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US is an oligarchy, not a democracy (Page 4)
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mattyb  (op)
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Apr 23, 2014, 05:10 PM
 
Originally Posted by ebuddy View Post
The answer IMO is not to restrict the activities of a free people, but to restrict the activities of government.

I believe this is universally true.
Agree, and good luck. Government doesn't want to be restricted.

How do we ensure that it is? Even Constitutions and Bills of Rights haven't stopped unconstitutional laws and behaviour by government employees (and not just in the US).
     
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Apr 23, 2014, 05:11 PM
 
Why not restrict the lobbying itself?

That's why I really don't get. I mean, at the end of the day you can't control lobbies underhandedly paying off politicians - you just have to catch them - but my understanding is that you guys have pretty much set up an organized, official scheme.

Here in Canada there is of course lobbying, but a corporation, union, or organization cannot make contributions to a federal political party. Individual donations are capped at $1100.

I`ve mentioned this several times on here and don`t know if I have ever gotten much of a stir from Americans to be honest. But your political funding system is a complete mess IMO.
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Apr 23, 2014, 05:48 PM
 
Originally Posted by ebuddy View Post
What is a Corporate Lobby and what are they for? If they did not feel they could manipulate the government into legislating in a manner that would bolster their own bottom line, why would they bother? There are competing interests; if you were to lessen the influence of the Corporate Lobby, you create an imbalance between it and its competing interests such as the Union lobby. The answer IMO is not to restrict the activities of a free people, but to restrict the activities of government.

I believe this is universally true.

What would it take you to be convinced otherwise? Approval ratings of government as a whole within other countries? Stats that show the power/influence of corporate lobbies or equivalents in other countries? Stats about the power/influence of unions in other countries?

You seem reluctant to consider the idea that while every government has corruption, lobbyists, under-the-table deals, etc. the extent of this in the US might pale in comparison to a number of other first world countries. The extent not based on sheer numeric totals, but in relation to the country's GDP. I think you could almost make this case just by looking at how political parties are funded and elected.

If this is just what happens in politics, why is it only the US that seems to have this wealth disparity among democracies in developed nations? What is Canada doing differently, if you want to incorporate this thread? Middles class incomes in Canada higher than the US now - MacNN Forums
     
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Apr 23, 2014, 05:52 PM
 
Originally Posted by ShortcutToMoncton View Post
Why not restrict the lobbying itself?

That's why I really don't get. I mean, at the end of the day you can't control lobbies underhandedly paying off politicians - you just have to catch them - but my understanding is that you guys have pretty much set up an organized, official scheme.

Here in Canada there is of course lobbying, but a corporation, union, or organization cannot make contributions to a federal political party. Individual donations are capped at $1100.

I`ve mentioned this several times on here and don`t know if I have ever gotten much of a stir from Americans to be honest. But your political funding system is a complete mess IMO.

I know this is going to sound like I'm trolling, but I've yet to find somebody that can explain it to me how the US political funding system is a good thing. Anybody want to take a stab at this?

Why isn't there a groundswell of people trying to amend the constitution to put an end to these ridiculous SuperPACs and other systems that inject so much money into politics even prior to that politician being elected?
     
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Apr 23, 2014, 06:42 PM
 
It seems like there are a number of factors unique to the US which may suggest that things have gotten out-of-hand:

- campaign financing/SuperPACs/government lobby groups
- it looks like there is renewed opposition to killing net neutrality now
- wealthy disparity gap
- middle class earnings being stagnant, and now overtaken by little ol' Canada
- you might find evidence, depending on your ideology, to support this notion in discussions about the minimum wage, labor unions, and/or the debate to raise taxes on the rich to where they were in the Clinton era

I'm sure a number of these items can be debated fairly, but what does this paint as the overall picture of where things are at right now?

You know my answer.
     
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Apr 23, 2014, 07:16 PM
 
Originally Posted by ShortcutToMoncton View Post
You...you do know that an attorney is just a synonym for lawyer, right? "Legal counsel"?
While both terms connote a legal counsel, the other connotations of "lawyer" are essentially universally negative, while "attorney" is reserved for the very few in the legal profession who perform their duties with this thing we call "ethics," along with some semblance of service as an officer of the court. Lawyers are essentially codicil mechanics who charge by the minute to milk both their own clients and their opponent's clients to the maximum extent possible.

It's like there are "doctors," and there are "physicians." If you haven't noticed the difference yet, you haven't been treated by a physician.

Sarcasm aside, if I use the term "lawyer," I'm not using it at all respectfully... And that makes a difference when discussing the old-style attorneys who were the Founding Fathers.

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Apr 24, 2014, 07:15 AM
 
Well let me respectfully suggest that you have just spontaneously and arbitrarily decided to create new definitions for these two sets of synonyms, even though no differences actually exist.

You might want to haul out a dictionary. If you actually think a doctor is different than a physician, than I can promise you that you are alone in that regard, and furthermore the medical community is also surprised and would be delighted to hear of your newly discovered findings.

Similar with lawyer vs. attorney. (Slightly more difficult as some parts of the world might use them to describe lawyers who practise different areas of law, such as barrister vs. solicitor. Also, state lawyers are generally called "Crown attorneys", although they're still just regular lawyers. To my knowledge, there is no difference between a lawyer and an attorney in North America, either by ethical code or any other arbitrary measure you would like to use.)

Again, if you have made these arbitrary definitions in your head, more power to you. I'm just saying that they have no basis in reality, and as such should not be used to assess the historical morality of the Founding Fathers as you have decided to do.
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Apr 24, 2014, 07:57 AM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
What would it take you to be convinced otherwise? Approval ratings of government as a whole within other countries? Stats that show the power/influence of corporate lobbies or equivalents in other countries? Stats about the power/influence of unions in other countries?
I'm glad you're seeking out some metrics, but I'm not sure how meaningful these metrics are going to be. For example, per Abacus Data National Polling, Canada;
  • Four in ten Canadians (40%) said that generally speaking Canada is heading in the right direction (up one point since June) while 43% believed things are headed in the wrong track (down three points since June).
  • Albertans are most likely to believe the country is headed in the right direction (65%) while Quebec respondents were least likely (32%) to think Canada is going in the right direction. Of note, 38% of British Columbia respondents believed the country was headed in the right direction while 46% believed the country was headed on the wrong track (Abacus interviewed 783 BC residents for this survey).
  • With regards to overall government approval, 37% of respondents said they approved while 47% disapproved.
As an aside; Harper seems to be doing fairly well in polling while most of the Canadian respondents on this forum appear generally unhappy with Harper. What should I glean from this? Most are still unhappy with the direction of their country in Canada. On some matters they are split essentially down the middle, but that is often just following party-lines. The entire premise of the ACA's passage in the US was for the little guy and yet the overwhelming majority oppose the measure and it is a huge contributor to all the factors being presented here such as government approval ratings, the weakest economic recovery in US history, and Canada finally edging out the US in Middle class incomes, but doesn't leadership matter? It might merely be convenient to invoke these comparisons today while many Americans on this board have been complaining of a vacuum in leadership in the US. Canadians are enjoying conservative leadership and near surpluses in their Federal budget while the US is decidedly not enjoying conservative leadership. Is that a corruption indicator?


You seem reluctant to consider the idea that while every government has corruption, lobbyists, under-the-table deals, etc. the extent of this in the US might pale in comparison to a number of other first world countries. The extent not based on sheer numeric totals, but in relation to the country's GDP. I think you could almost make this case just by looking at how political parties are funded and elected.
But how does this manifest in policy and whether or not you'd appreciate those policies? For example, the most vocal opponents to the status quo campaign financing schemes and corporate influence in the US are Democrats and yet the Democrats were able to raise $230m more than Republicans who aren't nearly as vocally opposed. Who is being oppressed by the Corporate influence? If you favor alternative energy over fossil fuels for example, and the alternative energy conglomerates such as GE donate huge swaths of money to the Democratic party, isn't that a good thing and don't their contributions offset contributions from opposing forces?

If this is just what happens in politics, why is it only the US that seems to have this wealth disparity among democracies in developed nations? What is Canada doing differently, if you want to incorporate this thread? Middles class incomes in Canada higher than the US now - MacNN Forums
We've been over nearly all of this.
  • The demographics most heavily impacted by a bad economy represent 26% of the US population vs 6% of the Canadian population.
  • The regulatory environment on Corporations in the US is much heavier than it is in Canada, with an economic freedom index rating them 6th vs the US in 12th place.
  • Canada has a Corporate tax rate more than 10% lower in Canada than it is in the US.
  • The Canadian tax rate on the lowest quintile income is apprx 5% higher than it is on the lowest quintile income in the US
  • The Canadian tax rate on the highest quintile income is 7% lower than it is on the highest quintile income in the US

If a US politician were to propose that we emulate the regulatory environment and tax code of Canada as two examples, they would be derided as cigar-chomping fat cats trying to feed on the poor and yet it is the US that is perceived as tilted disproportionately toward the Corporate lobby. How so? And how does this define "corruption" of leadership? Shouldn't the above factors be exactly opposite for the argument to ring true in reality?
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Apr 24, 2014, 10:16 AM
 
Originally Posted by ebuddy View Post
The more involved government becomes in the private sector, the more involved the private sector is in the government.
This just shifts the corruption around, it doesn't remove it.

Originally Posted by mattyb View Post
I have no idea what Alexander Hamilton event you are referring to.
Dude, like 5 minutes of wikipedia reading.

