Politics (formerly Election 2012)

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Re: Politics (formerly Election 2012)

Postby Fetzie » Thu Aug 29, 2013 3:36 pm

Klaudandus wrote:In other political news.

The Law of Unintended Consequences in effect.
http://www.npr.org/2013/08/24/214997385 ... rs-offices
These days, the Federal Public Defender's Office in Tucson, Ariz., has lots of space. Since the federal budget cuts known as sequestration began, the office has lost a quarter of its staff to layoffs or furloughs.

Under the Constitution, clients still need legal representation, so judges have to appoint private attorneys to replace the public defenders.

The sequester was supposed to save money. But in this case, the sequester is costing federal dollars.

In Arizona, using private attorneys costs the government about 25 percent more than using public defenders — that's about $6 million a year. In other places around the country, the difference can be even greater.


Presumably this is the effect of cutting costs in the wrong places to meet the sequester rules in order to preserve spending in others. Cutting funding in places the public can see it happening and not in those that the public cannot.


In other news the UK will not be joining any military action against Syria, regardless of the outcome of UN reports. The motion was defeated with a 13 vote majority (285 to 272).
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Re: Politics (formerly Election 2012)

Postby Klaudandus » Thu Aug 29, 2013 3:46 pm

I've criticized the US budget... how for the cost of a single F-22, we could fund my school district for several years and things like that.

I'd like them to cut spending on military equipment and move it to vet services.

It would also be nice if they would cut the salary of congresscritters -- and take their health benefits.
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Re: Politics (formerly Election 2012)

Postby Fetzie » Thu Aug 29, 2013 3:53 pm

How many billions of dollars has the USAF wasted on the joint strike fighter (that will be ready for the scrap heap before the first one rolls off the production line)? That is the kind of project that needs to be hit by the sequester, not school funding or public defenders.
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Re: Politics (formerly Election 2012)

Postby Klaudandus » Thu Aug 29, 2013 5:50 pm

Fetzie wrote:How many billions of dollars has the USAF wasted on the joint strike fighter (that will be ready for the scrap heap before the first one rolls off the production line)? That is the kind of project that needs to be hit by the sequester, not school funding or public defenders.


Completely agreed. Specially since the pentagon had to lower the bar so the plane would meet their requirements.
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Re: Politics (formerly Election 2012)

Postby Nooska » Fri Aug 30, 2013 12:22 am

Klaudandus wrote:It would also be nice if they would cut the salary of congresscritters -- and take their health benefits.

While not having looked up how much a member of congress is awarded in salary, I doubt that is a viable solution.
Remember, the countries with the lowest corruption are the ones paying a jhigh enough salary to parliamentarians, judges, policeofficers etc.
The pay has to be high enough that a bribe generally isn't worth the risk (the other half is having a penalty for taking a bribe that is big enough).

And the way I understand the political system in the US, bribery is pretty much legal through fundraising, soft money, PAC's and general 'benefits' - I don't think te salary needs to be lowered, unless you want more crooked politicians.
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Re: Politics (formerly Election 2012)

Postby Klaudandus » Fri Aug 30, 2013 4:06 am

Nooska wrote:
Klaudandus wrote:It would also be nice if they would cut the salary of congresscritters -- and take their health benefits.

While not having looked up how much a member of congress is awarded in salary, I doubt that is a viable solution.
Remember, the countries with the lowest corruption are the ones paying a jhigh enough salary to parliamentarians, judges, policeofficers etc.
The pay has to be high enough that a bribe generally isn't worth the risk (the other half is having a penalty for taking a bribe that is big enough).

And the way I understand the political system in the US, bribery is pretty much legal through fundraising, soft money, PAC's and general 'benefits' - I don't think te salary needs to be lowered, unless you want more crooked politicians.


