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Enraged Slith

Anyone care to explain the basic Republican philosophy? (USA)

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Originally Posted By: The Ratt
You make it sound like the Republicans didn't even read what was trying to get passed.


They almost always don't. Most legislation these days is literally written by lobbyists and voted for by whoever's in their pockets.

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Originally Posted By: Dantius
That never ever happened. We've had political infighting ever since the moment Washington left office. If anything, things were worse back then- would you image what would happen today if Joe Biden straight up murdered G.W. Bush? At least we've gotten past murder nowadays...

I'm pretty sure it did. I seem to remember some statistic saying something like only 30% of congressmen actually voted with their party. Which, now that I think about it, means that more people supported the opposition of their party. How twisted and demented. But the main point was nowadays almost everyone votes with their party.

Originally Posted By: Lilith
They almost always don't. Most legislation these days is literally written by lobbyists and voted for by whoever's in their pockets.

If this is true than I love freedom of speech, money, and corruption.

Edit: 1080p

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Originally Posted By: Lilith
Originally Posted By: The Ratt
You make it sound like the Republicans didn't even read what was trying to get passed.


They almost always don't. Most legislation these days is literally written by lobbyists and voted for by whoever's in their pockets.

The reason given why senators no longer should be elected president was that senators spend their time doing what the little notes in their pockets tell them to do. These notes are written by their aides that actually spend time reading the legislation.

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The Republican platform for the last 2 years has seemingly been about obstructionism. When details of the first Obama stimulus package was being announced a curious piece was singled out by the GOP - that being the distribution of free contraception to low income earners. If this isn't a truly clever and effective piece of anti-abortion policy then I don't know what is. Actively seeking to reduce the amount of unwanted pregnancies is surely win-win. Conservatives made a fuss and it was, sadly, canned. Just one example.

 

Another clever piece of maneuvering by the GOP was to distance itself from the calamitous Bush II era. The national debt and financial crisis (among a long list) were a product of W's watch as was the squeezing of publicly funded institutions to feed his buddies operating the military machine.

 

Tea partyists in particular want this all fixed yesterday but don't seem to be prepared to pay for it. One can't have it both ways.

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btw a wonderful doco called The Power of Nightmares follows the conservative movement in the US and the rise of the NeoCon, and parallels this with the Fundamental Islamist movement since the 1960's.

 

It's available to watch online for those interested tho' it's quite lengthy.

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The way I see it:

 

"Supply side" economics as a theory doesn't hold up. A national economy is kind of like an enormous confidence game that depends on everyone continuing to play in order to work. The trouble comes from some competing interests. Firms want to maximize profits while minimizing costs, a large part of which is often labor. Nevertheless, a majority of firms directly or indirectly depend on consumers to pay them for their goods and services. In other words, no one wants to pay the people they nevertheless expect to purchase their products. The rational ideal is to get someone else to do so.

 

At the same time, a national economy that has an international trade deficit is essentially running a slow leak of funds within its system. Funds from within the national economy spent on goods from outside the country are funds not recaptured by the laborers/consumers expected to continue spending and supporting that national economy. Even if these funds are recaptured by native owners of corporations importing these goods to the national economy, the goods and services purchased were often produced at a greatly reduced price in labor, which applies downward pressure on rates of labor compensation within the US.

 

All of these effects increase wealth disparity between the poor and "middle" classes, a.k.a. the labor classes, and the wealthy, or "ownership" class.

 

As this disparity increases, those at the lower end of the wealth spectrum, whose spending is nevertheless depended upon to keep the game going, are increasingly unable to do so. They can take out credit for a while, but in the end, find themselves at the end of the line, and the game comes close to screeching to a halt.

 

People need to keep the game going to eat, though, which is the rub.

 

There are a few things that can be done; the "winners" can reinvest their capital in the game, hire workers, toss the dice again, and keep it going. As I identified above though, the rational decision is to avoid doing so where possible, and why should they? They have the wealth they "need".