Originally Posted by mattyb View Post
Recommend me a good book regarding this period of US history.
I've read relatively few, though I'm mostly drawing on John Adams biography here. That's rather lengthy and specific, though.

Originally Posted by ShortcutToMoncton View Post
Here in Canada there is of course lobbying, but a corporation, union, or organization cannot make contributions to a federal political party.
Butbutbut corporations are people and money is speech!

Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
I know this is going to sound like I'm trolling, but I've yet to find somebody that can explain it to me how the US political funding system is a good thing. Anybody want to take a stab at this?
It splits upon party lines, like most things. Conservatives are more likely to be in favor of uncapped spending, liberals harder caps. And super communist nazis like me think the entire system is a giant sink-hole of money better spent on practically anything else.
     
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Apr 24, 2014, 11:35 AM
 
Originally Posted by The Final Dakar View Post
Butbutbut corporations are people and money is speech!


Has anyone figured out whether Apple votes R or D? Or is it one of those douchbags that refuses to say who it checked on the ballot?
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Apr 24, 2014, 11:39 AM
 
Originally Posted by ShortcutToMoncton View Post


Has anyone figured out whether Apple votes R or D? Or is it one of those douchbags that refuses to say who it checked on the ballot?
They tend to donate to D causes.
     
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Apr 24, 2014, 01:22 PM
 
I've never bought anyone in politics, though a lot of them have made it abundantly clear that they're for sale (D and R, alike). In national politics, all of them are dirty. The most I've given for a political cause is whatever the individual limit is for candidate donations, and that's for state/local elections. I don't give money to PACs.
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Apr 24, 2014, 01:35 PM
 
Originally Posted by Shaddim View Post
In national politics, all of them are dirty.
I would think it's near impossible to make it to the national scene without compromising yourself. I wouldn't be surprised if making it clear you wouldn't be bought triggered a feeding frenzy for your opponent.
     
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Apr 24, 2014, 09:27 PM
 
Originally Posted by The Final Dakar View Post
This just shifts the corruption around, it doesn't remove it.
I've taken the brevity thing too far. I empathize with your reading eyes in advance.

Rather than focus on corruption itself; an element that exists from the tax-paying Joe cheating his taxes to the croneyism evident in our leadership, I look to the opportunities that create corruption and the major players involved. Yes, big businesses and tycoons will try to throw their money around and opportunist politicians in government will try to snatch it up, but the government makes your laws. They build the sandbox. As the government and the monoliths it props up become larger, they become more difficult to follow and hold accountable. They're all accountable to the law, but the law is administered by the government.

IMO, busy-body lawmakers have created a distorted marketplace of guaranteed clientele and retarding the people's most effective check against abusive business practice. We witness our dependence on the TBTFs and continue pumping billions into the market every month. We can make laws all day long, but if the leadership is corrupted, they will not enforce them or fail to enforce them equitably. What is my check against the IRS for example, when it becomes public that they've targeted those who share my world and political views; watch an IRS official plead the fifth after making a statement defending herself and then off to enjoy a paid retirement exceeding $100k/year?

Rather than place more restrictions on a free people through laws, I look to how we might begin to reduce the scope of lawmakers and slow down their mill of polices creating distortion and the opportunities for corruption. After all, Joe the pipe-fitter might just agree with a major oil company's pipeline proposal. IMO, we shouldn't assume businesses ≠ people.
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Apr 24, 2014, 11:35 PM
 
Originally Posted by ebuddy View Post
I'm glad you're seeking out some metrics, but I'm not sure how meaningful these metrics are going to be. For example, per Abacus Data National Polling, Canada;
  • Four in ten Canadians (40%) said that generally speaking Canada is heading in the right direction (up one point since June) while 43% believed things are headed in the wrong track (down three points since June).
  • Albertans are most likely to believe the country is headed in the right direction (65%) while Quebec respondents were least likely (32%) to think Canada is going in the right direction. Of note, 38% of British Columbia respondents believed the country was headed in the right direction while 46% believed the country was headed on the wrong track (Abacus interviewed 783 BC residents for this survey).
  • With regards to overall government approval, 37% of respondents said they approved while 47% disapproved.
As an aside; Harper seems to be doing fairly well in polling while most of the Canadian respondents on this forum appear generally unhappy with Harper. What should I glean from this? Most are still unhappy with the direction of their country in Canada. On some matters they are split essentially down the middle, but that is often just following party-lines. The entire premise of the ACA's passage in the US was for the little guy and yet the overwhelming majority oppose the measure and it is a huge contributor to all the factors being presented here such as government approval ratings, the weakest economic recovery in US history, and Canada finally edging out the US in Middle class incomes, but doesn't leadership matter? It might merely be convenient to invoke these comparisons today while many Americans on this board have been complaining of a vacuum in leadership in the US. Canadians are enjoying conservative leadership and near surpluses in their Federal budget while the US is decidedly not enjoying conservative leadership. Is that a corruption indicator?
No, and I think you missed the point by quite a bit (other than the fact that Canadian conservatism is a different animal).

I said "government as a whole", not just federal leadership. But I also wasn't asserting that this would be convincing in and of itself either. This was included in my list of possible things that might satisfy you, but was not a suggestion that it should.

The approval rating of any government is also kind of irrelevant, because it doesn't really put anything into context. No matter what percentage of Canadians (or any other non-American population) is discontent with whatever area of government, this doesn't tell us what their standards are that were not met.

As far as American approval ratings go, we've set the bar so incredibly low with an idiotic system we seem to tolerate that buys politicians, wastes a lot of money marketing them at us for over a freaking year, and supports having to choose between only two major candidates right now. You are never going to rid politics of corruption and various forms of abuse, I don't think anybody expects that, but with the campaign financing system we have now, somebody has taken a big snort in the punch bowl before the party has even begun every election cycle. On top of this, we have a sensational media and political marketing system that puts forth a constant bread and circuses 24/7 infotainment stimulation system - whatever you want to call it. While we are are distracted as we are, it is easier for the corruption that takes place to take place, and of course, these are just two factors that work in favor of the wealth disparity that exists now.

You seem to think that what we have is somehow normal whenever corporations meet politicians. It isn't. The extent in which it exists in this country is just ridiculous compared to comparable countries, even when put in context with that country's GDP.

Unfortunately, I don't think this conversation is going to get very far, because there is no way I can really prove this to you. I don't think there are any metrics I can put forth that you'll accept (or, possibly, that exist). Am I wrong? Moreover, I'm not sure I even want to try being pseudo-scientific about this, because it just seems so plainly obvious to me.

But, if you want to believe that all of these things we have seen such as wealth disparity are just a result of bad left-wing policies, and that this hasn't been the result of decades and decades of contributions from politicians of all shapes and sizes, I guess that is your right. I don't understand how anybody can think that this is just a left or right wing issue though.

But how does this manifest in policy and whether or not you'd appreciate those policies? For example, the most vocal opponents to the status quo campaign financing schemes and corporate influence in the US are Democrats and yet the Democrats were able to raise $230m more than Republicans who aren't nearly as vocally opposed. Who is being oppressed by the Corporate influence? If you favor alternative energy over fossil fuels for example, and the alternative energy conglomerates such as GE donate huge swaths of money to the Democratic party, isn't that a good thing and don't their contributions offset contributions from opposing forces?
Not interested in any of this, for reasons stated prior.
( Last edited by besson3c; Apr 25, 2014 at 12:00 AM. )
     
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Apr 24, 2014, 11:40 PM
 
Originally Posted by The Final Dakar View Post
It splits upon party lines, like most things. Conservatives are more likely to be in favor of uncapped spending, liberals harder caps. And super communist nazis like me think the entire system is a giant sink-hole of money better spent on practically anything else.
Is there room in your super communist nazi party for me?
     
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Apr 24, 2014, 11:46 PM
 
Originally Posted by Shaddim View Post
I've never bought anyone in politics, though a lot of them have made it abundantly clear that they're for sale (D and R, alike). In national politics, all of them are dirty. The most I've given for a political cause is whatever the individual limit is for candidate donations, and that's for state/local elections. I don't give money to PACs.
At what point did you come to this conclusion (I don't tend there to be a hint of sarcasm in this question, this is a sincere question)?

I'm just wondering if you'd agree that it's time to do away with the partisan finger pointing - that this perpetual bread and circuses, this campaign financing, this political marketing, all of this ridiculously expensive corrupt machinery that has resulted in this wealth disparity came about from multiple decades of effort and foul play? Would you also agree that the extent in which this exists in this country pales in comparison to similar democratic, developed nations?

It sounds like where we disagree is whether or not it is too late to fix this. You seem to feel that it isn't, and the best thing we can do is tear everything down and rebuild from the ground up somehow. Is this accurate?
     
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Apr 25, 2014, 01:08 AM
 
No, I don't think it can or will be saved. "Civilization" has contracted before, collapsing under excess, it's a natural cycle. Perhaps next time we'll extend it further, this last time was a good run.
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Apr 25, 2014, 07:22 AM
 
Originally Posted by ShortcutToMoncton View Post
Well let me respectfully suggest that you have just spontaneously and arbitrarily decided to create new definitions for these two sets of synonyms, even though no differences actually exist.

You might want to haul out a dictionary. If you actually think a doctor is different than a physician, than I can promise you that you are alone in that regard, and furthermore the medical community is also surprised and would be delighted to hear of your newly discovered findings.

Similar with lawyer vs. attorney. (Slightly more difficult as some parts of the world might use them to describe lawyers who practise different areas of law, such as barrister vs. solicitor. Also, state lawyers are generally called "Crown attorneys", although they're still just regular lawyers. To my knowledge, there is no difference between a lawyer and an attorney in North America, either by ethical code or any other arbitrary measure you would like to use.)