Perhaps, but that hasnt stopped congress to get money from lobbyists for their campaigns and proclaim that their 150K a year is not enough salary for them, quickly forgetting that the avg household income is barely a tick over 50K, and that 1.5 million households live in extreme poverty, where they subsist on less than 2 dollars a day.
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Re: Politics (formerly Election 2012)

Postby aureon » Fri Aug 30, 2013 8:28 pm

Klaudandus wrote:
Nooska wrote:
Klaudandus wrote:It would also be nice if they would cut the salary of congresscritters -- and take their health benefits.

While not having looked up how much a member of congress is awarded in salary, I doubt that is a viable solution.
Remember, the countries with the lowest corruption are the ones paying a jhigh enough salary to parliamentarians, judges, policeofficers etc.
The pay has to be high enough that a bribe generally isn't worth the risk (the other half is having a penalty for taking a bribe that is big enough).

And the way I understand the political system in the US, bribery is pretty much legal through fundraising, soft money, PAC's and general 'benefits' - I don't think te salary needs to be lowered, unless you want more crooked politicians.


Perhaps, but that hasnt stopped congress to get money from lobbyists for their campaigns and proclaim that their 150K a year is not enough salary for them, quickly forgetting that the avg household income is barely a tick over 50K, and that 1.5 million households live in extreme poverty, where they subsist on less than 2 dollars a day.


Cutting back on 2000 people's 150/yr won't save 1.5 million households, though.

Reducing politician pay is good for morale, and nothing else - the numbers are way too small to matter.
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Re: Politics (formerly Election 2012)

Postby Klaudandus » Fri Aug 30, 2013 8:40 pm

Maybe so, but still.

I mean, there should be no reason to be a career politician? There's been some senators that have been in congress for longer than I've been alive.

I don't expect those to be in touch with what their constituents actually want or need.

Seriously, there is no need for NY/DC to have suffered through 42+ years of Charlie Rangel, if you know what I mean.
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Re: Politics (formerly Election 2012)

Postby Snake-Aes » Sat Aug 31, 2013 5:17 am

Nooska wrote:
Klaudandus wrote:It would also be nice if they would cut the salary of congresscritters -- and take their health benefits.

While not having looked up how much a member of congress is awarded in salary, I doubt that is a viable solution.
Remember, the countries with the lowest corruption are the ones paying a jhigh enough salary to parliamentarians, judges, policeofficers etc.
The pay has to be high enough that a bribe generally isn't worth the risk (the other half is having a penalty for taking a bribe that is big enough).

And the way I understand the political system in the US, bribery is pretty much legal through fundraising, soft money, PAC's and general 'benefits' - I don't think te salary needs to be lowered, unless you want more crooked politicians.
That's just half the problem. See Brazil, for example. Their pay is pretty damn high, and it's one of the most corrupt ones.
They can get away with crazy stuff easily, like raising their own paychecks.
Their bribes generally are on the 8 figures, and they steal money through overbudgets and facade companies all the time.
They don't fear going to jail, because by and large they don't. When a scandal big enough to drop their mandates pops up they just resign and come back a couple years later, because here if they resign they can't be punished.


So, yeah. High paychecks is fine, but they have to show SOME interest in actually doing some good, fear the consequences of anything they do wrong, and feel a gun on their heads 24/7.
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Only this week the congress finally voted to revoke his right to working in a public station. Yes, his mandate was still active. They didn't revoke his mandate.
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Re: Politics (formerly Election 2012)

Postby Nooska » Sun Sep 01, 2013 2:49 am

Snake-Aes wrote:
Nooska wrote:
Klaudandus wrote:It would also be nice if they would cut the salary of congresscritters -- and take their health benefits.

While not having looked up how much a member of congress is awarded in salary, I doubt that is a viable solution.
Remember, the countries with the lowest corruption are the ones paying a jhigh enough salary to parliamentarians, judges, policeofficers etc.
The pay has to be high enough that a bribe generally isn't worth the risk (the other half is having a penalty for taking a bribe that is big enough).

