Talk:Essay: Conservapedia Questions for the 2008 Presidential Candidates

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Tax Credits for Homeschoolers

What is your position on tax credits to help pay for homeschooling? Most homeschoolers I know do NOT want tax credits. With money comes government oversight, which is the last thing we need. In particular, getting the federal government involved in defining homeschooling would be problematic (due to differing state laws, some of which do not include a formal "homeschooling" option) and would not, IMHO, end well for homeschoolers. I suggest we do NOT ask this question. --Hsmom 22:47, 16 September 2008 (EDT)

I'm fine with pulling that one but would like at least one other homeschooling proponent to weigh in. --DinsdaleP 22:58, 16 September 2008 (EDT)
Fair enough. To expand a bit - in some states, there is no such thing, legally, as a homeschooler. They are all enrolled in very tiny (one family) private schools, or they are all enrolled in multi-family "umbrella" schools (that they don't actually attend), etc.. In other states, homeschoolers don't have to even notify the government that they exist. So you can see that there becomes a problem if you have to create a Federal program that allows certain people to take tax credits for homeschooling - you will have to define homeschooling. To add to the complexity, there are now publicly-funded cyber-charter schools in some states, (essentially correspondence schools, often run by a private company, with the student's tuition paid by state and local government, often to the tune of $8,000ish a year). Throw in students who are on publicly-funded homebound instruction (due to illness, expulsion, pregnancy, etc.) These latter two options are sometimes called "homeschooling" - the student is after all learning at home, though their schooling is already taxpayer-funded. Add in concerns that federal money can't be used for religious instruction, that some homeschoolers teach things that the government doesn't approve of (similar to Bob Jones University's supreme court case), and so on, and you've got one big mess. I'd love the money, of course, but it's not worth the strings. What I REALLY want is social security credits for the time I've spent out of the work force raising my kids. It's honorable work that contributes to society, and the government should recognize it as such. --Hsmom 23:16, 16 September 2008 (EDT)
Thanks for the explanation - I learned a lot from it, and will pull that question accordingly. I'd welcome any other edits from someone who puts as much thought into these issues as you do. --DinsdaleP 21:06, 17 September 2008 (EDT)
Thanks for the complement! I enjoy discussions with people who are interested in learning from anothers' point of view, and who are willing to look at various aspects of a complex/complicated issue. --Hsmom 23:17, 17 September 2008 (EDT)

Comment from Philip J. Rayment

I was asked by the author to comment on this, so here are my comments!

On the whole it looks very good. I'm sure that there could be some fine-tuning in the approach, although I don't have anything specific in mind, and given the timescale it may not be practicable to spend much time on that.

It says that questions should not be removed unless inappropriate. I'm guessing that they can also be removed after discussion on the talk page, but if so this should be clarified. I also wonder about the number of questions. How many is it appropriate to expect the candidates to answer (given everyone else who will be asking also)? Not that I think there is necessarily too many now, but once it is thrown open to others to add their own, there is a possibility of the number increasing dramatically. Which gets back to the need to be able to remove questions that, for example, others consider too trivial.

I don't like to exclude personal questions if they relate to the candidate's integrity and values (for example, if he lies to his wife, how do we trust him to be truthful to the country?), but unless the questions are ones that are applicable for both candidates, then I guess it's fair enough to exclude them from this project.

Not having a huge amount of interest in the American election, I'm not going to comment on many of the questions themselves (and I guess I wasn't being asked that anyway), but I'll comment on a couple.

  • The one about school prayer perhaps doesn't make clear, if indeed this is what is intended, that it is asking what the candidate thinks should be the case if there were no constitutional/court-decision hindrances. Otherwise they might fob the question off by saying that it's not allowed, and not actually answer the question.
  • The one about the legality of selling tobacco seems to assume that it's a black-and-white question: either it's allowed or it's not. Perhaps the question would be better framed along the lines of what they are going to do about reducing tobacco use. No government is going to ban tobacco overnight; there would be too much of a backlash and the next administration would reinstate it. Instead, the better approach is to minimise its use, and only after it has largely fallen out of fashion would a government then get away with banning it. (This is my opinion, anyway.)

Philip J. Rayment 22:51, 16 September 2008 (EDT)

Thanks for the feedback, Philip. In response to your points:
  • I agree that questions can be removed, but I wanted to stress that they need to be discussed first to avoid edit wars on the main page itself.
  • Personal questions that are generic enough to apply to all candidates would be fine. I'm trying to avoid the specific ones like "Senator X, how do you defend accusations that you whatever. I'm going for the Saddleback Church approach where the audience got to see both sides respond to the same questions.
  • I'd say that the overall number of questions can and should be trimmed if they get too long - otherwise we couldn't expect a response in a couple of weeks. For now I'd let the lists grow as long as possible, and deal with trimming as 9/30 approaches.
  • Whether currently allowed or not, I thought the school prayer question would help give an insight into the candidates' own values, and the mindset they'd want to see in their court appointments.
  • Good point on tobacco - I'll rework that one, and feel free to edit any of the entries for clarity or readability.
Thanks again for your insights. --DinsdaleP 23:12, 16 September 2008 (EDT)

Minor point

"Do you plan to change current U.S. policy on imported prescription drugs. Does the source (Canada vs. China, for example) make a difference? "

The drugs currently being bought from Canada are reimported in most cases - made in USA, sold far cheaper in Canada than in the US, so people go there to get them. As opposed to "foreign made" drugs implied by "imported" and the mention of China. Behind this issue is the law that prohibits Medicare from negotiating drug prices with manufacturers. it might be better to go broader and ask them what, if anything, they would do to improve Medicare Part D. Human 17:44, 17 September 2008 (EDT)

