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  1. #11
    & Badger, Ratty and Toad Mole's Avatar
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    What is the proper role of government?

    Or we can ask what is proper role of power, for the government exercises power.

    And we know that power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. So we limit power. We don't abolish it. We limit it by liberal democracy.

    Unfortunately the USA is a bourgeois democracy rather than a liberal democracy, in that the USA does not have a Government and an Opposition, rather the USA has two parties of business.

  2. #12
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    Great avatar Edgar, little finger and the actor that plays him (Aidan Gillen) are two of my favorites on Game of Thrones. That actor played a mayoral candidate on "The Wire".

    DiscoBiscuit, my good man, I'm going to have to call you out here... you don't know what you are talking about.
    I'll have to contend here that I do know what I'm talking about.

    The reason we have tens of thousands pages of tax code legislation is because lobbyist bribe politicians to insert specific text into the tax code that carves out preferential treatment for their benefactors. So a "single piece of legislation" that combines "similar laws" under the current system would simply read: "Those that bribe politicians get tax breaks"
    And the sky is blue. You're preaching to the choir here.

    Our tax code is basically a living history of every wealthy interest that has lobbied congress for preferential treatment.

    This is one of the reasons for the explosive growth in the tax code.

    This is also why you hear people arguing that we need to simplify our tax code.

    The fact that lobbyists are allowed on Capital Hill is the direct reason we have this tax code clusterfuck.
    I wouldn't blame the lobbyists, I would blame the wealthy interests that took it upon themselves to disrupt the balance of political representation relative to those of lower socioeconomic strata.

    I've wondered if we could come up with a method whereby all regulations for each industry would have a sunset provision, forcing Congress to vote on the regulations again every 5-10 years (or whatever time period is optimal). Each industry would be regulated comprehensively. And if the people in Congress complain about that being too much work, we can tell the to stop crying or find a different job.
    That's a pretty good idea, however I would be wary of making it apply to all legislation. The potential of congress to cock up the process if they had to keep track of all the different sunset time frames is immense. I would rather that the sunset process apply to fields of legislation. That way, we can take 50 laws and replace them with 5, as opposed to making 50 new ones to replace the old (which would just continue the problem).

  3. #13
    Senior Member tinker683's Avatar
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    Excellent posts sir!

    Question for you: What would/should/could I, as a lay person and just another citizen, do about this?

    I'm being completely serious btw. I ask because I see a lot of things you see, but just feel very powerless to do much about it
    "The man who is swimming against the stream knows the strength of it."
    ― Woodrow Wilson

  4. #14
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    Humans can either be social (that is, live in a society) or be isolationists (live by themselves)..or anywhere in between. If every human being didn't have the urge to live among people then society wouldn't exist, and thus government (a body specifically designed to regulate society) wouldn't need to either. I guess many would call this barbarism...humans existing no differently from animals.

    As it is, many of us (but by no means all) have the urge to live among people. We choose to take advantage of the convenience of numbers (safety, resource pulling capacity, etc etc). This is what many think of when they talk of "modern society"...though the idea is far from novel. Every civilization ever has had to deal with the "modernizing" of their society...and the unique challenges it presented to them.

    Seeing as society is a perfectly natural occurrence, and governance (or the following of rules) is a natural extension of society, then it can be assumed (in most cases) that governance (and thus the government<-the people charged with the task of establishing and protecting governance) is a natural occurrence. What this means...is this: following societal rules is a part of nature. This is extremely important to keep in mind.

    I'll define "free will" as simply the choice to participate in society. Everyone is born with this choice. We may not be able to exercise this choice as soon as we are born..but eventually we all gain the capacity to make our own decisions...and this is one of the first ones we must make. For the most part, however, people are unaware of this choice...they assume that since they were born in an environment that leans a certain way that they are forced to continue that tradition. They aren't, you can always go and live as what is known as a "savage"...where you will be free to choose to do anything you so desire. (I intend to, I'm a savage at heart lol...I'm just one accustomed to a certain standard of living..)

