Can democracy last?

Discussion in 'Science & Society' started by Crcata, May 1, 2016.

  1. Crcata Registered Senior Member

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    *********If this is the wrong section of the forum I apologize and ask a GM move it*************

    So it has been a couple years this question has been on my mind, every since I read an article about it, and some of the things mentioned made sense to me.

    To explain, I cant remember who wrote it or the name of it...or even where I read it lol. However the main idea was that democracy could not last, because in democracy someone always loses. And in almost every issue we have, the amount of "losers" is pretty significant in size. And the losers are rarely ok with it.

    The elaborate further, the sense of community that was possibly once shared is vastly gone and replaced by a "me" mentality. Instead of accepting loss of a social issue and abiding by the rules for the sake of peace, going about the changing of policy and law the "proper way" with the understanding that is how democracy works (sometimes you win sometimes you don't), there is conflict. At the best of times people spread hate through various means (social media, media, rallys, etc) and at the worst there is violence in the streets.

    "Why should I follow a president I didn't vote for?" Why Should I conceal my gun, if I don't think I should have to?" "Why should I do X if I believe Y?". These are examples of mindsets that becoming more prevalent according to this article, and I would have to agree based off my own life experiences. An increase of rebelliousness disguised often times under different philosophies of freedom, intelligence, critical thinking, and right/wrong, etc.

    So the question that was brought up was essentially, how can democracy survive with this line of thinking?

    I could go on, but it would serve as more of a rant. What are your opinions on this?
     
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  3. Ophiolite Valued Senior Member

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    Before I answer in any detail, I sense you are coming at this from a US perspective. If so, have you considered the different perceptions of what democracy is, across the globe and across generations?
     
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  5. sculptor Valued Senior Member

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    I am in/from the U.S.A.
    So, I have never lived in a democracy---a.k.a. tyranny of the majority, aka tyranny of the mob.

    from Tytler:
    "The people flatter themselves that they have the sovereign power. These are, in fact, words without meaning. It is true they elected governors; but how are these elections brought about? In every instance of election by the mass of a people—through the influence of those governors themselves, and by means the most opposite to a free and disinterested choice, by the basest corruption and bribery. But those governors once selected, where is the boasted freedom of the people? They must submit to their rule and control, with the same abandonment of their natural liberty, the freedom of their will, and the command of their actions, as if they were under the rule of a monarch"

    Here we have Tweedism.
    Which just may be falling apart?

    from wiki:
    The following quotation has been attributed to Tytler, although it has also been occasionally attributed to Alexis de Tocqueville:[citation needed]

    A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.
    The average age of the world's greatest civilisations from the beginning of history has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence: From bondage to spiritual faith; From spiritual faith to great courage; From courage to liberty; From liberty to abundance; From abundance to selfishness; From selfishness to complacency; From complacency to apathy; From apathy to dependence; From dependence back into bondage.

    (For the recent usa, I would replace "voters" with corporations, the rich and powerful, and the mic.)
     
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  7. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

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    Not in the present form in USA. Alexis de Tocqueville explained why back in 1835 with two volume book: Democracy_in_America
    And that was back when only responsible, male, property owners could vote. Not the ignorant whom candidates now promise "goodies" to with the bill sent to the not yet born.
    Debt per Citizen = $59,452 and that does not include state, private or corporate debts, just the federal debt.
    data from: http://www.nationaldebtclocks.org/debtclock/unitedstates

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    That includes state and other public debts = about 25 TRILLLION dollars now!

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    Last edited: May 1, 2016
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  8. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    24,270
    That's not how it went with the Mayans, the Inca, the Romans, the Mongols, the Chinese before the Mongols, the Egyptians, the Japanese, the Ottomans, the Mughals, and so forth. It's not the sequence here: http://nationalinterest.org/feature/indias-five-greatest-empires-all-time-12833 That's not how the modern Chinese are doing things.

    If you want to class the US among history's great civilizations just past its 200th year, the sequence might be courage to faith, faith to bondage, bondage to abundance, abundance to selfishness, selfishness to war, war to liberty, liberty to courage, courage to abundance, abundance to war, war to more liberty, liberty to courage, courage to more abundance, abundance to selfishness, selfishness to faith, faith to complacency, complacency to dependency, dependency to fear, fear to whatever comes next - selfishness? Seems like it's on the table.

