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  •  I don't (0+ / 0-)

    support bailouts. . . .for ANYONE!!!!!

    The Constitution is extremely specific as to what the powers of the federal government happen to be. The problem is that the 'common good' is different for each different generation. Keep in mind that the 'common good' in the late 1700's meant supporting slavery - since it was the foundation for the economy. In the Civil War period, it mandated an abuse of State's rights by preventing the Confederate states from seceding from the union - and why? For purely economic reasons - the Northern states couldn't afford to lose the cheap supply of materials generated by the South. The list, of course, goes on and on - and is rarely consistent with the values we currently espouse as a society today.

    Believe it or not, I'm a working class citizen. I don't make millions of dollars a year. Or even hundreds of thousands. Or one hundred thousand.

    Personally, I support privatizing pretty much everything, including roads. Privatization has a funny way of actually encouraging growth, productiveness, and higher quality - because it forces competition between various groups of people with the same interest. Leaning on the government as a crutch tends to make people dependent upon it - we come to expect more from the government than it was designed to provide, and consequently the lack of efficiency grows with each new administration. Giving the government MORE power will, at best, only increase the inefficiency, and at worst will put a dangerous amount of power in the hands of a very few people. I don't know about you, but I like being able to decide for myself how most of my money is spent. I don't rail about taxes generally, especially for things like national defense and fire and police protection. But the government now does far more than it was ever designed to do - with far more waste than we've ever seen before. It's dubious to assume that giving the government more money will necessarily correspond to increased affluence in the lower classes. . . .

    •  I'm sorry but what evidence do you have to (0+ / 0-)

      support your statement that "Privatization has a funny way of actually encouraging growth... "?  When has that ever been the case?  

      In fact, in Louisiana, specifically, privatization kept the poor living along dirt roads, so rutted in the rainy season, they couldn't possibly get help from the police, fire department or health care workers.  Those institutions were mostly privatized as well, so people of color weren't qualified for the benefits of said police, fire departments and health care, leaving them to die if an arsonist set a fire in their church.  Oh.  Right!  

      And the government of George W. Bush is designed to enrich the already wealthy, while leaving all the other children behind.  This current government is taking what tax dollars they can gather (mostly from the shrinking and debilitated middle class) and funneling them to endless wars for oil.  Infrastructure, like roads, bridges, police, firemen, schools, libraries and civil defense are things of the past (see FEMA's non-response under Bush's administration during and after Hurricane Katrina).  This is an administration that encourages "privatizing" everything, which would only serve to leave a huge swath of the populace on their own.  Government of for and by the people must use tax dollars to rescue, protect and defend them in times of great need.  That's not wasting anything.  That's serving the common good.

      I understand you've embraced Ayn Rand's libertarian philosophy, but when and where has that ever actually worked?  Please just give me one example and I promise I'll go away.

      •  I don't want you to go away! (0+ / 0-)

        Because discussions like these need to be had.

        The point I'd like to leave you with is that people tend to be at their most resourceful when faced with the most dire of circumstances. The rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness do not in any way guarantee a life free from the necessities of hard work, innovation, dedication, and sacrifice.

        I am not quite so extreme as Rand to charge that government ought not do ANYTHING. The government can be an incredibly useful tool for maintaining public safety (I concur with your assessment that police and fire services are necessary functions of government) and providing for our defense in times of urgency (military protection, intelligence gathering, and the like). Some things, such as these, are (generally) more efficiently handled by government because few people have the capability to specialize in these more dangerous fields.

        The departure, for me, comes when people begin looking to the government as a provider of goods and services, rather than a maintainer of safety and security. The federal government is too far divorced from its people to effectively account for the intricacies of their individual lives - and it shouldn't be concerned with them anyway. The Constitution established the federal government to ensure that the several states 'worked and played' well together - it streamlined the economy so that all of the colonies (and colonists) which had worked so diligently for the cause of independence would have the ability to share in the common success against the tyranny from which they had freed themselves.

