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Siobhan
Chief Healer

USA
2157 Posts

Posted - 09/14/2008 :  12:16:55  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
AMC, I found your comments very interesting, in that if you asked someone in SC they would respond that they are tired of their tax dollars going to any other state in the country (esp. California). The same is true in SC state politics. The upstate hates their tax dollars being spent to benefit the lowcountry.
So that made me wonder about the reality of the situation. It is a very complex issue. If we look at tax burdens it all comes down to the gap between the cost of living and income. SC has a low cost of living but a lower income level to go with it. I think you'd be hard pressed to find a family of 3 in California living on less than $100,000/year at the same level of comfort as we do. Also when it comes to government funding there's seniority in representation to count as well. Up until recently SC had the senior senatorial team of Thurmond and Hollings = power and clout.

I did find this article that would back up your statement: http://www.newrules.org/drdave/9-spending.html
Here is a table of tax burden for 2008 which also supports your statement:
http://www.retirementliving.com/tax_burden_2008.pdf

Personally, I think if we want to follow where the majority of our tax dollars are going, we need to start at DC and then look at points eastward.

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AMC
Mediwizard

1710 Posts

Posted - 09/14/2008 :  19:46:17  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Oh Siobhan - I'll find the website that shows what is received and what is allocated out of the federal budget by state by year - it's pretty disgusting how some states consistently receive a huge amount from DC over and above their contributions to the union - and yes, it's usually the southern states with senior representation in Congress. It isn't one year - happens every year, as far back a you can trace it. Our "blue state" representatives just don't seem to major in pork barrel, lol - I don't mind that but I do mind that it's the same damned people who bitch about "big government" and vote against supporting federal social programs that are being fed off the top with the annual federal budget.


And I love you, I love you, I love you.
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Edited by - AMC on 09/14/2008 19:47:14
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Siobhan
Chief Healer

USA
2157 Posts

Posted - 09/14/2008 :  20:02:28  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Yes, that little bit of irony didn't escape my notice either.

I actually looked at the census report from 2004 as well, though I didn't post a link. It's not really that surprising considering everything else that goes on-- or doesn't-- in government. I'll have to relate all the complaints I hear at holiday time. *shudder*

I really think its about time that some of the federal departments that get our tax money to redistribute out to us ought to go-- or at least have their responsiblities curtailed. They get too much power and then they start setting conditions for receiving our federal funding (look at seat belt legislation and speed limits on interstates-- all great safety ideas but hardly the federal government's jurisdiction).

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Theowyn
Looney

1078 Posts

Posted - 09/15/2008 :  11:47:58  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Siobhan

I really think its about time that some of the federal departments that get our tax money to redistribute out to us ought to go-- or at least have their responsiblities curtailed. They get too much power and then they start setting conditions for receiving our federal funding (look at seat belt legislation and speed limits on interstates-- all great safety ideas but hardly the federal government's jurisdiction).

On the one hand, I agree wholeheartedly, Siobhan. On the other I don't. The founding fathers would be rolling in their graves if they could see how much the federal government controls. States rights were taken very seriously 250 years ago and the states are still often in the best position to enact laws affecting their citizens.

The problem is that we have a lot more issues that affect the whole nation today than we did 250 years ago. For instance, federal limits on greenhouse gas emisions wasn't on the agenda back in 1776. That's what makes the whole state vs. fed debate tricky. An issue that I think should be decided by the states, someone else might think is a national concern.

On the subject of irony, I find it wierd that the folks demanding that government get out of their lives are often the same ones demanding bans on abortion and gay marriage. Hello? Government has no compelling interest in regulating how many or what kinds of guns people can own, but it does have a compelling interest in telling people whom they can marry??? How can that make sense to anyone?

Another irony: the religious conservatives who complain that their tax dollars are going to support the poor and disenfranchised.

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Edited by - Theowyn on 09/15/2008 11:53:06
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diricawl
Looney

United Kingdom
1078 Posts

Posted - 09/15/2008 :  12:54:18  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
As far as abortion goes, after a point, they're right. Murder is still a crime. The only question is when it's murder. As for gay marriage, the government should have no say at all.

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Theowyn
Looney

1078 Posts

Posted - 09/15/2008 :  13:49:29  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by diricawl

As far as abortion goes, after a point, they're right. Murder is still a crime. The only question is when it's murder. As for gay marriage, the government should have no say at all.

