05-31-11, 07:39 AM #1
A More Perfect US Government
The discussion: Too much government in our lives Vs. Too little.
We US Americans get a lot of flack about how bad our government is. . . and, to make matters worse, I'm starting a thread to discuss some of the points we were discussing in another thread.
It started about here. . .
Originally Posted by superstring01
Originally Posted by madanthonywayne
Originally Posted by superstring01
Originally Posted by iceaura
Originally Posted by superstring01
Originally Posted by Tiassa
To sum it up, we're not so much discussing socialized medicine (which has come up before), put the power of the US government to deny personhood to corporations, to regulate how they intrude to American lives, creating a government that has legitimate power and oversight without giving it the power to trample on rights and a mechanism for monitoring our own government to ensure it's acting on our behalf.
05-31-11, 07:41 AM #2
I'm off to help a friend move [ugh]. . . I'll offer more of a substantial contribution to this new topic when I get back.
05-31-11, 07:43 AM #3
05-31-11, 12:02 PM #4
Agreed that corporate personhood needs abolishing...I also think there ought to be a re-establishment of the concept that the corporation needs to somehow serve the greater public good...that if it becomes actively inimical to that public good it can be disincorporated.
So I want to make corporations not be people...but I want to reinstate the corporate death penalty.
I also think that we need to establish better ways of controlling multinational corporate behavior...international enforcement of some sort of ethical and criminal standard.
That's....going to be interesting.
05-31-11, 01:02 PM #5
If you believe humans function best in a communal living arrangement, you must concede that some sort of communal rules are needed to govern conduct; the more complex our relationships and technology, the greater the need for rules (e.g. citizens of the 18th century had no need for rules relating to telecommunications).
I think most people concede that some form of government is needed. The question then becomes what form that government should take. Throughout human history we have seen the result of various kinds of government (e.g. fascism, monarchies, democracies, republics, oligarchies, etc.). I think ultimately it comes down to a personal preference. I prefer democracy. I think ultimately an informed broad group of humans will make the right choices more frequently and more consistently than any individual or select group of individuals. And I think history bears that out.
In order for a democracy or a republic to work one needs educated and well informed voters. Unfortunately, I think this is a weak link in The United States at the moment. Deregulation of the airwaves, repeal of the Fairness Doctrine by the Reagan administration (Republican) combined with the “dumbing down” of our public system of education has put the nation at peril. It remains to be seen if we will self correct.
And the question in my mind should really not be about too little or too much government. Rather it should be about government effectiveness. The government that promotes the most individual liberty and opportunity is the government that governs best in my view. I think you get that more consistently with a broad well informed democracy.
05-31-11, 01:14 PM #6
Originally Posted by chimpkin
The sticking problem is enforcement, not the law so much.
05-31-11, 01:43 PM #7
i would rather discuss the quality of the government instead of the quantity.
05-31-11, 04:20 PM #8
The core problem with the American form of government is the influence of money on the political system. There is an old idiom that says “he who has the gold make the rules”. That is the American system of government in a nutshell. And it is at the root of all of the critical problems facing the nation today, including the debt and spending crisis.
No one is serious about solving the US debt problem unless and until they start addressing the issue of campaign finance reform. Not surprisingly, the people calling for campaign finance reform are few and far between. Campaign money and personal greed are the reasons Republicans took the nation from a surplus to record deficits and a national debt approaching the national income. Why are Republicans not calling for Campaign Finance reform as part of their solution to the national debt? Why are Democrats not making campaign finance reform part of their solution to the nation’s debt problems?
Healthcare is a prefect example of how campaign finance and special interest money have inflluenced our government to the detriment of the nation...creating oligipolies that artificially drive up expenses for individuals and the nation. Today we spend almost 20 percent of the nation’s income on healthcare…far more than any other industrial nation. And the cost for healthcare has consistently risen more than twice the inflation rate. One might be able to make a case for the expensive healthcare if one could point to better results, but that is not the case. No government can be effective and responsible if those who are chartered with representing the people squander the resources of its citizenry in order to line their personal pockets and further their personal ambitions at the expense of the state.
