Third Party & Independents Archives

Working Poor Unready to Revolt

Once upon a time when governments no longer served most of their citizens it was the most economically disadvantaged that could be counted on to rebel against tyranny and injustice. Times have changed, for the worse, despite the spread of democracy.

Here we are with a two-party plutocracy that preferentially serves corporate and wealthy interests and lets the middle class suffer and sink. Plausibly, the middle class is unready to revolt because it still maintains a relatively good standard of living despite rising economic insecurity. But what about the lowest 40 percent of Americans that are the working poor?

A recent survey of this group by the Washington Post, the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard University conducted this past June looked at the beliefs of adults ages 18 to 64 working 30 or more hours a week, not self-employed and who earned no more than $27,000 in 2007. The results show a fascinating dichotomy. Though there is widespread pain and discontent there is also a stubborn faith in the American dream despite little help from government.

Ninety percent of this group sees the current economy negatively, either not so good or poor, with 52 percent feeling financially insecure and 50 percent feeling less secure than a few years ago. The fractions saying they have difficulty affording basic things are severe, including: 88 percent that cannot save money for college or other education for their children, 82 percent paying for gasoline or other transportation costs, 81 percent saving money for retirement, 65 percent paying for health care and health insurance, 65 percent handling child care, close to 60 percent paying credit card bills, monthly utility bills and rent or mortgage costs, and 47 percent buying food. Three quarters say it has gotten harder to find good jobs and nearly that fraction for finding affordable health care, and 68 percent finding decent, affordable housing.

In the past year this group has had to take many actions to make ends meet, including 70 percent that cut electricity use and home heating; 62 percent that took an extra job or worked extra hours, 51 percent that postponed medical or dental care and 50 percent that took money out of savings or retirement funds.

All this sounds pretty bleak. But are these people mad and pessimistic? Not exactly.

An amazing 69 percent are hopeful about their personal financial situation, 59 percent believe they are more likely over the next few years to move up in terms of their social class, 59 percent believe that their children will have a standard of living much or somewhat better than theirs, and 56 percent think they will achieve the American dream in their lifetime.

Do these lower economic class, hardest hit Americans that account for 25 percent of the adult population believe that government helps them? No. Only 22 percent believe that government programs are making things better for them. But apparently they have bought hook, line and sinker into Barack Obama’s change rhetoric, with a 2 to 1 margin favoring him over John McCain. And when it comes to beliefs about which candidate will do better for them the margins favoring Obama go up to 3 or more to 1 for improving their own financial situation, the national economy and the national health care system. Similarly, Obama is seen as much more concerned with their needs and better represent their values. All very good news for Obama, except that only 70 are registered to vote and about a third saw no difference in whether Obama or McCain was in office.

Faith in Obama, however, pales in comparison to the other source of comfort for dealing with hard economic times. A striking 78 percent find religion or faith in God helps them get through tough economic times.

The unmistakable conclusion from all these data is that no rebellion against the power elites running the two-party plutocracy seems likely. If the bottom 40 percent of Americans in terms of income still believe in the American dream and change-spouting politicians like Obama, it is hard to believe that the more affluent middle 40 percent of the population are ready to support more radical change through political rebellion.

Interesting how gasoline prices are dropping as we approach the Republican and Democratic conventions and Election Day. Apparently, America’s ruling class knows what it is doing. It can keep channeling more and more of the nation’s wealth to the rich, Upper Class producing more economic inequality without fearing the kind of political revolution that Thomas Jefferson thought the nation needs periodically. Consider this: In the three decades after World War II household inflation-adjusted income of the bottom 90 percent increased 83 percent compared to 20 percent increase for the top 10 percent. In contrast, in the past three decades, the bottom 90 percent saw only a 10 percent increase while the top 10 percent received an increase of 232 percent! The two-party stranglehold on our political system has produced rising economic inequality.

Forget all that nonsense about the proletariat. Most Americans use their faith in God or religion or conventional politicians to cope, even in some of the most insecure economic times in American history. They remain overly confident in voting as the path to change. The ruling class has successfully used propaganda to dumb down and manipulate most of the public because delusion has become the opiate of the masses.

In God and Barack Obama We Trust could be placed on all our currency if the views of millions of Americans are taken seriously. Don’t you feel better?

Posted by Joel S. Hirschhorn at August 12, 2008 1:30 PM
Comment #258343


There is a reason those in the lower 40th percentile continue to believe they can make it in America — the same reason people continue to immigrate here and continue to cross our borders illegally — because they know for a fact that people do have the chance to improve their lot in this country if they apply the same standards that those who are better off; i.e., hard work, using their intelligence, entrepreneurship, and education.

