Author Topic: Basic Contradiction I Don't Understand  (Read 4452 times)

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Offline ReaPsTA

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Basic Contradiction I Don't Understand
« on: June 03, 2012, 03:00:34 PM »
In general, I see a desire for two things:

 - The government to be more involved in making sure we live the best lives possible.

 - The government to stop leveraging its power in order to benefit itself and the big businesses who donate money to its elected officials.

What I don't get - doesn't anybody release that the former allows the latter?  Here's a hypothetical example.  Let's say a low existed called the "Public Internet Necessity Act."  PINA for short.  What PINA says is that if you run a major public internet resource like Wikipedia, that it is necessary for your site to exist and that you must keep it up at all times.   I'm not sure how many people would agree with this, but it's not a bad idea.

So, with this law in place, SOPA comes up for discussion.  If you forgot, SOPA was killed when Wikipedia and many other major websites blacked out for a day in protest.  What you need to understand about this protest is why it worked.  It wasn't because congress saw how much this issue mattered to ordinary Americans and dropped it out of the goodness of their heart.  SOPA was killed because it was the first time Congress as a whole understood how powerful and interwoven into daily life the tech industry had become.  They weren't just goofy nerdy guys who didn't matter anymore.

Let's say the aforementioned PINA law exists.  The SOPA protest never happens because the government would tell major web sites they weren't allowed to shut down.  The government would have its way and pass SOPA, thus making everything worse for everyone.

This might be shocking, but human nature doesn't allow for power without corruption.  In fact, I'd say this is one of the most basic laws of human nature and politics that no one understands and everyone needs to.  If you want the government to be less corrupt, then it HAS to be less powerful.  If you want the government to be more powerful, then you must accept that it WILL become more corrupt.

What I don't understand is why so many people don't understand this concept on even an intuitive level.
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Re: Basic Contradiction I Don't Understand
« Reply #1 on: June 03, 2012, 03:12:31 PM »
Governments always mushroom out of control. Thomas Jefferson was aware of this when he said:

Quote from: Thomas Jefferson
"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. It is it's natural manure."

I believe he was talking about the French Revolution.

Offline Tanatra

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Re: Basic Contradiction I Don't Understand
« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2012, 03:53:17 PM »
In general, I see a desire for two things:

 - The government to be more involved in making sure we live the best lives possible.

 - The government to stop leveraging its power in order to benefit itself and the big businesses who donate money to its elected officials.

What I don't get - doesn't anybody release that the former allows the latter? 

I think that what you referring to is known as regulatory capture:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regulatory_capture

I knew it was bad in the FDA, but had no idea it was so prevalent in other government agencies as well. It seems quite a bit of it is due to officials in those agencies having financial interests in the businesses which they are regulating, which is why governments appointing industry professionals to oversee their own industries is a terrible idea.

Offline rumborak

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Re: Basic Contradiction I Don't Understand
« Reply #3 on: June 03, 2012, 05:05:49 PM »
Governments always mushroom out of control.

No they don't. What a regurgitated phrase.
Governments become problematic when people don't work on their functioning. It's like people complaining about a piece of machinery and refusing to spend effort on its repair, when the lack of maintenance is the very cause of the poor performance.
Your above quote is IMHO the major problem of the US government. The active undermining of its functioning, disguised in a pseudo-philosophy.

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Re: Basic Contradiction I Don't Understand
« Reply #4 on: June 03, 2012, 05:19:14 PM »
The active undermining of its functioning, disguised in a pseudo-philosophy.

Can you elaborate on what you mean by this? If you're trying to say that US government has been weakened, the exact opposite is true. Things have become a lot more totalitarian.

Offline rumborak

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Re: Basic Contradiction I Don't Understand
« Reply #5 on: June 03, 2012, 05:23:16 PM »
What I mean is that

a) government is necessary, live with it
b) you don't fix a thing by sabotaging its function

rumborak
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Re: Basic Contradiction I Don't Understand
« Reply #6 on: June 03, 2012, 05:54:42 PM »
Well, the function of the U.S. government was outlined in the Constitution, and that surely has been sabotaged.