Last edited by joepistole; 05-31-11 at 04:28 PM.
06-01-11, 01:10 PM #9
Originally Posted by Tiassa
Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place. It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautionsTo put it in terms consistent with your original sin argument, it is man's sinful nature that causes us to even need government. Unfortunately, that same sinful nature requires that limits be placed upon government .
I find this a close enough analogy to beg the question: Whence comes the libertarian presupposition that humanity is incapable of governing itself properly?
Rather than hoping for a government made up entirely of Saints, Libertarians expect men to be men and prefer a government with severe limits to protect the rights of the people. As Madison said, ambition must be set against ambition. I think we have seen in recent years how much better divided government is than government entirely under the control of one party.
If we are so fundamentally corrupt that we can never govern ourselves properly, then why bother? That's what I don't get. We came together in social units for a reason. We have evolved in that context for a reason. No, we're not perfect, but we're clearly quite capable of learning and figuring things out as we go.
Yes, power corrupts, and humans are imperfect, but that's no reason to not try.
If we surrender to our expectation of inherent corruption, we will always be corrupt
06-01-11, 01:36 PM #10
Originally Posted by madanthony
Having long since settled the issue of the rights of the people, we turn to the more recent and troublesome matter of the corporations and the banks.
As these are much less saintly and markedly more sin - beset than men, they need much more stringent limits put upon them than government - if we wish to protect the rights of the people.
And of course the issue of government meddling in the affairs of modern corporations (which are government created entities in the first place) is a different discussion from one about government meddling intrusion in the rights of people. We won't be quoting Madison very much, in defense of corporate rights - one would hope.
06-01-11, 01:46 PM #11
06-01-11, 06:30 PM #12
And I feel like I'm banging my head against the wall on this issue. It's like the obvious fact isn't allowed to be said if you're a Right-Libertarian: You already have tyrannical regimes, untouchable by any citizen, deciding how you live your life, what you eat, where you work, what type of education you can afford and innumerable OTHER things. These entities--were they a government agency of any form--would have EVERY American (right OR left) stampeding said government office for fear of its power and reach.
But, somehow, the Right-Libertarian / Conservative wing of the USA seems okay with tyrannical regimes, as long as they belong to corporations. Which is patently RIDICULOUS! Why do we need tyranny OF ANY KIND?
At no point do I call for or would enshrine more federal power in dictating how you live your life. Indeed would safely immunize Americans from ta powerful Fed through stronger constitutional reforms. That said, I want EXACTLY those same protections from corporations as well. And look at the numbers! These are corporations who's HQ's are now de facto located overseas, are protected through various international regulations away from US government intrusion, they spend billions a year looking for new ways to "get you to do what they want" and utilize debt-slavery to get Americans wound up in their no-way-out schemes.
And again, I have to fall back to "duplicity or stupidity" as an excuse why some people seem to believe it's an "either/or" scenario. As I've pointed out again, the closest I come to "social engineering" in any desire for government activity, is the one that's as old as the nation itself: Public Education. Needless to say, it's a money pit, but this "money pit" is the only way out from de facto serfdom as existed in Europe before the advent of public education. It's a horrifically impractical and inefficient institution, but--like democracy itself--it's the least worst of a handful of terrible options.
Children in the US should be protected from advertisements that are akin to Big Tobacco adverts half a century ago. Just like smoking taxes, there should be shit-food / fast-food taxes who's revenues are directed to public education and school lunches.
And that's a logical stopping point. We can turn this into a debate about public heath care (which is a good discussion, but a discussion for another thread), but it need not be. We can simply frame the movement of our federal government as this:
- The essence of the bill of rights is to keep the government of the United States from intruding upon the lives of the citizens of the United States. The citizens of the United States and the Several States shall enjoy freedom from being monitored and intruded upon by corporate entities.
- No corporate or national entity, nor third party representing or in the employ of a corporate or national entity, may monitor or selectively target children for the purpose of advertisements.
- No corporate entity may attempt to influence an elected official. Any corporate entity seeking to petition the government must do so in open session of congress or committee, except those entities who are expressly involved in national defense and who's secrecy should be kept for national security.
