Debate and Discussion

What sort of a government/society would you choose to live in? Or what would you do to change how things are?
Genejoke at 3:31AM, Dec. 15, 2010
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Spinning out of the wikileaks thing I thought this could be interesting.

To start off, I am not happy with British society as it stands, if I could move to another country that had a government or structure I believed in I would jump at the chance. Realistically this isn't an option, so what are the alternatives?

I stated elsewhere that I am something of an anarchist at heart, not on of those idiots that goes and incites riots and wants to cause chaos. Chaos is NOT anarchy.
The problem with anarchism is that it isn't one set path, anarchists are to government what atheists are to religion. Still I see elements of what I believe in anarchy but not the whole.

Personally I would like a society where we are free to think for and govern ourselves and yet have a far greater say in things that concern us. Sort of like consensus democracy and participatory economics I suppose. I was going to go into it far more but why bore you straight off the bat so over to you.
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El Cid at 4:23AM, Dec. 15, 2010
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Idealistically, I'm sure I could dream up all sorts of novel social templates that I believe are better than the imperfect system I live under today, but I understand that I'm just armchair quarterbacking. It costs nothing to think these things up and you're not hindered by nagging real-life considerations such as compromise and the oh-so-crucial X factor of human nature itself. So while I recognize it's far from perfect, I believe representative democracy is the best overall balance. It's a system whereby the interests of the public are a strong consideration, but tyrannies of the majority can be kept in check.

I don't get anarchy, like at all. There's really no way to make it work in practice. For one thing, without a centralized body to fund for your defense, eventually some better-organized society is just going to come in and take over. Believe you me, you do not want to build some free-lovin' utopia right next door to the Republic of El Cidia. We'll wait ‘til you’re nice and ripe, then come blazing in, take all your stuff, carry away your women, and eat the rest of you. And even within the society itself, you couldn't prevent people from forming coalitions, which they inevitably will do. It's in human nature to form collectives, so you'd need some kind of collective authority in place to prevent the formation of collectives, which becomes a bedeviling conundrum. So at the very least you need defense, which requires funding, which requires taxes, which requires someone to administrate the collecting and disbursement of said monies… which eventually, inevitably, will become something suspiciously like a government anyway.
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Genejoke at 5:23AM, Dec. 15, 2010
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Someone
Idealistically, I'm sure I could dream up all sorts of novel social templates that I believe are better than the imperfect system I live under today, but I understand that I'm just armchair quarterbacking.

Well that IS what I asked people to do, I'm interested in your ideas and why it would or wouldn't work. You just summed up my thoughts/doubts on a lot of the ideas near perfectly.

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ayesinback at 6:14AM, Dec. 15, 2010
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Good topic!

I'm rather fed up with a representative government that doesn't represent me or most of the people I know. Nowadays, it seems when an honest person enters politics, he/she either has to “compromise” pretty quickly, or quickly becomes ineffective.

And looked what I called it: entering politics. The game of politics has become bigger than the responsibility of government. It's very difficult for me to keep track of who the players are because our media, other than CNN (and even they are slipping), reports on politicians as if they're another breed of celebrity rather than leaders, and it sickens me. They've turned government into political “parties”.

We hear about financial scandals or sex affairs to the point that you think all politicians are on the dime And cheating on their spouses, and guess what: I don't care. Fine them and let them pursue a divorce if that's what their personal lives are about. I want to know why $300 million is going to 3,000 people to build a bridge, and I want to know who voted that way. I could certainly find out if I watched Congress daily, but I wouldn't know about the wheels and deals behind the scenes, the you-scratch-my-back promises. The lobbyists, the cocktail parties, the junkets — you know, how are government is actually led.

My solution is not unique: I want them all out, including the appointees and directors — all of them. And then the ones to go in?
I once read that the Chinese, and sorry I don't remember what dynasty, considered only men of proven experience and an assessed moral fiber for leadership roles, assessed by a representative panel of educators, merchants, shamans (I might be making that last one up, but it was a representative panel). The higher the role, the more evaluation. I would like something similar. A leader has to prove that they have basic understanding of economics, international history and affairs, environment and resource usage, etc., and has to have actually worked among the middle class before he/she can be considered for a role in government. No more campaigning, no more financing candidates.

Maybe if the population could have trust in the leaders, they wouldn't feel a need to know every secret.

