Third Party & Independents Archives

March 02, 2005

News: The Good, Bad, & Ugly

The last few days have generated a huge number of political news stories. Following are the biggies in the categories of Good, Bad, and Ugly from an Independent’s point of view. Topics include a philosopher candidate for the World Bank President, drilling in ANWR to be sneaked by in Congress on budget bill, and Republicans pull out hammer and nails for Bush’s Soc. Sec. Reform coffin.

The Good:

The Washington Post ran a heartlifting story today. The article states:

The Senate's top Republican said yesterday that President Bush's bid to restructure Social Security may have to wait until next year and might not involve the individual accounts the White House has been pushing hard.
It is good to see that even Republican Congress persons are capable of seeing the immense damage Bush's S.S. half-baked reform scheme would cause for the American people and her economy.

"Carly" Fiorina, recently ousted Hewlit Packard CEO, is one of the most intelligent and wise people in America. She has a background not only in business but also a working knowledge of history of ancient civilization and philosophy. She has on a number of occasions related current events to Ancient Greek societies and Rome. Carly has apparently been placed on the potential candidate list for the position of President of the World Bank. I give a thumbs up to the Whitehouse for a potentially excellent decision.

AnySoldier.Com received a great and heartwarming article by CNN.Com which details a web site devoted to getting our troops what they need. This is American ingenuity at its finest.

The Supreme Court has followed up its 2002 ruling of banning execution of the mentally retarded, with a new ban on executing those whose crimes were committed as a minor. This was a wise decision in lieu of America's less than stellar performance in making sure those on death row were actually guilty in the first place. Additionally, as most adults will recollect, youth was a time for learning and often that learning resulted from bad decisions or regretful actions. Youth is moldable, malleable, and receptive to help and rehabilitation and the Court's decision has apparently taken this into account.

The Bad

Utah, of all places, has stood proud in defiance of Bush's unfunded mandate called the No Child Left Behind Act. The Associated Press has an excellent article on how Utah views Bush's threat to pull all federal funding for education out of Utah if Utah will not comply. Utah's Governor is hoping for a compromise that will save Utah's children from Bush's BAD administration of the No Child Left Behind Act, but the Utah Congress is ready to defy the Whitehouse if necessary.

This is really bad. AP writer H. Josef Hebert, reports:

The first big environmental showdown of the new Congress is expected to come within weeks as the Senate plans to use a budget measure to try to open an Alaskan wildlife refuge to oil development, hoping to sidestep strong Democratic opposition.
...
Given the wider majority of 55 Republicans against 44 Democrats and one Independent, Republicans leaders believe they have the best chance yet to gather the 51 votes needed to include ANWR in the budget language, which is not subject to filibuster.

This is just another example of how the Bush administration holds nothing of the public's sacred. Not the Establishment Clause of the Constitution nor public owned assets paid for by the public's taxes. The idea of opening a public land reserved for the preservation of America's limited but still pristine geographic heritage and reserve for its wildlife to commercial exploitation is appalling and should not be allowed to go forward. If the public cannot stop Bush's rape of the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge, nothing that belongs to the public will ever be safe again.

The BBC let America's dirty little secret out of the bag and put it prominently in international headlines this week. In the article it states:

The US has one of the highest rates of relative child poverty among the world's wealthiest countries, according to a report by the UN.

The US, which is second only to Mexico in the UN children's agency report, is nonetheless one of few countries to see a recent decline in child poverty.

In total, Unicef says up to 50 million children are living in poverty in rich nations and the figure is rising.

Children in Nordic countries are best off, due to higher social spending.

This is not however surprising to me since President Bush has now had 5 years to promote death and war at the expense of social spending. His 2006 budget proposal seeks nearly across the board cuts in social spending while ever increasingly ratcheting up the debt for death and military expansion. Bush said he was a war president. On this at least he did not lie.

The Ugly

USA Today reports the Supreme Court is finally entering the fray over public institution displays of the 10 Commandments and other religious materials. Given the large number of such displays in public buildings across the land, and given the Constitution's Establishment clause prohibiting the Government from establishing a national religion, this is going to be a very ugly deliberation in the Supreme Court.

The Washington Post has an ugly law suit being covered by the press. It reports:

A high-profile civil trial opened Monday on allegations that the treasurer of a political action committee created by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) illegally raised and spent corporate campaign funds in the 2002 election that led to a GOP takeover of the Texas Legislature.

DeLay has not been accused of any wrongdoing, nor has he been subpoenaed in the case. It was brought by five Democrats who said they lost their bids for state House seats as a result of illegal campaign contributions.

The only reason this story is so ugly is because it mirrors what we all know but don't want to see in our headlines. Money talks, Money walks, and Government and Political Parties are eyebrow deep in money and bankrupt of principles surrounding the welfare of the American people.

Reuters covers the last, but not least UGLY story of the week. The lawsuit filed by the ACLU and Human Rights First claims: "Secretary Rumsfeld bears direct and ultimate responsibility for this descent into horror by personally authorizing unlawful interrogation techniques and by abdicating his legal duty to stop torture," said Lucas Guttentag, lead counsel in the case.

I wrote pretty much this same opinion many moons ago. Being a card carrying member of the ACLU, I was both pleased and proud to see the ACLU bring this matter to the headlines. Though the case does not have a snowball's chance in hell of winning, it will serve to elevate public awareness of the direct link between Whitehouse policy and the devastating consequences such 'half-baked' policies can have upon America's image in the world as well as her ability to get others in the world to follow her lead.

Posted by David R. Remer at March 2, 2005 09:10 AM
Comments
Comment #45244

Re: Child Poverty
David, who is responsible for child poverty? My parents took care of me and I fully intend to take care of my children when I do have them. I also understand that I will not have children if I cannot support them myself. But ask me to support a child that I had no intention of supporting and I am out. The bottom line is personal responsibility. I have read your comments extensively on this site and I know you understand the basic principle of a welfare program. It shifts the responsibility from an individual to the government. An individual is no longer held accountable for his/her own mistakes or thoughtless undertakings.

I will wait for a response from you that does not include the words “Bush”, “War”. This has nothing to do with Bush or War or Republican or Democrat. This is about the society we live in and how we must make sure that everyone is responsible for thier own actions.

Posted by: blue at March 2, 2005 09:38 AM
Comment #45245

I usually agree with you, David, but…

“Carly” Fiorina, recently ousted Hewlit Packard CEO, is one of the most intelligent and wise people in America.

… you obviously don’t work for HP!

Then again, one could argue that getting thrown out of a sinking ship into a custom-built luxury life-raft shows you’re doing SOMETHING right! :-)

(Note: I usually post here proudly under my own name, but I’d rather keep my employer-related comments anonymous. I hope you understand.)

Posted by: (HP employee) at March 2, 2005 09:45 AM
Comment #45246

blue, since when are the children in the richest nation on earth supposed to be responsible for keeping themselves out of poverty. The majority of those children are of working parents, my friend. If a society’s priorities are such that work leads to poverty, where is the incentive?

Want change? How about this method which might appeal more to those on the right:

Pakistani religious law challenged.

Rights groups condemn ordinances that call for harsh penalties for adultery, drinking, and premarital sex.

Damn them rights groups and bleeding heart liberals for trying to make society worse, right?.

Posted by: David R. Remer at March 2, 2005 09:48 AM
Comment #45247

HP employee, I wasn’t touting her management paradigm as HP CEO. She has apparently made some ill-advised decisions as CEO. But, if you have ever heard her speak at length (which she usually does), it is self-evident that she is a very knowledgeable and wise person. Whether or not she made mistakes at HP is not something I have first hand knowledge of, but, I will take the Board of Directors word for it.