Great suggestions - please go ahead and change it to reflect them, and thanks. --DinsdaleP 21:03, 17 September 2008 (EDT)

School Prayer

To what extent should prayer be allowed in public schools - none, group-led, moment-of-silence, etc.?
I'm not happy with this phrasing, but I can't quite put my finger on how to improve it. So I'll talk a bit here, and maybe with the help of others we can improve it. Here's my concerns:
1) I'm concerned about how teacher-led school prayer (which is what most people mean when they talk about school prayer) would be handled from the teacher's point of view. Unless you're employed by a church or a school run by a church (and thus have made a decision to accept that church's viewpoint and culture), it's unacceptable for an employee to be asked by their employer to pray or, worse yet, told how to pray and who to pray to. Prayer should be between an individual and God, on an as-needed or as-desired basis, not a job requirement. Many Protestants would be uncomfortable with certain Catholic approaches to prayer (prayers for intervention from Saints, or Mary, etc.). Many Catholics would be uncomfortable with the more informal, composed-on-the-spot approach that many Protestants take to prayer (rather than reciting specific traditional prayers). Assuming that Christian prayer was expected, how would Jewish, Hindu, or Muslim teachers be expected to handle the situation? Surely we would not ask them to say Christian prayers with their students? And we certainly wouldn't want public school students to be asked or required to pray in a way that was not consistent with their own faith. (For example, to join in a prayer to Allah.) In private religious schools where everyone is assumed to be of the same faith, it makes sense for teachers to join with or lead students in prayer. But in today's public schools, there is a wide range of religious belief, even within Christian denominations, and I just can't see a way that teacher-led prayer in school can be handled on a practical basis.
2) While there are always news stories about schools who have stepped over the line one way or another, I think we've lived for many years now with the idea that students may pray so long as they are not disruptive, and teachers may pray so long as they are not compelling students to do so or creating an atmosphere in which only one faith appears to be acceptable. For most voters, I think school prayer is a question that has for the most part been resolved.
3) I'm also concerned that this question can read like a litmus test - anything other than a "yes, we should have (Christian) prayer in schools" answer will be seen by some as the wrong answer, yet when you actually look at the question, the devil is in the details, and a thinking person cannot explain how to create a delicate balance between the complex concerns of teachers and students of various faiths with a one- or two-sentence answer. I mean, school prayer, great idea and all that, but unless you can actually explain how you'll implement it, I'm not particularly interested in the grandstanding version of the answer.
4) So I suppose you could ask something like "do you feel that current guidelines for prayer in public schools strike the right balance between freedom of religion and freedom from a state-endorsed or state-imposed religion"? (Or whatever the applicable constitutional lingo is.)
Thoughts?--Hsmom 23:47, 17 September 2008 (EDT)

I think your concern is unnecessary. The question merely asks to what extent prayer should be allowed, not mandated, doesn't specifically mention teacher-led prayer, and doesn't specifically mention teachers praying (teacher-led prayer does not necessarily mean teachers praying). Philip J. Rayment 07:12, 18 September 2008 (EDT)
teacher-led prayer does not necessarily mean teachers praying Philip J. Rayment, can you elaborate? I've seen teachers in a Christian school who were not Christian ask a student to lead the students in prayer (instead of leading it themselves), but the assumption was that the students were all of similar Christian denominations. The diversity of religion in my local public school is so wide that I can't picture a teacher-led system that would be acceptable to all (except of course for the moment of silence, which I think is pretty uncontroversial), though I'm open to hearing ideas about this. It would not be a stretch in my neighborhood school to find a class that included conservative Protestants, liberal Protestants, Catholics, along with a few kids who were Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Quaker, etc. - in fact, this would describe a typical class mix.--Hsmom 11:42, 18 September 2008 (EDT)
A teacher asking a student to lead in prayer would be one example. Or simply the teacher saying, "let's have five minutes of prayer", then allowing the students to pray (out loud or silently) for five minutes, but without the teacher praying, would also be an example. Whether something like this is "acceptable" is a separate question. Philip J. Rayment 23:30, 18 September 2008 (EDT)
I share some of the concerns Hsmom has about the practical issues that arise as the practice of prayer and worship become intertwined with otherwise-secular government functions serving diverse groups of people. That said, I think the current wording is better for this project, because it allows the candidates a greater latitude in responding. --DinsdaleP 08:20, 18 September 2008 (EDT)
Perhaps we can clarify the question a bit based on the input on this page? If Philip J. Rayment is reading the question the way you intended it, then something like Under what circumstances should students be allowed (not required) to pray in public schools - never, in student-led groups, as a teacher-led moment of silence, etc.? This still needs work, I think - for example student-led group prayer and teacher-led moments of silence are currently allowed, and seem to be pretty uncontroversial, and "never" would be a very extreme view unlikely to be chosen by either candidate (not to mention unworkable as silent prayer is undetectable). Perhaps some more examples (beyond these three) would help. --Hsmom 11:54, 18 September 2008 (EDT)


I would like to commend the authors of this project for the deep scope and obvious effort that was put into it. It it evident that it included large amounts of both time and thought. Learn together 17:16, 18 September 2008 (EDT)

Thanks. It's a collective effort so I'm hoping to get Aschlafly's approval for these to be submitted on behalf of the Conservapedia Community. --DinsdaleP 17:24, 18 September 2008 (EDT)