The fact is, most Americans are not the vassals of Big Corporations, working tedious, menial jobs day in and day out with no hope of a better tommorrow. Most Americans work in small businesses — which, ironically, are the same businesses that are most likely to suffer under an Obama administration. By cancelling tax cuts such as capital gains, et al, Obama promises to bring back the good old days of Jimmy Carter, with high unemployment, high interest rates, stagnation, and general malaise.

Despite your assertions about “nonsense about the proletariat, your general summation seems to say that there is an evil ruling class manipulating the public into mass delusion; as if the people are incapable of deciding what is best for themselves. This is the very elitist vision of the world that liberals such as Obama and Nancy Pelosi tacitly maintain in rhetortic about Bible-clinging, gun-toting people in little towns whose plight as the result of the crushing influence of Wall Street and Big Oil.

This is a lot of crap. Most Americans with 401k’s hold shares in corporations of all sizes and if you bothered to look at reality, Americans in general are not that bad off, especially considering that we have an unemployment rate of just about 5 percent (which in the past was considered above full employment), moderate interest rates, and money to spend on vacations and goods and services, albeit, not as prosperous as in years past.

If one bothers to look at our economy on the long term, rather than as you only seem to see it during the time leading up to the current national elections, you will notice that since World War II, our overall economy has grown expotentially. Peaks and valleys are normal, as are periods of growth and recession. These have occurred in the past and will occur in the future. But bad economic policies from the White House exacerbate economic downturns.

While I don’t know where you got your statistics (me thinks either the New York Times or Mother Jones), I would say that I’ll continue to believe in our economic system, as compared to those of, say, China, Zimbabwe, France, Germany, or Cuba. I don’t see too many Americans fleeing our country to those operating like the aforementioned ones.

Finally, on a personal note, in 1983, I lost my job on a newspaper and due to the poor economy of that time, I was unable to find employment in my field. I ended up living out of the back of my pickup truck parked in the driveway of a friend. Since then, I managed to get back into newspapers, got married, left newspapers for technical writing, and now make a salary in the six figures. My message: Keep the Faith.

Posted by: Goombah at August 12, 2008 3:22 PM
Comment #258344

Thought provoking post, but I fear it is historically inaccurate. At least where recent history is concerned. Take our own founding fathers for example, landowners and upper status individuals who were finally fed up with a king whose policies began to errode thier own stability. The other case I would cite is the Civil war. When the threat of economic collapse due to the loss of slavery became too great, they too revolted. An underserved, discontent lower and middle class has always been a boil- over waiting to happen, but only when the threat or injustice reaches the upper 10% or so ( read wealth, education, status, etc.) does revolution come.

Posted by: Ted at August 12, 2008 3:25 PM
Comment #258356

As a Democracy with a strong middle class, violent revolution at this point is not people’s first option. However, the popularity of somebody who’s basically promoting liberal government intervention should tell you something. If you step off the high horse of “Barack Obama’s just fooling everybody, and they are his dupes.” you’ll see that people are looking for a quiet revolution out of him, a return to the values that Bush and the Republican congress have saturated the government with.

In their own way, people want real change.

If you want to further the interests of a third party, you must address that change in such a way that people believe you understand the problem better than the other candidates- not merely that you think you understand it better.

Obama has no plans to cancel tax cuts for people making less than 250,000.

Bringing up Jimmy Carter is easy, but transparent. Nice try. Besides, it wasn’t taxes that caused the problem, it was deficit spending on the war and on entitlements from people who didn’t want the unpopularity of the war to scuttle their social programs. It was caused by people wanting to have things both ways, guns and butter, rather than sacrifice through higher taxes, or the loss of funding for one policy or the other.

Through the last three decades, the Republicans have tended to want things both ways, cutting taxes, but nearly always raising spending. Whether it’s Reagan’s tax cuts, or Bush 43’s there’s always economic side effects to running huge deficits. We saw this in the late eighties and early nineties.

Another problem, which we see again and again in the capital markets, is the lack of decent enforcement and regulation. Too often, Americans are left to pick up the pieces after another group of get-rich-quick get their wish on deregulation, and then speculate and defraud their way into wealth at the expense of so many.

