libertarians support — including some from the CATO Institute — the idea of a guaranteed basic income as we now understand it. The interview occurred after Switzerland’s failed universal basic income referendum, which would have handed the equivalent of roughly  $2,800 USD per citizen. Their reasoning is that it would provide reparations for past injustice against blacks, Native Americans, and other disadvantaged groups;  would be required to meet the basic needs of the poor, and would end the welfare state bureaucracy.  We’ve already implemented a form of Milton Friedman’s NTI concept in the form of Earned Income Credits. The problem is those don’t help people who can’t work and are inadequate when even one’s gross earnings can’t cover basic needs. Still, at least back then conservatives were trying to solve problems and do something besides screw the poor, enable corporate abuse through lack of regulations, and give tax cuts to rich people.]

Yup. Definitely all stick and no carrot.

1. Why are you outraged by Hillary Clinton’s mishandling of classified information, but not Donald Trump’s?

Bill Yarborough (Republican): If Donald Trump carelessly shared information that put this nation at risk, I am outraged. However, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. An anonymous source claims something that the president denies. It’s still worth reporting, but your question claims something that is unproven and likely false. First, as he is president, he is able to declassify anything he wants. Secondly, contrast this with Secretary Clinton who was proven to have shared information illegally. The FBI investigation said as much. An apples-to-apples comparison would be if Trump took information marked confidential from the Israelis, removed the confidential markings, and then sent it to the Russians from a private unprotected server.

Elisabeth Parker (Democrat): There is plenty of evidence that Donald Trump has colluded with Russia,  shared intelligence with foreign powers, and was using an unsecured Android phone for the entire week of his first term. Fox is the only news outlet downplaying and/or not reporting it. Republicans should be pushing for an investigation as hard as they did with Hillary Clinton and her emails. 

Jay Kruger (Libertarian): Same reason no Democrats cried foul when Obama was killing US citizens by a drone strike, partisan folk be partisan. Also while [Donald Trump’s sharing classified information] is a buffoon move, it is in his executive privilege to declassify whatever he wants.

Elisabeth Parker: Actually, Democrats in the House and the Senate have repeatedly cried foul over the Obama administration’s policies, including Drone warfare, NSA spying, the Iran Deal, and failure to prosecute Wall St. bankers. Yet I rarely, if ever, see Republicans speak out against even the most egregious acts of their presidents…Including George W. Bush waging war against Iraq based on entirely false pretenses. Also, a president’s executive privilege does not give him the right to commit treason. Donald Trump did not “declassify” anything. He just went ahead and shared it with agents from an enemy nation while endangering a key ally’s intelligence asset.

2. If the GOP’s policies create jobs and prosperity, why are the 20 poorest states (except for New Mexico) run by Republicans?

Bill Yarborough: For most of our nation’s history, the Southern states have been both among the poorest and run by Democrats. It’s a relatively recent development that Southern states vote Republican. Party affiliation of the South has had more to do with social policy than economic policy.

Many prosperous states with fantastic economies are run by Republicans. While you list a Wikipedia entry of states ranked by income, it is more appropriate to consider the overall ability to find a job, buy a home, and live a life. If you want to only look at where really rich people congregate because of historical centers of commerce, you win. However, if you actually want to live in a prosperous community, you can find them all over this great land in states run by both Democrats and Republicans (see # 2a below).

Making this all about party and not policy is really bad form and not very helpful.

Elisabeth Parker: (a) Until the GOP employed Richard M. Nixon’s Southern Strategy to exploit racial resentments in response to the Civil Rights movement, the Democrats running Southern states were conservatives like today’s Republicans. Everyone knows Southern Democrats switched to the Republican Party in the 1970s-1980s; (b) I wouldn’t describe having only two states in the top 10 spots as a plethora GOP-run states having “fantastic economies.” Meanwhile, seven out of 10 of states with the worst-performing economies are controlled by Republicans. My source? Wallethub, the same source the article you linked to uses. (c) Southern states may have a lower cost of living. But they also have fewer jobs, fewer career options, and fewer amenities. People flock to cities and states run by liberals because the quality of life is higher. Unfortunately, that means higher housing prices. There are only three cities in the U.S. that combine good jobs, affordable housing, and a high quality of life: Oklahoma City, Omaha, and Des Moines. But I’m sure there are many people who would debate that. (d) The reason I’m making this “all about party and not policy” is because your party alone is the one that keeps pushing cruel, destructive, and ignorant policies that inflict harm on all of us, including their own constituents. I find that to be in extremely “bad form.”

Jay Kruger: Re-rack the numbers on “cost of living” vs income and try and make the same point.

Elisabeth Parker: In terms of the “cost of living,” in most cases, you get what you pay for. People flock to liberal cities like New York, Boston, San Francisco, and Seattle because they’re beautiful, have all kinds of job and career opportunities, offer lots of culture and recreational amenities, and have more infrastructure for services like public transportation.

2a. If GOP lawmakers care about their constituents, why is the quality of life in GOP-run states worse by nearly every possible measure?

Bill Yarborough: This is just a dig on the South. Reading your own link, you ignore states like Indiana, South Dakota, Utah and others that don’t fit your narrative very well. The South has some challenges to be sure. These challenges are American challenges in an area of the country that has historically been very agricultural vs. industrial and has spent time under racist Dixiecrats who enforced slavery and segregation as well as Republicans who admittedly haven’t always been the most forward-thinking.

Elisabeth Parker: As I wrote in my article, “The Southernization of America,” the South’s elites (and their Northern allies on Wall Street) not only screws over people in the region to ensure a compliant, low-wage labor force…They’ve also expanded their influence to other states, with help from deep-pocketed right-wing billionaires like Charles and David Koch and Shel Adelson, who also fund think tanks, various PACs, and ALEC, a group that provides ready-made right-wing legislation to local, state, and federal-level lawmakers.  Those racist Dixiecrats and their ideological heirs — like Jeff Sessions — are now part and parcel of the Republican Party. I would be a lot more supportive of the GOP’s claims to honor individual freedom if it weren’t at the expense of other people’s freedom.

3. Do you think the government should protect you and your neighbors from a corporation poisoning your community’s drinking water? Or polluting our air? Or should companies have the freedom to do whatever’s most profitable for them?

Bill Yarborough: If anyone, whether a single person or a group of people acting as a Corporation, poisons drinking water, who doesn’t think they should be held to account? Have you ever met a Republican who has said otherwise? Seriously

Companies should be able to do “whatever” profits them while not inflicting harm through force or fraud. Forcing me to breathe unhealthy air certainly qualifies and this is why Presidents, both Republican and Democratic, have signed clean air and water acts and amendments.

I’m going to guess the heart of your question here is unspoken. No, Republicans are not anti-environment as history clearly shows. Republicans favor accountability for corporations poisoning air and water but take issue with pre-emptive regulation that doesn’t help. For example, prohibiting private landowners from collecting rainwater on their property, preventing the expansions of energy resources, and abusing their powers to stunt growth and deny rights. Just because the EPA has “environmental” in their name, it does not mean they are right or good.

