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Read This: I want your opinion

Vrecknidj

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INTPs are a fun bunch. I'm interested in your opinions (but only after you read the whole thing).

Original Source

Dave
On replacing voters with clients and citizens with customers

The business of America is business. We don't make anything anymore. We don't build much of anything and we barely bother to keep what our grandparents built in repair. We grow less and less. We create fewer and fewer better mousetraps. And the only reason we make, build, repair, grow, and create the little that we do is to sell it at the highest possible price. Our economy is based on everybody doing business with one another. It's based on buying and selling. It's based on all of us looking at each other as potential customers, which is to say that it's based on all of us looking to take advantage of each other to make a profit of some kind.

It doesn't matter what is being bought and sold. It doesn't matter if anything real is bought and sold. All that matters is that money changes hands and that more of it lands or stays in my hands than in yours.

I don't know how we got to this point, exactly. All I know is that a country that was built on the backs of slaves, expanded through the theft of land from its original inhabitants, and increased its wealth by lurching from gold rush to gold rush of one kind or another---the housing bubble makes "sense" when seen as what it was, a gold rush in which people treated their homes as rich veins of ore to be mined---isn't likely to have developed into a country that truly values or ever practices charity, thrift, compassion, or self-restraint.

So here we are, all of us dependent for our daily bread on the constant buying and selling of whatever happens to be raking in the big bucks this month, with a government that sees one of its responsibilities as keeping us all buying and selling because one of the jobs of governments of all kinds, from time immemorial, has been to keep the local economy chugging along---to keep piling up the national wealth, usually without worrying too much about who winds up with most of that wealth so long as the rulers get their cut. When we were a nation of farmers and small shopkeepers, the government was sympathetic to the interests of farmers and small shopkeepers. When we became a nation of manufacturers, the government was sympathetic to the interests of people who made things, including, depending on how much clout Unions had at a given moment, workers as well as owners. Now that all we do is buy and sell the government is sympathetic to...well, nobody. Only to the movement of money. Which means that it pays most attention to the people who move the most money around.

This explains why we are having a debate about health care that centers around "costs" instead of around how wrong it is that there are children who never see a doctor or a dentist and that people routinely die of diseases that could be successfully treated because treating them doesn't make anybody rich.

This explains why Max Baucus, who used to think it was a good idea to get children to the doctor and the dentist and save people from dying from lack of insurance, a virulent and contagious disease, now sees the point of health care "reform" as making sure that all the buying and selling involved, even the unnecessary and the inefficient and the wasteful, is not just preserved but increased---mandates and subsidies and co-ops are all about buying and selling, not about helping sick people get well.

The point is to make sure that whatever happens profits are maintained, lots of money changes hands, the nation's wealth is increased and never mind who winds up with most of that wealth in their pockets.

You can say that Baucus and the other Blue Dogs have been bought off by the insurance industry. But it's probably more accurate to say that the insurance industry is rewarding them for understanding how things are supposed to work. Whatever the supposed issue Congress seems to be working on, the real job of government is to keep the buying and selling going. Baucus and the Blue Dogs and plenty of the so-called moderates set to bargain the public option away understand that it is in the nation's best interest to ensure that the economy, which is based on everybody being a customer or client first and a voter and a citizen, and a human being, not necessarily last but way down the list, thrives and grows. The way to do this is to make more customers.

The public option is all well and good. It does in fact make customers. It increases the number of buyers. But since the seller is the government, it doesn't make enough other, potential sellers rich.

Now, if we had a different sort of economy we'd have a different sort of government, possibly one that saw that the business of America was creating a more perfect union, establishing justice, insuring domestic tranquility, providing for the common defense, promoting the general welfare, and securing the blessings of Liberty for ourselves and our posterity, we wouldn't be having a debate at all. The idea of a public option, since it's based on buying and selling, on encouraging competition as a way of reining in costs---that is, since it is about money first and healthy children and lives saved as a side-benefit---would be the conservative position. Conservative to the point of being reactionary.

How in the world, sane people will ask in the future, did those people (us) let the question of profits into the question of how to keep the country healthy and individuals alive and well?