Even the wisest and most knowledgeable make mistakes or make unpopular decisions. Afterall, if the wise and knowledeable didn’t make non-popular decisions or choose extraordinary paths, they would be indistinguishable from the rest of us, wouldn’t they.

To her praise, her defenders say she was managing HP with an eye toward the long term investment returns. Some of her critics say she was bypassing decisions with short term benefits. Obviously, she had difficulty managing the two goals well simultaneously. But, I have to wonder if anyone could do that to a shareholder’s satisfaction, since shareholders are concerned almost exclusively with the short term. Fiorina’s style was akin to the Japanese long term investment return strategy that permitted them to steal away so much of the American market share from American companies, as I understand it.

Posted by: David R. Remer at March 2, 2005 09:57 AM
Comment #45248

“since when are the children in the richest nation on earth supposed to be responsible for keeping themselves out of poverty”

Did ‘blue’ say that? I think he/she said it is the PARENTS responsibility.
You said most of the poor are from working families. This is true. How do ‘we’ fix that? Raise the limit for food stamps? or do something to get companies to pay higher wages?

Higher wages = higher cost = higher retail prices = no one is better off in the end (but the CEO’s still get their millions)

I can’t see the government making Walmart pay more and the workers turn down unions. (unions can be good and bad)

“Rights groups condemn ordinances that call for harsh penalties for adultery, drinking, and premarital sex.
Damn them rights groups and bleeding heart liberals for trying to make society worse, right?.”

Are you advocating we impose laws like that on our people?

They could have penalties without chopping peoples’ heads off or hanging them in the public square.

Posted by: bugcrazy at March 2, 2005 10:08 AM
Comment #45249

bugcrazy said: Did ‘blue’ say that?

The implication of Blue’s comment is that parents were irresponsible in not attaining a wealthy enough status to keep their kids out of poverty. Any sociologist or psychologist or archeologist can attest to the fact that in a society success depends as much for all of its people on the values and priorities of that society as it does on personal individual attributes, and luck should not be discounted either.

Blue’s response leaves no answer for the shameful statistic, despite the evidence that the Nordic coutries have the lowest child poverty rates due to higher social spending. We are the wealthiest nation on earth (for the moment) and there just plain is no excuse for our having one of the highest child poverty rates, not to mention an a declining educational system compared to other nations. It speaks volumes of American’s priorities. The children are a countries future leaders and supporters or its future criminals and liabilities. There should be no higher priority for a society that seeks to improve its future than its children. It is just common sense, bugcrazy.

Posted by: David R. Remer at March 2, 2005 10:22 AM
Comment #45251

David, in no way I implied that children are responsible for their own well being. One of the responsiblities that comes with giving birth to a child is providing nourishments for that child. I hope that is clear to every current and prospective parent out there. I am not the one to tell someone that they can’t shoot for the stars but everyone has to be reasonable within their own limits. You can do two things to change the situation. Not have kids or go above and beyond to make sure that their children have all the necessary provisions. I just don’t get the notion of bearing a child and hoping that someone will come along and take care of that child.

By the way, we live in the USA not Pakistan. Looks like you have mastered the straw man fallacy. Your original comment was about children in USA being poor not Pakistan, not Nigeria nor Peru.

Posted by: blue at March 2, 2005 10:26 AM
Comment #45253

Blue, so, you believe poor people should not have children. Got any sterilization legislation in mind?

Posted by: David R. Remer at March 2, 2005 10:31 AM
Comment #45255

David, so you believe poor people should have children at my expense? Are you planning on sending your congress person a letter to increase my taxes?

Posted by: blue at March 2, 2005 10:52 AM
Comment #45257

How many poor kids in our country can be taken care of just by getting rid of the retirement benefits for our elected officials?
How many of them are poor and need these benefits? My guess would be ZERO.

When you talk about the ‘wealthy’ who should help the not so fortunate * who do you mean?
I would not have a problem with the rich * incomes over $250,000/yr * getting a tax hike to help (including for SS).
I’m sure many of them would have no problem figuring out how to increase their incomes to make up for the tax increase.
Lower income workers don’t usually increase their incomes unless they work overtime or take on a 2nd or 3rd job.

Posted by: bugcrazy at March 2, 2005 11:08 AM
Comment #45259

“Additionally, as most adults will recollect, youth was a time for learning and often that learning resulted from bad decisions or regretful actions. Youth is moldable, malleable, and receptive to help and rehabilitation and the Court’s decision has apparently taken this into account.”

David,

Did you actually read what this “youth’s regretful action” was?
This young “gentleman” was burglarizing a woman’s house. When she came home and caught him in the act, he took her by force, bound and gagged her, drove her to a river bridge and threw her off.
This to me, doesn’t sound like a misguided youth. I am not in favor of the death penalty in all circumstances, but if this young man’s act doesn’t qualify, I don’t know what will.

Posted by: Rocky at March 2, 2005 11:20 AM
Comment #45261

David
With all due respect, all of your answers, even the sarcastic ones, involve more govt control and legislation.

The answer to poverty has always been more and more money, but, according to the UN, this method is not working:

“The US has one of the highest rates of relative child poverty among the world’s wealthiest countries, according to a report by the UN.”

It has created a sector of our population that is dependent on the govt. and has given them no reason to try and improve or even care about the burden they are placing on society.

So maybe, instead of tugging on heartstrings and predicting doom and gloom for those who are poor, all in order to further promote a failed, feel good social program based on guilt, maybe we need to come up with a program that will instead help those who really need it.

Posted by: kctim at March 2, 2005 11:30 AM
Comment #45265
Blue, so, you believe poor people should not have children. Got any sterilization legislation in mind? - David R. Remer

David, so you believe poor people should have children at my expense? - blue

blue (and kctim) I don’t see you guys offering an alternative. Unless sterilizing poor people is it.

Actually, I’m not sure “poverty” is the problem. With universal health care and high-quality public education, poor children would have a good opportunity to break the poverty cycle. Giving these kids a chance to become productive is a worthwhile investment - and better than just throwing cash at them.

Posted by: American Pundit at March 2, 2005 11:50 AM
Comment #45266

Hmm… To clarify that: It doesn’t matter if the kids are living in poverty, as long as they have the support and opportunity to bring themselves out of it.

Posted by: American Pundit at March 2, 2005 11:54 AM
Comment #45271

My solution is too extreme to make anybody happy so I won’t bore you with it. But it does involve parents being responsible enough to choose their children over their smokes, beer, newer car, latest music, TV program, stereo etc…

“as long as they have the support and opportunity to bring themselves out of it.”

I agree with you guys on this one. But no matter how much support and opportunity the govt provides it still wont do any good unless the PARENTS offer twice as much. The current method has already proven this.

While my solution is too extreme, I recognize that SOME people really do need help.
Can you all recognize that creating a class that is dependant on the govt is not the answer either and that it is not really helping but instead hinders in many cases?

Posted by: kctim at March 2, 2005 12:34 PM
Comment #45272

AP, kctim,

Until we can help those at and below the poverty level become more enthused about getting an education, throwing money at poor people will be a waste of time.
The cycle will continue if children see the streets and drugs as a viable alternative.
I would venture that a great many of America’s youth, could not show you on a map where Iraq is located.

Posted by: Rocky at March 2, 2005 12:35 PM
Comment #45275

AP,

The truely poor that I know already receive health care, food stamps, WIC, head start, free city bus use …

The problem for those who want to work and get off government programs are the income limits they must follow to keep their benefits ( it’s all or nothing) while they try to get on their own 2 feet.
Most of them would be worse off than they already are.

The ‘working poor’ … the ones who have jobs but no healthcare …
I feel that these people should be allowed to sign up for medicaid.
The reason they don’t have insurance is usually because the company doesn’t hire enough full time people or they never get enough hours/wk to qualify for benefits. Besides not making enough to buy their own.