Again, if you have made these arbitrary definitions in your head, more power to you. I'm just saying that they have no basis in reality, and as such should not be used to assess the historical morality of the Founding Fathers as you have decided to do.
I cannot take any credit for being original in differentiating between respectable practitioners of a profession and non-respectable practitioners. I just pay attention to the difference and use those terms separately.

There IS a professional distinction in modern US English: a "lawyer" is someone who is trained in the legal profession, but not necessarily admitted to the bar, while "attorney" is a professional title denoting someone who is both trained and legally qualified to prosecute or defend cases.

In any case, it is very common to note that someone with a particular title performs below expectations of that title. In my military career, I served under a number of people with the title "Colonel," while several of them really only merited the title "O-6" (the pay grade for colonels and Navy captains), because they lacked the requisite leadership skills and/or performed in such a way as to decrease the amount of respect they personally earned (as compared to respect for their positions as commanders). I won't say every GI uses that same sort of terminology on a regular basis, but most will "get it" right away.

Anyway, my point was to differentiate between the types of behavior that modern day practitioners of law demonstrate and the type of behavior the Founding Fathers demonstrated, not to start a side discussion. I personally make the distinction because I personally think it important to identify the difference between the kinds of people who advertise during "Judge Judy" and the kind of people who honestly and professionally represent individuals in the complex and often unnecessarily dense world of law.

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Apr 25, 2014, 08:05 AM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
No, and I think you missed the point by quite a bit (other than the fact that Canadian conservatism is a different animal).
The intent wasn't to compare the sects of conservatism in Canada and the US because I agree with you on their fundamental differences, but to illustrate how conservative policy (austerity and pro-growth privatization for example) has manifest in general economic health in Canada vs anemic growth in the US.

The approval rating of any government is also kind of irrelevant, because it doesn't really put anything into context. No matter what percentage of Canadians (or any other non-American population) is discontent with whatever area of government, this doesn't tell us what their standards are that were not met.
Originally Posted by besson
Approval ratings of government as a whole within other countries?
Maybe I'm missing the point because it's a moving target? I agree that this metric is kind of irrelevant.

As far as American approval ratings go, we've set the bar so incredibly low with an idiotic system we seem to tolerate that buys politicians, wastes a lot of money marketing them at us for over a freaking year, and supports having to choose between only two major candidates right now. You are never going to rid politics of corruption and various forms of abuse, I don't think anybody expects that, but with the campaign financing system we have now, somebody has taken a big snort in the punch bowl before the party has even begun every election cycle. On top of this, we have a sensational media and political marketing system that puts forth a constant bread and circuses 24/7 infotainment stimulation system - whatever you want to call it. While we are are distracted as we are, it is easier for the corruption that takes place to take place, and of course, these are just two factors that work in favor of the wealth disparity that exists now.
To your last point, Wealth is not a zero-sum game and we all play a part, but we play in the sandbox created by the government. You cannot separate policy from how it manifests in economic health. I don't see how you go from the amount of money spent on political campaigns to wealth disparity, but that money is not coming out of a poor person's wallet. It's bad money-policy that is creating wealth disparity.

To your original point, when you look at political funding in Canada for example, $47.37 million is spent on the Conservative Party, $31.51 million on the Liberal Party, $20.77 million on the New Democratic Party, and then it drops precipitously for the Bloc Quebecois, and Green Party. So... in Canada they might have one extra person to choose from? Okay, in the US that is the Independent Party. More politicians don't solve anything. It's policy that creates the differences in economic health. To my original point, it will invariably come down to Govt/Labor vs Free Market/Private Enterprise no matter where you are and those will be your choices. The US is coming to a more stark head of ideals, that's all. The conflicting sides; Govt/Labor vs Free Market/Private Enterprise in the US are simply becoming more aggressive in moving the ball. Again, this is as natural as rain. Newton's Third Law. As one side pushes, the other side will push-back.

You seem to think that what we have is somehow normal whenever corporations meet politicians. It isn't. The extent in which it exists in this country is just ridiculous compared to comparable countries, even when put in context with that country's GDP.
In real dollars when taking the total amount spent on political parties in Canada vs US, Canada is spending approximately $3.23/per Canadian vs $4.48/per American. Not that huge a difference and even less meaningful when you accept that Joe the pipe-fitter might just agree with a major oil company's pipeline proposal. Like I told Dakar, we shouldn't assume businesses ≠ people. They represent interests you either support or don't' support just as those earning minimum wage may support a minimum wage increase.

Unfortunately, I don't think this conversation is going to get very far, because there is no way I can really prove this to you. I don't think there are any metrics I can put forth that you'll accept (or, possibly, that exist). Am I wrong? Moreover, I'm not sure I even want to try being pseudo-scientific about this, because it just seems so plainly obvious to me.
I think you've unwittingly touched on what I'd consider the root cause of the problem and it's not fund-raising or campaign financing, it's the fact that we are distracted and government has become far too expansive and complicated for us to follow. If we can't follow it, we can't manage it and hold it to account.

But, if you want to believe that all of these things we have seen such as wealth disparity are just a result of bad left-wing policies, and that this hasn't been the result of decades and decades of contributions from politicians of all shapes and sizes, I guess that is your right. I don't understand how anybody can think that this is just a left or right wing issue though.
You wanted a comparison between Canada and the US, suggesting that Canada is perhaps less corrupted than the US when considering policies more heavily leaning toward Big Corp and the rich in the US, but again;
  • The regulatory environment on Corporations in the US is much heavier than it is in Canada, with an economic freedom index rating them 6th vs the US in 12th place.
  • Canada has a Corporate tax rate more than 10% lower in Canada than it is in the US.
  • The Canadian tax rate on the lowest quintile income is apprx 5% higher than it is on the lowest quintile income in the US
  • The Canadian tax rate on the highest quintile income is 7% lower than it is on the highest quintile income in the US
How do you reconcile your argument that Canada is demonstratively less tilted toward big money? It's about the policies, not campaign contributions.

Not interested in any of this, for reasons stated prior.
IMO, you're not interested in it because you can't speak to it. What is it you want done in the US that would be solved by restricting campaign contributions? I'm asking you to show your work.
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Apr 25, 2014, 08:50 AM
 
Originally Posted by ghporter View Post
I cannot take any credit for being original in differentiating between respectable practitioners of a profession and non-respectable practitioners. I just pay attention to the difference and use those terms separately.

There IS a professional distinction in modern US English: a "lawyer" is someone who is trained in the legal profession, but not necessarily admitted to the bar, while "attorney" is a professional title denoting someone who is both trained and legally qualified to prosecute or defend cases.
An almost meaningless distinction that I didn't even think warranted discussion. In order to practice law, an individual must be admitted to the jurisdictional bar. If someone is consulting their lawyer, then they are consulting someone who is practicing as a lawyer and who is therefore an attorney.

In any case, it is very common to note that someone with a particular title performs below expectations of that title.
...
Anyway, my point was to differentiate between the types of behavior that modern day practitioners of law demonstrate and the type of behavior the Founding Fathers demonstrated, not to start a side discussion.
There is already a differentiation. It's called "being shitty at [x]". A shitty lawyer is a shitty attorney. A shitty doctor is a shitty physician. The list goes on. The Founding Fathers believed in a noble cause and did their best to make it happen, and thousands of lawyers throughout America today work diligently towards their own professional causes, although most likely aren't quite as far-reaching.

I personally make the distinction because I personally think it important to identify the difference between the kinds of people who advertise during "Judge Judy" and the kind of people who honestly and professionally represent individuals in the complex and often unnecessarily dense world of law.
If that is helpful to you, nothing wrong with that approach if it works for you. But it is not very helpful in discussing this particular issue or, I would argue, in discussions in general. The Founding Fathers' particular qualities really did not have anything to do with their professional titles.
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Apr 25, 2014, 11:30 AM
 
Originally Posted by ebuddy View Post
I've taken the brevity thing too far. I empathize with your reading eyes in advance.

Rather than focus on corruption itself; an element that exists from the tax-paying Joe cheating his taxes to the croneyism evident in our leadership, I look to the opportunities that create corruption and the major players involved. Yes, big businesses and tycoons will try to throw their money around and opportunist politicians in government will try to snatch it up, but the government makes your laws. They build the sandbox. As the government and the monoliths it props up become larger, they become more difficult to follow and hold accountable. They're all accountable to the law, but the law is administered by the government.

IMO, busy-body lawmakers have created a distorted marketplace of guaranteed clientele and retarding the people's most effective check against abusive business practice. We witness our dependence on the TBTFs and continue pumping billions into the market every month. We can make laws all day long, but if the leadership is corrupted, they will not enforce them or fail to enforce them equitably. What is my check against the IRS for example, when it becomes public that they've targeted those who share my world and political views; watch an IRS official plead the fifth after making a statement defending herself and then off to enjoy a paid retirement exceeding $100k/year?

Rather than place more restrictions on a free people through laws, I look to how we might begin to reduce the scope of lawmakers and slow down their mill of polices creating distortion and the opportunities for corruption. After all, Joe the pipe-fitter might just agree with a major oil company's pipeline proposal. IMO, we shouldn't assume businesses ≠ people.
I don't think I grasped your perspective properly, because I'm left wondering if the problem is corruption in enforcement of laws, how do you fix it? Removing the laws would just fix the corruption but not the underlying reason the law exists (Not to mention, you might get a different segment now bribing for instatement of the old law).
     