Nobody expects the army to make a profit or the fire department or the highway department. No sensible person whose heart is in the right place expects our schools to make money. We don't make money off each other by protecting them from our mutual enemies or by saving them from burning buildings or by sending them out to work or to the store on safe, well-kept roads. We don't make money off each other---or shouldn't try to---by teaching each other's kids to read and do math. Why then did those people (us again) think they should make money off of keeping each other alive and well?

And the answer is because our economy is based on our treating each other as customers and commodities not as fellow citizens, not even as fellow human beings. If it fell to us to write the Constitution or re-write it, the preamble would be changed to "We the Consumers of the United States, in order to purchase a more perfect union, pay for the a criminal justice system, buy and sell the weapons and equipment necessary for the common defense, make money off of insuring domestic tranquility, get rich off of promoting the general welfare, and secure for those who can afford the high price we're going to charge the blessings of liberty for themselves and their lazy, arrogant, good for nothing but asserting their own status and special privileges progeny, do agree to this contract, please read the attached terms and conditions and check the box marked 'accept'."

Bruce Bartlett, a deputy secretary for economic policy under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, has written the kind of post that liberals like me can nod along with in a spirit of Amen and Preach it, brother. At the moment, Bartlett is despairing of his party, the Republican Party, because there are no true Reaganites left. He means sensible conservatives who understand that it is the job of government to keep the economy working efficiently and profitably. But the fact is that one of the reasons the Republican Party is poised to become a permanent minority party---assuming the Democrats don't save them from that fate through self-sabotage, incompetence, and pusillanimity---is that they aren't Reagan's party anymore, but the rest of us are.

The debate is between those who think the job of the government is to make the already rich and powerful more rich and powerful, the Republicans, and those who think the job of the government is to make more of us rich and powerful. It's between those who think the job of government is to serve the interests and protect the money of rich businessmen and those who think it is the job of government to increase the odds of more of us who want to wheel and deal, buy and sell, becoming rich businesspersons. It's between those who think that the government shouldn't get involved with the business of buying and selling except in the cases when it's to save the money and privileges of those who've already made their wads from buying and selling and those who think that the government should always be working to increase the buying and selling of everything and anything because that's the way to spread the money around.

Reagan won.

"A rising tide lifts all boats."

Wealth trickles down.

The more rich people there are, the richer we all are.

Supply my side, and the rest of you are welcome to whatever's left over.

The Washington Media accepts this as a religion. The Blue Dogs believe in it whole-heartedly. The moderates are resigned to the idea that this can't be changed without the kind of revolution in thought that the moderates aren't up to trying to bring about, partly because its against their own interests.

This is why I'm predicting that whatever the specifics of some passages are, however well he delivers it, no matter how effectively he appears to have made his case, the gist of the President's speech tonight is going to be, "Maybe we ought to consider a few things besides how much money this is going to cost or make. I'm sorry. Did I say besides? I meant along with."

But this is also why I don't blame the President or the Blue Dogs or even the insurance industrialists as much as maybe I should. The fact is that they are all doing the job we have come to expect of the government since we re-elected Ronald Reagan in a landslide.

Lift my boat. Help me be the one who get trickle down on the heads of others. Make me one of the millionaires.
 
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honestly, I don't think this country has had enough of an "economy crash" yet. So the common folk are having a harder time, the rich are still rich. I think the economy needs to collapse entirely and people still won't learn their lesson. At least then everybody will be broke and will have to acknowledge that maybe there is more to life than money and profits. I hope this happens in my lifetime. People have been around on this planet a lot longer than money has. Maybe its time some of us grow up a little and stop being so greedy. Who will they steal from when everything has already been taken? oh, and anyone that thinks Reagan or Bush were the best presidents we ever had should be shot.

I liked that article, I hope more people get the chance to read it, besides INTPs and people in this forum. That is a great perspective.
 

INTPINFP

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I say it's true for every country, not just the United States.
 
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I just speak of the US because I don't know enough about other countries to form an educated opinion. Although I would say this is probably true of almost all countries. Gotta take out The World Bank for any real progress to be made.
 