    It's important though to recognize that as soon as you choose to participate in society the extent of your near perfect free will is diminished. In some cases quite considerably, and in others, less so. As a member of society you give up the right to do certain things simply for the sake of that society. These things don't have to be logically conistent, and the more cynical would argue that they rarely are (but then again, that's my bias showing). A simple example is clothes. As a savage, you are allowed to be naked at any place or time. (Or rather, you aren't not allowed to not be naked...which in effect is similar, but ideologically speaking this is technically more correct..). In certain societies...being clothed in certain ways at certain times in certain contexts is mandatory. There really is no "logical reason" for these statutes..but they exist simply because society deems it necessary. As a participating member of society, you either abide by these rules, or you face the consequences.

    Now, moving on to the original question "What is the role of government in society"? (I have removed the "modern" qualifier simply because it is irrelevant...society today isn't any "more" unique than ancient societies...we just have the delusion that this is so because we are currently living in this society. I assure you, in other words, ancient Egyptian society was just as modern (in an ancient context) as our modern one is today...). The proper role of government is to establish and enforce these societal rules...while simultaneously working for the larger goals of that society. What these goals are, and how this is done, is dependent on the society itself.

    Problems only ever really arise when the government fails to fulfill it's role. One of the more frequent ones it violates is that of extending it's reign of power to people who would rather choose to be isolationists. By doing this, it violates one of the fundamental tenets of free will. Participating in society is a choice. As soon as that choice is taken away from of us, you no longer are a citizen of that society...but a slave of it.

    (Most of that just came out of my ass...hopefully you find a couple good points in it somewhere..)

  5. #15
    & Badger, Ratty and Toad Mole's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tinker683 View Post
    What would/should/could I, as a lay person and just another citizen, do about this?
    Your problem, mate, is that you are a Citizen and not a Subject.

  6. #16
    Senior Member Lateralus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nerd Girl View Post
    Any chance the article is propaganda?
    All opinion articles are propaganda.

    I don't understand why the FBI would do things that would have horrifying effects on our country. Using the reasoning stated, the cost-benefit analysis doesn't make sense.

    I'm so confused. :S
    To be heroes. To serve their own sense of self importance. Etc.
    "We grow up thinking that beliefs are something to be proud of, but they're really nothing but opinions one refuses to reconsider. Beliefs are easy. The stronger your beliefs are, the less open you are to growth and wisdom, because "strength of belief" is only the intensity with which you resist questioning yourself. As soon as you are proud of a belief, as soon as you think it adds something to who you are, then you've made it a part of your ego."

  7. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lateralus View Post
    All opinion articles are propaganda.

    To be heroes. To serve their own sense of self importance. Etc.
    It's an interesting article and it opened my eyes, but it's missing one thing: benefits. Surely they exist and are notable.

    Does the shady behavior of a few FBI agents (or operations) outweigh the upstanding behavior of the majority? Are my assumptions even reasonable (in that question)?

    Maybe I've gone completely off course.

  8. #18
    Senior Member Lateralus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nerd Girl View Post
    It's an interesting article and it opened my eyes, but it's missing one thing: benefits. Surely they exist and are notable.

    Does the shady behavior of a few FBI agents (or operations) outweigh the upstanding behavior of the majority? Are my assumptions even reasonable (in that question)?

    Maybe I've gone completely off course.
    Law enforcement officers who do "shady" things don't believe they're doing "shady" things, or at the very least, they believe they are justified in doing "shady" things because criminals don't play fair and it's not always possible to convict a criminal because there might not be enough evidence.
    "We grow up thinking that beliefs are something to be proud of, but they're really nothing but opinions one refuses to reconsider. Beliefs are easy. The stronger your beliefs are, the less open you are to growth and wisdom, because "strength of belief" is only the intensity with which you resist questioning yourself. As soon as you are proud of a belief, as soon as you think it adds something to who you are, then you've made it a part of your ego."

