The Decision of Two Lifetimes
What is it that has doubled your average human lifespan within the last century and a half, and which has enhanced the quality of our lives from the days of Dickens? Well, if you take this article in Slate at its word, it’s good government that does the trick.
Is it that we need some protective force hovering over us, because we don't know what's good for us? Not at all. We made a decision as a people to progressively improve our lives as a nation. We decided we wanted better sanitation. We decided we wanted our food, our drugs, our drinking water to be neutral at worse, when it comes to our health. Good drinking water alone constitutes a major advance.
We cast aside the superstitions regarding the causes of our illnesses, and embraced the science on what was affecting all our lives, moving out of the medieval notions of bad airs and bad humors towards something better.
A lot of folks look at things a century and a half ago, and are nostalgic. If you need to know why you shouldn't be, look at two Georges who have been President.
One George, The Washington kind, dies at 67, a good ripe age for his time, but he was upper class. It's how he died that's important. They basically were bleeding him and giving him laxatives to make him have diarrhea. He dies of his respiratory disease, the cause of his illness unknown to this variation on medicine almost so old that it was almost B.C. rather than A.D. in its origins. He died of traditional medicine, as it was at the time, medicine that was regarded to work, well, because it just was.
The more recent George, George Herbert Walker Bush, is still alive a full score of years senior to our first president, despite himself being a recent victim of pneumonia. I'll also wage he has more of his teeth, too. And why? Because, while imperfect as most human endeavors are and must be, the medicine of today is based on ongoing study and critical review of what we assume to be facts and truths of the human body. The medicine of today is based on science, not merely tradition maintained over a long period of time.
His son and his successor are both alive, too, when their days might have be more numbered. Both benefited from what science has learned about the heart. And it's not just the rich who benefited, but people like my father, and if my family history is any sign, me one day.
Scratch that. I've already lived about thirty three years longer than I likely would have. I was born premature, my breathing so badly affected I was turning blue. Only medical intervention of a kind unknown in Washington's time saved me. Babies born as early as I was don't manufacture enough of the surfactant that keeps the microscopically fine parts of our lungs from sticking together, thanks to the necessarily moist lining.
Oh, and I had my own bout with Pneumonia when I was nine, so I could have been dead then, or long in recovering, weakened by my bout with it. Oh, and of course there are also all those other childhood diseases we all get, but pay no heed.
Oh, and yes, sanitation.
There are many people who are nostalgic for the old days. It's easy to be nostalgic for those times from the comforts of these times. But if you're from my neck of the woods, if you were living here a century and a half ago, you were very likely to be a lot less healthier for a rather nasty reason.
And that had consequences. That had effects on Southerners and their ability to prosper. Even today, many stereotypes haunt Southerners that likely stemmed from the fact that Southerners were weighed down in their health, their intelligence, and their ability to do work by these bloodsucking parasites. A simple advance in sanitation, the fact that people were pooping in a deep hole in the ground which allowed people to keep their distance from their own waste, spelled the difference between a people who could barely function, to the powerful, thriving economy of today. Healthy people drive healthier economies.
In our nostalgia, largely fueled by fiction created by nobody with any living experience of those times, we see those times as simpler, more innocent. Let me suggest something different: let me suggest that their lives were just as complicated as ours, and many of those complications are from our perspective avoidable.
Take this particular set of fellow travelers, loyal in their own way. Or fleas for that matter. These were common problems for people, especially in bath-shy medieval times (though the baths themselves weren't necessarily entirely wholesome, given the fact they weren't chlorinated or anything.)
People of this time are concerned with racial prejudice, but in those days, prejudice could even burrow down to the country of your origin, especially in the days when some let their ideas about evolution outpace what was scientifically sound to assume.
Most people alive today are intimately attached to climate control, and fewer people die of heat or cold the way they once did. Infections from wounds don't kill people in the numbers they once did, though that seems to be on the rise again.
We aren't as helpless as we once were, though nature has a way of reasserting herself from time to time, just to remind ourselves how far modern society's science and technology has distanced ourselves from the ordeals of the past.
The state of modern public health is a result of a set of decisions we made in governing ourselves. By that, I do not simply mean government by what we refer to as the federal government, or even state government. I also mean self-government, what we do to moderate and structure our own behavior.
One reason we don't have the intimate dealings with fleas and lice that our ancestors did is that we're actually in the habit of taking care of ourselves in a way they weren't. We bathe regularly, we employ chemical agents to counteract the effects of literally lousy situations.
One reasons we don't see cholera outbreaks, or other waterborne diseases is that we have sewage systems for removing and treating our wastes, and water treatment plants for breaking the cycle coming from our water sources coming to us.
We see fewer foodborne illnesses because we've literally laid down the law on the subject, not allowing grocery stores or restaurants to store food at certain temperatures, regulating the cleanliness and quality of food preparation, and making sure that the systems that supply the raw ingredients aren't compromised, contaminated. We also developed means for preserving food and transported it so the molds, microbes and other creatures didn't beat us to the punch in eating it up.
We also deal with food differently, likely enough, having changed our standards as to what's edible. Five-Second rule aside, few of us would eat food that's been on the floor. We stick things in the refrigerator, and before we had those, the icebox. We wash food, often enough. We're not born with these rules, as I bet parents among you can attest. They are learned.
The current conservative tendency is to portray government as Other, as being some nebulous presence. But if you take the Framers at their word, government isn't other. It's us. Part of that government isn't done by some bureaucrat or official, it's done by us, carried out in what we decide, debated between ourselves. The formal government isn't expected to take complete care of us, and really shouldn't.
However, if you go through the history of all the advancements covered in the article that starts this post, you'll find many would not have been possible without government in the formal, normal sense that we use the word.