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Apr 25, 2014, 11:30 AM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
Is there room in your super communist nazi party for me?
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Apr 25, 2014, 12:47 PM
 
Originally Posted by The Final Dakar View Post
I don't think I grasped your perspective properly, because I'm left wondering if the problem is corruption in enforcement of laws, how do you fix it? Removing the laws would just fix the corruption but not the underlying reason the law exists (Not to mention, you might get a different segment now bribing for instatement of the old law).
IMO, the problem is not corruption in the enforcement of laws as that's merely a symptom of the problem and why my focus is on the lawmakers instead of free people. The problem is a government that is involved in too much. They are far too expansive and complicated to be held accountable for not rising above the fray as servants of the public's trust. If the government was not interested in trying to provide health insurance to all as a recent example, they wouldn't have to cozy up to Big Insurance behind closed doors.

This is one reason why folks like me keep harping on preserving a Constitutionally-limited government and a separation of powers -- it is far too tempting and effective for government to bribe voters and I see this as a far bigger problem than corporations bribing government. A government not able to involve itself at such a large scale is the incorruptible giraffe. It cannot be bribed to swim because it can't swim.
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Apr 25, 2014, 01:35 PM
 
I'll just point out that you have not addressed Dakar's question on the underlying reason why those laws were first put in place. Yes, particular laws have often caused new problems as both government and industry (and possibly consumer/voter/etc.) reacts to the regulations/laws.

But your consistent solution seems to be "get rid of the laws". That is all well and good, but generally those laws were first put in place for a reason - usually because there was an identified problem that a great many people thought should be fixed.

My earlier comment on the free market was pretty facetious, but I would of course note that you are often a vocal proponent of the free market. The reality is that the "free market" was really, really shitty for 90% of the population for hundreds of years following industrialization.

We've had this discussion before, but in my view the answer is not "remove laws", which I would attribute as your general starting point; but to implement the right laws.
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Apr 25, 2014, 03:14 PM
 
Originally Posted by ebuddy View Post
To your last point, Wealth is not a zero-sum game and we all play a part, but we play in the sandbox created by the government. You cannot separate policy from how it manifests in economic health. I don't see how you go from the amount of money spent on political campaigns to wealth disparity, but that money is not coming out of a poor person's wallet. It's bad money-policy that is creating wealth disparity.
Where we seem to differ then is that you feel that the bad policies themselves are the problem, not systemic of a deeper problem. I'm saying that the policies are a manifestation of systemic problems with our entire system, which structurally has a number problems, some of which I've listed (to add to my list: low political participation among the general population is another problem). Do you agree?

To your original point, when you look at political funding in Canada for example, $47.37 million is spent on the Conservative Party, $31.51 million on the Liberal Party, $20.77 million on the New Democratic Party, and then it drops precipitously for the Bloc Quebecois, and Green Party. So... in Canada they might have one extra person to choose from? Okay, in the US that is the Independent Party. More politicians don't solve anything. It's policy that creates the differences in economic health. To my original point, it will invariably come down to Govt/Labor vs Free Market/Private Enterprise no matter where you are and those will be your choices. The US is coming to a more stark head of ideals, that's all. The conflicting sides; Govt/Labor vs Free Market/Private Enterprise in the US are simply becoming more aggressive in moving the ball. Again, this is as natural as rain. Newton's Third Law. As one side pushes, the other side will push-back.
It's not one extra person, it's one extra party. Canadians don't vote for individuals, they vote for parties. The significance of that third party is that it creates majority/minority alliances.

Why is it that you feel that solutions like opening up health insurance competition across state lines is the ticket even though the CBO states that the difference would be minor right now, yet you seem so closed to encouraging the growth of a third party? Even if you think or it can be proven that improvement would also be minor, isn't improvement improvement?


In real dollars when taking the total amount spent on political parties in Canada vs US, Canada is spending approximately $3.23/per Canadian vs $4.48/per American. Not that huge a difference and even less meaningful when you accept that Joe the pipe-fitter might just agree with a major oil company's pipeline proposal. Like I told Dakar, we shouldn't assume businesses ≠ people. They represent interests you either support or don't' support just as those earning minimum wage may support a minimum wage increase.
It's a *HUGE* difference. Again, those Canadian donations are to to the party, not to any individual in the party because the party appoints its own leaders. To make this comparison you would have to measure not just federal campaign donations, but donations to the campaigns of all elected officials. If you add on the campaigns for US congressmen/senators/governors, I'm sure it leaves that $3.23 in the dust.

I'm also not sure why you are defending this as if you don't think US campaign financing is a problem. I really can't wrap my head around why this is a good thing, at all. Do you have a succinct defense for our current campaign financing laws?

I think you've unwittingly touched on what I'd consider the root cause of the problem and it's not fund-raising or campaign financing, it's the fact that we are distracted and government has become far too expansive and complicated for us to follow. If we can't follow it, we can't manage it and hold it to account.
So why doesn't the solution involve the general population to be less distracted, rather than whatever you would advocate?


You wanted a comparison between Canada and the US, suggesting that Canada is perhaps less corrupted than the US when considering policies more heavily leaning toward Big Corp and the rich in the US, but again;
  • The regulatory environment on Corporations in the US is much heavier than it is in Canada, with an economic freedom index rating them 6th vs the US in 12th place.
  • Canada has a Corporate tax rate more than 10% lower in Canada than it is in the US.
  • The Canadian tax rate on the lowest quintile income is apprx 5% higher than it is on the lowest quintile income in the US
  • The Canadian tax rate on the highest quintile income is 7% lower than it is on the highest quintile income in the US
How do you reconcile your argument that Canada is demonstratively less tilted toward big money? It's about the policies, not campaign contributions.
I reconcile it by saying that I think you are trying to be pseudo-scientific in order for reality to fit within ebuddy structure and order of how the world ought to be.

Comparing US tax/regulation to Canadian tax/regulation is very apples vs. oranges because there are so many differences in these governments and economic systems. You could try to create some sort of normalization in defining "economic freedom" and trying to measure stuff, but I think there are too many differing factors at play here, even if we can agree upon what economic freedom is.

For example (in no particular order): term limits, party politics, parliament vs. US government, present corruption and history of corruption, etc.

You seem unwilling to consider information unless it passes your pseudo-scientific filters, which are influenced by your ideological structure. Instead of trying to find the perfect study that passes your tests, I'm more interested in getting at the core of this mental structure you impose.

I mean, seriously, what would it take to convince you that the US government is unusually tilted towards big government? Maybe if you can answer this question I might be more willing to find you some charts and graphs you like.

IMO, you're not interested in it because you can't speak to it. What is it you want done in the US that would be solved by restricting campaign contributions? I'm asking you to show your work.
I'm not interested in it because I don't care right now. I've made it clear that I feel that these problems are deeply rooted and go beyond parties. You have your mental structures/prisms/lens/whatever you want to call them, I have mine.
     
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Apr 25, 2014, 03:28 PM
 
Originally Posted by ShortcutToMoncton View Post
I'll just point out that you have not addressed Dakar's question on the underlying reason why those laws were first put in place. Yes, particular laws have often caused new problems as both government and industry (and possibly consumer/voter/etc.) reacts to the regulations/laws.

But your consistent solution seems to be "get rid of the laws". That is all well and good, but generally those laws were first put in place for a reason - usually because there was an identified problem that a great many people thought should be fixed.
Good points. The problem is, I don't recall people asking for the elimination of the incandescent light bulb for example or that all businesses should have low-E windows. They didn't ask for a complete overhaul of the health insurance industry. They didn't ask that their phone conversations be logged or emails held. Too often, what happens is that government seeks to remedy problem x, but legislates x, y, z, Section 1; Paragraph 2 of supplemental 13A pursuant to provisions in supplemental 12n. We're all far too busy to keep up with this.

I believe it is far more important to focus on lawmakers than to focus on free people.

My earlier comment on the free market was pretty facetious, but I would of course note that you are often a vocal proponent of the free market. The reality is that the "free market" was really, really shitty for 90% of the population for hundreds of years following industrialization.
Can you give me some examples of how the free market was really shitty for most people for hundreds of years following industrialization? This seems awfully hyperbolic to me. After all, Government overreach has proven really shitty for people too.

We've had this discussion before, but in my view the answer is not "remove laws", which I would attribute as your general starting point; but to implement the right laws.
I don't agree that placing further restriction on free people is good law at this point.
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Apr 25, 2014, 03:52 PM
 
Originally Posted by Shaddim View Post
No, I don't think it can or will be saved. "Civilization" has contracted before, collapsing under excess, it's a natural cycle. Perhaps next time we'll extend it further, this last time was a good run.
I'm starting to gravitate towards this way of thinking, but I think in order for there to be a next time we need to find a way to agree upon what we should do differently next time.

Right now, it seems like a number of us are in a state of denial, with some people believing that the US government is not unusually titled towards big money.
     
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Apr 25, 2014, 04:01 PM
 
Originally Posted by ebuddy View Post
They didn't ask that their phone conversations be logged or emails held. Too often, what happens is that government seeks to remedy problem x, but legislates x, y, z, Section 1; Paragraph 2 of supplemental 13A pursuant to provisions in supplemental 12n. We're all far too busy to keep up with this.
But, again, this is systemic of the rigged system of government we have in place now. Government for the people, by the people and all that, right? It is not for the people when in order to run for office you need to have access to $23904820394823094. When people don't feel that they aren't being represented, wouldn't they be more likely to be "far too busy"? It's time for all of our attitudes to change and start not just pressuring, but downright insisting that the government actually be for the people. They still need our votes, and as much as we can bitch about their platforms, they are often a mirror reflection of what we are willing to support.
     