  9. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by DiscoBiscuit View Post
    I've been talking about how terrorism is a paper tiger propped up by the gov't to get the populace scared enough that they don't care what the gov't does as long as they're safe.

    It's nice to be vindicated.
    The really depressing thing about the whole terrorism/paper tiger thing is how clearly obvious it was from the beginning. It's always been staggeringly obvious that, however tragic the results of an individual act of violence are, Americans have very little to fear from terrorism in comparison to any number of other things... and yet terrorism has been used as an excuse for an unprecedented power/money grab.

    I'm pretty far left on the political spectrum, and frankly there are a lot of things that I would prefer *more* government involvement (medical coverage, etc.). But I do agree with your general premise -- that government can be as susceptible to the "people gather power, and then use that power to consolidate and obtain more power" mechanism.

    From a more leftish perspective, I view it as the foundations of government increasingly being bought and sold for the benefit of a few, at the expense of the many.

    To me it comes down to somewhat of a paradox... the very best things about government, that it's accountable to everyone, has a built-in set of checks and balances, and that it can allocate resources without concern for profit -- are also the things that hamper it from an efficiency standpoint (note that I'm not stating that *all* government programs are inefficient -- some are definitely better than private offerings -- but it's undeniable that some are not, as well).

    I'm not sure what there is to do about that. It's easy for me, as a citizen who doesn't see the complexities of government's details, to propose simplification. Government isn't simple, it can't be. But the carving out of fiefdoms to distribute power and money to friends/cronies, etc. is the hallmark of corruption.

    Scheduled expiration of laws might be a start (although plenty of laws expire now, and that alone hasn't helped much... it just gives you the additional headache of trying to figure out which laws in an overlapping milieu happen to be in effect at any given time). One of my personal annoyances is the pork process -- sticking expensive riders and unpopular (corrupt) handouts onto bills that are necessary or political suicide to oppose. I've wondered if there is some sort of logical construct or test that could be designed to limit the scope of individual bills to prevent the sort of scope-creep that just clutters up both our government and the ability for legislators to keep their decisions straightforward. The problem is, of course, that nobody in power now has any incentive (quite the contrary) to actually do so.

    Quote Originally Posted by DiscoBiscuit View Post
    Do you have any idea how complex our tax code is?
    It really is quite ridiculous... I've got a lot of accountants in the family, and apparently the joke in the profession is that every time congress gets together and starts talking about simplifying the tax code, accountants laugh... because every time it just winds up getting more complex (which is pretty good, if you're an accountant).
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  10. #20
    Nerd King Usurper Edgar's Avatar
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    Mannnn... DiscoBiscuit... you gotta properly quote my posts otherwise I don't know you replied. And you KNOW I can't be bother to go back to the thread to check it.

    Quote Originally Posted by DiscoBiscuit View Post
    Great avatar Edgar, little finger and the actor that plays him (Aidan Gillen) are two of my favorites on Game of Thrones. That actor played a mayoral candidate on "The Wire".
    One of my favorite scenes:



    Haha.. stupid ISTJ


    Our tax code is basically a living history of every wealthy interest that has lobbied congress for preferential treatment.

    This is one of the reasons for the explosive growth in the tax code.

    This is also why you hear people arguing that we need to simplify our tax code.



    I wouldn't blame the lobbyists, I would blame the wealthy interests that took it upon themselves to disrupt the balance of political representation relative to those of lower socioeconomic strata.
    Wealthy interests, like any other interests, always disrupt whatever balance there is to their benefit, if allowed to do so.

    The fact that it is legally allowed to be done, is the problem. So how is that to be undone? Entrenched interests will never give up their influence willingly, so how will the change come about? Not from the current crop of politicians - since they are the ones who are being fed by special interests. The only way I see any significant change occurring is when common people are squeezed too hard, and there is no more money left in the treasury for bread and circuses to distract the masses. I think we are closer to that point than we have been in the last 50 years... but I don't know if we will ever reach it.
    Listen to me, baby, you got to understand, you're old enough to learn the makings of a man.

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