Universal healthcare is going a bit too far. Something more like :
Under 30,000/ yr - medicaid
30,001 - 99,999/yr - $50/mth for medicaid
100,000+ - your on your own

High quality education … all schools should receive the same monies per child. It shouldn’t matter where one lives. The education should be the same.
Unfortunately the rich have more say over this.
Higher income districts can have fund raisers or donate if they want more things for their kids.

Posted by: dawn at March 2, 2005 12:56 PM
Comment #45276

The ANWR news is the most depressing for me. I guess 51% of America did not care much about the enviroment as long as homosexuals can’t marry and a woman can’t control what happens in her own body when they voted four months ago last november.

Posted by: Warren at March 2, 2005 01:00 PM
Comment #45277

Regarding education:

It doesn’t matter who you have teaching a class if the students are not motivated to pay attention or do homework. You could have Beethoven teaching piano lessons, and if the student wasn’t motivated to learn and practice, they’d be as crappy at piano as I am. Can we not therefore conlude that talk of a high-quality education is ridiculous in light of the fact that children will not apply themselves academically without sufficient immediate motivation? The motivation of having lots of money after going to school for 15+ years is hardly sufficient for students who can make lots of money dealing drugs NOW.

Without parental involvement, no government program will educate any children, rich or poor. I teach at a university, and I see students from different socio-economic classes both succeed and fail. The question is one of personal motivation to succeed, and how that success is defined. Perhaps for some, success is defined by not having to answer to anyone for anything, and so avoid work, or turn to shady dealings as a form of ‘self-employment’. Government aid will not affect their situation because they have defined success differently than you or I. For some persons, the reward would have to be very high to get them to work in a structured job where they have to answer to a superior. Raising the minimum wage a few dollars will not be enough, in their mind, to compensate for the loss of personal freedom that they have without a standard job.

I do not disagree that schools ought to receive the same funding per child no matter where they’re located, but all this talk of pouring more money into schools and magically making children smarter is outlandish.

Posted by: AParker at March 2, 2005 01:20 PM
Comment #45280

On religion, the constitution and the government: the only reason we are having this fight, this ongoing debate, is because Americans do not understand their own constitution or history. How is placing a copy of the Ten Commandments not endorsing religion, not endorsing the one God theory, not endorsing Christianity and the bible, over other religions?

Shall we now give a shout out to the rest of the country’s religion to come display their precepts and principles upon the walls and halls of our governmental buildings? And on the lawns of same?

Can I, steeped in my own religion whose principles are based on devil worship, fashion a similar list of Commandments for my followers, but which express views dissimilar to the God’s word, and place these next to the Ten Commandments? To be fair and even handed and not promote one religion above another, the government would have to permit this.

Forward thinking, rationally minded citizens educated in history and who know and respect the spirit as well as the letter of our constitution would not traverse this road.

Posted by: V. Edward Martin at March 2, 2005 01:30 PM
Comment #45288

Mr. Martin. I agree entirely. I am watching a rerun of Cspan’s debate between Barry Lynne and Kelly Shackelford now. Great debate and Minister Barry Lynne is absolutely right.

I love those calling in saying “This country was founded upon Christianity and all them heathens should move somewhere else”. First of all, this country was founded by non-Christian American Indians. The United States was founded at a time when both American Indians and Christian pilgrims shared this land.

Second, there are more than 1 hundred different religions and religious denominations represented in this nation’s population and 20 million who don’t subscribe to any religion at all. Those in Government are charged with representing ALL Americans in their decisions, not just those who subscribe to the 10 commandments.

Posted by: David R. Remer at March 2, 2005 01:52 PM
Comment #45289

Warren, thanks for chiming in on ANWR. I am really p-o’d that once again legislation is going to be tacked onto other legislation which is subject to different rules and not subject to filibuster. Democrats did it, now Republicans are doing it to bypass the minority party. It utterly fails the Jeffersonian rules of Parliament designed to insure the people’s representatives actually had to go on record for their votes on single issues of importance to Americans.

Posted by: David R. Remer at March 2, 2005 01:55 PM
Comment #45306

Blue,
I am sorry but you are disgraceful (to his message and that is not a personal attack.)
“DON’T YOU DARE RAISE MY TAXES FOR THE COMMON GOOD.” Seriously, that is pitiful. Don’t complain either when you have kids and they don’t know the difference between 4+2 and 4-2. I am still reading through all of this but the “Don’t raise MY TAXES” part just forced a comment out of me. I just don’t understand your retarded logic. “Don’t you dare raise my taxes to help a starving kid but I won’t say a word if Bush spends it on a stupid missle that will probably never be used.” By the way, all the quotations are paraphrased, but I get your tone. You could care less for starving children who can’t even get new school clothes, don’t care for educational spending, screw Medicaid, screw Medicare, I will jump with the Social Security scheme when it gets passed so I CAN HAVE MORE MONEY, and what else? If you are going to bitch about your taxes, go join the Citizen’s Against Government Waste. Don’t criticize policies for social programs yet jump like a sheep for Bush. It is just a matter of logic and for that; your message doesn’t carry much of it.

Posted by: Leon S. Blythe at March 2, 2005 04:11 PM
Comment #45307

Heh heh David,
good point.
This country was founded by Non-Christian Indians. I will make sure I use that when I get into a debate over the Constitution. I read in a History book, although government books bs at times, so I will ask the question. Did this country have Muslims (just a very small minority) around the 1600’s? I will find it interesting as the Founding Fathers would have definitely known and it would be the smoking gun to blow Ann Coulter’s conservative theories out the water. Her theories are that this government, for all man are created equal, was for White Southern Baptists. Don’t get me wrong, I destroy them but adding one more exhibit in my debate would set it off. It is a rather easy debate to win.

Posted by: Leon S. Blythe at March 2, 2005 04:26 PM
Comment #45309

David

You know I enjoy off subject existential issues and I can’t resist this one about the founding of the U.S.

First, I don’t disagree with you about religion. All the founders were nominally Christian, but many were deists and they didn’t choose Christian models for government and I think it would be possible to understand the U.S. Constitution without reference to any particular religion.

My technicality comes from the founding of the U.S. itself. In all significant cases up until the U.S., the “nation” (i.e. a people who felt some common bond) preceded the state. There were Germans before there was a Germany. Clovis teh Frank was ostensibly chosen by God himself. We Americans don’t have anything like that.

Before 1787 (or 1776) there were no Americans (if we are using that term to describe people of the United States). What we now see as a logical geographical entity made little sense to anyone before that time. People thought of themselves as inhabitants of particular colonies and when they thought of themselves in general, they thought they were British subjects. (That is why Paul Revere did not ride around saying the British are coming, which would have made as much sense as riding thought Boston today saying the Americans are coming. He warned the regulars were on the road.)

When they thought of the British colonies in general, they included not just the thirteen colonies we think of, but also places like Nova Scotia and British Caribbean possessions. In many ways our revolution was a partition of British America.

Americans, therefore, are an artificial people created by the will of the founding generation. It took years before most people came to see themselves as Americans. We still retain that “voluntary” aspect of our citizenship. So I think the only question is whether there were Americans in 1776 or 1787. Before that, you might have “proto-Americans” but our country was invented, not born. Nobody was an American before then.

By the way, I think this probably supports your argument.

Posted by: Jack at March 2, 2005 04:42 PM
Comment #45315

David,

Why no mention of the Republican Senate’s attempt to strong arm the filibuster. This has been a tool in the Senate since our country’s founding.

We should be encouraging more not less debate from our representitives. No where in the Constitution does it say that Presidential appointees have to be voted on.