I’m not big on the whole Proletariat thing, and find Marxist socialism simplistic and ill-suited to the complexities of the real world. GOP and Conservative thought, though, have come to be only a bit less tedious. People are capable of deciding things for themselves. That includes deciding for themselves that they favor government intervention and interaction. They don’t need a government that holds itself aloof from their desires, much less one that often acts in contradiction to the public good on behalf of companies that have power of their own to seek out their own best interests.

401k’s are a poor substitute for guaranteed pensions. They’re not even originally intended for that purpose. The name itself refers to something in the tax code. The 401k was meant to help write off taxes I believe.

The interest rates are anything but moderate. they’re too low. They’re encouraging people to borrow money in a time where they should be paying off debts. The real problems of these economic good times is that they are debt financed, which means that all the prosperity is paid for by debt which will drag on later earnings and revenues. Worse yet, the debt markets are in ridiculous shape, which is part of what’s pulling us into recession.

While I believe that Capitalism is a good system, generally, I believe it needs to be properly regulated to function correctly. Sometimes proper regulation is very little. Sometimes it means coordinating things. Sometimes it means having the guts to put your foot down.

One thing for sure, though. I don’t have faith in the economy. People cheat, and if the rules are loose enough, everybody cheats, and everybody loses. I believe that an economy is a thing of responsibilities and obligations, and sometimes a little downside is necessary now to avoid a lot of trouble later. All too often, the Bush Administration and the Republicans, and all the corporate types they were running interference for chose to take the quick and easy, expedient and short-term profitable route through problems. In their focus on this close time horizon, they crippled their ability to work responsibly, and think long term.

The time has come to part ways from this shortsightedness.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 12, 2008 5:14 PM
Comment #258364

Ted gets the gold star for understanding revolution in this country.

But I’ll add another caveat. Hunger will bring first anarchy and then revolution. We approached that ledge in the 30’s, but did not fall off.

This little think tank blurb, points out that small businesses have become small tax shelters, and big businesses have become large tax shelters. Hint: This IS the elite class.

Posted by: googlumpugus at August 12, 2008 6:24 PM
Comment #258370

Poor folks can’t afford to be revolting, they know they’ll just end up in jail. When more prosperous people revolt, they’ll look for some underpriveledged group to stand in between them and the agents of the status quo. We’ve already had a right wing revolution, which has turned the country upside down, hiding behind religion and flag-waving, to help wealth flow to the wealthiest. The founding fathers weren’t exactly egalitarians. There were some slogans, but the revolution happened because the government in London was cutting into their profits.

Posted by: ohrealy at August 12, 2008 8:14 PM
Comment #258382

The time has come to part ways with representative democracy. It was a great alternative to kings, but in practice it is a far cry from democracy. What has changed? Decisions are still made by our leaders in smoke-filled rooms.

Now we have Web 2.0, and there is an infinity of opportunity for real, direct democracy without the risk of “mob rule.”

Anyone interested in exploring this new frontier should look into the concept of open source governance, and specifically at the Metagovernment project. Everyone in the world is welcome to participate.

Posted by: Ed at August 12, 2008 10:11 PM
Comment #258385
direct democracy without the risk of “mob rule.”

Erm, what?

Can you expand on this a bit please because, as it stands, it seems to be quite an ‘interesting’ statement.

And by ‘interesting’ I of course mean something else…

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 12, 2008 10:17 PM
Comment #258388
This little think tank blurb

I think the ‘think tank’ needs to do some more thinking…

Of course, what Levin and Dorgan say are not exactly what the ‘think tank’ said. Not surprising that the Democrats miss it again.

It doesn’t matter how much in sales you have, if you don’t have income (profit) you don’t pay taxes on income…

Also, the “type S” corporation don’t pay taxes because they have to transfer all of their profits to the owners — who then pay taxes as income. So those taxes are being paid but by the individual owners, not the corporation as an entity.

But it is even worse. For example:

“It’s time for the big corporations to pay their fair share,” Dorgan said.


Embedded Taxation
Duties & Fees (like for exisint as a corporation)
Inventory Taxes
Workers Comp Insurance
…. (there are ALOT more but you get the idea).

To suggest that ‘corporations’ aren’t paying ANY taxes simply because of the fact that S corps pay as individuals, not the corporate entity AND that corporations who do not make profit don’t pay taxes on that profit they don’t make (which has been the case for many decades, since it is kind of the point, isn’t it?) isn’t really looking at the face of reality, is it?

BTW, most companies who can (meaning are profitable) would pass any increase in taxes down to the consumer… Or they would move their headquarters to areas where the corporate tax is less, like Mexico’s 28%?

