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Author Topic: Republicans are the problem
TomDavidson
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quote:
The problem with liberals, and by extension Democrats, is they tend to presume their own dogmas are simply enlightened common sense and that rejection of those dogmas are based on ignorance and/or malice.
I'm hard-pressed to come to an understanding of this quote which wouldn't apply equally to conservatives (and, I suppose, by extension to Republicans). Is it your contention that conservatives are less likely than liberals to ascribe malice or ignorance to people who disagree with conservative dogma?
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Viking_Longship
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
The problem with liberals, and by extension Democrats, is they tend to presume their own dogmas are simply enlightened common sense and that rejection of those dogmas are based on ignorance and/or malice.
I'm hard-pressed to come to an understanding of this quote which wouldn't apply equally to conservatives (and, I suppose, by extension to Republicans). Is it your contention that conservatives are less likely than liberals to ascribe malice or ignorance to people who disagree with conservative dogma?
No, if I make a statement about liberals it doesn't mean I am saying the reverse is true of conservatives.

It is my contention that liberals refuse to understand the way much of America thinks about moral issues and that's why the Democrats are doing the equivelent of singing one tune and playing another on the piano at the same time.

This doesn't reflect on the Republicans one way or the other.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
This doesn't reflect on the Republicans one way or the other.
How can it not? If this is "the problem" with Democrats, but it is equally a problem with Republicans, is it not also at the very least one of the problems with Republicans? If you don't know how the Democrats can govern from this position, is it not equally true that you don't know how the Republicans can govern from this position?

It's like saying, in a conversation about whether to buy a cat or a dog, "the problem with cats is that so many of them have hair."

I mean, bear in mind that this thread was started with evidence that the Republican Party has become so intransigent and hostile to outside opinion and/or compromise that it's willing to hold the functions of government hostage. Assuming that their motives in this are pure -- that they honestly believe their policies are important enough to enact that they must ensure that gridlock is the only alternative -- how is that not the exact same complaint you just identified as "the problem" with liberals?

[ May 04, 2012, 08:40 AM: Message edited by: TomDavidson ]

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Greg Davidson
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Back to the original point, the original quotes from the article are accurate with respect to Republicans and inaccurate with respect to Democrats

"ideologically extreme" - Terry Schiavo? Every Republican Presidential candidate in 2011 felt obliged to say that they would reject any tax increases even if they were in exchange for 10 times as much spending growth. That is a far more extreme position than previous Republican candidates have taken, and what is more extreme, the starting point in taxes was higher when Bush I and Reagan were willing to increase them.

"scornful of compromise" - The highest number of filibusters in history? Do you remember the budget battle last summer?

"unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science" - Economic stimulus during a recession was used by all prior Republican Presidents (including Bush II in January 2008), but Republicans still took a hard public position that the stimulus did not create jobs (even as they claimed credit for jobs created by the stimulus). Weapons of mass destruction? Creationists (including the Bush appointee trying to change NASA press releases)?

"dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition" - Impeaching Clinton, the assertion that opposition to Bush policy on Iraq was siding with terrorists, a constant barrage of denigration of Obama ranging from a Congressman shouting "You Lie" during the state of the Union Speech (and having an associated fund-raising boom) to propaganda attacking his legitimacy such that more than half of all Republican voters at times have doubted that he is Christian or even American.

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Viking_Longship
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
This doesn't reflect on the Republicans one way or the other.
How can it not? If this is "the problem" with Democrats, but it is equally a problem with Republicans, is it not also at the very least one of the problems with Republicans? If you don't know how the Democrats can govern from this position, is it not equally true that you don't know how the Republicans can govern from this position?

It's like saying, in a conversation about whether to buy a cat or a dog, "the problem with cats is that so many of them have hair."

I mean, bear in mind that this thread was started with evidence that the Republican Party has become so intransigent and hostile to outside opinion and/or compromise that it's willing to hold the functions of government hostage. Assuming that their motives in this are pure -- that they honestly believe their policies are important enough to enact that they must ensure that gridlock is the only alternative -- how is that not the exact same complaint you just identified as "the problem" with liberals?

You don't seem to understand what I'm saying.

Liberal philosophy is humanist and presumes that people are both reasonable and good. Thus if you can convince people that your position is logical and compassionate that should settle the argument.