As we learned about microorganisms, the germ theory of disease, we made a decision that certain things could not be confronted just by individual action. We decided together, through our mayors and city councils, our county and parish officials, our governor and state legislators, our Congress and our executive branch that we would change the rules by which our society was governed, and that we would develop the infrastructure necessary to handle sanitation and keep our food and water supply safe from contamination, to slow the spread of disease, and to make sure that the medicines and treatments we received would actually do real good, not imaginary good or even harm. We decided to change the standards by which we lived.
Is it a coincidence that about the time we started doing this, that we made the transition from being a rural society to being an urban one? No, it is not. Urban life, at our concentrations of population, with all the people crowded together, would not be possible without the kinds of health problems that plagued cities before. Only with proper sanitation, with a dependable supply of pure food and clean water could the cities maintain themselves.
Civilization is not an accident. In part, it is a discipline. It is something we learn to do to avoid our ancestor's Hobbesian fate of living lives that are nasty, brutish, and short. I don't see that kind of discipline on the right, as much as I would want to. There are too many people looking to cut back, rollback, and otherwise attempt to dump us back about a century with the unfounded mindset that somehow these were a happier, more prosperous time. All the intervening years during which we became, say, the most powerful, the richest nation in the world seem to be irrelevant to them. The progress not made on their watch is null and void in its value.
That's one way of looking at it. Or we can see this in much simpler terms: we left behind many of the practices they want back because they failed back then, however much some people liked them. America decided as a nation that things weren't going so well the other way, so we'd take a different path. Government didn't expand by sneaking around people's backs. Government expanded because people wanted it to, because their trust was abused by those they had expected to do right by them.
Some would say the market should play the role of moderating such behavior, and in some cases it does work that way. However, as times have changed, we've become a much larger and more populous country. Accountability is no longer manageable at a local level. In the time of George Washington, you'd likely haggle and barter with a local merchant, and this fellow would be out of luck if he alienated too many people. Now? You try negotiating with your grocer or some guy in an electronics store. Most of the time, it doesn't quite work the old fashioned way, and with good reason: they answer to somebody else. It's not their profit margin they're going into, it's somebody else's, and that somebody else, at best, can report up the food chain, rather than get fired trying to do right by the customer.
Power gets concentrated among a few, even as their reach, and the effect of their business decisions becomes nationwide, even international. Movements in the market have to be enormous in order to dent bottom lines and where monopolies or other paralyses of the market occur, the effect of disgruntlement on the part of the consumer becomes less and less effective at reining in bad actors.
Hence, increased authority to the government, to a third person that can intervene with our power to back them up.
That's worked, so long as we have the guts, the backbone to stand up for our own interests. It helped make us great.
I know certain Russian Tyrants who shall go unnamed have a problem with American exceptionalism. I don't. But I don't believe something so arrogant as America simply being great just because. I believe that America is exceptional, because it's gone the distance on remaking the world in so many important ways. It's done amazing things, and could do amazing things still. I think what's happened to us is that we've gotten complacent, and from complacent to decadent. We've lost vision, and i don't look at what my rival on the right propose, all the cuts and the angry obstructionism, and see a real vision. I see the aching hole a vision left when their myths were dashed on the rocks of the great recession, of Bush's failure in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Is it our fate simply to slide back into the Pre-war isolationism? To take a back seat to the Chinese, and let them or whatever the next haven for cheap labor is have all the good manufacturing jobs? Are we going to continue trying to coast on the legacy of our industrious fathers, grandfathers and great grandfathers, rather than build and modernize our infrastructure for today's needs?
America has always thrived as a nation that sets itself dynamically on the frontier of modern civilization. We're not folks who are happy standing still, hunkering down, and waiting for the world to pass us by. For me, American Exceptionalism is an attitude that's geared towards being exceptional, rather than towards boasting that you are. One reason I loved that we elected Barack Obama, for example, is that meant that nobody could say anymore that if you weren't white or male, that if you didn't have some WASPy name, that you couldn't get elected. It's normalized the ambitions of so many people for public office, opened the door that much wider for a generation of Americans.
We're no longer just promising something, we're delivering! For me, with my preferences for the concrete, for real progress over moral victory, that means something. That means I can take my nation's glory that much more seriously. I can take heart that these things we say are not just words.
Some folks think that my sort of "living constitution" attitude is a product of a lack of belief. That's their mistake. The truth is, I think anybody can make claims to support some virtues, to proclaim some rights. They can list them on a piece of paper... and then what? Great symbols, great ideas and concepts! But what do they have to do with reality?
For me, it's important that these great ideas, these worthy ideas, these ideas that people have struggled, fought, and died to protect, and not just on the battlefield, are not simply left to float in the ether, but have some real substance brought to them here, where we need them the most.
There is more to government than just a bunch of people debating politics, trading rhetorical blows, trying to bully one another. There are needs to be taken care of, conflicts and disputes to be mediated, an a civilization to uphold in both prosperity and stability. It's high time folks stop treating at their personal political plaything, and start taking care of the business that document they like to wave around so much asks them to, that WE ask them to.
And if they can't? If we value our lives, if we value America's place in the world, we should kick them out on their asses. Because we would not be the first, nor the last society to go into decline trying to reclaim a past we left behind to get to greater glory.
Posted by Stephen Daugherty at September 13, 2013 6:27 AM
Zimbabwe has a government but it’s life expectancy is only 45!
Did everyone sit around and expect other people to supply clean drinking water, or did someone discover the benefits of clean drinking water and tell other people about it?
Did everyone wait until a government was formed before they realized keeping their crap out of their drinking water was a good idea?
I’m sorry, what office was Jonas Salk elected to? When did the government put together the March of Dimes?