In fact, one study showed that if we would eliminate the corporate (and private company) taxation, 39 of 40 companies polled said that they would open their next warehouse/plant/whatever here in the US and many of those would also move their headquarters.

This can be seen in what has happened to Ireland, btw. From dolldrums to the 2nd largest tech sector (behind Silicon Valley) because they became business friendly. That is why they rejected the EU demand that they raise their corporate taxes, they knew what would happend and they like their jobs, please.

That’s the problem the left doesn’t seem to get that when attacking the corporations… They also forget what happens when you use protectionism to block foreign competition into your market (through embargos) and the go after the companies who shut down or reduce their workforce when times get tough with oppressive taxation…

I guess we’ll get to see it all again soon. :/

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 12, 2008 10:37 PM
Comment #258390

Oh, and another thing to note, the people in this country have it better now than in any time in history. Even the poor…

Some people practice envy as political philosophy, which I never seemed to get. Because everyone is doing better, the people are rich did better than the people who are middle class, who did better than the poor, then the system is flawed? Nevermind the highest standard of living in history, not good enough be someone else is doing better than me…

Does that sound logical?

We have so many problems in this country that need addressed, most importantly our expanding debt that neither the Republicans NOR the Democrats care much about for some reasons, that will end our way of life before anything else, that worrying that someone else is doing better than you seems to be part of what got us into this mess… Instead I worry about my family and how we are doing compared to the year before or my parents before, and I ensure that I work towards that goal. If someone else does better than me, good for them! How on earth does that hurt me that I had to wait a few years to get HD in my house when the TVs started become affordable, is having a Status Symbol a sign of being able to sleep at night knowing that my family is financially taken care of if something bad were to happen to me?

I think one of the guys I heard in an interview today had it right. No one today has a real understanding of how good they have it even when they have it bad. And we are moving in the wrong direction because of the politics of envy.

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 12, 2008 10:44 PM
Comment #258391
People are capable of deciding things for themselves. That includes deciding for themselves that they favor government intervention and interaction.

The problem is that they are deciding for everyone else. Make those things be opt-in, not no-way-to-opt-out and I would be in agreement for you. Or make them localized, it seems most of the people who want more government intervention are from cities while those who don’t are more rural. Why not let the areas that want more government have it and the areas that don’t avoid it? Doesn’t that make much more sense then trying to shoehorn these things onto the populace in total?

You know the real reason why that its, but I’m sure you are loathe to admit it…

It’s because those who don’t want it are the ones paying for the ones who do… *shhh* I won’t tell… Well, actually I will but who is going to listen? I’ll just be branded as greedy and selfish, no regard to the reality of what I speak.

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 12, 2008 10:51 PM
Comment #258392

ohrealy, spot on. I agree with most of what you wrote 100%.
Everything except for that last part about the founding fathers. I agree that most of those men were likely fomenting revolution because King George was cutting deeply into their bottom line, yet some of those men did seem to also be sincere when it came to their enlightenment-era philosophical stances, too.
Still, or should I say, regardless, the fact is the vast majority of those who fought in our revolution weren’t comprised of the rich. And most of those men were roused to join up to the fight, and to keep on fighting even in the “winter of their discontent” by the Common Sense, egalitarian rhetoric of Thomas Paine.
Paine was a “founding father” who fervently believed in what he wrote, left his printing press from time to time in order to fight in the revolution himself, was never a rich man, died in extreme poverty, and who was relegated to almost complete obscurity toward the end of his life. This was due to his perceived hostility toward religion, and the atheistic stances he took when writing The Age Of Reason.

Posted by: Veritas Vincit at August 12, 2008 11:03 PM
Comment #258418

Joel once again an excellent subject and article. A viable 3rd party would be nice place to start a political rebellion IMHO.

Rhinehold said “It’s because those who don’t want it are the ones paying for the ones who do… *shhh* I won’t tell… Well, actually I will but who is going to listen? I’ll just be branded as greedy and selfish, no regard to the reality of what I speak.”

Reality? When I get my tax bill Rhinehold, and Im an individual not a corporation, its based upon what I have earned not what myself and the poor guy down the street has earned, so how do you figure I’m payimg more than my fair share and you are supporting me? Seems you should take this issue up with the corporations that avoid paying their fair share.