    Somewhere in there you need a recognition of physical reality, especially on a science forum. Several empires have fallen to war and climate, for example, after being built on increasing bondage.
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2016
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  9. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    24,270
    edit in (don't mean to betray anyone's approval) Reality check: the current US public debt is primarily from two things: a sharp and continuing reduction in the taxes paid by the wealthy starting in 1980, and the cost of global military adventuring. We've been fighting global war on credit. Ordinary citizens voting themselves largesse from the public coffers has nothing to do with that (we are just now facing our very first national election in which the stereotypical recipients of public coffer largesse may - may, possibly, if they show up as they never have before - have the dominant vote and enact their will).

    The key factor in any capitalistic economy is curbing predation, in particular via taxation of the wealthy. If you can't do it, you're screwed.
     
  10. joepistole Deacon Blues Valued Senior Member

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    22,875
    There will always be losers in any kind of system, but in democracies the majority always win. Democracies always produce more winners than losers by definition. That doesn't mean the "winners" will always make good decisions. But no system of governance does that.

    This goes to education, in democracies, citizens are the decision makers. They can make good decisions or they can make bad decisions. To mitigate the bad decisions, voters need to be well informed and educated. With a well informed and educated voter, there should be no reason why voters would make poor decisions in the ballot box. This gets to the notion of good citizenship. When I was in school many years ago, citizenship was taught in the classroom. I don't think that is the case now days, and that's bad news. That's how you get clowns like the one you referenced. We need well informed educated voters, and that is lacking in American voters these days, and that is a danger to our democracy.
     
  11. Ophiolite Valued Senior Member

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    Whoever said, "In a democracy you get the government you deserve", was correct.
     
  12. joepistole Deacon Blues Valued Senior Member

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    I don't know where you got that chart but it's very clearly bullshit. The US didn't end WWII with virtually no debt. Below is a correct chart of US debt, including projected debt. And has been discussed with you before, the important debt metric is debt as a percentage of GDP (i.e. income). Below is such a chart:

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    The US has had higher debt levels in the past, and it has paid down its debt. The reason US debt has risen and will rise in the future, is because of tax cuts for America's wealthiest citizens beginning in the 1980's with Reagan, the Great Recession of 2007-2009, and Baby Bush's unfunded wars and Medicare Part B. Both the wars and Medicare Part B were not something voters demanded. It was "Tweedism" for lack of a better term. And it's a clear example of why electoral and ethics reforms are so desperately needed.

    PS: The US could fix its debt problem as it did after WWII by reverting to historical tax rates.
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2016
  13. joepistole Deacon Blues Valued Senior Member

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    Well here is the thing, you can have "Tweedism" with any other form of government too. "Tweedism" is most prevalent in autocracies. It is less prevalent in democracies.
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2016
  14. sculptor Valued Senior Member

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  15. Crcata Registered Senior Member

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    210
    So it looks mostly like yall agree that it cant last. And some appear to not want it to? Using phrases like tyranny of the majority.

    So if democracy isnt what we should have, then what can work? What should we have as a form of government?
     
  16. Crcata Registered Senior Member

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    210
    Sry, and no I havent considered anything other than our version. Just not really aware of the differences.
     
  17. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

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    Look at lower right corner of chart and read: USgovernmentspending.com
    I don't know anything about them and you probably don't either but that will not stop you from saying they are a not creditable organization.
    You have a strong record of attacking the sources of data you don't like, instead of refuting the data with different data.

    There you can find it by years broken down into several sectors For example in 2016 thus far in the fiscal year.
    Function2016 Total Spending $6.7 trillion
    Pensions$1.3 trillion
    Health Care$1.5 trillion
    Education$1.0 trillion
    Defense$0.8 trillion
    Welfare$0.5 trillion which of these or the earlier FY data is BS?