Elisabeth Parker: Yes, Richard Nixon signed off on creating the EPA back in 1972. But in recent years, Republicans have supported deregulation and dismantling the EPA by turning it into a toothless “independent bipartisan commission.” Plus, the EPA has already been weakened by budget cuts.  And those things are right in the GOP’s 2016 platform so you can’t deny them. As for the EPA “stunting” economic growth, it only seems that way because our form of capitalism doesn’t account for the true costs incurred by pollution and the harvesting/use of our natural resources. Finally, the premise behind banning rainwater collection is based on groundwater as a shared natural resource that is crucial to our water supply. 

Finally, the premise behind banning rainwater collection is based on groundwater as a shared natural resource that is crucial to our water supply. This is especially relevant in drier western states with more limited water supplies. We’ve been regulating water rights since colonial times when British Common law was applied to resolve water disputes.

Jay Kruger: Not an argument, but in this social media landscape and sue-happy populace, we are never going to have mass pollution from a corporation again.

Elisabeth Parker: Jay, I wish that were true. And Bill, I wish those rules you claim Republicans support were actually in place and enforceable. The problem with lawsuits is that by the time people sue and (hopefully) receive a measure of justice, their quality of life, their health, and often their lives are often long gone. Big companies with their massive resources can often fend off lawsuits for years. Or, when all else fails, they can just file bankruptcy and re-emerge as a different corporation or LLC.

Cases in point: Freedom Industries poisoned the Elk River back in 2014 by spilling 7,500 gallons of crude 4-methylcyclohexanemethanol (MCHM) into it. They then managed to evade the lawsuits you mention by filing bankruptcy. This was their third major incident in the Kanawha Valley within the previous five years.  

St. John the Baptist Parish in Louisiana is full of people with all kinds of health issues — including severe asthma, cancer, and various autoimmune disorders — due to toxic emissions from DuPont’s (now Denka Performance Elastomer) neoprene plant. In December, after a report from the EPA declaring the air pollutant “likely” to cause cancer, DPE finally agreed to cut emissions by 85 percent by the end of 2017. But that’s too little, too late for the people whose lives have been destroyed.

And how can you make up for the wildlife killed, the fisheries income lost, the destruction to the Gulf Coast wrought by the BP’s 2010 oil spill? To add insult to injury, hundreds — possibly thousands — of workers involved in the cleanup “fell ill with a cluster of excruciating, bizarre, grotesque ailments,” due to the clean-up chemicals, according to Newsweek. These included coughing up blood, unstoppable muscle spasms, and loss of short-term memory.

Meanwhile, the people of Michigan are being systematically poisoned by their own cost-cutting Republican government. Flint’s one example, Oscoda’s another. 

Please don’t tell me that it wouldn’t be better to avoid all this damage to our shared natural resources and our fellow Americans by having strict and clear cut laws that are rigorously and consistently enforced.

4. In a free market, should groups of American workers have the right to pay organizations to represent their interests the way big corporations pay lobbyists and make campaign donations? If so, why are Republicans against unions?

Bill Yarborough: Yes. And they should also have the right NOT to do so, don’t you think? Isn’t free association an important right? Republicans I know are not anti-union, they are anti-forced unionization and most certainly against union money, collected involuntarily, spent to influence politics.

Elisabeth Parker: Actually, no. They should not have the right to not do so. When we take a job, we agree to all sorts of conditions of employment, including dress codes, uniforms, drug testing, codes of conduct, taking breaks and lunch at certain times, and various other rules. Union membership is just another condition of employment, though it comes from the unionized employees, not from management. If workers prefer to make less money and receive worse benefits so they can penny-wise pound-foolishly avoid paying dues, they can go work somewhere else.

Union members and their leaders devote time and money fighting for higher wages and better working conditions in their industries and places of employment, often at great personal risk. Workers in union shops receive significantly higher wages and greater access to employer-sponsored employee benefits, and this difference has widened in recent years. You believe rich people have the right to keep the fruits of their labor? Well, then, so do union workers. Right-to-work (for less) laws are an assault on unions and hence on U.S. workers.

Jay Kruger: Part A, of course at least in the private sector If you sign up for government work then no union for you Part B, again partisanship any look into campaign finance can see how much big unions dole out for the D’s At this point its just historical times, unions and corporation feed off the same payroll.

Elisabeth Parker: Why should workers not have the right to unionize just because they work for the government? What kind of example does it set when our government is allowed to treat workers badly. One could even argue that unions actually save taxpayers money. Until companies began colluding to drive down wages, government jobs actually paid considerably less than the private sector. But government workers gladly accepted lower salaries in exchange for greater job security and benefits.

Also, Unions used to give to both Republicans and Democrats, back when people from both parties supported unions. Now, only Democrats support unions while Republicans have marched in lockstep to break them. No union leader in their right mind would donate to a Republican campaign in this day and age.

5. If tax cuts for corporations boost the economy and create jobs, and corporate taxes paid have declined since the 1960s, where are all the jobs?

Bill Yarborough: Great question. The U.S. has a worldwide tax system instead of a territorial tax system like most of the world. What this means is that while the U.S. has the highest corporate tax rate in the developed world, we are indeed pulling in less revenue. Companies like GE make a lot of money but keep it all overseas because it is taxed there and bringing it home would cause it to be taxed again. You may have heard about GE making news for paying $0 in tax a while back yet we still have a 35% rate. Hmmmm. So, Republicans have proposed lowering the tax “rate” while encouraging more revenue to come home so tax is actually collected here (and more importantly, investment happens here) for the benefit of all our citizens. It’s a great idea. You should read-up on it.

Elisabeth Parker: A territorial tax system — as advanced by the arch-conservative Heritage Foundation — may yield more corporate tax revenue. But really, we need to stop allowing unpatriotic companies to move their assets overseas in the first place. If they want to leave the U.S., fine. Then we should stop wasting taxpayer dollars on protecting their interests abroad and see how they like it. As for your claim that Republican budget and tax plans would increase revenues, nearly all economists and analysts say GOP policies would be disastrous to our economy if implemented.

Jay Kruger:  I don’t understand the question? Unemployment in the US is on par or better than most 1st world nations.

Elisabeth: Neither of you have answered my question. After more than three decades of conservative economic policies, WHERE IS THE PROSPERITY YOU PROMISED? Face it. These economic policies have FAILED. It’s high time that corporations and the wealthy people who own them went back to paying their fair share in taxes again. Our nation was far greater in the mid-20th century when taxes were higher and we invested in things like education, technology, and putting a man on the moon…Instead, we’ve become a nation of small-thinking, quibbling misers who’ve fallen way behind the rest of the industrialized world in terms of our standard of living and quality of life. It’s shameful and embarrassing.