 

The alternative is that the government, a.k.a. arbiter of the rules, can re-appropriate funds through taxation and apply them through services to keep the economy humming along, either through social welfare programs or strategic investment (sometimes directly as employment for purposes of constructing infratructure). Keynesian theory suggests that a government can do this anyway while running a deficit because revenues generated and the relative level of prosperity when the economy is healthy outweigh the short term costs.

 

So, to the extent that the deficit matters (which I would argue it really doesn't right now), it's a little flummoxing that the government isn't taxing them as can afford it and aren't reinvesting (for rational reasons).

 

From a moral standpoint, I feel like we worked out a financing deal back in '01 to buy two wars and Medicare Part D with no money down and no payment until December '10, and now we're reneging on that. The taxes shouldn't increase because funding is needed going forward; the taxes should increase because the country made irresponsible purchases in the last 10 years without the means to pay for them, and owes.

 

I think the past 20 years have demonstrated that rates of taxation both before and after the Bush tax cuts went into effect have very little effect on the success of the national economy. The US nevertheless has a substantive debt. The adult thing to do is to pay for what you've purchased. The selfish, childish thing to do is to try having your cake and eating it, too.

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So what I'm getting from this is Bush lowered, or kept taxes level while increasing spending, racking up a huge national debt, and now the conservatives want to continue to have low taxes even though getting rid of the debt would be a better idea. I really want to hear a well-informed Republican argue how they would have the government get the US out of debt.

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So American comservatives are in effect voting for more debt, and some seem to claim(rightfully or not, I do not know) that this debt will make things better by increasing consumption?

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Originally Posted By: The Ratt
So what I'm getting from this is Bush lowered, or kept taxes level while increasing spending, racking up a huge national debt, and now the conservatives want to continue to have low taxes even though getting rid of the debt would be a better idea.


To be clear, the accumulated debt was already huge. Getting rid of it is not going to happen any time soon. There's a lot of talk about getting rid of the annual deficit (so as to at least stop adding to the debt), which actually happened under Clinton. By the end of his second term there was a large surplus. This could have been applied to the debt or used to pay for services, but Bush & the congress decided to slash taxes instead. This, along with the wild spending, turned a record surplus into a record deficit.

Originally Posted By: The Ratt
I really want to hear a well-informed Republican argue how they would have the government get the US out of debt.


Me too. Unfortunately, what you mostly get is a bunch of catch phrases. With few exceptions (the Pauls, for example), they're unable or unwilling to say exactly where they would cut spending. Looking at what they say versus what they do, it's hard to not to conclude that their real intention is to bankrupt the country.

Originally Posted By: Droid
So American comservatives are in effect voting for more debt, and some seem to claim(rightfully or not, I do not know) that this debt will make things better by increasing consumption?


Debt in itself is not good. Keynsian (sp?) economics says that running a short-term deficit can boost the economy, but only if you are spending on things that increase consumption or create jobs directly, like food stamps, unemployment insurance, public works projects and so on. Tax breaks for the super-rich do not fall into that category, though conservatives will try to convince you otherwise.

To the original question:

Originally Posted By: The Ratt
Anyone care to explain the basic Republican philosophy?


I can sum it up in six words:

Click to reveal..
Screw you, Jack--I got mine.


Before I get flamed, that was a joke. Sort of. tongue

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Before this thread dies, I'll chip in here. To understand the Republican party in the US, you have to realize that it has been eaten from inside by neoconservatives. Republicans are associated with being fiscally conservative; neocons spend more than any political party. Republicans believe that a conservative government can effectively lead; neocons believe that the government that governs least governs best. If that sounds like a do-nothing party then you are catching on. Part of the neocon philosophy is that you can flat-out lie to the voters and get away with it. I submit their success with the voters as my proof of that concept. For example, a neocon will crow that the 2010 elections were an indictment of Democratic policies and an endorsement of Republican policies. Neither of those things is remotely true. The 2010 elections were--to even the most casual observer--a desperate plea for employment and (to a lesser extent) an end to reckless spending. The electorate loathes both parties almost equally.