        The mechanism of government, at the federal level, is too slow to deal with the immediate concerns of all Americans. Consequently, when it attempts to act to benefit the few, it generally has to sacrifice some of the freedoms of the many in order to do so. Take, for example, wealth - you charge, effectively, that most wealthy people are wealthy because of some sort of Marxian exploitation of the working class. Now, I'll concede that perhaps some of the wealthy have not earned their wealth through the most ethical means. Whether or not they should be punished is a different matter - but the fact remains that many people considered 'wealthy' have achieved that status by their own hard work and determination.

        So how do we reward these innovators? These people who have recognized the fruits of their pursuit of happiness? Why is it ethically sound to hold them somehow 'more accountable' than everyone else, simply because of their success?

        And, conversely, by what token is it the government's responsibility to ensure that people ATTAIN happiness? The pursuit of happiness, after all, does not guarantee its attainment - and it certainly does not guarantee and easy means of accomplishing it. Note that the Constitution, nor the Bill of Rights, does not explicitly provide for equality, either - except before the law. The land of 'equal opportunity' does not, and should not, equate to the land of 'equal footing to start out with.'

        I don't expect you to agree with me. I welcome, in fact, your disagreement - because it is diagreements like these which propel this country forward. Note that most of the most profound changes in American history have been achieved by compromises between firm believers in opposite directions.

        Have a nice evening.

        •  Kyle, mechanisms of the federal government (0+ / 0-)

          weren't "too slow to deal with the immediate concerns of Americans" during Clinton's years in the White House.  I know from personal experience because my home was badly damaged in the Northridge Earthquake.  FEMA arrived within ten days, assessed the damage, and we received a check from the government to help with repairs.  Our tax dollars worked to help us out of a major disaster.  That's what the federal government is for.  To help with major needs of the public.  

          You say you're all for police and fire departments being run by the government for the good of the people, but what about roads, bridges, schools, libraries and post offices?  Why leave those out when the government's support of those services for all has been stellar, until Republicans took them over and cut funds?  

          The common good is not about the government giving money to everyone to start on the same footing. The common good is about an infrastructure that gives everyone an equal opportunity to pursue life, liberty and happiness.  A good education and a good road to travel safely to get a good job, perhaps provided by the government to build more roads.  The common good is not a bad thing for capitalism.  It supports capitalism using tax dollars for the common good.

          Corporate greed is a reality and exploitation of the worker within those corporations is a reality as well.  The government is the only hope that the workers have to stop coporations from using and abusing them, since corporations have no conscience because they aren't HUMAN.  A government of, for and by humans is our only hope of controlling wholesale greed from destroying our economy.  The federal government also needs to protect consumers from corporate bait and switch tactics.  If you think today's mortgage crisis was created by anything other than unregulated corporate greed, you are deluding yourself. Today, the Federal Reserve (aka the government) has announced they will return to regulating the mortgage industry.  The Fed even had to come up with a new regulation: mortgage companies can no longer use the term "fixed" to describe a loan with changing interest rates!  Thanks.  Too late, but better late than never.


          •  Used 'our tax dollars' (0+ / 0-)

            to benefit you. Herein lies the problem - it's government, not an insurance business. The government should never be cutting checks to individual citizens to help them with their needs - individual citizens ought to have the ability to decide for themselves what sort of insurance they want to buy.

            That's part of why I oppose a nationalization of health care - because people ought to be free to choose NOT to have health insurance if they so choose. Just like people ought to be free to move their children to a better school if the one their children attends under-performs (like most public schools do).

            The point isn't that government is evil, the point is that government does more than it was designed to do. You seem to see it as sort of an insurance deal - everyone pays taxes, and if bad stuff happens, then the government should come and bail us out. The problem is that I, generally, can choose whether or not to have various types of insurance. I can pay or not pay for life insurance, health insurance, auto insurance, etc - based upon my own personal assessment of risks. But using tax dollars to create a de facto insurance account for 'all Americans,' and assessing higher rates people who may well not feel the need for such services, is every bit as immoral as corporations extorting their workers or lying to potential consumers.

