John Stuart Mill argued for free speech by claiming that if an idea censored by society is bad, censoring it would fail to expose the idea. If a censored idea is good, then censoring deprives society of a good idea. The trouble is that many political ideas both good and bad never see the light of day because there is no place to express them.
In the interest of discovering ideas that may never be printed, I offer the ideas of a non-candidate. Perhaps his ideas will assure him of continued non-candidacy, but at least the public can now decide if this learning matters."Hi. I'm Gary Parnell and I don't want to be your congressman. I do want to run for the office, or I wouldn't be standing here on your doorstep in this cheap suit, but I don't want to be elected.
"Since other skeptics like yourself have complained that simply running as a Democrat is not, in itself, sufficient proof that I don't want to win, I am prepared to outline a program that will both demonstrate my sincerity and guarantee my defeat.
"My first act of retaliation, should I be disappointed by success, will be to propose an immediate one dollar per gallon gasoline tax while the price of oil is artificially low. I will not flatter the voters by explaining what such a tax could do for our balance of payments, dependence on foreign oil and its attendant military expense, pollution control, reduced highway deaths, better public transportation and improved energy efficiency.
"My second act will be to promote a compulsory savings program for all income earners. Ten percent or more of each year's earnings of every citizen will be placed in savings for a minimum of five years, after which it will be once again at the disposal of its owners to invest or waste as they see fit.
"I will propose a doubling of all teacher's salaries at the end of a five-year adjustment period, at which time all teaching positions would be open to both new and continuing applicants. I would see to it that all candidates for high school graduation take a competency test that is normed internationally and that those who pass the test be recognized as being educated to current global standards. I would outlaw educational loans and grants to law students until such time as there is a hue and cry from the public over the shortage of attorneys.
"I would propose confiscatory taxes on anyone who earns more than four times the national average. No farmer could receive a subsidy beyond the national average wage, and senators and congressmen would be paid on a formula based on the percentage of deficit in the national budget. All income would be subject to Social Security withholding. Churches and individuals would not be able to deduct expenses of proselyting for new members or of raising new funds.
"Candidates for political office would be prohibited from using mail or mass media except to advertise an address or phone number where interested citizens could write or call to find out the candidate's views. A short period of limited media coverage would be allowed to the candidate in any race who could verify that he or she had spent the smallest amount in that campaign.
"Finally, I would resist all efforts to decrease the military budget. America has stopped seriously competing in every other global endeavor and no other nation seems likely to have the ability or the desire to overtake us in this area, so I believe we should recognize our one remaining strength and invest in what we are good at. In the unlikely event that we should wake up and begin to put serious effort into more worthy pursuits, I would be willing to re-examine my position. (But only to the extent that such a waffling of position might be calculated to increase my unpopularity with my constituents.)
"In my second year I will set about to remove semi-professional athletics from college campuses, slap a progressive tax on T.V. sitcoms according to the number of preadolescent suggestive jokes, vulgarities and mindless scripts they abuse, and will require that all feminists, environmentalists, right-wingers, true believers, home marketing enthusiasts and teenagers be required to spend a set amount of time in each other's company before they are allowed to inflict their presence on us ordinary folk.
"Even if low voter turnout, a cynical streak in the electorate or the sudden demise of my opponent should compel me to take office, I would feel perfectly free to repudiate all my above stated positions in the face of new circumstances or increased understanding, citing Emerson that: `A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.'
"Laugh me to scorn, heap recriminations upon my head, attack my character and judgment, exclude me from your public forums and by all means distort my views beyond recognition, but do not under any circumstances vote for me. Remember, I am Gary Parnell and I do not want to be your congressman."- Roger Baker is associate professor of English/education at Snow College. Comments or questions about "Learning Matters" may be addressed to Dr. Roger Baker, English Department, Snow College, Ephraim, UT 84627.