Agreed. But the debate over abortion needs to center on arguments other than "because the bible says so". Science really needs to drive this ethical debate rather than emotion on either side.

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diricawl
Looney

United Kingdom
1078 Posts

Posted - 09/15/2008 :  14:48:22  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
As far as I'm aware, the Bible doesn't say anything about abortion.

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As to the avatar, well, if you girls can all have Alan Rickman...

"They don't want the Easter Bunny's power; The children in our generation want Harry's power, and they're getting it." - Laura Mallory
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Theowyn
Looney

1078 Posts

Posted - 09/15/2008 :  15:56:22  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by diricawl

As far as I'm aware, the Bible doesn't say anything about abortion.
No, but that doesn't stop certain groups of religious conservatives from interpreting it to mean that life begins at conception and that contraception is immoral.

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diricawl
Looney

United Kingdom
1078 Posts

Posted - 09/16/2008 :  01:33:22  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I've always found that logic weird. If life begins at conception, then how is stopping conception immoral? If conception hasn't happened yet, then neither sperm nor egg is alive. Ergo preventing them from meeting up is not murder.

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As to the avatar, well, if you girls can all have Alan Rickman...

"They don't want the Easter Bunny's power; The children in our generation want Harry's power, and they're getting it." - Laura Mallory
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Cour_Delafleur
Confunded

Canada
714 Posts

Posted - 09/16/2008 :  09:18:47  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I always thought the whole anti-contraception argument was based on the belief that sex is for procreation only. Using contraception obviously impedes procreation, meaning sex must be for pleasure, which is immoral.


Returning to the rich states/poor states discussion... we have the same "problem" here too with our Equalization payments. "Have" provinces like Ontario and (especially) Alberta hate that they pay into Equalization payments that support the "have-not" provinces. The idea behind Equalization here is to ensure an equitable - or near-equitable - standard of living across the country. Many of the public services that make us a "welfare state" - especially universal health care but also things like education etc. - are administered by provincial governments rather than at the federal level so the government makes the payments to ensure that have-not provinces can provide the services.

It's a very contested issue here. Even liberals in have provinces don't support it while conservatives in have-not provinces argue for it. I, personally, am on the fence. I come from a province that is very much a have-not province, but I was taught about it while studying in Ontario. The economics student in me sees that there could be a dis-incentive for economic growth if a province were to rely on Equalization, while the liberal part of me believes that access to programs like education and health care is a universal right in Canada, not a privilege based on where you live.

"I think she's magic," said Nor.
________"You, you think everything's magic," Manek said. "Stupid girl."
____"Well, everything is," said Nor. - Wicked

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Edited by - Cour_Delafleur on 09/16/2008 09:27:25
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Siobhan
Chief Healer

USA
2157 Posts

Posted - 09/16/2008 :  10:49:55  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
...The economics student in me sees that there could be a dis-incentive for economic growth if a province were to rely on Equalization...
That's always a problem. It's what makes it so difficult to administer US welfare programs. Some recipients begin to rely on the government payments. They do not see a reason to push to improve their lives themselves. In fairness, it is a lot of very hard, discouraging (to say the least) work that should be rewarding in the long run, but not everyone is able to handle it. Many become discouraged, angry, and bitter because it is so tremendously difficult. Predictably a few begin to feel they are "owed" by society or the government and are willing to go to great lengths to get that aid. Administrators then end up spending money to police against increasingly crafty methods of fraud.
quote:
...access to programs like education and health care is a universal right in Canada, not a privilege based on where you live....
That is the goal with a lot of government programs-- to level the playing field, so to speak. It is admirable, but tough to do.

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Theowyn
Looney

1078 Posts

Posted - 09/16/2008 :  12:41:54  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Yes, the issue of how to equitably distribute wealth is probably one of the most important and difficult puzzles facing humanity in general. A brutal capaitalist approach which leaves people starving on the streets is not acceptable, yet pure communism inspires nothing but mediocrity.

This problem is only complicated by the fact that, more and more, we all have a vested interest in how well our neighbor is doing - be it the guy next door, the state next door, or even the country next door (or half a world away depending upon whether or not they affect our economy).

Finding a way to give people what they need while inspiring them to work for more is the holy grail of socio-economics and I predict that it will become increasingly urgent as the century progresses.