And the way I understand the political system in the US, bribery is pretty much legal through fundraising, soft money, PAC's and general 'benefits' - I don't think te salary needs to be lowered, unless you want more crooked politicians.
That's just half the problem. See Brazil, for example. Their pay is pretty damn high, and it's one of the most corrupt ones.
They can get away with crazy stuff easily, like raising their own paychecks.
Their bribes generally are on the 8 figures, and they steal money through overbudgets and facade companies all the time.
They don't fear going to jail, because by and large they don't. When a scandal big enough to drop their mandates pops up they just resign and come back a couple years later, because here if they resign they can't be punished.


The highlighted portion is the problem here; as I said, it has to be 2-fold.
1) High enough salary that you don't need to take bribes
2) punishment severe enough that taking the bribe isn't worth it (because you would, amongst other things, lose that salary thats enough that you didn't need to take the bribe anyway)

As for politicians raising their own saleries - well, yeah, thats pretty much the only way salaries of politicians can be managed (on a national / parliamentary level) in a democratic system - I meean noone is above or equal to the politicians on that level, so who would decide their salary otherwise?


Also (generally, stopped reponding here), please don't underestimate the amount of work being a politician is (in most countries). They geenrally have hours that are far longer than median / average work hours - and anyone working similar hours gets a lot higher pay generally.
Add to that that a lot of politicians are (were) from professions that have a higher than median income to begin with, and it reallly isn't the money keeping them in the seats.

In the US, the electoral system is a part of the "problem" of career politicians, because while true, the quote from West Wing ("And when it comes down to it there ARE term limits - they are called elections") isn't really accurate, as its not the elections that decide who gets to be the representative in many cases, but the ability of the opposition to mount a proper challenge candidate and/or the distribution of selfidentifying voters of one party or another (it would take a pretty big thing to make a candidate from party X lose in a predominantly X party district).
That is also to say that general ignorance of politics (or uniterestedness in same) is a problem (not just the US, but the western world generally).
What is simialr between parties is often so much more than what seperates them - ad I think I've said before; out of the current 8 parties in the danish parliament, only 1 wants to dismantle the welfare state - the rest just disagree on how big it should be, or where it should focus the most amount of effort (and who should benefit).
The smae indication is true in most other western countries (not specifically the welfare satate) - we have ad our "freedom" or "democracy" (or whichever word you want to use as a label) long enough that what we discuss politically, generally isn't fundamental, principled or even impactful - compared to us actually having a say in what goes on at all.

When was the last time you saw demonstrations in favor of a politician that either lost or was deposed/forced to resign (deposing is quite rare, after all) (in the western world) rather than accept it and move on with our own lives?
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Re: Politics (formerly Election 2012)

Postby Snake-Aes » Sun Sep 01, 2013 6:17 am

Not the case here. They work 3 days per week, and around a hundred of the congressmen(of 230) don't go on any given day, working 6 hours a day. Any work they are called to outside the standard journey is worth an extra day's pay, around 2 grand.
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Re: Politics (formerly Election 2012)

Postby Klaudandus » Sun Sep 01, 2013 6:21 am

Going back to the Charlie Rangel example. The guy is corrupt as hell. He had an ethics trial going against him and was found guilty of 11 of the 12 charges. He made himself rich through congress.

He's not the only one. We got bunch of congressmen that got rich by ways of insider trading, since there is a congressional exemption from insider trading laws, with access to tons information not available to the public.

The base salary they receive as a member of congress is a pitiance. Even if they screw up, are tried and found guilty of ethics charges, you still remain in congress.
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Re: Politics (formerly Election 2012)

Postby fuzzygeek » Sun Sep 01, 2013 3:44 pm

Accepting bribes should be a capital offense. (haha i make small pun)
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Re: Politics (formerly Election 2012)

Postby Klaudandus » Sun Sep 01, 2013 4:45 pm

fuzzygeek wrote:Accepting bribes should be a capital offense. (haha i make small pun)


It might be in china. I know some crimes that here would only amount to a fine and a lawsuit are actually punishable with death over there -- like that CEO for that company that sold tainted milk that ended up killing bunch if kids, I believe he got shot.
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Re: Politics (formerly Election 2012)

Postby Paxen » Mon Sep 02, 2013 12:03 am

Klaudandus wrote:It might be in china. I know some crimes that here would only amount to a fine and a lawsuit are actually punishable with death over there -- like that CEO for that company that sold tainted milk that ended up killing bunch if kids, I believe he got shot.