I know. nothing practical about anything I just wrote.
under new management
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Genejoke at 7:59AM, Dec. 15, 2010
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Someone
Maybe if the population could have trust in the leaders, they wouldn't feel a need to know every secret.

Sadly the honest folk are the ones least likely to get into power and often are probably less capable. Sadly it seems deviousness and intellect often go together as do honesty and gullibility.

And yes I realise I am painting with very broad strokes.
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El Cid at 12:23PM, Dec. 15, 2010
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Genejoke
Well that IS what I asked people to do, I'm interested in your ideas and why it would or wouldn't work. You just summed up my thoughts/doubts on a lot of the ideas near perfectly.
Heh. Sorry, I'm a bit too much of a killjoy realist, I suppose. Given the opportunity, I'd pretty much just duplicate what we already have in the United States, with maybe a tweak or two here and there.

But, in the spirit of the thread, howsabout this one: Why not have a representative government where legislators at every level are chosen at random via a lottery system? Obviously, some eligibility requirements would need to be enforced, but the benefit would be that anyone who wants to be involved directly in government has an equal chance of doing so, regardless of how much campaign money they can raise. It would also get politicians out of the business of living in constant campaign mode and actually get them to actually focus on getting things done. The only downside I see is that it would be highly inefficient. Every cycle, time would be wasted as green legislators learn the various ropes and reinvent countless wheels. Politics is a vital field and it pays to have some seasoned professionals in it, however low our opinions of them.
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imshard at 5:00PM, Dec. 15, 2010
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Seems to me those who desire power most are the least qualified to hold it.

My heart tells me its wrong to take power from the people so some form of republic is needed. Republic being simply defined as a form of government in which power lies with the people. Without regard to the mechanisms involved, this seems best. Then the devil is in the details.

Pure Democracy is mob rule. Short-sighted, unorganized and ineffective. Which brings us back to the representative model used by most countries now. Except this becomes susceptible to corruption. Trying to make power less appealing by cutting earnings and perks will just make leaders more susceptible to bribes. Allowing them to sit in luxury simply makes them lax and ignorant.

So whats the key? Making it in their best interest to stay honest. At my job we have metrics. Failure to uphold the metrics results in disciplinary action. Tell me honestly what real job doesn't have performance standards of some kind? Even CEOs have to lead their organizations to meet certain standards, or they'll have to choose between getting sacked or watching the company fail. Politicians though, have no standards, no performance goals, really no bar to which they're held. Other than the ability to win elections. Popularity contests are no way to run a country, this isn't high school.

Of course then you ask, how do you measure such a thing? The nebulous nature of public office seems to defy this. Simple solution? Their own campaign promises. Promises that must have tangible results and new commitments must be made regularly. If the candidate has no hard plans or ways to implement his goals what good is he? We need people who can get results. Any politician who has not met their public promises at each year's end is subject to criminal charges of grand public negligence. Punishable in accordance to the severity of their failure. There is nothing like a bit of accountability to clean out the slackers and moochers. Of course consideration for poor planning or changing situations must be given. Yet the presence of a guaranteed public review will discourage much wrongdoing. At least in this way the corrupt must still make positive contributions.

That's it. My theory on government. Add accountability to the responsibility in whatever system you have, mix, shake, serve, and enjoy!

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bravo1102 at 11:38PM, Dec. 15, 2010
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You could say we live in the worst of all possible systems; except when compared to the alternatives. Churchill said something like that and he's right.

I like the representatives by lottery but there has to be a civics education that prepares all the populace in the lottery for office when they chosen. Similar things were done in Republican Rome and Classical Athens. Anyone up for an office had to have the education for it. That is not law school. Rule by lawyers has been know to be a great evil since Shakespeare.

There have been times when I've considered that franchise and even citizenship is a right too freely given. I go wandering back to the writings of the early US republic and some arguments against universal sufferage have proven right over time. I can't pretend to know how to fix it.

A start would be to realize that problems in government often come back to who watches the watchmen? In US Government the overseeing authority has overstepped themselves and their overseers have given up their authority. The legislative is supposed to keep the Judicial in check but instead they let the Judicial legislate and invent things and the Constitution is just a piece of paper in a museum. What it says doesn't matter only what the government can do matters because the government makes its own rules and Constitutional restrictions be damned.

