The end of democracy

Corruption. What is it and how do we stop it? I can tell you what it isn’t. It isn’t a lack of public funding.

This is such an obvious political ploy that I can't understand why no one ever challenges those who advocate the public funding of elections. The idea that if only politicians weren't beholden to and required to be directly supported by the public that corruption would cease is plainly daft. --Daft I say!

The system we have in place forces even the most "ethical" of our representatives to be in a position where they have to take money from big business and special interests in order to be elected. They are essentially forced to be "corrupt" even if they don't want to. This system is unfair to Congress and to the American people.   ~alternet.org
What's wrong with this statement? What's wrong is that the underlying assumptions upon which it is based are utterly false and self-deluding.

First of all, is it money that corrupts?

If money corrupts, then surely it corrupts from whatever source, even government. Perhaps especially government when congress is giving it to themselves, eh?

No, the key to understanding why the left sees the public funding of elections as a holy grail is right here in this paragraph.
The system we have in place forces even the most "ethical" of our representatives to be in a position where they have to take money from big business and special interests in order to be elected.
The only representatives who would be "forced" to take money from businesses and "special interests" are those whose ideology is in fact opposed to business.

The position they find themselves in is that they wish to enlarge the role of government and limit as much as possible the role of private enterprise precisely because they believe that private enterprise unfairly distributes wealth and benefits. Government is the only instrument they can count on to distribute everything fairly.

But we are told that 'they' (those who are "the most 'ethical' representatives") are forced to be corrupt because otherwise they wouldn't get elected.
They are essentially forced to be "corrupt" even if they don't want to.
Meaning that they must seek and accept the support of constituents whose interests run counter to their proto-socialist agenda which would otherwise lead them to disregard the interests of business.

Hence, without this need to be "corrupted" by the interests of those they disagree with by their tainted campaign donations, these highly moral folks would instead be able to vote according to their pure ideological doctrine.
This system is unfair to Congress and to the American people.
Here it is. The truth. The system is unfair because the left has to compromise. The left sees the process of democracy as inherently unfair. Why shouldn't they be able to just decree higher wages for everyone? To take over entire industries and redistribute the benefits of capitalism as they see fit? Why indeed?

But what about the unfairness to the corporations and 'special interests' (a.k.a.- all those subject to the sovereignty of congress) who are forced to have to be in a position to have to lobby congressman and senators who know nothing about their industry or how to actually run a business but who nevertheless attempt to pass laws regulating everything from pricing to the tiniest minutia of daily operation?

The left's complaint about fairness is essentially a complaint that they are not allowed to do whatever they want. With public funding the strings are cut. You are entitled to the money without having any responsibility to those you took it from. At least bribery has a semblance of honesty to it. This is nothing less than a way to rob the rich, the poor, and everyone in between to fund a particular political ideology.

The absurdity of the position of public financing of elections would seem to be self evident but still there are those who perenially demand it.
Public financing of elections would allow our representatives to represent us fairly. They can cast the votes that are in the best interest of their constituents, as well as have more time to spend with them, instead of just lobbyists. If we truly want progress in our country, this is a necessary step.   ~alternet.org
Public funding of elections... a necessary step? But to what?

Posted by Eric Simonson at December 27, 2006 1:17 AM
Comments
Comment #200481


Starting from the end…..”Public funding of elections… a necessary step? But to what?”

Uhh how about a step towards government OF, BY and FOR
the PEOPLE. I think you’re equating true democracy with socialism and flippantly confusing Plutocracy with democracy.

Indeed you are right that IF the people got what they wanted, if their desires were truly represented we would likely see a big shift in policy towards the left. The right understands that and thus makes arguments like yours against things like publicly financed elections.

Isn’t democracy SUPPOSED to be a government representative of the people?


I think you’ve basically shown what all conservatives knowingly or not want…they want an end to democracy and rule by the money interest of an elite ruling class.

It appears you are one of the unknowingly who thinks they support democracy but who’s very words and ideas are anything but……

The obvious problem is you think money equates with free speech rather then bribery and you seem to think corporations are people deserving of the right to bend the political process to their will and superseding the will of the people.


YOUR WRONG!

Posted by: muirgeo at December 27, 2006 2:13 AM
Comment #200482

You are right, Eric. Corruption is NOT the lack of public funding. But public funding for elections is a giant step forward toward ending government for sale to the highest bidder, which is the grossest of corruptions of our Constitution and Declaration of Independence.

In addition, public funding will open the nomination and election process to non-wealthy candidates - and most of us know that would be a good thing overall. Wealth is no guarantor of either leadership or smarts. It is time for this country to return to a process in which the people may nominate and elect folks like them - after all, it was supposed to be government of, by, and for the people, NOT the Wealthiest to the detriment of the average Joe or Jane.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 27, 2006 2:17 AM
Comment #200483

Eric wrote,

“The only representatives who would be “forced” to take money from businesses and “special interests” are those whose ideology is in fact opposed to business.”

“But what about the unfairness to the corporations and ‘special interests’ (a.k.a.- all those subject to the sovereignty of congress) …………”


I had to read these several times to make sure I saw what you wrote..then I rubbed my eyes and read them again.

The first statement is patently false. A representative may see the money coming from Walmart hoping to move a shop into his district as in conflict with his constituents interest who own small business’s of their own that could quickly be gone if a Walmart were allowed to move in. Does this guy hate business or does he love his community and see it important to represent the people. He decides NOT to take the Walmart money which instead goes to the other candidate who has tons more money and runs a negative smear campaign and the voters stay home on vote day and next year Walmart moves in.


Now the second quote….WOW…need to read it a couple more times..did you really write that??


Yep apparently you did write that. Unfairness to Corporations????? Who are they? Do they have representatives???
Special interests?? Who are they????

Don’t Corporations and special interest exist because of democracy?…to serve democracy? NOT TO run it or control it?

My friend you truly are not making an argument for democracy.
You’ve in fact highlighted the basic ideological fundamental flaw with conservative thinking.

Its an ideology that’s so confused it thinks Capitalism is a form of government and supersedes democracy rather then the other way around. Its an ideology that touts free markets in theory but in practice does everything it can to undermine true free markets.

Final thought;

Corporations DO NOT EXIST IN FREE MARKETS. They exist only in democracies if the people say they can exists.


Call me a socialist if it makes you feel better but I’ll put the will of the people over money interest and corporations any day. I defy you to find a definition of Democracy that mentions money or corporations.

Posted by: muirgeo at December 27, 2006 2:40 AM
Comment #200490

Eric

“Public funding of elections… a necessary step? But to what?”

A step towards putting all candidates on an even keel from the begining.

A step towards making it possible for the average Joe to run for office.

A step towards removing the corrupt influences of wealth from the process.

A step to restoring a semblance of class and honor back into the process.

A step towards putting government back to work for the people rather than those wielding the most cash.

Wake up Eric. We are a nation of individuals not a nation of ruling class businesses.

Posted by: Ildem at December 27, 2006 9:34 AM
Comment #200491

The above responses are typical. Let the government do it; do anything.

Why should my tax dollars be spent on the opposition candidate?

That old leftist argument of democracy is a fallacy argument. Get over it. THIS IS NOT A DEMOCRACY!!!

There are a myriad of solutions to campaign finance regulations. None of the above fit.

Individuals should be able to donate only once per campaign. The amout given should be nominal. Organizaions should not be allowed to donate. This is a hidden way for an individual to donate twice. Accounting should include each donation with name, etc.

This of course is a basic outline of campaign reform.

I feel that government financing of elections is a way for non-participation of the voter. It is also forcing the voter to support opposing stances. If Bernie Sanders were running against Mike Pence, then I would, under the aforementioned thoughts by others above, have to support Bernie Sanders, when I really wanted to support Mike Pence. That makes no sense and is a stupid concept.