 

As for tax breaks for the rich? They don't stimulate the economy near as much as tax breaks for the other classes. It's not even close. People buying necessities pour their money towards middle class small businesses. The cash reverberates around the economy and has an effect many times greater that the original input from the government. That is true under normal circumstances. Add in a banking system unwilling to loan money to small business--and that is the current economic climate--and tax breaks for the rich do almost nothing.

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An even cursory look at GOP actions gives a good impression of what they're on about. It's not even subtle. How do they get away with it?

 

I'm not sure what some of you think about Noam Chomsky, but in this interview, he basically highlights my opinion on the current situation:

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So, a recent poll examined just how misinformed the general public is in relation to their news source:

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/12/17/fox-news-viewers-are-the-_n_798146.html

 

I would like to see the results of this poll, because it wasn't a specific phenomenon to Fox news. Still, it is extremely aggravating that people would criticize our president for the opposite of what he has done. Elections these days seem to be more about damage control than voting for the proper leader. It's like letting toddlers have an equal say in what's for dinner, and you know that they're just going to vote for pizza every night, no matter how bad it is for them.

 

I've also caught wind of something about the redrawing of the political map here in the states, and I had no idea that was something we did (I am woefully uneducated in local politics). I've also heard that whichever party is in control always uses this as an opportunity to further entrench themselves in power. How is that democracy? It sounds like a good practice, in theory, but if it's abused then isn't it doing more harm than good?

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I agree with everything you said, except for the part where you said "these days."

 

People have always been misinformed. Democracy exists to allow the mob to make certain decisions, not because the mob is smart, but because it is a safeguard against evil tyranny, one of the few positive functions of the mob.

 

"Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard." H. L. Mencken

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Originally Posted By: CRISIS on INFINITE SLARTIES
I agree with everything you said, except for the part where you said "these days."


Gerrymandering has been an essential tool in various parties political arsenal since the mid-to-late 18th century, at the very latest. I'm sure it probably dates back to ancient democracy in Greece, too.

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Didn't the ancient greeks live in city states with separate governments and everything government-wise was an open forum and judges were chosen monthly by lot (when there wasn't a tyrant of course) etc. etc... so Gerrymandering wasn't possible?

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Not quite Greece, but:

 

"...only a minority of Romans were citizens. As such, having votes in elections for choosing representatives and then the votes of the powerful were given more weight through a system of Gerrymandering."

 

from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democracy#Ancient_origins

 

I don't know if they mean geographic Gerrymandering, which is typically what it means, but hey.

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Ancient Greeks lived in city-states. Athens had direct democracy (for a time), but no, not everyone was a citizen. But then, we don't propose or vote on legislature. We just vote on or legislators.

 

—Alorael, who does not think indirect democracy is watered-down and obsolete now that everyone could vote on everything. Legislation is hard work, and it's good to have people who do it full-time. The problem is that there seem to be many legislators who do not legislate in good faith. It's not just that the public is misinformed, it's that the leaders are happily misinforming them and, in fact, seem uninterested in truth.

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Originally Posted By: CRISIS on INFINITE SLARTIES
Democracy exists to allow the mob to make certain decisions, not because the mob is smart, but because it is a safeguard against evil tyranny, one of the few positive functions of the mob.
There's one bad thing about mobs, though: I can never find an angry torchlit mob when I need one.

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Originally Posted By: The Mystic
There's one bad thing about mobs, though: I can never find an angry torchlit mob when I need one.


The trick is to capitalize on a hatred of [insert minority here]. If you're looking to start an angry mob, I'd recommend going with witches- we haven't seen any angry mobs after them for a while, and they can still rile up hatred in the right places (cf. the controversy over Harry Potter a decade ago).

