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> Should it matter this much who is elected President?
Bikerdad
post Nov 6 2012, 04:04 AM
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Jerry Pournelle, a big time science fiction AND science writer, had this to say at his blog:

We have always known that eternal vigilance is the price of freedom. Its worse now, because capture of government is so much more important than it once was. There was a time when there was enough freedom that it hardly mattered which brand of crooks ran government. That has not been true for a long time not during most of your lifetimes, and for much of mine and it will probably never be true again.

Questions for debate:

1} Does it matter that much which brand of crooks runs the gov't?

2} Do you agree with his assessment of the change over time?

3} Do you think that we can get back to a time when it won't matter much which brand of crooks run government?

4} Do you think the outcome of this election will move us closer to that time, or away from it?
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akaCG
post Nov 6 2012, 04:42 AM
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1} Does it matter that much which brand of crooks runs the gov't?

Oh, yeah. The guy(s) in charge of Tammany Hall were not Fabian Socialists, for instance.

2} Do you agree with his assessment of the change over time?

Yup.

3} Do you think that we can get back to a time when it won't matter much which brand of crooks run government?

Boy, I sure hope so.

4} Do you think the outcome of this election will move us closer to that time, or away from it?

If Obama wins, a lot farther away from it.

If Romney wins, a bit closer to it.

ps:
Interestingly, I changed my signature just minutes before your OP. Sssssspooooooky! mrsparkle.gif

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Dontreadonme
post Nov 6 2012, 11:27 AM
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1} Does it matter that much which brand of crooks runs the gov't?

Brand hasn't made a difference up to this point, at least in my lifetime. That mainly stems from the miniscule amount of real estate between the two brands of crooks.

2} Do you agree with his assessment of the change over time?

I agree with the initial premise of his statement. No matter which party has been in legislative or executive power, we have witnessed an marked increase in the regulation, restriction and taxation of nearly every aspect of our daily lives. I disagree that either major party will have an impact on decreasing that trend.

3} Do you think that we can get back to a time when it won't matter much which brand of crooks run government?

Not while we have to endure the party duopoly.

4} Do you think the outcome of this election will move us closer to that time, or away from it?

Depending on certain ballot measures across the country and percentage threshold of third parties, we could move a bit closer.
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AuthorMusician
post Nov 6 2012, 11:43 AM
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1} Does it matter that much which brand of crooks runs the gov't?

Democrats tend to run government better than Republicans due to having faith that government can work. Republicans lack that faith. Judging by this question, it is also that Republicans expect government to be corrupt. I don't see that in Democrats, mostly.

2} Do you agree with his assessment of the change over time?

I do see that the Big Two parties have widened a gulf between them over time. For example, Richard M. Nixon was on the side of environmentalists. Ike warned about the military-industrial complex getting out of hand. Reagan and GHWB were realistic enough to raise taxes when needed.

3} Do you think that we can get back to a time when it won't matter much which brand of crooks run government?

That's possible. Something has to give, and I see it happening on the Republican side.

4} Do you think the outcome of this election will move us closer to that time, or away from it?

No, this is more of a time-related trend. The outcome of this election won't have much effect as this country's demographics change. I don't see a Romney win due to several situations that simply can't be undone. Another Obama term won't result in a complete switch to real socialism. Even if Romney were to win, he won't get a whole lot done due to the lessons learned in the Senate about filibusters, dragging feet on confirming appointees, and a very strong probability of hostility from Congress.

*

As I see it, a former CEO is doing long time somewhere in Mississippi, if you can believe the official story, for being a real crook. GWB and Cheney should be in the slammer for promoting torture, but that's not being a crook. That is being inhuman. I don't think President Obama is a crook, nor do I think that about most politicians. Politicians are persuaders and manipulators, and some of them take money and perks when they really shouldn't. Perhaps unethical at times, but it is rare to nab a crook in DC or state legislatures, someone who actually dips funds out of the public treasury, aka embezzling. That happens in the private sector a lot more.

Compared to how corrupt government can be, what we have is clean, but not squeaky clean. For example, I don't have to bribe some official to get a government service. In other countries, it's expected. I may need to call on an authority to grease the skids, but it doesn't cost anything but time and effort.
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Mrs. Pigpen
post Nov 6 2012, 12:04 PM
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1} Does it matter that much which brand of crooks runs the gov't?