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AMC
Mediwizard

1710 Posts

Posted - 09/16/2008 :  23:06:38  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I have a more pessimistic approach - I think starvation in 3rd world countries and the the loss of living quality in the developed countries will be of more urgency. We've screwed up the environment so royally that coping with natural disasters, including famine and flood, is going to tax international and national resources beyond anything we've seen in history. Look at China - they're speeding ahead and eating all our lunches economically but they had 2 massive natural disasters this year and couldn't cope with either well. But they're also going to be a huge negative influence on world pollution and their approach of turning a blind eye to anything in their society that doesn't meet their desired image of perfection means they aren't going to admit it or address it for some time to come. Which may, quite literally, be the death of us all - or at least a lot of us.

I think most of the arguments about how to build the Great Society are going to be moot in 20 years.

Aren't I cheerful??? I hope I'm wrong and in 20 years we'll be arguing over whether a conservative "green" candidate beats a liberal candidate who doesn't believe in recycling.



And I love you, I love you, I love you.
Like never before, like never before.


Edited by - AMC on 09/16/2008 23:09:19
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Theowyn
Looney

1078 Posts

Posted - 09/17/2008 :  12:28:30  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
One of the most heartening things about our world is that we really can't predict where we'll be in 20 years. How many of us back in 1980 would have predicted the fall of the Soviet Union? So don't despair. Humans are quite surprising and above all else, adaptable.

While global warming is sure to cause moderate to massive disruptions in societies around the world in the coming century, I truly don't believe it is going to kill us all off or even a significant percentage of us. And heartless as it might sound, maybe throwing the world's resources into coping with natural disasters wouldn't be such a bad thing if it fosters a sense of global camaraderie and dampens our enthusiasm for war. There's an old joke that the one thing that would bring humanity together is an alien invasion. Well, maybe we don't need aliens. Maybe if nature gets sufficiently nasty it will have the same effect.

What I do know is that the single greatest danger facing humanity is our "us vs. them" mentality. Whether it's "I don't want my tax dollars going to support lazy welfare queens" or "all those [least favorite nationality or political group] are [derogatory comment]", we dehumanize others when we lump them together and degrade them.

That isn't to say that we shouldn't judge the actions and beliefs of others and stand against the things we believe are wrong. We absolutely should and it is going to take time to get everyone on the planet to a point where they can live with each other. The world isn't one big happy family at the moment - or even a dysfunctional one. But that is what we have to aim for because we are too connected to ignore each other's problems any longer. It isn't enough to run the homeless out of our neighborhood. We have to eradicate homelessness.

Consequently, I think the two biggest problems facing the planet are the same ones we have always had: poverty and ignorance. As long as there is gross inequality between the haves and have-nots, there will be resentment and fear, both between individuals and nations. Not to mention that democracy can't flourish amidst economic ruin.

But as destructive as an imbalance of wealth can be, the greater danger is and will always be ignorance. Ignorance breeds irrationality, prejudice and fanaticism surely the most pernicious problems facing our planet and allows self-serving dictators and charlatans to gain power. Poverty can be mitigated given the will of society to do so, but ignorance is often willful and blind to rational discourse. How do you disabuse people of destructive beliefs that they would rather die than give up? That is perhaps the most difficult and important question of all.

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Edited by - Theowyn on 09/17/2008 12:36:18
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AMC
Mediwizard

1710 Posts

Posted - 09/18/2008 :  02:18:35  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I totally agree with you Theo - I'm just afraid we've damaged the world far more than we know. As the old margerine commercial used to say - It's not NICE to fool Mother Nature.. (lightening bolt). I'm frankly not sure we have time to solve the great problems of our civilization. As a species we have learned so quickly how to make terribly powerful things - tools, toys, weapons - but we aren't very wise. Dangerous toys in the hands of babies is a recipe for disaster and that's kind of how I see the human race - we've put ourselves in charge of controlling forces we don't even understand. And there certainly aren't enough adults around to supervise!!!

So I shut my eyes and hope - there's always hope. And I hope we're headed for a more enlightened age, regardless of what takes us there.





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Siobhan
Chief Healer

USA
2157 Posts

Posted - 09/25/2008 :  10:55:59  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Bailout, Anyone?

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diricawl
Looney

United Kingdom
1078 Posts

Posted - 09/26/2008 :  06:17:49  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Yep. Everyone who took postgraduate courses in Businessology seems to think that's the best option. Everybody else has basically gone, "Are you ***ting me?"