I can agree that the debt, which as we all know is purposely driven up by the conservatives in a starve the beast strategy, is a real problem and I would like to opt out from paying my faie share off but it seems we have all gained from the debt, albeit some more than others, so why would we start this opt in opt out stuff for what ever it is that those living in rural areas only dont think they want or need?

Do you wonder why these rural living people didnt raise a fuss back when electricity and paved roads were being built in their areas on taxpayer dollars?
BTW is FICA and workers comp a tax or an insurance program?

Posted by: j2t2 at August 13, 2008 11:04 AM
Comment #258421
Reality? When I get my tax bill Rhinehold, and Im an individual not a corporation, its based upon what I have earned not what myself and the poor guy down the street has earned, so how do you figure I’m payimg more than my fair share and you are supporting me? Seems you should take this issue up with the corporations that avoid paying their fair share.

They are paying their fair share. If you don’t net income after deductions and exemptions, do you pay taxes on those?

And the S corps pay the taxes, as income for the owners. It just don’t fall under corporation taxes and as income taxes instead.

Fair share? Laughable…

As for supporting you, my point is that some people are supporting others, that is the whole point of our tax code. Is this news to you?

I can agree that the debt, which as we all know is purposely driven up by the conservatives in a starve the beast strategy,

LOL, hasn’t the Democrats been in charge of spending the money for the past 2 years? Has the debt gone down once? Has it gone down any time in the last 30 years? Yeah, it’s the ‘republicans’ that are the problem, the Democrats are so responsible and foward-thinking…

is a real problem and I would like to opt out from paying my faie share off but it seems we have all gained from the debt, albeit some more than others, so why would we start this opt in opt out stuff for what ever it is that those living in rural areas only dont think they want or need?

You seem to think that 1) taxes are what cause wealth to be created and 2) we can’t bring taxes down or our prosperity will go away.

Those are both incorrect and illogical views… I’ll give you a chance to restate your position as I may have simply mis-interpreted it.

Do you wonder why these rural living people didnt raise a fuss back when electricity and paved roads were being built in their areas on taxpayer dollars?

Erm, because they were their taxpayer dollars? Highway funds come from gasoline taxation…

BTW is FICA and workers comp a tax or an insurance program?

A forced insurance program is a tax…

Posted by: Rhineholdl at August 13, 2008 11:26 AM
Comment #258427


They are paying their fair share.
No, they are not. In fact, the Government Accountability Office just released a study yesterday which shows that they really aren’t. Read the above linked article, it contains a link to the pdf. of the GAO study. Posted by: Veritas Vincit at August 13, 2008 1:43 PM
Comment #258429

“They are paying their fair share. If you don’t net income after deductions and exemptions, do you pay taxes on those?”

Only if you think fair share is equal to zero taxes.
According to the link provided by googlumpogus:
Two-thirds of U.S. corporations paid no federal income taxes between 1998 and 2005, according to a new report from Congress.
I guess if you assume 2/3rds of the corporations in this country made no profits in these years then you are correct Rhinehold but is that an accurate assumption?

“As for supporting you, my point is that some people are supporting others, that is the whole point of our tax code. Is this news to you?”

Well if you mean that by paying wages for people serving in the military and the government then we are supporting others. If you mean corporate welfare I can also agree but tell me specifically where our income tax goes to support others.
To answer your question yes I guess it is news to me because I always thought these people earned their money the same as if they worked for a private entity. I guess I dont buy into the premise that the tax code is meant to have some of us support the others because if that was its purpose welfare for individuals is such a small portion of government expenditures that income taxes would be much lower.

“hasn’t the Democrats been in charge of spending the money for the past 2 years?”
I always thought the administration sent a budget to Congress for approval am I wrong on that?

“You seem to think that 1) taxes are what cause wealth to be created and 2) we can’t bring taxes down or our prosperity will go away.”

No I dont think that is true at all Rhinehold. People create wealth, the constant recirculation of dollars thru the economy creates prosperity. Im not against bringing taxes down, in fact I favor lower taxes. If we could cut our military budget in half or more and defend our nation instead of offending other nations I would love to see taxes reduced. If we could stop building Iraq with no bid contracts I would favor income taxes coming down. However with the reality of the yearly defict and the overall debt of this country I just dont see federal income taxes coming down soon. The difference between the dems and repubs is the repubs have a specific strategy designed to financially ruin the federal government, the dems are more benevolent and try to help the less fortunate perhaps to a fault.