Posted by: tomh at December 27, 2006 10:18 AM
Comment #200493

tomh, every President since George Washinton through George W. Bush has called our government a Democracy. Presumeably, you should run for president and use your bully pulpit to dictate your beliefs however erroneous, upon the people.

We do have a democracy, and republican form of democracy. In the end, the politicians are answerable to the will of the people, as the GOP just experienced in November. That is democracy. A government which derives its authority and permission to govern directly from the people is a democracy.

Their are a number of forms of democracy, republican, parliamentarian, direct, etc. So, try learning instead of spouting off comments so devoid of common sense dating back to the founding of this democracy.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 27, 2006 10:59 AM
Comment #200494

The government is not a perfect representative of the people. It instead represents a separate interest group of its own. That is why we limit government and circumscribe its roles.

There are some things that are not the government’s business. I do not accept that majority rule has the right to take my property. We have the rule of law to protect individuals from the tyranny of the majority. Liberty is an important part of democracy and sometimes an important check on it.

If you have too much public funding for elections, you will get government types without the check of business and others.

Money is not the only thing in elections. Individuals can contribute money, time, expertise etc. Some individuals are richer in some of these things than others. What if a famous rock star does a concert for a politician? He works for nothing, but what is his time worth? A famous author writes a book, how is that contribution valued? In many ways you will be moving power from money to celebrity. I have more confidence in business people who actually run things than celebrities who just play them on TV.

Beyond that, there is the trade off of money for time. A busy person probably does not have time to contribute to an election. Instead he has money. People with less demanding jobs or no jobs at all would be free to be active.

In fact, that is clearly an important aspect of liberal politics. Liberals can bring big crowds of people together at rock concerts. They can fill the streets with them semi employed constituents. Good Republicans are busy working, producing goods and making money.

It is more virtuous to work for what you want than to demand it be given to you and so I would prefer no to empower the non-workers.

If I contibute a day’s wages from my productive work to my candidate and you choose to shout all day at rally for yours, maybe we are both just doing what we do best. Some people’s time is worth less. They can shout. That is what they are good at. We workers can do what we do best too, so do not exclude us.

Posted by: Jack at December 27, 2006 11:30 AM
Comment #200497
If I contibute a day’s wages from my productive work to my candidate and you choose to shout all day at rally for yours, maybe we are both just doing what we do best. Some people’s time is worth less. They can shout. That is what they are good at. We workers can do what we do best too, so do not exclude us. Posted by: Jack at December 27, 2006 11:30 AM
It would seem that Jack feels he is only worth what his money can buy. Being willing to take time off from work and put ones time and body on the line in a visible statement is far more valuable and meaningful than writing some check or blog. Your priorities remain twisted Jack. But, some day you will emerge from Bizzaro world. Posted by: Dave1-20-2009 at December 27, 2006 11:47 AM
Comment #200499

Dave

It is the concept of doing what you do best. Some people have time on their hands because they have nothing productive to do. I am not sure we want those sorts of people to have the power.

Do you ever attend home owner’s meetings? It is always the guys with no job and a lot of anger who come to all the meetings. Mostly they just screw things up, substituting passion and emotion for expertise and thought.

Re putting the body on the line - NO attending a rock concert and chanting is not a higer calling. When I was in college, my friends and I used to attend protests as a way to pick up girls. In those days I had more time than I could use.

This egalitarian impulse is just silly.

Re blogging - I write better than I shout. It certainly is a higher calling than attending a protest.

Re protest - I no longer need to engage in such rough activities because I understand how to get more of what I want through knowlege. You might say that I have learned to use the precision tool where you guys still have access only to sledge hammers.

Posted by: Jack at December 27, 2006 12:05 PM
Comment #200500

Eric said:
“congressman and senators who know nothing about their industry or how to actually run a business but who nevertheless attempt to pass laws regulating everything from pricing to the tiniest minutia of daily operation?”

From the conservative perspective, isn’t this over regulation the real problem? IF we did not allow government to have so much regulatory authority, the stakes on who is elected would be dramatically reduced.

Reducing the incentive to buy politicians is the answer. One cannot legislate this reduction. The only answer is to remove the incumbents, forcing the big donors to have to continually pony up. Eventually the ROI will not be worth it.

JT

Posted by: JayTea at December 27, 2006 12:11 PM
Comment #200503

Dave1-20-2009, please stop making your comments personal in nature toward our Writers. If you don’t, you will not be permitted to leave comments here. See our rules for participation.

Posted by: Watchblog Managing Editor at December 27, 2006 12:28 PM
Comment #200504

Jack, c’mon, presidential hopefuls are dropping like flies at this very moment because of the daunting mountain of money they would have to raise just to get name recognition in the public eye against the likes of Hillary Clinton or John McCain.

That means big money is already limiting the public’s options 2 years out from the election. That is a corruption of the electoral process, plain and simple. Big money controls the slate of nominees which the people get to vote on. No wonder almost half of the working people in this country don’t see anyone on the ballots worth voting for to represent them.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 27, 2006 12:32 PM
Comment #200508

David

I do not believe public funding would take care of that problem. YOu have to have some way to get rid of some of the candidates. Getting money is a sign of popularity and organizing ability.

How would you determine who gets public funding? How would you prevent candidates from cheating. What happens, for example, if the big rock star appears for a candidate? He is contributing millions of dollars in kind? Or what about the Oprah endorsement of Obama. She did that on her show. How much does it cost to get a ten minute commerical featuring Oprah?

Posted by: Jack at December 27, 2006 12:44 PM
Comment #200513

Eric-
The first and most important obligation is to the people. We don’t need our politicians grateful to anybody but their fellow Americans for getting elected, and we don’t need them worried about alienating anybody’s support in particular besides that of the voters. Public financing seems a pretty decent approach to that.

Money is not speech, the act of giving money is. Put limits on how much can be donated, then create a system that gives people public financing depending on how much money they can raise in small donations.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 27, 2006 12:52 PM
Comment #200516

Jack said: “Getting money is a sign of popularity and organizing ability.”

Which the candidates do little if any of, Jack. They hire folks to do that, so it does not naturally select the best candidates on organizational abilities, and as for popularity, that can be purchased by political parties and public relations firms.

Your argument does not hold water, Jack. What is your fear of dozens of candidates? Does it stem from your belief that too many candidates is too much competition? Are you against competition generating the best results, Jack? Odd thing from a Republican, don’t you think?

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 27, 2006 1:05 PM
Comment #200518

It amazes me how self contradictory the conservatives statements are.

A couple of questions for them.

Are you glad that the banking interest were represented over the interests of the people in the Bankruptcy legislation?

Are you glad that PhARMA basically wrote the medicare drug bill?

Are you glad that the countries Energy Policy was drawn up in private with members like Ken Lay?


Are you glad that CEO’s can basically write themselves a blank check because the rules are set up such that there is no way for oversight from the minority share holders?

I could go on….just today The S.E.C. adopted a rule that will allow companies to report lower total compensation for top executives.

You claim you don’t want a majority of people telling a minority of people what they can do yet you continually make excuses for a VERY SMALL minority basically telling the overwhelming majority what they can do.


Something like 1% of American own 40% of the wealth and I would argue more importantly they own 40% of the political power. That’s wrong in a democracy/ representative republic. But the conservatives continue to tow the line against their own best wishes.

I’m also very sick of you guys assuming you are the ones who work and contribute disproportionately to this countries productivity.

The Blue states far out produce and out earn and pay a greater proportion of the taxes compared to the Red states.

Posted by: muirgeo at December 27, 2006 1:06 PM
Comment #200521

The election process has been perverted, it is obvious, as the 109th has shown so well. Public funding of elections is a major step towards a return to democracy. It is time to level the playing field and return to democracy. This system of capitalism the right seems to find a better form of government reeks of fascism and should go back to being an economic system.

