1127: "Congress"

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Pfhorrest
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Re: 1127: "Congress"

Postby Pfhorrest » Tue Oct 30, 2012 10:15 am UTC

ijuin wrote:
Pfhorrest wrote:- The third party system pitted abolitionist, and still industrialist and business-focused, Republicans, against the Democrats, with overwhelming Republican dominance for decades to come.

One Democrat got elected president, the Panic of 1893 happened, and Republicans apparently got... even more popular? This is the change over I'm not clear on. What exactly changed here? Was this just a "yeah Democrats still suck, one got in the White House and look what happened to the economy" moment, really cementing Republicans into power?


The "abolitionist" part is a major reason for Republican dominance from the end of the American Civil War until post-WWI. Essentially, the Democrats continued to promote the interests of the same groups of people that they had before slavery was abolished (i.e. they promoted the interests of former-slaveholder types while waving the racism flag via "Jim Crow" legislation meant to keep freed slaves and their descendants from gaining political influence. Basically the Democrats were seen as promoting racism while the Republicans were seen as promoting racial integration.).

However, this started to turn on its head beginning with the New Deal, where Democrats started to be seen as being more pro-Labour-rights than Republicans (especially with backlash against the Herbert Hoover administration). A generation later, when Democrats came out in support for civil rights for minorities, the hardline racists switched over to the Republican party in disgust, which led to the modern party alignments.

Yeah, but where I'm confused is that there was apparently a transition from one party system to another, on paper at least, between the one that put the Republicans in power (the Civil War) and the one that supplanted them with the Democrats (the New Deal). The changes at those two transitions are very clear, and you've recapped them above. But the one in between them... doesn't seem to have changed anything. The Civil War ended the Second Party System and ushered in the Third. The New Deal ended the Fourth and ushered in the Fifth. But... what happened at the transition from the Third to the Fourth? There was a brief financial crisis and one term with a Democrat in the White House, but before and after that both there were apparently the exact same Democrat and Republican parties and the latter was on top with that one brief exception. If the Party Systems changed at that point, shouldn't there be something different before and after?

- 1. After Washington's administration we got Democratic-Republicans vs Federalists
- 2. Then the Federalists collapsed and we got Jacksonian Democrats vs Whigs
- 3. Then the Civil War happened and we got Jacksonian Democrats vs Lincoln Republicans
- 4. Then Panic of 1893 happened and we got... Jacksonian Democrats vs Lincoln Republicans still?
- 5(i). Then the New Deal happened and we got FDR Democrats vs Lincoln Republicans
- 5(ii) Then the Vietnam War happened and we got modern Democrats vs modern Republicans

It's that fourth stage I don't get. Why isn't that just part of the third?
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Re: 1127: "Congress"

Postby srwight » Tue Oct 30, 2012 10:56 am UTC

I wonder if Randall turned in big diagrams and illustrations with his History papers. Wouldn't it be cool as a 10th grade history teacher to get this on a poster along with the 5pg research paper you'd assigned?

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Re: 1127: "Congress"

Postby Graham Finch » Tue Oct 30, 2012 11:05 am UTC

Um...
Joke?

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Re: 1127: "Congress"

Postby tussock » Tue Oct 30, 2012 12:41 pm UTC

@Fourth party system.

-4: Then the Panic of 1893 happend and y'all got Jacksonian Democrats vs Progressivist Republicans.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progressiv ... ted_States

It's the change from classic party politics to the direct popular vote. System 3 has politicians taxing folk and spending the money on anyone who'll give a chunk of it back to the party. If a Republican gets elected, only registered Republicans can get government jobs, and they have to give kickbacks.

System 4 is where the massive growth of private capital leading up to the 93 crash, the rail, coal, ports, etc ... are bought in by the Republicans to replace civil servants as their primary funding source. They outlaw civil servants giving money to parties, which collapses Democratic party finances, and ensures they hold power by indirectly giving ever more tax money to private companies. At least through to the great depression, where New Deal takes over, and Democrats just go strait for the popular vote using the new science of Socialist Propaganda.

Edit: Just in case it's too subtle, I mean Socialist like Hitler, not Socialist like Sweden. :D

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Re: 1127: "Congress"

Postby JamesStreet » Tue Oct 30, 2012 1:39 pm UTC

mpjones wrote:So no, "hard money" isn't the economic panaceia that the Ronpaul thinks it is. :) A well-managed fiat currency is far more stable (not to mention easier to fine-tune) than a metal-based one. Now, whether QE3 represents good monetary policy is another question...


You aptly describe why a centrally-planned monetary system is a bad idea (i.e. bi-metalism), and then suggest more centrally-planned money, this time paper, which has never lasted, and which has led us to the brink of a complete economic meltdown. Your post beautifully illustrates the disconnect in modern economics: even when the economists make the correct observations, which is rare enough, they almost inevitably make the wrong deductions, leading to more inflation, more spending, and moves us closer to the impending collapse.

It would be funny if it didn't threaten our very way of life.

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Re: 1127: "Congress"

Postby jpers36 » Tue Oct 30, 2012 2:15 pm UTC

Tatarize wrote:The Free Soil party and the Republican Party were liberal when they were formed. Putting them on the right is wrong. They were liberal parties. You need to put them on the left leaning side and switch them over, especially in 1964. To say that during the civil war all the left-leaning democrats were out and not seated, is wrong. They were not left leaning. The south was then as it is now, conservative and right wing.