Offline theseoafs

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Re: Basic Contradiction I Don't Understand
« Reply #7 on: June 03, 2012, 06:03:14 PM »
I don't understand how the conclusion follows from the original example.

Unless I'm missing something fundamental, the OP can be condensed as such:

A) Let's say there were an act that required certain websites to always be online. (By the way, this is a law that shouldn't and probably won't ever exist for a number of reasons, free speech issues being the main one.)
B) With this law in place, the SOPA protests wouldn't have happened.
C) SOPA would therefore have been passed.
D*) Therefore, a government that uses its power to protect a country inevitably becomes corrupt.

I don't understand why D follows from the previous points. This looks more like a very specific and unlikely hypothetical situation than an incontrovertible proof that power is corruption. Care to explain?

Offline theseoafs

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Re: Basic Contradiction I Don't Understand
« Reply #8 on: June 03, 2012, 06:03:48 PM »
Well, the function of the U.S. government was outlined in the Constitution, and that surely has been sabotaged.
Care to cite a specific example?

Offline orcus116

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Re: Basic Contradiction I Don't Understand
« Reply #9 on: June 03, 2012, 06:59:27 PM »
What I mean is that

a) government is necessary, live with it
b) you don't fix a thing by sabotaging its function

rumborak

Those are both why those "fuck the government!" anarchist types are hilarious to me.

Offline senecadawg2

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Re: Basic Contradiction I Don't Understand
« Reply #10 on: June 03, 2012, 07:12:37 PM »
Quote from: Thomas Jefferson
"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. It is it's natural manure."

Thomas Jefferson was a hypocrite.
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Re: Basic Contradiction I Don't Understand
« Reply #11 on: June 03, 2012, 10:12:57 PM »
Well, the function of the U.S. government was outlined in the Constitution, and that surely has been sabotaged.
Care to cite a specific example?
The Federal Reserve, Iraq War, Invasion of Libya, War Powers Resolution, Social Security, Medicare, War On Drugs, Department Of Education, PATRIOT Act, warantless arrests/surveillance, torture conducted by the US government, bailouts, welfare, executive orders, gun control, constant assaults on the First Amendment, "czars" without Congressional approval etc.

Crucial reading: Section 8 of the Constitution and the 10th Amendment. A lot of people have misinterpreted "general welfare" clause in Section 8 to be a catch all term for promoting many different social policies, but this is not the case because it enumerates 17 specific powers.

Offline rumborak

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Re: Basic Contradiction I Don't Understand
« Reply #12 on: June 03, 2012, 10:22:16 PM »
I don't think there's much common ground here if you call the US involvement in Libya an "invasion".
Just fyi, that kind of constant hyperbole undermines the credibility of the Constitutionalists movement.

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Offline theseoafs

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Re: Basic Contradiction I Don't Understand
« Reply #13 on: June 03, 2012, 10:35:10 PM »
Well, the function of the U.S. government was outlined in the Constitution, and that surely has been sabotaged.
Care to cite a specific example?
The Federal Reserve, Iraq War, Invasion of Libya, War Powers Resolution, Social Security, Medicare, War On Drugs, Department Of Education, PATRIOT Act, warantless arrests/surveillance, torture conducted by the US government, bailouts, welfare, executive orders, gun control, constant assaults on the First Amendment, "czars" without Congressional approval etc.

Crucial reading: Section 8 of the Constitution and the 10th Amendment. A lot of people have misinterpreted "general welfare" clause in Section 8 to be a catch all term for promoting many different social policies, but this is not the case because it enumerates 17 specific powers.
I wanted a specific example, so I'm going to ask again for a specific example. One example with a citation from the text of the Constitution, please, and not a list of things the government has done recently.

Offline senecadawg2

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Re: Basic Contradiction I Don't Understand
« Reply #14 on: June 03, 2012, 10:52:36 PM »
Well, the function of the U.S. government was outlined in the Constitution, and that surely has been sabotaged.
Care to cite a specific example?
The Federal Reserve, Iraq War, Invasion of Libya, War Powers Resolution, Social Security, Medicare, War On Drugs, Department Of Education, PATRIOT Act, warantless arrests/surveillance, torture conducted by the US government, bailouts, welfare, executive orders, gun control, constant assaults on the First Amendment, "czars" without Congressional approval etc.