INTPINFP

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its a conspiracy :beatyou:
 

Ouroboros

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I think that the article is dead-on accurate. Too many of our people have ceased to do anything that enables them to contribute to the good of society, and therefore themselves (i.e. farming, creating/manufacturing, to name only a couple of hundreds or thousands of possibilities) and now occupy themselves with preying on others (i.e. the insurance industry, predatory lenders, marketers and producers of the multitude of poisons for the body and mind typically seen on TV/mags/newspapers, etc., etc., etc.). Since most of our citizens remain befuddled about the extent of our corruption, in part due to human weakness and in no small part to the malevolence/selfishness of those in many positions of power to keep them in the dark (FOX news only being the most despicable example, but far from alone), we continue down our path of misery. Our government will not save us since big money pulls most of the strings.

Historically, it seems as inevitable as the changing seasons, but that's a small comfort most of the time. There are many good people here, but there are SO many worthless bastards here as well, and of course they make the loudest clamor.... I suppose that many of those good people are corrupt in their own way in that in general they do not put up enough resistance (self-incrimination here). In the end, we've played with the fire of money-worship and too many of our people are now hard-core money junkies with no soul, no thought for others or even themselves beyond their next fix.

I've learned of late that the boiling frog is a myth, but it is a great metaphor in this instance (http://www.snopes.com/critters/wild/frogboil.asp).
 

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Fantastic article. I'm surprised I missed it up to now. This is the kind of thing I could rant forever on but I'm on hour 30 of being awake so I better keep myself in check or I might sound as nonsensical as those teabaggers that showed up in DC the other day.....

Speaking of the teabaggers, does it alarm anyone else to see just how gullible those people were? They were right there, they could look around and see the other people there and yet when some dufus gets on stage and makes a false claim that some network estimated the crowd at 2 million, those people believed it as if it were the gospel truth. I'll be generous and say the crowd size was about 100,000 (the fire marshals said 75,000....damn dirty hippies!) I mean how goddamn gullible can people be? There was even a picture circulated on right wing blogs taken at an event 10 years ago that they tried to pass off as being from Saturday (nevermind that the picture depicted a sunny day whilst Saturday was overcast and rainy and certainly nevermind that some memorial that was put up 5 years ago was somehow not in the picture where it is today. Some people will believe anything. Because they want to believe it. So desperate are they to believe it. So of course their 'leaders' (all tv and radio personalities I might add) keep repeating the absolutely ridiculous lie and of course if you repeat it enough the lie gets mistaken as the truth. I read a brilliant quote about this that said "It's like going into a singles bar and claiming you have a 53 inch penis." That's how big a stretch it is (I think that's a pun or something so I'll just say it's intentional).

Also, would it kill them to learn what socialism, fascism, communism and nazism really are? They are not interchangable!!!

Communism = Far left
Socialism = not quite as far left
Fascism = Far right
Nazism = a form of fascism further to the right

Just because nazi came from an acronym for national socialist does not mean it's the same thing as socialist! They are on opposite sides of the spectrum. PICK ONE AND STICK WITH IT YOU DUMBASSES!!

Should I be writing this in shout club?

I was watching The Colbert Report earlier tonight and he had as one of his guest a legal analyst from CNN (don't remember the name) and they were talking about a case currently before the Supreme Court that could eliminate the regulations limiting corporate donations to political candidates. If any of you are familiar with Colbert, one of the things he did last year as a joke was sign up to be a candidate for president (in South Carolina only but whatever) he lined up Doritos brand to sponsor him. All in good fun until he was told that having a corporate sponsor was illegal. Thankfully, that put an end to that nonsense.

Colbert asked his guest about whether this case (if found in favor of eliminating the regs.) would make his run for POTUS legal and the guy said yes. Can you imagine? "Welcome to the Obama re-election campaign brought to you by Verizon Wireless with considerations paid for by GE 'we bring good things to light!' and by Geico 'so easy, a caveman can do it'.

Justice Scalia is chomping at the bit to remove the barriers and his lap dogs, Thomas, Alito and Roberts will all dutifully obey. That leaves the so called swing vote in the hands of Justice Kennedy (no relation to Ted that I'm aware of and he more often votes with the right than the left (18-6 in 5-4 decisions)). Sometimes I think we should just get on the hotline to China and ask them to come over and save us from ourselves.