That oversight is so vast it kind of ruins the comic.


Can you defend this notion statistically, or is it just what you were taught? Because Randall's graph is based on statistics, not on his preconceived notions. There's a continuous voting connection between the Republicans of the 1860s and the Republicans of today.

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Re: 1127: "Congress"

Postby jay35 » Tue Oct 30, 2012 2:45 pm UTC

JamesStreet wrote:
jay35 wrote:My thought coming into this was that Republicans were the bloodthirsty types who started wars, just like most of us here probably assumed. The comic, assuming it's accurate, surprised me and crushed a stereotype I'd long accepted as truth. I would think I'm not alone in being surprised by that fact.


This reminds me of the ecard floating around Facebook that says half of my friends think Obama sucks, and the other half think Romney sucks; I just want them to agree.

Regardless of rhetoric, spending always goes up, whether on military or welfare. The lone exception was under Clinton, who was accidentally fiscally sane in his second term. That's probably his biggest regret, right before not boinking more interns.

And the Republicans argue that it was a Republican-led Congress that enabled it to happen. Again, both sides want to claim the wins and assign the losses to the other team.

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Re: 1127: "Congress"

Postby J Thomas » Tue Oct 30, 2012 3:17 pm UTC

ijuin wrote:
J Thomas wrote:The USA got out of Vietnam too soon and all our diplomatic problems since come from that. If we had stayed another 10 years and inflicted at least 30 million more casualties on North Vietnam, nobody would have thought of it as a vietnamese victory.

A slight nitpick, but 30 million casualties was mathematically impossible, since at no time was North Vietnam's total population ever more than 25 million. Even eradicating their whole country down to the last soul would not have made for 30 million casualties.


Good catch. 3 million a year would be overkill. A more reasonable approach would kill only, say, twice as many as were born each year.

At the time, US strategy took our inflated estimates for NV casualties seriously, and at the height we believed they were losing essentially all their 18-year-old males in a year. We thought they couldn't sustain that. But they could easily sustain the casualties they did take. Their birthrate was in the range 3.6-4%, and didn't go down much until after the war. They were willing to sustain their casualties longer than we were willing to accept our much smaller casualties. If we had killed them faster, they might have given in.

Hardly anybody is willing to lose 10% of their population. But I read that Algeria did, fighting the french, and then they lost another 10% fighting themselves afterward. Let's not invade Algeria, unless we intend to kill more than 20% of them.


So the rule should be, don't get into a war unless you're willing to take casualties. This is so simple and obvious it shouldn't need saying, but the USA doesn't follow it.

Also, US military casualties now tend to be

1. moving supplies
2. sending men into harm's way hoping to avoid enemy civilian casualties
3. friendly fire

We could largely avoid #2 and #3 if we make less effort to engage the enemy. Just blow them up wherever we think they are, and ignore enemy civilian casualties. We've been doing that a lot but we haven't made it official policy for obvious reasons.

However, doesn't it make perfect sense that when we make our soldiers extremely hard to kill and accept lots of enemy civilian casualties, that they will try to strike US civilians too? And it appears our Homeland Security has focused mainly on "fighting the last war" and has not spend much on plugging security holes that have not been used before. So we need to be ready, if an enemy causes a US disaster that kills a million US civilians, we should nuke 2 million of their civilians.

Oops! Update: The rule now should be, don't get into a war unless you are willing to accept US civilian casualties.

And the other rule is, once you get into a war don't give up until the enemy has been hurt so much they can't pretend it was worth it. That doesn't have to mean lots of enemy civilian casualties, but it probably will.

Oh, and we should withdraw from the Geneva conventions. They are not compatible with our de facto strategies, and they cause us propaganda defeats. Better not to be a party to those.
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Re: 1127: "Congress"

Postby jay35 » Tue Oct 30, 2012 3:19 pm UTC

J Thomas wrote:
JamesStreet wrote:....
You suggest a direct democracy, which is a system in which 51% of the population is able to enforce their will on the other 49%. Interestingly, this sort of system inherently disadvantages minorities, and results in a mob-rule situation. This is abhorrent to any lover of liberty, such as myself.


In any system, there will be disagreements about what's right. Somebody gets to decide. Whoever it is that gets to decide, imposes their will on the people who disagree. I see only two alternatives to that --

[...]

There could be a direct democracy that requires 60% to agree, or 90%.

Okay, so who decides that (should be the form of decision making)? :P

See, that's where every suggestion falls apart... it still requires someone to decide that that is how things should be and then make it so or enforce it. Which is inherently "somebody getting to decide" and thus "impressing their will on the people".

It's possible the religious types are right and there is no way to have a perfect human-led government because of human nature; we were designed to be led by a sovereign (in their way of thinking, God) and a supreme set of rules or laws. Without that, we (eventually, always) have a breakdown or revolution of government. How much human government authority (tyranny) there is may impact the decline into chaos, but eventually they all fall apart. Persia. Greece. Rome. Chinese dynasties. Every empire.
In democratic societies, this breakdown becomes more rapid once people find they can vote themselves access to the piggy bank, so to speak, as JamesStreet can likely explain best (judging by his recent posts). In tyrannical regimes, the breakdown becomes more rapid the harder the enslavement and oppression gets. So it is plausible that a benevolent dictatorship or a highly-restricted democracy would create the most livable environment for the society at large, causing the least oppression and the least mistreatment of minority groups. What we have in the US is essentially a highly-restricted democracy (a republic in some fashion), and perhaps that is why it has lasted as long as it has in an age where technology facilitates rapid change in government that would take decades or centuries to occur in ages past.