Government is just a selfish boss that takes credit for the employee’s work.
We did a wonderful job building transport and public health infrastructure. The problem is that government doesn’t do that well anymore.
Government should do things like thiss. You might think it also should support Head Start, PBS, national parks, Meals on Wheels, Pell grants to help poor high school graduates, Alzheimer’s research, solar power experiments, subsidies for high-speed rail, drug safety etc. Do you know what percentage we spend on these things? Today it is 4% and in ten years CBO says it will drop to 2.7%.
It was a SMALLER and more focused government that did those great things in public health. Today, we evidently cannot build new sewer systems, dams or pipelines.
What has grown is entitlements, redistribution and trouble. This is what we object to.
It should come as no surprise that our vastly bigger government cannot accomplish as much as our smaller and leaner government did. It is like an athlete who let himself go. He used to weigh 180lbs; now he is 280lbs. He is bigger, but is he as fast, agile or able? If you put him on a diet, he may complain that he is hungry, but would eating more get him back to his old agile way?
I actually wrote about that http://www.watchblog.com/republicans/archives/008507.html
We need to restore government virtue, so that it can do its core functions and leave the other things to the people.
The March of Dimes was founded in 1938 by FDR. The vaccine was mandated by many places before they’d allow kids into classes, as they do with other vaccines.
There’s no point to hogging the credit for all these developments, but without government, we don’t get standardization. We don’t get testing of vaccines like this to make sure they’re safe and effective. We also don’t get many more scientific and medical discoveries that get funded by our tax dollars.
As for drinking water? Well, folks weren’t drinking right out of where the sewer pipes were. They kept their distance, and they thought that would protect them. But it didn’t. You had bacteria and viruses contaminating that water, and it didn’t have to be filled with turds to be such. It could be perfectly clear, yet have that contamination.
So, the issue became, how did they break that feedback loop? Well, Water Treatment Plants and Municipal sewage lines and treatment plants. For millions, government provides these things, and government is well suited to do so.
You’re not getting my point.
My point is simple: government is of the people, by the people, and for the people, and in our form of government, we govern ourselves, as private individuals. It’s not important whether government did everything, but it’s part of what we use in order to further our own interests, to make our society happier, healthier, and more productive.
It’s ours to use, ours to pressure and purify as we see fit. The only thing that stands in the way of our getting what we want out of it is a lack of the willpower to do so. And how do we lose that willpower? By accepting the premise that government belongs to somebody else, and always will. Democracy like ours requires that we ride herd on officials. If we give up, become resigned, it helps them stay in office even if they’re doing what we don’t want.
Why do you think that percentage is dropping? What do you think it is that your Tea Party Republicans are targeting?
Virtually every system you name there is suffering from the cuts that came from sequestration, cuts that were the compromise to the ones your party forced and Obama didn’t want. That percentage is going down because many of those good and even necessary goals are being shortchanged.
And this isn’t some goal we developed through study, it was a stupid penalty meant to force Congress to act deliberatively and get more judicious and exacting on it.
I don’t mind if by making the government more efficient, better at its job, that it’s relative size and expense goes down. If you can manage that, more power to you. What concerns me is that the quality of government in real terms is not even being considered. The consequences are not being weighed. The machete is simply being drawn out and the limbs hacked off in the name of politics and looking good to voters who have been fed on a diet of political junk food.
That’s what this Small Government Mania is to me. While I have no objections to making things more efficient, more cost effective, to reducing the cost of government, I want it to be done in a way that preserves the good that government does.
Medicare and Medicaid can surely be made more efficient, as can social security. The Military, the Pentagon can DEFINITELY be made more efficient. Doing those items, I believe, will definitely help the American people. But we have to preserve the good that they do. Old folks should not have a retirement in destitution and dependence to look forward to. It shouldn’t be gambled on a stock market that’s already gutted many people’s retirement investments, postponing the movement of Baby Boomers into retirement. And I don’t think we should be privatizing Medicare and putting it in the hands of folks who have already operated Medicare Advantage with much less efficiency than its government administrated counterpart.
We need to be practical minded, more than politically minded. We need to stow all the slogan-born politicking, and get into the nitty-gritty of what each program does and how it does it. Republicans don’t do that anymore. They’ve lost their skill at being responsible policy makers. And why not? You decide who wins by who says they hate the government the most. You get what you vote for.
Depends on the type of government.
Many are oppressive.
Many are plutocracies and/or kleptocracies.
Many governments steal and rob too much from their citizens.
Many governments are as bad as no government , and murder their citizens by the thousands and millions.
Some government to potect citizens’ rights is a good thing.
The U.S. Is in decline due to too much bloat, greed, waste, and being a government that is FOR-SALE, AND a majority of voters who repeatedly reward corrupt incumbent politicians with perpetual re-election rates of 85% to 90+%.
Responsibility = Power + Virtue + Education + Transparency + Accountability
Corruption, Pain, and Misery = Power - Virtue - Education - Transparency - Accountability
At any rate …
The % has been dropping since the 1960s, when even the older Tea Party folks were not active in politics.
The red tape has been growing since that time too. We built LaGuardia Airport in about a year. Today we could not even break ground on a hot dog stand that fast. Hoover Dam, started by a Republican president and Republican Congress, BTW, was completed in around five years. In other words, if the Obama stimulus had been applied like that, it would be finished.
My experience is that when thing get too big, they stop working well. I have been experimenting in my own work with “under staffing.” I have been giving less resources and fewer people to projects. They have been working better. Very often, more is not better.
As government gets bigger, more accretes. Some things just need not be done and some things that need be done need not be done by government.
You rightly criticize some conservatives for giving up on government. We should be there to do less and accomplish more. But this is very hard in government, where you are judged by the amount of resource you seem to deploy rather than the results you produce.