The Republicans would like to hijack the government and suplant over two hundred years of historical American debate.

http://www.workingforchange.com/article.cfm?itemid=18649

Posted by: Rocky at March 2, 2005 05:18 PM
Comment #45316

Leon BS
If you have any hopes for “destroying” Republicans during debates, please read some history, it will help you out.
And if you keep an open mind, you will even be able to “destroy” liberals, an even easier task.

To help you get started:
What is now the US was first settled by indians. They were conquered and eventually, the US was founded.
I am sure there probably was some muslims around at some time, but they had no power or their influence would be evident in our history.
The Constitution WAS written with white males in mind. Slavery was legal and women were basically second class citizens, in a way.
We have had a Revolutionary War, which helped in our country being founded.
We have also had a Civil War over States Rights and have been participants in 2 World Wars.

FYI: Being openminded will help reduce your very obvious high stress levels.

Posted by: kctim at March 2, 2005 05:23 PM
Comment #45340

KCTim,
Your post was pretty laughable. I read up on “History” as you so put up in a way that you are an expert in that field every day. You did not tell me one thing in there that I didn’t already know about. Of course, so I don’t know what you are calling bs. Of course Muslims didn’t have power which is why I put it as a small minority. What are you calling bs? The White Southern Baptist issue? I hope not. Freedom of Religion was there for Jews, Christians, and Muslims. I am not sure if it was intended for anyother religion like Satanic Worship. I say Muslims because if there were Muslims and the Founding Fathers knowing so much; they obviously didn’t have a problem with Islam. I just don’t see what you are attacking. David just brought out an obvious point that everyone, for some reason, misses about the Indians. I commented on that so I don’t see why you are calling what I said bs. From my observation, Republicans are far easier to beat than Democrats in a debate. You have to understand that a wide majority of Republicans are trained to be loyal, rather than analyze situations. Democrats are trained more to think outside the box than Republicans. This is not the situation in every case but the wide majority are like this. For example, the Evangelical Christians or the Religious Right votes for Bush because he is against abortion and hates gays in their opinion. That is laughable as Bush seems to be more sympathetic towards gays than being impartial. Most of them just don’t analyze things and take it for grace when Bush says something in a speech. You know that. I would just like for you to clarify your points better before you throw bs. As far as your History knowledge that you displayed, 5th graders know all of that stuff; atleast I hope so. It was very basic and I would hope that you would hold me in a higher regard when giving information rather than 5th grade knowledge.

Posted by: Leon S. Blythe at March 2, 2005 07:22 PM
Comment #45351

Many of you want to continue to defy Logic and Common Sense. Too many probably long gone to read this.

It you cannot afford to give children a good standard of living one should not expect to have kids. Those who were abused, etc. should concentrate only on having a decent companion and a decent rest of their lives together. Those of little intelligence have no right to reproduce. Those with diseases should not be repoducing. (angers me when they are passing on the same diseases;some of these people
shot with chemo just had a kid /or pre).

Would far prefer paying something each year for permanent birth control to the 70% who really should not be reproducing at all.

Posted by: Alex at March 2, 2005 11:22 PM
Comment #45355

Alex:

How do you feel about Forced Abortions instead? The Plan you mentioned was tried multiple times before. The most famous was the Rightwing Hero’s Final Solution. Pretty successful too. Removed virtually all inadequate humans from Europe. Too bad his Reich only lasted 5 years.

Posted by: Aldous at March 3, 2005 12:38 AM
Comment #45359

Alex/blue,
On the topic of poor people having children. Most poor people with children do not set out thinking, wow, we don’t have enough money, let’s have kids so they can go to bed hungry! The majority of these people are working, not lazy people who should be forever denied having one of the truly great joys of life.
I would bet that a large proportion of families with hungry children result from a family with adequate planning, where one of the parents lost a job. That’s not poor planning or irresponsibility, that’s life. Or a family with no health insurance who happens to have an illness. Health care is not affordable without insurance. Or a situation where the father abandons the mother and children.
Are you saying that only independently wealthy or people with rock-solid, health-insurance providing jobs should be allowed to have children? If that’s the case, there is a massive indictment of our society that so many people cannot afford to have children. It’s easy to blame the parents, but less easy to defend corporation-favoring politics when the results are that children are going hungry, and by your standards, millions of Americans are economically unsuited to have children.

Posted by: brian at March 3, 2005 01:35 AM
Comment #45368

It is a universally observed sociological phenomena that poverty increases reproduction. Many theories are offered to explain this from idle hands do the devil’s work to poor families have little materialistic joy in their lives and children compensates by bringing love and humor and self reaffirmation. Whatever the reasons, poverty breeds. Broad middle classes curtail reproduction.

Can anyone put 2 and 2 together given these facts as to what governmental and social policy should be drawn from these facts?

Posted by: David R Remer at March 3, 2005 07:35 AM
Comment #45373

Leon SB
#1- I was confused about the bs part but now see where that came from. My sincere apologies for that. It is SB not BS. I should proof better.
#2- I am hardly an expert on anything. I continue to try and learn everyday.
#3- “Republicans are far easier to beat than Democrats in a debate”
Eh, tit for tat on that one. It really doesnt matter one way or another though and just for the record, I said “liberals” not “Democrats,” there IS a difference.
#4- And finally, a history lesson was not my intention, Jack and David know more than I ever will and I will leave the history lessons up to them:)
In my post to you, I talked AT you, much in the same way you did at blue with words such as “retarded” and “disgraceful” and accusations of being uncaring and greedy.

Problems are created by talking AT people, but
Problems are solved by talking WITH people.

Just my two cents Leon, probably not worth one cent but oh well.

Posted by: kctim at March 3, 2005 09:58 AM
Comment #45385
just for the record, I said “liberals” not “Democrats,” there IS a difference.

Damned straight. Thanks, kctim.

Can you all recognize that creating a class that is dependant on the govt is not the answer either and that it is not really helping but instead hinders in many cases?

Of course. I was trying to make it clear that just cutting impoverished kids a welfare check isn’t the most effective way to make sure they stay healthy and in school.

Posted by: American Pundit at March 3, 2005 11:21 AM
Comment #45386

David -
Child poverty is a terrible thing. That’s why we did something about it. The reason that so many American kids still show up on the “poverty” rolls is because we don’t count government assistance as income.

It sounds absurd, but I assure you it’s true. My original source is Dr. Andrew Sum; you can find the info online at: http://ask.yahoo.com/ask/20010903.html

What this means is that if “Jimmy” is a poor child, and the government gives him a free education, free food, and gives his parents big tax breaks, he’s still just as “poor” afterwards as he was before.

So what your data really means is that 22% of American children would live in poverty if no government assistance were provided. The conclusion? We need better data, data that takes our current efforts into account. Making decisions based on data that assumes we are currently doing nothing - zilch - is simply foolish.

Nordic children are not poor. All 17 of them.

Posted by: Chops at March 3, 2005 11:29 AM
Comment #45387


It is good to see that even Republican Congress persons are capable of seeing the immense damage Bush’s S.S. half-baked reform scheme would cause for the American people and her economy.

I’m sure glad I will not be required to carry the full load of a retired SS recipient in 30 or 60 years, like my grand children will. Imagine looking at your check stub and seeing 25% in the SS column.
Where are the young people on this, why are they allowing the old people to dominate at the town meetings? Didn’t they cover compound interest in school?

Posted by: George at March 3, 2005 11:30 AM
Comment #45389

David-

Convincing the poor to adopt instead of creating their own would kill a couple birds. Forced sterilization is out of the question, and subsidized sterilization will see little result because of what you mentioned. I believe a lot of the breeding in poverty arises from exactly a lack of material joy, so sterilization is not desired by a lot of those who are breeding.