We have a large contingent of the country that believes that, regardless of their own reason, certain things have specifically been forbidden by God explicitly. In much of the country a lot of moderates at least partially belong to this group as well.

To win elections Democrats have to appeal to both of those groups. That's why a pro-choice Democrat has to go to attend Nascar races and talk about how much they loved hunting with their daddy to convince middle America they're just regular folks.

Republicans don't have to play that game.

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KidTokyo
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Tom said:

quote:
I mean, bear in mind that this thread was started with evidence that the Republican Party has become so intransigent and hostile to outside opinion and/or compromise that it's willing to hold the functions of government hostage. Assuming that their motives in this are pure -- that they honestly believe their policies are important enough to enact that they must ensure that gridlock is the only alternative -- how is that not the exact same complaint you just identified as "the problem" with liberals?

This wasn't addressed to me but I'd like to point out that I'm not disputing that republicans have shown an unwillingness to compromise. I'm disputing that this is "the" problem.

You would have us believe that if the republican party would only become more "moderate" and compromise with democrats, we would have all these great social policies moving us forward into a bright new future. I think to believe this you would have to be in denial as to how we got into the current mess in the first place -- the economic anarchy was loosed by policies championed by democrats and republicans alike, resulting from their various compromises. Even if republicans conceded everything and took it all buns up and kneelin', the democratic policies would still be leading us into a future that is, as far as I'm concerned, a nightmare of totalitarianism and mass murder.

Greg said:
quote:
Back to the original point, the original quotes from the article are accurate with respect to Republicans and inaccurate with respect to Democrats

"ideologically extreme" - Terry Schiavo? Every Republican Presidential candidate in 2011 felt obliged to say that they would reject any tax increases even if they were in exchange for 10 times as much spending growth. That is a far more extreme position than previous Republican candidates have taken, and what is more extreme, the starting point in taxes was higher when Bush I and Reagan were willing to increase them.

"scornful of compromise" - The highest number of filibusters in history? Do you remember the budget battle last summer?

"unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science" - Economic stimulus during a recession was used by all prior Republican Presidents (including Bush II in January 2008), but Republicans still took a hard public position that the stimulus did not create jobs (even as they claimed credit for jobs created by the stimulus). Weapons of mass destruction? Creationists (including the Bush appointee trying to change NASA press releases)?

"dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition" - Impeaching Clinton, the assertion that opposition to Bush policy on Iraq was siding with terrorists, a constant barrage of denigration of Obama ranging from a Congressman shouting "You Lie" during the state of the Union Speech (and having an associated fund-raising boom) to propaganda attacking his legitimacy such that more than half of all Republican voters at times have doubted that he is Christian or even American.

While I support raising taxes on corporations and wealthy individuals, I do not condemn the impulse to draw a line in the sand regarding the overall amount of revenue the government collects. Might they not save some money by not incarcerating people and invading other countries? The government's sense of power and self-entitlement is itself extreme, so I completely respect the desire to say: no more money until you stop squandering it on unworthy projects.

People are more skeptical of stimulus now because they rightly are more afraid of bubble-building.

WMD's was a delusion shared by both parties.

Must of the rest of your attributions reflect only a subset of conservatives or republicans.

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
You would have us believe that if the republican party would only become more "moderate" and compromise with democrats, we would have all these great social policies moving us forward into a bright new future.
Can you show where he suggests that the lack of a particular problem translates into the extreme opposite of that problem? You're putting a whole lot of words in his mouth there.

Saying that we need to cut free of a millstone doesn't suggest that we can magically expect a hot air balloon to appear in exchange.

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
While I support raising taxes on corporations and wealthy individuals, I do not condemn the impulse to draw a line in the sand regarding the overall amount of revenue the government collects. Might they not save some money by not incarcerating people and invading other countries? The government's sense of power and self-entitlement is itself extreme, so I completely respect the desire to say: no more money until you stop squandering it on unworthy projects.
You can't squander want you create at will. The only way to take away a sovereign governments power to create and spend money on whatever it deems necessary is to stop all accounting in that money and stop providing any goods or services to economies that use that money.

Arguments for or against any given project need to be made on the actual merits of that project or in the form of social will to support it, not based on the money that it issues, because the amount of money that you let it mark out of your accounts has not bearing on its ability to pencil in a higher number the account of someone else who is willing to provide a service in exchange for that bigger number.

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KidTokyo
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I'm only taking it as given that by "problem" we mean an "obstacle" to something we deem worthy. Otherwise, no reason to complain and have this discussion.