Posted by: j2t2 at December 27, 2006 1:16 PM
Comment #200522

editor,

Sorry, I guess I hadn’t realized I was crossing the line from one-on-one conversation to an out of bounds condition. It seems disingenuous to use third person phraseology but I will be more aware of those lines in the future and remain civil in tone.


Jack,

Attempting to use personal reflections of wasted youth and implications that protesting is a way for people with nothing better to do in an attempt to discredit public protest is invalid.

You can state that I had “nothing better to do” and expressed “anger, emotion” when I took a day to go to NYC and protest during the GOP convention. (Well, yeah I was/am very angry at Bush et.al.) You could say it was futile. But to not protest aginst the assault on our nation and it’s founding Constitution by the bastards in charge of the GOP would have been a capitulation. Money has might but it doesn’t make it right.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. —- Margaret Mead

And I will refer to the following individuals who decided to “do something” beyond just writing a check:

Peter Benenson
Betty Williams
Bob Geldoff

Posted by: Dave1-20-2009 at December 27, 2006 1:32 PM
Comment #200524

Eric:

“The only representatives who would be “forced” to take money from businesses and “special interests” are those whose ideology is in fact opposed to business.”

No, this is not so. Anybody, regardless of what their opinion of business is, is “forced” to take money, and once they take it they feel compelled to work for those who contributed.

In the system we have, people with money, whether they are in business or not, have more of a voice than those without money. This is WRONG and leads to corruption. It leads to the rich getting whatever they want to pay for and the rest of us dispossessed.

Public financing of campaigns is the solution. No candidate is beholden to rich donors unless he wants to be. The government supports all sides and makes sure the process is fair.

Will there be corruption? Of course, there always are crooks in our midst. But corruption will decrease.

And you are not supporting your opponent with your taxes. Your taxes assure that all candidates get a fair shake. Democracy at its best.

Posted by: Paul Siegel at December 27, 2006 2:24 PM
Comment #200527

Public funding of elections is clearly the most effective way for representatives to remember who they are working for. That does not stop interest groups from making their own case to government. I believe that most people in democracies realise that an effective economic and industrial system is a vital part of a free country, and therefore there is a need for the views of such interests to be taken into account, alongside the greater good. Such a system levels the playing field and ensures that politicians balance the needs of business and other interest groups against the public welfare.

Posted by: Paul in Euroland at December 27, 2006 2:33 PM
Comment #200532

Dave

It depends if you can get the time off. There are some days I just could not get off form work to protest even if I wanted to. I was needed more someplace else.

I do not think protesting is always a waste of time, but it is not superior to other forms of political activity. A protest is a type of theater mixed with a threat. In some cases that is appropriate. Sometimes it is not. I admit that I usually do not like protestors. I see quite a few. They tend to come out during my lunch hour when I like to run. I sometime make a personal “counter protest” by running around their protest lines, it kind of drains away some of the drama when an old guy jumps past one of your signs. TV stations will not run the footage. Do you approve of my protest? That is one I have time to do and I can fit it into my daily routine.

Hey, Hey, Ho Ho run and jump is the way to go.

Re Margaret Mead – She is right, but people taking to the streets is not necessarily the world changers. In the U.S. we have lots of other options. You know that more people will read what you write here than would see you shouting at a protest & you have the opportunity to use actual human expressions.

BTW – Personally I do not mind being called things, but the blog managers like to keep to the civil rules and it is true that sometimes such things get out of hand. Besides, you will find that the best sort of insult is one the person does not feel until a few minutes later.

Paul

You assume politicians understand the general welfare and are working for it. You live in a small, reasonably efficient and honest country. You may trust your national politicians to make decisions about the details of your life. How would you feel about giving even more power to those folks in Brussels? That is our situation in the U.S. re our Federal government. You also may be less enthusiastic about the taste of big government – distant government when you get a bigger slice.

The difference between a saving medicine and a deadly poison is the dosage. Some government is good and necessary, but more is not always better.

BTW – off topic, but I am curious. How do you feel about all the Polish workers moving to your country? Jak sie masz? Getting used to kielbasa and pierogi? Stay away from the kasha. You do not want to know how that is made. It must be hard for Ireland to adjust to importing, instead of exporting people.

Posted by: Jack at December 27, 2006 3:13 PM
Comment #200537

Jack,

I wasn’t aware that I called you “things”, I was just getting tired of speaking in third party terms and really think you have your priorities reversed. If we were to spend less time on using smarmy insults while avoiding fairly arbitrary limits of decorum and instead speant more time following point-counterpoint, then perhaps there could be some progress.

You say that protests are not a “superior” form of protest. I would say that’s very simplistic. Saying you have “no time” only means you feel you have “better things to do”. Priorities, again.

We are currently missing the lacking the mass rallies of the 60’s it took to start civil rights and end the VN war. That was an effective and superior approach to letter writing and campaign contributions. Today’s world is different, big money drives government policy and people are more selfish and pessimistic than in the past, although many would claim just the opposite. You’ve said conservatives are optimistic but they premise their political philosphies on retribution (either be rich or be poor and in jail, ‘you deserve it’). You should read up a bit more on todays youth culture and then tell me they have an optimistic view of the future.

As for your very very subtle form of protest, jogging in front of protesters…I would think most people would see it as a guy jogging. That’s why it’s not broadcast, it’s really not interesting to a third party. Which is exactly why protest needs to be theater. Perhaps you should wear a sign or a Cheney/Satan in ‘08 t-shirt?

Posted by: Dave1-20-2009 at December 27, 2006 4:17 PM
Comment #200538

Dave

Yes. People do not see it as a protest. They just see it as something getting in their way, which is exactly what it is. It is not a big thing but a little way to let the air out of their tires.

In an earlier job, I once foiled an attempted publicity stunt by greenpeace by being so obtuse in my answers that the television crew just got bored and went away. Sometimes dumb is smart and smart is dumb.

Protestor often have an inflated idea of their worthyness. The best way to handle them is to not give them what they expect.

Re time to protest - it is a real consideration. That is one reason you see a certain type of person (young, old, unemployed & underemployed as well as academics) predominating among the protestors and another type (professional agitators, union leaders and celebrities) among the leaders.

Protesting is also part of a particular cultural context. Some sort of people like to take to the streets. Others do not. It is not always the most effective way to do things and it does not necessarily show commitment.

Think of the famous get out the vote campaigns of 2004. The celebrities told all their fans to vote. They all chanted back that they would. When election day came around, young people still showed up in smaller numbers than all those old guys whose previous activity had been limited to watching TV.

Posted by: Jack at December 27, 2006 4:41 PM
Comment #200541

Just a thought here. If we are the government and vise versa…. if you were a 20 yr old protesting the war and the government in 1969 you would be about 57 yrs old today. I would guess that would be how old the average voter and politician, CEO, banker ect…is today. Those that once protested now are basically the establishment they protested. Funny huh?

Posted by: dolan at December 27, 2006 5:26 PM
Comment #200546

Not all of us, dolan. I am 56, did protest the war in Viet Nam even though I enlisted while it was going on ‘72. It was a very confusing and difficult time for young men, attempting to discover the right thing to do. I opposed the war during my entire 3.5 years while in the Army, though not in ways that would bring the wrath of the chain of command down on me in any legal way.

I am still politically active in opposing the status quo today. It has become a way of learning and thinking. But, then, we Buddhists were rare in the U.S. Army then, as we still are in the society today.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 27, 2006 6:09 PM
Comment #200551

Eric, the title of your post is ironic, “the end of democracy” is what we are experiencing because we do not have public financing of elections. As Thomas Jefferson put it “Those seeking profits, were they given total freedom, would not be the ones to trust to keep government pure and our rights secure. Indeed, it has always been those seeking wealth who were the source of corruption in government. No other depositories of power have ever been found, which did not end in converting to their own profit the earnings of those committed to their charge.”