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Originally Posted By: Erasmus
Originally Posted By: Dantius

The easiest way to tell if someone's a witch is if they're heavier than a duck.

But didn't they use a goose?

A goose shows up better on the big screen than the smaller duck.

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Originally Posted By: Erasmus
Anyways it would make more sense if you meant less than a duck, Bedavier (spl?) coaxes the serf too say "if she weighs the same as a duck..."


Because the whole sequence was a fount of sense....

tongue

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Becuase drowning someone to see if their a witch makes so much sense. If they drown, then their not a witch and are innocent, yay! If they somehow dont drown, then their a witch and get to burn to death instead!

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Originally Posted By: Dantius
Originally Posted By: The Mystic
There's one bad thing about mobs, though: I can never find an angry torchlit mob when I need one.


The trick is to capitalize on a hatred of [insert minority here]. If you're looking to start an angry mob, I'd recommend going with witches- we haven't seen any angry mobs after them for a while, and they can still rile up hatred in the right places (cf. the controversy over Harry Potter a decade ago).
Actually, I look for a mob that's already angry; they don't need to be angry for any particular reason, just angry. And some of the people in the mob (maybe about a dozen or so) need to be carrying lit torches.
Ever see
? Sort of like that, but with some of them carrying torches.

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Personally... and don't get me wrong, I'm trying to be as diplomatic as possible... I feel that the one of the greatest problems with the current Republican party is that many of its most hardcore supporters are people who are told on a regular basis that smart, educated people cannot be trusted. That means that only "salt of the earth types" are trustworthy. The problem being, of course, that most of them don't understand cause and effect on a national level because, well, they're exactly the sort of people who don't trust "them darn educated folk what think they're better'n us normal guys". Living in the dark recesses of the South, I encounter this mentality a lot. This leads to people who see knee-jerk short term solutions as not only valuable, but the ONLY viable solutions.

 

Republican fiscal policy smacks of this attitude. I choose not to believe that my government is actively evil, just misguided and elected by people who by and large don't really understand or care about the greater issues. They hear "taxes go up" and scream about it... only because none of them understand or care that without taxes, you can't do things like fund a military, have public works projects, support the elderly, or whatever.

 

Republican "smaller government" policy also comes with an ironic attitude of distrust. "You can't trust the dang government. You should trust rich folks who've proven they're not just apathetic but actively out to screw you instead." Seriously, I don't understand why someone would refuse to put trust in a regulatory agency because it's some monolithic faceless bureaucracy that doesn't have your best interests at heart... but will absolutely throw all their trust into a monolithic faceless corporation whose best interests are to bilk you for everything you're worth and discard you because by the time that stops working most of the people at the top will already be filthy rich and won't care anyway.

 

A government and a corporation are similar in lots of ways. They're a way for a small number of people to collectively run a large organization that takes money and invests it into their own interests. The difference is, a corporation's interest is self-fulfilling (Get bigger, be more successful, make more money) and a (non-tyrannical) government's interest is it's people (Have a healthy, stable population of workers, thinkers, soldiers, and other useful human resources).

 

One exists to take your money and keep it. The other exists (obstensibly) to take your money and redirect it for the greater good.

 

Frankly, if you're going to put irrational trust into either, why make it the one whose best interests ARE to screw you over?

 

 

EDIT: And wow. Throughout all of that I managed to lose my actual point! I'll get back to it now.

 

The basic Republican philosophy that individuals are more inherently trustworthy than governments strikes me as very idealistic... but not very realistic. I agree WHOLEHEARTEDLY that the world would be a better place if you could just trust people to do the right thing.

 

I think the whole point of laws is that you can't, and you need a bunch of people keeping an eye on people. We need regulatatory bodies and governments watching us, and we need them looking out for the people. ALL the people, not just the rich ones.

 

In principle I love the idea of a tiny government. In reality I recognize it is pretty much unworkable.

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I agree with your perspective, Krata.