- No corporate entity, or a representative of a corporate entity, may attempt to influence an election, nor donate funds to aid a political candidate.
- All elections for federal office must be funded by the federal government and states respectively so that the funds are at a parity for all candidates for a given position within a given district. A minimum of 10 hours of daytime air-time (on television and radio) must be provided for free the top ten candidates based on terms determined in advance by the states and by the Congress for communicating the candidates views to the public. Should the amount of air time be increased, it must be the same for the top ten candidates. No candidate may "buy" extra air time or advertisements within periodicals, radio or television; though an established political website representing the candidate's views and cause is permitted. The three largest periodicals and/or newspapers within a given district must provide--at cost--three instances of full major pages to each of the top ten candidates so that he/she may express his/her views to the public. The top ten candidates must meet at least 5 times in public to answer questions from the public and the press (terms to be decided by the applicable board of elections).  Five times, the top ten candidates must meet in public to debate their views with each other (terms to be decided by the applicable board of elections).
- Bills concerning the levying of taxes, duties or tolls, or the appropriation of funds most concern only one specific tax, duty, toll or appropriation and must be titled as such. Any bill concerning a tax, duty, toll shall be fore no period greater than 10 years, after which time it shall be null and void. Any bill concerning an appropriation of funds shall be for no period greater than four years.
- Except during times of war or national emergency, the United States and the Several States shall keep and maintain a balanced and debt free budget. Any bill for the appropriation of funds that are not paid for by taxes or for utilizing the credit of the United States (or any bill reasonably resembling this) shall not be approved but upon 65% recorded vote in each house of congress. Said bill shall not become law unless signed by the president of the United States. Should the president veto the bill it shall be dead with no possibility of Congressional override.
- The writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended except upon rebellion of a whole state. Any suspension of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be legal except upon the approval of 65% of both houses of Congress and the signature of the president of the United States. Should the president veto the bill concerning a suspension of habeas corpus, it shall be dead with no possibility of Congressional override. The writ of habeas corpus may only no be suspended for a period greater than 30 days, after which point in time the suspension shall be null and void. (yeah, I'm actually worried about this one, concerning the Patriot Act)
And I can come up with more. And these aren't weird or outrageous. Even the Confederate States of America had one of these ideas (the rule on legislation concerning only one topic). People don't just rigorously monitor their government through the standard process: They change the process and I think we need to change the process by which we monitor our officials and operate the government as well.
Last edited by superstring01; 06-02-11 at 01:22 AM.
06-01-11, 06:33 PM #13
This, is precisely why I want changes that limit corporate power in the USA.
06-01-11, 07:31 PM #14
The usual pithy response to your standard libertarian blowhard (who is advocating corporatism using ill-suited individualist/anarchist rhetoric) is to ask him (and isn't it always a him?) why it is that the virtuous free market produces corporations that are almost-uniformly structured as centralized command bureaocracies of exactly the type he posits as the antithesis of liberty and freedom.
Occasionally it will turn out that the guy really is an anarchist/radical individualist and he'll turn on corporations as well. More often what happens is that they start adding caveats and practical considerations to their formerly-categorical rhetoric, to the point where you're left with someone who is basically advocating the status quo, but who likes to bitch about paying taxes. Apparently it is news to them that we arrived at the current system basically by spending hundreds of years grappling with exactly the question of how to best advance liberty, in the real world. Again, they tend to speak from a stilted Ayn Rand perspective that they're addressing a bunch of statist communists who'd never even considered the possibility that liberty is a valuable political ideal. Again: an excuse to complain about paying taxes in overblown terms, despite an absence of real ideas on how to improve anything.
06-01-11, 11:11 PM #15
Compared to that, the power of a corporation is nothing. Is the Coca Cola corporation going to throw me in a cell for drinking Pepsi? Is Kraft going to freeze my bank account for eating some other brand of mac and cheese?
A corporation is essentially nothing more than a group of people. Why should people lose their rights when they form a group?
06-02-11, 12:10 AM #16
So, no, they cannot "force" you to do anything. In fact, I never claimed that, and if you're so silly as to believe that I implied any such thing then the very purpose of any discussion has reached its conclusion. I hope it hasn't.