Crucial reading: Section 8 of the Constitution and the 10th Amendment. A lot of people have misinterpreted "general welfare" clause in Section 8 to be a catch all term for promoting many different social policies, but this is not the case because it enumerates 17 specific powers.

Ironically, many of the 'examples' on your list were done during a Republican president's term. For the party that claims to be about limiting the roll of big government, there certainly appears to be some significant contradiction. Not saying that you strict constructionists are necessarily deserving of a spot in that same category, but it is an interesting observation. Then again, maybe it's not very ironic...

Just looking at the list, there are certainly some good points. I in no way condone the use of torture for anything, nor do I support the war on drugs or the war in Iraq. At the same time, you perceive Medicare as a governmental assault on our personal freedom? How the hell?

I still find it funny that a constitutionalist would quote Thomas Jefferson in an attempt to argue for strict constructionism. Where does the constitution give the executive branch of government the right to purchase land? I'm going to assume that you have heard of the Louisiana Purchase...

I take it you are a Ron Paul man. Unfortunately for you, he will never be president.
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Re: Basic Contradiction I Don't Understand
« Reply #15 on: June 03, 2012, 11:29:52 PM »
I wanted a specific example, so I'm going to ask again for a specific example. One example with a citation from the text of the Constitution, please, and not a list of things the government has done recently.
I was going to do the Patriot Act, but I quickly realized how much time it would take to point out the Constitutional violations. Let's look at the Federal Reserve. Article I, Section 8, Clause 6 of the Constitution bestows the following power on Congress:
Quote
To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures
Since the Federal Reserve is a private, independent agency operating without Congressional oversight, it is unconstitutional.
« Last Edit: June 03, 2012, 11:35:37 PM by MondayMorningLunatic »

Offline theseoafs

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Re: Basic Contradiction I Don't Understand
« Reply #16 on: June 03, 2012, 11:34:33 PM »
The Federal Reserve was created by the Federal Reserve Act, which was passed by Congress. The first national banks also operated under charters from Congress.

EDIT: We should make the distinction between a "power" to do something and a "responsibility" to do something. Congress was given the power to handle currency, but they thought it prudent to pass that power to a different organization, so they did. Had the Federal Reserve Act bypassed Congress completely I might see the problem but as it stands it makes perfect Constitutional sense.
« Last Edit: June 03, 2012, 11:40:30 PM by theseoafs »

Re: Basic Contradiction I Don't Understand
« Reply #17 on: June 04, 2012, 01:17:58 AM »
The Federal Reserve was created by the Federal Reserve Act, which was passed by Congress. The first national banks also operated under charters from Congress.
It's not in dispute that Congress authorized the banks in both cases. Where I draw the line is the fact that The Fed is operating with basically no oversight or input from Congress. Of course, the Fed claims that it's supervised and audited, but an examination of these audits reveals them to partial, with the inner workings of The Fed remaining highly secretive. The Constitution is explicit. Congress needs to print money and regulate its value, not a third party.

Ironically, many of the 'examples' on your list were done during a Republican president's term. For the party that claims to be about limiting the roll of big government, there certainly appears to be some significant contradiction. Not saying that you strict constructionists are necessarily deserving of a spot in that same category, but it is an interesting observation. Then again, maybe it's not very ironic...

Just looking at the list, there are certainly some good points. I in no way condone the use of torture for anything, nor do I support the war on drugs or the war in Iraq. At the same time, you perceive Medicare as a governmental assault on our personal freedom? How the hell?

I still find it funny that a constitutionalist would quote Thomas Jefferson in an attempt to argue for strict constructionism. Where does the constitution give the executive branch of government the right to purchase land? I'm going to assume that you have heard of the Louisiana Purchase...

I take it you are a Ron Paul man. Unfortunately for you, he will never be president.