 

The more complex the financial system becomes, the larger the regulatory system needs to be to monitor what is happening. Big business = big Government.

 

Corruption is the cancer of society - whether it be corporate, political or institutional

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Government is like a corporation, but all the citizens are (ideally) shareholders. You invest your taxes and you expect a return.

 

—Alorael, who on the other hand doesn't think most people get excited about governmental IPOs.

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Originally Posted By: KrataLightblade

A government and a corporation are similar in lots of ways. They're a way for a small number of people to collectively run a large organization that takes money and invests it into their own interests. The difference is, a corporation's interest is self-fulfilling (Get bigger, be more successful, make more money) and a (non-tyrannical) government's interest is it's people (Have a healthy, stable population of workers, thinkers, soldiers, and other useful human resources).

A corporation has a strong incentive to satisfy its customers, because if the customers don't like their product, they'll go out of business (unless corporate welfare is going on). Governments have an incentive, but to a much lesser degree, as they are elected only periodically. They can dissatisfy their customers and still stay in business as a whole, unless they do something really bad and spark a revolution.

Both governments and corporations are run by people acting on incentives, and both usually out of self-interest. I don't believe that most politicians (as with business owners) uphold the interests of the People more than their own.

Quote:
One exists to take your money and keep it. The other exists (obstensibly) to take your money and redirect it for the greater good.

Frankly, if you're going to put irrational trust into either, why make it the one whose best interests ARE to screw you over?

I find this misleading. Corporations don't take money: the money is given in exchange for a service. They don't hide all of that money in a bank account either. They employ people and expand their business, causing economic growth. Sure, a lot of people in the corporation get rich and could care less about charity, but isn't that the same with a government?

Yes, I'm obviously quite cynical, and sometimes I even wish I was more optimistic. In the long run I would rather give my money to a corporation that will give me a product in exchange, than to a government that will use some of the money to fund foreign wars and arrest people for reasons I don't agree with. Corporations and governments are both composed of self-interested people and both will use money for disagreeable purposes, but it's at least difficult for a corporation to violate my rights.

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Originally Posted By: Excalibur
A corporation has a strong incentive to satisfy its customers, because if the customers don't like their product, they'll go out of business (unless corporate welfare is going on). Governments have an incentive, but to a much lesser degree, as they are elected only periodically. They can dissatisfy their customers and still stay in business as a whole, unless they do something really bad and spark a revolution.

That is traditionally true of corporations, but in reality it often isn't true. It doesn't require a monopoly for prices to rise and product/service quality to fall. Cornering ANY aspect of the product/service, no matter how small, can lead to this.

Perhaps a better statement is: A corporation has a strong incentive to keep its customers MORE satisfied than they would be without their products/services (or to keep them dependent on them), but they have minimal incentive to keep them more satisfied than the minimum. I think with that statement the analogy fits perfectly. Governments have a strong incentive to keep people happy enough that they aren't going to revolt (literally or in the voting booth), but minimal incentive to keep them more satisfied than the minimum.

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Originally Posted By: Excalibur
In the long run I would rather give my money to a corporation that will give me a product in exchange, than to a government that will use some of the money to fund foreign wars and arrest people for reasons I don't agree with.

Military contractors and private prisons.

Dikiyoba.

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Originally Posted By: Excalibur

A corporation has a strong incentive to satisfy its customers, because if the customers don't like their product, they'll go out of business (unless corporate welfare is going on). Governments have an incentive, but to a much lesser degree, as they are elected only periodically. They can dissatisfy their customers and still stay in business as a whole, unless they do something really bad and spark a revolution.


A corporation doesn't have a will of its own. It has directors, who often don't care if their corporation goes under because they get paid either way and can move on to ruin some other corporation. You'd think people would stop hiring terrible directors at some point, but the people who are making decisions on who to appoint to the board are in practice generally the other directors, who don't care either and are supported by large institutional shareholders who are perfectly happy to see directors effectively running pump-and-dump schemes on their own company's stock, as long as they know when to dump. Managerial culture in the US is pretty much rotten to the core.