Almost every day, I think of the lines from Macbeth that describe lots of government activity, it is a tale, told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
As I wrote on other occasions, I liked Obama’s appointee Cass Sunstein. I read his books and watched his actions. He asked of regulations what it was good for, what it would do and what it would cause to happen perhaps not as part of its ostensible purpose. We have always to be careful. It is easier to identify problems than to come up with workable solutions and identifying a problem does not imply a solution and especially a government solution.
Re the “nitty gritty” of programs - I see this kind of thing. I am morally certain that we could cut 5-10% off almost any program IF allowed to cut where it made sense. It is my belief that most programs would work BETTER if they were leaner. Political influence ensures that some of the most wasteful programs get the most money. And career protecting bureaucrats will never attack these things. Even if they do, they will be overwhelmed by the system.
Re “gambling” on the stock market - a person who invests reasonably over a working life is not gambling in any sense beyond all life being a gamble. I started doing regular investments in 1986. That means I lived through “crashes” in 1987, 1991, 2000 & 2008. Today I have about four times as much as I would have had with government securities. Even after the crash of 2008, I was still well ahead.
I don’t propose getting rid of SS. But it should be insurance, not a life support for most people. Your generation cannot afford paying for mine. We will live a long time on your money and you will be paying two or three times as much as I did. While I thank you for your support, I really don’t want to enslave you to my comfort.
The only thing that stands in the way of our getting what we want out of it is a lack of the willpower to do so. And how do we lose that willpower? By accepting the premise that government belongs to somebody else, and always will. Democracy like ours requires that we ride herd on officials. If we give up, become resigned, it helps them stay in office even if they’re doing what we don’t want.
If you take that:
By accepting the premise that government belongs to somebody else, and always will.
to it’s core we can blame the 17th amendment for that lack of willpower.
By telling the people they have more control of their government and in the same stroke of the wand taking that control away via. watering down their influence in the election of senators, we have disassociated the people from their government. We have given the election of senators to the ignorant and taken it away from the people who have the most influence and knowledge, the state legislatures.
We have representation in the federal government via. the House of Representatives. We have gotten greedy by insisting we also be represented by the Senate. This greed is born out by the idea that senators can’t take a principled stand because they are afraid of losing an election! They’re not supposed to be worried about being elected again! They’re supposed to be worried about protecting their state from an encroaching federal government!
All of the things mentioned in your reply, Stephen Daugherty, can be taken care of by local and state governments. A huge federal government is not necessary if you have responsible and attentive citizens paying attention to local governments. If enough states believe the same thing then there is the mechanism in place to include the federal government. But to insist the federal government is the know-all and the end-all to every problem no matter how small or contrived is the recipe for the disaster we now face.
The main reason life expectancies have risen since the days of Dickens has virtually nothing to do with Government.
It all has to do with advancements in science, medicine and medical research. I will say that there has been a great deal of government-related grants that went to many research universities over the last 100 years; however, the bulk of medical breakthroughs materialized from brilliant experimentation and risk takers who wanted to help society.
There’s no question that numerous governmental entities and quasi-governmental agencies have played an integral part in protecting our drinking water, waterways and other natural resources. But, like C.J., et al.,have said earlier, there’s no reason why these governmental agencies need to continue.
There’s a myriad of private entities that could and should take the lead.
Finally, each citizen also has to take personal responsibility for how he or she treats their bodies. Proper nutrition, exercise, avoiding drugs, alcohol and tobacco products, can obviously help or hurt one’s life-span.
I’m all for personal responsibility! The Bloomberg type of nanny state antics are ridiculous!!!
If I want to take risks, let me decide. I abhor many of the liberal elitists and government agencies that interfere with my/our civil liberties.
Btw, the EPA is a joke these days.
The growth of Social Security, Medicare, and other such spending has to do with the change, but also the fact that these small change parts of federal spending are easy for politicians to go after.
As for your moral certainty? Anybody can be morally certain. Many dictators and autocrats are morally certain. I talk about the nitty-gritty details because that is the only logical place to test the hypotheses of cost benefit analysis. Your folks didn’t bother to really weigh cost and benefit in their cuts, they just forged ahead with moral certainty. What we feel is right, though, isn’t always right. We can be mistaken, and relying on the mass of ill-will that the conservatives have for government means they’ve got an awful lot of conviction that they’re right, and not a lot of nitty-gritty details slowing them down so they make wise, smart choices instead of undertaking kneejerk responses.
As for Social Security? I agree that people should save for retirement. However, some people simply aren’t in a position to. Their jobs don’t have the benefits, their lives don’t have the stability (especially after your economic policies) to simply let that much money slip. Conservative economic policy has encouraged a debt-driven approach to life, and that’s not conducive to savings.
Direct popular election of Senators has lead to people caring less about politics in Washington?
Your logic is tied in knots. I mean, I just can’t untangle all the conflict impulses. You know what this is really about? The people who are trying to dupe you with this BS want the more conservative, gerrymandered state legislatures to decide, rather than the more liberal populace, which you put down as ignorant.
I believe in feedback loops. I also believe people only get educated about the responsibility of electing the right people from seeing what electing the wrong people does, and that’s a lot of what my recent posts have been about: all the things that are not functioning right since we let the Tea Party flood our legislatures, state and federal.
Either we learn to care, or we learn to suffer. That’s self-government.
Kevin L. Lagola-
Look, knowledge by itself is nothing. If you don’t have the infrastructure or the legal authority to create the kind of standards we do, it wouldn’t happen. Or put another way, it didn’t happen by itself, as you claim it would.
