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Losing Free Speech?

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Re: Losing Free Speech?

Postby Fivelives » Sat Mar 17, 2012 8:10 pm

It's better than voting for your duck huntin' and fishin' buddy, I suppose.

Honestly though, it seems like presidential elections have become more and more of a circus. Nobody really seems to care about the issues, but rather who can deliver a better speech. When did we start accepting that our politicians are going to lie through their teeth and make promises they know they'll never be able to keep? We expect them to lie but we don't seem to care. All we care about is who entertains us the most and makes the biggest promises.
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Re: Losing Free Speech?

Postby Fridmarr » Sat Mar 17, 2012 8:14 pm

Brekkie wrote:Honestly, Obama is positively Reaganesque is in policies and actions, although you wouldn't know it from watching Fox.

Let's put aside his charisma and his speeches and what is ASCRIBED to his legacy by pundits today, and look at Reagan's actual policies in office...

I don't watch any news. Anyhow, you can't really take individual items out of context, while ignoring the whole.

First of all, a major difference between Reagan an Obama is in their leadership style. Reagan never had the luxury of a super/near super majority in both houses. Hell no one really has. To characterize Obama's congress as hostile is ignoring half of his term. Reagan on the flip side I don't think ever had even a simple majority in the house, he did have a simple majority most of the time in the house, but not always. By the way, it isn't the tea party republicans that initated the lock down stuff. Look back (on this very forum) to my posts about the stimulus. Obama started day 1 with the lock down logic, he is merely reaping what he has sowed before the tea party even existed. You can't tell your opponent to piss off, that you were elected and given these majorities because the people think your ideas suck and want you out of the way, and then not expect to get the same reaction when your party gets upended by that same opponent two years later.

To taxes...Loopholes are different than rates, no party wants loopholes, sure as hell not conservatives that traditionally lean towards massively simplified tax systems which make loopholes obsolete. So that little snippet of his speech is a terribly flawed comparison. However, it's worth pointing out that Reagan targeted (almost exclusively) the top wage earners with his tax cuts. When he took office they were being taxed around 70%, when he left it was 30%. You MASSIVELY understated that when you glossed through tax policy. That alone puts the entire Obama = Reagan stance flat on its ass, and shows why context matters. Even Kennedy said that the tax on the top 1% when he took office was basically immoral and he lowered them from like 90 to 70% (where they stayed until Reagan), but he was not generally considered a big tax cutter. He merely recognized that that was pretty messed up regardless of party stance. Also, TEFRA...really? I'm amazed that keeps coming up (though I shouldn't be since Obama cited Reagan's passing of it). First Reagan has said it was one of his biggest regrets. The plan for TEFRA was to eliminate future taxes that were to be implemented down the road. It didn't work, and Reagan regretted it, but it wasn't meant to be a huge net tax increase. Despite the tax increases though, I believe the marginal rate for all income brackets was a little lower, the highest bracket being way way lower when he left office. Reagan also significantly cut social programs.

Much of Reagan's expansion of government (and deficits) came from the cold war defense build up and the war on drugs. Both traditionally acceptable areas of growth for conservative ideals (though the latter is more debatable today). Of course Reagan approached Russia with diplomacy (and eventually bankruptcy), was their really another option? I don't think anyone wants us to go to war with Iran now either, and I hope to God we don't.

Foreign policy gets a little bit trickier to parse, I mean yes he pulled out of Lebanon, but he also rolled us into Greneda (not to mention what we were doing with the iran contras, afghanistan, iraq). But both of those were pretty minor compared the cold war that was raging. It's hard to use those as a frame for his foreign policy.

You know who else champions the rights of homosexuals? Who else wants immigration laws eased? Far right conservatives...not centrists. Libertarians would argue for open borders and could care less about the "institution" of marriage. These are limited government free market positions, not social ones. Abortion, not surprisingly is more wishy washy, on one hand the government should stay out of a woman's business, on the other at some point that baby is a person, so that debate continues even there.

