Reason for a New Age

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    What you will expect to see here are discussions of politics and tangentially economics. This blog will do its best to present a rational look at the world of today, how the modern world came into place, and the issues that are currently being discussed in the public realm.
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Posts Tagged ‘democracy’

Words – Democracy (and Socialism)

Posted by publius2point0 on 2010/11/13

The last word I described was a “scary” word that ended up being innocuous. This week’s is the exact opposite. We do not want Democracy, for it is something scary, and you should be glad we don’t live in one.

A democracy is, simply, a governmental system where everything is decided by popular vote among the general populace. Ignoring extreme cases like California’s amendment process where it’s fairly simple for the general populace to directly create and pass law, the US is a Republic. We have people who work as professional legislators, examining issues and the options for resolving them, who are free to make decisions for us all based on the power invested in their job. That is by any definition a Republic, not a Democracy. And it points out one of the principal issues of a Democracy — the average man does not have the time nor resources to study an issue and all the complexities around it. Asking him to vote on the topic is just as useful as getting together a panel of average people and having them vote on the best method for making cheese — yet none of them even knows how to make cheese.

Most central to the thoughts of the founders of our nation, however, was the issue of the Tyranny of the Masses.

In a Democracy, if everyone around you is Christian, they will all vote that you must attend church every Sunday, that you must not have sex before marriage, that you must pray before classes at school, etc. And because their vote is law, you are forced by them to do all of these things regardless of whether you are Hindu, Shinto, or atheist. It’s only when you have respectable, philosophic judges in power who can look at the greater issues like personal freedom that you have any protection from everyone else.

In a Democracy, if the people are enraged, they’ll lash out in an emotional way. Imagine if back in the 80s, when Japan’s automotive industry was overtaking ours and people were taking hammers to Japanese automobiles in the street, that we had lived in a Democracy. Perhaps we wouldn’t have gone to war, but certainly we would have imposed stiff tariffs or simply banned their automobiles from entering the country. And the end result would have been that our cars would have remained worse, falling apart, unsafe, and using far too much gas, while the rest of the world was zipping along to work every day in much better vehicles.

The only task given to the people in our system is the power to decide who we think is a reliable, honest person who can be trusted to fairly examine issues and make reasoned decisions about them. Even at this I would say the general masses have failed. Instead, we vote the same way that we watch sports, picking a team and jeering at the competition.

This is, however, where the misconception that we are a Democracy comes from. Ancient Republics did not have their legislators chosen by the general populace, whereas ours does. Hence we are termed a “Democratic Republic”. While I think that there are better terms than that which would be less prone to confusion, “Popular Republic”, “Modern Republic”, etc. the point remains that the key word is Republic. A blue dog is not a “blue”; it is a “dog”.

Now I’d like to return to the question of Socialism, to address a point that I couldn’t until I had first discussed Democracy.

Some might complain that my statement that “Socialism is a desire to end classism” is wrong. They would likely argue that Socialists sought governmental rule by the proletariat (i.e. the common man), and that this is the true definition. While technically this is a historically accurate definition, I personally don’t buy it any more than I buy that Socialism refers to a particular economic system.

Firstly, let’s say that this definition is true and in the world there are such things as a Proletariat and a¬†Bourgeoisie (i.e. the elite), then do they really mean that they want the elite of the nation to switch places with the common man? I’m fairly certain that they do not really mean that the average person should be allowed to govern while the elite work the farms and milk the cows, if for no other reason than because this makes the commoner elite and the elite into a commoner. You’d still have the elite ruling the nation; it would just be a different group of people. Overall, it makes no sense. What they must really mean is that everyone, elite and commoner together, are equals and govern the nation together. But that’s just Democracy. If they were really seeking that, they wouldn’t have needed to coin the term “Socialist”. There was already a word for what they wanted.

Just as in the case of Socialism getting linked to economics, I’m fairly certain that the issue here is that Socialism was also linked to politics. They sought to become a classless society and many felt that a Democratic system of government would be necessary to achieve that. A Republic or other hierarchical system of government would implicitly create classes of above and below, whereas in a Democratic system there wouldn’t be that divide. Presuming that some secondary option exists to have a classless society than Democracy, however, I think that Socialists would have been perfectly happy with it. And as it turns out — in my opinion at least — a Republic is not antithetical to a classless society. I don’t think a politician is my better, I just think he’s a professional in his field just as I am a professional in mine. I suspect that most people feel the same.


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Republican vs. Democrat

Posted by publius2point0 on 2010/01/09

One of the more apt, simple descriptions of the basic foundations for our two parties is that one party thinks that people are stupid and the other party thinks that people are lazy.