Not sure if that's a good example of taking bribes and getting fined. Being opposed to the death penalty I can't agree with the chinese punishment (barely), but do you really think he'd only get fined elsewhere? Or is that just Brazil?
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Re: Politics (formerly Election 2012)

Postby Nooska » Mon Sep 02, 2013 1:25 am

Snake-Aes wrote:Not the case here. They work 3 days per week, and around a hundred of the congressmen(of 230) don't go on any given day, working 6 hours a day. Any work they are called to outside the standard journey is worth an extra day's pay, around 2 grand.

That part was a generally speaking (as noted in the reply) - The work politicians en general do is usually said to be a lot less than they actually do, just because most of it is meetings and preparation for meetings.

There are genuinely news poutets here that think that our parliamentarians only work when in the chamber, and that that is the indicative measure of whether they are working or not.
Yes, being in the chamber can be important, but with 8 political parties (and more or less always 2 blocs - yay and nay, who is what depending on the issue) there are clearing agreements so nothing gets passed (or defeated) because someone has other meetings they need to attend to.
In parliamentary systems its actually not the voting that gives the results, in most parlimanetary systems the voting is a formality, the stances are known beforehand, and the result is given - everything has been cleared up far in advance through meetings and compromises.
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Re: Politics (formerly Election 2012)

Postby fuzzygeek » Thu Sep 05, 2013 1:34 pm

Remarkably even keeled article on Syria, which makes me wonder if I've missed something or if it panders to my own biases. Can anyone find anything objectionable about this?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wor ... ed-to-ask/

Granted it's a fairly simplistic overview, but is anything actively incorrect?
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Re: Politics (formerly Election 2012)

Postby Fivelives » Fri Sep 06, 2013 6:24 am

Question:

Wouldn't it be more feasible for the US to try and convince NATO to send in peacekeeping forces, set up a DMZ and split Syria up along currently controlled regions rather than opt for nearly unilateral "limited" military action?

Right now, the way I see it we're damned if we do and damned if we don't, regarding military action. I personally wouldn't put it past the rebels to have gassed themselves to frame Assad just to get outside intervention and global public opinion further on their side. Beyond that, if we support Assad, we're going against everything we stand for (yay Democracy! Yay 'MURKA!) - but there again, if we openly support the rebels then we're also going against everything we've been standing for for the last decade and some change. After all, you can't turn around and fight one group of jihadist terrorists while supporting another group of jihadist terrorists, at least not without being shown up for blatant and unapologetic hypocrisy. However, if we don't do anything now that chemical weapons have been used - and at this juncture it's moot as to who used what on whom, the important thing is that they have been used, period - then that sets a dangerous precedent for other countries to follow suit. Think Israel vs Palestine, Iran vs Iraq, or N Korea vs S Korea. I can see any or all of those quickly following suit once Syria gets a pass on their use of them.

I've been really busy with work lately, so I haven't been really keeping up on things as closely as I'd like to; so could someone with a bit more knowledge of the situation explain why we aren't pushing for a joint NATO peacekeeping action instead of military strikes? Because it really does seem to me to be the best, or at a minimum, the very least worst of the possible options (limited military strikes against terrorists or dictatorship regime, unilateral invasion force supporting either terrorists or dictatorship). If we go the peacekeeping route, we would at least be able to disarm the country of WMDs like sarin gas.
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Re: Politics (formerly Election 2012)

Postby Nooska » Sat Sep 07, 2013 2:08 am

NATO is out - too many NATO countries don't want to intervene.
Britain voted no, Denmark (who was one of the first allies in iraq and afghanistan) are talking about political support only and I doubt the populace would look favourably on actual military intervention without the UN.
Basically, in Europe the UN means a whole lot more than in the US - probably for historical reasons.