6. Why do Republicans think rich people and corporations deserve tax cuts more than middle class and low-income working families?

Bill Yarborough: Do they? That’s news to me. Nearly half of all Americans pay no federal income tax at all. When asked, my good friend Ron Paul said, “Good, we’re halfway there!” The Top 20% of all income earners pay 84% of all federal tax and the top 1% pay 35% of all federal tax. If we keep these percentages the exact same and give everyone a cut — everyone! — the rich will see a larger dollar amount decrease. Simple math. If you disagree with that, then please propose a new percentage of all tax the rich should be paying and provide justification for how this makes things more fair. I will hold my breath.

Elisabeth ParkerSome may pay less in federal income tax, but we do all pay sales taxes, property taxes (either directly or through the rent we pay to our landlords), and payroll taxes. These taxes fall harder on the lower and middle classes because they consume a far higher percentage of our incomes. In the mid-20th century, tax rates for corporations and the wealthy people who own them were much higher, and guess what? They were still rich.

 Keeping percentages the same — ie a flat tax — doesn’t work either. Taxing passive income from investments, trust funds, and inheritances/estates at the same rate as money earned by the sweat of one’s brow amounts to creating a de facto aristocracy, something that is downright un-American.

Becoming rich isn’t just a matter of hard work, perseverance, and talent. A lot of it has to do with luck and privilege. Not to mention the fact that rich people benefit from taxpayer-funded research, infrastructure, and protection of intellectual and physical property. Since rich people gain more use of our infrastructure and have more to protect, they should pay more.

Jay Kruger: Top 4% of earners pay 57% of all taxes, bottom 44% pay near zero?

Elisabeth Parker: That’s a fallacy that only takes federal income tax into account. Even the poorest Americans contribute sales taxes, property taxes (individually or through rent paid to their landlords) and payroll taxes. These taxes are a much greater sacrifice because they take a much bigger bite out of their income. Plus, top earners gain more from our system, get more tax breaks, and have more intellectual and physical property to protect, and hence should pay more.

7. If we cut federal regulations and public services to prevent government overreach, what will prevent corporate overreach?

Bill Yarborough: Republicans aren’t anarchists. We just want regulation that actually does help. How about we stop corporate AND government overreach? Crazy thought, I know. Big business actually benefits from a lot of regulation. Too many examples to list here but read the fabulous links I provide. One great example is the Deepwater Horizon spill a while back. Instead of being a failure of too little regulation, it was a failure of too much crony regulation after the Exxon Valdez spill. Oil companies colluded with government to limit corporate liability and so companies saw it was worth money to cut corners because they estimate even a devastating spill would cost them less money than actually protecting people. There are more “too big to fail” banks today than there were at the time of the 2009 financial crisis. Why? Because, all the new banking regulation that Democrats (and some Republicans) proposed was actually lobbied for by the big banks so that smaller community banks couldn’t afford all the new requirements imposed by government.

Republicans largely see there is less chance at corruption and regulatory capture when there is less pre-emptive regulation but more stiff penalties for wrongdoers with fewer liability limits for doing harm. You can disagree with this approach if you wish, but your premise that Republicans want to see runaway corporations is flat out wrong.

Elisabeth Parker: Republicans may not be anarchists, but the ones in Washington and in the state legislatures certainly come across as nihilists these days. You remind me more of the salt-of-the-earth conservative stalwarts I grew up with who don’t want to go overboard with these things. I can respect that. But the conservatives I grew up with have mostly left the GOP because they think it’s become batshit crazy. Seriously, have you actually read the Republican Party’s 2016 platform? They basically want to overthrow the government and replace it with a right-wing “Christian” theocracy. They don’t want sensible regulation, they want to gut all the regulatory agencies. Have you noticed that  Mike Pence, a “Christian” dominionist, is just one heartbeat away from the presidency? Have you noticed that Donald Trump has appointed people to his cabinet who openly seek to undermine the departments they’ve been charged with? At this point in time, you can be a conservative or you can be a Republican, but you can’t be both.

Jay Kruger: Free Market

Elisabeth Parker: Fuck the “free market.” It’s rigged.

8. Since employers no longer provide health insurance and you want Obamacare repealed and defunded, are you okay with you, your family members, or your neighbors getting sick or dying from treatable conditions?

Bill Yarborough: My employer will be puzzled when they hear they aren’t paying for my insurance anymore. Puzzled, and wondering where their refund is.

Before Obamacare, there weren’t people dying in the streets because hospitals refused to offer care to the needy. This just didn’t happen. What DID happen (and continues to happen) is that people go broke trying to pay the bill after the fact. This is unacceptable. I give props to Democrats who actually did something about the problems associated with runaway costs. That “something” they did made matters worse, but at least they did something. Discussing the nature of Obamacare and what better alternatives exist would take a long discussion by itself. How about a coffee?

Elisabeth Parker: How did Democrats “make things worse” by getting the ACA passed? Millions of people now have health insurance who couldn’t get any before. Millions of Americans have been able to visit their doctors and afford life-changing prescriptions for dire but manageable health conditions for the first time in years — or ever.

I’m glad you have insurance through your employer. But you’re forgetting about the millions of people who don’t. These millions run their own businesses, are freelancers/contractors, got laid off, or our shitty “new economy” forces them to patch together two or three low-wage, part-time jobs that don’t provide health coverage.

People may not be dying in the streets (though actually, a lot are, thanks to the opioid crisis), but life expectancy in the U.S. has dropped for the first time in decades, according to a Dec. 2016 report from the National Center for Health Statistics.

My husband and I have had jobs with health insurance and have paid into our health care system for most of our adult lives. We’ve enjoyed good health and other than my breaking my wrist and giving birth to our daughter, and haven’t used our insurance for much besides checkups and prescriptions. Now, I’m self-employed and my husband got laid off. As luck would have it, a health issue came up and my doctor is sending me to the hospital this week for surgery and a possible hysterectomy because I have two large tumors, one of which may be ovarian cancer. The surgery, plus the time I have to take off from work for my surgery and recovery, are likely to force us into bankruptcy. But I’m still grateful for Obamacare because, without it, I would have just stuffed myself to the gills with Naproxen, wouldn’t have gone to the doctor, and could have died unnecessarily from the ovarian cancer I’m praying to God I don’t have.

So don’t you dare say everyone has health insurance through their employers just because you do.

There’s no way Obamacare would have passed if access to healthcare weren’t a major issue for millions of people in this country. Six in 10 Americans are stretched so thin financially, they don’t even have $500 in savings to cover an unexpected car repair, medical expense, or bills after an unexpected layoff.

And don’t you dare say people aren’t dying for lack of access to healthcare. If you have a life-threatening health issue or “pre-existing condition”, and you can’t afford to go to the doctor or get treatment, you will die.

And here’s the kicker…My husband and I are incredibly fortunate and privileged compared to many people in the United States right now. We are white, college educated workaholics with strong technical skills and experience in the high-tech industry. Except for 2009 and this year, we’ve also been fairly high earners for the past two decades.