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Re: 1127: "Congress"

Postby webgrunt » Tue Oct 30, 2012 3:28 pm UTC

A question and an observation:

Does anyone have a similar graph that shows libertarian vs. authoritarian leanings?

It worries me that centrists are becoming extinct while the more extremist ones are growing.

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Re: 1127: "Congress"

Postby Klear » Tue Oct 30, 2012 3:38 pm UTC

J Thomas wrote:Good catch. 3 million a year would be overkill. A more reasonable approach would kill only, say, twice as many as were born each year.

At the time, US strategy took our inflated estimates for NV casualties seriously, and at the height we believed they were losing essentially all their 18-year-old males in a year. We thought they couldn't sustain that. But they could easily sustain the casualties they did take. Their birthrate was in the range 3.6-4%, and didn't go down much until after the war. They were willing to sustain their casualties longer than we were willing to accept our much smaller casualties. If we had killed them faster, they might have given in.

Hardly anybody is willing to lose 10% of their population. But I read that Algeria did, fighting the french, and then they lost another 10% fighting themselves afterward. Let's not invade Algeria, unless we intend to kill more than 20% of them.


So the rule should be, don't get into a war unless you're willing to take casualties. This is so simple and obvious it shouldn't need saying, but the USA doesn't follow it.

Also, US military casualties now tend to be

1. moving supplies
2. sending men into harm's way hoping to avoid enemy civilian casualties
3. friendly fire

We could largely avoid #2 and #3 if we make less effort to engage the enemy. Just blow them up wherever we think they are, and ignore enemy civilian casualties. We've been doing that a lot but we haven't made it official policy for obvious reasons.

However, doesn't it make perfect sense that when we make our soldiers extremely hard to kill and accept lots of enemy civilian casualties, that they will try to strike US civilians too? And it appears our Homeland Security has focused mainly on "fighting the last war" and has not spend much on plugging security holes that have not been used before. So we need to be ready, if an enemy causes a US disaster that kills a million US civilians, we should nuke 2 million of their civilians.

Oops! Update: The rule now should be, don't get into a war unless you are willing to accept US civilian casualties.

And the other rule is, once you get into a war don't give up until the enemy has been hurt so much they can't pretend it was worth it. That doesn't have to mean lots of enemy civilian casualties, but it probably will.

Oh, and we should withdraw from the Geneva conventions. They are not compatible with our de facto strategies, and they cause us propaganda defeats. Better not to be a party to those.


Am I the only one who thinks this post is horrible beyond words?

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Re: 1127: "Congress"

Postby coldnebo » Tue Oct 30, 2012 3:39 pm UTC

This is awesome. But as I looked at the inflow and outflows along each path I found myself wondering about the phase space of our government over time.

If I may be so bold, a suggestion for another infographic off this data plus similar data for the President and Supreme Court -- if it tracked the balance of power in each branch of government over time, we could more clearly see how the balance of power has changed.

I get this feeling that some interplay between the branches is like a sine/cosine thing, with excesses being counterbalanced, but it's hard to see that pattern without another vis.

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Re: 1127: "Congress"

Postby Red Hal » Tue Oct 30, 2012 3:43 pm UTC

If it were meant as an argument in favour of genocide instead of an argument against war then I would agree with you. However, this is the unpalatable truth of war. Yes, it is horrible, and yes that's the kind of calculation that gets made. Is it a horrible post? Yes, but only because it deals with a horrible subject. I suppose that makes it a good post.
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Re: 1127: "Congress"

Postby jpers36 » Tue Oct 30, 2012 4:15 pm UTC

Klear wrote:Am I the only one who thinks this post is horrible beyond words?


The trick with J Thomas is figuring out when he's being facetious and when he's being straightforward. When you have that solved let me know, because I haven't yet.

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Re: 1127: "Congress"

Postby speising » Tue Oct 30, 2012 4:17 pm UTC

J Thomas wrote:Oh, and we should withdraw from the Geneva conventions. They are not compatible with our de facto strategies, and they cause us propaganda defeats. Better not to be a party to those.


well, those haven't stopped you ever of anything anyway. just do some tricks of semantics and you are ok.

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Re: 1127: "Congress"

Postby Oktalist » Tue Oct 30, 2012 4:23 pm UTC

JamesStreet wrote:My point is that government has failed entirely.

"[Government] ought to be so constituted as to protect the minority of the opulent against the majority." James Madison, 1787

Some might say the US government has proved a roaring success.
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Re: 1127: "Congress"

Postby JamesStreet » Tue Oct 30, 2012 4:27 pm UTC

Oktalist wrote:
JamesStreet wrote:My point is that government has failed entirely.

"[Government] ought to be so constituted as to protect the minority of the opulent against the majority." James Madison, 1787

Some might say the US government has proved a roaring success.


Indeed, the monarchist would feel that way, and yes, government has been a great success for those governing. For everyone else, though, and for its supposed stated purpose, the experiment has failed helplessly.