Obamacare...a different topic altogether (and those republican plans are a non starter, they were then too which is why they were never anywhere close to being implemented) from Reagan. I could get into that too and your assertion on cost, but we have done that already. It doesn't seem necessary now.

So it's one thing to snatch up little tidbits that match up with Obama, but without understanding their greater context in relation to conservative ideals, you end up with a very flawed conclusion. Now when you talk about the republican party, there's an obvious rift. That's why Romney can't nail down the nomination and the tea party came into existence and targeted incumbents in the republican party too. The republican's in office, gave way too much to the religious right (where you seem to center on republican positions), they expanded government, ignored deficits which at one point had a purpose, but were now a way to expand control etc. Now the tea party seems to be moving towards the religious right too, and as such you see them losing steam.

To suggest someone like Reagan could not capture the nomination is incorrect. Santorum is getting votes because he's not Newt (total sellout and bad history) nor Romney (the republican's republican). He's a fucking nut ball but still hanging in just because of who he is not. Someone with Reagan's credentials, history, and ability to relate to folks would have nailed down this primary long ago. Look it's been a freaking carousel trying to avoid Romney first Cain, then Perry, then Newt, finally a little Santorum and Paul still hanging around but never really in it. Reagan would be getting Santorum's votes, Newt's votes, Paul's votes, and half of Romney's. He'd lose to Obama, but he'd have the nomination easily. To suggest that Reagan is inconsistent with what the GOP has become...maybe, but that's pretty much sums Romney's and Santorum's problems, and why this election will be an utter embarrassment for the GOP.
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Re: Losing Free Speech?

Postby Fridmarr » Sat Mar 17, 2012 8:16 pm

Fivelives wrote:It's better than voting for your duck huntin' and fishin' buddy, I suppose.

Honestly though, it seems like presidential elections have become more and more of a circus. Nobody really seems to care about the issues, but rather who can deliver a better speech. When did we start accepting that our politicians are going to lie through their teeth and make promises they know they'll never be able to keep? We expect them to lie but we don't seem to care. All we care about is who entertains us the most and makes the biggest promises.

No kidding, hell half of what we fight over with presidential elections are functions of congress anyhow, it's dumb.
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Re: Losing Free Speech?

Postby Melathys » Sat Mar 17, 2012 9:55 pm

Fridmarr wrote: No kidding, hell half of what we fight over with presidential elections are functions of congress anyhow, it's dumb.


This. So much this.

As the constition was written, the president really doesn't have a lot of power.


And yea, brekkie, the more I learn/hear about politics, the more I hate it and the more I become convinced I need to get involved. Everyone keeps hoping someone else is going to fix things...its time to stop waiting for someone else. As such, I'm going to spend the rest of the time I have until I retire preparing myself to enter the political arena. I need to find resources to educate myself with. Find the right people to talk with to hone the proper skill/knowledge set.
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Re: Losing Free Speech?

Postby Arnock » Sun Mar 18, 2012 11:59 am

The electoral college made a lot more sense during it's original implementation, where the voter would never even know who the actual presidential candidates were, and you voted on the electors themselves, "I like john doe's political ideology a lot better than john smith's, so I think he'll be the best choice to pick a good president." But now, where the electoral college is just sort of a middle man between the voter's ballot and the final election result, it doesn't make much sense anymore. Especially now that we have much more readily accessible methods of communication, so the 'favorite son' issue isn't quite as big of an issue as it was back during the framing of the constitution.

Also, originally, weren't congressmen the only members of the government that were directly elected by the people, with senators being appointed by either the state governments, or congressmen? If I remember right, the original 'concept' of the government was that the House represented the will of the people, while the senate represented their respective states' governments.
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Re: Losing Free Speech?

Postby Fridmarr » Sun Mar 18, 2012 12:26 pm

I think there is still some logic to it, especially since just about everywhere else we do use a popular vote system. The downsides of the electoral college are actually emphasized if you simply get rid of it.
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Re: Losing Free Speech?