If people like us are struggling, you can bet your bottom dollar there are millions of others who are far more worse off than us.

And please note, my husband and I supported the ACA long before we needed it ourselves, and even though we were in a higher tax bracket.

Jay Kruger: Not an argument and an emotional plea, employers provide a majority of health insurance. Government does not need a health insurance role.

Elisabeth Parker: Sorry, you’re not going to get anything objective or non-emotional from me. As far as I’m concerned, people who want Obamacare repealed want millions of people, including me, to fuck off and die. Employers may “provide a majority of health insurance,” but we still need the government to have a “health insurance role.” Why? Because the healthcare industry charges more than most people can afford for us to stay healthy and productive, and MILLIONS of your fellow Americans are NOT getting health insurance through their employers.

In fact, it’s ridiculous for businesses to be saddled with providing health coverage to their employees when they’re competing globally with companies in countries where they don’t have to. Even Mexico — which we love feeling superior to — now provides universal health coverage. Our country seriously needs to get with the times. Access to healthcare is a human right and the fact that the U.S. alone refuses to acknowledge that is an embarrassment.

9. Since CEOs get paid millions of dollars while even the president of the U.S. makes only $400,000 a year, why do you think the private sector provides public services more efficiently and economically than the public sector?

Bill Yarborough: Interesting you think that the more money CEOs make that this necessarily means the private sector is less efficient and economical. This is all on you. You need to support this one on your own.

Compare Venezuela to Costa Rica, compare North Korea to South Korea, compare Zimbabwe to Kenya, compare any place where the public owns the means of most industrial production over the private sector. Go ahead, pick any one. Or, if you prefer to stay close to home, pick public school outcomes versus private school outcomes (for rich and poor students alike); pick telecommunication innovations before and after the phone system was no longer a public monopoly. You have a lot of explaining to do with your question, but I appreciate the chance to make my strongest point yet.

Elisabeth Parker: Oh come on. You’re comparing apples and oranges. You keep mentioning developing nations as examples of countries where “the public owns the means of most industrial production.” But I’m not talking about full-on socialism. I’m talking about wealthy developed nations in Europe and Scandinavia that provide more protections and a higher standard of living and quality of life to their citizens. These countries have thriving economies and plenty of people are getting rich, just not at the expense of the taxpayers, consumers, and workers who make their success possible.

There is nothing that these CEOs do that could possibly be worth as much money as we’re paying them these days. They’re parasites. And there is absolutely no excuse for paying them so much and giving them more tax breaks when we can’t take care of our people or repair our roads and bridges. Meanwhile, the people who actually provide us with the products and services we rely on each day are woefully underpaid.  I’m not talking about “socialism.” I’m as much free market capitalist as any other American. But I’m calling bullshit on a “free market” that’s rigged.

Meanwhile, the people who actually provide us with the products and services we rely on each day are woefully underpaid.  I’m not talking about “socialism.” I’m as much free market capitalist as any other American. But I’m calling bullshit on a “free market” that’s rigged.

Furthermore, private schools have better outcomes because they get to pick better-performing students and kick out students who aren’t performing. as for telecommunications innovations, we did have huge innovations and a vibrant economic boom after we broke up the public monopoly. But those innovations, and the jobs that come with it have fizzled out now that companies are all merging into private monopolies.

Jay Kruger: What does CEO or the presidents pay have to do with anything? And yes I use UPS over USPS for anything other then a letter, United over Amtrack, private college over public etc.

Elisabeth ParkerCEOs and other top brass have a LOT “to do with anything” when they’re rigging the system to suck all the wealth out for themselves, when they don’t create nearly enough value to justify it.

9a. Why do you think it’s better for public schools, prisons, and other public services to be run by for-profit companies?

Bill Yarborough: See my link above regarding public schools versus private schools. For most Republicans, this isn’t an either/or question as you’ve phrased it. Republicans generally don’t want to install a single system. My kids go to public school and I am more than pleased with the services provided from caring, knowledgeable, and talented public school teachers. Unfortunately, my experience isn’t replicated everywhere and Republicans want parents to have the choice to go elsewhere. Right now, the force of law prevents parents from escaping failing schools.

If you wish to raise the point that public schools must take everyone and private schools are cost-prohibitive for many, I will agree. See, we can have a good profitable conversation without resorting to stereotypes based on party. I will respond that private schools generally do better than public schools when controlling for such things (see the study linked), and there are options for having public dollars follow students so that private schools become more affordable. Let’s open a dialogue.

The idea of private prisons is deeply contested in both the Republican Party as well as the nation at-large. Being a free market advocate means understanding where capitalism works and where it does not. There should be a profit motive in most economic sectors because it provides for the best product/service, most efficiently distributed, to the most people, at the lowest cost over time. That is completely true. However, in my view, there should be no profit motive for government (with its monopoly on force) to incarcerate people.

Elisabeth ParkerThat all sounds well and good. But having public services contracted out to for-profit companies is a recipe for corruption. For-profit companies’ goals and metrics are based on profitability. Non-profits and government organizations’ goals and metrics are geared towards results within a set scope and budget.  

For example, the city I live in has an imrration detention center run by a for-profit company, and they do everything possible to soak their detainees, including charging ridiculous amounts for things like phone calls and items from their commissary. Plus they require them to work and pay them only $1.00 a day. That’s slavery. Plus, they should be giving those jobs to American workers instead of profiting off of U.S. tax dollars while exploiting the labor of the very undocumented workers Trump voters want deported.

As for the for-profit charter schools, school choice is great, but a better “choice” would be to fully fund public education so families can have quality education in their neighborhoods. School choice is undermining public education, especially in Michigan, where Betsy DeVos has had her way with their education system. For starters, Detroit’s public school system has been effectively gutted.

Jay Kruger: 100 years of data showing the government makes this run poorly.

Elisabeth Parker: That’s a myth. For starters, for-profit companies are doing a terrible job because things that are socially useful are not necessarily profitable. When the government runs things, they don’t charge unnecessary fees or cut corners. And their metrics are based on results, not profits. 

10. Since 45,000 Americans die each year from lack of health insurance (before the ACA) and just 74 die per year from foreign terrorist acts, why is protecting our borders more important than protecting the health of our citizens?

Bill Yarborough: First off your 45,000 citation is just flat wrong. The ACA completely turned on its ear 1/6 of the U.S. economy for every American with the effect of insuring just 8% of the population that weren’t previously insured. I am very happy some people are seeing relief because of Obamacare. Every time the government starts a new program that gives away more money, there will always be someone you can point to that benefits. Good for them, but that is a poor argument for whether or not the program then makes sense. Forgive us for thinking there are ways to ensure that 8% without $trillions more in subsidies to the big insurance companies.