“A forced insurance program is a tax…”

So my auto insurance is a tax? That would mean the insurance companies are in collusion with the state governments and dont we call that fascism? Using your definition of a tax, is PMI a tax if the lender forces me to get the insurance? Seems a pretty strict definition to me guess we need to include guns in this definiton to make it work.;)

Anyway Joel the point of this is the lower and middle 40 percent seem to be supported by the upper 20 percent acording to the libertarians and other anti tax types. Once the “fair tax” is instituted and perhaps a few other measures the bottom 40 percent may be ready to reconsider and revolt. The question is can they actually lead an effective revolt when they cant agree on much of anything politically?

Posted by: j2t2 at August 13, 2008 2:05 PM
Comment #258430

Good reply j2t2 (however it was me who provided that link). It’ll be interesting to see how Rhinehold will try to spin that info in the article regarding how so many corporations are failing to pay taxes, not to mention how McCain wants to give them even more tax breaks than Bush has already given them.

I’m hoping that GAO study will make it even more clear to the American people that we simply cannot afford four more years of Republican rule.

Posted by: Veritas Vincit at August 13, 2008 2:25 PM
Comment #258431

Re: Rhinehold, concerning “direct democracy without mob rule.”

The difference between direct democracy and open source governance is… computers. Instead of having a mob of people casting votes, Web 2.0 technologies allow for much more sophisticated, nuanced participation.

I am not saying this is our model, but as a for-instance, look at Wikipedia. No it is not perfect, but it is amazingly good, especially in the articles where a lot of people contribute. In fact, it is reasonable to say that the more individuals there are contributing to a Wikipedia article, the better it is. That is an effect much the opposite of “mob rule.” Instead of degrading to the weakest link, it collaborates to the strongest synthesis.

That general concept, but with a more sophisticated structure, is what drives the Metagovernment project. Our software, Metascore, isn’t ready for release quite yet, but when it is, we know it will not be perfect. It will be adaptable to the nuances of different communities, and it will evolve as more and more people use it.

But the consistent aim of Metascore will be to drive synthesis. Instead of dwelling on conflict and compromise, our software will promote ideas which synthesize the conflicting views of opposing sides. It works toward real solutions instead of plunging us into unsolvable disputes.

A prime example in the U.S. is the abortion debate. It could be easily solved if people didn’t dwell so much on the conflict: there is plenty of room for synthesis. But conflict is much more useful to politicians: both sides use the conflict to empower themselves. They have no interest in solutions. In fact, it is safe to say that the real problem is… the leaders. Our so-called “representatives” who use us for their empowerment.

So, yes: direct democracy without mob rule. All it takes is some thinking and some computers, and the rest can work itself out in the real world (starting later this year, when our software is released).

Posted by: Ed at August 13, 2008 2:27 PM
Comment #258450

Rhinehold -

“LOL, hasn’t the Democrats been in charge of spending the money for the past 2 years? Has the debt gone down once? Has it gone down any time in the last 30 years?”

Out of the past 47 annual federal budgets, 5 have been surpluses. All were under Democratic administrations.

If we do not count the past seven budgets (wherein Bush II and the Republicans broke the bank), the previous forty years were evenly split between Republican and Democratic administrations…and the AVERAGE of the deficits under the Republicans was roughly FIVE TIMES the average of the deficits under the Democrats.

And the disparity is MUCH worse if we count the past seven federal budgets under Bush II.

Lastly, HOW MANY of the past forty-seven budgets were passed by Congress by overriding a presidential veto? Were there any? I don’t think so. THAT, sir, is another reason why the president (just like the captain of a ship) gets all the credit and all the blame for all the successes and failures of the U.S. government during his time as captain of the ship of state.

In other words, the old conservative saw that the Dems are just as bad as the Cons when it comes to the money…simply isn’t true. One last note - I recently heard that the rate of inflation, if it were measured in the same way inflation was measured during the Carter administration…would be closer to 12 percent. Until I can find a solid reference to that, it’s just a rumor…but think about that when you’re at the gas station or at the grocery store.

Posted by: Glenn Contrarian at August 13, 2008 4:42 PM
Comment #258453

j2t2, “insurance companies are in collusion with the state governments”. Of course they are. The various layers of government allow interested parties to stick it to us for their own benefit.

Posted by: ohrealy at August 13, 2008 5:32 PM
Comment #258464

I agree, another “regulated” industry regulated by political patronage positions that are “pay-in- kinds” for insurance industry contributions. (i.e. self regulation) (Buy this inflated insurance or you’ll go to jail, or be sued, refused medical care, or denied a loan.) We’ll weed out any real competition for the boys in the club. In some places they called it a protection racket.