Postby Arnock » Sun Mar 18, 2012 1:11 pm

The biggest problem with it, in my opinion, is the fact that it still IS a popular vote system, at this point, but it's state by state, so that some people's votes are counted as having more weight than others, and the votes of a lot of people simply don't count at all.
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Re: Losing Free Speech?

Postby Brekkie » Sun Mar 18, 2012 8:39 pm

Fridmarr,

I'm enjoying our discussion, so thanks for taking the time.

A note about labels. I really dislike that so many people seem to think that a person's entire political ideology can be boiled down into a very small number of labels, and I try to avoid telling anyone what I "am" because it automatically makes them jump to a whole slew of baggage associated with a particular label, and assume I hold positions which I actually don't.
But you brought up a good point earlier when you referred to how "conservative" is defined in the vernacular. The thing that I was referring to was that current GOP candidates refer to themselves as Reagan-style Conservatives, when in fact their positions are quite different from those Reagan and Conservatives like him actually possessed. I wasn't ignoring the fact that Reagan's tax cuts were for the rich. I was pointing out that he actually RAISED taxes numerous times because he believed in "paying the bills" when necessary, something that is anathema to the current GOP.

It's difficult to really see whether the chicken or the egg came first in situations like the current republican party. Did the talking heads and the big names shift deep into Social Conservative left-field? Or did the base of support shift that way, and the candidates that are popular merely reflect that?

It's even more complicated when you have to take into account that there is a big amount of selection bias when it comes to party primaries and caucuses, because the results are going to be heavily biased in favor of the positions of the kind of people who vote in primaries and go to caucuses. In other words, the most rabid and fanatical supporters and political junkies. Which can make the candidates with the more extreme positions seem to do better than they really would in the General Election, when all the normal people come out and exercise their civic duty and vote. Just as Online Internet Polls always appear to project landslide victories for Ron Paul, because the kind of people who like Ron Paul are statistically also the type of people who go out and vote in online polls.

And when the media outlets are screaming just as rabidly, you get the added effect of there appearing to be a broad consensus within a party, and giving the impression your average Joe that he may be a minority to disagree, which can be a powerful psychological factor. It doesn't matter if the truth is out there if it is hard to find or drowned out by noise. Deny, declare conspiracy, and make counter-accusations. Which is probably a big reason why the reality of evolution and climate change is even an issue at all in America. The parties and their associated media bullhorns have also been very good at (as you observed) co-opting the momentum of grassroots movements which had nothing to do with them originally (Tea Party fiscal conservatives on the one hand, and Occupy Wall Street anti-corruption protestors on the other).

What is an American to do?

You have a point in saying that a modern-day Reagan could blow all the current clowns out of the water, if only due to his charisma. It depends on if the clowns are the outliers, or if we are and they just reflect majority opinion. I think it's arguable, and hard to find evidence either way, though I hope your read is the true one. I find myself being pessimistic due to the experience of a large segment of my own family having converted out of the blue into God-Hates-Gays Evangelical Fundamentalist Hate-Mongers for no apparent reason, and the majority of people I meet simply being to apathetic to do more than vote based on superficial charisma (if they vote at all).
Call me anti-democratic, but as somewhat of an intellectual I find I place more faith in the ability of a group of smart people being able to research deeply into a topic and hash things out and be able to find, if not the right answer, a better answer than would arise from simply polling everyone on the street on an issue they have only superficial knowledge of. I believe the whole point is to elect the smartest, most capable leaders you can, and then take a step back and trust them to make the most intellectually honest decisions they know how using their common sense, without second-guessing their every move based on incomplete information.