All that may not seem like it relates to the article but actually it does in a way. If it's all about the flow of money, well the money will certainly flow into political coffers soon enough and the gullible public won't understand what the hell is going on so they'll just vent their frustrations (which are legitimate as feelings, but unarticulated) in nonsensical ways over nonsensical distractions like who can get married and who can't yadda yadda yadda.
 

Felan

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The thing that surprises me the most is that people think this is all new, rather than the history of man since the invention of wealth. Amazing hubris to think we are doing it so much worse than our predecessors.

I think one of the things that made American government work so well in the beginning is that it took power from a few and spread into many (specifically Congress). I honestly think the only real way to realizing a similiar benefit as we once had is to spread that power even further. I think Congress should draft the legislation and then that legislation should go to the voting citizens of the country to be made law or not.

It would easy to argue that people are too stupid, but I would argue they are disengaged. As with anything you do it gets better as you do it.

I also think this attitude of law being stone edifices, once in effect unchangable, needs to be chucked in favor of a more fluid law. Not saying law should change dramatically every year, but that if something isn't working amend it, drop it, or replace it. Actually taking action, even less than ideal action, is far better than endlessly arguing about it.

But I'm pretty sure I have bats in my belfry, even for INTPs.
 

walfin

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Every economy that uses money depends on buying and selling, after all.

It's just a fact of life, and it's been this way for millenia.

Felan said:
I think Congress should draft the legislation and then that legislation should go to the voting citizens of the country to be made law or not.
That would go against the spirit of your constitution. Mob rule.

Felan said:
Actually taking action, even less than ideal action, is far better than endlessly arguing about it.
Isn't the argument what leads to change?
 

Ouroboros

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I don't think that there is an inherent problem with the system of US government. If those in positions of government maintained the spirit that was set forth with the constitution & BOR, all would work for the best. Once that spirit is lost and nothing is sacred, we wind up with the rats nest that we have now and only the special interests are being looked after, which of course destroys the entire system.

It is inconceivable that our system, were it healthy, could rule that FOX news has protection under the first amendment to lie. This example is just the tip of the iceberg. Like IB, I could rant for days (and do to myself)
 

Vrecknidj

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Thanks to all the replies so far. I was hoping to get some well-considered feedback, hence my posting this here instead of some of the other fora I haunt.

A couple more points...

There was a nice little radio spot on NPR this morning. Someone was asking the guest about fraud and the US finance system and asked whether any regulations were likely to do anything about the kind of fraud that always seems to show up. The guest, wisely in my opinion, flat out said "no." His take was that the bottom line is this: there will always be a financial incentive to lie, simply because of the way trust, contracts and lies work. And, given that it's really not possible to completely eliminate the profit from lying (such as telling clients that a stock is worth more than it really is, etc.), and given that the punishments combined with the risk of getting caught will always be weighed against the benefits of not getting caught, it's impossible to regulate away. In other words, human nature being what it is, we're stuck.

The other point is that I fear we're beyond the point of no return regarding the "If only we'd just stick with the Constitution" perspective. Presidents, Congress and others have for so long worked around the Constitution that I think this is a losing battle.

*sigh*

Dave
 

Latro

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I have a knee-jerk reaction against that author because of the broad statement that the Republicans' main goal is to make the rich richer, since it indicated a rather blatant bias (one which I didn't detect until I read that line, but which I detected more thoroughly upon another read). Personally, I'd say the Republicans' main goal is actually the same as what the theory of supply side economics actually says: grow an economy overall and the private sector will create jobs and thus propagate the middle class. (To seek out the propagation of an upper class, which the author implies is a good idea as I interpreted it, is to be delusional.) This would work in any kind of industrial setting, or an agricultural setting, or just plain any setting where something concrete is behind the money, however abstract the connection is.

This economy isn't that, as the author pointed out. All that happens is money moves around. Little snippets fall to those who produce units of whatever they're producing, and the rest of it just continues to move around among the high-ups. This, more than anything, is the issue here: a rather literal de facto economy. That is, an economic system whose primary reason for existence is the sustenance of its own existence. This is more fundamental than health care: this goes down to the very root of how the country functions in practice.