Now if I could live in a Jacksonian Democracy with antibiotics…
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Faliat at 4:35AM, Dec. 16, 2010
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If I could go back in time I'd sure as hell make sure people knew Nick Clegg used to be a Tory… Because they kept that damn quiet.

People complained about what Gordon brown's government did, but it's a sight better than the future we've got looming.
Five years with a government the majority didn't want!

Are you happy now, old lady from rochdale or somewhere whos name I can't remember but got called a bigot because she was a bigot? We're probably going to lose our goddamn NHS because of you!

I shake my fist in what I hope is your general direction…

Call that jumped up metal rod a knife?
Watch mine go straight through a kevlar table, and if it dunt do the same to a certain gaixan's skull in my immediate vicinity after, I GET A F*****G REFUND! BUKKO, AH?!

- Rekkiy (NerveWire)
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Genejoke at 6:17AM, Dec. 16, 2010
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but how would YOU change the system? The tories had the majority it just wasn't enough of a majority for a straight out win. If labour had tried to cling to power it would have been a government with even less support than the coalition has. So like the result or not it is the result that the majority voted for… just.






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Faliat at 1:36PM, Dec. 16, 2010
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They wouldn't have had a majority if Clegg hadn't outright LIED or if the public knew about his previous allegiances.

It's already been well established that there needs to be a SERIOUS review of the voting system. Perhaps we should have separate votes for the cabinet and MPs in parliament? Maybe we should completely remove the idea of a cabinet and have the house of commons put forward representatives from each main party to relay the opinions of each?
There's many different ways the system could be changed, but we're all too damn lazy to care about the status quo and too scared to take the risk of trying.

Call that jumped up metal rod a knife?
Watch mine go straight through a kevlar table, and if it dunt do the same to a certain gaixan's skull in my immediate vicinity after, I GET A F*****G REFUND! BUKKO, AH?!

- Rekkiy (NerveWire)
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Genejoke at 3:27PM, Dec. 16, 2010
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That and the system is rigged to make change hard. Whoever is in power does it, well except the coalition who seem determined to be out of power come the next election.

As for the nick clegg thing… I doubt it would have made a difference, too many people were disillusioned with labour anyway.

One of the things I liked about the lib dems campaign promises was the reforms to the election system… that's gone a bit quiet now.
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kyupol at 7:12PM, Dec. 16, 2010
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Libertarian.
- low taxes. 10% at the most… regardless of one's income level. Only income tax. Scrap all other taxes.

- small government. The only function of government is to protect people from crime and from outside threats. But… how can a small government protect the people from an outside invading army? Then we need a…

- armed public. This is the best defense against internal and external threats to THE PEOPLE. (You cannot invade the mainland United States. There would be a rifle behind every blade of grass. - Isoroku Yamamoto - )

Well thats about it. Look at my avatar. “THE MORE LAWS, THE LESS JUSTICE”. Plain and simple…
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isukun at 12:09AM, Dec. 17, 2010
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Unfortunately that system no longer works, either. Warfare has changed and an armed populace is next to worthless to defend your borders, not to mention completely irresponsible. A redneck with an AK-47 isn't going to stop a cruise missile. I feel a HELL of a lot safer with the current system, as flawed as it may be. At the very least, I know I wouldn't be here today if my previous roommate had a gun.

Government also exists for reasons beyond simply preventing crime (which would be impossible with your proposed system, anyway, and God only knows how a government with no military is supposed to protect the people from external threats, either). The whole point of the criminal code is to protect individual freedoms. The more you restrict the government's ability to do that, the more we begin to threaten our own personal freedoms, especially if every moron, psychopath, sociopath, drug addict, drunk, racist, rapist, and bigot on the street is packing heat.

There are also a number of public services provided by the government which help both in raising the standard of living and pushing forward commerce which you seem to just completely write off. Things like schools, roads, minimum wage, etc.
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bravo1102 at 4:11AM, Dec. 17, 2010
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isukun
Unfortunately that system no longer works, either. Warfare has changed and an armed populace is next to worthless to defend your borders, not to mention completely irresponsible.

Two examples of an armed populace: Switzerland and Somalia. What keeps Switzerland from becoming Somalia? A strong central government which gives lie to the whole armed populace thing to begin with.
However cruise missiles don't and haven't solved or stopped the militias of the failed African State and reinstalled government. TO think that governmental force with all it's expensive toys can stop tribes of militias with AKs is not to face the reality of the breakdown of the society. It takes a long time and a lot of force from a strong central authority to break an insurrgentcy. You need boots on the ground to root out the insurrgent and convince him that resistence is futile. And all the artillery in the world won't do that. An unending display of firepower will turn that farmer insurrgent into a hardened veteran worth his weight and able to take on professional soldiers.