First of all, I do NOT support the Republican party aside from Ron Paul. They have, despite their small government mantra, expanded the size and scope of government and encroached on our civil liberties. But to be fair, the Democratic party has been complicit in this as well. For example, did you know that top Democrats including Nancy Pelosi, Jane Harman, Bob Graham and Jay Rockefeller approved of waterboarding and were complicit in covering it up? Also, did you know that Obama voted to extend the Patriot Act after claiming he would abolish it? This shouldn't be approached as Republican/Democrat issue because both parties are corrupt. Even though I oppose Medicare, I never said it "was an assault on our personal freedom." I was merely pointing out that it's unconstitutional. Medicare is a well-intentioned program which probably helps a lot of people, but per usual for government programs, fraud and waste are rampant. Charities and private agencies could do a better job than Medicare, and it wouldn't be surprising if they're already doing a better job than Medicare. Let's talk about health in general. This country was a lot healthier before the government established the FDA and starting subsidizing various food industries, like meat, dairy, wheat, corn, and soy. A lot of people are on Medicare for diabetes, and high fructose corn syrup (which exists because of government subsidies) is a major contributor to this disorder. This all goes back to what ReaPsTA was saying. Governments spiral out of control because they create problems, and in providing solutions for those problems, create more problems.

Regarding the Louisiana Purchase, yes it was unconstitutional. If my memory serves me correct, Jefferson wanted to propose an amendment specifying that government could purchase land, but he faced opposition and thought the deal would fall through if he waited too long. This is one of many examples demonstrating that the Constitution's not a perfect document. I never said it was. But it's a damn good document, and if politicians want change, they need to work within the framework of the Constitution rather than ignoring it with reckless abandon. At least Jefferson, despite this one instance of hypocrisy, tried to adhere to the Constitution as much as possible.

Offline theseoafs

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Re: Basic Contradiction I Don't Understand
« Reply #18 on: June 04, 2012, 01:27:18 AM »
The Federal Reserve was created by the Federal Reserve Act, which was passed by Congress. The first national banks also operated under charters from Congress.
It's not in dispute that Congress authorized the banks in both cases. Where I draw the line is the fact that The Fed is operating with basically no oversight or input from Congress. Of course, the Fed claims that it's supervised and audited, but an examination of these audits reveals them to partial, with the inner workings of The Fed remaining highly secretive. The Constitution is explicit. Congress needs to print money and regulate its value, not a third party.
I'd be fine if you just said that you think the Fed should be more transparent, but you're continuing to insist that its existence is somehow unconstitutional, which we've already determined to be false. The Constitution does not say Congress needs to print money; it gave it the power to print money, a power which Congress then passed off to the Federal Reserve under the normal legal procedures.

Re: Basic Contradiction I Don't Understand
« Reply #19 on: June 04, 2012, 02:46:25 AM »
I guess we can reach some common ground here. If Congress wanted to move the printing of money to a different agency, that would be fine with me as long as the agency worked closely with Congress or was more or less a branch of Congress. The Fed in its current state is a private corporation whose inner workings are totally confidential. In fact, Bernanke claims that the Fed needs this secrecy to function which I think is bullshit. The final point I want to make that Congress did not create these central banks under normal legal procedures. There was a lot of bribery, trickery and intimidation involved with the creation of both central banks. The Creature From Jekyll Island by G. Edward Griffin details a lot of this.

Offline senecadawg2

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Re: Basic Contradiction I Don't Understand
« Reply #20 on: June 04, 2012, 09:30:32 AM »
The issue I have with everything being run through private agencies on the local level is pretty simple, there is a ton of corruption and wasteful spending in private agencies just like in big government... What really bothers me is the crowd that claims everything would be better if the government was completely removed and local government/private agencies ran everything.

If we left everything up to the local communities, would schools be integrated in the south? Had Eisenhower not sent the troops in to Little Rock to protect the rights of African American children recently guaranteed in Brown v. Board of Ed., would schools ever have allowed it? Probably not. Of course, those same local communities eventually found a way around this anyways and self-segregated through the use of private schools, but the argument for complete control on the local level is still very flawed.