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Apr 25, 2014, 04:58 PM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
Where we seem to differ then is that you feel that the bad policies themselves are the problem, not systemic of a deeper problem. I'm saying that the policies are a manifestation of systemic problems with our entire system, which structurally has a number problems, some of which I've listed (to add to my list: low political participation among the general population is another problem). Do you agree?
I think corruption is a symptom of the problem and that the problem is a government that is trying to do too much. The more it wants to do, the more it will need the monied interests to do it.

Let me ask you, suppose we were to pass laws severely restricting the amount of corporate/tycoon money given to parties and campaigns, how do we ensure those laws are enforced in an equitable manner so that the Koch brothers aren't hammered more than Soros for example?

It's not one extra person, it's one extra party. Canadians don't vote for individuals, they vote for parties. The significance of that third party is that it creates majority/minority alliances.
On what points are they agreeing as separate parties that can't be agreed to within a single party or even across party lines? And how has this manifest among the Canadian people in a way that's demonstratively better than how the allegedly corrupted US system manifests for its folks? Given the polling stats I showed you earlier, do you suppose the folks in Quebec feel they've been effectively represented by these majority/minority alliances you mentioned? If not, why not?

Why is it that you feel that solutions like opening up health insurance competition across state lines is the ticket even though the CBO states that the difference would be minor right now, yet you seem so closed to encouraging the growth of a third party? Even if you think or it can be proven that improvement would also be minor, isn't improvement improvement?
The CBO has a deplorable track of historical inaccuracy. A party has a point to make so they provide the CBO with the datasets they want examined and the CBO returns conclusions based on that data, most often supporting those who submitted the request. This is why you'll notice the CBO is often seemingly schizophrenic in conflicting conclusions on the same measure from year to year.

It's a *HUGE* difference. Again, those Canadian donations are to to the party, not to any individual in the party because the party appoints its own leaders. To make this comparison you would have to measure not just federal campaign donations, but donations to the campaigns of all elected officials. If you add on the campaigns for US congressmen/senators/governors, I'm sure it leaves that $3.23 in the dust.
So you don't have caucuses and separate primaries? These are opportunities for the numerous candidates of a party to be brought before the people for a vote. Why is that not at least as good as a party merely hand-picking their guy or gal? Are we saying that people are too stupid and/or too disengaged to satisfy an election process? If yes in part, can that not be at least partially attributed to how incredibly complicated it all is to follow today? And decreasing the flow of money helps in all this, how?

I'm also not sure why you are defending this as if you don't think US campaign financing is a problem. I really can't wrap my head around why this is a good thing, at all. Do you have a succinct defense for our current campaign financing laws?
Wait, you first. I've not seen evidence of why this is as urgent a problem as you suggest and/or how limiting the flow of money into campaigns will manifest among the people. Or why the focus of concern should be on businesses and people and not on government and politicians.

So why doesn't the solution involve the general population to be less distracted, rather than whatever you would advocate?
I don't understand the question. People are distracted, what can I do about that and how is another law limiting the flow of money to campaigns and politicians going to solve this?

I reconcile it by saying that I think you are trying to be pseudo-scientific in order for reality to fit within ebuddy structure and order of how the world ought to be.
I think the problem here is that we disagree in our focus. You want greater focus placed on limiting what can be donated to parties and campaigns. I don't see that as a problem in need of restrictions on people and I don't think anyone has offered a compelling reason why businesses should not equal people.

My example again is Joe the pipe-fitter supporting a major oil company's pipeline proposal. Is this somehow less meritorious than someone on minimum wage wanting the government to increase the minimum wage? I'm opposed to greater restrictions on free people and believe this will only lead to greater inequality in representation among free people.

Comparing US tax/regulation to Canadian tax/regulation is very apples vs. oranges because there are so many differences in these governments and economic systems. You could try to create some sort of normalization in defining "economic freedom" and trying to measure stuff, but I think there are too many differing factors at play here, even if we can agree upon what economic freedom is.
We certainly have to be allowed to disagree.

For example (in no particular order): term limits, party politics, parliament vs. US government, present corruption and history of corruption, etc.
These aren't really examples of anything, they're just general terms.

You seem unwilling to consider information unless it passes your pseudo-scientific filters, which are influenced by your ideological structure. Instead of trying to find the perfect study that passes your tests, I'm more interested in getting at the core of this mental structure you impose.
I've considered everything you say. The problem here is that we simply disagree in our focus. I'm trying to understand what it is you and others hope to accomplish by placing money restrictions on donors. How do you believe that will manifest in a corruption reduction? If you can't define corruption in any solid manner other than to say "I can't believe you don't see it!" and you can't tell me what you hope to accomplish with the move, what could we possibly hope to have other than pseudo-science?

I mean, seriously, what would it take to convince you that the US government is unusually tilted towards big government? Maybe if you can answer this question I might be more willing to find you some charts and graphs you like.
You already seem pretty convinced. Which of us has the more rigid view? Seriously, what would it take to show you that you're severely misdirected?

I've been saying the US government is unusually tilted toward big government this entire time. If what meant to say is big Corporation, I'm inclined to agree in part, but that is due to a necessary marriage of Big Govt and Big Corp. Guaranteed clientele is a distorted marketplace created by lawmakers. Pick your Big Corp, they've all been propped up by government. Every single one. Not only because the government is interested in their dollars by the way, but their employment, their wares, their public support, their administering of a policy...

I don't want to focus on free people, I want to focus on the lawmakers.

I'm not interested in it because I don't care right now. I've made it clear that I feel that these problems are deeply rooted and go beyond parties. You have your mental structures/prisms/lens/whatever you want to call them, I have mine.
So... really the only problem here is that we disagree. On that, I can agree.
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Apr 25, 2014, 05:10 PM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
But, again, this is systemic of the rigged system of government we have in place now. Government for the people, by the people and all that, right? It is not for the people when in order to run for office you need to have access to $23904820394823094. When people don't feel that they aren't being represented, wouldn't they be more likely to be "far too busy"? It's time for all of our attitudes to change and start not just pressuring, but downright insisting that the government actually be for the people. They still need our votes, and as much as we can bitch about their platforms, they are often a mirror reflection of what we are willing to support.
Parties will donate to and support quality candidates regardless of their own personal incomes. The attitudes must change with us, yes and that includes a different way of solving problems than immediately calling for more government solutions.
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Apr 25, 2014, 05:48 PM
 
Wanted to toss in there I know some people who are big political donors, and they are extensively courted by many candidates because it is known that money is given with no strings attached. If you get their money, it's because they think you're a good person and will use your efforts to serve the country well.

Of course, the extensive courting implies a flipside. The reason they get courted is because most of the other money does come with strings attached.



As an aside, these (pretty fantastically wealthy) people I'm talking about give the bulk of their money to Democrats. Republicans would serve their personal interests better, but feel they have money serving their personal interests, and aren't moved to make government to do the same.
     
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Apr 26, 2014, 08:55 AM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
Wanted to toss in there I know some people who are big political donors, and they are extensively courted by many candidates because it is known that money is given with no strings attached. If you get their money, it's because they think you're a good person and will use your efforts to serve the country well.

Of course, the extensive courting implies a flipside. The reason they get courted is because most of the other money does come with strings attached.



As an aside, these (pretty fantastically wealthy) people I'm talking about give the bulk of their money to Democrats. Republicans would serve their personal interests better, but feel they have money serving their personal interests, and aren't moved to make government to do the same.
Excellent points.

I guess the only way I could illustrate this to the folks who most passionately disagree with me is to view the government as the largest, Big Corporation in the US. They are the fastest growing employer in the US, they are the fastest growing monopoly in the US, and funnel through thousands of billions of dollars each year running annual deficits of nearly a trillion dollars annually. They are in the student loan industry, the health insurance industry, the gun sales and distribution industry here and abroad (legal and otherwise), the construction industry, the investment and finance industry, and in some part every industry known to mankind. They are vastly more expansive, diversified, and powerful than the next largest corporation in the US and they have the collective resources of the entire nation at their disposal. They are actively using the money we are forced to provide through compliance with laws they've created as a sort of mandated patronage if you will, for bribing and buying the votes of millions. They have the largest ad budgets and represent the most egregious abuses of false advertising and bait and switch you'll ever see with zero accountability. They have the most important keynote-pulpit opportunities with guaranteed air-time for selling their wares and deriding all those who question their business model as haters of clean water, clean energy, poor people, the sick, and minorities.

I don't think it's fair to give the largest employer and single largest monopoloistic Big Corporation in the US more say in who else gets to contribute to the buying of votes. They are the biggest money-player by far. If anyone is in need of greater restrictions, more regulation, and tighter controls -- it is they and it's not even close.
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Apr 26, 2014, 10:25 AM
 
^^^

This. Very well spoken.

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Apr 26, 2014, 12:46 PM
 
Agreed. Think of the government as a zaibatsu or something. Not a normal big corporation, beyond that. A pre-breakup AT&T type thing.

Yes, the phones worked (more or less), but they had you by the short hairs (snort), and rented you a phone for something ridiculous like $5/month in 1970 dollars.
     