The solution to poor elected government might be in electorate. Maybe the voter should be educated so he can weed out the lies and think.

But then after every election there is always one side that doesn't like the outcome and thinks the people were bamboozled. There are some elections and aftermaths that make for some very entertaining reading and have helped me realize that we do not live in a unique time and in a lot of ways live in the best of times. Governments are like the weather. Don't like it? Give it a little while it'll change and you'll have a whole new group of idiots to complain about.

And then you'll be in your senior years and the government you hated in your thirties is the one you remember fondly as the best one ever.
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isukun at 9:33AM, Dec. 17, 2010
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TO think that governmental force with all it's expensive toys can stop tribes of militias with AKs is not to face the reality of the breakdown of the society. It takes a long time and a lot of force from a strong central authority to break an insurrgentcy.

And that comment isn't about internal struggle, but protecting one's borders. An insurgency may draw out a war and eventually push an aggressor to withdraw, but not before the native populace takes thousands, possibly even millions in casualties. Look at Iraq for a good example of insurgents vs a more organized military force. The problem is that having an organized military does a lot more towards preventing the conflict in the first place AND provides safeguards against more advanced weaponry. The guy with the AK-47 fights for himself and can't protect his people from an outside threat, that was my point.

And honestly, Kyupol's whole philosophy is that people shoudl take an “us vs them” mentality towards their government. I'd rather not see an armed populace that's encouraged to take up those arms to resolve their differences.
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kyupol at 12:05PM, Dec. 17, 2010
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And honestly, Kyupol's whole philosophy is that people shoudl take an “us vs them” mentality towards their government. I'd rather not see an armed populace that's encouraged to take up those arms to resolve their differences.

That is seen as the last resort. Of course, the political process is what should be taken care of first. As for “action points”, one must:
- hand out flyers
- hand out Alex Jones DVDs
- put up posters
- call up congressman / senator / parliament / city council / etc…
- vote, support, and promote pro-liberty candidates.
- run for public office
- organize protests
- start a radio show / website / blog / facebook page / youtube channel / etc. thats about promoting liberty.
- reach out and be friends with police and military. Let them know that they are viewed as “dumb stupid animals” by their masters.
- reach out and be friends with your neighbor and family
- learn survival skills
- convert a bulk of your wealth into silver and gold. If you dont have wealth, worry about your food supply first.
- stop shopping at Wal Mart. Support the local economy.

Taking up arms against government and doing a pre-emptive strike is FOOLISHNESS. Any military commander with half a brain will tell you that. In a war where you are up against a well-armed, well-organized opponent, it is critical to win the SUPPORT OF THE PEOPLE. “Taking up arms” and starting a bloody revolution right away would only make you look like terrorists.

Those “militia” guys you see who love to run around the woods and talk tough and are itching to have a war with the government are either MORONS or RUN BY THE FEDS.

Most militia commanders would tell you that it is only justifiable to go to war against the government if government does something drastic like rounding up people like what the Nazis did to the Jews and others.

For starters, listen to Alex Jones (he only scratches the surface… and I'm already bored listening to him that I tune in maybe once a week or so). This global government is a pack of control freak criminal elites who seem to love wars – both against outside sovereign nations and against their own people. That is why they need to be rejected at every turn.
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imshard at 7:26PM, Dec. 17, 2010
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Kyupol, Alex Jones is not John Conner leading us to resist the evil overlords of the future.

Becoming involved is a great idea.
The populous is just not political though. Never have been, never will be.
In a crisis people will polarize and pick a side but that's a matter of survival more than involvement.
People just want to lives their lives in peace and are happy to have a government that will take care of everything for them. This is bad for humanity since integration and participation are critical parts of civilization. Even so I'm not going to dictate the lives of others by telling them they HAVE to take up the mantles of their lives.

The greatest threat and failing I've seen is government as an enabler picking up the slack for an increasingly disaffected populace.

Also; Global government? What murky group are we fighting here? The UN, the Illuminati, the Bilderburger group, the Shadow government? All the above?
Buying Gold? Stockpiling food? Preparing a doomsday bunker?