Basically your fundamental mistake here is treating corporations as if they had agency independent of the people in charge of them, and ignoring the fact that the people in charge often actively benefit from running them into the ground. In other words:

Originally Posted By: Excalibur
Yes, I'm obviously quite cynical


Not nearly cynical enough.

also:

Originally Posted By: Excalibur
Corporations and governments are both composed of self-interested people and both will use money for disagreeable purposes, but it's at least difficult for a corporation to violate my rights.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinkertons

a corporation with a staff of armed employees larger than the US Army at the time, hired primarily by other corporations that wanted to violate people's rights

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The thing about American government corruption is that it's really not about politicians directly feathering their own nests with cash from interested parties. It's campaign contributions that buy votes, except that they don't even have to buy votes. Out of 300 million Americans, it's easy for any rich person or group to find someone who genuinely and openly shares their goals, and would vote towards them for free. So campaign contributions just have to get those kinds of people elected. What's wrong with anyone spending their own money to back a candidate who shares their opinions?

 

Maybe nothing blatant, but I think it is a problem. Winning campaigns cost millions in TV advertising fees, so in effect the American democracy becomes a plutocracy. Maybe that's an unintended consequence, but it's a serious one.

 

But the only reason the plutocrats get to rule is that the great majority of poorer citizens appear to be effectively swayed by expensive TV ads. If more voters just ignored TV ads, there'd be no problem with plutocracy.

 

So maybe the average American voter is a weak-minded bozo whose vote can be reliably snagged by the best attack ad. In which case, people are getting the government they deserve.

 

Or maybe the average American voter just doesn't care enough about who gets elected, either because they don't see any really serious problems to be solved by their government, or because they have no great confidence in any candidate to solve the problems they do see. And so their ambivalent vote tips to whomever has the best ad. In which case, should there ever be a clear cut popular issue, the plutocrats would suddenly find themselves powerless.

 

Or maybe modern democracy is a lot like the stock market, where brokers are irrelevant because all information is already reflected in the current price. That is, maybe whenever a clear cut popular issue does emerge, parties see it coming ahead of time, and adopt the popular side unilaterally, before the issue comes up for debate. The only issues that get publicity are then the one on which most people have no firm opinion. In which case most of what seems to be democratic politics is a farcical sideshow dominated by the exceptionally opinionated, while the real democracy is working unnoticed, and about as slowly as generations change, behind the scenes.

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Originally Posted By: Student of Trinity
So maybe the average American voter is a weak-minded bozo whose vote can be reliably snagged by the best attack ad. In which case, people are getting the government they deserve.


this would be a just-world fallacy even if the premise were true. i don't think it's possible to reasonably defend the claim that people who are gullible deserve to be defrauded

and frankly, what possible "good government" signal could the average voter look for that you can't fake with a few hundred million dollars and some cooperative media organisations at your disposal?

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I don't actually believe that hypothesis; I just listed it as a 'maybe' because it's a common one. But I don't think it's as bad as all that. The scenario is not exactly that the majority of people are gullible or stupid, but that they're too lazy and self-indulgent to inform themselves or think critically. I'd say that would deserve some bad government.

 

But in fact I think people aren't so foolish. I think they're smart enough to guess that not even an immense amount of effort would reveal the clear right answer to most social problems, so they may as well be swayed by trivial factors, and save their time and effort for work and family or whatever. As long as you stay in touch enough to be ready to stand up if something really big comes along, ignorance and apathy about lesser issues is likely sound strategy. Let someone who thinks they know the answer give it a try; they'll either succeed or show what not to do; picking winners is delusion anyway; so there's no point in fussing too much over which particular opinionated bozo gets to try their ideas out next.

 

So as not to seem totally cynical, I should say that I think that at any time there probably are a few issues that are clear enough to act on, and that it's worth working to act rightly on those. It's just that I think a lot of the sound and fury of electoral politics is on issues other than those.