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Re: 1127: "Congress"

Postby JamesStreet » Tue Oct 30, 2012 4:29 pm UTC

speising wrote:
J Thomas wrote:Oh, and we should withdraw from the Geneva conventions. They are not compatible with our de facto strategies, and they cause us propaganda defeats. Better not to be a party to those.


well, those haven't stopped you ever of anything anyway. just do some tricks of semantics and you are ok.


The US government doesn't even pay attention to its own Constitution anymore, so why even bother withdrawing from the Geneva Convention? Just ignore it like every other law.

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Re: 1127: "Congress"

Postby drazen » Tue Oct 30, 2012 4:37 pm UTC

Today's Democrats are centrist


False. Any party supporting "social welfare" transfer payments and constant government expansion and intervention is far left. Period.

For comparison, any party supporting "corporate welfare" transfer payments would be "far right."

As a small-l libertarian, I obviously oppose both of these arrangements, although I object more strongly to the former, as it has more immediate, negative, and lasting impact on the things that I actually care about. The latter is almost as ugly, but it's much easier to undo the damage.

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Re: 1127: "Congress"

Postby jpers36 » Tue Oct 30, 2012 4:47 pm UTC

drazen wrote:
Today's Democrats are centrist

For comparison, any party supporting "corporate welfare" transfer payments would be "far right."


Like, say, bank bailouts? Or auto bailouts?

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Re: 1127: "Congress"

Postby J Thomas » Tue Oct 30, 2012 4:55 pm UTC

jay35 wrote:
J Thomas wrote:
JamesStreet wrote:....
You suggest a direct democracy, which is a system in which 51% of the population is able to enforce their will on the other 49%. Interestingly, this sort of system inherently disadvantages minorities, and results in a mob-rule situation. This is abhorrent to any lover of liberty, such as myself.


In any system, there will be disagreements about what's right. Somebody gets to decide. Whoever it is that gets to decide, imposes their will on the people who disagree. I see only two alternatives to that --

[...]

There could be a direct democracy that requires 60% to agree, or 90%.

Okay, so who decides that (should be the form of decision making)? :P

See, that's where every suggestion falls apart... it still requires someone to decide that that is how things should be and then make it so or enforce it. Which is inherently "somebody getting to decide" and thus "impressing their will on the people".


Of course. That's inevitable. But if 90% agree to let 60% decide, that's only 10% who disagree, and chances are a lot of them would want something kind of similar.

The system works when the vast majority choose to comply, whether they agree or not.

So, for example, essentially all Americans agree to use US dollars even though some of them really really prefer gold. If you see somebody who says "I don't use paper money, I insist on paying everybody in gold" then try to find something you can sell him.

It's possible the religious types are right and there is no way to have a perfect human-led government because of human nature; we were designed to be led by a sovereign (in their way of thinking, God) and a supreme set of rules or laws. Without that, we (eventually, always) have a breakdown or revolution of government. How much human government authority (tyranny) there is may impact the decline into chaos, but eventually they all fall apart. Persia. Greece. Rome. Chinese dynasties. Every empire.


Of course. The systems work as long as enough people are willing to play by their rules that most of the remainder go along too. When people stop playing along, they fail.

In democratic societies, this breakdown becomes more rapid once people find they can vote themselves access to the piggy bank, so to speak, as JamesStreet can likely explain best (judging by his recent posts).


In the USA that happened when? I'd put it in 1791 when Alexander Hamilton got his National Bank that gave him a license to steal. And yet society did not exactly break down. People were willing to put up with that much stealing from them.

In tyrannical regimes, the breakdown becomes more rapid the harder the enslavement and oppression gets. So it is plausible that a benevolent dictatorship or a highly-restricted democracy would create the most livable environment for the society at large, causing the least oppression and the least mistreatment of minority groups.


And it's also plausible that a benevolent democracy would be just as good as the benevolent dictator. The only problem is that it would probably take a whole lot of benevolent voters, while you only need one benevolent person who's ruthless enough to wrest the dictatorship away from whatever tyrant had it before.

My guess is that on average it would come out about the same, but the dictatorships would be more variable. More great ones and more utterly vile ones, while the democracies would tend to be more average.

What we have in the US is essentially a highly-restricted democracy (a republic in some fashion), and perhaps that is why it has lasted as long as it has in an age where technology facilitates rapid change in government that would take decades or centuries to occur in ages past.


It probably helped that for awhile we had states that were locally strong, that might fall into wars among themselves if the central government fell. It helped that the British were ready to pick the states off one by one if they separated. Later it helped that we had one disastrous civil war and had no desire at all for another any time soon. It helped that we were on the "manifest destiny" kick and had the chance to beat up weaker nations. Later it helped that the economy grew so fast that there was plenty to go around. It took until the 1970's for the government to increase military spending and social spending at the same time, enough to take up all the slack in economic growth. And of course the communist menace helped a lot.

Now the communists are gone, and the oil supply is dwindling. Cost of production for fossil fuels goes up. Healthcare costs go up. The population is aging so we have all the costs of lots of unproductive old people. We don't feel as rich as we used to. Simmering race and ethnic issues.

If China was a communist nation that was trying to wreck our economy by dumping cheap products on us and manipulating our currency, we wouldn't put up with it. But since they aren't, we think that free trade is good and government intervention is bad.

Maybe most important, we have a new political ideology, libertarianism, that is unrelentingly hostile to the US government though its adherents enjoy their own interpretation of the Constitution.