I went through a conspiracy stage, but ultimately the logical conclusion is the world is as it appears to be. Draw your own answers by finding your own facts. Any media outlets, even alternative ones (I'm looking at you prison planet and Coast-to-Coast AM) tend to sell pre-bundled sets of facts meant to pander rather than inform.

Yes there are forces at work that don't have your best interests at heart but that has more to do with greed and human nature than over-arching schemes with fantasy-scale coordination and reach.
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last edited on July 14, 2011 12:59PM
ozoneocean at 9:20AM, Dec. 18, 2010
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bravo1102
Two examples of an armed populace: Switzerland and Somalia.
Both terrible.
Switzerland has a pretty good death rate by gunshot and Somalia is shit on a stick. Neither could ever defend themselves- that's obvious with Somalia, but with the Swiss their army is just for show really, they survive because of their neighbours and their neutrality. They have people, but not enough weapons systems…
The reason Switzerland isn't Somalia is because:
1. There systems weren't destroyed by a recent civil war that they haven't recovered from (i.e. Somalia).
2. All those armed citizens have compulsory military training. They aren't untrained loonies with crazy ideas like your average US libertarian gun owner. In a time of war they wouldn't be crappy, ineffective militias, they'd be all part of the one army.

————————–

I'm a realist.
No system is perfect, because it governs humans who tend to have so many, many, many interconnecting and conflicting alliances, goals, ambitions, and loyalties, no to mention so vary many overlapping administrative systems like education, healthcare, transportation trade, defence, finance…
How do you manage all that neatly and fairly? Especially when your political representatives are driven and riven by all the same conflicting loyalties and ambitions.
With less people it's easier, of course, but with the world population being what it is and as overlapping as it is ideas of “small government” are an idiotic fantasy from 300 years in the past.



…Queue an idiotic fantasy from 300 years in the past…
Ultimately, a great fantasy approach would be a perpetual monarchy of “gods”- A small group of people in charge of everything. They would be absolutely dedicated to making things run right and fair with NO ideologies or conflicting loyalties, no other life goals or ambitions, not even family loyalties. No playing politics against each other either.
And they'd have to live forever, staying perpetually young, and always up on the latest information about everything that happened anywhere, never losing interest, never taking their eye off the ball, never going crazy or getting bored.
-That would be a very hard job to take.
 
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SarahDot at 8:06PM, Dec. 18, 2010
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I want to start my own country…maybe take over a crappy little country, like Ecuador or something and be its absolute ruler.

My title will be The Minister of Fun. That's fun for me, not for you. I plan to let power corrupt me immediately. I mean, it's going to happen anyway, might as well enjoy it.

Sarah

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People tell me I think like I do drugs. I don't think they mean Zoloft.
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KnaveMurdok at 4:38AM, Dec. 19, 2010
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I really IDENTIFY with the ideal of the PHILOSOPHER KINGS.

The idea of a LEADER or a GROUP of leaders who were truly intellectually SUPERIOR. It would be nice to have a government I could REALLY learn things from.

It's hard to EXPLAIN, mostly because my idea isn't FULLY FORMED, but the idea of a leader as being the cross between PRESIDENT and TEACHER, who motivates the people with WISDOM and rules based on the knowledge gained from VAST experience is really attractive to me.

However, in order to make such a government work, society would need to take on some drastic changes of its own.
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El Cid at 3:44PM, Dec. 19, 2010
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Philosopher kings? Really? Absolute rule by a handful of self-righteous eggheads who think they know what's best for us better than we do? Sounds like Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge. The immediate problem with that model is obvious enough: Whom among us is qualified to be a god-king? No living human being, not even Stephen Hawking, possesses even a fraction of the knowledge necessary to serve in one of those positions. But more importantly, it's a system which is far too dependent on the monkish benevolence of a relatively small group of people, and that's not something you can count on for any long period of time. It's a bad system. I'd much rather live under a good system administered by bad people than a bad system administered by man-gods.

KnaveMurdok
However, in order to make such a government work, society would need to take on some drastic changes of its own.
And that's where you get into trouble. You need to create a government which adapts to the needs of society, not the other way around. This is why visionary movements of this ilk never end well. I'm not jumping on you, and I know it wasn't your intent, but what you just tried to rationalize there is some very unpleasant business.
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blindsk at 6:01PM, Dec. 19, 2010
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The point about restructuring society just gave me an idea - how about restructuring the physical laws of nature? See, I'd love it if the late elders of our society could come back in spirit form. That way, they can look at consequences of some of our actions and say something like, "Bahahaha, you see? I knew that wouldn't work! Didn't I say it wouldn't work? And they thought I was the fool!" And then those decision makers in question would feel guilty and maybe, for once, we would actually learn from our mistakes.