So, what is the government’s role? Perhaps giving the poor the opportunity to live and work in some sort of government funded orphanage, or giving subsidies to low income families who adopt children rather than making more of their own. Or a combination where, while currently receiving government benefits, families are allowed to have one child without affecting their benefits, then after that they may receive a funded sterilization and the opportunity to adopt children to increase their benefits. This is much less expensive to the government as they are not funding the creation of more children to live under the system, and we are creating a place for the children already in the system who have none. Just some thoughts I came up with since this morning, give me a critique.

Posted by: AParker at March 3, 2005 11:40 AM
Comment #45393

Chops, you statement about not counting assistance is not quite correct. You are right, that food stamps do not count as income. But, government transfer checks do, according to your own link. Read it carefully. If assistance comes in the form of money, it counts as income. Only non-money assistance is not counted as I read it.

Posted by: David R. Remer at March 3, 2005 12:02 PM
Comment #45395

George, your exaggerated fear is not founded. Very small changes can be made now to insure rates do not go up over the next 75 years. Those changes are means testing benefits and elevating or eliminating the income contribution ceiling. A number of combinations of these two changes in the next 5 years will insure no rate increases and no deficit spending on the SS program for the next 75 years.

Don’t even ask about after that, the world may be entirely devoid of the human species by then. Ask me in 50 years.

Posted by: David R. Remer at March 3, 2005 12:05 PM
Comment #45396

David -
It’s true that straight-up cash assistance from the gov’t may be counted. I’d have to do more research on what constitutes “money income” and I don’t have time right now. But most income from the gov’t, even the Earned Income Tax Credit, is either non-cash or after-tax. I’ll post a full article in the Right column when I get the time.

Posted by: Chops at March 3, 2005 12:10 PM
Comment #45397

AParker, thanks for the thoughts and input.

Look, there are no simple answers. Only sophisticated ones that take into account the multivariable factors that produce poverty in America. Some of the biggest variables are 1) lack of health insurance which can place even middle class folks into poverty over a single medical event. 2) Split track education in high school a) college bound and b) vocational after graduation.
And very important is corporate and government sponsored vocational reeducation as markets, products and services change. We need incentives to help companies and corporations retrain existing personnel instead of firing them and hiring new skills (many of which now come from immigration). Parenting education. You would be amazed at how many millions of American parents lack even a working knowledge of basic parenting skills and techniques. Parenting classes should be offered in HS and College. And finally, as the headstart program proved, early child educational programs which can begin at home by educating parents and then adopting pre-school programs for 4 year olds to Kindergarten. The impact that would make would be very significant.

Someone said it takes a village to raise a child. The biggest problem in America is that we have millions of children being raised by single parents, even when both parents are living together. One works full time and part time, or both work full time and parenting takes energy, motivation, and diligence and discipline. How energetic, motivated, diligent and disciplined are you or most Americans after coming home from 10 hours at work elsewhere. Our society and all of its resources have got to start asking how our society can support and assist American parents with raising their children especially when both parents work and are paying taxes into the society and where only one parent is available for the children.

Like I said, there isn’t a simple solution.


Posted by: David R. Remer at March 3, 2005 12:19 PM
Comment #45399

To all those who posed questions to me which I did not respond to, I apologize. I did not anticipate this kind of direct dialogue as a result of the article. I appreciate everyone’s chiming in on these topics and my positions. I have tried to respond to most of them with the time I have had available.

Great dialogue and very much appreciated.

Posted by: David R Remer at March 3, 2005 12:26 PM
Comment #45410

David wrote:

Whatever the reasons, poverty breeds. Broad middle classes curtail reproduction.

Can anyone put 2 and 2 together given these facts as to what governmental and social policy should be drawn from these facts?

Encourage the growth of the middle class. Do I have it right?

A middle class is not produced by government programs, it is produced by individual initiative in an environment of economic freedom. Government aids formation of a middle class by fostering such an environment.

David, you are quite right in saying there are no easy answers to poverty. However, I noticed with some dismay that none of the “biggest variables” that you listed has anything to do with personal drive and initiative. You only consider factors that the government has a role in. From this, I draw the conclusion that you believe the most important factor in society is government action, since government action, of some variety or another, can fix society’s ills.

Note: I agree those conservatives who claim that all those in poverty are there because they’re lazy or wicked are fools who’ve never seen poverty.

I suppose that could be an unfair characterization of your position; I can think of two reasons you would leave out personal drive and initiative. Perhaps you only list government solutions because those are the ones we’re talking about, and we address private solutions in another forum. Or perhaps you take people as being fundamentally alike, that all people, if given the chance and proper social structure, will rise out of poverty. If the first, I beg your pardon and request that you, for my own peace of mind, list a few factors in poverty that are under the control of the individual. If the second, I disagree with you. Common sense and practical experience should show you that people are fundamentally different, that some, by their own actions, condemn themselves.

To me, if your argument that altering the environment and providing more opportunity for all people will solve our social problems were correct, rich kids, or at least kids of the middle class, ought to be model citizens, since they have all the opportunities you wish to provide for the poor. Yet we know from our experience that they are not. Some rich kids (very few) are great people. Most are spoiled brats with a sense of entitlement. Some middle-class kids are great. Many are lousy.

My disagreement with you can be summed up this way - I believe the most important factor in society is the choices individual people make every day. I believe that in order to improve society, you must improve people. I believe that in order to improve people, you must change their minds and hearts. I believe that government is just about the worst tool on earth to change minds or hearts.

I’m not libertarian enough to hold that government has no role in social welfare. I don’t mind government helping the poor (though I wish we as private citizens were voluntarily generous enough to make it unnecessary). But I do not expect government helping the poor to change anything fundamentally for the better. Government helping the poor will keep them alive and at some sort of decent living (and I lived for eight years in Mongolia; I’ve seen (and lived) real poverty).

As a last remark, this whole discussion is aimed at a disturbing statistic that child poverty is rather high in this country. I don’t believe it. Statistics can be slanted rather easily. It would take some looking to the study (for which I am currently too lazy) to determine exactly how this study is slanted. I can believe that relative child poverty is high, if only because our adults make so much money in comparison with minimum wage.

Posted by: Daniel Leatherwood at March 3, 2005 02:05 PM
Comment #45420

Daniel said: Encourage the growth of the middle class. Do I have it right?

Precisely!

A middle class is not produced by government programs, it is produced by individual initiative in an environment of economic freedom. Government aids formation of a middle class by fostering such an environment.

Here I have to differ with you a bit. Granted welfare does not promote a middle class. However, There was no broad based middle class to speak of in America prior to the 1929 Stock Market Crash. It really didn’t develop in any broad based pattern until WWII and FDR’s programs which put people to work, putting consumption power back in their hands. That combined with the War production machine created the basis for a broad middle class to follow the WWII. Henry Ford contributed to the concept of middle class consumption by workers when he offered an unheard of high wage for auto manufacturing with the idea in mind that his workers could then become his customers. The idea took off in a huge way.

Later in the 60’s and 70’s the Government instituted minimum wages which countered the coming shrinking of the middle class due to a host of variables not the least of which was monopolization (ATT for example).

The Government’s regulations against monopolies was then required to prevent price gouging and stimulate competitive pricing.

So, to say the government has no role in creating and maintaining a broad middle class is just plain historically false. A truly free capitalist system moves toward monopolies and lack of competition. It also seeks the lowest overhead which translates into middle class shrinking via pricing wages ever lower.

Today, this is a huge problem. Since, we have this balancing act (which isn’t so balanced right now) where American companies tend toward moving production overseas to lower wage markets, which if left to its own devices, would collapse the middle class in America. Government tax incentives are all that has prevented more migration overseas as it is. So, government is very much apart of maintaining the middle class. Read the Republican Alan Greenspan in depth and one comes to appreciate the delicate and not so easy balancing act America is trying to cope with today between keeping enterprise as free as possible without collapsing the middle class’s conumptive capability.