Do you think the democrats are trying to advance good policy? Are they proposing solutions that you support?

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Wayward Son
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There is a difference between something worthy and good policy.

Universal health care is certainly worthy, and something that it appears to me that Republicans have been putting up obstacles to implementing.

That does not mean that Obamacare is therefore "good policy." I would not defend it as such. But it is the difference between trying to find the best policy that both parties can agree upon vs. just blocking any policy the other party wants and/or blaming the entire policy on the other party.

What we'd all like to see is both parties working towards the same goals, even if there is no complete agreement on the actual policy. But I don't feel that is happening right now. [Frown]

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KidTokyo
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The healthcare plan is a great example. If the democrats put forward something closer to what their base actually wanted -- say, an expansion of medicare -- there would probably be less opposition from republicans. Why? Because the expansion of base-line protections for the indigent could be coupled with the free-market proposals for "above and beyond" care more amenable to republicans.

Instead, democrats have of late been wedded to a Chicago-school economists approach to social policy, which is a more two-dimensional input-output model that is tone deaf to average joes who see things in more discrete terms than metrical ones. To academics and attorneys, "Obama care" seems less statist, because it involves "private" solutions, but to conservatives it seems more statist because it intermingles private and public, which I think is more of a threat to the average conservative than simply having a safety net -- even an expanded one -- which floats beneath the private market.

Since Clinton, democrats have been slipping on this same banana again and again and it's starting to look like a Beckett play.

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Wayward Son
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The problem is that Democrats seem to be the only ones working towards universal health care.

Clinton tried it back in the early 90's. Then the Republicans took over both houses and the Presidency and did nothing. Only when the Democrats had both houses (barely) and the Presidency did it come up again. And then the Republican threw up roadblock after roadblock, even though it was based on their proposal back in the early 90's.

Universal healthcare is simply not on the Republican's radar. We either get a flawed solution that can hopefully be fixed later or no solution at all. Perhaps no solution is a better plan, but universal healthcare is a worthy goal, and Republicans are blocking it, whether the policy itself is worthy or not.

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Grant
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If the latest proposal was based on a Republican proposal back from the early 90s, then apparently the Republicans have worked towards universal health care at some point. What happened?
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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by Grant:
If the latest proposal was based on a Republican proposal back from the early 90s, then apparently the Republicans have worked towards universal health care at some point. What happened?

You're looking at the results of as much as Nixon got done- employer provided health care that didn't become nearly as universal as it was hoped it would be.
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Greg Davidson
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I agree with KidT that there a balance is necessary. I can argue vehemently against stupid liberalism, I believe that those who have blanket condemnation of Corporations are severely mis-informed, I believe that government can clearly get over-bearing, and that checks and balances are necessary.

Way back in the 1970's, I favored Ford over Carter (although I approved when Carter deregulated the airline industry). But ever since Reagan it has been clear to me where the imbalance has been. And it is getting much worse - the Republican party has gone beyond the extremes of the Democrats in the 1970's to uncharted territories.

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Paladine
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Greg-

The main thrust of conservatism is a push for limited government and federalism. We want the center of gravity in the society to be local, with free people forming a civil society. When possible, we like seeing "community" functions performed by voluntary associations and families as well as state and local governments. Implicit in that is a very limited role for the federal government.

The liberal conception is somewhat different. The federal government on the liberal view has a dramatically larger role in the life of the society and the life of the individual; federalism is either ignored or attacked as a principle.

Over the past few decades, the country has moved dramatically towards the liberal and away from the conservative vision. We have a bigger and more muscular federal government than we've ever had before, with ever-expanding roles in virtually every sector of the economy and virtually every sector of private life.

I'm not arguing about whether or not that's a good thing right now; I'm sure you look at our expanding corpus of federal laws, regulations, and programs and think that they're either good or necessary by and large. What I hope you won't try to argue is that our government has done anything other than lurch markedly to the Left.

The same is true on social issues, from gender roles to sexuality, from law to entertainment, from religion to education to popular culture our society has again moved dramatically to the Left. Again, I'm sure you think that these are all very good or necessary changes.

I don't see how you can look at our society and think anything but that the Left has won resounding victory after resounding victory with respect to secularization, "gender equality", abortion, contraception, and the general disintegration of what many conservatives consider to be the traditional moral fabric of this country. I don't understand how you can look at the past half century and see anything but a march towards bigger and bigger government, towards a more and more secular state, and away from pretty much everything that I and people like me believe in.