What we're talking about here is corporations--and even the government--using far more duplicitous methods (see: ChoicePoint, Xe, etc.). And why not believe it? You're an individualist, you've convinced yourself that everybody has themselves to blame for everything in their life, and while everything boils down to that fact, you're forgetting that there can be more than one to blame for any crime. Your sister--for example--who is a compulsive spender should never be allowed near a credit card again. But have you wondered why creditors keep giving her cards? Simple: they are still making their money and they always will because people are sold into slavery every day for debts. So, while we're blaming your sister for all this nonsense, let's not forget that the companies who give her credit, do so with full knowledge that she has a serious problem (your credit report is used by many--including auto insurance companies--to determine your maturity, mental health and overall competency. . . and why not? It's a great window into who you are). And yet, those companies keep doing it. They know she's an addict and keep pushing the drug on her. Do you think they'd do this without FULL knowledge that they'd be getting their money back? Don't be silly! Of course they do and, in the process, they get to create a little debt slavery. So, yeah. Your sister definitely has herself to blame for her problems**, but that you actually don't recognize the culpability of a "pusher" is nonsense.
The same thing happens with stuff like fast food. It's the modern tobacco. Kids become addicted to shit food at an early age and never get free of it. By the time they hit 30 they are similarly addicted to fast food as my parents were of tobacco. Should McDonald's be banned from serving food? Nope. But they should be required to put labels and warnings on all adds, they should be reasonably taxed and limited away from advertising to children.
(1) No, Madanthony, a corporation isn't "nothing more than a group of people". It couldn't be farther than from the truth!!! In fact, you just defied the logic that IS a corporation. A gestalt (and a corporation is a "gestalt") is defined as a complex, interconnected pattern that forms a functioning mechanism in which the whole becomes vastly greater than the sum of its parts. That "sum" in the case of a corporation can wield immense power and influence over our lives, and when that power reaches intolerable limits, is caustic to our society, destroys families and rips apart communities, people like you hide behind punchy one-liners and confusing syllogisms.
(2) If your logic stands, then similarly, a "government" is merely a collection of people. Except that in the case of the government, it actually answers to the people it serves. Believe it or not, your government has the power to wipe you out right now. The thing that stops it from doing so is a complex set of mechanisms that boil down, usually, to two things: cultural imperative (within those in the government) and legal framework (that prevents "pooling" of powers within the wrong hands). What framework do you have to curb the destructive nature of large corporations? (and don't tell me you don't believe that there are destructive corporations out there). Just try to complain to the federal government about some of the predatory lending practices or the pollution being dumped in my favorite river (Rocky River, Ohio). It'll get you no where fast.
One of the things which I can't get past, a thing that you keep either ignoring or pretending doesn't exist is that powers can be stripped away from large corporations without infringing ONE IOTA on your daily rights, the rights of groups of people to gather in any number they wish (we aren't talking about churches, protests, grass-roots movements, etc). We're talking about entities that seek government influence and/or for profit corporations seeking to undermine American culture in order to make more money.
Again, I believe that, right now, large American corporations are acting on behalf of larger political forces, usually in concert with that government you hate so much. The two area almost indistinguishable any longer. It is why, clearly, I'm the libertarian of the two. True liberatarians want humans to be free of any tiranny: Religious Organizations, Corporations, Unions, Government Bureaucracy.
I'm channeling Frank Herbert vis-a-vis Leto II (GEoD) here. Throughout the Dune Chronicles, we are brought face to face with a reality that Herbert (and the many protagonists within the stories) confront: Entrenched Untouchable Bureaucracies. The nature of all bureaucracies is to grow to the limits of available energy; to preserve the status quo for as long as possible and to stifle creativity and innovation because good and original ideas always make the people at the top uncomfortable. So "now" is attempted to be preserved forever while doling out just enough "stuff" to make everybody think that THIS bureaucratic mechanism is too important to do without. This is what libertarians like you fear in our government. But, sadly, you're missing the enemy in the room for fear of the enemy on the porch. I think you've fooled yourself into believing that somehow it's only the power of the government that we have to fear. In actually, it's entrenched and unreachable bureaucracies of any variety, no matter where they are located. It makes no difference where they are. They are like cancer. They reside in corporations, in government agencies and branches, they lie within unions and education facilities and media outlets. They are dark corners where power collects away from the light and away from the public's ability to view and adjust them.