Another, rather unrelated thing to my argument here: this idea that we should have yet another federal system seems really foolish to me. Seems like a much better idea to keep these things, among others, in the hands of the states. But then I'm a states' rights advocate to the core, which makes me anachronistic, I think.

On this Constitution point: wouldn't it be nice if we'd be honest about this? Clearly we're not getting back to the Constitution any time soon, so why not just call another damn constitutional convention and compile a new one? The document is written to be malleable when things just don't add up; they clearly don't now. Any outsider who read that document and then read about how our government operates would draw that conclusion, I think.
 

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I don't know if whether or not you are referring to the 10th amendment but Article 1 Section 8 states in part:

Section 8. The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;
To borrow money on the credit of the United States;

I bring this up because the part I highlighted is rather vague as to what general welfare means. Can not things like the economy and healthcare qualify as "general welfare"?

On this Constitution point: wouldn't it be nice if we'd be honest about this? Clearly we're not getting back to the Constitution any time soon, so why not just call another damn constitutional convention and compile a new one?

I've advocated this here before and still think it's a good idea. It needs updating at the very least.

Although I'm not sure exactly where we have gotten so far away from the Constitution as I'm hearing so many say. Re-reading the Constitution just recently, I am struck at how much of it just doesn't apply anymore (and really shouldn't). It's just outdated.

We are a large, powerful country (perhaps even a lynchpin of the world's economy) and we have to adapt to that responsibly. Right now it's just a clusterfuck.

and given that the punishments combined with the risk of getting caught will always be weighed against the benefits of not getting caught, it's impossible to regulate away.

Probably true but one thing we can do about the weighing of the pros and cons is to jack up the cons. Do away with 'white collar' low security prisons. Put them in with the general population where they run the risk of getting rapped, shanked and humiliated in a whole host of ways. They do far more damage to society than someone who holds up a liquor store and should face penalties accordingly. Make it suck for them when they do wrong and at least perhaps they will think a second time before deciding to do wrong.
 

Claverhouse

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I've learned of late that the boiling frog is a myth, but it is a great metaphor in this instance (http://www.snopes.com/critters/wild/frogboil.asp).

The legend is entirely incorrect! The 'critical thermal maxima' of many species of frogs have been determined by several investigators. In this procedure, the water in which a frog is submerged is heated gradually at about 2 degrees Fahrenheit per minute. As the temperature of the water is gradually increased, the frog will eventually become more and more active in attempts to escape the heated water. If the container size and opening allow the frog to jump out, it will do so.

It's good to know that vivisectors are providing such valuable contributions to science and society: I wonder how many children's lives were saved by that...



Claverhouse :phear:


The Snopes page has some sort of block to prevent copy/paste. What's the hell wrong with these people ?

As ever, any blocking on the internet can be circumvented: in this case, I simply opened up the page source and copied from there. But why do people bother ? Once on the internet all subsequent control is lost forever.
 

Felan

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I've advocated this here before and still think it's a good idea. It needs updating at the very least.

Although I'm not sure exactly where we have gotten so far away from the Constitution as I'm hearing so many say. Re-reading the Constitution just recently, I am struck at how much of it just doesn't apply anymore (and really shouldn't). It's just outdated.

We are a large, powerful country (perhaps even a lynchpin of the world's economy) and we have to adapt to that responsibly. Right now it's just a clusterfuck.

I think what the Constitution did well was spread power out and put in checks and balances. It worked great early on but now it is much too small of spread to effectively battle corruption. I think in some way (likely either in passing legislation or in the veto power) the entire eligible voter population of the US needs to involved in the legislative process. When this country was first started such would have been impractical, but with technology it is doable.

I think every voter would have a voting device (like a blackberry/iphone/what-not) that is strictly a voting device and would have 3 seperate voting talliers hosted on it (you could have more talliers than 3 but only 3 on a device). The legislation to be voted on would alert you and you would vote on each 3 times.