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Apr 27, 2014, 01:25 AM
 
and if you didn't use their phone they charged you a $10 fee for tech support calls related to your service, because obviously your crappy 3rd party phone is at fault.
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Apr 27, 2014, 01:29 PM
 
Originally Posted by ebuddy
Like I told Dakar, we shouldn't assume businesses ≠ people. They represent interests you either support or don't' support just as those earning minimum wage may support a minimum wage increase.
That isn't the point. Businesses are still free to provide feedback to government on their interests. But those businesses do not vote - and as entities run entirely for profit or to support a cause, they are then not given the opportunity to "vote" behind the scenes by giving money to the particular lawmakers that will advance their cause or make them more money. Hence my original response generated by your statement:
Originally Posted by ebuddy
if you were to lessen the influence of the Corporate Lobby, you create an imbalance between it and its competing interests such as the Union lobby. The answer IMO is not to restrict the activities of a free people, but to restrict the activities of government.
....or instead of setting up the arms race of allowing both competing interests to donate huge sums of money towards the particular politician that will then vigorously support their cause...you could allow them to donate $0 along with their lobby. Maybe that would help lessen the influence of both competing lobbies? And perhaps the donation tax breaks could go towards union dues or shareholder profits or even charitable donations instead? (Hell, they can all start paying for geeks to conduct really lavish PowerPoint lobby presentations instead. )

Originally Posted by ebuddy View Post
Good points. The problem is, I don't recall people asking for the elimination of the incandescent light bulb for example or that all businesses should have low-E windows. They didn't ask for a complete overhaul of the health insurance industry.
I certainly can't speak to specific regulations of course, but all of these items were or are certainly high-profile matters that had significant public and sector-group backing.

Again, it may be that the specific solution taken by government wasn't the best or right one either at the time or in retrospect, but I would suggest that could also be your particular viewpoint; and I say that because you seem to be suggesting that no one was "asking" for the above items, whereas I am pretty sure that there very much has been a groundswell relating to energy efficiency and health insurance and how to implement better solutions.

They didn't ask that their phone conversations be logged or emails held.
...unless it was in the name of state security and it involved people (American or not) plotting against America, right? By this I mean - they certainly did ask and many approved of the initial information gathering powers when they thought it would help against Terrorism or Other Threats...even when it was a clear slippery slope that was still capable of catching innocent people from the get-go.

What was the popular saying again..."if you're not doing anything wrong...?"

Too often, what happens is that government seeks to remedy problem x, but legislates x, y, z, Section 1; Paragraph 2 of supplemental 13A pursuant to provisions in supplemental 12n. We're all far too busy to keep up with this.
Sure it is, but everyone is too busy to keep up with anything at all regarding complex documents. Your statements about paragraphs and sections is true, but essentially rhetoric; I write commercial agreements for a living and there is a section 12, paragraph 12.1(d)(iv) even in the most basic of contracts, let alone legislation targeted at hugely complex subjects. And for the most part, the people or businesses I deal with generally have a weak grasp of what is actually in a specific clause in the document they're signing; that's usually why they have a lawyer(s) drafting it for them. And it's really the same principle for legislation to be honest; it's almost certainly endlessly debated and revised amongst great legal minds who are employed specifically to draft these laws.

I believe it is far more important to focus on lawmakers than to focus on free people.
Apologies, not sure what you mean by this. But I won't even get into "free"; no person is free in the modern world, and that concept has not been relevant or applicable to Americans in particular for hundreds of years.

Can you give me some examples of how the free market was really shitty for most people for hundreds of years following industrialization? This seems awfully hyperbolic to me. After all, Government overreach has proven really shitty for people too.
To be honest I'm not quite sure if you're being serious here. Living and working conditions in urban areas prior to the rise of what I suppose we'd call enforced labour and/or social laws, I would think, is pretty well-known. Unless one was upper-middle class or higher (realizing that this definition has varied over the last centuries), prior to the 20th century living and working in an urban environment was a completely brutal experience.

Originally Posted by ShortcutToMoncton
We've had this discussion before, but in my view the answer is not "remove laws", which I would attribute as your general starting point; but to implement the right laws.
Originally Posted by ebuddy
I don't agree that placing further restriction on free people is good law at this point.
I don't disagree with your statement, but will note that you completely mischaracterized my statement to suit your narrative.

I did not advocate placing "further restriction" on people. (See my above comment on "free people".)

I advocated placing the right restrictions. By definition that is somewhat of a work in progress. If that is a lessening of restrictions in one area, so be it - in my view any government should always be looking for areas and ways to eliminate the proverbial red tape. In other areas, it may involve keeping the current restrictions or even adding new ones, but always with an eye to making the regulatory scheme more efficient in its interaction.
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Apr 27, 2014, 06:49 PM
 
Originally Posted by ShortcutToMoncton View Post
That isn't the point. Businesses are still free to provide feedback to government on their interests. But those businesses do not vote - and as entities run entirely for profit or to support a cause, they are then not given the opportunity to "vote" behind the scenes by giving money to the particular lawmakers that will advance their cause or make them more money. Hence my original response generated by your statement:
It's absolutely the point as representatives don't represent voters, they represent people.

....or instead of setting up the arms race of allowing both competing interests to donate huge sums of money towards the particular politician that will then vigorously support their cause...you could allow them to donate $0 along with their lobby. Maybe that would help lessen the influence of both competing lobbies? And perhaps the donation tax breaks could go towards union dues or shareholder profits or even charitable donations instead? (Hell, they can all start paying for geeks to conduct really lavish PowerPoint lobby presentations instead. )
I think it's a mistake to assume that businesses don't represent people by representing their interests. By extension, someone earning minimum wage may support a hike in the minimum wage (naturally) while someone working for a major oil company may also support a major pipeline initiative. You will always have a voice for the one while you would seek to quiet the voice of the other through restrictions, carefully crafted or otherwise. I don't think further restrictions are necessary.

I certainly can't speak to specific regulations of course, but all of these items were or are certainly high-profile matters that had significant public and sector-group backing.

Again, it may be that the specific solution taken by government wasn't the best or right one either at the time or in retrospect, but I would suggest that could also be your particular viewpoint; and I say that because you seem to be suggesting that no one was "asking" for the above items, whereas I am pretty sure that there very much has been a groundswell relating to energy efficiency and health insurance and how to implement better solutions.

...unless it was in the name of state security and it involved people (American or not) plotting against America, right? By this I mean - they certainly did ask and many approved of the initial information gathering powers when they thought it would help against Terrorism or Other Threats...even when it was a clear slippery slope that was still capable of catching innocent people from the get-go.

What was the popular saying again..."if you're not doing anything wrong...?"
All of this is subject to our particular viewpoints. The ACA for example is wildly unpopular in the US and in this my particular viewpoint is shared by the overwhelming majority of people. It was rife with the sort of bait and switch and false advertising tactics that would land a great many business owners in court. Notwithstanding the provision in the health care bill ceding access control of the Student Loan program to the Dept. of Education or other provisions that have absolutely nothing to do with health care. Poor policy isn't forgivable merely by virtue of the fact that a noble cause could be exploited to sell it.

The US was attacked on 9/11/01 as another example and there was a great deal of disagreement that we would use that cause to invade Iraq. It's not good enough for me to tell those who opposed action in Iraq that 9/11 was "certainly a high-profile matter" or suggest merely this is "your own particular viewpoint."

Sure it is, but everyone is too busy to keep up with anything at all regarding complex documents. Your statements about paragraphs and sections is true, but essentially rhetoric; I write commercial agreements for a living and there is a section 12, paragraph 12.1(d)(iv) even in the most basic of contracts, let alone legislation targeted at hugely complex subjects. And for the most part, the people or businesses I deal with generally have a weak grasp of what is actually in a specific clause in the document they're signing; that's usually why they have a lawyer(s) drafting it for them. And it's really the same principle for legislation to be honest; it's almost certainly endlessly debated and revised amongst great legal minds who are employed specifically to draft these laws.
I've recently had more than $20k in contracted work completed on my home and there was nothing near the complexity you suggest in the contracts. And I can guarantee you had they told me that I had to sign the contract to know what was in it or complete the work to know what would be done or how much it would cost, I wouldn't have opted for that contractor.

If we're truly concerned with equal and fair representation, perhaps we should not leave it up to people employed specifically to draft laws. We get lots of laws and bureaucracy and still bicker about unfair and unequal representation.

Apologies, not sure what you mean by this. But I won't even get into "free"; no person is free in the modern world, and that concept has not been relevant or applicable to Americans in particular for hundreds of years.
This strikes me a bit as splitting hairs to be argumentative. Remove free if you feel you're not free. It's not germane to the point, but I will say there is such a thing as less or more free and I'd like to maintain whatever freedoms remain.

To be honest I'm not quite sure if you're being serious here. Living and working conditions in urban areas prior to the rise of what I suppose we'd call enforced labour and/or social laws, I would think, is pretty well-known. Unless one was upper-middle class or higher (realizing that this definition has varied over the last centuries), prior to the 20th century living and working in an urban environment was a completely brutal experience.
There were very few for which life was posh in those days, urban or rural. I'm not sure what your point is here. About this same time were there not examples of state-sanctioned genocide and/or egregious humans rights abuses?

I don't disagree with your statement, but will note that you completely mischaracterized my statement to suit your narrative.

I did not advocate placing "further restriction" on people. (See my above comment on "free people".)