Say for example that a man works very hard, making lots of money, but he spends all of that money just as fast as he earns it. Then misfortune befalls him and he loses his job. Quickly he is out on the street with no home or way to support himself. Without food and shelter, he will die. One party says that people are like this–that is to say, stupid. You are better off to tax from him while he is working hard and then pay that money back to him when he is out of work, since he cannot be trusted to save money for himself, unless you force him to.

But then say that this man, now being given a living by the government, is simply happy to accept these checks without seeking work every again. The other party says that people are like this–that is to say, lazy. If a person doesn’t plan ahead and he doesn’t labor, you aren’t being cruel by denying him care. He made his own choices, in the full knowledge of the risks, which led him to this position and he deserves to end up with his just rewards.

True, this isn’t the only explanation for these stances. Saying that one party thinks that people are stupid and the other thinks them lazy is a cynical explanation for the divide. If you were to ask the parties themselves, one would say that they think society should be caring, while the other might say that individuals and family should be caring. The first would argue that if you trust to individuals and family that people with a poor or no family, or who otherwise don’t have someone to champion them will be lost, even though they have behaved no worse than people with more prosperous connections. While as the latter would say that only individuals can properly aid anyone in need, being able to decide whether they are deserving or if they need an intervention, if they should be denied care until they change, and so on. They worry that a central, open repository of money will simply give handouts without asking anything in return, eventually leading to issues of socialism, or alternately it could run a risk of the government getting too interested in controlling the actions of those in need and possibly abusing that power.

Unfortunately, the first party, the Democrats, have a message which sounds more caring and less paranoid. So you see that as time goes on, social welfare institutions continue to be created and grow. People don’t want to be the bad guy, and so they will always and consistently more strongly support the person who can more convincingly appear to be the good guy. The person who gets up and says, “Screw anyone who doesn’t plan ahead!”, or even worse, the guy who gets up and starts listing off numbers and actuarials, both of these are going to be ignored and receive little popular support.

Ultimately, holding to the position of the Republicans, even if you feel that your case is the stronger one, which secures a more long-term and healthy solution, is self-destructive. The Republican party may be able to act, somewhat, as a brake that slows down the progression of events towards greater and greater socialism, but they will not halt it, and more importantly, the more strongly they hold to their guns, the less they will be able to have any input when any movement is made.

Democracy vs. Republic

Obviously, one problem is that the US is far too democratic, by which I am not referring to the political party.

A democratic method of government is one where everyone votes on every issue, and so everyone’s voice is heard. A republican method of government is one where a small group of people, trusted to be wiser and more contemplative than the general populace, is elected to decide how to approach issues. The US is, technically, a republic.

It’s worth noting, though, that when the constitution was signed, essentially only white landowners could vote for representatives. In modern day, this might be akin to saying that only people who owned a house can vote. The idea was, essentially, to make sure that only people who were already fairly down-to-earth, knowledgeable, and hard working would vote. If your hope is to elect representatives who are wise and contemplative, you need a fairly wise and contemplative group to elect them in the first place.

Of course, the argument towards enfranchising all citizens is that the government is there for all citizens, and there’s no way to guarantee that unless the representatives are beholden to everyone.

I am not certain, however, that there is any great solution to this. Or rather, what solutions there are, I doubt that it would ever be possible to get any wide-stream support for. There is no point in advocating college-campus sounding grand ideas, regardless that they might actually be wise.

Lazy AND Stupid

Thus it is perhaps more important and the second issue, which is that both sides have valid points. It might be paranoia to think that the government would, for example, give more money to those who voted to keep the current party in power. And it might be paranoia to think that if government-run social programs were to be diminished that we’d have people dying in the streets. But there is no rule to say that you can’t write legislation to deal with eventualities that you don’t think will ever manifest. If you don’t think that anything bad will happen if you end Social Security, then you should be fully willing to write legislation that you can agree to which handles the case that bad things do happen. If you were right, then that legislation never goes into effect. If you were wrong, then you get something which you’re amenable to and avoids any worries that you would have out of what your partner proposed.

Personally, I can look at the USSR and say that yes, people are lazy. I can look at payday loans and say that yes, people are stupid. People don’t take up a position unless they think they have some reasonable cause to hold that position. Yes, there are some minority cases where the person simply is entirely in the wrong, but in general, you’re better to accept their arguments as valid and work from that position than to think half the world are blithering idiots with no idea what they are talking about.

Yes, half the world is of below average intelligence, but this doesn’t really correlate to political beliefs, despite what you may think.

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