Now I know you are not necessarily arguing for complete removal of government in local affairs, only that they work within the framework of the constitution, and not outside of it.
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Re: Basic Contradiction I Don't Understand
« Reply #21 on: June 04, 2012, 09:50:12 AM »
Quote from: Thomas Jefferson
"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. It is it's natural manure."

Thomas Jefferson was a raging, certified, mega-hypocrite.

FTFY

Offline senecadawg2

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Re: Basic Contradiction I Don't Understand
« Reply #22 on: June 04, 2012, 09:51:14 AM »
Quote from: Thomas Jefferson
"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. It is it's natural manure."

Thomas Jefferson was a raging, certified, mega-hypocrite.

FTFY

 :tup
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Offline Super Dude

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Re: Basic Contradiction I Don't Understand
« Reply #23 on: June 04, 2012, 10:26:43 AM »
Oh hey there everyone, what are we talking about? ;D
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Offline ReaPsTA

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Re: Basic Contradiction I Don't Understand
« Reply #24 on: June 04, 2012, 10:43:53 AM »
I don't understand how the conclusion follows from the original example.

Unless I'm missing something fundamental, the OP can be condensed as such:

A) Let's say there were an act that required certain websites to always be online. (By the way, this is a law that shouldn't and probably won't ever exist for a number of reasons, free speech issues being the main one.)
B) With this law in place, the SOPA protests wouldn't have happened.
C) SOPA would therefore have been passed.
D*) Therefore, a government that uses its power to protect a country inevitably becomes corrupt.

I don't understand why D follows from the previous points. This looks more like a very specific and unlikely hypothetical situation than an incontrovertible proof that power is corruption. Care to explain?

When you give a government authority, that authority will inevitably be used in a corrupt way.

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Offline theseoafs

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Re: Basic Contradiction I Don't Understand
« Reply #25 on: June 04, 2012, 10:44:40 AM »
Except you never provided support for that position. You're just saying it as if it's a fact.

Offline rumborak

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Re: Basic Contradiction I Don't Understand
« Reply #26 on: June 04, 2012, 10:56:17 AM »
When you give a government authority, that authority will inevitably be used in a corrupt way.

Even if you accept this paradigm, what is the alternative? Governments usually provide services that don't lend themselves to a free market solution, or they are things that naturally become monopolies. In which case you're exchanging the gov't service with either no service at all, or a price-gouging monopoly that is essentially guaranteed to be corrupt.

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Re: Basic Contradiction I Don't Understand
« Reply #27 on: June 04, 2012, 10:59:04 AM »
Charities and private agencies could do a better job than Medicare, and it wouldn't be surprising if they're already doing a better job than Medicare.

right....because before Medicare they did such a fine job of it....

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We forget what it was like before Medicare (and Social Security and Medicaid). Before Medicare, half of all older people had no insurance. Private insurance companies did not want to cover this population because of their age and chronic conditions. When health insurance was available, many older people could not afford it. In 1965, 25% of Medicare beneficiaries lived in poverty. Medicare has enhanced the health and financial security of older people and their families; they no longer have to worry about paying for catastrophic medical costs. Because of Medicare, virtually all Americans age 65 or older are insured.


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Re: Basic Contradiction I Don't Understand
« Reply #28 on: June 04, 2012, 11:30:21 AM »
I don't understand how the conclusion follows from the original example.

Unless I'm missing something fundamental, the OP can be condensed as such:

A) Let's say there were an act that required certain websites to always be online. (By the way, this is a law that shouldn't and probably won't ever exist for a number of reasons, free speech issues being the main one.)
B) With this law in place, the SOPA protests wouldn't have happened.
C) SOPA would therefore have been passed.
D*) Therefore, a government that uses its power to protect a country inevitably becomes corrupt.

I don't understand why D follows from the previous points. This looks more like a very specific and unlikely hypothetical situation than an incontrovertible proof that power is corruption. Care to explain?

When you give a government authority, that authority will inevitably be used in a corrupt way.