Out of all the people who present an opinion about Obamacare, how many people have actually read the document? I sure haven't. Very few probably have. And of those few, how many have the background knowledge required to truly present an informed opinion on it's effectiveness, fiscal sense, and constitutional ramifications? A tiny fraction. So, in the end, we are all just bumbling along on fourth or fifth-hand analysis, and then getting all worked up about it. Complicated, entrenched problems often require fixes that are not simple or easily implemented. The actual truth generally is very hard to distill into sound-bites while remaining intellectually honest. So my instinctive response is to Trust In Smart People. Public oversight should be concentrating on making sure the Smart People aren't being affected by ulterior motives or conflicts of interest. So as you can probably infer, some of the most important issues to me are things like Campaign Finance Reform and reigning in lobbying and counter-balancing interest groups with power disproportionate to their actual import to the country's good, such as the Corn Lobby and the Israel Lobby.
So Obamacare is almost a non-issue for me. If it is flawed (which I'm sure it is), it is flawed due to the lobbying power groups and back-room deals and vote trading that perverted it's intent but were required to get it passed in the current way The Game functions. So let's fight the disease, not the symptoms, because every major initiative will end up like that for as long as we let it stand. But once you fix it, we can step back and let the Smart People try to get good answers by hashing things out like the Founding Fathers. Just like I feel we can trust the Supreme Court to tell us whether Obamacare is unconstitutional or not (as they will in a couple months), and until then I'm not going to make a claim either way because I have not dedicated my life to understanding Constitutional Law, nor do I know very much about Obamacare.

I really don't know what to call myself honestly, when it comes to political ideology.

-I believe in a small, but elite military, focused on rapid surgical response rather than large standing forces. So I believe in investing heavily in technology and special forces and expanding on the Marine Expeditionary Unit concept (amphibious task forces that float in readiness around the world), while closing down a large number of our static bases, and drastically reducing the size of our Navy, Army, and Marine Corps much further than is currently being considered. Quality over Quantity counts.

-I believe in greatly reducing the size of the Federal Government (which falls in line with the Libertarian outlook), however there are several things that are VERY important to me that I think the investment made by the Federal Government should be greatly increased in because they cannot and will not be provided effectively by the private sector because of the Free Rider and Tragedy of the Commons problems (which puts me contrary to Libertarianism). Those areas are Science in basic research on the frontiers of understanding where investment is not yet profitable on it's own, and infrastructure such as roads, electrical grid and power generation in general, internet to rural areas, etc. A lot of things are falling apart because they have not be replaced since FDR had them originally built putting Great Depression unemployed to work. I don't think infrastructure can ever be a bad investment of tax money, and it will never get paid for on its own by private companies responsible for profit margins.

-I think the tax rate should be less in the middle brackets and higher in the upper brackets, and that complaints about taxes on the rich are ridiculous. Because we have a progressive tax system, it's not like there ever stops being an incentive to earn more money, and people will always try to keep doing so, so claiming it punishes people for success is totally absurd. the drivers of the economy are the middle class with purchasing power through moderate disposable income. The lower class doesn't push the economy because all they can afford is essentials, and the upper class does not because someone making 400 times a Middle Class earnings does not purchase 400 times more stuff. They buy their one or two luxury cars and maybe a yacht if they are feeling especially extravagant, and buy a house that costs maybe double or triple what a middle class family pays for their house. The rest of that money just sits there, moving other imaginary money in order to make more imaginary money. Wealthy quality of life does not decrease due to a higher tax burden, and they make little contribution back to the economy by keeping more of their earnings. That is not true for the lower brackets.

Anyway, I'm rambling. Going to just go ahead and hit Post.
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Re: Losing Free Speech?

Postby Fivelives » Sun Mar 18, 2012 9:33 pm

Brekkie wrote:I really don't know what to call myself honestly, when it comes to political ideology.


Easy. You're an independent, just like the vast majority of the population of the United States.

It's people that feel strongly about certain issues, but don't really give a rat's ass about others that make up the vast majority of the population. Very few people actually toe a specific party line, except for people who tend to the extremes. I know republicans that are atheists, and democrat creationists, etc.
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Re: Losing Free Speech?

Postby Fridmarr » Sun Mar 18, 2012 10:55 pm

Brekkie

My turn to ramble...

Well the GOP's position is that raising taxes gives a short term gain in tax revenue at a cost of long term gains by hampering growth. Money almost never just sits, at the end of the "imaginary" chain, is someone's real job.