It's easy to interpret US history as the guys who already have access to the piggy bank consistently try to keep it away from the guys who don't yet have access. We survived just fine that way for a long time.
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Re: 1127: "Congress"

Postby JamesStreet » Tue Oct 30, 2012 4:56 pm UTC

jpers36 wrote:
drazen wrote:
Today's Democrats are centrist

For comparison, any party supporting "corporate welfare" transfer payments would be "far right."


Like, say, bank bailouts? Or auto bailouts?


In the US, that includes almost ALL politicians, whether they be Republicrats or Demicans. They all vote for more spending, more bailouts, more welfare, more warfare, and more government regulation, regardless of the campaign rhetoric. For instance, everyone is freaking out about Paul Ryan's pro-life rhetoric, but that's all it is: rhetoric. He has repeatedly voted for budgets and CRs that fund both Planned Parenthood and The Affordable Care Act, so the fearmongering is baseless. He's just another loudmouthed, big-spending neoconservative.

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Re: 1127: "Congress"

Postby jpers36 » Tue Oct 30, 2012 5:06 pm UTC

JamesStreet wrote:In the US, that includes almost ALL politicians, whether they be Republicrats or Demicans. They all vote for more spending, more bailouts, more welfare, more warfare, and more government regulation, regardless of the campaign rhetoric. For instance, everyone is freaking out about Paul Ryan's pro-life rhetoric, but that's all it is: rhetoric. He has repeatedly voted for budgets and CRs that fund both Planned Parenthood and The Affordable Care Act, so the fearmongering is baseless. He's just another loudmouthed, big-spending neoconservative.


I disagree, but your tone suggests further conversation would be futile.

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Re: 1127: "Congress"

Postby Oktalist » Tue Oct 30, 2012 5:07 pm UTC

Democrats: tax and spend.

Republicans: spend and spend.
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Re: 1127: "Congress"

Postby webgrunt » Tue Oct 30, 2012 5:20 pm UTC

Oktalist wrote:Democrats: tax and spend.

Republicans: spend and spend.


You forgot "borrow."

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Re: 1127: "Congress"

Postby mpjones » Tue Oct 30, 2012 5:27 pm UTC

JamesStreet wrote:You aptly describe why a centrally-planned monetary system is a bad idea (i.e. bi-metalism), and then suggest more centrally-planned money, this time paper, which has never lasted, and which has led us to the brink of a complete economic meltdown. Your post beautifully illustrates the disconnect in modern economics: even when the economists make the correct observations, which is rare enough, they almost inevitably make the wrong deductions, leading to more inflation, more spending, and moves us closer to the impending collapse.

It would be funny if it didn't threaten our very way of life.


Yes, yes, the dismal science and all that. (Interesting side note, Thomas Carlyle coined the phrase "dismal science" after arguing for the reintroduction of slavery in the West Indies and getting utterly schooled by J.S. Mill as to why that was a terrible idea.)

My point was that metal-backed money can be just as centrally-planned as fiat money. Sure, if the gold standard returned and the government relinquished all control over the money supply there'd be less long-run inflation (and significant short-run inflation/deflation due to fractional-reserve banking and fluctuations in money velocity). But how likely is that to happen? One of the defining functions of a government is control over the money supply, and has been since Hammurabi.

And I really can't stand this bumper-sticker argument that no fiat currency has ever lasted. By the same token, everyone who's ever lived has died, every company has eventually gone bankrupt, and every civilization has fallen. Oh, and every gold-backed currency has gone away, for that matter.

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Re: 1127: "Congress"

Postby Soteria » Tue Oct 30, 2012 5:34 pm UTC

jpers36 wrote:
JamesStreet wrote:In the US, that includes almost ALL politicians, whether they be Republicrats or Demicans. They all vote for more spending, more bailouts, more welfare, more warfare, and more government regulation, regardless of the campaign rhetoric. For instance, everyone is freaking out about Paul Ryan's pro-life rhetoric, but that's all it is: rhetoric. He has repeatedly voted for budgets and CRs that fund both Planned Parenthood and The Affordable Care Act, so the fearmongering is baseless. He's just another loudmouthed, big-spending neoconservative.


I disagree, but your tone suggests further conversation would be futile.


I thought his first post indicated that. Having spent 15 years living in the US (if you count childhood) and 9 years living overseas. I find any claim that "the American system is a complete failure" completely laughable and not worth responding to. After living in Africa and South America, I've found I have a different perspective on what bad government actually looks like.

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Re: 1127: "Congress"

Postby J Thomas » Tue Oct 30, 2012 5:35 pm UTC

Klear wrote:
J Thomas wrote:....

Oh, and we should withdraw from the Geneva conventions. They are not compatible with our de facto strategies, and they cause us propaganda defeats. Better not to be a party to those.


Am I the only one who thinks this post is horrible beyond words?


You and me and Red Hal make three.

But I think this is realistic. Various third world nations want to be taken seriously. The USA may choose to fight them for the right not to take them seriously. Those are our only prospective wars until China. We are tooled up to persuade third world nations that they must obey us. We don't get to decide how much it takes for them to truly surrender. They decide. Unless we are willing to accept defeat, we must do whatever it takes, up to perhaps kill 20% or so of their population. Or else accept that they will not obey us.
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Re: 1127: "Congress"

Postby jay35 » Tue Oct 30, 2012 5:39 pm UTC

webgrunt wrote:
Oktalist wrote:Democrats: tax and spend.