This is an apples and oranges proposition and your premise is flawed. It’s not that one is more important than the other. National security is a constitutionally delegated authority granted the federal government under law. Health care is not. I spend most of my days at work making money so my family can live a fulfilling life. That doesn’t mean I think work is more important than other things like family outings, going to the doctor, and coaching my son’s soccer team. It simply means I have responsibilities that dictate my resources.

Elisabeth Parker: (a) Regardling your claim that my 45,000 citation is wrong, see below. (b)  The “just 8 percent of the U.S. population” you mention is actually a huge number of people: 25.8 million, based on the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2016 population estimate (323,127,513). (c) CNN Money reports nearly 30 million people will lose their health insurance if the GOP repeals Obamacare and doesn’t replace it. (d) The ACA doesn’t “give away money.” It’s a market-based solution originally devised by Republicans before the GOP became batshit crazy. I don’t see why conservatives see any investment in the people of our country to be a waste of money. (e) My comparison is not “apples and oranges.” It’s just a difference in our values and what we believe constitutes “national security.” Personally, I think a nation full of sick people with untreated illnesses and medical conditions is a threat to our national security and our productivity. The U.S. Constitution was designed to be a living document, and things are a lot different in 2017 then they were in 1787. So-called Constitutionalists just want to cherrypick what kind of change is okay and what isn’t.

As for the ACA’s effect on the economy, Business Insider reports Obamacare has helped the economy by creating a boom in healthcare jobs. At least, according to CNNMoney, it hasn’t hurt the economy or killed jobs. Both are aimed at business audiences, not liberal wonks.  It also goes without saying that healthy workers are more productive than sick workers. 

Jay Kruger: The source links do not back up this statement so have to skip this.

Elisabeth Parker: I published a correction notice in the previous article because the citation link was supposed to go to an article in  The Harvard Gazette on a study from the American Journal of Public Health. Instead, I linked to the Business Insider article twice. It only mentioned the 45,000 deaths per year in passing in relation to the above terrorism statistic.

In any case, that figure is widely cited and comes from a peer-reviewed study  conducted by researchers from Harvard Medical School. FactCheck.Org says this estimate is “at the high end of estimates” but adds that numerous earlier studies also found that deaths from lack of health insurance numbered in the tens of thousands. The researchers explained that the uninsured population had gone up since the earlier studies, plus advances in care for cardiovascular disease, cancer, stroke, and other leading causes of death increased the disadvantage for uninsured people.

10a. Do you believe healthcare is a human right? If not, why won’t the lawmakers you voted for just come out and say so?

Bill Yarborough: I do not. Healthcare is not a human right. Most Republicans I know believe the same and willingly say as much. Rights are those things you are personally free to exercise as part of your God-given or natural freedoms. You have no right to the labor and wealth of another human being. Now, we will agree that government can and should create the environment that allows for the most care available for the most people and the best possible cost, but that is very different from saying health care is a right. This is no trivial distinction. Once you say something is a right, it means you have a claim to it no matter the cost.

Elisabeth Parker: If you seriously think it’s okay to let people get sick and die because they can’t afford health insurance then we have nothing to talk about. A society that recognizes no rights except for the “natural freedoms” God supposedly gave you is the kind of society we see in the Mad Max movies. If you were robbed and the police told you they weren’t going to do anything because it was the thief’s God-given freedom to steal your stuff, you’d be outraged.

I applaud you for having the courage to say you don’t believe healthcare is a human right, though. Unfortunately, most of the Republicans in Washington say no such thing. They claim they’re going to repeal and REPLACE Obamacare. Most don’t dare admit they plan to take away their constituents’ healthcare so they can hand more tax cuts to their wealthy paymasters.

Jay Kruger: No, you do not have the right to the work of another human, unless your ok with slavery.

Elisabeth Parker: No. Slavery is working long hours as most Americans do and still not being able to afford housing, food, health insurance, and other basic human needs. Few people had issues with our healthcare system until our economy and job market started leaving millions uninsured starting in the 1990s. If you can’t see this, then you are remarkably privileged.

11. If there aren’t enough jobs to go around and the government shouldn’t employ more people, what happens to the millions of people who want or need jobs and can’t find one?

Bill Yarborough: I am a curious person.  Are you?  If there aren’t enough jobs to go around, I will want to know why that is the case.  Shouldn’t the answer to that question dictate the appropriate response? As said above, when government makes things up and gives things away there are undeniably those who will benefit.  In fact, Democrats and Republicans both build tanks and bombs the military says they don’t even need based on this premise. But is it a good idea?  I think not.

But, I want to answer your questions.  What happens to the millions of people when there are no jobs is that they will do the best they can to care for themselves and for their family.  If there are jobs available in another county or state, they will go there.  If they need to get training to get a better job, they will do that.  And, if they can sit on their ass and do nothing while getting a check from the government, they will do that too.  Most Republicans do not favor getting rid of all programs that help the most vulnerable in society.  However, Republicans don’t want to see it more profitable to do nothing than to improve yourself or move to where work exists, either.

Elisabeth Parker: I’m a curious person, too. But I know why there aren’t enough jobs to go around. Aside from automation, job elimination through corporate mergers, and companies shipping jobs overseas, it’s because there are plenty of jobs, but no one is willing to pay anyone to do them. Every time you get put on hold for ridiculous amounts of time, see un-stocked shelves and can’t get help in a store, or drive over pot holes, it’s because companies and/or local, state, and federal governments are too damned cheap to hire enough people to get the work done.

Jay Kruger: You assume only Republicans voted for Trump.  In fact, given the vote tally, more than just registered Republicans voted for Trump, and independents turned the election.

You also assume ALL Republicans voted for Trump.  This is similarly not true.

In fact, most people saw this as a choice between two lousy candidates and weren’t especially happy about their choice — whatever it was.  I can’t answer your question for all Republicans so I choose not to.  Sorry.

Elisabeth Parker: I know not all Republicans voted for Trump and that many independents voted for Trump. I agree that they were both terrible candidates and am not Hillary Clinton’s biggest fan. But the fact that anyone can see Donald Trump as less evil than her is disturbing and frankly terrifying to me. Hillary Clinton is an experienced and competent, albeit arrogant,  politician with lots of experience and qualifications who stupidly kept an email server in her basement. Donald Trump is a corrupt, incompetent egomaniac, ill-tempered, crude buffoon, and likely traitor with massive conflicts of interest whose unpredictable personality puts our country in danger.

12. If one of the women Donald Trump bragged about grabbing “by the pussy” was your mother, wife, or daughter, would you still have voted for him?

Bill Yarborough: You assume only Republicans voted for Trump. In fact, given the vote tally, more than just registered Republicans voted for Trump, and independents turned the election.

You also assume ALL Republicans voted for Trump. This is similarly not true.

In fact, most people saw this as a choice between two lousy candidates and weren’t especially happy about their choice — whatever it was. I can’t answer your question for all Republicans so I choose not to. Sorry.

Jay Kruger: Statistics are funny things.  In a country made-up of a White majority, more White extremists are likely to be a danger than any other demographic, even if Muslims are  more tolerant of violence.