But realistically, I'm fine with everything here in the US. So far, it's worked for me. However, I do not want to see a shift in government domain to extending to control just about every little thing I do. I don't buy into conspiracies by any means, but this is definitely one of those things that can creep up on a society. Just afraid of seeing that realization come in hindsight. That is, if it actually happens.
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ozoneocean at 7:49PM, Dec. 19, 2010
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El Cid
I'd much rather live under a good system administered by bad people than a bad system administered by man-gods.
Not really any such thing. Any system can be good, the system is a small part of it. As long as everything else is working ok as well and your populace is convinced things are ok then any system at the top can work- from military dictatorship, to hereditary monarchy, to theocracy, full democracy, representative democracy, socialist communist system, communist dictatorship, full anarchy and anything else you can think off.
They've all done well in the past. For every bad example, there's a good one, and for every good example, there's a bad one. The trouble is that people like to point to a country, the USA for example, and go “Well why are we doing well now? Must be our innate greatness! Or our wonderful political system? Or our moral values! Or the visionary, wholesome start we had with our great founding fathers…?”
The true story is mostly made up of many accidents of history and only a little careful planning. And most countries think their systems are the best in the world and that they're doing great. It's just a matter of perspective I'm afraid.

The benefit of deathless man-gods, as I describe them, is that they're pure administrators. That's their only purpose in life, their only goal, their only loyalty, no ideology, no politics, no jealousies or ambitions, lusts, wants, needs.
They adapt to the needs of their populace, keeping up with what's going on always, never getting bored or going crazy. They handle the broader management issues and get out of the way so the country can run itself.
…Sort of like the American mythology surrounding “the founding fathers” and the magical Constitution with all its precious amendments. Except in this case you wouldn't need thousands of people arguing over hundreds of years what their actual original intentions were and then re-arguing at 3 or 4 year intervals when the political balance changes… Like some hyper time compressed version of the cardinals and bishops in Rome redefining and re-interpreting the bible over the last 1700 years.
The made-up god administrators would be able to redefine their constitution on the fly according to new all the circumstance that arose.
 
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bravo1102 at 1:22AM, Dec. 20, 2010
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The USA has been very lucky in its history and had a couple of extremely talented folks when it started. There's a reason why George Washington's most recent (and best) biographer has called him the Indispensible man. The guys who fought the AWI and wrote the Constitution were very conscious of what had come before and what they didn't want to happen. But the creation of the USA was like that of a bastard child; half improvised and half compromised.

The US very nearly went the way of an armed populace in permanent insurrection. It very nearly had the military take over the civil authority. Half a million Americans died in a civil war to resolve some mistakes of the founding. The US has been damn lucky. But at the same time the USA had a series of leaders who created their own luck that enabled later Americans to believe America to be divinely inspired and blessed among the nations of the world. American exceptionalism developed because Americans are so damn lucky.

And fortune favors the foolish.

The American system works and very well, for the United States of America. NOt every system will work perfectly in every instance. You have to have the improvisation and compromise. Sadly too many other governments have had either or both fucked up because of a lack of an indispensible man and plain bad luck. What would have happened to the USA in the AWI if Washington had been killed by those whistling bullets in 1757?
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:34AM
El Cid at 5:02AM, Dec. 20, 2010
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ozoneocean
El Cid
I'd much rather live under a good system administered by bad people than a bad system administered by man-gods.
Not really any such thing. Any system can be good, the system is a small part of it. As long as everything else is working ok as well and your populace is convinced things are ok then any system at the top can work- from military dictatorship, to hereditary monarchy, to theocracy, full democracy, representative democracy, socialist communist system, communist dictatorship, full anarchy and anything else you can think off.
They've all done well in the past. For every bad example, there's a good one, and for every good example, there's a bad one.
There absolutely is such a thing as a good system. In general, that would be a system with the proper checks and balances to prevent tyranny both by the populace and by its leaders, which respects the rights (not just the whims) of the people, but which is still nimble enough to function. It may not always be the most appropriate system for every situation, but it still remains a good, sound system. Many banana republics who've tried to mimic the United States have failed, not because representative democracy is a bad system, but because they lack the resources to support such a model and would be better off settling for something more efficient (but less liberally sound) for the time being until they've developed the necessary infrastructure to support a true liberal democratic government. Sometimes it's necessary to put up with a bad system, but that doesn't make it good.