Posted by: googlumpugus at August 13, 2008 7:09 PM
Comment #258465

Glen, This sounds scarily like a mine is bigger than yours argument. It isn’t very comforting knowing it’s big and going to hurt either way we go…..

Posted by: googlumpugus at August 13, 2008 7:13 PM
Comment #258472

If you think the insurance industry is in tight with regulatorsnow while the 50 states each have a seperate agency just wait until the industry only has a fed agency to deal with.

Posted by: j2t2 at August 13, 2008 9:01 PM
Comment #258477


Yeah, right.

I trust software and geeks with overactive egos to run my life and government. (see Diebold).

Posted by: googlumpugus at August 13, 2008 9:54 PM
Comment #258479

The point behind open source is that anyone can see what the geeks are up to (presuming one is at least geeky enough to be able to read the code, it’s not very difficult). And the point behind radical transparency (another aspect of the project) is that everything is done out in the open. There is no way to Diebold the results because it is the exact opposite of secret voting. As with Wikipedia, every action you take in the community is permanently, publicly logged.

But anyway… how is an open internet system in which everyone can participate somehow worse than the status quo? Is it somehow better to let just one person have sweeping power over many of the most important things in your life?

Posted by: Ed at August 13, 2008 10:12 PM
Comment #258486

Good Article and very thought provoking. However, could it be that the Children of the 70’s have lost their nerve to stand up to their Elders and Parents since they are now the Establishment?

No, than be it Senotor McCain or Senator Obama for President. Are you willing to stand up for or to “The Status Quo? For why the Youth of the 60’s and Silver Spoons of the 70’s may of built a better world (?). Is the Left and Right of Society ready to say that “We the People” cannot build one batter for the Children of the 22nd Century?

Yes, both sides of the Debate have their flaws, but until someone comes up with a better way for Humans to get the Goods and Services they demand than tell Granddad that he is wrong.

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at August 14, 2008 1:21 AM
Comment #258487

Rhinehold said: “The problem is that they are deciding for everyone else.”

It’s called democracy, Rhinehold. Our particular kind sanctions politicians catering to the majority in order to stay in office. Is this the only aspect of our democratic republic design that you would alter if you were dictator authoritarian over the nation?

There really are only two choices here in America: direct democracy and representative democracy. Direct democracy would have the politicians beholding to the majority of voters. Representative democracy has the politicians beholding to the wealthy special interests, and then the voters if neither interferes with their personal agenda.

Takes your pick.

(Well, there is a 3rd option, the Bush Authoritarian non-democracy, but, hopefully, the voters won’t repeat that mistake again in November by electing John McCain.) :-)

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 14, 2008 3:47 AM
Comment #258491


I have no problem with open source software. I have no problem with priority software. I do have a problem with someone promoting a product as a step up from 200 years of established democracy.

In theory, I have no problem with direct democracy. However, the intent (IMHO) of the Congress was to slow down decision making to stem the tendencies of mob rule. While better representation is a laudable goal, the proof of workability has yet to be produced.

Posted by: googlumpugus at August 14, 2008 8:24 AM
Comment #258492

oops, I meant proprietary software.

Posted by: googlumpugus at August 14, 2008 8:25 AM
Comment #258526

googlumpugus, I have no argument with you there. We at the Metagovernment project understand that we are working with new, untested ideas.

That is why we intend to start with very small communities and allow the system to grow organically. To that end, we are also trying to build in as much flexibility as possible, so that different communities can implement and use the software in different ways.

Over time, as the software matures and as people come up with new ways to use it, it will be able to scale to larger and larger communities.

Currently we use representative democracy in many different aspects of our lives (but not all, such as corporations, militaries, religions, etc.). It governs condo associations and school boards and soccer tournaments. It is the best way we have come up with to deal with the vast number of decisions in our life. We can’t be in charge of everything we participate in, so we let someone else do it. But that gives power to individuals, and power really does corrupt people. Frequently, and in many different ways.

The opportunities opened with Web 2.0 allow anyone to be a decision-maker, but gives power to noone. Instead, it is rule by the people who care enough to participate. So maybe you can let other people run the condo association: until such a time as it looks like the condo is going in what you think is the wrong direction. Then you are immediately empowered to participate.