I don’t want a Bloomberg nanny state, nor interference with Civil Liberties, but what strikes me is the fact that you don’t even question whether some of these things would just be better left in place. You don’t consider the unaccountability of businesses to the general public, thinking the market will just take care of everything. I’ve seen plenty of counterexamples. Government needs to be separate and distinct from private enterprise for a reason. It has a set of interests it should be taking care of, rather than being excessively business friendly, and just assuming that a business’s self interests are our nation’s public interests.
Nice explanation of how newer generations have been led to believe materialism trumps freedom.
What it’s really about is getting the federal government back to it’s intended configuration. It’s about getting the federal government back to being an equal with the states, not it’s master. It’s about getting the individual to be independent and self reliant not a slave and dependent on the federal government
Government is a necessity, too much government is retarded.
Some problems should be solved at the county level, some at the state level and some at the national level.
For example, much of East Texas where I live is under outdoor burning bans because of how tinder dry everything is. These decisions are made at the county level which knows best what the local conditions are and which are the proper regulations.
Each state should be responsible for certain statewide issues as they are best suited to apply the correct and most efficient solutions.
And, the national government should be involved in national issues which should not be that numerous. However, the national government has overreached its bargain with the states as outlined in our founding documents.
Consequently we have seen a mushrooming of federal agencies with the power to over-ride local and state rule. Citizens feel disconnected from the decision makers in Washington ruling on both local and state issues.
As much as possible the government entity most involved in our daily lives should be the one that is most accessible to its citizens.
So, you believe in:
1) The freedom to build water systems and sewage systems that allow people the freedom to be exposed to deadly gastroinstestinal diseases.
2) The freedom of manufacturers to ship meat and other food to the stores that is contaminated with God knows what.
3) The freedom of pharmaceutical companies to sell drugs that cause people more harm than good, or at best are a waste of their money and the limited time they may have to treat a problem before it gets worse.
What other kind of freedoms do you think people are missing?
You know, people shouldn’t be free to do everything! There are rational limits to freedom!
And if we observe those rational limits, guess what? We can live more closely together with the freedoms that are really worth defending, without killing each other, without tumbling into economic ruin, without being perpetually ravaged by unnecessary epidemics!
Make no mistake: my philosophy is to leave as much freedom as possible, because it’s a complicated thing to rule somebody, to enforce a law. I don’t mind simplification of laws, making them more elegant and effective, less bureaucratically opaque. But we shouldn’t treat Freedom as a glittering generality.
Your argument breaks down on a number of levels.
Level 1: Article V. Simply put, there is an approved mechanism for changing the Constitution, and the results, as the language of the document itself states produces “Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution”
You might be able to argue that the 17th Amendment wasn’t their intention, but you can’t argue that they planned to deny us the right to pass one, should we see fit. They didn’t see their wisdom as the end of what this nation would develop, and if you look at the developments we’ve had since thing, we run our cities in vastly superior, vastly more powerful ways.
As far as your impression that the State and Federal governments were meant to be equal? I don’t buy that. They didn’t do anything so harebrained as insist on equality across the board, or dominance across the board, or whatever. What they did, if you pay attention, is they delegated different powers to the Federal Government, and others to the State Governments. In terms of being able to declare war, print money, regulate interstate and international trade, to name a few enumerations, the Federal Government is clearly meant to be more powerful, and this is also reflected in the fact that there is a clause that says that Federal Authority on such matters trumps State Authority.
As far as the rest goes?
Unless you’re like Bear Grylls or something, living in a cabin off in the mountains, you depend on somebody else for what you need. In the old days, that person was often within reach, and you could berate them if they sold you spoiled meat or sold you a faulty part. Now the company that makes it might not even be in the same Hemisphere.
What I’d tell you is that we need to look at what’s going on to determine the extent to which we ask government in to help us. We need to make the decision for ourselves how we govern ourselves.
You were doing pretty well until about halfway through.
What was outlined in our founding documents was a beginning. The government we have today has to keep a society together that’s very different in how it operates. We need to suit the laws to the times. Government like ours is meant to be responsive. If some idiot at a county level opposed a burn for political reasons, and one happened anyways, that guy should lose his job. You can’t ignore what’s going on when the question is, what kind of decisions need to be made.
We can argue general philosophies and points of view, but I find it more instructive to look at things from the angle of the details on the ground. The question is, could the states rein in a given behavior, is it in their authority to do so?
The question is, could the states rein in a given behavior, is it in their authority to do so?
Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at September 16, 2013 5:19 PM
“Given Behavior” covers a lot of territory. Governments at any level should not be dealing with individual behavior unless that behavior is violating someones rights.
Are you suggesting that the federal government can more easily detect and correct harmful behavior than a state, county or city? Why would that be the case?
Let’s take the education of our children for example. Please make a case that the federal government is better equipped to dictate what happens in our local schools than the parents of those children and the local taxpayers who pay for that education.
As expected, you have to use extremes to try and justify your point. This despite the fact that it has been said MANY times that limited government does not mean no government.
And for god sakes man, people aren’t “nostalgic” for the old days of crapping in an outhouse. What they are “nostalgic” for are the days when they had the freedom to live their lives as they saw fit, not how some east/west coast urban liberal thought best.
The country is NOT going to fall apart if the federal government is not dictating how everybody lives and how everything operates.
“Make no mistake: my philosophy is to leave as much freedom as possible”
And that my friend, is your problem. You place the goal and YOUR solution first, and everybody should be happy with the freedom YOU are gracious enough to leave us. Instead, you should begin with freedom and make your solution fit it.