As rumborak phrased so much more eloquently, you could just replace the word 'government' with 'business' and it would be just as true.
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Offline Scheavo

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Re: Basic Contradiction I Don't Understand
« Reply #29 on: June 04, 2012, 02:14:47 PM »
Crucial reading: Section 8 of the Constitution and the 10th Amendment. A lot of people have misinterpreted "general welfare" clause in Section 8 to be a catch all term for promoting many different social policies, but this is not the case because it enumerates 17 specific powers.

It's funny, because one of those 17 specific powers given to Congress, is to power to "promote the General Welfare." If memory serves me correctly, it's even the first one listed.

Social Security and Medicare are legal because everyone it's not targeted one one individual. They are public institutions, geared towards the public good, and everyone can join in on them. It falls within the definition of "General Welfare," now and at the time of the signing of the Constitution.

Quote
As rumborak phrased so much more eloquently, you could just replace the word 'government' with 'business' and it would be just as true.

Here's what I don't get about libertarian thought, on issues like this... so, people are supposed to be active and participate enough in a free-market to effectively control and regulate the market... yet in a Democracy, people show themselves to care so little, that they don't know even basic facts about the government, and who's in office.

I see no contradiction in giving an institution regulatory power. Like everything that ever exists, it will start to corrupt. But that's why we have voting and a democratic system, so that we can do something about all the corruption, and get things back on the right track.

At the end of the day, we live in a Democracy. Why? Because our military really won't accept anything else. The system is corrupt and it favors the status quo, but if people truly went out and voted out all the fucking morons in our government, there's no way the military would let them stay in power.
« Last Edit: June 04, 2012, 07:19:18 PM by Scheavo »

Offline rumborak

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Re: Basic Contradiction I Don't Understand
« Reply #30 on: June 04, 2012, 02:34:55 PM »
I don't know my US history all that well, but I would assume the majority of the aforementioned programs have been dragged in front of the SCOTUS for checking its constitutionality. So, you would first have to convincingly argue that the SCOTUS has misruled in all those cases.

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Re: Basic Contradiction I Don't Understand
« Reply #31 on: June 04, 2012, 02:36:53 PM »
I mean I think previous P/R discussions have established the political partisanship that has entered even the SCOTUS.
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Re: Basic Contradiction I Don't Understand
« Reply #32 on: June 04, 2012, 05:28:32 PM »
It's funny, because one of those 17 specific powers given to Congress, is to power to "promote the General Welfare." If memory serves me correctly, it's even the first one listed.

James Madison clarified the meaning of "general welfare" in Federalist #41. The 17 enumerated powers (which you can read here) are the things by which Congress is supposed to promote the general welfare and common defense. If "general welfare" and "common defense" were standalone statements, surely they wouldn't have enumerated specific powers like "To establish Post Offices and Post Roads" and "To provide and maintain a Navy." It would have been redundant. Clearly the Founders did not see it within the scope of the government to provide health care.

At the end of the day, we live in a Democracy. Why? Because our military really won't accept anything else. The system is corrupt and it favors the status quo, but if people truly went out and voted out all the fucking morons in our government

We do not live in a Democracy. This is a very common misconception. We live in a Republic. In fact, true democracies are terrible because they don't protect minority rights. "Democracy is two wolves and and lamb arguing over what's for dinner" as the saying goes. If the U.S. was a true democracy, the Christian majority could, for example, vote away the rights of atheists, Muslims, or Jews.

Offline rumborak

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Re: Basic Contradiction I Don't Understand
« Reply #33 on: June 04, 2012, 05:54:19 PM »
Yawn. Please, MML, do yourself the favor and look up the definition of the term "republic". It's not what you think.

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Offline theseoafs

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Re: Basic Contradiction I Don't Understand
« Reply #34 on: June 04, 2012, 06:00:57 PM »
Technically speaking, the United States is a democratic republic (not a democracy). However, because the concept of a true democracy isn't all too relevant today, the definitions of "democracy" and "republic" have colloquially merged to both mean roughly the same thing. For example, the dictionary calls America a democracy.