Posted by: David R. Remer at March 3, 2005 04:31 PM
Comment #45424

Leon, did David give you a lesson in arguing strawman style?

Where, in any of my comments did I say anything about misuse of current government dollars. Yes, our government dollars in no way should be misused. How is this for an example, in a family of 4, husband, wife and two kids. Family income is 40,000. Wife goes out and spends 10,000 a year on jewelry. Now, does that mean Husband and two kids should go out and spend 10,000 each on whatever they feel like too? Just because defense spending is out of control doesn’t mean we should just increase taxes and fund other things with the increased revenues.

But I am sorry, this is too complex for you. All you are concerned is hotdogging it with personal shots. Perhaps, you should stick to the Budweiser commercials.

Posted by: blue at March 3, 2005 05:01 PM
Comment #45429

Blue,
Sorry but this is not a complex situation, nor do I view it that way. I see that you are trying to take a simple situation of your selfishness and turning it into something that I supposedly view as complex. It is fine. I know all about your views as I have read plenty of posts from you; so I know your politics. Defense spending is out of control and that should be cut so we can spend it towards much needed social programs. The kids of today are the leaders of tommorrow. Why should we let them starve because YOU would rather buy a boat than to give a small extra in tax dollars? You are just too selfish to care, which is fine, because that is the American way; atleast from Republicans. Me, Me, Me. Good. Me won’t be able to carry the world but a bunch of successful children, poor and rich, will. You should get your priorites right.

KCTim,
I accept your apology. Of course I know the difference between Republicans and Democrats and such. The reason why I pointed out liberals and conservatives is because when I debate, it is much easier to label people in that manner rather than party affiliation. I am a Populist Leaning Liberal. As far as the insulting goes, I can’t believe some people can’t get it through their heads. As far as the insulting in my first post, it was all given explanation as an attack on the message rather than messenger. I don’t understand where you are coming from on this. Sorry but it is retarded and disgraceful to not want to pay a little bit more taxes to help out children in poverty. They will run the country if motivated and given the opportunity, not Blue who seems more concerned with buying a boat, per se, than helping out a few kids who need it. I find it disgraceful. Humans are essentially greedy animals and that is the worse of wickedness I have ever seen. It is just the same mentality with racism. They didn’t ask to be born Black and they didn’t ask to be born poor. It just doesn’t make sense to me. I just don’t understand how people can justify letting people fend for themselves so they can keep a bit more in their pockets. I will just call that greedy because I don’t see it in any other way. If their is an explanation for that mentality, I would certainly like to hear it.

Sterilazation: Honestly, that idea, which is idealistic and not pragmatic, is the most absurd and psychotic idea I have ever heard. I don’t understand. You are proposing this yet you probably have never argued it for a rapist or a pedophile. Why? Because you don’t feel like paying tax dollars for it. I sense that this debate in this post has more passion in the tax dollars area than finding solutions to poverty; and for that I will thank David and others who have a similar idea. Why sterilaztion? I already know but you are treating people less than you as a second class citizen. C’mon everyone. Let’s do it. Let’s bring on the Kings, Queens, Priests, Nobles, Merchants, Artisans, and Peasants. Only Nobles can have kids and Merchants and Artisans can adopt. The Peasants can’t have kids and should be killed. If they have a disease, let’s just put them in a ashtray like Hitler. These are insane proposals and that is the tone. Let the strong be strong and let the weak (even if they have the potential and will to be strong) remain weak. Is it just me or has it been since Clinton left office, a wide majority of Americans have become the single most disgusting species on the planet while preaching about Jesus yet acting like an infidel. I don’t get it. Why such radical solutions to save your tax dollars? It just pisses me off because I grew up poor and I certainly will become part of the elite one day. So I guess, so you can save 5 bucks on your paycheck, I best have been aborted. Hell, you can justify it through God or your crutch Jesus…
The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born.

-Matthew 26:24

I guess it would have been better if I went in a vacuum so you don’t pay a slight more taxes. I know I am ranting here without much substance but I will attack this insane mentality with everything I have because that mentality hurts my feelings. I hope the Watchblog Editor understands where I am coming from here. This mentality must stop. Bill Clinton didn’t have a rich background. Dick Cheney’s grandfather did not have a rich background. Neither did Hillary Clinton’s parents. Neither did my mom, nor my brother, nor a wide majority. I guess in your mind, the best solution for the poor would be to become a homosexual. I just don’t get it.
Who cares for the common good of this nation as long as I have a little bit more cash.

Posted by: Leon S. Blythe at March 3, 2005 06:05 PM
Comment #45451

Leon -

I can’t speak for all conservatives, but the reason I oppose government taking money from the wealthy and giving it to the poor (or at least, the reason I dislike it while conceding it is somewhat necessary) comes from two grounds.

First, that it is coercive. I don’t have an option about whether or not I pay taxes. Government is taking what is mine and giving it to someone else (while taking a hefty chuch to pay the bureaucrats in charge of such transfer).

Second, that it is clumsy. Government programs are basically blunt instruments that fail to distinguish between people legitimately in need of help and those who are just wanting to get by on the labor of others. The bureaucracy requried to micromanage a government program to the point where it actually does a good job of distinguishing between the deserving and undeserving is prohibitive.

No question, the poor need help. But that help would be best delivered by the generosity of people who are familiar with them and with the local needs … the local church would be ideal.

So, as I’ve said before, in a perfect world, or even a moderately improved world, the generosity of those who have towards those who don’t would be sufficient to dissolve the need for welfare. We do not live in such a world, so I reluctantly agree that some government assistance is necessary. But the more we can rely on private generosity and the less on public welfare, the better. Freedom requires personal responsibility - without it, we lose freedom.

Posted by: Daniel at March 3, 2005 11:57 PM
Comment #45452

David -

Thank you for taking the time to respond to my post, and for presenting a good case. Thanks for the history lesson; I’d never heard some of the arguments you made. Being skeptical, I’d like to see what the other side has to say about your points before I change my mind.

I didn’t say that government had no role in the market, I said that its role was to ensure the freedom of the market; thus, government opposition to monopolies and arguably some quality control is acceptable and necessary. I am more hesitant to grant your points about government protecting the middle class from being outsourced. The “free marketeer” in me wants to say that if we can’t compete with foreign labor then foreign labor deserves to win (I’m a soon-to-be Computer Science graduate, so outsourcing does hit home for me). By sheltering us from foreign competition, government is arguably fostering mediocrity in the workforce. I have confidence that the American worker can compete on the global market; if he or she cannot, I see no reason to allow government to remove the incentive to improve.

Before somebody takes my head off, I realize that what I just proposed involves a good deal of suffering and possibly a fall in the living standards for the American middle class. But I have faith that we would pull through. We would cut our spending, perhaps go back to school with a new vigor and intensity, and improve.

David, it seems to me that you view the “average American” as a (semi) helpless pawn of political forces; in order to succeed, the “average American” needs the support of government. I think this is demeaning to us as citizens. Granted, we need government to defend us, and to make sure we get a fair chance. But if we cannot compete fairly and need some extra support, our government is only subsidizing weakness. It does us no favor by allowing us to get away with mediocrity.

Posted by: Daniel at March 4, 2005 12:11 AM
Comment #45458

“First, that it is coercive. I don’t have an option about whether or not I pay taxes. Government is taking what is mine and giving it to someone else (while taking a hefty chuch to pay the bureaucrats in charge of such transfer).”

Daniel,

And yet we expect a man to support a family on two minimum wage jobs. We don’t want to fund education any more because we don’t like the results. We expect the mother in this situation to also work because we don’t want to fund poverty programs.