The layers of bureaucracy are so thick it matters less than a lot of people seem to think, but it still matters. A president can make catastrophic international policy decisions, for instance, that effect us directly in numerous ways (safety, economics, ect). Per influence of said 'crook', foreign policy is his largest hand by far, so it's what I pay closest attention to.

2} Do you agree with his assessment of the change over time?
Yes, unfortunately. It's the nature of large bureaucracies to increase over time. We have gerrymandering, vested interests in feeding from the government trough, and direct rewards for representatives who bring in disproportionately large amounts of money from that federal trough...what else could happen under such a system?

3} Do you think that we can get back to a time when it won't matter much which brand of crooks run government?
I'm not sure how. Quote from the Dilbert "endorsement" of Romney:
QUOTE
Now consider Mitt Romney, the most famous chameleon of all time. I submit that a hypothetical Romney presidency would be nearly impossible to predict with any accuracy. In each of his past leadership roles he has morphed into whatever the job required. During the primaries, his job required him to be far right. In the general election we see him drift toward the center, or as his advisor famously said, "Shake the Etch-a-Sketch." It would be nave to assume Romney wouldn't shake it again once elected, given that even non-chameleon presidents do so.

Romney knows that the electorate is full of idiots and he needs to be a gigantic liar to win their votes. I totally get that. The funniest part is his budget plan that he promises to describe in detail after he gets elected. Dumb people see this as "He has an awesome fiscal plan!" Democrats see it as "He's a liar with no plan!" I see it as "You know I'm a brilliant and experienced turnaround guy. I know how to do this sort of thing. And if I give details now it just paints a target on my back. So chill."

In any event, Congress will be the ones who decide on the next budget. It will probably look similar no matter who gets elected. I don't believe, for example, that a Romney budget would overfund the military. Congress would moderate that, and Romney probably doesn't mean it anyway. Remember, his job today is to lie to get elected. His job once elected is quite different.


Groovy. So we're now at the point we're actually hoping a candidate is lying in order to justify voting for him to ourselves.

4} Do you think the outcome of this election will move us closer to that time, or away from it?

With every passing year, and every election campaign that requires a higher number in the hundreds of millions in funding to secure a 400,000 dollar a year job, we move further away. I wonder what the cost of campaigning was during Kennedy's time.

This post has been edited by Mrs. Pigpen: Nov 6 2012, 12:05 PM
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amf
post Nov 6 2012, 12:49 PM
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1} Does it matter that much which brand of crooks runs the gov't?

Absolutely, because they're not all crooks. I don't accept the premise that we're voting for two sides of the same coin. That concept is for losers. Do you really think DADT would have ended under McCain? Do you really think we would be leaving Afghanistan now or would we be in a war already with Iran? Do you really believe that we would have TWO more females on the Supreme Court? Do you think that there would be a law making it easier to pursue pay discrimination claims? Do you really think my wife -- who the insurance companies claim has a permanent "pre-existing condition" that was cured 10 years ago -- would have an opportunity to buy her own health insurance next year?

The choice of political representation matters a lot.

2} Do you agree with his assessment of the change over time?

Can anyone point to a time in our nation's history where it didn't matter? It has ALWAYS mattered who was at the head of the government. That's the person whose vision gets pushed and (often, but not always) implemented. Yes, government controls more aspects of our nation, but that's because our nation is more interconnected than ever before. We're no longer farmers tending to our own crops that we eat ourselves.

3} Do you think that we can get back to a time when it won't matter much which brand of crooks run government?

See #2. Short of a thermonuclear nightmare, we're going to get MORE interconnected, so more government regulations are going to be required to keep someone on one side of the country from abusing someone on the other side of the country.

4} Do you think the outcome of this election will move us closer to that time, or away from it?

Neither. Our advances are hurtling us faster and faster into the future. We'll likely have made as much technological progress in the first 20 years of this century as we did in the entire century that came before. And then we'll accelerate again. In 1900, most people had lost all their teeth by the age of 40. Think about that and think about where we are now with medicine, technology, communications, transportation, energy. We are hurtling faster into the unknown and we need someone to make sure the technologists don't end up abusing us too badly.