            Are you actually sure that there is an ongoing class struggle in the United States? You assert some very Marxian positions, and I'm curious as to why you seem to base your concept of government on a 'we're all in this together' socialist sort of paradigm which has proven, except in isolated instances, to actually hamper economic development and prosperity. What is it, exactly, that government can do better (note that government itself is, of sorts, its own type of corporation) than individuals?

            I mean, I just have trouble seeing where you justify laying claim to my earnings. I make money, I pay taxes, and then when something bad happens to you (through no fault of my own), you benefit. It's one thing if I'm making a charitable contribution - but it's entirely different if I am compelled through external means to contribute. Forced charity isn't charity. . .

            •  Our insurance company was so besieged with (0+ / 0-)

              claims, they were only able to cover a small percentage of our damage, reneging on their contract, so we were forced to sue through the state to recoup our losses on the claim and only received a percentage of that amount.  And your contribution to my personal claim, through federal taxes, to FEMA, along with mine and every other American at the time, would figure to be a few pennies, which I'm sure you would be hard-pressed to notice.  But, of course, it's your right to complain that I was stealing your hard-earned money when I should have been able to take care of myself in the midst of a disaster that affected millions.

              It's obvious to me that it's better for our country to pay a reasonable amount of taxes so that disasters like the Northridge Earthquake don't put millions of Americans out of work and on the streets begging for survival because they lost everything they had and their insurance companies went bankrupt trying to cover all the claims.  It's unreasonable to leave huge numbers of Americans fending for themselves and it does nothing to help society as a whole or capitalism in the long run.  A healthy, thriving populace, supported in time of need with tax dollars specifically allocated for emergencies, is intelligent and compassionate and really had no effect on your total income.

              No one forced you to pay for my mishap.  You paid your taxes and a few pennies (or fractions of pennies) went to my FEMA claim.  And my FEMA claim didn't pay for our mishap, either.  It only helped get us through the worst of the disaster.  We paid for the majority of the damages out of our own pockets.

              •  But you still haven't answered (0+ / 0-)

                as to why 'the rich' owe more to the public pool than everyone else does. Is it simply because they have more to spare? If so, you are guilty than no less than the same degree of exploitation of which you accuse them.

                Whether it's a few pennies or a few thousand dollars, the government was never designed to be an insurance business. Maybe if it billed itself as an insurance business, I'd be more inclined to let things like FEMA stick around. But the fact of the matter is, it really doesn't sit well with me when a bunch of suits in DC try and explain to me that they know better how to spend a third of my earnings than I do.

                One final question - do you think you owe the money you were administered by FEMA back to the government? I mean, perhaps the plans you announce would make a little more sense to me if you approached them from a 'governmental loan' sort of ideal. Disasters happen - we all know that. The government intercedes when disasters happen - we all know that too (no matter how much I may wish they reigned in their assistance). But I believe the government should consider its monetary intervention a loan to the afflicted - if we're going to give people money to recover (money which didn't belong to them in the first place), shouldn't we have the right to ask for it back so that the next group of people afflicted by disaster has access to it?

                •  I've never lost any mail through the USPS and the (0+ / 0-)

                  rates far outstrip UPS or FED EX.  I just mailed a present, as I always do, to my sister in England for a little over $10.00 and she's always received her presents on time and in perfect condition.  The UPS Store would have charged me $30.00 for the same package and made no guarantee of when it would arrive.

                  I was educated quite well in the public school system, learning at a college entry level, though I hardly applied myself.  As I graduated high school, the state decided to stop teaching phonics in grade school and replaced reading texts that created an underclass of illiterate students who learned to hate "reading."  The public school system was gutted by Republicans and replaced with for-profit private institutions for the wealthy upper classes, leaving the middle and lower classes to fend for themselves.  An incredibly stupid plan for the education of the masses.  Instead, the young work force of today can't read or write or add or subtract and we, the consumers, are left to fend for ourselves when we try to shop.