We shouldn’t profile any citizen.  The question of whether or not those seeking to enter the country should be profiled is a different matter.  When a majority of Muslims the world over think women are inferior to men and that it’s okay to be put to death for leaving the faith, asking the question is certainly valid.

12a. Do you think the way Donald Trump talks about and treats women is acceptable? I always thought conservatives believed in protecting women.

Bill Yarborough:  Talks about women?  No, I don’t particularly like that.  Treats them? You’d have to be specific since a woman runs his company, ran his campaign, and Trump generally is ruthless in business toward all adversaries. Listen, I am not going to sit here and try to defend everything Trump has said or done.  All but the most partisan of Republicans know this is folly. See #12 above.

Jay Kruger: I have never seen him “treat” any woman unacceptably. Again words are words, suck it up buttercup

13. Far more Americans are killed by white male terrorists than by Islamic extremists, and law enforcement agencies now see white anti-government militants as among the greatest threats they face.  Should we start profiling angry white men the way we do Muslims?

Bill Yarborough: Statistics are funny things. In a country made-up of a White majority, more White extremists are likely to be a danger than any other demographic, even if Muslims are more tolerant of violence.

We shouldn’t profile any citizen. The question of whether or not those seeking to enter the country should be profiled is a different matter. When a majority of Muslims the world over think women are inferior to men and that it’s okay to be put to death for leaving the faith, asking the question is certainly valid.

Jay Kruger: Profiling without cause is wrong regardless

14. Americans work more hours than people in any other industrialized country except for South Korea. So if the secret to success is “hard work” — instead of some having the system rigged in their favor — why aren’t we all rich?

Bill Yarborough: We certainly aren’t all rich, but our average salary is #2 in the world and what we consider poor in the United States is heavily skewed. By a worldly standard, a majority of Americans are indeed rich.

Elisabeth Parker: Maybe we’re still rich compared to much of the world, but the middle class is hollowed out and our standard of living is declining.

Jay Kruger: The US also has a higher GDP per capita and living standard than the countries below it so what is the point here?

Elisabeth Parker: My point is that Americans are working harder than ever and getting less for it. Conservative economics are not working, we’ve been doing this for four decades, and we need to do something else. We might have a higher GDP than the rest of the world, but most of it is going to the top brackets. The rest of us are losing ground.

15. If the United States of America is a “Christian nation,” why don’t the words “Christian,” “Christianity,” or “Jesus Christ” appear anywhere in the Declaration of Independence or the U .S. Constitution?

Bill Yarborough: Not all Republicans are Christian and not all Christians are Republican.  Most Republicans do not believe in a theocracy and that Christian faith should bring with it more rights or privileges.  However, most Christian conservatives recognize that our founding documents were crafted by individuals who believed rights are God-given and thus inalienable. The Declaration of Independence indeed invokes the name of “our Creator” as the source of our rights.

Elisabeth Parker: Yes, but the GOP’s positions on birth control, abortion, and climate change are based on the beliefs of a small but highly vocal right-wing, fundamentalist Christian minority. We have Republican legislators who literally believe the world is just 5,000 years old and that humans lived alongside the dinosaurs, and that climate science is invalid. So-called “pro-life” positions also tend to align with people’s religious beliefs, and that has no place in our nation’s laws.

Jay Kruger: Its not it is a monotheistic Judeo-Christian one.

Elisabeth Parker: There is no mention of God, monotheism, or Judeo-Christian traditions in the U.S. Constitution.

15a. Why do you think it’s okay to force laws and policies based on your religious beliefs on those who don’t share your beliefs? (Such as climate change denial, bias towards LGBT people, and denying women her constitutional right to reproductive choice). If our country had a Muslim majority instead of a Christian majority, would you think that gives them the right to impose Sharia Law?

Bill Yarborough: Most Republicans simply desire for there to be rights of conscience where someone need not be forced to violate their religious faith in order to simply exist in our society. That goes for Muslims, Jews, and others as well.  The issue of where religious protection ends and equal rights begin is a difficult one. Let’s look at the examples you state:

Climate change is not a religious issue (See #22 below). I’m sure you can find some who claim it is, but most Republicans do not (and certainly none I know) have a public policy position on climate change based on religious doctrine.

I have learned over time that someone’s stance on abortion is based on whether or not you believe that killing a fully formed fetus growing in the womb is murder.  If you think that is murder, you don’t have to be a Christian to find it something that should be prohibited by law.

Jay Kruger: I don’t, and if the majority of people voted for the change sure.

Elisabeth Parker: Seriously? Neither of you have noticed how the “Christian” right has taken over the Republican Party. Even if the majority of people vote for a theocracy, that would be a violation of separation of church and state, our freedoms, and our rights as citizens.

16. If you’re “pro-life,” why do you support the death penalty?

Bill Yarborough: I don’t.

For those who do support the death penalty, I must agree there is a significant difference between an innocent human life and one who has chosen to forcibly take the life of another.

Jay Kruger: I am pro innocent life. You kill, torture, rape. too bad.

Elisabeth Parker: The problem with the death penalty is that too many innocent people wind up on death row. Also, an embryo or a fetus is not equivalent to a full-fledged human life.

17. If you’re against abortion, why don’t you support making birth control more accessible so fewer women need abortions?

Bill Yarborough: I do.  Most Republicans I know think it should be available over the counter.  If that were done, the cost would be even less than the estimated $109 per year it is right now.  And, for those who cannot afford the $9 a month, there are plenty of non-profit clinics wishing to help. The question is whether or not the taxpayer should pay for it and religious entities should be forced to provide it when it is against core beliefs.

Jay Kruger: If I am willing to pay higher taxers for the implanted form (most effective) for those who legitimately can’t afford it can we outlaw abortions in every case except rape, incest and life of mother?

17a. Do you think it’s acceptable for a democracy to force girls and women to have babies against their will because of your religious beliefs?

Bill Yarborough: See #15.  If you think 9 months of inconvenience is too much to ask instead allowing another human being a chance at survival with a loving family waiting to adopt, then nothing else I can say will convince you otherwise.

Oh, and we are not a democracy by the way.  We are a republic.  This makes a big difference on how rights work.  Would love to teach you the difference if you’re game.

Elisabeth Parker: “Nine months of inconvenience?” It’s a woman’s constitutional right for her to decide. She should not have to give up the personal freedom conservatives value so much to be an incubator for some “loving family waiting to adopt.” And I love how conservatives keep saying “we’re a Republic” every time their fellow citizens dare to complain about their rights and freedoms being infringed upon. How convenient.

Jay Kruger: You mean to suffer the consequences of their actions? Yes.

Elisabeth Parker: “Suffer the consequences of their actions?” You mean “having non-procreative sex?” That’s bullshit.