Only in putting the people directly into the process can we truly hope to begin to take it seriously. Otherwise it will always be someone else's fault, laziness, greed, or misjudgement. And with just over 200 million voters in the US it is a lot harder to buy a decision, even if half of the voters would sell their vote for $10 it would still amount to a billion dollars.

Probably true but one thing we can do about the weighing of the pros and cons is to jack up the cons. Do away with 'white collar' low security prisons. Put them in with the general population where they run the risk of getting rapped, shanked and humiliated in a whole host of ways. They do far more damage to society than someone who holds up a liquor store and should face penalties accordingly. Make it suck for them when they do wrong and at least perhaps they will think a second time before deciding to do wrong.

Really? Someone embezzles $10,000 is worse for society than someone who shot and killed a conveinance store clerk for $100? Someone who defrauds an charity of $100,000 is worse than a person selling crack to 100's of people a month and is indirectly responsible for the 1000's of crimes of those crack addicts.

Maybe its just me but I think a million dollars of white collar crime is far less damaging to society than 1 murder/rape/narcotics trafficking/child abuse/whatever other violent crime you want to pick. Throwing the white collar criminals in with general population will just be a funeral or the birth of yet another sociopath.

I do think a plan of drug legalization to strip away the financial incentives of drugs would be for the best, most prisoners are in on some drug-related crime.
 

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Really? Someone embezzles $10,000 is worse for society than someone who shot and killed a conveinance store clerk for $100? Someone who defrauds an charity of $100,000 is worse than a person selling crack to 100's of people a month and is indirectly responsible for the 1000's of crimes of those crack addicts.

Maybe its just me but I think a million dollars of white collar crime is far less damaging to society than 1 murder/rape/narcotics trafficking/child abuse/whatever other violent crime you want to pick. Throwing the white collar criminals in with general population will just be a funeral or the birth of yet another sociopath.

I do think a plan of drug legalization to strip away the financial incentives of drugs would be for the best, most prisoners are in on some drug-related crime.

I'm thinking more of your Ken Lay, Bernie Maddoff types than your typical embezzler but yes, they have a more negative impact on society than a murder. One dead clerk sucks for that clerk's family and have a negative impact on the neighborhood but what these Wall Street types have done is ruin the lives of hundreds of thousands. Destroying savings, costing jobs which in turn costs tax dollars when they go on the dole.

You may be looking at it in moral terms instead of the cost to society. Yeah, make 'em some gangsta's bitch, they deserve it and if it happens often enough, they just might be more willing to live with their legal 1 million a year salary. The disease of greed spreads easily when there are no consequences and right now, there really aren't any.
 

Claverhouse

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Suppressing Certain Truths

Although I'm not sure exactly where we have gotten so far away from the Constitution as I'm hearing so many say. Re-reading the Constitution just recently, I am struck at how much of it just doesn't apply anymore (and really shouldn't). It's just outdated.


Although personally naturally uninterested in that document, my post yesterday had a link to a page gently skewering views of both conservatives and liberals on interpreting the old thing.* Being neither, I can afford to laugh.


Claverhouse :phear:

And no, I have no idea why vBulletin insists upon turning internal links into an AME container box as used for Youtube videos.


* QUOTE:

Furthermore, if one appeals to American history, and in particular to the founding, as a source of information concerning what propositions are essentially American, one will dredge up things not to one’s liking that no one wants to even talk about. Crucial facts about what America was founded on are deliberately hushed up by both liberals and conservatives and admitted only by the non-respectable Left and the non-respectable Right. Namely, that this country was founded upon conquest, slavery, sexism, and class rule. The Constitution, as originally written, holds that our ownership of this land by conquest is just, that Indians are savages, that blacks may be enslaved, that women have no fit role in government, and that the (little-remembered) restriction of suffrage to men of property by state governments is valid. (I have defended right of conquest in another article) . Liberals fear that admitting that these things are the basis of our great nation will legitimate these things; conservatives that their perceived illegitimacy will undermine respect for our great nation. This fact is in itself quintessentially Straussian: society represses certain truths, either by never mentioning them or by ingeniously explaining them away, as insalubrious for public consumption. The idea that America was founded foursquare on liberty and inalienable rights is the Platonic noble lie of our republic, and as such is entirely appropriate for schoolchildren and most of the rest of us. It is not, however, the truth. I challenge anyone to deny these bald historical facts with a straight face.
 