I remember in a post once you once lamented why people just couldn't pay another 10 dollars a month in taxes, that's just a pizza you said. Well a fiscal conservative is going to point out that while it's just a pizza, that between the sales tax, income tax for the pizza place, gas tax for the delivery dude, social security, and all the other taxes in between, more than half of that money is going into government coffers anyhow. The difference is, somebody had a job to make and bring you that pizza instead of having to collect government assistance because everyone cut one pizza a month from their budget. Of course that's an overly simplistic example, but the point is that there is a balance to be struck. You have to be able to tax enough to fund the necessities, but you can't tax too much of the people's money and expect it not to dry up.

Then there's the factor of scale with our current debacle. Even if you taxed the top bracket at 99%, you would still only moderately cut into just the deficit, which means you'd still be adding even more debt on top of the absurd amount that we will eventually pay. Then you add the upcoming unfunded obligations on top of that...So, this isn't merely a revenue problem, it's also a spending problem. Every time I hear some long time politician complaining about lack of funding, I just want to ask him if he'd like to have a few billion off of what we just pay in interest (money that just for all intents and purposes, vanishes from our perspective) each year caused by the budgets he/she supported. Had the federal government been even remotely responsible in the last half century, things would be significantly different.

Economic growth will help, so no one is really big on raising taxes at the moment, because you'll collect more taxes during the next boom even with the lower rates anyhow and that boom needs to come sooner than later. I would prefer a "flatish" tax, meaning income is income, there are no deductions. It's dumb that I can write off the interest I pay on my home (how freaking well has incentivizing home buying worked now?), or reduce my taxable income because I have two kids or whatever, or medical expenses...but only if it's more than some certain amount, or money that I'm saving for retirement. Get the government out of this social engineering through taxation nonsense, they are freaking terrible at it, and have no right in the first place. Just flatten it all out. Of course you can't just kill those things, because industries have been built up around them, they need to be phased out but you get the idea. Now I don't mean flat as in everyone pays the same rate, I still think it should increase as income increases to a point.

In any event, whatever the solution, it has to be comprehensive. It can raise taxes, but it won't be too much before that hits diminishing returns. So more than anything it has to reign in spending in a massive way. So far, any ideas that have been floated haven't seen the light of day from either side, and have been labelled radical. Hell a few of the ideas I've heard still take 20 years just to get a balanced budget...and they're "extreme" because of the caps they place on spending.

As for infrastructure...welcome to the failure that is the stimulus. All the hype leading up to it during the election was how we need to invest in ourselves. Great! Hell even some of the tea partiers were on board, I mean if you are going to borrow even more money in the name of stimulus, which is a tough enough pill to swallow, making it focus on infrastructure which has to be dealt with at some point anyhow, actually makes some sense. Then the bill hit...absolutely terrible and now we laugh at the term "shovel ready" and that wasn't even focusing on existing infrastructure anyhow. We still keep hearing (from the bill's authors no less) that the best return on our money for stimulus is...unemployment. Think about that for a minute, our stimulus plans are so bad at helping the economy, it's better to literally just give people money. Of course then that just comes back to just lowering taxes. It's a gigantic red hot mess.

There are lots of ideas, but I have no faith in just about anyone in washington to really do anything. Hope and change was about more of the same and an unbelievably new level of divisiveness. I'm pretty much just not interested in politicians at all at this point. The only person that I even looked at with any optimism was Cain, but that came crashing down pretty quickly. That said, congress is what really needs to be addressed. We can keep hitting them with record low approval ratings (something in the teens I think) but everyone seems to think that the problem is with someone else's congressman because we keep sending the incumbents right back (though districting helps with that as you wrote about earlier...as an aside you may like Tom Coburn's book "Breach of Trust"). So until the people really start throwing these people out, nothing will change.

EDIT: Oh I skipped one...lobbying. I'm tired so it'll be brief. I don't really have a problem with lobbying or interest groups. It's hard for me to swallow that people (and groups are merely collections of them) shouldn't be allowed to spend their hard earned money on convincing a congressman that something is a good idea. To me it's an all or nothing thing, either allow it completely (as it is now) or don't allow it at all.