Posted by: j2t2 at December 27, 2006 6:37 PM
Comment #200552

David R.
First thanks for your service to this country,I too enlisted the Army but in 73 at the age of 17 got out in 76.But I did not demonstrate before nor during the the time I was in. I am on the otherside of the fence from you as far as politics.I do however believe that the huge amount of dollars involved in running for president no matter how it is raised has got to by its nature restrict participation of alot of high quality candidates from running. By the way Dave, I went to a buddist meeting once while in the service, just couldnt get past the chanting.LOL

Posted by: dolan at December 27, 2006 7:01 PM
Comment #200553

sorry Dave, Buddhist

Posted by: dolan at December 27, 2006 7:10 PM
Comment #200554

Jack, you clearly know my country only superficially. Don’t you know it was the Irish who devised Tammany Hall? We have had numerous tribunals of inquiry, some of which are still going on, over the last ten years. Recently, one of these tribunals found that one of our retired heads of government, who recently died, had received about €43 million (Euros - about $57 millon) in contributions from businessmen over his political career. (These were mostly personal donations to himself, not his party) Only in the last couple of years, has a politician actually been inprisoned for his corruption. Now don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of sanctimonious nonsense being spoken here about corruption. I don’t think our system is remarkably corrupt compared to others, although the culture here has always had a strong component of cutting corners, and our experience of being under the jackboot of colonialists left a talent and drive to outsmart the big house and the foreign goverment. We call it cute hoorism! (from the noun whore) The other side of that is a begrudgery of those who are successful, something that has only recently begun to die out.

With regard to politicians making decisions and knowing what’s best for us, well, I’m old enough to remember 25 years ago, when they were taxing wildly and spending even more profligately, business was dying, and the bitter sweet joke was that the last person to leave the country should switch off the lights. Those who were making money, were simply working the black economy. And we’ve had investigations into that too, with people, being encouraged by the banks to put money into offshore accounts, later having to settle with the revenue service. I know how dangerous it is to invest too much trust in a politicians promise. It was my generation that was largly robbed of the choice to live in their own country and have a life. Thankfully, I was not one of those who had to leave. However, in 1987, there was a consensus among the two biggest parties, to take the tough decisions necessary to turn our economy around, and that was the birth of the Celtic tiger. Unfortunately, there is a whole generation around now who have never known joblessness, lack of money, or the fear of recession or negative equity, and we are on a binge of spending, much of it borrowed. So I do know something of giving politicians too much leeway.

As to Europe, well, I voted against the Nice treaty, not becuase I necessarily disagreed with it, but becuase I felt it was a further step towards a federal Europe. Not that I’m necessarily against a federal Europe, but I’d like to be asked directly, and told on what terms. I would have voted against the Euro constitution also, had the French and Dutch not shot it down first. I believe it was cobbled together primarily by French elitists ( Valery Giscard D’Estaing, whose Presidency I have a slight memory of, as a child). To my mind this was not a constitution, and our own constitution was a vastly superior document. The Euro constitution trespassed onto things I felt should not have been in a constitution, tying the hands of future europeans on details of policy. I have no love for the bureaucracy of Europe, which I believe is fundamentally elitist and anti democratic. The point I would like to make from all of this, is that Ireland discovered the hard way, that there are no easy rides. You have to pay your way. We may have to learn this lesson all over again, perhaps in the not too distant future. However, in the last twenty years, we have demanded certain things from our politicians, and they have practically delivered. Full employments, highest salaries in Europe, highest growth rates, balance of payments surpluses, budget surpluses, infrastructural investment. In fact, we have been so busy pouring money into infrastructure, that we have wasted vast amounts of it. Ditto with our health service, where despite vastly increased investment, the output has hardly improved at all! We know of the imperfections of government, and have turned a slightly blind eye, given how the good times are rolling, and the only other choice of government party open to us, which most people lack sufficient confidence in.

As to Poles coming in? Well, in the last two years, since the accession of the east european countries, we have had our population increased by 10%. That’s in two years Jack. Along with the Poles, are Latvians, Lithuanians, Czechs, Hungarians, French, believe it or not, Russians, Moldovans, Romanians, Chinese. If you go to a Service station, a food outlet, restaurants, hotels, etc etc etc, it’s hard to make yourself understood. Few Irish work at the coal face, and those who do, even if they have the language skills, they don’t have the diction skills to make themselves understood. But it’s a much more vibrant place. More colourful. And the majority of the newcomers pose no threat to our culture, but will instead deepen it. It has often been said of the various invaders throughout our history, that they became more Irish than the Irish themselves. There are some immigrants I am more concerned about, who always seem to find problems, and feel discriminated against. Who don’t seem to be interested in assimilation or work,and some of whose number are inordinately high up in the crime figures. Particularly crimes of fraud, car theft for export, and credit card crime. These are people who do not appear to have assimilated in other European countries, but have tended to form Ghettos, with little appearance of ambition to advance themselves. And curiously, these tend to be people who cannot come here as of right, but mostly do so as asylum seekers. Till we changed our constitution on citizenship two years ago, they were arriving on planes in Dublin airport, and going directly to the maternity hospitals to deliver their babies, thus assuring citizenship for the child, and residency for the parents. We closed that little loophole.

I know this is a little rambling, and request the patience of readers, but I really believe that if we take campaign contributions out of politics, it will leave the politicians to do thier jobs. They know, and we know, that if they get it wrong, they’re out. And if they and we don’t know, we will just have to find out the hard way. But democracy is for the people, not for small interest groups at the expense of the people.

Posted by: Paul in Euroland at December 27, 2006 7:31 PM
Comment #200556

Let me break this down real quickly! Public funding for campaigns; I think it works something like this:

According to liberal Democrats, wealthy Republicans are making all the money, therefore they should pay more taxes.
That tax money would be redistributed to liberals liberally at a rate of 50:50.
Liberal Democrats would campaign to push for higher taxation on the wealthy!
Liberals would in turn receive more redistributed wealth from the rich Republicans for campaigns.
Hmm, seems to play in the liberal Democrats favor if you ask me.
Sounds like more of that income redistribution through taxation collected for Federal Government campaign funding. No wonder Libs are for it!!

Posted by: JD at December 27, 2006 7:41 PM
Comment #200558

Well JD, it’s clear where you’re coming from. Except a proper system of public funding of campaign costs wouldn’t work like that. It would be funded on the basis of votes cast for the particular candidate. Then the funding would be going to the candidates whom the people wanted to represent them. Is that not democratic? And the real challenge for all of the candidates would then be to persuade the people that their policies were in the best interests of the electorate. What’s the problem with that?

Posted by: Paul in Euroland at December 27, 2006 7:47 PM
Comment #200560

Paul

I grew up around Irish Americans and am aware of their gifts for obfuscation. Maybe I do have a kind of idealistic view of your country. I guess the “Danny Boy Collection” and evenings with the Rose of Tralee not longer top the charts. But I think you can be proud of what you have now.

You answered the heart of my question re Brussels.

The better solution to lowering the cost of campaigns is to made it less profitable to be a politician i.e. shrink the scope of government. No point in trying to bribe someone who cannot use legislation to favor your firm or interest group.

Posted by: Jack at December 27, 2006 8:05 PM
Comment #200561

Paul

The problem with giving more to those who get more votes is autocorrelation. The rich (in votes) get richer.

Posted by: Jack at December 27, 2006 8:06 PM
Comment #200564

JD, a huge number of liberals are NOT for it, just as many conservatives aren’t. A majority of Independent and 3rd party voters are however, for public campaign financing. And they are increasingly determining the outcomes of our federal elections, as we just witnessed.