As for supporting the rebels, I agree that it would be contrary to whats been done for ages, but the rebels aren't "jihadist terorrists" - well the terrorirst part is a matter of debate of course, as a rebel, more or less by definition, could be said to be a terrorist - but parts of the rebellion is jihadist, not the rebellion itself.

I'd also say there is a distinct diffference in regards to how far the risk goes in regards to not intervening, this is a civils war / rebellion - unlike the other examples where it would be one country attacking another - you would have a clear aggressor that would be acting in violation of the UN treaty, which would grant automatic rights to intervene - especially if an alliance already exists.

If Assad attacked Turkey, no UN mandate would be required to intervene on the part of NATO, as that would be an attack upon a memeber of the alliance, and the musketeer oath would take effect.

All that being said, I do not have a lot of insight into the specific conflict in Syria, but based on what you wrote I wanted to contribute what lnowledge I have.
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Re: Politics (formerly Election 2012)

Postby Levantine » Sat Sep 07, 2013 3:26 am

Well Australia just chose the greater of two evils to be their next representative party. Great.

I just get frustrated when people I have to associate with don't understand the concept of macro economics being not at all the same as managing a household budget.

Also I legitimately half expect Australia to turn into the next Russia when it comes to social liberty.
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Re: Politics (formerly Election 2012)

Postby Paxen » Sat Sep 07, 2013 5:00 am

Levantine wrote:I just get frustrated when people I have to associate with don't understand the concept of macro economics being not at all the same as managing a household budget.


That's a pet peeve of mine as well. Although "pet peeve" might not be the right word for something that's dragging economies down all over the world.
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Re: Politics (formerly Election 2012)

Postby Nooska » Sat Sep 07, 2013 5:49 am

Household budget analogy works, some of the way, but faisl becaus ethe premise on the macroeconomical level is that the numbers mean nothing, as govt prints its own money / decides what theirown paycheck (from the analogy)is through taxes.

Also, its more like the household budget with monthly payments that are equal, and equalized over the years expenses (Keynes)
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Re: Politics (formerly Election 2012)

Postby Paxen » Sat Sep 07, 2013 11:49 am

Nooska wrote:Household budget analogy works, some of the way, but faisl becaus ethe premise on the macroeconomical level is that the numbers mean nothing, as govt prints its own money / decides what theirown paycheck (from the analogy)is through taxes.

Also, its more like the household budget with monthly payments that are equal, and equalized over the years expenses (Keynes)


Also, spending your household money does not make your income rise, which can often happen in macroeconomics.

More specifically, you can't spend your way out of a bad period, while a government can do exactly that.
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Re: Politics (formerly Election 2012)

Postby theckhd » Sun Sep 08, 2013 10:33 am

Klaudandus wrote:It would also be nice if they would cut the salary of congresscritters -- and take their health benefits.


In addition to the other problems that have been raised with this idea, if you don't pay Politicians well enough, you essentially limit those positions to the independently wealthy.

I don't have statistics for this, but I'm fairly certain we already have this problem in America. It's extremely expensive to get elected, even with the assistance of a political party. Most regular people simply can't afford to take the time off of work to campaign, let alone have the resources to fund that campaign. So by and large, the people running for any state-wide office tend to be wealthy. And it only gets worse the higher up the political food chain you go.

Whether that's a good or a bad thing is up for debate. I'm sure there's a correlation between intelligence and income (in both directions - higher income often means more/better schooling, and better schooling often leads to higher-paying jobs). And this probably isn't a recent thing, as your average poor farmer or factory worker probably didn't run for office in the 1800s. On the other hand, the independently wealthy don't have to worry about starving if they do a poor job and don't get re-elected. I'm not sure whether one or the other is more susceptible to bribes.
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Re: Politics (formerly Election 2012)

Postby Klaudandus » Sun Sep 08, 2013 10:39 am

Ok, fine. But I still don't see why congresscritters should last more than two terms in any position.
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