ozoneocean
The trouble is that people like to point to a country, the USA for example, and go “Well why are we doing well now? Must be our innate greatness! Or our wonderful political system? Or our moral values! Or the visionary, wholesome start we had with our great founding fathers…?”
The true story is mostly made up of many accidents of history and only a little careful planning. And most countries think their systems are the best in the world and that they're doing great. It's just a matter of perspective I'm afraid.
The success of the United States can be explained mostly by geography (“Location! Location! Location!” as they say in real estate). The main factor in the long-term success of any nation is going to be wealth. You can have a bad system, a truly illiberal and inadequate government, but if you're still able to generate enough wealth, the people will be happy. Saudi Arabia's a good example of this. And likewise, if you can't generate the wealth, no system is going to work all that well (see the aforementioned banana republics).

ozoneocean
The benefit of deathless man-gods, as I describe them, is that they're pure administrators. That's their only purpose in life, their only goal, their only loyalty, no ideology, no politics, no jealousies or ambitions, lusts, wants, needs.
They adapt to the needs of their populace, keeping up with what's going on always, never getting bored or going crazy. They handle the broader management issues and get out of the way so the country can run itself.
Even ignoring the undemocratic nature of the system, I'm still not at all comfortable with such a paternalist concept as having the people ruled by their “betters.” It's just a newfangled version of the pharaohs of Egypt, where divine heredity is replaced with intellect.

ozoneocean
…Sort of like the American mythology surrounding “the founding fathers” and the magical Constitution with all its precious amendments. Except in this case you wouldn't need thousands of people arguing over hundreds of years what their actual original intentions were and then re-arguing at 3 or 4 year intervals when the political balance changes… Like some hyper time compressed version of the cardinals and bishops in Rome redefining and re-interpreting the bible over the last 1700 years.
The made-up god administrators would be able to redefine their constitution on the fly according to new all the circumstance that arose.
I don't think anyone here's made mention of any “magical” Constitution, and those amendments themselves are evidence that it wasn't so “magical” after all, so you could have done without that first remark. The idea of unelected rulers being able to simply “redefine” their constitution on a whim is frightening and irreconcilable with the ideals of liberal democracy, especially considering that the whole point of having a constitution in the first place is to limit the powers of government. Laws mean what they mean. If at some point, a law needs to be changed, this is a matter to be handled by an elected legislature answerable directly to the people, not by an unelected elite (be they gods or judges) who may make sweeping decrees without consequence. When you go down that road, you no longer have the rule of law, because the law no longer has meaning. And without dependable coherent laws, it is much more difficult to maintain a functioning society and economy. Not only would I prefer a good system run by bad people, but I would also prefer a nation of bad but consistent laws than one with well-meaning laws which change frequently based on what the Great Elders' social barometer is telling them at the moment.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:20PM
bravo1102 at 6:11AM, Dec. 20, 2010
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Consider what was put into practice by the Boyars after the Time of Troubles. They put all their faith into an absolute monarch with all the wisdom and intelligence of all time. Russia under the Tsars.

There was no rule of law just the great and wise all knowing ruler who could turn things to his whim but was so all knowing and great that he always did right and the people loved him. This leader was always ready to adjust the present to the changing times. Except the times were not to change except as he ordered.

“To the Emperor of all the Russias belongs the supreme and unlimited power. Not only fear, but also conscience commanded by God himself, is the basis of obedience to this power.”

The wise philospher king. Tsar of all the Russias. But we all know how that turned out don't we?

Seems whatever path we tread has been taken before. And it didn't work last time either.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:34AM
ozoneocean at 7:53PM, Dec. 21, 2010
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El Cid! >:[
That sort of wall of a response is hard to reply to since extractive quotes from it is paaaaaaaaiiiiiinful :(

I will try and be brief!