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cherrypoptart
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The problem is that the Republicans are getting in the way of the government solving so many problems.

But the bigger problem is that the government is trying to solve so many problems that it shouldn't be.

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Pyrtolin
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The problem is that government (or any other collective decision making process that a given group of people employs; government just happens to be the term that we apply to it at the societal level) is only as effective at solving problems as the level of trust that people put in it. Republicans over the past ~30 years (Since Goldwater, really, but it didn't fully reach the mainstream) have realized that they can gain power more quickly by sewing and running on distrust of government, and then undermining it to vindicate their position, accelerating the decline that already comes from the paranoia that they are seeding.
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Viking_Longship
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quote:
The problem is that government (or any other collective decision making process that a given group of people employs; government just happens to be the term that we apply to it at the societal level) is only as effective at solving problems as the level of trust that people put in it.
This sounds good in theory but it isn't true. The effectiveness of government has nothing to do with the faith people have in it. It has to do with how well it utilizes the resources at its disposal and how solvable the problems it faces are.

Secondly every citizen in a town or a state or a country could vote in a private election and the results would be meaningless without the endorsement of the official government. Government is the name of the people who own the prisons and most of the guns. In our country we have some say in who those people are. In an absolute monarchy or dictatorship those people are still the government whether the people belive in them or not.

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Viking_Longship
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quote:
I don't see how you can look at our society and think anything but that the Left has won resounding victory after resounding victory with respect to secularization, "gender equality", abortion, contraception, and the general disintegration of what many conservatives consider to be the traditional moral fabric of this country. I don't understand how you can look at the past half century and see anything but a march towards bigger and bigger government, towards a more and more secular state, and away from pretty much everything that I and people like me believe in.
Probably because at the same time the left has won all these victories (though I question whether an expanded police state is really a victory for ANYBODY, let alone the left) the political climate has become so hostile to self-identified liberals that calling a politician a liberal has become a slur.
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Greg Davidson
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Paladine, first let me say I appreciate your reasoned tone. On balance, I disagree with your view of facts, but it is a mixed bag. Let me raise some opposing arguments that I don't believe are "slam dunk", but may give you something to think about.

First, I disagree with your characterization of conservative and liberal ("[Conservatives] want the center of gravity in the society to be local, with free people forming a civil society"). Liberals also would like that vision but are concerned that it may be too idealistic. Liberals are concerned about multiple types of impediments to local, community-based freedom. Liberals care about government over-reach (for example, strong liberal opposition to the net neutrality legislation), but liberals are also concerned with corporate over-reach, and the risk of some of those local people taking away freedoms of other local people. From my perspective, I might characterize the difference between liberals and conservatives as being that conservatives believe that if we stop government intrusion, the result will be that both corporations and individuals will allow each other to live together in peace and freedom. Since I suspect you are not comfortable with this definition, could you suggest how to modify it?

Next, regulation. This is a mixed bag, but I'd like to contest your assertion that
quote:
Over the past few decades, the country has moved dramatically towards the liberal and away from the conservative vision. We have a bigger and more muscular federal government than we've ever had before, with ever-expanding roles in virtually every sector of the economy and virtually every sector of private life
If I could show you some major areas of regulation where government power has been reduced in recent decades, I would hope that you would modify this basic premise of your argument. Here are some examples:

Finance - Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act in 1999 repealed parts of Glass–Steagall, removing barriers to competition between traditional banks, investment banks, and insurance companies, and allowing firms to participate in all three markets; regulatory changes that enabled the creation of new financial products such as the securitization of loan obligations of various sorts and credit default swaps.

Telecommunications - Telecomm Act of 1996 enables major changes in concentration of media ownership; earlier elimination of the Fairness Doctrine that required political speech on public airwaves to give equal time to opposition viewpoints

Transportation - a series of deregulation actions starting in the 1970's but ending around 2008 to promote market competition in Airlines, Bus lines, Trucking, and Shipping (for those who do not remember, in the 1970's airline routes and airfares were regulated the same way that public utilities are regulated today).

Each of these examples has a major effect on our economy and society, and in each case the trend has been inconsistent with your basic premise.