Latro

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Mob rule seems like a really blatant issue here, though. Referenda for major federal issues (say, a national health care system) would be nice, but the sheer number of bills that Congress has to deal with is so massive that it doesn't seem feasible to try to get the public to vote on them.

Seriously, though, mob rule is one thing about which I do think the Founders really got it right (in the end the majority wins but the minorities aren't just screwed, is the gist of it), and which still applies today.
 

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I haven't read all the responses yet, but as to the article itself, I must say it's definitely not the first - and probably not the last - time I've heard all of it.

I shouldn't presume to know much about US, having been there but once. But this is exactly how it looks from the other side of the pond. And yes, other countries are similar - or rather, Europe is becoming increasingly similar, which worries a lot of people. European countries are still much more concerned with actually preserving their agriculture and industry, but the outsourcing and "mindless trading" is increasing anyway.

One point I can't agree with it completely is health care. There's a lot of debate going on about health care cost in almost every western country I can think of. The problem is, if we wanted to treat all diseases of all people, no matter how rare or expensive the treatment is, we'd need more money than all of the taxes these people pay. It goes even for the wealthiest countries (well, I'm not sure about really small ones, but for most it does) that no public health care system can provide medical coverage for every individual at no individual cost. However, if very rare and expensive in treatment illnesses were excluded, it would be possible to take care of the rest.

This brings us to a moral dilemma - should we just take care of 99% or so of society? It seems sensible, except the individuals who need expensive treatment are very unlikely to be able to afford it, and most of the time have trouble raising sufficient money. In essence, we're leaving people who are worst off to themselves.

The other approach is to make everyone pay for basic health care - pay less than they would otherwise. It's insurance-like - spreading the risk, everyone pays a little when they've got a flu, but if they've got cancer, they won't have to pay much more.

This other way is often promoted as a "fair" solution, but it's flawed in many ways. First, all the money for health care system still comes from tax-payers - they're simply paying more, but because they're doing it twice, it doesn't seem so evident as raising taxes. They're also given an illusion of more control - they choose whether to go to the doctor and pay or don't bother with it and stay at home. This is supposed to make people more responsible about using their medical coverage. But it doesn't work this way. It makes more people avoid consulting doctors, even when it's needed, and in the end general state of health in society decreases, thus resulting in more illnesses which need expensive treatments and lower productivity of people.

The other way of looking at this problem would be "why are these treatments so costly?", which makes perfect sense: most of the time drugs aren't made of extremely precious materials, and even if the production quantity doesn't make them cheaper with time, they still shouldn't be so ridiculously expensive. Sometimes it's the production process, sometimes the treatment is complex (the cost is cumulative after all), but most of the time it's the cost of research. This makes me wonder if any commercial business should have anything to do with medicine in the first place. If the research was founded only by public, one way or another, it would at least allow any cure it might find to be available to the people who actually need it.
 

Felan

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Mob rule seems like a really blatant issue here, though. Referenda for major federal issues (say, a national health care system) would be nice, but the sheer number of bills that Congress has to deal with is so massive that it doesn't seem feasible to try to get the public to vote on them.

Seriously, though, mob rule is one thing about which I do think the Founders really got it right (in the end the majority wins but the minorities aren't just screwed, is the gist of it), and which still applies today.

You keep using the phrase mob rule, which paints a negative picture. Who in their right mind would want a mob to have power. But your premise seems empty to me. A mob isn't everyone but is rather a largish group that self-organizes and begins to rampage. Others as individuals are powerless against them and by the time another largish group is able to form to counter them they will have done their damage and often already dispersed.

In Congress now you have two mobs, Democrats and Republicans. You have a number of other small groups that just try to stay out of the way.

While you think spreading voting to everyman would increase mob rule I tend to think the opposite. How many groups can muster even a million voters? A million voters would still only be 1/200th of the potential voters.
 