There is a lesson there for both the Democratic and Republican parties, it they choose to read the writing on the wall.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 27, 2006 8:20 PM
Comment #200566

Dolan said: “Dave, I went to a buddist meeting once while in the service, just couldnt get past the chanting.LOL”

I know what you mean. I had the same reaction to hymns in my mother’s Methodist Church. Turned me off to sheep-like congregations and crowd mentality permanently.

Buddhism appealed because it is an introspective search for the truth, rather than a following of the authority of the crowd, or mob as in the case of my father’s affinity for Christian based KKK meetings in Christ’s name.

You have my utter and complete respect for enlisting in ‘73. Of course, I extend the same respect to the draft dodgers who dodged out of a sense of morality, choosing to follow the path of Christ, rather than a failed policy in Viet Nam.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 27, 2006 8:30 PM
Comment #200569

Is it just me or does the best person for the job ring a bell?

Have we become so entrenched in our political dogma that we cannot elect someone supremely qualified, without the taint of money or of party affiliation?

This is just so much mental masturbation!

Jack,

Money doesn’t show popularity.
It only shows the ability to have moneyed backers with a plan.
Money is power, and most of the people in this country don’t possess the kind of money or power that actually puts candidates in office.

JD’s and tomh’s responses above merely prove that point.

Elections in this country have become only about how much money you can raise, and from whom, and ideas, and qualifications will just have to take a back seat.

And America has become the poorer for it.

Posted by: Rocky at December 27, 2006 8:46 PM
Comment #200571

Jack, I am immensely proud of today’s Ireland. For all of its faults, there are good jobs for all who want them. My two kids are in the best university in the country, at a cost of about $2,000 per year for the two of them. They can aspire to whatever their dreams and their courage lead them to. They have hugely successful Irish role models, which my generation never did. We live in one of the freest societies in the world. The index of economic freedom for 2006 puts us in third place, behind Hong Kong and Singapore, and I know we are politically much freer than either of those two.

As to making it less profitable to be a politician? Well Jack, whatever we may say about our politicians, they don’t make fortunes from it. At least not while in office. Some of the better ones will be snapped up by industry. One of whom, Peter Sutherland, made a remarkable contribution internationally;
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Sutherland

In Ireland, we have a pretty healthy disrespect for politicians, perhaps even too much disrespect. But most of our politicians are policy wonks. They are generally interested in advancing political ideas. The party system of course in not really conducive to the majority making serious contributions, because they will never have the talent to set the party agenda, and their role is primarily as party cannon fodder. Theirs not to reason why, theirs just to vote and lie! That’s just my cynical streak sneaking out for a little fresh air.

Posted by: Paul in Euroland at December 27, 2006 8:52 PM
Comment #200576

Dave

“You’ve said conservatives are optimistic but they premise their political philosphies on retribution (either be rich or be poor and in jail, ‘you deserve it’). You should read up a bit more on todays youth culture and then tell me they have an optimistic view of the future”

Lines like this would be hillarious if i didn’t know you were serious.

Paul

You said something to the effect that the money would be distributed based on the votes they received. What votes? How do they get those votes in the first place? How do they get their name out their. Or do we end up with candidates in primaries needing only 10 signatures and 50 bucks to get on teh ballot. We would end up with the recall ballot fiasco we had in California, with 100+ candidates on the ballot.

Posted by: Keith at December 27, 2006 10:05 PM
Comment #200579


The objective of public financing is th break the hold that the two major parties hold on the elections so that third party candidates can have an equal opportunity to be presented to the people and their massage heard.

I think this would work well, especially in the presidential campaign if public financing kicked in after the primaries. If it is a before the primaries, you will have 50 Democrats and 49 Republicans running and collecting federal money to do so.

First, we make it easier for other parties to participate in the primaries. The top 3,4, or 5 parties in each state then recieves federal funding for the general election. This would allow those party candidates to compete in debates and advertising in the general election.

Posted by: jlw at December 27, 2006 10:36 PM
Comment #200582

Here is a web site for Public Campaign

http://www.publicampaign.org/video


I think it explains it well. It makes sense and its working already in several states.


The only reason to be against publicly financed campaigns is because you’d rather see money interest control our government rather then the people. That’s sad but its the belief of many conservatives running the party.

It seems like the opponents are saying that left to their own the majority of people would move this country to the left. I’d guess that might be true. But what does it say of a party if it has to lie to win…can’t even state its true beliefs.

tomh pretty much said it all when he proclaimed , “That old leftist argument of democracy is a fallacy argument. Get over it. THIS IS NOT A DEMOCRACY!!!”

Now scan back up to the title of the thread…..”the end of democracy”.

An honest politician running with such a message as tomh might not do to well don’t ya think?

Posted by: muirgeo at December 27, 2006 11:11 PM
Comment #200587

muirgeo,

First of all money is free speech. How can you possibly separate the two? Is writing an oped in a newspaper free speech? If the money used to print the paper isn’t part of free speech then what’s the point?

The only reason to be against publicly financed campaigns is because you’d rather see money interest control our government rather then the people. That’s sad but its the belief of many conservatives running the party.

Sadly this is a complete misunderstanding of… actually I guess it’s more of a straw man. What exactly is the “money interest” by the way?

There is a principle here that the left is apparently not able to see and JT hit it right on the head when he said this:

IF we did not allow government to have so much regulatory authority, the stakes on who is elected would be dramatically reduced.

Reducing the incentive to buy politicians is the answer.

Corruption would be radically reduced if we limited the scope of government power. Without doing that it won’t matter if all campaign contributions are outlawed. Just think about it for a second. Why would you bribe an official who can’t bend the rules for you?

The left will not even examine this aspect of the issue. Because the true object here is not reducing corruption, it’s having more power.

***MONEY QUOTE***

Basically it’s like wanting the government to take over the business of corrupting public officials.

***END MONEY QUOTE***

Public funding as a solution to corruption is like having the government take over all media in order to ensure 100% accuracy in news reporting. Sadly, this is what happens in countries who are serious about embarking on this kind of ‘social justice’ platform— like in Venezuela and Cuba.

Posted by: eric simonson at December 27, 2006 11:41 PM
Comment #200593

David,

But public funding for elections is a giant step forward toward ending government for sale to the highest bidder, which is the grossest of corruptions of our Constitution and Declaration of Independence.

I just don’t see it. How can yet another prohibition, this time on politicking work when you are attacking the wrong end of the problem?

This is what I see— the monopoly power is in the government’s hands and instead of wanting to return power to the people this kind of “reform” advocates increasing the power of the government, which is very much like increasing the demand for corruption.

For example, the demand for influencing a politician is proportional to the power of that politician to deliver on that successful influence. Reduce the power of the politician and you will reduce the demand for attempting to influence him or her.

Instead, public funding actually decreases accountability and creates yet another entitlement. A political entitlement at that.

In addition, public funding will open the nomination and election process to non-wealthy candidates - and most of us know that would be a good thing overall. Wealth is no guarantor of either leadership or smarts. It is time for this country to return to a process in which the people may nominate and elect folks like them - after all, it was supposed to be government of, by, and for the people, NOT the Wealthiest to the detriment of the average Joe or Jane.

Poverty is certainly no guarantor of either leadership or smarts either. What’s more I don’t think your rationalization about this is even based on any real circumstance.

Wealth will not guarantee political support, neither will poverty preclude it. What you are fomenting here is the idea that some should not have to work for political support but should just be given it.

Anyone with talent and a knack for the political process can get elected without any of their own money. They have to earn the support of others first. Instead, public funding would replace this with a political entitlement that in fact cheapens the process of democracy.