There absolutely is such a thing as a good system.
This is the conventional belief. I dispute it.
Sure you can ave OBVIOUSLY bad, idiotic systems, and just plain poorly thought out ones, but we're not talking about those, we're talking about ones that HAVE had a lot of thought put in that are not idiotic, and out of them I say it's not clear cut as to which is better or worse. It comes down to luck, providence, having good, smart people, a happy populace, good trade conditions etc. -Lots of different factors in the mix basically.
but if you're still able to generate enough wealth, the people will be happy
Yep! That's the crux of it :)
A Happy populace. The system is irrelevant in many respects as long os you've got that.

Even ignoring the undemocratic nature of the system, I'm still not at all comfortable with such a paternalist concept as having the people ruled by their “betters”.
Umm, that's how representative democracy works anyway.
The only difference is you can exchange them for another similar group periodically, which due to the length of their tenure discourages political investment in long term solutions to any problems, cuts them off before they've had a chance to work through those they do have, and encourages short term politically influenced decision making.
All very big disadvantages I'm afraid.

Laws mean what they mean. If at some point, a law needs to be changed, this is a matter to be handled by an elected legislature answerable directly to the people
Ehhhh? What DO they mean? Sorry but that's never quite clear (the differing views on gun ownership in the US constitution for example).
And “sweeping decrees” are quite a different thing to redefining concepts in a constitutions to better reflect the needs of the time. This is a process that happens CONSTANTLY within all governments.

I don't think you quite grasp how politics actually works enough to follow my crazy fantasy version. :)
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:37PM
El Cid at 7:09AM, Dec. 22, 2010
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Um, sorry? I actually thought I kept my responses fairly brief; it just looks like a lot because I didn't trim down the quotes. Hey, that was nothing compared to some of what was going on in that religion thread recently!

I think you're trying to be a little too-cool-for-school with this “there is no good government” business, and I'm sure you get what I'm saying. Any government model that's been truly well thought out is likely to have at least most of the qualities I mentioned. However things like anarchy or dictatorship, which you also endorsed, will not, and are poorly thought-out systems. They may work under some circumstances, but that doesn't change the fact that they're poor models and in the long term it's preferable to move on to something better.

And I'm sorry that you consider term limits a bad thing, but they are a necessary check on political power. There are some disadvantages and inefficiencies built into such a system, but overall they outweigh the disadvantages of having lifelong appointees.

ozoneocean
And “sweeping decrees” are quite a different thing to redefining concepts in a constitutions to better reflect the needs of the time. This is a process that happens CONSTANTLY within all governments.
Sweeping decrees are a method by which concepts in constitutions are redefined. There are occasions when such decrees, such as that which ended segregation in American schools, are generally considered a good thing, but even then it would have been better had such a decision come through the democratic process, thus granting it more legitimacy. I don't see what you were getting at at all with that second sentence; if the amendment process you're describing happens as a function of the legislature, then it is exactly what I've been advocating.

ozoneocean
I don't think you quite grasp how politics actually works enough to follow my crazy fantasy version. :)
Rude, and uncalled for.

There is no perfect system. Models which seek to offer a solution to mankind's problems are a non sequitur because mankind is the problem. There are no good solutions, only good processes, and when proper processes are in place, the rest should take care of itself. Solutions which weigh more heavily on the human side of the equation, and seek perfection through putting the “right” people in power will ultimately fail because they rely on the very element which contaminates the system to begin with. That's not to say you don't need good people in government, and in a healthy society you'll have them, but that is of secondary importance in my opinion.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:20PM
imshard at 12:16AM, Dec. 24, 2010
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ozoneocean
I don't think you quite grasp how politics actually works enough to follow my crazy fantasy version. :)

Key words: Crazy, and fantasy.
So you admit that your view is unrealistic and impossible to implement?

I understand that you meant but its hopelessly short sighted. Certain arrangements ARE worse than others Ozzie and you can't wish away facts. It impossible to plan for every contingency so you need a system that is flexible enough to adapt. The setups you've sponsored have been shown to fail at this criteria time and again.

Complaining about false interpretations and revisions and alternate viewpoints and residual cultural leftovers in any government is as pointless as having a screaming match on the merits and proper use of vestigial nipples.

The world has played with countless ideologies and social arrangements over time. Republics with democratic elements have the best sustainability and scalability, because they have the most situational fluidity. They have also been shown to be the most tolerable and fair to the people. These traits will only become more valuable in the future. To state otherwise just flies in the face of common sense.
Don't be a stick in the mud traditionalist! Support global warming!

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