However, there have also been trends that are consistent with your premise. Technological changes and complexities have driven some of the changes, in some cases reducing the validity of old rules, and in other case providing new opportunities for corporate conflict that have led to additional regulation. And, as with any political movement, sometimes liberals have put in laws that reflect current majority positions but may only be ambiguously tied to natural rights (for example, banning smoking in public p;laces - I really appreciate this, but recognize it could be seen as unfair intrusion by smokers). On social issues, there have been additional restrictions on the freedom of individuals to discriminate against "protected classes" in hiring (minorities, women, and in some states homosexuals). Culturally, as you suggest, in many ways the country has gone in a much more liberal direction. I will, however, suggest that you overstate the case when you say that "the Left has won resounding victory after resounding victory with respect to secularization, "gender equality", abortion, contraception" - there's been a huge amount of legislative and government action in recent years regarding abortion, and the vast majority of legislative actions have been at the state level on the anti-abortion side.

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Aris Katsaris
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quote:
The main thrust of conservatism is a push for limited government and federalism.
And yet in the same post you portray the government having less power to ban abortions or contraception as a victory for liberalism, instead of conservatism?

If the War on Drugs got stopped, and the government severely limited its powers to pursue drug-users, would that be a victory for conservatism?

The US government no longer criminalizes homosexual sex, and that's a limitation of US government power -- is that a victory for the main thrust of conservatism?

Even the thing you describe as "secularism", is effectively the government limiting itself to no longer declare the truth of a particular religion.

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KidTokyo
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Paladine said:

quote:
The main thrust of conservatism is a push for limited government and federalism. We want the center of gravity in the society to be local, with free people forming a civil society. When possible, we like seeing "community" functions performed by voluntary associations and families as well as state and local governments. Implicit in that is a very limited role for the federal government.
This is also the goal of many leftists, who are a breed quite apart from "liberals." Even many who consider themselves socialists share this goal (perhaps minus "Federalism," a very slippery term).

What most conservatives fail to understand is that the kind of society you describe is in fact more highly regulated, especially in economic matters, and possibly in social matters as well. The nineteenth century in America was a place of much, much less economic freedom than the present day. This is a demonstrable fact -- I've studied the laws in place then at the level of the states in some depth. In America, "laissez-faire" and cultural "liberalism" evolved in consort, and both required an enhanced federal presence.

Everybody has this backwards now, because corporations have brainwashed us. This falsely-reversed view of history is the single largest obstacle we have to solving our problems in the present.

Case in point: the deregulatory measures mentioned above -- repealing Glass-Steagal for instance -- are considered synonymous with making government "smaller."

They don't make government smaller, they just make it different. Just as big, but less accountable.

[ May 05, 2012, 03:06 PM: Message edited by: KidTokyo ]

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Greg Davidson
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quote:
They don't make government smaller, they just make it different. Just as big, but less accountable.
Why do you think that government is "just as big?"

There were 6.1 million federal employees in 1970 and only 4.5 million in 2010. Over the same period, the US population grew by over 50%, so as a percentage, it was 3.0% in 1970 and 1.4% in 2010. Part of this is a reduction in uniform military, but even in absolute terms, non-military employment was smaller in 2010 than it was in 1970 (and as a % it was much smaller).

source: total federal employment

census data

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LetterRip
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Greg,

quote:
There were 6.1 million federal employees in 1970 and only 4.5 million in 2010.
If you change a job filled by a federal employee and instead hire a business to do the same job it doesn't reduce the amount of government in actuality. It just makes it less direct.
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Greg Davidson
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LetterRip,

Sort of. It depends on what is being described as "the amount of government". If you describe the public sector as being inherently inefficient and the private sector as being more efficient (a premise that often emerges with criticism of federal workers), then by that standard having fewer federal workers would result in higher efficiency. I don't agree with the premise, but it seems near-universal among those with anti-government feelings. A sincere anti-government critic would either have to acknowledge this as a key aspect of government that has been dramatically reduced, or abandon their anti-federal worker arguments.

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KidTokyo
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For most people who are concerned about the "size" of government, the mere number of employees is an ancillary concern. It's the power and influence it wields that matters most -- the extent to which the government controls and affects your life and mine in a way we can't escape.
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Greg Davidson
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"The extent to which the government controls and affects your life" was the other part of what I was describing - a significant reduction in the level of government control of things that substantially affect people's lives: finance, telecommunications and transportation.