Posted by: eric simonson at December 28, 2006 12:03 AM
Comment #200596


Eric: If the government would do away with environmental regulations, then corporations would not have to bribe politicians to bend the regulations in their favor and that would end a lot of corruption. Is this consistant with your argument?

Posted by: jlw at December 28, 2006 12:33 AM
Comment #200597

eric,

You don’t seem to get that money isn’t speech.

Money is power, and the more money you have the more power, and as a by-product, corruption, you can wield.

Until all of the money is taken out of the political process, the corruption and the power grabs will continue.

If we stem the unfettered flow of money, the corruption will begin to dry up as well.

Posted by: Rocky at December 28, 2006 12:36 AM
Comment #200605

Money isn’t speech?

No, it isn’t. But the freedom of the press doesn’t mean that the government has to buy you a newspaper and make you the editor. And the right to bear arms doesn’t mean that government has to buy you a gun.

Speak all you want. Stand in front of the mirror and talk, talk, talk, but to get to your speech into the public arena takes MONEY, and that money is going to come from somewhere. And be that government or a business, there will be interests involved.

The government should not abridge in any way the rights of all citizens to speak, using whatever means and whatever finances they can muster. By the same token, nobody is or should be forced to listen to or believe any speech that they hear.

Saying that “money isn’t speech” bespeaks a dangerous and totalitarian impulse.

Why not also say that the right of free assembly doesn’t include the right to pay money for a bus ticket to attend a protest march and the government should start regulating who can go where and when?

Yes, money isn’t speech. Speech is spech, and nothing—absolutley nothing—should abridge speech or more speech. Get the goverment out of it completely and put your faith in the ability of your fellow citizen to THINK and to REASON.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at December 28, 2006 1:01 AM
Comment #200607

LO,

“Get the goverment out of it completely and put your faith in the ability of your fellow citizen to THINK and to REASON.”

Individually I think humans are mostly intelligent, and can think and reason when the occasion calls for it.

Collectively though, most humans are just cattle, that are easily led, but will stampede at the first opportunity.

Posted by: Rocky at December 28, 2006 1:10 AM
Comment #200609

Rocky, maybe you’re right about human beings being just like cattle.

But that is the first assumption made by all totalitarian thinkers.

The belief that people can’t handle exposure to ideas and need the government to control and manage what they hear—having no faith in people to think and weed through information themselves—is an idea worthy of Kim Jong Il, Stalin, Fidel Castro or Goebbels. In fact, it’s the primary thinking behind just states.

It’s not an idea worthy of America or Americans. Let everybody say or pay to have said whatever they will, and let the chips fall where they may. There is no other choice in a free society.


Posted by: Loyal Opposition at December 28, 2006 1:29 AM
Comment #200610

Retraction: Of course, I didn’t mean “just states” but “such states.” My apologies.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at December 28, 2006 1:31 AM
Comment #200623

muirgeo,

“First of all money is free speech. …”

Posted by: eric simonson

Eric,

So like in Animal farm some people are more equal then others?

So a Pharmaceutical rep or any lobbyist ought to be able to walk up to the presiding congressman and say…yada yada yada…here I am free speaking….yada yada yada……please pass the medicare drug bill….yada yada yada….here I am free speaking..yada yad yada here’s $100,000 dollars..yada yada ydad….its just me exerting my right of free speech …..yada yada…I have soooo much money…..I’m speaking sooo freely……see you at the next fund raiser where everybody will have free access to you to speak freely as long as they speak $15,000 worth for their supper. If you can’t speak this freely then YOU’RE NOT INVITED.


I’m sorry Eric but that you believe money IS free speech is really sad. I just don’t get it.


Posted by: muirgeo at December 28, 2006 8:54 AM
Comment #200624

Sadly this is a complete misunderstanding of… actually I guess it’s more of a straw man. What exactly is the “money interest” by the way?

Posted by: eric simonson


Money interest Eric? You think money is free speech and then you need me to tell you what money interest are. How about….

…it is the guys making billions off this war,

….it is the guy floating from working for big , to the head of the EPA and back to a lobbyist for big oil

….it is the guy writing the Medicare drug bill stealing my father and my country blind.

…its Ken Lay and oil representatives and Dick Cheney sitting around a table in 3/2001 discussing in private OUR energy policy with a map of the Iraq oil wells sitting on the table.

Money interest are the very guys Dwight D Eisenhower, FDR and Teddy Roosevelt told us to be wary of for they will steal our democracy.


Money interest are the guys who see everything as dollars signs, the guy who will proclaim he speaks freely with his money, the guy who puts money above all else…his family, his soul, his democracy, his country…his fellow countrymen. Money interest Eric, our the guys you seem all to willing to make excuses for when you so paradoxically titled this thread the End of Democracy.

You without a doubt subordinate democracy to money…you need to rethink your position.


Posted by: muirgeo at December 28, 2006 9:08 AM
Comment #200626

Corruption would be radically reduced if we limited the scope of government power. Without doing that it won’t matter if all campaign contributions are outlawed. Just think about it for a second. Why would you bribe an official who can’t bend the rules for you?

Posted by: eric simonson


Eric,

You are SO not paying attention. This is something that we should indeed agree on. But I guarantee you those money interest I’m talking abut don’t want smaller government. They want it bigger and bigger and bigger. They want access to it…they want to control it.

It (government)will NEVER get smaller as long as people like you keep covering for these guys claiming they have free speech rights with their money.

Didn’t you see what happened the last 6 years. Money interests had free access more then ever and spending went through the roof. Almost none of it for public benefit and almost all of it for the money interest.

Facts prove me right Eric…you had your guys in place the last 6 years and what happened.

Now you want to keep letting the money interest have their way? Explain to me how we get from here to there (there being smaller government) with the system the way it is? It WILL NOT happen. The politicians to do the job DON’T have the money. Its that simple.

Please watch the videos in my link.

http://www.publicampaign.org/video

Posted by: muirgeo at December 28, 2006 9:19 AM
Comment #200628

Jack,

Don’t you find it at all humorous that the response to those who “have an inflated idea of their worthyness” is “getting in their way” and “being so obtuse (they) got bored and went away”? Those techniques are very passive and seem hypocritical when it is the right wing who always complain that “the Democrats have no plan…”

Keith at December 27, 2006 10:05 PM

Do you think most poor people are poor primarily because of their personal choices or because of circumstance?

Posted by: Dave1-20-2009 at December 28, 2006 9:29 AM
Comment #200633

Dave

I do those things because I think it is fun and I am curmudgeon-like. I do not propose them as a general solution to anything. I have always enjoyed getting in the way of protestors who get in my way. They tend to assemble across my favorite running places and annoy me with their shrill cries. It is mildly amusing for me to disrupt their concentration. I would not go far out of my way to do it, but if there is a low hanging fruit opportunity, I take it.

Re being poor

It is combination of circumstances and choices. There are some circumstances that can overcome the best choices and some choices that can overcome the best circumstances, but in the broad middle it is hard to be stay poor if you do not make bad choices and hard to get rich even if you do.

Let me be clear, I am not saying you will never be poor or that you will be rich if you make good choices, but you will probably not stay poor your entire life. It is easy in the U.S. to be NOT poor.

Let me also be clear about blame. It may not be the poor person’s fault that he makes poor choices. I grew up around relatives who were habitually poor. They had truly bad attitudes. They were always careful not to work too hard, lest “the man” benefit unjustly from their labor. They always figured everybody was as dishonest as they were and were looking for the quick road to riches. Trying to learn new skills was for chumps as far as they were concerned unless there was a payoff the next day. They learned these attitudes from their parents and the poor society around them, so it was not their fault, but it was their attitudes and the choices it led them to make that kept them poor.

The irony is that the worst attitude complex that keeps people poor is related to greed and envy. They want to get rich quick and want to make sure nobody else gets rich on their work. The best way to get rich (or at least not poor) is to do it incrementally and share your labor and ideas so that you become important to other people who can help you.