I cut my travel budget by 20% - while travelling more – simply by decreeing that my staff had to shop for low fares, travel at less peak times and never change a ticket or miss a flight, so that we can take advantage of restricted fares w/o penalties. There was a lot of gnashing of teeth about how impossible it was. It wasn’t. I have been running lean on staffing. This has worked well. I have also cut some of the hierarchy and approvals, so that my people can make more decisions autonomously. This makes us more nimble and eliminates the lots of work.
I am good at what I do and I actually care about saving money. But if budgets grow, the discipline declines. It is good to be able to hide behind budget cuts to do the the unpopular things that should be done anyway. Cuts make you rethink priorities and process.
Re moral certainty - perhaps I should not have used a term that is easily confused. Moral certainty is a specific philosophical term. It means a very high degree of probability, enough to take action, but not absolute or mathematical certainty. It really has nothing much to do with morality, as you are using the term. I apologize for the confusion.
In fact, I am morally certain that cuts can be made and I have used that certainty to take action.
obama expects the HOR to fund the government he wants and has stated that he will accept nothing less. The HOR is expected to fund the entire obama care legislation despite the fact that the prez will not enforce all of it. Go Figure!
Look, you tell me that I’m a hater of freedom, say some pretty extreme things about what I believe in getting in the way of, and I’m simply responding by challenging you with what I’m actually interested in stopping people from doing. I mean, the question is not whether you oppose big government, it’s whether you support governing certain problematic behaviors out of the system.
I think brokers should not be selling their clients stuff they know will lose their clients money. The same people should not both consult with a company on structuring its finances, and audit those finances for the sake of making sure the numbers line up. The people who a company owes money, and the people to whom a company turns to sell their stock should be different people.
Things like derivatives should be sold on an open, transparent market, so people know how leveraged their banks are in that market. Banks should have to have the money necessary to cover their losses, etc. Or maybe Banks shouldn’t handle derivatives at all, with that being something enterprises with greater risk tolerances get handed instead, while the banks that finance consumer and corporate loans and credit are safely unentangled in that market.
So on and so forth. Where something has been proven not to work, I want people doing things differently.
You know, I don’t mind that you do what you do to save money, just so long as whatever you’re supposed to be doing still gets done. That’s my main concern. However, overall, big picture, austerity needs to be better targeted and better timed, and Republicans have showed little concern for doing either.
As for moral certainty? I guess that’s a phrase I’m less familiar with. I come at things from a Psychology, Neuroscience, and information science background, so when you say moral, I think emotions.
I also think cognitive biases, emotional defense mechanisms and the like! I know you like to think of people as rational actors, and to tell the truth, I hope people do their damnedest to try and see things rationally, weighing things carefully.
I know for a fact, because of my education in the cognitive sciences, that they don’t. Folks with PTSD, for example, have traditionally been regarded as having overwhelmingly strong memories of their traumatic events.
In fact, that’s not necessarily the case. Their minds can jumble together complete conflations, things that never happened. Put another way, certainty is not reliability. Many victims of unscrupulous or incompetent therapists who used hypnotic regression can end up being absolutely certain that bad things were done to them that never happened.
Memory can be skewed in many ways, especially if you revisit a given event all the time. We round off the edges of what’s uncomfortable, substitute explanations that suit our beliefs better, forget details we weren’t paying attention to, etc.
People are a combination of the rational and the irrational, and often one can end up serving the other. Nature rewards us for quick thinking, quick reaction to events, but to do that, it has to rely on processes that are somewhat imperfect.
In this world, born of highly disciplined kinds of thinking, kinds of investigation, we often fall short of the discipline needed to handle the complexity of what we have created.
We learn, if given enough time, to program safeguards into our behavior. We learn not to immediately accuse people of stealing things when something goes missing. We learn to hold off commenting on who may have done a given crime until more evidence comes in.
This can be important I think, because often the real information, the stuff we haven’t filtered so much to suit our tastes, is more interesting and more helpful than our preconceived notions. It can help keep us honest.
Obama expects that as President, with the Senate on his side, the House of Representatives can go to hell if it thinks it can blackmail him into destroying his own program.
You folks are being fed political junkfood here by lazy SOBs who don’t want to take the political risks necessary to actually pass compromises through both Houses and across the President’s desk. They want to write political checks they don’t have the seats to cash.
Your people could have used the advantage of having the ability to deep-six legislation to force compromises on the Democrats, but instead, you’ve used that power against yourselves, rendering your Congress one of the most paralyzed in American history.
Same things with the filibusters, earlier on. You missed the opportunity to squeeze concessions. Instead you decided to just block everything.
The problem is, this has set expectations for the GOP’s constituents of rigorous adherence to the litmus tests. Rather than limit their opponents options, keep their opponents from running with more liberal policy, while making sure more conservative stuff gets through, they’ve effectively killed their own ability to legislate while destroying that of the Democrats!
And they can’t back down! They are forced to keep brainless positions even as it becomes obvious what kind of crap gets kicked their way on that account.
Good politicians keep their options open. Republicans these days are experts at closing off their options. This is one more example.
Do you know what the founding fathers did foresee? They foresaw someone trying to take our freedoms away. That is what the 17th amendment did. It radically changed the fundamental structure of the federal government. It stripped away the checks and balances the founders gave the states. They knew it was to be the states that would keep a federal government in it’s place. They knew the citizenry would not be able to do that. Once the citizenry realized they could vote themselves a piece of the pie it’s all over but the fat, welfare lady singing.
You refer to the founders many times, Stephen Daugherty, but I cannot understand how you can relate the 17th amendment to what they envisioned. The tired excuses of the people choosing, and crony appointments, and corruption are trotted out whenever the 17th amendment is challenged. What other instance is the 17th amendment of value? What other reasons were given for ratification of the 17th? What reasons did the founders give in favor of stripping the rights of the states away and giving them to the people?
I can’t think of any.