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I think people would be able to make smarter votes if they knew there was an alternative/thought a vote for the alternative would make a difference. With the two-party system you have two candidates, any third-party candidate will likely make no difference or at best draw away votes that would've gone to one of the Democrat/Republican candidates.

 

America is more of an aristocracy than a democracy if you ask me. When was the last time you saw someone not made of money in a political office (maybe this is a good thing, because a hungry politician is a bad one? I dunno)? In any case, only the rich can vote and it seems like most rich people could care less about the common man.

 

Of course, I think people will do anything for a handout. I just read an article online about this lady who was whining that the gov't wouldn't pay for her heating bill. The photo accompanying the article showed her standing in front of her 55 inch plasma screen TV and surround sound system, holding a bill (I also found it kinda humorous because her idea of cold is warmer than my house is right now, but that's not the point).

 

Anyway, yeah. </barely relevant microrant>

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Originally Posted By: Student of Trinity
Maybe nothing blatant, but I think it is a problem. Winning campaigns cost millions in TV advertising fees, so in effect the American democracy becomes a plutocracy. Maybe that's an unintended consequence, but it's a serious one.

But the only reason the plutocrats get to rule is that the great majority of poorer citizens appear to be effectively swayed by expensive TV ads. If more voters just ignored TV ads, there'd be no problem with plutocracy.

In explanation to why we have to suffer through all those ads. A campaign consultant said that it takes 10 airings of the same commercial to get a message to stick in the voter's mind. Getting the time to repeatedly run the ads cost money so if a candidate wants to use television, then he needs lots of money.

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Originally Posted By: Sylae Corell
America is more of an aristocracy than a democracy if you ask me. When was the last time you saw someone not made of money in a political office (maybe this is a good thing, because a hungry politician is a bad one? I dunno)? In any case, only the rich can vote and it seems like most rich people could care less about the common man.


While I feel extremely hesitant to use the phrase "natural aristocracy of merit", I do feel compelled to point out that there have been many, many examples of intelligent, self-made men that became president even if they didn't start off qith a silver spoon in their mouth- Clinton was the son of a poor salesman and Carter was a frigging peanut farmer (granted, also an engineer on a nuclear sub IIRC), so it's not like every president we've had was a crazy wealthy robber baron like the Bushes. However, that has become less and less common recently, which is of course not a good thing.

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Originally Posted By: Dantius
Originally Posted By: Sylae Corell
America is more of an aristocracy than a democracy if you ask me. When was the last time you saw someone not made of money in a political office (maybe this is a good thing, because a hungry politician is a bad one? I dunno)? In any case, only the rich can vote and it seems like most rich people could care less about the common man.


While I feel extremely hesitant to use the phrase "natural aristocracy of merit", I do feel compelled to point out that there have been many, many examples of intelligent, self-made men that became president even if they didn't start off qith a silver spoon in their mouth- Clinton was the son of a poor salesman and Carter was a frigging peanut farmer (granted, also an engineer on a nuclear sub IIRC), so it's not like every president we've had was a crazy wealthy robber baron like the Bushes. However, that has become less and less common recently, which is of course not a good thing.

Here's where I really draw the line between corrupt and genuine public servants. I wont point fingers, but when one side of the political spectrum completely stonewalls campaign reform, how can you even trust them in the slightest?

EDIT: It seems to me that the best hope for improving our democracy is improving education for the general populace. We need dynamic thinkers to make informed decisions, and I'm not just talking about in the political spectrum. I'm hoping Obama will try to reform public education before his term is over.

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Quote:
Carter was a frigging peanut farmer


That isn't a poor man's profession. They make a decent living even without the agricultural subsidies.

Quote:
Clinton was the son of a poor salesman


Clinton and his wife were both lawyers. The whole Whitewater scandal was about them trying to get rich quick in a real estate deal where they put up almost no money.