    Function2015 Total Spending$6.4 trillion
    Pensions$1.2 trillion
    Health Care$1.4 trillion
    Education$1.0 trillion
    Defense$0.8 trillion
    Welfare$0.5 trillion
    Data is given annually for 2004 and later years. Before that is 2000 and then only by decades. I. e. 1990, 1980, 1970 ... 1820, 1810, 1800
    Most states are slow to file their data, so when needed to get current FY in 2004 or later as needed, the reported data of prior years was extrapolated forward.

    This separates out Federal and gives the others (not corrected for inflation i.e. "nominal")
    2014, 2015 & 1016
    (Sorry I can't get columns alingned with dates)
    Federal Spending 3.5 3.7 4.0
    State Spending 1.5 1.6 1.6
    Local Spending 1.7 1.8 1.8
    Intergovernmental Transfers -0.6 -0.6 -0.7
    Total Spending 6.2 6.4 6.7
    Spending: actual budgeted but for State & local guesstimated / estimated by extrapolation

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    At this site there is data on almost anything spending and debt related item you could wish for, and quite broken down to items, spenders etc.

    Time limit for edit post 4 has past, but I should note that of the total public debt, 25.2 trillion, the Federal part is 19.2 trillion -again from: http://www.nationaldebtclocks.org/debtclock/unitedstates


    But don't worry, Joepistole assures us this data is bull shit.
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2016
  18. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

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    21,371
    How about a United Earth planetary state? Then extending that once we make "first contact" and start exploring the stars, to a "United Federation of Planets"?

    Some may say I have watched too much Star Trek....Perhaps, but 'tis a dream I have.

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  19. joepistole Deacon Blues Valued Senior Member

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    As I said, I don't know your source. But I do know the chart is bullshit for the previously stated reasons. Per the debt chart I provided, US debt has been much higher in the past and it has been paid down. Further, there is no evidence the US debt is unmanageable or a detriment to the US economy. The fact is US tax rates on the uber rich have been far too low for far too long.
     
  20. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

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    I went back and found no "previously stated reasons" - just your unsupported claim post 4 chart is "bull shit."

    Lets note last part of the post 4 chart extends to 2020, so that part is extrapolation of trends, but current the Federal debt is 19.2 trillion and total of non-Federal debt public debt is about 5.4 trillion. Which part is bull shit?

    I do agree that the tax on the "uber rich" is way too low. As Warren Buffett, noted his tax rate (on his income) is LESS than his secretary's. A major factor in why the rich get richer and the middle class is at best stagnate.
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2016
  21. joepistole Deacon Blues Valued Senior Member

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    22,875
    You didn't read, "The US didn't end WWII with virtually no debt. Below is a correct chart of US debt, including projected debt. And has been discussed with you before, the important debt metric is debt as a percentage of GDP (i.e. income)."

    Seriously BillyT....? We have had this discussion numerous times over the years and as recently as a few weeks ago. I have done this calculation numerous times for you. The real debt is about 11 trillion dollars, once you take out all the debt the government owes to itself.

    And it is also the reason for US debt. If the US government doesn't increase taxes on the uber rich, we will continue to accumulate more debt.
     
  22. Edont Knoff Registered Senior Member

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    512
    a) Democracy is one of the better known systems. There are few alternatives, and none seem to be clearly better.
    b) "Pure" democracy can develop into tyranny of the majority. E.g. a larger group can vote that a smaller group must serve as slaves. There is nothing to stop such a vote in a pure democracy. But most real democracies have counter-measures like minority protection laws to counter these problems. A known problem is often also a solved problem.

    I agree to some extend that democracy won't last. Some day we might find something better. At the moment there is no clearly better system known yet. So until a better system becomes known, it will last.

    http://www.saidwhat.co.uk/articles/government.php

    This is largely what I think about democracy too. It's not that great, but we don't have anything much better to switch to at the time being.
     
  23. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

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    Yes the federal debt to the Social Security trust fund is large, but point you miss is that it will be paid - can not be ignored.

    In fact most of the presidential candidates want an increase in SS's benefits. That means if it happens, the federal government will be redeeming the bonds in the SS trust fund sooner - I. e. Paying them off with dollars that SS will pay out.

    Same is true of most of the federal debt to other government agencies. I. e. Not only will it paid, but as benefits cost tend to rise, it will be fully paid sooner.
     

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