I advocated placing the right restrictions. By definition that is somewhat of a work in progress. If that is a lessening of restrictions in one area, so be it - in my view any government should always be looking for areas and ways to eliminate the proverbial red tape. In other areas, it may involve keeping the current restrictions or even adding new ones, but always with an eye to making the regulatory scheme more efficient in its interaction.
Simply put, I don't trust this government is capable of making their regulatory schemes more efficient in their interaction and I have very good reasons not to as mentioned earlier. I don't believe that is their focus. I don't see a problem that limiting donations and donors is going to solve and I don't trust the government can enforce the laws in an equitable manner. IMO, while their intentions may be noble, it will only create more imbalance.
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Apr 28, 2014, 08:32 AM
 
Originally Posted by ebuddy View Post
I think it's a mistake to assume that businesses don't represent people by representing their interests.
Well, businesses represent first and foremost their own profits. That is why they exist. Most are even required to by law. It is the people running the business that "represent people".

By extension, someone earning minimum wage may support a hike in the minimum wage (naturally) while someone working for a major oil company may also support a major pipeline initiative. You will always have a voice for the one while you would seek to quiet the voice of the other through restrictions, carefully crafted or otherwise. I don't think further restrictions are necessary.
As specifically noted several times, there is no "quieting of the voice" in any way other than the ability of said voice to donate money to individuals wielding political power.

Businesses by their very nature can generate large sums of money to further their interests. You are certainly not naïve enough to believe that this does not result in massive for-profit enterprises having extremely powerful influences on political decisions far in excess of individuals or even groups of individuals?

Well, that influence and power will exist no matter what - successful businesses make the economy hum and politicians look good, and will never be ignored. But that doesn't mean they should be able to pay politicians when that money would do far more good literally anywhere else.
The ACA for example is wildly unpopular in the US and in this my particular viewpoint is shared by the overwhelming majority of people. It was rife with the sort of bait and switch and false advertising tactics that would land a great many business owners in court. Notwithstanding the provision in the health care bill ceding access control of the Student Loan program to the Dept. of Education or other provisions that have absolutely nothing to do with health care. Poor policy isn't forgivable merely by virtue of the fact that a noble cause could be exploited to sell it.
This paragraph almost seems to be arguing with my viewpoint, even though I assume you are aware that this is almost exactly what I was saying?

The unpopularity of the ACA is not the point. There was a huge groundswell for reform of health insurance in your country. The ACA was enacted, but many seem to agree that it is a shitty legislative response. But that does not mean that there should be no legislation whatsoever. There is clearly a desire for change of some sort; just not that change.

I've recently had more than $20k in contracted work completed on my home and there was nothing near the complexity you suggest in the contracts. And I can guarantee you had they told me that I had to sign the contract to know what was in it or complete the work to know what would be done or how much it would cost, I wouldn't have opted for that contractor.
Errr, what? Why would you ever sign a contract without being allowed to know what was in it? I would agree that another contractor is the way to go. But what does this have to do with our discussion?

I recently had $60k in renovations completed with a verbal discussion and a handshake as the contract. But that is not how most businesses choose to conduct business, for good reason. I can't really say if you are familiar with how legislation or contract documentation on a complex matter is conducted, but trust me, they generally do not and probably cannot exist without an article 12(4)(iii)(d).

If we're truly concerned with equal and fair representation, perhaps we should not leave it up to people employed specifically to draft laws.
...I assume you have an idea how the lawmaking process works? That the people employed to draft the laws do so on specific instructions, and their work is subject to a review process? And I assume you have an idea how hard it is to draft laws? Surely you're not suggesting some sort of open source legal drafting?
There were very few for which life was posh in those days, urban or rural. I'm not sure what your point is here.
The point is that these laws allowed individuals to have some rights vis-à-vis large entities that could, and did, otherwise crush them like a bug if they even so much as mentioned that, oh, people were dying because the employer couldn't be bothered to pay for some basic safety equipment. Or that additional regulations began to set basic living standards to which builders, individuals and municipalities had to adhere? Or that additional regulations required less sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides emissions and worked strongly against the problem of acid rain caused by these emissions?

The list goes on for miles. Is it really your belief that all of these "improvements" in human living conditions just happened via some natural, organic process?

Furthermore, there is no question that some of these laws have swung the other way and gone too far (see: some employment laws for example). That does not mean the root cause is thrown out; it should mean that the laws then get adjusted accordingly.

About this same time were there not examples of state-sanctioned genocide and/or egregious humans rights abuses?
What does this red herring have to do with what we're talking about? That states conduct unquestionable human rights abuses to this very day somehow means that anything else they try to do is invalid? This is a weak deflection, ebuddy.

Simply put, I don't trust this government is capable of making their regulatory schemes more efficient in their interaction and I have very good reasons not to as mentioned earlier. I don't believe that is their focus. I don't see a problem that limiting donations and donors is going to solve and I don't trust the government can enforce the laws in an equitable manner. IMO, while their intentions may be noble, it will only create more imbalance.
I've said this before and I'll say it again: you've decided on all or nothing, and will feel mightily downtrodden yet ignobly self-satisfied when you get nothing. Unhappy with the system? Don't work towards changing it into a better system - accept only elimination of the entire system instead!

Good luck.
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Apr 28, 2014, 11:10 PM
 
Originally Posted by ShortcutToMoncton View Post
Well, businesses represent first and foremost their own profits. That is why they exist. Most are even required to by law. It is the people running the business that "represent people".

As specifically noted several times, there is no "quieting of the voice" in any way [I]other than the ability of said voice to donate money to individuals wielding political power.
Why does their self-interest matter? We all have them, that's how we survive. The concern is the heavy and corruptive influence of money. If you restrict this element only in the private sector, IMO you create an imbalance. The government is not going to stop buying voters.

Businesses by their very nature can generate large sums of money to further their interests. You are certainly not naïve enough to believe that this does not result in massive for-profit enterprises having extremely powerful influences on political decisions far in excess of individuals or even groups of individuals?
Businesses cannot generate very large sums of money on their own. I don't think it's fruitful to invoke terms like naive in our discussion, but I do see a great deal of imbalance in influence. It's most apparent in the tax and regulatory codes. Yes, our President and fellow Democrats raised a good amount more than Republicans and won the last election, but I do not blame the influx of dollars or source of funds to their campaigns for this. I'm much more concerned about the bait and switch, the dishonesty, the false advertising, poor enforcement of laws, and the resultant government purchase of votes.

There is a fundamental math problem in the business model of the US government and I do not want to, at this time, begin to limit the amount of influence of a whole bunch of people who've been demonstratively effective at math and... at paying attention. Whatever specific business players are being suspected of campaign funding impropriety are those being propped up by the government. We already have laws regulating the relationship between the Federal government and the private sector and IMO government has proven more egregious in its abuse of those laws. Rather than a fault of private enterprise, this is IMO a symptom of the government tilting under its own weight. I don't think the answer is greater restrictions on the private sector nor do I believe the government could enforce new laws in an equitable manner.

Well, that influence and power will exist no matter what - successful businesses make the economy hum and politicians look good, and will never be ignored. But that doesn't mean they should be able to pay politicians when that money would do far more good literally anywhere else.
If that money has as much influence as you believe it does, it's probably not money that could've been spent better elsewhere. Businesses want to look good too.

This paragraph almost seems to be arguing with my viewpoint, even though I assume you are aware that this is almost exactly what I was saying?
So you agree that government shouldn't be involved in the health care industry?

The unpopularity of the ACA is not the point. There was a huge groundswell for reform of health insurance in your country. The ACA was enacted, but many seem to agree that it is a shitty legislative response. But that does not mean that there should be no legislation whatsoever. There is clearly a desire for change of some sort; just not that change.
Greater than 80% of insureds were happy with the cost and quality of their health care. This was FUD drummed up to serve an agenda, evidenced first by how little of that FUD is actually addressed by the legislation.

Errr, what? Why would you ever sign a contract without being allowed to know what was in it? I would agree that another contractor is the way to go. But what does this have to do with our discussion?
That was a piece on what the House minority leader actually said about the Affordable Care Act prior to passage. Just a glimpse at how absurd this had all become.

I recently had $60k in renovations completed with a verbal discussion and a handshake as the contract. But that is not how most businesses choose to conduct business, for good reason. I can't really say if you are familiar with how legislation or contract documentation on a complex matter is conducted, but trust me, they generally do not and probably cannot exist without an article 12(4)(iii)(d).
And I suspect you saved quite a bit going with this rogue contractor.

They not only probably can exist, but you just established they do. It's important to hear people who understand and write law such as yourself and it's important to hear people subjected to that law.

...I assume you have an idea how the lawmaking process works? That the people employed to draft the laws do so on specific instructions, and their work is subject to a review process? And I assume you have an idea how hard it is to draft laws? Surely you're not suggesting some sort of open source legal drafting?
I can appreciate your willingness to school myself and others on the intricacies and integrity of the lawmaking process, but lawmakers and representatives are naturally, inextricably linked. A reasonable interpretation of my point would've been much simpler than the one you've employed.

The point is that these laws allowed individuals to have some rights vis-à-vis large entities that could, and did, otherwise crush them like a bug if they even so much as mentioned that, oh, people were dying because the employer couldn't be bothered to pay for some basic safety equipment. Or that additional regulations began to set basic living standards to which builders, individuals and municipalities had to adhere? Or that additional regulations required less sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides emissions and worked strongly against the problem of acid rain caused by these emissions?
While the large entities guilty of such abuses were essentially created and propped up by government, too many are quick to attribute these problems to the broader private sector and for this reason I enthusiastically defend them.