It matters who you vote for. Government CAN make a positive difference in your life if you vote for people who believe it can make a positive difference in your life. Vote for people who think government is the problem and -- surprise!! -- you end up with government that becomes the problem.
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Julian
post Nov 6 2012, 02:13 PM
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QUOTE(Bikerdad @ Nov 6 2012, 04:04 AM) *
Jerry Pournelle, a big time science fiction AND science writer, had this to say at his blog:

We have always known that eternal vigilance is the price of freedom. Its worse now, because capture of government is so much more important than it once was. There was a time when there was enough freedom that it hardly mattered which brand of crooks ran government. That has not been true for a long time not during most of your lifetimes, and for much of mine and it will probably never be true again.


Look, I know your national mythos and Founding documentation holds that all men are naturally free and it's only nasty old government that fences them in and causes everything bad that ever happens, but the idea that "there was a time when there was enough freedom that it hardly mattered which brand of crooks ran government" is so full of holes it's hardly worth basing a debate on it.

It is fantasy, sheer wishful thinking, to imagine that citizens of America (or anywhere else) has ever, does ever or even could ever have more tangible, exercisible freedom in the past than you have had in the past 20 years or so.

There's an argument to be had over whether you have more freedom today than you had five or ten or fifteen years ago, but the only appreciable and non-cyclical increase in the size of government and government spending over that time have been in the twin areas of defence and homeland security. Social security and welfare spending have gone up, but only cyclically as unemployment has risen and as the demographic bulge of the baby boomers reaches retirement age.

1} Does it matter that much which brand of crooks runs the gov't?

Very much so. There is a difference between Robin Hood and Al Capone.

2} Do you agree with his assessment of the change over time?

At the very highest level, yes, but the biggest problems I see from the outside are the unfunded tax cuts, the ever-expanding military, the continued gearing of the entire Anglo-Saxon world's economy to the financial whims of perhaps 200 transnational corporations and their senior executives and investment advisers.

3} Do you think that we can get back to a time when it won't matter much which brand of crooks run government?

Once crony capitalism has collapsed and there's no industry left to speak of in what was the developed West, and we're all reduced to hairdressing, accountancy, store work or tattoing one another to try to make a living in a hollowed out economy where all the productive manufacturing has moved overseas to dodge their share of taxation, and all the senior executives have also offshored themselves for tax purposes (but also because the weather in Bermuda or the British Virgin Islands is reliably nice), we'll be so impoverised of either skills or leadership that it won't much matter who leads us, because we'll have lost the ability to be worth leading.

4} Do you think the outcome of this election will move us closer to that time, or away from it?

The outcome won't matter. The campaign itself has already done the damage. Billions of dollars have been hawked from corporate donors - who will expect their government contracts and competition-snagging legislation (the kind of thing that ties small businesses in choking knots but a big corporation with little or no tax overhead can afford a department of lawyer and accountants to get around) in return - and spent with huge media corporations (which are also, not uncoincidentally, not only donors but also uncritical supporters of the continued capture of government by business and expert manipulators of the public away from the serious politics that might actually change things and towards a few contentious shout points like abortion and gun control). Why, in the judgement that allowed unfettered corprorate political donations, were stockholders not automatically entitled to know how much money their businesses were spending on it and to whom they were giving it? Because it's not about freedom for us. It's about a very specific definition of freedom - the freedom to make money out of 'us'.
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Vanguard
post Nov 6 2012, 08:41 PM
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QUOTE(Bikerdad @ Nov 6 2012, 04:04 AM) *
Jerry Pournelle, a big time science fiction AND science writer, had this to say at his blog:

We have always known that eternal vigilance is the price of freedom. Its worse now, because capture of government is so much more important than it once was. There was a time when there was enough freedom that it hardly mattered which brand of crooks ran government. That has not been true for a long time not during most of your lifetimes, and for much of mine and it will probably never be true again.

For starters, I don't agree with the assessment and suggestion that anybody elected at the federal level is part of a "band of crooks". I don't believe they are any more the "crook" than any average Joe on the street. The difference is really a matter of scope of influence.

1} Does it matter that much which brand of crooks runs the gov't?

It does matter which philosophy of government rules the day.

2} Do you agree with his assessment of the change over time?

Yes. These changes - some more speedy than others - signify a steady march ever deeper into what should be the private dealings/freedoms of every individual.

3} Do you think that we can get back to a time when it won't matter much which brand of crooks run government?

Assuming he is correct, we will never get back. We must always remain of vigilant of that tendency to resume that steady march.