That said, I once listened to a Ralph Nader speech about all the problems with lobbying and money being thrown at politicians as he outlined some rather appalling examples. I was incredibly excited to hear that information put out there right up until he proposed some legislation to stop it. In my opinion he would have only made it worse (sadly I forget the specifics of his proposal at this point). You have such massive amounts of money concentrated in washington because you have massive amounts of power there due to an unbelievably huge federal government. If you scale that down to what it ought to be, return the power back to the people and their local governments, and the problem mostly takes care of itself. Ok, now I'm done.

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Re: Losing Free Speech?

Postby Brekkie » Tue Mar 20, 2012 6:13 pm

Spending is most certainly the biggest part of the issue. I actually think that looking at the issue from the perspective of 'we are taxing too much" or "we aren't taxing enough" is coming at it from the wrong direction entirely.

In my mind, Congress and the people as a whole are supposed to sit down and say "What are the things we want government to provide?" and make a list. Some people will think that Government should provide more, some less, but I think a broad consensus could be reached regarding many things based on the rationale that the Private Sector would either not provide them at all, or provide them inefficiently, and that they are important enough and mutually beneficial enough to warrant taxation.
Examples would include:
-Defense
-Advance in science which will drive the economy of the future, but which has no profitable application today
-Networks of social infrastructure and transportation
-Oversight and management of natural resources to prevent Tragedy of the Commons
-Organizations of readiness, prepared to combat natural disasters or health concerns
-Regulatory agencies for the insurance of public safety such as the FDA (because looking up every single product on the BBB is inefficient)

etc.

So, in my mind, you make that list, hammer out what is and isn't important, and then you have a price tag. And that's it. That is what spending the Government should have. All that remains is to tax to an amount that roughly equals that cost in an equitable way, in the manner which has the least negative impact on the consumer economy as possible (which statistically implies a heavier burden on the highest tax brackets, and a lesser or non-existent one on those who subsist at the poverty level).

So it really isn't about tax levels at all. Taxation is a necessary evil for which you trade in exchange for the things you have decided, as a society, are important for your society (AND economy) to function. Sure, less taxes would be better, but we have bills to pay. You can pretend we don't and just borrow money to pay the bills to support unsustainable low tax rates (like the bush administration), and that works, for a time, but it just foists the problem off on another administration and another generation.

I've been reading these articles about how a Republican strategy to combat spending arose around the 1990s called "Starve the Beast", the principle being that instead of simply debating the merits of expenditures and voting for or against them, they would essentially mortgage the country's economy by creating these unsustainable deficits by lowering revenue and refusing to compromise on bringing it back. The goal being to force massive spending cuts through duress under looming threat of national bankruptcy. Which is exactly what we saw over the past few years.

I hate these kind of total-war tricks and strategies (and the dems certainly have their own), because they go totally against the spirit and intent of what Congress is supposed to be doing. You see Vote-Trading galore and relatively straightforward bills inflated by pages and pages of what are essentially the bribes required to buy support in exchange for pork for each Congressman's district. If we have a bill regarding whether to buy a new fighter jet for the Air Force, that should be the entirety of the bill. You ask whether or not that jet is worth buying, based on intelligent debate regarding national defense and advised by the recommendations of the Air Force generals, taking the price tag into account. At no point should there be all kinds of other bullshit thrown into the same bill about completely unrelated matters. If you feel a new Federal office building should be opened up in your district in Denver, create a bill proposing that, and debate it on it's own merits.

I guess what I'm saying is I don't believe the saying how "One man's pork is another man's job." Bullshit. Pork is extremely easy to identify. It's extraneous, unrelated crap slid into a bill to bribe a congressman to vote for it. Plain and simple. If the matter is so worthwhile and above-board, it will pass on its own merit, in its own bill.

I think that is a huge part of what is wrong with congress, and why spending gets so out of hand. 90% of the bullshit they pass never even sees the light of debate.
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EDIT: And one more thing that really riles me up. Congress barely works. Congress is in session generally around 130 days per year. That's less than 36% of the time. Screw that! Make them sit there until they can compromise. In 1268-1271, when the Cardinals refused to elect a new Pope the people walled them inside the building, stopped feeding them, and removed the roof to expose them to the elements until they made a decision.
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Re: Losing Free Speech?