18. If a child’s parents make bad choices, do their innocent children deserve to go hungry because of it?

Bill Yarborough: I don’t understand the question.  Please provide me an example of where Republican policy is allowing children to starve in retribution for parental bad choices.

Elisabeth Parker: Republicans want to get people off welfare and constantly shame people for being poor as though they’ve made bad choices instead of a lack of opportunities and well-paying jobs. And they keep cutting welfare and anti-poverty programs that give children with low-income parents a fighting chance. That, in effect, penalizes children for what conservatives see as their parents’ bad choices.

Jay Kruger: No, not a single person advocates for this, ever…

Elisabeth ParkerRepublicans do. What do you think happens to children (not to mention seniors, people with disabilities, and the working poor) when they cut food stamps and other welfare programs?

19. Why do we need to spend more money on the military?

Bill Yarborough: I do not think we do. For those who do, I will refer you to #10

Elisabeth Parker: Donald Trump’s budget calls for a massive increase for the US military, plus he recklessly fired off $60 million worth of Tomahawk missiles on an empty Syrian airfield. And the George Bush administration got us into a false and illegal war that cost us more than $2 trillion. That goes way beyond our national security needs. If you vote Republican, then you’re voting for this.

Jay Kruger: This is a BS chart. Actual 16% 2016 defense spending is here.

Republicans answer: Pie chart with percent of federal spending for programs including Social Security and health care.

Elisabeth Parker: Okay, so unlike the chart I posted, this chart shows percentages of federal spending that include mandatory and discretionary spending. That doesn’t change the fact that we’re spending more of our discretionary income on defense and homeland security than we are on investing in our people, our infrastructure, and our future. Yet for all their talk about balancing the budget, Republicans are always willing to spend money on acts of aggression against other nations.

20. If it’s okay to require a license, registration, and insurance to own a car, why isn’t it reasonable to require the same for owning a gun?

Bill Yarborough: Many Republicans similarly don’t think there should be license and registration requirements for cars.

The right to defend oneself is different than the privilege of driving a vehicle. One is a matter of life and death and enshrined in the Constitution and the other is certainly important, but governed by state law and thus fair game for such requirements under the law.

In both cases, individuals should be responsible for the harm they cause.  Thus, I know many Republicans interested in the concept of liability insurance as a requirement.

Human history is littered with examples of gun registration as a precursor to genocide and persecution.  Stalin and Hitler both confiscated privately owned weapons to free their efforts at killing enemies of the state.  More recently, Venezuela outlawed guns only then to arm gangs of thugs sympathetic to the regime to keep the opposition in line.  I don’t know of any instances where a dictator banned cars or used vehicle registration to send people to gas chambers, but maybe you can enlighten me.

Elisabeth Parker: And history is littered with examples of mass murderers gunning down innocent people because guns are out of control in this country. And driving is not a “privilege.” Unlike guns, it’s a necessity in modern life. Back in 1787, we didn’t have assault weapons or cars. Plus, we already have enough bad drivers out there without eliminating drivers’ licenses.

Jay Kruger: Right vs privilege, this one is talked to death.

Elisabeth Parker: The Second Amendment was written when we had no standing army, no cars, and when many people hunted for their food.  Cars are often used as an example for why we need gun control because cars are also potentially lethal. Plus, as the ad below points out, guns have changed.

21. Why do we punish undocumented immigrants but not the people who hire them to avoid paying people like you higher wages?

Bill Yarborough: Your many assumptions are getting tiresome.  I dare say most Republicans I know favor punishing employers who fail to obey the law.

Jay Kruger: We should no argument here.

Elisabeth: Bill and Jay, we do have high penalties for hiring undocumented immigrants, but when is the last time you’ve heard of an employer getting punished for it. It’s well-known that Donald Trump — now the GOP’s president of the United States — has hired undocumented workers. Yet he got away with it. Anyone who claims people should obey the law, voted for Donald Trump, and still stands by that vote is a hypocrite.

21a. If you believe in “family values,” why do you support senselessly cruel and unnavigable immigration policies that tear families apart? For example, if a parent, spouse, or children are citizens, shouldn’t the entire family be granted citizenship?

Bill Yarborough: Just for being a family member?  No.  Name another country where if one family member becomes a citizen, anyone else is allowed, no questions asked.

If the last presidential election and the Republican primary circus showed us anything, it’s that there is a wide variety of immigration policies advocated for in the GOP.  Most Republicans understand that visa overstays are a bigger problem than illegal border crossings, for example.  Further, every Republican I know feels the current immigration law is indeed too bureaucratic and should be reworked.  The fight right now is between Democrats who won’t budge on border enforcement without waving a magic wand and making millions of people instantly legal and Republicans who won’t budge on the bureaucracy until current laws are enforced and the border is secure. How about we get together and find a solution that follows the rule of law and figures out how to help millions of would-be lawful Americans forced to live in the shadows?

Elisabeth Parker: I know people who fall in love abroad and get married, and then have difficulty getting legal status and a green card for their spouse. That’s insane. As for immigrants from south of our border, the problem is we have immigration laws that are unfair, inconsistent, and ridiculously difficult to navigate.

We have families where one parent is legal and the other isn’t. Or where the children are legal and the parents aren’t. Or vice versa. We have children and young adults who were brought here when they were little and the U.S. is the only home they know, yet they can’t get full legal status. We’ve had a system that basically looks the other way so employers can exploit cheap labor to avoid paying US-level wages.  

A lot of these people can’t be sent back without great hardship to those who are innocent and/or here legally. At this point, we need to acknowledge that our immigration policy is unsustainable and grant amnesty to people who are already here as Ronald Reagan once did. But this time we need to come up with a sane and workable policy. Democrats and some Republicans talked about immigration reform, but then, all of the sudden, support from Republicans disappeared. 

Also, when it comes to Central America, part of why people in these countries suffer from poverty and rampant gang violence is because of our meddling and toxic foreign policy. The least we can do is grant our neighbors asylum from the living hell we’ve created for them.

Jay Kruger: I am for taking a rapist from his family to go to jail, I guess I hate families. No, get in line end of story.

Elisabeth Parker: So you think immigrants are rapists? Their countries aren’t sending their best? But some of them are good people?

22. 97 percent of scientists agree that climate change is a major threat and that it is caused by humans. Your community is likely among those that will be affected. Why don’t you believe them?

Bill Yarborough: The 97% figure is highly distorted.  The majority of scientists indeed feel climate is changing, as it always has.  Scientists also agree man has an influence on that change.  There is no consensus on how appreciable the change is and whether or not man’s influence is so appreciable as to warrant dramatic action that would devastate our economy.  What is very clear is that recent climate accords concentrate on the U.S. and other Western nations while ignoring the biggest carbon-producing nations.  Thus, if the United States were to cut 100% of its emissions and destroy its economy as a result, the rate of carbon emissions worldwide would be barely detectable.

Republicans want to see wind power, solar power, hydro power and all possible power configurations succeed — in an open market.  Republicans don’t want to bankrupt the country and cause you and me to pay double current energy costs to have a negligible effect on climate change.