And then we bitch because the children in this senario don’t have any supervision. This begats the situation above and the cycle starts all over again.

What is wrong with this picture?

Posted by: Rocky at March 4, 2005 08:19 AM
Comment #45460

Rocky, that was a very astute observation about the cycle beginning all over again. We have already learned in America that 1) one generation of poverty begets another generation of poverty, 2) Poverty breeds more offspring increasing the size of poverty in the next generation, and 3) just as the terrorists exploit the poor to their cause, criminals in America exploit the poverty ranks for their activities.

America has also learned that the cycle can be broken, as when we assisted over the last 12 to 14 years, those on welfare into jobs, out of projects and into home ownership. It was a great start. Now we are backsliding again.

This is why America has no future. Our political system of two rival parties lack the ability to follow through on each others programs that work. Bush has busily rescinded damn near every program fostered by Clinton and Democrats. When the Democrats get back in, they will dismantle what Bush had put in place that would benefit our nation. LONG TERM PROBLEMS REQUIRE CONSISTENT APPLICATION OF LONG TERM SOLUTIONS! Something America is incapable of, despite the fact that Japan and China have shown us how much can be accomplished when the long term consistent application of solutions aimed for and achieved.

Posted by: David R. Remer at March 4, 2005 08:59 AM
Comment #45461

David,

Asian cultures have, over the millenia, learned that good of the many …

American culture rewards individualism, and selfishness.

All for one, and all for one, let’s here it for me.

Posted by: Rocky at March 4, 2005 09:14 AM
Comment #45463

Daniel, thanks for a very intelligent conversation and frank exchange of ideas. I agree with your assessment that government cannot take blunt hammer approaches to exporting of jobs for example through raising tariffs, etc. As I said, the government has a balancing act to peform.

Raising the minimum wage in small increments over time as the economy grows above the 3% rate is a balance that will protect business’ customer base by insuring a broad middle class. But, more important, is government’s role in countering business’ risk averse constraint. When jobs are moving overseas, the answer is the creation and invention of new marketable products and services. Business does not like R&D since the rate of return on R&D is low. That is where the government and research grants to Universities can play a very important role by partially subsidizing R&D.

Unlike the past however, Government support of Research and Development both in the private sector and Universities is a kind of one way street where the public pays in but gets nothing directly back. What ought to happen is the Government should co-own the rights to R&D products and when the private sector sees the profit potential of a successful public funded R&D project, they should pay a royalty for the license to the innovation back to the tax payers (government).

This is the kind of creative and inventive balancing act the government should be involved in to both grow jobs and hold down taxes. Where is it written that government should not get a return on its own investments. It isn’t. State governments build toll roads and charge a use fee to get a return on the cost of building the needed roads.

Purists argue this is unfair advantage where government competes with the private sector. Hogwash. The Government has an obligation in my view to get a return on its investments in R&D where others will profit from the taxes spent.

Government training and reeducation programs should be geared toward training public servants. This provides a direct return on investment for tax dollars spent on training and education. For example, if the government trains a high school dropout or outsourced factory worker in data entry, that person should agree to work for 5 years for the government in a civil service job at a pay rate somewhat less than fair market value, or agree to make monthly payments to repay a set amount to the government if they choose a private sector job anytime in that first 5 years, pro-rata of course.

The government has huge opportunities to hold down the costs of maintaining a broad middle class working population directly and in partnership with the private sector.

But try to get bi-partisan agreement on such a policy today. The duopoly party system and its intense rancor and divisive competetive attitudes which wholly condemn each other stands in the way of such creative bi-partisan long term solutions to long term and heretofore, intractable problems facing our nation. That is why I write from the third party/indpendent perspective. America needs to break the grip of the duopoly party system if it is to have a chance of actually following through on real life practical solutions to the problems that face us.

Posted by: David R. Remer at March 4, 2005 09:27 AM
Comment #45464

Rocky true enough, but Japan also has learned the value of individualism as the engine of creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurial benefits. China also is in the beginning stages of learning how to cultivate individualism in the marketplace while maintaining the balance with the one for all, and all for one village tradition at the social level.

This is where Bush is so wrong. He is moving America way too far toward individualism and failing to cultivate the all for one and one for all culture that is so necessary in society outside of military pursuits.

Free enterprise with gov’t regulation worked hand in hand with social programs throughout the last century to create the wealthiest nation on earth. Balance between extremes is the advantage Eastern countries have over the US at this point and if the US follows Bush’s moves away from social programs and headlong toward the private ownership society, the Eastern nations will quickly surpass the US, due to the unintended consequences of a too competitive cutthroat culture and philosophy dominating the decision making of American society.

Posted by: David R. Remer at March 4, 2005 09:38 AM
Comment #45467

David,

That is one of the reasons that hearing every day that something is a “new” record, is so disconserting. Who are we competing with?
The past? That would seem to be a useless race.

Life should only be about competition if you are competing for food and survival. I thought that was what separated us from other species.

Posted by: Rocky at March 4, 2005 10:04 AM
Comment #45469

Rocky, to some extent, Plato was right on in his classification of society into 3 tiers. The grunts for whom fighting for a living appeals, the rote learners for whom counting numbers and money and keeping scores for a living appeals (the worker-merchant class), and the philosophers for whom truth, knowledge, and human evolution to ever higher planes appeals.

He was of course mostly wrong about how managing society should take place (though, having the most intelligent in leadership roles still rings true), but his observation about human behavior and classes of people according to what appeals to them appears to be still quite accurate today for many purposes.

Posted by: David R. Remer at March 4, 2005 10:24 AM
Comment #45471

David,

I have a question.

Where do politicians fit into Plato’s scheme?

Posted by: Rocky at March 4, 2005 10:42 AM
Comment #45473

David
Does Plato say which “class” the most intelligent come from?

Would the most intelligent leaders be the smartest people or would it be the ones who actually come from the first two classes and can related to their struggles?
You know, not book smart but life experience smart.

Posted by: kctim at March 4, 2005 10:52 AM
Comment #45504

David -

I hope you (and the rest of this forum) doesn’t mind if I take your remark that our two-party duopoly is harming our country by promoting intense competition, and post on why I prefer our two-party system. Considering this is the “Third Party” thread, I’ll probably raise some hackles, but I wouldn’t mind getting some answers to my objections.

I like a two-party system (as long as they compete) for at least three reasons, the first of which being that it promotes stability and moderation, and second that it restrains the power of the fringe groups (which are almost always bad for the greater whle), and that it keeps parties returning to the people for power.

Let me explain what I mean. As it stands, in order to form a party with even a shadow of a chance of victory, Republicans and Democrats have had to include enormously wide-spread interest groups. Republicans represent (in general) people who support business and corporations, a strong military, few social welfare programs, social conservatism, 2nd Ammendment advocates, pro-life supporters, etc. Democrats (in general) include race advocates, gender advocates, sexual advocates, environmental advocates, pro-choice advocates, social welfare program supporters, and a more socially liberal kind of person. In order to become a party, all these extremely diverse positions and competing desires have agreed to work together in an uneasy truce, in order that they can form a united party with a chance of victory. They are forced to support one another, forced to make compromises, forced to moderate their own aims so as to be palatable for a large group of people.

Now, you might reply that in a multi-party system, coalitions do the same thing. However, I think there is an important difference in the way compromises are made. It seems to me that in a multi-party system, a coalition is held hostage to its minority parties, who threaten to bolt the coalition if they do not receive certain demands. It seems to me that in our political system, the extremists on both sides are forced to compromise enough to join the coalition. The difference is that it seems to me that in a multi-party system, pressure is put on majority parties to conform to the demands of the minorities. In a two-party system, the minority parties are forced to moderate their views enough to join the party.