And as an example of the flexibility in the software: maybe a community doesn’t want non-participants to have an equal say to people who historically have been very active in the community. So the community can give more weight to the opinions of established participants, but still give some credence to new participants. Maybe. We’re making that sort of thing optional and variable, so we can see how it works out. The one thing we require is that absolutely every individual in the world (regardless of any factor whatsoever) be allowed to participate to some extent in any community.

Everyone in the world is also welcome to participate in the project as it develops. We do not yet have software ready for release, so most participation now is in startup activities… particularly programming the software! :)

Posted by: Ed at August 14, 2008 2:24 PM
Comment #258535

Joel it is shocking I say shocking to hear that the working poor has faith in their Country.Why on earth would these working poor be satisfied with having full bellys,A roof over their head,the thought that they have freedom of speach but are not condemning the U.S.A. for their miserable lifes is shocking.I guess it is the Rich of America who is keeping K-Mart,McDonaldes,Wendys and the rest of the discount merchants in the game.The last time I was at a gas station i observed nothing but limo’s waiting to get gas.Most of the working poor were in rich neiborhoods picking in the trash cans to get a meal.I guess i am missing the news articals saying people of the U.S.A. are dead from massive starvation.Its so bad Kids are no longer wearing $150.00 tennis shoes.The working poor have no computers or cell phones,No Gold around their necks.The fact is any child of the so-called working poor will have on his body a few hundred dollars worth of Clothes and gold on their body on any given day.Peace!!

Posted by: John at August 14, 2008 3:37 PM
Comment #258544

googolumpus -

A ‘mine is bigger’ argument?

Is that your way of dismissing the historical FACTS I presented you?

I showed you the numbers - the Democrats have done their best to have surpluses or at least decrease the deficit, and the Republicans have NOT.

A throwaway retort like you ‘mine is bigger’ rhetoric does NOT disprove (much less dismiss) the numbers I showed you. If you want to prove me wrong, use NUMBERS, use FACTS.

“Reagan proved deficits don’t matter.”
Dick Cheney

Posted by: Glenn Contrarian at August 14, 2008 4:42 PM
Comment #258552


I was commenting on David’s post, the wording struck me as funny (with apologies to TR), but my point was that both parties have spent us into a hole. Neither can claim innocence. Certainly the tax and spend attack of Republicans is completely hollow, but constraint certainly hasn’t been the watch word of Democrats either.

Posted by: googlumpugus at August 14, 2008 6:10 PM
Comment #258553


Sorry, I was confused. I WAS commenting on your post. Man, I’m getting old and senile I guess. My point was that both parties ARE spending us into oblivion though.

Posted by: googlumpugus at August 14, 2008 6:15 PM
Comment #258557

googlumpugus -

“My point was that both parties ARE spending us into oblivion though.”

I understand confusion - I’ve done that more often than I like to admit, so there’s no need to apologize on your part. Thanks, though.

However, as long as you continue to imply that both parties are just as guilty and just as bad, I’ll continue to point out that ALL surpluses from 1961 till now have come under Democratic administrations, and that the average budget deficits for Dems since then are less than ONE-FIFTH that of the Republicans.

In fact, it’s NOT a stretch to say that the only reason the Dems have run ANY deficit at all is that they’ve been having to fix the monstrous deficits handed over to them from the Republicans.

No, g - the Dems are NOT as guilty and are NOT as bad as the Republicans when it comes to the economy.

Posted by: Glenn Contrarian at August 14, 2008 8:36 PM
Comment #258669


I agree, recently, the Dems have shown more responsibility, but that’s something like being a little bit pregnant.

Posted by: googlumpugus at August 16, 2008 7:14 AM
Comment #258678


Quick question, who controls the nations pursestrings, the congress or the president?

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 16, 2008 11:03 AM
Comment #258706

Rhinehold -

Congress cooks up a budget. They present it to the president. If the president says no, if the Congress doesn’t have the votes to override the president, the president wins.

In Dune, Frank Herbert says “He who can destroy a thing, controls that thing.” The president can almost always prevent passage of the budget, and therefore bears final responsibility for its passage.

You say that Congress can override…but you’re going on the assumption that either the majority party has enough votes to do so, or the two major parties will unite to do so. Such has rarely been the case in American history.

Therefore, while your claim that Congress holds the purse-strings sounds good in theory, in real life it doesn’t hold water.

Posted by: Glenn Contrarian at August 17, 2008 4:11 AM
Comment #258724


The Congress, I suppose is the answer you seek, but ultimately the electorate does. I don’t know if that was quick or not.

Posted by: googlumpugus at August 17, 2008 2:01 PM
Post a comment