4} Do you think the outcome of this election will move us closer to that time, or away from it?

Again, there is no going back to any time. We can only press to get elected folks in government who will at least fight against the tide of more encroachment into our lives. wink.gif
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Hobbes
post Nov 7 2012, 01:34 AM
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QUOTE(Julian @ Nov 6 2012, 08:13 AM) *
Once crony capitalism has collapsed and there's no industry left to speak of in what was the developed West, and we're all reduced to hairdressing, accountancy, store work or tattoing one another to try to make a living


Douglas Adams outlined exactly what happens then, and it wasn't pretty...although all those in that category were blissfully ignorant of that fact, and were in fact our forebearers, lending an ironic twist of fate, perhaps particularly relevant today.
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skeeterses
post Nov 7 2012, 04:02 AM
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BD, could you post the exact link for the blog entry that you quoted Jerry Pournelle on? I would like to read the entire context in which he was writing that in.

1} Does it matter that much which brand of crooks runs the gov't?
Unfortunately yes. Government has gotten way too big, that people fear being on the losing 49% which gets taxed highly while the other 51% get all the benefits from the Big Government. When you look at the issues that get raised up in recent elections, like "who's gonna protect Social Security?", the auto bailouts, or giving benefits to illegal immigrants, most issues come down to Who's going to pay the taxes, and "Which politician will give me that job?" I looked briefly at Pournelle's writings and he mentioned somewhere that before LBJ's great society, the nation depended more or less on compromises in the Government to get things done.

3} Do you think that we can get back to a time when it won't matter much which brand of crooks run government?
I think eventually yes. But the nation will get dragged there kicking and screaming. The gigantic problems facing this country such as fossil fuel addiction and the trillions of dollars that this country owes will eventually catch up and force a downscaling of the Federal Government. Hopefully though, we won't end up having to deal with a lot of little dictators throughout the land.
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BoF
post Nov 7 2012, 09:20 PM
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You place an element of self-destruction in your threads by using loaded words like "crook."

Just the difference in the type person Obama or Romney would appoint to the U. S. Supreme Court is enough in and of itself to make it matter who was elected.

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Curmudgeon
post Nov 8 2012, 02:32 AM
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Does it matter that much which brand of crooks runs the gov't

People who can define Libel may know 6,112 words.

People who can define Crook may know 12,513 words.


Okay, I was trying to look for the definitions of crook and libel, and I learned that if you can define crook you may know twice as many words as would be expected if you can define libel. Ergo, I inferred that since you were using the word crook, you do not have to have me define libel for you.

QUOTE(John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton @ first Baron Acton)
Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men. (link)

According to the link that I found, the statement by Baron Acton was an opinion that he wrote in a letter to a Bishop. I did not find any links to the concept that identified it as a proven scientific principle.

Even Richard Nixon famously said, "I am not a crook."

The fact remains though that the President of The United States of America is unlikely to be capable of micromanaging the lives of individual Americans. Our government is a large bureacracy composed largely of people who respect the value of their job, and go out of their way to be honest in their dealings with the general public. Those flashing lights in my rear view mirror have more often than not been a policeman who was stopping to help me, or stopping me to tell me that I had a defective brake light. (On that stop, I was out of town and asked to be directed to a local garage that could change the bulb. He told me that there would be no open garages until morning, the local motel was closed, and he went out of his way to find a bulb for sale and change it for me so that I could get home safely.)

My mail gets delivered sometimes in a haphazard and slow process, but I can't really blame the local letter carrier for the fact that the card my dad mailed to my mother sometime in the fifties or sixties eventually came across someone in the dead letter office that made a connection, and had it delivered it to me in a different city 40 years later.

My City provides us with a list of Permitted Vendors. When someone showed up at the door trying to tell me that I needed to put a new foundation under my house, I was able to call the police and they responded.

I never went to a parent teacher meeting and came away feeling that the teacher was a person that I could not trust to care for my child.

If you truly feel that all the politicians in one of your local political parties are corrupt; talk to someone in the other party and find out what you need to do in order to bring reform to your area.

As I am obviously im complete disagreement with the basic premise of your thread, I am not going to attempt to respond to a series of questions which I feel are built on a totally false premise.

This post has been edited by Curmudgeon: Nov 8 2012, 02:35 AM
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