This ties into my third argument, that it keeps the power in the voters. At the moment, the Democrats are out of power. So they’re regrouping and preparing the win the next election - that’s what you want. In a multi-party system, the Democrats might be offering bribes to various fringe groups within the Republicans (of which there are many) to bolt, giving fringe groups much more power than they deserve. To some degree, this is possible in that a representative can switch sides. This is very rare in a two-party system, though. It is, however, very common in a multi-party system. At the moment, Democrats are out to win voters, not break up parties. And they are appealing to voters, not delegates. This is good. This is the way it should be, in my opinion: less treachery and backstabbing and pandering to fringe groups and more voting and posturing for the center.

That said, I recognize that a two-party system has certain annoying traits. It promotes a certain national blandness, where parties are striving desperately to be in the middle, to a point where they annoy as few people as possible. It works against principled stands. It keeps minority groups’ power down, and that’s tough if you’re a minority. But remember - both sides have minorities. If you think the religious right is completely satisfied with the Republican Party, think again. They stick with the Republican party because they have to in order to have a chance at political power. Yes, the Democrats can try (and are trying, to some extent) to woo them, but they’re wooing voters, not delegates. They’re trying to persuade the people, not the politicians. I like that. It is hard, hard, hard to gain power, and you have to make compromises and sacrifice positions and various annoying things like that. But I think that it is best for everyone to govern from the center, which is, in my opinion, where a two-party system pushes, whereas a multi-party system seems to be held hostage to the minority groups within a party.

Sorry I went so long. I imagine you’ve got answers and counter-arguments for me (and have been raging to argue for quite some time), so let’s hear it.

Posted by: Daniel at March 4, 2005 03:09 PM
Comment #45505

Oh, and I should mention, David, that I thought your proposals for strengthening the middle class, particularly by allowing government to receive a return for its R&D investments, sounded pretty good. I would like to see some more analysis of your proposals by advocates from my side with more wisdom and experience, but they sound good to me. Oh - I liked the idea of raising the minimum wage to a point where it keeps up with inflation.

Posted by: Daniel at March 4, 2005 03:12 PM
Comment #45507

Now, to both Rocky and David, discussing Plato’s ideal society and its classifications, it sounds good to have the intelligent (also recognizing the point brought up by kctim, that “intelligence” is more than book-learning, which Plato admitted) rule.

But I think you’re wrong, or at least, that it’s a little misleading. I wouldn’t have disagreed with you six months ago, but in the inteval, I’ve read some GK Chesterton, who made several brilliant arguments that have caused me to question the wisdom of having the “intelligent” rule.

First, he said this astonishing thing, that anything worth doing at all is worth doing badly. By that, he meant that for the really important things in life, the things we all share in common, everyone should take part in them. We want experts to handle dentistry and military planning, but every person should fall in love on their own, not with the aid of the experts. He argued that government fell into the realm of those things that we share in common, that we each should come to. For example, people shouldn’t leave philsophy to the philosophers - or just accept some philsophy handed down from on high. Each person should reason and struggle and fight through the issues until they have their own philosophy.

In the same way, he argued that government was something each person should do for himself. Each person should struggle through the issues of what is right, good, wise, and practical for themselves … self-government.

There are several arguments against government by the experts or the intelligent. Intelligent people tend to be arrogant people, and people who think that the “common person” is a pawn and tool to be manipulated and used “for the greater good,” and the most dreadful atrocities of all were commited by people following “orders for the common good” passed down from some expert.

However, I think the most powerful argument against government by the “fittest” is that God Himself, in creating man, gave him free will and set him free to make his own mistakes. God, who is the ultimate “intelligence” or “expert,” set His creation free to govern itself and make its own choices and mistakes. Shouldn’t we do the same?

* I recognize and note that the majority of people on this forum will not accept the previous argument because they do not believe in God. But it does no harm to set it out, anyway, or so I judged. *

Posted by: Daniel at March 4, 2005 03:30 PM
Comment #45528

Daniel,

We have insted, been ruled in this country by the rich, who look down on the huddled masses with even more scorn than the intellegent.

Posted by: Rocky at March 4, 2005 05:19 PM
Comment #45688

kctim, Plato’s heirarchy stipulated that the philosopher kings were most able to rule. His reasonging was that philosopers (of his day) were trained and educated to seek the underlying truths and ideals that could benefit all of society.

Obviously, today, in our cultural context, such a proposal is preposterous precisely because of something Plato’s Socrate’s warned of, ‘sophistry’. Sophistry appears to seek the truth but, is actually an inquiry designed to serve a predetermined conclusion. Today’s lawyers and higher education educator’s are very well trained in sophistry and the public is unable to discern sophistry from sincere inquiry.

It is beyond the scope of this blog to discuss Plato in detail, but, all who are interested should seek information on the the Socratic Dialectic, a method of inquiry which, if married to empirical inquiry, offers the greatest and most accurate method for discerning truth.

Posted by: David R. Remer at March 5, 2005 01:02 PM
Comment #45690

kctim asked Where do politicians fit into Plato’s scheme?

To my knowledge, they didn’t fit into his scheme since politicians aren’t required to be educated in ethics, philosophy, or science which Plato would have required of anyone before they could be charged with the responsibility to lead society.

Posted by: David R. Remer at March 5, 2005 01:08 PM
Comment #45691

Daniel, our duopoly does not represent a majority of Americans on any issue. 1/2 or more of voters don’t vote, and with the other half being evenly split, that results in the Dem’s or Rep’s representing only about 1/4 of the voting population. Further, given that both parties are dominated by their extremes on a host of issues, it results in our government be governed by small extremist minorities on a large number of issues.

A multiparty system of 4 or 5 parties could potentially involve far more voters in our system and require concenusus amongst them on the really big issues which would squeeze out the extremists of any party in terms of being able to form policy.

It is counterintuive, but the fact is, our duopoly system actually fosters minority rule and elevates extremist views in legislation.

Posted by: David R. Remer at March 5, 2005 01:14 PM
Comment #45693

The strongest argument against rule by the fittest is Revolution. Rule by the fittest, by definition, eliminates democratic rule. Revolution becomes far more probable in non-democratic governments than in democratic ones. That is the strongest argument against Plato’s philosopher kings. And it is one helluva strong argument.

Posted by: David R. Remer at March 5, 2005 01:18 PM
Comment #45878

Stephen -

I realize you may have moved on from our argument, which would be a pity, because there’s so much more to be said.

I agree with you that a multi-party system would probably encourage more voter participation, and this would be a good thing. It is a disgrace to our country that so few people vote, though perhaps something of a compliment to our stability that so few people are upset enough to vote. I just don’t think the benefits are worth the expense of increased instability.

However, I do not agree with you that minority groups control our parties; at least, I think that a multi-party system would be much worse. Minorities are certainly the loudest voices, but that is because they are belligerently convinced of the truth of their position (it’s part of what makes them a minority to begin with). It’s easy to look at the opposition party and think that it’s controlled by its extreme elements - certainly, it appears to me that the Democratic party is completely controlled by certain minority parties. However, I’m guessing that control is less complete than it would seem, because our opponents seem to be completely convinced that corporations and the Relgious Right have the GOP completely sewn up, which is totally untrue, at least about the Religious Right.

But every year, the budget gets passed, and no matter what the rhetoric from the fringes, America manages to do fairly well. To me, that’s a sign that the real governing is still from the middle. I’m glad we don’t have to deal with coalitions falling apart and governments coming crashing down because of coalition bickering.

Besides, the half and half split of our country should be instructive. Our parties have never swung for long in either direction, because the opposition immediately corrects and readjusts its center.

Posted by: Daniel at March 7, 2005 07:06 PM