Postby Fridmarr » Tue Mar 20, 2012 8:37 pm

I agree with most of that, I was referencing the spending to illustrate a point. You literally can not tax your way to a balanced budget with current spending habits. That said spending can be adjusted significantly to address the debt, increasing taxes starts producing a negative ROI. You can't easily tax your way to more revenue over the long term.

If people were to somehow make such a list, one thing that is vital is a determination at what level in government they belong. There are tons of things that the federal government does that are fine as a function of government, but are by far better handled at more local levels. The federal government is both the most powerful government and the least accountable, a bad combination. That said, your list would produce a level spending that's tiny compared to what we currently have.

Starve the beast is a bit exaggerated then there's the feed the beast crowd which is equally dumb but that too is mostly exaggerated. At the end of the day, nearly every politician concedes to "feed the beast restaurant food". Eventually the China's going to want that restaurant tab paid.

The problem with congress is that people learned they could use congressman to vote themselves money. Congressman quickly learned that doing so was a great way to win elections/re-elections. Congress won't change until the will of the people does.
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Re: Losing Free Speech?

Postby Arnock » Tue Mar 20, 2012 9:11 pm

Fridmarr wrote: Congress won't change until the will of the people does.



Well, the people certainly aren't too happy with congress at the moment, isn't their approval rating something like... 18-20%?

The problem is, people don't seem to think that their own congressmen/senators are the problem, so the incumbents just keep getting reelected over and over. For example, my district's representative used to be a Judge, until he was impeached in 1989 for accepting a $150,000 bribe. Yet, somehow, he's managed to hold onto his seat in congress since being elected in 1993.
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Re: Losing Free Speech?

Postby Fridmarr » Tue Mar 20, 2012 9:59 pm

Arnock wrote:
Fridmarr wrote: Congress won't change until the will of the people does.



Well, the people certainly aren't too happy with congress at the moment, isn't their approval rating something like... 18-20%?

The problem is, people don't seem to think that their own congressmen/senators are the problem, so the incumbents just keep getting reelected over and over. For example, my district's representative used to be a Judge, until he was impeached in 1989 for accepting a $150,000 bribe. Yet, somehow, he's managed to hold onto his seat in congress since being elected in 1993.

Yup, from my rant post...

That said, congress is what really needs to be addressed. We can keep hitting them with record low approval ratings (something in the teens I think) but everyone seems to think that the problem is with someone else's congressman because we keep sending the incumbents right back (though districting helps with that as you wrote about earlier...as an aside you may like Tom Coburn's book "Breach of Trust"). So until the people really start throwing these people out, nothing will change.
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Re: Losing Free Speech?

Postby Brekkie » Wed Mar 21, 2012 6:07 am

Well, I think the reason that keeps happening is because the system protects the status quo because of it's vested interest. So, for the most part, even when an incumbent Congressman loses, they are just replaced with more of the same by an effectively identical sell-out supported by big party interests.

It is rather enlightening that, despite over 36% of Americans considering themselves to be Independents, there are zero real Independents in Congress.
Candidates are so utterly dependent on corrupt funding sources, not to mention protecting their opportunity to retire into multi-million dollar lobbying jobs afterward, that nothing will ever change.

The Supreme Court treats campaign donation as a free speech issue, but I believe that goes against every democratic ideal we possess. Why should the voice of a rich man be worth more than that of a poor man? Why should people be allowed to have a larger voice due to their corporation being treated as a person with the same democratic voice as a real person? The corruption inherent in that world-view boggles my mind.

But candidates are dependent on the party institutions. Campaign financing needs major reform. I don't know exactly what the answer is. Maybe a non-partisan fund which provides a grant of campaign money to any candidate that raises a certain amount of support on their own.
Theckhd wrote:big numbers are the in-game way of expressing that Brekkie's penis is huge.
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