Government tends to be fat and inefficient because the measure of success if often how much you spend, not how effective that spending is. It is easy to measure inputs; outputs are harder to measure; outgrowths are almost impossible.
Re rational actors - I don’t think people are rational. In fact, that is why I see the limits of government. If we were rational and much smarter, a type of socialist planning might work. But people are necessarily ignorant and they tend to make mistakes, often in patterns. But that is a long discussion not directly related to our discussion here.
I love government. It is a force for good and a necessary tool. But we need to recongize its very real and immutable limitations. Good leadership and management can help make it better, but if it extends too far into place it doesn’t belong or tasks it cannot accomplish, it ends up making things worse, not better. Often in government, and most of life, doing less is better than doing more and restraint is a virtue much of the time.
Also, republicans were elected to stop Obama. If nothing gets passed then I think they’re doing a fine job.
If Obama was such a fine president and his policies were the cat’s meow then why do the Republicans have so much success in thwarting him?
We simply hold different views of freedom. I believe in freedom for ALL comes first, you believe it is granted. But I do not believe I have ever said that you were a “hater of freedom.”
The so-called “extreme things” I say about what you believe are based on your outspoken support for policy that goes against the way things have been since the founding of our nation. Great for progressing with technological advances, devastating when applied to individuals.
“I mean, the question is not whether you oppose big government, it’s whether you support governing certain problematic behaviors out of the system.”
As has been said numerous times, limited government does not mean no government at all, so of course people support the appropriate government dealing with problems that may arise.
Nobody wants crooked brokers, bankers or bakers, but regulations for those will always be a constant back and forth that the average Joe, for the most part, doesn’t really get all riled up about. What does get us all riled up is leftist policy that has a direct effect on individuals.
Your biggest problem is that you cannot distinguish the difference between governing businesses and governing individuals. You believe both can be controlled in order to attain the outcome YOU desire.
Face it Stephen, your reality is based on materialism. You base freedom on entitlements you have and new ones you think you should have. On what government provides, rather than on what government does not control.
“So on and so forth. Where something has been proven not to work, I want people doing things differently.”
That’s fine with plumbing, notsomuch with individuals.
America experienced it’s greatest economic growth, it’s greatest prosperity as a country, it’s greatest period as a world power after all that. So, on prima facie evidence, it would seem America’s fortunes improved after the 17th Amendment was passed.
As far as the checks and balances go, The reason’s states’ power lessened was that technology made it easier for businesses to operate across state lines. Life became less local for Americans. That, not the shift to popular vote for Senators, is what happened to the States.
The Founders trusted us enough to let us govern ourselves, with certain checks and balances to prevent simple mob rule. We are not supposed to run home to them and tug on their pants legs every time we want to justify an argument. The Constitution was meant to found an ongoing, accountable government, and that means change was built into the system.
I’m personally shocked at how much you look down on the average voter. You want an antebellum world back that can never come back. It destroyed itself. People tried it, found it wanting, and switched to the more complex forms of government. Why? Because they felt they had to.
As for stopping Obama?
If you are willing to lie your ass off an panic people, you can do an awful lot. That’s part of what the Framers were guarding against.
You think if Obama just passes nothing, you’ve succeeded. WRONG! One partisan goal does not excuse the continued failure to properly manage government affairs, the continued failure to pay attention to what Americans are wanting. You were able to convince people, in one election season, that they’d be better off, hell, saved, if your people intervened.
Just what have you accomplished since then? Your entire claim to being useful is blocking Obama. There’s nothing else, other than sequesters that aren’t so popular either. Nobody likes Congress
There are responsibilities in Government, not just party politics, and your people have forgotten that.
Your problem is that you displace the kind of rationality that a socialist sees in the Government towards the market. I’m saying that nobody’s rational in that way. We need government not simply because bad people do bad things when not constrained, but good people too. Additionally, its worth considering there are limits to how much people can organize by the seat of their pants. You worship at the altar of non-linear dynamics, of complexity, believing that it all justifies a laissez faire attitude.
Trouble is, not everything behaves in that fashion. Not everything works by seeming magic. Sometimes the relationships between what you do and what you get out of it are pretty straightforward. How do you tell the difference? Well, often times, you just have to try things. You can’t predict everything from rational logic.
Look, we have to govern people as they are. We could pretend that every individual’s choice is made rationally and apart from any peer pressure or social influence, but if we went and looked at reality, that just wouldn’t be the case.
I think your individual/business/group distinctions are largely artificial, largely meaningless. People exist as individuals, but often act together. Two sides of the same coin. Rather than get into pointless philosophical debates, we govern people as they are, as they behave.
You talk about what gets people riled up. Well, for years, people have been getting riled up by the Republicans about how environmental, labor, and other laws were going to cost them their jobs. Then Congress deregulated all that.
Did people keep their jobs? No. It was a con. They still sent the jobs overseas. The same profit motive that meant they wanted the expensive pollution control systems off their factories, also meant that they ultimately traded in those workers for Chinese laborers.
As for the supposed “materialism” of my policies?
I look at policies that were directed at letting the rich make more money, essentially, and I have to ask what makes my policies especially material compared to that.
As for freedom? I don’t see all the tricks and traps the law allows nowadays as freedom. I see traps waiting for the unwary. I don’t see the monopolistic behavior some businesses demonstrate as all that liberating.
I think its important to ask what we’re freeing people to do, and most importantly, what occurs on the other side of that transaction. If your power company can gouge you on rates because they’re playing around with shutting off power plants on your grid, that’s not exactly freeing on your side. You can see it just in individual terms, but people interact, and by necessity, one person’s actions affect another. If we want real freedom, not just nominal, there has to be a balance between one person’s freedoms, and their counterparty’s effect on them, and vice versa.