The list goes on for miles. Is it really your belief that all of these "improvements" in human living conditions just happened via some natural, organic process?
No. I believe representatives are compelled to demonstrate some, too often exaggerated action to isolated incidents of tragedy that no one in their right minds would seek to relive. This gives people a false sense of security in justifying departments like the SEC surfing porn during the market meltdown, the FHA complicit in the housing bubble and crash, and the MMA's fecklessness leading up to the BP Gulf oil disaster to name a few, and results in hundreds of duplicative and wasteful bureaucracies that need to spend "x amount" to continue getting "x amount" every year thereafter.

Furthermore, there is no question that some of these laws have swung the other way and gone too far (see: some employment laws for example). That does not mean the root cause is thrown out; it should mean that the laws then get adjusted accordingly.
I'm not throwing out root cause. I also believe the laws should get adjusted in a way that addresses the root cause. We obviously disagree here.

What does this red herring have to do with what we're talking about? That states conduct unquestionable human rights abuses to this very day somehow means that anything else they try to do is invalid? This is a weak deflection, ebuddy.
I'm not allowed to address your deflection in kind? You were trying to illustrate the abusive capability of the private sector. I simply met your example with all the poverty and hard-times of both the private sector and government and raised you genocide and other State-sanctioned human rights atrocities.

I've said this before and I'll say it again: you've decided on all or nothing, and will feel mightily downtrodden yet ignobly self-satisfied when you get nothing. Unhappy with the system? Don't work towards changing it into a better system - accept only elimination of the entire system instead!

Good luck.
I'm for reforming the system in a different manner than you, that's all.

I'm content knowing that I work at least as hard as you toward changing it into a better system and perhaps between the two of us, things will actually improve. As long as the goal is less corruption, good luck to the both of us!
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Apr 29, 2014, 07:19 AM
 
     
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Apr 29, 2014, 07:43 AM
 
A good primer to the above would be Marx's Das Kapital.
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Apr 29, 2014, 12:56 PM
 
Originally Posted by ebuddy View Post
A good primer to the above would be Marx's Das Kapital.
I swear this is essentially the Godwin's Law for economics.

Anyway, to say Piketty's book is controversial is to put it mildly. Though I think the controversy centers more on his purported solutions; Haven't seen much deconstructing his conclusions.

(The fact that he's French isn't helping)
     
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Apr 29, 2014, 12:58 PM
 
Originally Posted by ebuddy View Post
A good primer to the above would be Marx's Das Kapital.
Indeed.

Building wealth is hard, and most people lack the discipline and drive to do it. There isn't some magical formula, and there's no alchemy at work; it's 80 hours /wk, brass balls, and the refusal to back down, even when you get your nose bloodied (and that'll happen many times). You get up, dust yourself off, and keep going.

Remember when Rob was asking if there were any "shortcuts" to "getting there"? He was asking the wrong questions, but at least he had the temerity to ask, and I respect that. Despite popular opinion, wealth isn't like a large, finite pool that people are intentionally kept away from, there are definite habits and perceptions at work that heavily contribute to the "financial divide", and they aren't a part of some machination manufactured by mustache-twisting multi-millionaires. Try saying that 6 times, really fast.

A list to consider:

1. Don't view money as a consumable resource. Think of ways to make it grow, study the habits of people who are self-sufficient and read books on the subject, there are lots out there.
2. Do you love to work? 9/10 people who are in the top 1% are extreme workaholics, compared to 3% in the bottom 98. In the case of the former group, they sleep an average of 4-6 hours /night, spend <2 hours /day on recreation. The rest of the time, yeah, you guessed it, they're working on ideas to build wealth.
3. Do you enjoy saving money? I'm not talking about stuffing it away in a mattress or savings account (both bad ideas, of course), but more about getting a good deal. For me, haggling and shopping are more fun than the actual buying. Years ago I "rewired" myself to view spending money as being physically painful, unless it was really necessary, and taught myself that it was emotionally rewarding to save and make more. The first part took a long time to undo, and even now it's still a part of me.
4. Do what you love. Make a list of the things you enjoy and find ways to make as many of them as you can profitable. This is one of the most vital things, and it takes a while, but really think about it. Allot time (1-2 hours) every day to come up with ideas and write them down, then explore how to make them happen. Don't be afraid to approach successful people in those fields and ask them for advice and information. Some may brush you off but many won't.
5. Go where the money is. If there's little or no opportunity where you live, then you may have to move. If applicable, research where the best location for such a business is.
6. Don't undervalue your work and efforts. If you treat your time as valuable, other people will too. Time = money, money = time.
7. Set financial goals you can achieve and then gradually make them more challenging.
8. Don't quit. At some point you will fall, but learn from it. Analyze what happened and look at it as a chance to do better the next time. Don't get angry at other people WRT money, that's like personally drinking poison just to spite them. They won't care and you're only hurting yourself. Get back at them by making yourself better and becoming more successful than they are. I once lost $25M in two days, and it wasn't just a situation of, "oops, the market plunged". That was a very expensive lesson, but I'm glad it happened because it made me stronger and more focused, it didn't take long to get it back.

Three years ago I was asked to talk to a group, as some type of inspirational speaker (yeah, that's funny), and I made out those points and tried to share that the first thing that must change is yourself. It's necessary to re-program yourself to not be a consumer and to stop looking at money as fuel, but to imagine it as seed. Once you change your perspective, spending money becomes less attractive, you stop thriving on consumption and begin to focus on growth. Anyhow, when they realized I was telling them they needed to cut their credit cards, stop lusting after useless crap, and that there was a lot of hard work involved, they became restless, some even walked out. It's all about you, your habits and perceptions, and whether you choose to change those so you can build wealth. It's not easy, only 3% of the USA can count their net worth in the 7 digits while most others live hand-to-mouth, impulse is a killer.

Here's the dirty little secret, for free! Money itself isn't the actual reward. The goal is getting away from vapid consumerism and learning to be happy while pursuing self-sufficiency. No, I can't guarantee that anyone can become a billionaire, but I will say that you'll be much happier and more comfortable.
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Apr 29, 2014, 01:42 PM
 
Originally Posted by The Final Dakar View Post
I swear this is essentially the Godwin's Law for economics.

Anyway, to say Piketty's book is controversial is to put it mildly. Though I think the controversy centers more on his purported solutions; Haven't seen much deconstructing his conclusions.

(The fact that he's French isn't helping)
Well, "Blame the Rich People" gets boring after a while. Since we live in an age where lynch mobs are unlikely (oligarchs can live anywhere), and "the wealthy" can easily hide as much money as they want, where are the real solutions? How have habits changed since the 1950s?

This is a byproduct of a society that glorifies consumption over production, and believes that loss is gain.
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Apr 29, 2014, 01:52 PM
 
Originally Posted by Shaddim View Post
Well, "Blame the Rich People" gets boring after a while.
From the summaries I've read, it's not 'blame the rich people' it's that with the way the business, economies, and taxes currently function, the wealthy have an inherent economic advantage that will only increase wealth disparity and if you want a more (not totally) equitable distribution of wealth then you can not support the status quo.
     
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Apr 29, 2014, 02:00 PM
 
Originally Posted by The Final Dakar View Post
From the summaries I've read, it's not 'blame the rich people' it's that with the way the business, economies, and taxes currently function, the wealthy have an inherent economic advantage that will only increase wealth disparity and if you want a more (not totally) equitable distribution of wealth then you can not support the status quo.
Since wealth redistribution won't work, because no one really knows how much these people actually have, or what they're doing with it, the only thing that exists is to change the value of money. Make the staples of life "worthless", while leaving the luxuries the same. The basics, within reason, are free, while everything else has a price. Essentially we'd operate on 2 economies. The problem is, I don't trust the government NOT to **** that up.
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Apr 29, 2014, 02:06 PM
 
Originally Posted by Shaddim View Post
Since wealth redistribution won't work
Become a millionaire? Anyone can do it!
More equal distribution of wealth? Impossible!
     
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Apr 29, 2014, 02:51 PM
 
Originally Posted by The Final Dakar View Post
Become a millionaire? Anyone can do it!
More equal distribution of wealth? Impossible!
The first line is a strawman, but the second is true. There's a million+1 ways to hide capital, even from yourself, and the wealthiest people already know how. "That's not fair!" I didn't say that it is. It's easier to change a person's habits than an entire society's. What is the #1 factor in determining wealth?
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Apr 30, 2014, 08:01 AM
 
Originally Posted by The Final Dakar View Post
I swear this is essentially the Godwin's Law for economics.
I suspect Marx is a great deal more popular among academics than Nazi Germany.

Anyway, to say Piketty's book is controversial is to put it mildly. Though I think the controversy centers more on his purported solutions; Haven't seen much deconstructing his conclusions.

(The fact that he's French isn't helping)
I'd say his math problem is a failure to acknowledge material wealth, but the primary problem is indeed one of ideology. Rather than focus on what creates poverty and seeking to mitigate it, Piketty focuses on wealth and seeks to mitigate it, at times in an unabashed manner as you alluded with his suggestions of global wealth taxes and more specifically, an 80% tax on those earning more than $500k/yr in the US. Which really should put all my respondents' well-wishes of "hey good luck on that!" in perspective.

His work cites examples of the times of greater inequality and times of lesser inequality, but misses the effects of globalism overall and does not acknowledge intra-country inequality vs global inequality. Yes, there were eras of greater equality, but it was not that more of those in poverty were digging their way out of a hole as much as more wealthy people found themselves falling into it. Any solution with a goal primarily of the latter seems not only mean-spirited, but counterintuitive and that is strictly because it is patently, ideologically-bent. Being French is one thing, ardently supporting the French Socialist Party is another.
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