Latro

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You keep using the phrase mob rule, which paints a negative picture. Who in their right mind would want a mob to have power. But your premise seems empty to me. A mob isn't everyone but is rather a largish group that self-organizes and begins to rampage. Others as individuals are powerless against them and by the time another largish group is able to form to counter them they will have done their damage and often already dispersed.

In Congress now you have two mobs, Democrats and Republicans. You have a number of other small groups that just try to stay out of the way.

While you think spreading voting to everyman would increase mob rule I tend to think the opposite. How many groups can muster even a million voters? A million voters would still only be 1/200th of the potential voters.
The idea behind mob rule is IMO a rather aristocratic one that the Founders (who, one should note in any discussion, were aristocrats of their time, most definitely) managed to cleverly and carefully talk about in their documents supporting the Constitution. It's essentially, in a nutshell: "people are idiots, mostly. If you let idiots govern themselves, they will be idiots, and will harm themselves and others. Therefore, we must take some power away from the idiots, to keep them from being idiots with full force."

Now, this is still true, sadly. People really are idiots even now despite our access to much more information. We generally know about what we need to know to make our livings and nothing else. However, a more politically correct version which has some additional meaning as well is that "if you let the majority rule, the minority will suffer." I don't think I really need to cite any historical precedent to support that this is very true.

This idea is the whole reason why things like the Senate exist. The Senate still has equal representation from each state, and up until 1913 was directly subject to those states' respective governments. This was intended to appease those who took issue with majority rule, while the House of Representatives, being based on population, was intended to appease those who took issue with NOT having majority rule. The combination gets the majority more say than the minority but keeps the minority from being absolutely screwed over...in theory.

Your picture of mob rule really isn't the same thing as what I'm describing. It isn't "mobs form and take over"; it's "the majority (which is, implicitly, mostly idiots) clusters together and stifles the views of the minority."
 

Felan

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More specifically the Senate exists because slave states were concerned that the much more populous northern states would render them powerless. Concessions were even made to account a portion of the slave population toward the population of the state (for according the number in the House) even though they had no rights to vote.

Current research shows that better decisions are made as the size of group that makes the decision increases, provided those decisions are made as individuals. From guessing the number of jellybeans in a container to more complex matters, such as the outcome of elections and policy. We are as individuals much less wise, insightful, and intelligent then we are a whole. As individuals we are more prone to corruption and self-interest.

There two parties, each with their own set of biases. This limited set of viewpoints is not being guided by aristocratic benevolence, rather it is chains. There is some play in the chains to move around a bit in the domain of each party's interest but venture too far and you reach a limit.

I also didn't suggest turning all power over to the voting population. I advocate that the voting population should be essential to the process, rather than a demographic concern when election time comes. Also I think it is important that each citizen bears some direct responsibility for the laws they live under.

In my mind it's akin to the proverb, give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach a man to fish and he eats for life. There will be pressure from groups to individuals to vote certain ways, but it is still an individual's vote if they make it, especially if they make without having to share their vote with others.

I think in the balance of history, majority rule has a vastly better track record than rule by a few or even a few hundred.
 

Vrecknidj

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I have some friends who keep trying to tell me, in effect, that most of the problems in the USA will go away if we just go back to the Constitution and require all members of government to follow it. I have a couple reactions to this. The first is that I find idol worship annoying, and I think that, while the Constitution of the USA is a great document, it's imperfect and not worthy of the degree of bootlicking that I sometimes see. Second, it's an irrelevant point anyway, because neither Congress nor the President nor the Supreme Court will ever go back. The genie is out of the bottle, the cat is out of the bag, the train has left the station--whatever. It strikes me this is a little like suggesting we'd all be better off going back to being agrarians or hunters. The parties in power and their patrons have too much power for the Constitution to be re-written, so, we have no choice but to work through the existing inertia.

There are lots of tangential points that have popped up, and I kinda want to comment on them, but I don't want to go back and re-read the whole thread and comment on all of them, so I'm just going to leave it at this for now.

Dave
 

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that most of the problems in the USA will go away if we just go back to the Constitution

Your friends are right as long as we also go back to the agrarian, slave owning, white landowners only voting society we were during that very brief time in history when we were "back to the Constitution".
 
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