You need to look at just what those leaders are proposing, opposing, and generally planning, and ask yourself whether that’s the best way we could run things.
I wrote; “obama expects the HOR to fund the government he wants and has stated that he will accept nothing less. The HOR is expected to fund the entire obama care legislation despite the fact that the prez will not enforce all of it. Go Figure!”
Daugherty either didn’t read it comprehensively or choose to answer another statement that wasn’t made by me. I will ask more simply.
If obama doesn’t feel obligated to enforce legislation passed by congress and signed by him, why should congress feel obligated to fund it?
What you fail to understand is that there is a huge difference between governing people, and controlling them. That it is not the lefts job to ensure every individual’s choice is the one you deem to be the correct choice.
The reality of the situation is that you have no idea if the choices I make are ‘rational’ or not, so you can stop pretending that you do.
“People exist as individuals, but often act together.”
Often, not always. That is why people resist your group think society being place ahead of the individual. That is why it is so important to respect the individual rights of ALL.
You don’t want to govern people as they are, as they behave, the policy you support wants to govern HOW people are, HOW they behave.
“I look at policies that were directed at letting the rich make more money, essentially, and I have to ask what makes my policies especially material compared to that.”
You should be asking why do you care how much money another makes? Is it because the more money one has, the less another has? The more money one has, the less government has? The less money government has, the less government can provide for you?
“As for freedom? I don’t see all the tricks and traps the law allows nowadays as freedom.”
That is because you use entitlements to define your individual freedom, when they in fact have nothing to do with it.
“I think its important to ask what we’re freeing people to do, and most importantly, what occurs on the other side of that transaction.”
Nobody is saying no regulations on business.
“You can see it just in individual terms, but people interact, and by necessity, one person’s actions affect another.”
Then why do you not care how your actions affect others? You demand free health care, more taxes, more infringing on the 2nd Amendment, all with total disregard for how it affects me.
“You need to look at just what those leaders are proposing, opposing, and generally planning, and ask yourself whether that’s the best way we could run things.”
Stephen, I DO look at what ‘leaders’ propose, oppose and plan BEFORE I decide if I support them or not. The reason we disagree isn’t because I don’t know what’s going on, it’s because we have different priorities, values and beliefs. I don’t care about money. I don’t envy those with it and I don’t blame it for my hardships.
I don’t care if ‘leaders’ want to lower Wal-Marts tax rate, I care if they want to raise mine. I don’t care if ‘leaders’ want to raise the standard of living for people, I care if they want to lower mine in order to do it.
The best way we could run things would be to respect the rights of ALL. If we don’t, there is no freedom.
Stephen has A Lot in common with the likes of Al Gore, Obama, Bloomberg, Professors and presidents of nearly every college or university — they are all Elitists.
Or more accurately, Liberal Elitists! Btw, I despise All elitists, not just the ones that think and act like Mr. Daugherty.
kctim and others have tirelessly tried to point the aforementioned thought defect out to Stephen, but to no avail.
So elitism is a thought defect? Don’t tell C&J!
Your question, in its simplicity, hides the fact that,
a) many laws are built with clauses that allow the executive authority on how to execute them,
b) we’re mainly talking about a delay, not a refusal to enforce,
c) the Republicans would just as soon the law wasn’t enforced as they hate it with a passion of ten burning suns.
D) Effectively, the Republicans are trying to do the same stupid thing they’ve done forty times by another route, only this time they’re starting another stupid standoff to pull it off.
Republicans don’t have the raw votes to pass a repeal, much less the President’s pen to make it law. Your ideal outcome just simply isn’t possible. Obama will wait you out, rather than concede to destroying his own policy. Meanwhile, he can focus all the blame on Republicans.
They could use negotiations to moderate things, but Republicans have come to hate moderation, whether they do it, or it is done upon them. Because of that, they can’t make use of the power they have to further their ends, because they can’t stand the thought of the concessions necessary to do it.
Your problem is self inflicted, and the hilarious thing is that the solution would be similarly self-administered, but y’all won’t do it, at least not yet.
I find it really difficult to see what you’re for, what you think works, to understand the precise nature of what you object to in different laws. Everything seems to be about what you think of me, and what you’re against in some philosophical sense.
Kevin L. Lagola-
I tend to only apply the label of elitist to those who show a definite tendency towards favoring economic and social elites over others in policy. It’s not simply somebody who dares to talk to other people about what might be wise or smart.
I really haven’t had a problem with being insecure around academics and scientists. I assume I’ve got the brainpower to understand what they’re throwing at me. Most of the time, I don’t have a problem.
If you got a problem with my argument, argue it out. Don’t go the cheap route and make stupid character attacks.
Daugherty writes; “Republicans don’t have the raw votes to pass a repeal, much less the President’s pen to make it law. Your ideal outcome just simply isn’t possible. Obama will wait you out, rather than concede to destroying his own policy. Meanwhile, he can focus all the blame on Republicans.”
You still don’t understand my argument. ACA is not going to be repealed no matter how many resolutions the HOR pass.
I am simply suggesting that the HOR refuses to fund obamacare if the president doesn’t enforce all its provisions. Nearly any adult can understand the logic of not funding legislation until the chief executive agrees to enforce it.
NO ENFORCEMENT = NO FUNDING
I am simply suggesting that the HOR refuses to fund obamacare if the president doesn’t enforce all its provisions.
This can be interpreted as an endorsement of the complete bill by the GOP controlled HOR. After All, if the GOP objected to the law, how could they have a problem if portions of it weren’t enforced?
And if it were merely a rule of law issue, surely the GOP controlled house would pass a bill that amends the law so that Obama can enforce all of the law’s provisions.