Posted by: Jack at December 28, 2006 11:10 AM
Comment #200634

Dave 01

Why did you use my tag line for something I did not say?

Posted by: Keith at December 28, 2006 11:20 AM
Comment #200636

Jack,

So your relatives represent the substantial majority of poor people?

“It is easy in the U.S. to be NOT poor.” Really! Based on what? Be real, rightwing rhetoric blames poverty on the poor. The reality: people sometimes simply need help.

You can’t speak both in short term present tense and longer term present indicative tenses yet assign different causes, expectations, and results. In a sense you’re correct, SOME people lack long term skills to resolve their problems; economic, social, or otherwise. But there are other poeple in circumstances that don’t allow them to escape with out external help. What I hear from the right wing is “they are responsible for their circumstances, liberals are stupid for wanting to use common resources to help the helpless”. You admit that there are circumstances that some people can’t overcome, yet why are you so unwilling to help?


Keith,

The quote was Jacks, the question was to you against your post of December 27, 2006 10:05 PM. Sorry for being unclear.

Posted by: Dave1-20-2009 at December 28, 2006 11:33 AM
Comment #200640

Dave

I do not mind using common resources to help the poor, but we have to target them properly. Our objective is to change the culture of poverty, not subsidize it. We are spilling arguments among posts. I wrote the “Fish” post about this. The whole point of my post was that programs the target behavior are successful while those that target class or group are not. The reason is behavior is the key to results.

So what kind of help? If you get some guy who is just behaving in ways that keep him poor, you can give him money. But that is more than a waste. You are subsidizing his error and helping spread it.

I favor policies that help in return for something. A TSP encourages savings. A HSA encourges health. Help with education encourages skill building. But you have to make the recipient pony up some time and/or money too.

If you teach him to fish, you will require that he tries to learn and after he learns that he catches some fish.

To be NOT poor in the U.S. all you have to do is hold a steady job (even a poorly paid one), get married and stay faithful, wait to have children until you can afford them and do not abuse drugs or booze. People who do these things, which are available to almost everybody, are rarely poor.

Posted by: Jack at December 28, 2006 11:57 AM
Comment #200646
To be NOT poor in the U.S. all you have to do is hold a steady job (even a poorly paid one), get married and stay faithful, wait to have children until you can afford them and do not abuse drugs or booze. People who do these things, which are available to almost everybody, are rarely poor. Posted by: Jack at December 28, 2006 11:57 AM
So what you’re saying is that poor people are poor because they are lazy promiscuous addicts.

.

Posted by: Dave1-20-2009 at December 28, 2006 12:58 PM
Comment #200653


Money is free speech that speaks louder than words.

People who think that $7 per hour isn’t poor mans pay should live on $7 per hour and invest the rest in the stock market.

Posted by: jlw at December 28, 2006 1:46 PM
Comment #200672

Dave

If you remain poor your entire life you are either very unlucky of doing something to prevent success.

I do not recall the exact numbers, but roughly 12% of Americans are poor any given year and around 5% are long term poor. Most of the poor do not stay that way year to year. Of the 5% who stay poor, my guess is that most are behaving poorly, but frankly I do not know. What I do know that it is possible for a person to lift him self out of poverty. I have seen this on many occassions. I know that nobody does it alone. We all stand on the shoulders of others. But that is a given. Almost all have access to this. I have to wonder why we have this hard core poor in the midst of a generally prosperous society.

Remember, I am not saying anybody can become rich, but I do not think that most people need to remain poor.

And if people do those simple things I mentioned in the earlier post, I do not think many would remain poor.

How many poor people do you know who have done these things and are still poor (i.e. living under the poverty line) for more than a year or two?

Posted by: Jack at December 28, 2006 4:13 PM
Comment #200679

I just don’t get it!
The folks who usually take a liberal Dem stance on this blog are saying that the rich get too much say for all their money in this country. Yet, 68% of the entire Federal U.S. budget is spent on entitlement social programs for the poor. How can anyone argue that the poor have no say in government when just a little less than 3/4 of all money dished out from Washington D.C. goes to the poor? For people who have no voice, they sure are doing pretty darn good if you ask me!!

JD

Posted by: JD at December 28, 2006 4:51 PM
Comment #200694

Jack,

So if the vast majority of poor people are poor for only some of the time, and therefor most people make appropriate choices to extract themselves from a “poor” situation, then doesn’t it make sense to help support those people during their transitionary period? {As a clarification, I don’t believe your premise, but I’ll go with it for now. We would also need to define “poor”}

As for your last question, I don’t currently know any people (except superficially) who live in poverty, although I know plenty of people who live substantially below my means.

Posted by: Dave1-20-2009 at December 28, 2006 8:24 PM
Comment #200698
People who think that $7 per hour isn’t poor mans pay should live on $7 per hour and invest the rest in the stock market.

Been there, done that. I also spent years working to put myself in a better position to provide for my famliy, which I eventually did. It’s amazing how life works when you take responsibility for yourself and don’t feel ‘entitled’ to anything from anyone.

Posted by: Rhinehold at December 28, 2006 8:38 PM
Comment #200707

Dave

I used to live below my means. There is nothing wrong with that. In fact, I still live below my own means, as we all should. You should always leave something on the table.

Re support during the transition period - probably not. I would want people to have enough to eat (which may mean beans instead of beef) and a warm place to sleep, but when you are poor you have to struggle. It needs to have some sting or else some people will not bother to avoid it.

We have a different attitude toward these things. I did not feel sorry for myself when I was poor and I do not feel sorry for others either. There are specific cases when I would like to help people with a gift and I think it I think it is a good idea to help people learn skills (teach to fish) but mere poverty, in the Ameican sense, does not keep me awake at nights.

Let’s instead talk about justice. Some people deserve to be poor. Others deserve better. I do not know which is which until I can look at them individually.

Posted by: Jack at December 28, 2006 10:05 PM
Comment #200723

Dave 01

“The quote was Jacks, the question was to you against your post of December 27, 2006 10:05 PM. Sorry for being unclear”

So I guess you are talking about this:
______________________________________________________________
“You’ve said conservatives are optimistic but they premise their political philosphies on retribution (either be rich or be poor and in jail, ‘you deserve it’). You should read up a bit more on todays youth culture and then tell me they have an optimistic view of the future”

Lines like this would be hillarious if i didn’t know you were serious.
—————————————————————————————————

I was referring to you idiotic parenthetical comment. I don’t see where that and your question have anything to do with each other.


Posted by: Keith at December 29, 2006 1:00 AM
Comment #200741

Jack,

So to you it comes down to the “strength through adversity” and “that which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” philosophies. Personnaly, I think Ayn had penis envy and Galt was an egotistical butthole, our society should recognize human complexity at a higher level and be FOR its citizens, and this is funny, although Kieth would consider it an “idiotic parenthetical”
Finally, who are we to mete out justice? How does one earn the right to pass such judgements? I would say someone had to be pretty self righteous to think they had the right to make such determinations.

Posted by: Dave1-20-2009 at December 29, 2006 10:12 AM
Comment #200742

Dave

We ALL are making judgements. If you give your money to the poor, you are judging that it is worth the effort and not counter productive to their welfare. If you give tax money to the poor, you are making the same judgement but coercing others to pay too.

I believe in a safety net, but not a platform. I do believe that adversity can make some people stronger, although adversity tends more to reveal rather than build character.

I just do not care if some people are poorer than others. I do not consider the struggle for equal outcomes a valid goal.

I think we should try to help people to help themselves because it is a good thing for all involved. I think it is the right thing to create a safety net so that nobody lives in abject poverty and in the U.S. nobody does unless he refused or is unable to cooperate in the system. That is a different problem and one I address re behavior change.