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"They don't want the Easter Bunny's power; The children in our generation want Harry's power, and they're getting it." - Laura Mallory
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Siobhan
Chief Healer

USA
2157 Posts

Posted - 09/26/2008 :  11:16:51  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
So far the pundits seem to think its the only thing to try-- no other option, but we've heard that before (and fairly recently, too). Did you see Jon Stewart last night? They ran a deja vu segment comparing Bush's bailout speech with his war in Iraq speech. It would be funny if it weren't so disgusting. Money and absolute power with no recriminations, gee, what could any other government official ever want?

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Siobhan
Chief Healer

USA
2157 Posts

Posted - 09/30/2008 :  11:14:36  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I'm in a quandry about how to feel about the bailout failing. On one hand I'm glad they did not give Paulsen any more power than he already has. On the other I worry about the economy and how people will cope. On yet another hand, I figure we'll be paying for the financial crisis indirectly anyways, so why bailout the banks. On my fourth hand I feel really badly for smalltime, retirement building, investors and stockholders that got ripped off because of the perceived "evil-big-business."

One thing is for certain, we're all going to pay for this one way or another. I just hope the big time execs don't get huge bonuses for destroying the economy.

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diricawl
Looney

United Kingdom
1078 Posts

Posted - 09/30/2008 :  12:22:35  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Well, it was a bad plan, but it was a plan. And this isn't the kind of situation where a bad plan is worse than no plan at all. No, actually no plan at all is a disaster. Because the stock market is all about perception. If people THINK things are going to get worse, they get worse. Even a bad plan would have bolstered investors' confidence enough to keep us from another stock crash. But no, after handing out roughly $100 billion a year in corporate welfare for decades, administration after administration, suddenly taxpayer handouts to the rich aren't tolerable. The human ability to twist logic never ceases to amaze me.

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AMC
Mediwizard

1710 Posts

Posted - 10/05/2008 :  01:12:18  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Well it passed and God helps us all if it doesn't reassure the markets and the banks and restore some normalcy to the credit situation. My neighbor is a banker and she says things are just a mess because no one is getting they credit they need to do business. Our economy runs on credit, for good or for ill (and it's ill right now) and the money market isn't restored, the American economy will be in free-fall. I am not thrilled with the bail out - even less now that it's loaded with pork - but I hope to God it does what the Treasury folks think it will.

On the plus side - our horrible economic news has been very helpful in minimizing the chances of seeing Sarah Palin in the White House.

I love John Stewart and I love Stephen Colbert. I have DirectTV now - got it last week after 10 years of being cable-free - and I am enjoying every minute of my 10-11pm weekday orgy of Comedy Central political commentary.


And I love you, I love you, I love you.
Like never before, like never before.


Edited by - AMC on 10/05/2008 01:14:22
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Siobhan
Chief Healer

USA
2157 Posts

Posted - 10/05/2008 :  20:02:22  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Did you see that Stephen is going to be in a Spiderman Comic?
http://www.marvel.com/news/comicstories.5119.Spider-Man_&_Stephen_Colbert_Team_Up

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Theowyn
Looney

1078 Posts

Posted - 10/07/2008 :  14:54:04  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Well, the markets don't seem particularly reassured by the bailout. Hopefully Washington's latest attempt to get a tourniquet around a hemorrhaging Wall Street (diving into the commercial paper business) will have more success since it specifically addresses the short-term credit crunch. I agree with AMC, though. If the economy had to have a meltdown, it could not have been better timed than four weeks before election day.

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s.i.n.e. qua non

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Edited by - Theowyn on 10/07/2008 14:55:21
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diricawl
Looney

United Kingdom
1078 Posts

Posted - 10/08/2008 :  04:11:16  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I guess that settles it. God may be a Republican, but the economy is a Democrat.

So how are people reacting to the Obama/McCain smackdown last night? I was asleep while it happened, but it seems like neither did very well.

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As to the avatar, well, if you girls can all have Alan Rickman...

"They don't want the Easter Bunny's power; The children in our generation want Harry's power, and they're getting it." - Laura Mallory
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Theowyn
Looney

1078 Posts

Posted - 10/08/2008 :  11:57:12  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by diricawl

I guess that settles it. God may be a Republican, but the economy is a Democrat.
Lol! That's brilliant! As to the debate, CNN's poll says that the majority of debate-watchers think Obama won, but I watched the debate and I think they both acquitted themselves reasonably well, so I think this just reflects the way voters opinions were already trending. Unless a candidate gets a knockout punch or completely duffs it, I don't think debates sway voters nearly as much as the day-to-day campaigning.