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One can hardly expect that someone would spring straight from digging ditches into the White House, of course. That's not what you even want. Digging ditches all day leaves little opportunity to acquire the education and experience you need in a chief executive. Someone who does end up in the Oval Office is bound to have gotten there from some relatively high social standing, including some amount of wealth. The question is whether they were born to that standing, or worked their own way to it earlier in life, perhaps having started out ditchdigging.

 

I don't believe Washington fit this bill, but Lincoln did. I don't know how many other US presidents would. Probably Eisenhower at least.

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Originally Posted By: Erasmus
So how would you stop dictatorship taking over a communism?



Establish a Constitutional Democracy whereby economic activity is heavily regulated?

The working classes constantly have to fight for their slice of the pie.

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Originally Posted By: Sylae Corell
Of course, I think people will do anything for a handout. I just read an article online about this lady who was whining that the gov't wouldn't pay for her heating bill. The photo accompanying the article showed her standing in front of her 55 inch plasma screen TV and surround sound system, holding a bill (I also found it kinda humorous because her idea of cold is warmer than my house is right now, but that's not the point).


As a rule, most people aren't like this, there just happens to be(and always has been) a few exceptions, unfortunately, the "exceptions" tend to get attention. I partially blame our media, they like to focus on these sort of situations, which leads towards negative reinforcement.

Unfortunately, this lends itself to our current government as well. Most people, and I do mean most, are actually smart enough to form their own opinions, however, most of these people tend to just go by what they see on TV or in print instead of doing just a smidgen of research on their own. Our media comes in to play by reporting on the negative here as well, don't get me wrong, I think we need to know about the mistakes or corruption that pops up, but I've yet to see a news story about some politician that doesn't come off as a political attack or excuse, no matter how unbiased, neutral, or fare they claim to be.

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Originally Posted By: waterplant

Establish a Constitutional Democracy whereby economic activity is heavily regulated?

The working classes constantly have to fight for their slice of the pie.

That is a common misconception, a True communism incorporates democracy into itself and allows a smooth switch between a liberal form of economics and a planned form of economics including the gray areas between them in accordance to the rule of the people. The problem is it always gets gover-napped by a dictator before it reaches that state and becomes a planned dictatorship when it was supposed to be a socialistic democracy.

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Originally Posted By: Randomizer
Quote:
Carter was a frigging peanut farmer

That isn't a poor man's profession. They make a decent living even without the agricultural subsidies.

Quote:
Clinton was the son of a poor salesman

Clinton and his wife were both lawyers. The whole Whitewater scandal was about them trying to get rich quick in a real estate deal where they put up almost no money.

Was the question about previous profession, or socioeconomic origins? I think you'll be hard-pressed to find ANY U.S. Presidents whose previous careers were primarily in low-paying or low-prestige industries. On the other hand, there is a real difference between the childhood you get from a wealthy family where your elders have high-ranking positions in industry and government, like Kennedy and Bush had, and a poor family that struggled, like Nixon and Eisenhower had.

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Originally Posted By: Erasmus
That is a common misconception, a True communism incorporates democracy into itself and allows a smooth switch between a liberal form of economics and a planned form of economics including the gray areas between them in accordance to the rule of the people. The problem is it always gets gover-napped by a dictator before it reaches that state and becomes a planned dictatorship when it was supposed to be a socialistic democracy.


Yawn. Communism has never worked and never will work- it's predicated on the assumption that people will work in the best interests of society as opposed to the best interests of themselves, which never ever ever will happen. I'm sure you heard the quote "If men were angels, no government would be necessary"? Well, if men were angels, large-scale communistic societies would actually work instead of just collapsing into de facto dictatorship.

Not that that's a bad thing. China's doing just fine right now, what with their "centralized state power" and the ability to present a cohesive front to so many of their problems. I don't see what so bad about a few human rights violations every now and then if you can get the level or growth and union that China has.

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