Re justice - I have the right to do with my resources what I want. I will mete out justice to the extent of that. I will make choices re which are the best products to buy and who I should help (or not) with my money. I have earned that right by earning the money.

I think we are not judgemental enough, or more precisely, we are judgemental, but we refuse to admit it.

We are both being judgmental. You are judging that the poor are helpless in the face of their plight. I am saying they have leverage to change their situation. I think my judgement is more generous.

Posted by: Jack at December 29, 2006 10:32 AM
Comment #200745

Eric Simonson-
If money is free speech, then why not legalize bribery? It’s only somebody exercising their right to petition the government for the redress of grievances. Why outlaw prostitution? We should be free to ask for sex. So many people do that.

You assert that if we reduce the power of government, we reduce the incentive to influence people. However, people may nonetheless want government to exercise power on their behalf, not to mention that the absence of government power may be exactly what these people are seeking, and that they will only seek more as time goes by.

Money isn’t everything, Eric. The real expression, that which counts, is still funded. The government can’t tell people what to say or do. A person seeking public funding would likely have to gain a lot of support first before they were eligible. This just ensures that they can be given equal footing in resources to the other guy. Nothing about public funding will make them any more persuasive than they can make themselves.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 29, 2006 11:18 AM
Comment #200773

All you libs and others that are for government funding of elections:

Are you willing to fund elections totally on government financing alone?
This means:
Are you willing to give up all other special interest campaign ads favoring any particular Party or candidate or their stance on issues, making any such ads other than those released by the candidates themselves illegal to make sure elections are solely funded by the government?

Are you willing to give up the Press’ right to lean toward a particular Party before and during an election which constitutes Party affiliation or advertisement support, making it illegal, punishable by fines and imprisonment, and monitored by a panel of citizens from each participating Party?

If you want to handicap certain Parties based on equal government funding for the candidates, then you also have to guarantee no access to groups in regards to campaining for particular candidates on their own, which would be the equivalent of private campaign funding.
In other words, shutting down the NAACP ads, the Union ads, the Environmentalist ads, the Stem Cell Research ads, etc., etc., etc.! Are you willing to do this?

JD

Posted by: JD at December 29, 2006 2:13 PM
Comment #200786

Jack,

It’s possible to redefine words and spin the Libertarian ubermensch mentality in as many ways as one can spin the (r)wing let the rich get richer, afterall they deserve it mentality. In the end, here’s my parable:
Uncle Sam walks by a deep hole and hears a man in the bottom. I want him to stop, wrap a lunch box in a blanket and hand it down on a knotted rope. I want Sam to be ready for when the man in the hole is strong enough that Sam can help the man climb out of the hole. You want Sam to keep on walking, maybe throw him some beans, since the hole sucks and the man will want to get himself out if he wants to.

Posted by: Dave1-20-2009 at December 29, 2006 4:16 PM
Comment #200789

Dave

It depends how the man got in the hole and whether he is willing to come out. Some people are down in that hole just digging in deeper. They will not use the ropes you send and will use whatever else you give them to dig.

Yes, help those who can be helped, but do not subsidize bad behavior.

BTW - if the man will not come out of the hole, I would not throw down any beans, or maybe I would throw down a can of beans and inform him that the can opener was up top.

Posted by: Jack at December 29, 2006 4:47 PM
Comment #200790

Why not help the guy in the hole yourself instead of waiting for someone else (Uncle Sam) to do it for you?

Besides, you miss the main point: what if the guy see’s that he can keep getting freebies so he decides he doesn’t want to come up out of the hole?

Posted by: kctim at December 29, 2006 4:48 PM
Comment #200791

Would someone start a thread on Pelosi’s plans for the Budget?

If I’m reading it correctly,all the claims of balanced budgets and fiscal responsibility are bogus.

Her only concrete plan from what I can see is that she will not INCREASE the deficit. Meaning present amounts of deficit spending may be extended indefinitely. That the language used is deliberately misleading because it’s really a promise to keep spending large deficits and prior deficit levels. It’s not a promise to STOP deficit spending.

Anyone else catching on to this? It appears to me that as the democrats take office they are promising us the deficit spending shall continue as long as they are in power?

How do you guys read this? Will there be no deficits at all….or is she simply promising to maintain the existing deficit spending. It says no “new” deficit spending. That sounds like no more deficit spending at all…but what does it mean? Didn’t the democrats just say for the first 100 hours they would extend the existing budget? Doesn’t that mean shes extending deficits? Are they already breaking a promise of new new deficits or are they merely keeping a promise of maintaining the old deficit level?

I find it hard to believe that simply because the democrats are voted in, the deficit spending is gone. I think they are playing word games here.
——————————————————-
http://democraticleader.house.gov/press/releases.cfm?pressReleaseID=1936
“Draining the swamp – break the link between lobbyists and legislation and commit to pay-as-you-go budgeting, no new deficit spending”

Posted by: Stephen at December 29, 2006 5:29 PM
Comment #200792

JD
Yes.

Posted by: j2t2 at December 29, 2006 5:31 PM
Comment #200856

Jack, tim,

I’m glad to hear you think the pinnacle of society is to leave those who haven’t succeded in their “hole”. I think otherwise.

Posted by: Dave1-20-2009 at December 30, 2006 8:30 AM
Comment #200880

Dave

Sometimes you cannot get them out. Sometimes it hurts them and others more to subsidize their error. You can feel happy about helping, but sometimes it is not helpful.

Most people who fail in life have behaviors that contribute to their failure. The best thing you can do is to get them to stop that and learn better ways.

Take the case of a smoker who gets lung disease. Do you help him? Yes. Do you continue to buy him cigaretts? I hope not. Do you encourage him to teach other people how to smoke? No.

Some people also cannot be helped at all in their current habits.

Remember the old joke about the poor man who prays to win the lottery. Eveyday he pray and does not win. Finally, he complains to God and God answers, “help me out here. Buy a ticket.”

Posted by: Jack at December 30, 2006 1:20 PM
Comment #200919

Jack,

You are more concerned about not helping out those few who can’t be helped at the expense of those who can. I’m willing to accept the inefficiency and not convict the innocent.

Posted by: Dave1-20-2009 at December 30, 2006 6:19 PM
Comment #200925

Dave

We make the opportunities available. We set up a safety net. We do what we should. Those who can help themselves will be able to take the opportunities. Those who cannot but are not doing truly stupid things will be saved by the safety net. Others are beyond help. We can regret their loss, but not change it.

You do not continue to pour water down the rat hole.

Posted by: Jack at December 30, 2006 7:18 PM
Comment #200930

Jack,

How is your last post different from what I’ve been saying?

Posted by: Dave1-20-2006 at December 30, 2006 8:32 PM
Comment #200969

Dave

My perception of our difference is practical. I want a safety net and I want to help those who can be helped. We probably agree on the general theory.

But I would demand that those doing stupid thing cut it out and help themselves. (Yes, judgement). I would not subsidize their error. I also am not seeking equality. Some people will have harder time than others. That is not one of my concerns.

If you agree with me, you probably should become a Republican. You may not recognize it because Dems fight a straw man Republican, who is rich (wearing a top hat) and doesn’t care about the poor. I care about the poor. I just do not think that they are poor for reasons unrelated to their own behavior.

I think I made my points clearer in my article nearby. The title, teach a man to fish but do not make fish an entitlement, sums it up.

Posted by: Jack at December 31, 2006 11:31 AM
Comment #201031

Jack,

The way I see it is you’re more interested in making sure that those you feel are less deserving get less. I’m just more willing to just try to help those that need it. However, I happen to agree mostly with the welfare reforms of the 90’s.

Posted by: Dave1-20-2009 at December 31, 2006 6:54 PM
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