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Siobhan
Chief Healer

USA
2157 Posts

Posted - 10/08/2008 :  19:18:00  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
CNN was reporting about AIG's execs going off to a spa on our bailout money. Here's an article:
quote:
During a hearing before the House Oversight committee on Tuesday, it was revealed that just last week, about 70 of the company's top performers were rewarded with a week-long stay at the luxury St. Regis Resort in Monarch Beach, Calif., where they ran up a tab of $440,000, The Post's Peter Whoriskey reported today.

Oversight committee Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) showed a photograph of the resort, which overlooks the Pacific Ocean, and reported expenses for AIG personnel including $200,000 for rooms, $150,000 for meals and $23,000 for the spa, Whoriskey wrote.

Today, AIG chief executive Edward Liddy defended the vacation by pouring gasoline on the fire.

Such trips "are standard practice in our industry," Liddy said, no doubt thrilling every other major insurance company.

In a letter to Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, obtained by ABC News, Liddy said the vacationers were largely independent insurance agents who had sold well for AIG.

"Let me assure you that we are re-evaluating the costs of all aspects of our operations in light of the new circumstances in which we are all operating," Liddy wrote. "We understand that our company is now facing very different challenges -- and that we owe our employees and the American public new standards and approaches."


http://voices.washingtonpost.com/livecoverage/2008/10/government_to_give_aig_more.html?hpid=topnews
Perhaps that review should have happened before they spent the money.

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AMC
Mediwizard

1710 Posts

Posted - 10/08/2008 :  23:07:07  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I'm guessing those top salesmen and insurance execs haven't caught on to Obama's "everybody is going to have to sacrifice in the new economy" message. That's just disgusting and I'm disgusted.. but not surprised.

I agree Theo - it was a draw but I do think McCain's body language portrayed desperation and anger. We watched part of it with the sound off and whereas Obama was relaxed, McCain looked like he wanted to hit people - or bite them, at one point. That non-verbal stuff does send impressions to voters.





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Siobhan
Chief Healer

USA
2157 Posts

Posted - 10/09/2008 :  10:09:24  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Well, I thought he was either walking off leg cramps or looking for Mr. Puddles. His speaking style was certainly less than favourably impressive to me when compared with Obama's. There were also a couple of times where he "interpreted (I'm so tired of having things dumbed down for me)" what Obama said that left me with a "Huh? Where did he get that?" After hearing Sara Palin (the real one-- not Tina Fey), I really don't think I could live with four years of more folksy, down-home, idiom-speak. I might just explode.

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diricawl
Looney

United Kingdom
1078 Posts

Posted - 10/09/2008 :  11:18:53  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I'm a lifelong feminist, and I honestly didn't believe a female George Dubya could exist. But America proved me wrong yet again. Is it just me, or is it not a good idea to overestimate Americans? I live in a country where Americans aren't treated with any kind of intellectual respect, but I also know that there are probably more educated Americans then there are British people. But every day I feel a deep despair at the country's intellectual capacity. Where are the defenders of rationality? Britain isn't a country over-endowed with brains, but we at least have mostly smart and knowledgeable people speaking on our behalf in the public sphere. It's just not seemly for a country to let its vulgar, flabby masses hang out the way the US does.

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AMC
Mediwizard

1710 Posts

Posted - 10/09/2008 :  14:27:27  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
That's called democracy, Diri - one voter, one vote - those vulgar, flabby masses are citizens and as citizens they wield power.

Certainly there are more educated people in the US than in Britain but the percentage of educated to uneducated - or thoughtful to thoughtless is undoubtably smaller here. We have huge expanses of country where people just don't think about political decisions and for the most part they are are proud of it - it's their family heritage or local tradition to vote one ticket and one ticket only. The lack of homogenity in our population is at one time our greatest problem and our greatest pride - we're supposed to be a nation of different voices. Unfortunately, some voices are truly uninformed and therein lies the problem with true democracy - it's a critical part of our nation's political setup that someone who is an expert in economic science has the same voting power as someone whose exposure to economics ended with learning to sew in 7th grade. In ancient Athens, where democracy originated, the citizens all voted - but the citizens were few and fairly homogenous. It's different here and I'm certainly not saying it's ideal - just it's how things work when you have a huge, diverse country that at least purports to support "true" democracy.

I think your comparative lack of mass media outlets helps - I enjoy watching the BBC news because they really concentrate on the issues that matter. Most of our news outlets are like your scandal rags - the lower the common denominator, the higher the ratings.




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