THAT my friend is what I'm after and THAT my friend is what I'm trying to say. The choice isn't between an all powerful government entity and your freedom. Nor is it a choice between corporate dominance or federal tyranny or any other weird and scary combination thereof. There is, as I've been saying ad nauseum, a middle ground that erases those dark corners, provides a robust framework for attacking those dark areas and shining light upon them. It exists within a flexible government apparatus that--itself--is closely monitored by the people for signs of bureaucratic growth. It could be as simple and complex as:
A heavily monitored and rotating group of national jurors (say, 1000, selected at random [proportional to the states they come from] from the reasonably seasoned and upstanding members of society; brought together once a quarter and protected both by law and police to do their duty), is given the ability to discuss, investigate and (if need be) pass ANY judgment (that they see fit, not bound by law or fear of law or reprisal) on ANY government entity or corporate entity and eliminate those dark areas and remove the threat that entrenched bureaucracies pose to good and the stability of a society.
I think that a fourth branch, one that removes the politics of being elected and one that permits the power of absolute judgment on its jury; and a judgment that is final and absolutely binding in every way shape and form; not to be undone by any government branch or corporate entity. While denied the ability to create law or impose its will on a national level, it will have one power available to it: Nullification. More complexly: Dissolution and/or nullification of any corporate entity or part thereof; or government entity, law, tax, appointment, election or deployment of resources. This judgment can be temporary, conditional or absolute concerning any of the aforementioned matters. In no way can this jury indict for crimes any individual or groups or investigate any citizen or augment any person's powers. It merely sits there with the power to eliminate and nullify.
Leading this parade, the jury would elect five judges to sit on the executive counsel for five years (one selected each year, who can never have served in elected office in the federal government, never served as a governor or flag officer in the military or executive--or reasonable proximity of--a federal department). This five would have absolute and immediate access (upon their request) to any area, base, hideout, secure facility, document, top secret communication, any person or place under federal control; or that of any corporation that operates in the USA. Likewise it would have the power to subpoena before the whole jury and release any information and, by and with the permission of the jury, act according to the express powers of the national jury: neutralization of any government or corporate body, rule, law, judgment, act, deployment or smaller part thereof.
As I've said, I firmly believe that our government doesn't fear the people and should be made to. I believe a similar thing about large, international corporations.
**I preach personal responsibility from the moment I set foot at work until the moment I leave. Whenver I hear people complain about their life, I advise four life-altering easy reads: "Total Financial Makeover" by Dave Ramsey; "Don't Sweat The Small Stuff" by Richard Carlson; "Three Signs Of A Miserable Job" by Patrick Lencioni and the top dog of them all: "QBQ: The Question Behind The Question" by John G. Miller
Last edited by superstring01; 06-02-11 at 09:15 AM.
06-02-11, 12:35 AM #17
string, even yours are minor issues. Like it or not the goverment DOES restict what companies can do, if you want to look at what would happen without a strong goverment to regulate look what BHP has been accused of doing in 3rd world countries, or BP or pharmacutical companies illegally testing drugs on unsuspecting populations.
06-02-11, 12:55 AM #18
Honestly, I have tremendous difficulty fathoming how anyone can believe that what you are describing is substantively different from being "allowed to use physical force to impose its will." In fact, the manners by which corporations get around that minor technical detail, i.e., not being allowed to use physical force, in order to achieve the same ends are ofttimes far more insidious and devastating than much of what our present States can "get away with."
Even if one is insistent upon being the ultimate literalist, I can name many ways in which corporations do employ actual "physical force" in order to impose their will--I mean, ever hopped a freight train? Those guys that sometimes catch up with ya, and subsequently beat the crap out of you or shoot you with rock salt, aren't exactly proper law enforcement employed by the "state."
06-02-11, 01:14 AM #19
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