Republicans: spend and spend.


You forgot "borrow."

Or "capture and spend" except the Republicans don't seem to be much for capturing what they attack. :mrgreen:

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Re: 1127: "Congress"

Postby JamesStreet » Tue Oct 30, 2012 5:44 pm UTC

Soteria wrote:
jpers36 wrote:
JamesStreet wrote:In the US, that includes almost ALL politicians, whether they be Republicrats or Demicans. They all vote for more spending, more bailouts, more welfare, more warfare, and more government regulation, regardless of the campaign rhetoric. For instance, everyone is freaking out about Paul Ryan's pro-life rhetoric, but that's all it is: rhetoric. He has repeatedly voted for budgets and CRs that fund both Planned Parenthood and The Affordable Care Act, so the fearmongering is baseless. He's just another loudmouthed, big-spending neoconservative.


I disagree, but your tone suggests further conversation would be futile.


I thought his first post indicated that. Having spent 15 years living in the US (if you count childhood) and 9 years living overseas. I find any claim that "the American system is a complete failure" completely laughable and not worth responding to. After living in Africa and South America, I've found I have a different perspective on what bad government actually looks like.


I'm not sure what was disagreeable about my post; it's based on reality, in that spending goes up, more money is borrowed or printed, more wars get started, welfare spending goes up, and rhetoric flies constantly that almost never matches actual votes. There are anomalies, such as Congressman Justin Amash from Michigan, who is a *Ron *Paul Republican, or *Ron *Paul himself; or perhaps Clinton's fiscal sanity during his second term. Yet the reality is that government gets bigger, spends more, generally taxes more, and our rights and liberties are snatched one by one, with vast bipartisan majorities.

And you suggest that the tyrants in the US are better than tyrants in other countries. They may not steal as much here, or kill as many people as in other places, but does that mean that we should be grateful to our tyrants for being so much kinder than they could be?

Are we any more free because we get to choose our masters in a term of years?

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Re: 1127: "Congress"

Postby jay35 » Tue Oct 30, 2012 5:55 pm UTC

J Thomas wrote:
In tyrannical regimes, the breakdown becomes more rapid the harder the enslavement and oppression gets. So it is plausible that a benevolent dictatorship or a highly-restricted democracy would create the most livable environment for the society at large, causing the least oppression and the least mistreatment of minority groups.


And it's also plausible that a benevolent democracy would be just as good as the benevolent dictator. The only problem is that it would probably take a whole lot of benevolent voters, while you only need one benevolent person who's ruthless enough to wrest the dictatorship away from whatever tyrant had it before.

My guess is that on average it would come out about the same, but the dictatorships would be more variable. More great ones and more utterly vile ones, while the democracies would tend to be more average.

Probably true. The concept of an all-power, all-knowing, all-present being (i.e., God) as benevolent dictator is where things get interesting, because it removes the constraints that cause humans to fail at the task. If such a ruler is all powerful, it isn't so much a matter of ruthlessness as it is simply a matter of exerting or enforcing one's pre-existing supreme will. The all-knowing aspect means such a ruler knows precisely what is best for every one at any time and, being benevolent, is best equipped to rule and make decisions on all matters. Being all present essentially ensures that the right thing is done in all circumstances at all times without exception. And being the omnipotent, omnibenevolent such-and-such naturally means that ruler also makes all the rules and they can be absolutes (true for all people, in all places, at all times), which is something that is not otherwise possible according to the various shades of relativism most espouse today.

All that to say, it's much easier to posit a perfect form of government when you take fallible mortal humans out of the lead role. Every attempt humans have made to assume that role has ended in failure and often tragedy (often by those attempting to achieve the omnipotent aspect).

What we have in the US is essentially a highly-restricted democracy (a republic in some fashion), and perhaps that is why it has lasted as long as it has in an age where technology facilitates rapid change in government that would take decades or centuries to occur in ages past.


It probably helped that for awhile we had states that were locally strong, that might fall into wars among themselves if the central government fell. It helped that the British were ready to pick the states off one by one if they separated. Later it helped that we had one disastrous civil war and had no desire at all for another any time soon. It helped that we were on the "manifest destiny" kick and had the chance to beat up weaker nations. Later it helped that the economy grew so fast that there was plenty to go around. It took until the 1970's for the government to increase military spending and social spending at the same time, enough to take up all the slack in economic growth. And of course the communist menace helped a lot.

Indeed, a lot of convenient circumstances or divine providence, whichever one prefers, has enabled us to last as long as we have.

Now the communists are gone, and the oil supply is dwindling. Cost of production for fossil fuels goes up. Healthcare costs go up. The population is aging so we have all the costs of lots of unproductive old people. We don't feel as rich as we used to. Simmering race and ethnic issues.

Yep. What can really solve those issues at this point, though? The last four years have proven the best intentions amount to nothing because the political system is too deeply ingrained, even for the most promising candidate in history who was most likely to change things.

It's easy to interpret US history as the guys who already have access to the piggy bank consistently try to keep it away from the guys who don't yet have access. We survived just fine that way for a long time.

Have we, or have we simply been in a steady decline ever since? Could be argued either way.