                  The Ayn Rand model doesn't work for the masses, because the vast majority of people aren't born into priviledge and don't have the skills to "pull themselves up by the bootstraps."  They often have no bootstraps in the first place.  It's up to a highly functioning society to help the less fortunate rise above their bad circumstance, not stand on them to get a better step up.  It benefits the entire country to have a bigger middle class than lower class, because we're a capitalistic society that depends on healthy consumerism.  Leaving everyone on their own leaves a whole bunch of people behind.  It feeds on itself, as you will soon see in the coming banking crisis.  People will panic, remove all their funds, breaks their banks and create more panic for more banks.  Everyone will attempt to fend for themself and the result will be a massive economic meltdown.

                  I suggest you watch IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE or AMERICAN MADNESS or MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON or MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN.  Frank Capra understood what it meant to help the little guy become successful, instead of taking the little guy for a ride.  Frank Capra understood what happens when Americans work together to improve society, instead of corporations working to tear society apart.  You can call me a Marxist, but that's hardly an insult.  I don't believe Communism works, because humans are simply too greedy.  Once they get to eat a full meal, they want a whole lot more.  It's only when they're all starving that working together to survive actually works.  So, Communism is always a very temporary solution to society's problems.  Socialism has a similar Achilles' heel, in that people want instant gratification and can't be bothered waiting for the most needy to get help first.  Capitalism is a great philosophy, but social services will still always be needed when hard times hit.  From national disasters to banking debacles, the government, using tax dollars, should be there to bolster a thriving middle class.

                  I wish you great good luck with your life and your philosophy of personal responsibility.  I hope you never have to deal with losing your job and being unable to find another, or running out of your life's savings or being injured and discovering your insurance won't cover your expenses.  I hope you are always able to fend for yourself, but since your an American who pays taxes, should anything terrible happen that stops you from doing that, I am sure that the federal government will be able to come to your aide, especially if Barack Obama is president and Democrats have taken a vast majority of both houses of Congress.  If not, well, best of luck, 'cause you'd need it.

                  •  I'll respond in depth later (0+ / 0-)

                    since i have to go to work now, but one quick point:

                    First, I never called you a Marxist (nor a communist, nor a socialist) - I simply noted that your notions of governmental responsibility and class struggle have a distinctly Marxian flavor, even if your philosophy isn't Marxist itself. Sorry for the confusion.

          •  Incidentally (0+ / 0-)

            Certain facets of infrastructure work well governed at the federal level. Others do not. Roads and Bridges are locally used, and the strains placed upon them are done so by local populations. Hence, that sort of physical infrastructure is much more efficiently and effectively handled by state and local governments.

            Schools, similarly, are best handled locally - although except for the setting of standards, I'd contend that the monopoly of state sponsored education has been among the most egregious errors of the last half century. School budgets have become super inflated, while performance has decreased - while at the same time, charter schools and private schools tend to fare much better even with much more limited funding.

            The postal service is quite unreliable when compared to commercial carriers such as FedEx and UPS. When I mail letters I don't care about losing, I go with USPS - and for anything of value that has to make it to its destination on time, I use a carrier which is dependent upon maintaining an image of effectiveness and efficiency in order to remain in business. The USPS will always be around regardless of how poorly it does its job - but if FedEx and UPS start slipping, they run the risk of bankruptcy.

            You're going to have to explain to me why my local library is a vital part of my local infrastructure, and further why the federal government ought to care about funding my local library. If I want a crappy fiction read from a no-name author, I can saunter over there. . . .or to the used books store and pick it up for $.99. If I want real information, I go to the university library. It's amazing what a little endowment can do (based, of course, on profit and consequent charity!) to add some real depth and capacity to the information pool in a community.

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