Jay Kruger: 97% of the papers that took a position which is a 34% subset of the 12,000 of the oft-cited John Cook book. This one is also beat to death so I will pass over it for now. The climate is changing, we just can’t definitively state why and how much CO2 is the tipping point is currently unprovable.

Elisabeth Parker: Seriously? 175 nations signed the Paris Climate Change agreements, and U.S. Republicans are the only major political party in the world that plans to pull out of it? At the very least, there’s enough data for us to say, “better safe than sorry.” Is there nothing conservatives won’t say to protect the fossil fuel industry’s prerogatives and our dependence on cars? Seriously, this is embarrassing. If we want to “make America great again,” then you need to do great things, not foolish, fact-free, and short-sighted things.

23. How does banning gay marriage, forcing women to have babies they don’t want, requiring transgender people to use the bathroom of their birth gender at the risk of bullying and physical violence, and elevating corporate rights over individual rights square with your conservative principles of personal freedom?

Bill Yarborough: Wow!  A lot in there.  Most Republicans I know want the state out of marriage altogether.  Marriage should be a matter between you, your spouse, and your God (or lack thereof).  A portion of Republicans feel that should this not happen, then states should have the ability to respect the definition of marriage as it has existed for a millenia.  I, for one, couldn’t care less who you decide to contract with, I just don’t want to be forced to pay for it or use my property to support your choices.

Abortions.  See # 15a and #17

Most Republicans I know just want local schools and the like to be able to navigate their own particular facility constraints and needs of their populations. I personally do not agree with laws like the one passed by the North Carolina legislature.  But, let’s be clear.  This law wasn’t just dreamed up by a bunch of cis-gendered Republicans smoking cigars and dreaming up ways to punish trans-gendered people.  The Democratic city council of Charlotte first passed a law requiring that no Charlotte business or public entity was permitted to stop someone from using the restroom of their choice if they claimed to be transgendered.  Then, the state responded. I personally think the state legislature engaged in overreach.  Can we also agree the Charlotte government prohibiting the local YWCA from keeping grown men out of little girl locker rooms was similarly just a tad over the line?  After all, even Charlotte repealed their law. Now we are just back to people discreetly using the restroom that matches their preference and facilities able to make accommodations as makes sense.  Isn’t that the way it should be?

Jay Kruger:  A, Not an argument, B, just don’t hurt people or take their stuff and were cool.

Elisabeth Parker: What I’m seeing is that you don’t support having federal and state government in our bedrooms, our bathrooms, and our vaginas…Yet you keep voting for the party that votes for these kinds of laws. For people who claim to care about individual freedom and government overreach, this is highly hypocritical. Basically, you can afford to ignore these kinds of laws because they don’t affect you. Which makes you highly privileged indeed.

24. Do you think people addicted to opiates should receive help or be left to die on the streets?

Bill Yarborough: Do I have to answer this one?

Elisabeth Parker: No you don’t. Never mind that opioid addicts are sick through no fault of their own. Never mind that — as reported by The Week  — the Big Pharma company behind OxyContin is largely to blame. Never mind that Donald Trump promised bereaved parents and desperate family members that he’d get opioid addicts help on the campaign trail and then betrayed them. I won’t interrupt your privilege by demanding that you answer this question.

Jay Kruger: Depends on the person.

Elisabeth Parker: That’s the problem I see with so many conservatives. Instead of considering data or policies proven to work in other countries or in cities or states here in the U.S., it’s all about your interpretation of the constitution, your beliefs, what you perceive as your rights and freedoms with no consideration for how others are affected, and whether you think people deserve help or not.

25. Have you ever received help from a Federal government program when you’ve needed it?

Bill Yarborough: No.  My family did at one point after I had moved out and my father was out of work for a limited period of time.  We appreciated the temporary hand-up.

Elisabeth Parker: And what if your father had not been able to find another job? That’s happening to a lot of people these days. And the jobs people are able to get after being laid off often pay a lot less than the ones they previously had.

Jay Kruger:  Yes.

Elisabeth Parker: That’s great. But some people need help longer than others. In too many cases, people lose their benefits even though they still haven’t found a job that enables them to earn enough.

26. If you answered “yes,” what would you have done if that help were not available?

Bill Yarborough: Turned to other family and/or faith-based community charity for assistance.

Elisabeth Parker: What if your family and local churches and charities didn’t have enough money or resources to help you? You just assume this kind of help is available.

Jay Kruger: Same way people did before the welfare state, friends and the evil church.

Elisabeth Parker: The problem with that is, according to Church Finance Today, “68% of churches in the West-South Central U.S., and 64% of churches in the East-South Central U.S. have expenses exceeding income.” What’s worse, according to the same source, these are the best regions [in terms of church participation] in the country.”

27. When has a law or policy promoted by the Republican Party ever helped you when you’ve needed help?

Bill Yarborough: Wow.  Just this past month the Republican legislature here in Ohio just made it easier to get generic versions of the epi-pen into public schools and first responder hands. Keeping it here in Ohio — Republicans have proposed legislation requiring government charge no fee to correct a criminal record when mistakes are made.  Republicans have been at the forefront of making it easier for me to keep more of the money I earn.  I have more options to save for retirement and my son’s college tuition thanks to Republican ideas.  I can legally protect my family from intruders because of Republican ideas. Republicans have been repealing licensing laws crafted by big business to keep competition away so you can braid hair, design curtains, or open a financial planning operation without being a millionaire or pay for an expensive education first.

Despite the above, if you are looking to see where Republicans have offered as many government solutions to life problems as Democrats you won’t find them.  Republicans believe private marketplaces are largely responsible for prosperity.  Based on this question, you judge how good government is based on how much it gives way.  I assert that the best government is that which allows for the most freedom. This is not just an assertion, but a set of principles very easily supported.  Thus, by the measure of more programs and giveaways engineered, Republicans will always fall short.

Elisabeth Parker: You’re still assuming that everyone is like you and makes enough money for living, saving for retirement, and saving for college tuition. A lot of people don’t, and it’s not because they aren’t as smart and hard-working as you are. It’s because we don’t have a level playing field and because entire categories of jobs are being eliminated. Your political views appear to be solely based on your own experience with no empathy or consideration towards the situations of millions of your fellow Americans.

Jay Kruger: IL CCW passing potential saved my life 2 years ago.

28. If Republicans aren’t racist or sexist, why do their policies disproportionately hurt women and people of color?

Bill Yarborough: They don’t.

What you see as disproportionately hurting is simply making the playing field equal.  If you have an example of where I am wrong, let’s discuss like two Americans and not two partisans making wide-sweeping assumptions.

Jay Kruger: Other than raw identity politics and pandering can you cite sources?

Elisabeth Parker: Once again, if you don’t see the need for government programs and protections that help historically disadvantaged groups, then you clearly lack empathy and come from a position of privilege.

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