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Re: 1127: "Congress"

Postby JamesStreet » Tue Oct 30, 2012 6:01 pm UTC

jay35 wrote:Probably true. The concept of an all-power, all-knowing, all-present being (i.e., God) as benevolent dictator is where things get interesting, because it removes the constraints that cause humans to fail at the task. If such a ruler is all powerful, it isn't so much a matter of ruthlessness as it is simply a matter of exerting or enforcing one's pre-existing supreme will. The all-knowing aspect means such a ruler knows precisely what is best for every one at any time and, being benevolent, is best equipped to rule and make decisions on all matters. Being all present essentially ensures that the right thing is done in all circumstances at all times without exception. And being the omnipotent, omnibenevolent such-and-such naturally means that ruler also makes all the rules and they can be absolutes (true for all people, in all places, at all times), which is something that is not otherwise possible according to the various shades of relativism most espouse today.


I'm a full-blown Bible-Believing Christian that believes in the imminent return of Jesus Christ, a seven-year Tribulation, and a 1,000-year Millennial reign of Jesus Christ physically on this earth.

That being said, it's very clear that God is not ruling, nor is He going to rule this dirtball for a while. Thus, it is left to mankind to govern himself. Unfortunately, though, there is an assumption among most humans that they, corrupt individuals, are incapable of ruling themselves, and must invariably select another corrupt individual to tell him what to do. Why one man should be more capable of ruling than another, though both are equally corrupt (sinful, from a theological position), is a question that I have yet to find an answer to. Government can be no better than the people which make it up; thus we have corrupt government.

Eventually we'll have a perfect God running a perfect Government, I firmly believe. However, now we have sinful men trying to rule sinful men, and to date it hasn't worked out so well.

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Re: 1127: "Congress"

Postby Klear » Tue Oct 30, 2012 6:07 pm UTC

J Thomas wrote:
Klear wrote:
J Thomas wrote:....

Oh, and we should withdraw from the Geneva conventions. They are not compatible with our de facto strategies, and they cause us propaganda defeats. Better not to be a party to those.


Am I the only one who thinks this post is horrible beyond words?


You and me and Red Hal make three.

But I think this is realistic. Various third world nations want to be taken seriously. The USA may choose to fight them for the right not to take them seriously. Those are our only prospective wars until China. We are tooled up to persuade third world nations that they must obey us. We don't get to decide how much it takes for them to truly surrender. They decide. Unless we are willing to accept defeat, we must do whatever it takes, up to perhaps kill 20% or so of their population. Or else accept that they will not obey us.


Why should they obey you? Besides, I don't like the notion that military success can be measured by counting causalities on either side and the side's willingness to sustain them. It makes for a "nice" statistic, but I don't think war is simply about killing as many enemy guys as possible.

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Re: 1127: "Congress"

Postby Fire Brns » Tue Oct 30, 2012 6:10 pm UTC

Derek wrote:
Fire Brns wrote:. Not every war was started by the democrats but the most pointless ones were: Wilson took us into WW1, Truman had us in Korea.

I'm going off on a tangent but: Comparing North and South Korea today, I would argue that the Korean War was not pointless, although may not have been clear at the time.

Korea I have mixed feelings on, Vietnam and China are going back to free economy models and reforming though the process is slow and many people died along the way. North Korea I feel is staying the way it is out of sheer spite of the South. Although I don't wish anything bad of South Korea and I support the country as it is today I am not sold that we should have gone over in the first place.


Tatarize wrote:The Free Soil party and the Republican Party were liberal when they were formed. Putting them on the right is wrong. They were liberal parties. You need to put them on the left leaning side and switch them over, especially in 1964. To say that during the civil war all the left-leaning democrats were out and not seated, is wrong. They were not left leaning. The south was then as it is now, conservative and right wing.

That oversight is so vast it kind of ruins the comic.

. I find this hilarious, the democratic party isn't the same thing that Andrew Jackson started and the Republican Party isn't what Lincoln started. Andrew Jackson ended the second national bank which functions in more or less the same way the Fed does today and Lincoln freed the slaves which is more a civil rights thing.
. The north itself during the civil war and both before and after was incredibly pro industry/business. At the same time the southern colonies were far more British than the North and people quite often like to point out that England abolished slavery before the US forgetting that agriculture wasn't a significant piece of the British economy at that time and rather skilled labor was. Slavery was more an economic concern to the South and the ending of it would have crippled their economy and basically resulted in what reconstruction was, slavery was slowly dieing out on it's own but the whole war sparked strong racism and resentment of blacks in the South.
. There are many factors to consider, 1 point that many people overlook:
The industrial revolution turning cities from rich people and skilled laborers to low income apartments and factories.

Equating anything in the past to political affiliations today in such blanket terms is mark of poor education. By using your reasoning I could easily equate that since the Romans had slaves they were Southern democrats. You are speaking in black and white terms. It reminds me of "W is a Nazi" and "Obama is a Commie"; the "us vs them" system that is destroying our country.
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Re: 1127: "Congress"

Postby JamesStreet » Tue Oct 30, 2012 6:18 pm UTC

Fire Brns wrote:...Lincoln freed the slaves which is more a civil rights thing.


May I point out that the much-lauded Emancipation Proclamation only "freed" the slaves in Southern-held territory, where Lincoln's writ had no force, and left the Northern slaves and slaves in Union-held Southern territory still in bondage? The EP was a purely political move to keep England from entering the war on the South's side: by painting the war as being over slavery, which it hadn't up until then, Lincoln could pose as holding the moral high ground, even after invading a sovereign nation.

The rest of the slaves, including General Grant's slaves, had to wait until the 13th Amendment was ratified in order to be free.

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Re: 1127: "Congress"

Postby FrobozzWizard » Tue Oct 30, 2012 6:25 pm UTC

J Thomas wrote:Maybe most important, we have a new political ideology, libertarianism, that is unrelentingly hostile to the US government though its adherents enjoy their own interpretation of the Constitution.


That ideology isn't new: It goes back at least as far as the Whiskey Rebellion, where people "solved" the problem of an unwanted tax by attacking and driving out tax collectors until then-President George Washington showed up with several thousand militiamen to persuade them otherwise.

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Re: 1127: "Congress"

Postby JamesStreet » Tue Oct 30, 2012 6:31 pm UTC

FrobozzWizard wrote:
J Thomas wrote:Maybe most important, we have a new political ideology, libertarianism, that is unrelentingly hostile to the US government though its adherents enjoy their own interpretation of the Constitution.


That ideology isn't new: It goes back at least as far as the Whiskey Rebellion, where people "solved" the problem of an unwanted tax by attacking and driving out tax collectors until then-President George Washington showed up with several thousand militiamen to persuade them otherwise.


Proving how powerless the Constitution was to protect individual liberty.

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Re: 1127: "Congress"

Postby eran_rathan » Tue Oct 30, 2012 6:52 pm UTC

J Thomas wrote:And it's also plausible that a benevolent democracy would be just as good as the benevolent dictator. The only problem is that it would probably take a whole lot of benevolent voters, while you only need one benevolent person who's ruthless enough to wrest the dictatorship away from whatever tyrant had it before.


And I consistently find myself wishing we had Havelock Vetinari running things.

"Technically, the city of Ankh-Morpork is a Tyranny, which is not always the same thing as a monarchy, and in fact even the post of Tyrant has been somewhat redefined by the incumbent, Lord Vetinari, as the only form of democracy that works. Everyone is entitled to vote, unless disqualified by reason of age or not being Lord Vetinari.
And yet it does work. This has annoyed a number of people who feel, somehow, that it should not, and who want a monarch instead, thus replacing a man who has achieved his position by cunning, a deep understanding of the realities of the human psyche, breathtaking diplomacy, a certain prowess with the stiletto dagger, and, all agree, a mind like a perfectly balanced circular saw, with a man who has got there by being born…
A third proposition, that the city be governed by a choice of respectable members of the community who would promise not to give themselves airs or betray the public trust at every turn, was instantly the subject of music-hall jokes all over the city."
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Re: 1127: "Congress"

Postby J Thomas » Tue Oct 30, 2012 6:58 pm UTC

jay35 wrote:
J Thomas wrote:It's easy to interpret US history as the guys who already have access to the piggy bank consistently try to keep it away from the guys who don't yet have access. We survived just fine that way for a long time.

Have we, or have we simply been in a steady decline ever since? Could be argued either way.


I refuse to believe that the USA has been in steady decline since 1791.

Klear wrote:
But I think this is realistic. Various third world nations want to be taken seriously. The USA may choose to fight them for the right not to take them seriously. Those are our only prospective wars until China. We are tooled up to persuade third world nations that they must obey us. We don't get to decide how much it takes for them to truly surrender. They decide. Unless we are willing to accept defeat, we must do whatever it takes, up to perhaps kill 20% or so of their population. Or else accept that they will not obey us.


Why should they obey you?


Because we're perfectly ready to kill them if they don't. Duh.

Besides, I don't like the notion that military success can be measured by counting causalities on either side and the side's willingness to sustain them. It makes for a "nice" statistic, but I don't think war is simply about killing as many enemy guys as possible.


That's where great strategy comes in. If we can figure out a way to get them to surrender with no casualties, that's great! Our doctrine used to be, we display such an incredible amount of force that they give up before the fighting starts. That worked perfectly in Panama. They knew they couldn't achieve anything much, so we mostly didn't have to fight. We mopped up a few disorganized guys who had automatic weapons.

We spent a *year* stockpiling weapons and munitions before the Gulf war. Saddam was pretty much ready to make a deal to pull out of Kuwait and pay some sort of retribution, but we didn't let him.

Before Afghanistan we made demands of the Afghan government and they were too disorganized to obey, they asked for more time. We refused and attacked.

Before we invaded Iraq we displayed so much hardware that Saddam knew he would lose everything. He did his best to surrender but we didn't let him.

These days, if we want to actually try out our new military hardware against a third-world nation we pretty much have to refuse their surrender.

But Iran looks like they're ready to stand up to us. In less than 20 years they're scheduled to run out of oil. Their power plants burn $100 barrels of oil. If they're going to have electricity in 20 years they have to start building nuclear plants now. They can mine plenty of uranium, and they could do it all themselves. But we say that we will do whatever it takes to make them ship their uranium to foreigners to be processed, buy their power plant fuel from foreigners, and then give the spent fuel to foreigners to be reprocessed. Unless they agree that we can embargo their fuel to make electricity, any time we can get whoever processes their fuel to agree, then we will hurt them until they give in.
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Re: 1127: "Congress"

Postby carlisimo » Tue Oct 30, 2012 7:26 pm UTC

Not to add religion into the mix, but… is anyone else having trouble viewing this on iOS?


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