I never hear anti-government advocates acknowledge that over the past 40 years, there has been substantial reductions in government regulation over major segments of the economy, and the number of government workers has been shrinking.

If anti-government advocates are sincerely interested in the size of government, then they should be trumpeting their success to-date even as they continue to make arguments for why further reductions are necessary. Similarly, if the Tea Party sincerely believed that taxes were an important issue and that the current level was excessive, then they would have strongly endorsed the part of Obama's stimulus that implemented one of the largest tax reductions in American history, even as they continued to make the argument for why further tax reductions were necessary. There's no inconsistency between acknowledging the progress made in the anti-government cause and pushing for further reductions. Instead, we get unrealistic depictions of overarching growth of government control.

I can think of no explanation of the behavior of the Republicans other than that of the original point of this thread:

quote:
...ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.
Can any of you anti-government advocates provide and alternate explanation for why those who argue for your positions ignore deregulation of telecomm, finance and transportation, or the large tax cuts that were part of the stimulus?
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KidTokyo
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quote:
"The extent to which the government controls and affects your life" was the other part of what I was describing - a significant reduction in the level of government control of things that substantially affect people's lives: finance, telecommunications and transportation.

I never hear anti-government advocates acknowledge that over the past 40 years, there has been substantial reductions in government regulation over major segments of the economy, and the number of government workers has been shrinking.

Has there been a reduction in the government's intrusion into our privacy? Does the Constitution protect us as much as it used to? Are there fewer people in prison for non-violent crimes? Is the tax code less onerous? Is the mainstream media more free to criticize the government, and investigate it? Is the government more transparant? Are we less likely to be sent to war on BS intel and propaganda?

I think the answer to each and every one of these questions is "no."

But beyond that, I reject your premise that the "deregulation" of entities responsible for "telecomm, finance and transportation" results in "smaller government" intrusion into the lives of individuals. Such entities cannot exist without the extensive legal and regulatory support apparatus provided by the government. When the government "deregulates" industries whose form and function is inextricable from government functions, it merely makes them less accountable.

The idea that government gets "smaller" when corporations purchase favorable legislation from it is part of the brainwashing I was referring to earlier. It's a lie that both parties seem to benefit from.

Take Glass-Stegeal again. A functional barrier is removed, but in all other respects the banks make use of our legal system, and benefit from the myriad regulatory programs which are essential to keep the industry going. There are hundreds of regulatory "points" along the pipeline, and because two or three are "deregulated" while others work overtime to make up the difference, you think this makes government smaller? It's a regulatory shift, not shrinkage, eventually requiring a huge bailout following a massive collapse which, in fact, is still having a major affect on us.

If Dr. Frankenstein lets his monster out of the cage to wreck havoc on your village, are you going to thank him for being "less involved" in your life than he was when he went through the trouble and expense of keeping it caged?

[ May 06, 2012, 12:26 PM: Message edited by: KidTokyo ]

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PSRT
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quote:
Is the tax code less onerous?
Absolutely, yes. The percentage of our income we pay as taxes has been on a downward trend since at least the 60's.

quote:
Has there been a reduction in the government's intrusion into our privacy?
In many cases, yes. Government can't prosecute you based on you have sex with, or how you have sex for that matter, or forbid you from marrying someone from a different race, or charge you with a felony if you don't carry a pregnancy from conception to birth, and overall there are stronger protections in place for protection of medical information. This is a small, partial, list. Yes, in other ways, government intrudes more, but there's a pretty strong case to be made that there is much less government intrusion than in the 50s.

quote:
Is the government more transparant?
Absolutely, yes. You can't get to "no," from this question without cherry picking to an extreme.

quote:
Does the Constitution protect us as much as it used to?
Which part? On balance, probably more than it used to, not less.

quote:
Are we less likely to be sent to war on BS intel and propaganda?
Maybe not, but not MORE likely, either. Take the Mexican war as an example from the 19th century. Or every military operation that Reagan engaged in. Or the Spanish American War. Or Vietnam. I mean, there haven't been many wars or military actions in our history that haven't been sold on false pretenses.
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KidTokyo
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PSRT,

I am taking about the time-frame of the last 30 years, late Carter and onwards, which is when most would allege a "lessening" of government.

quote:
Absolutely, yes. The percentage of our income we pay as taxes has been on a downward trend since at least the 60's.
What I had in mind was the difficulty of actually filing them -- something my wife points out every year (as, in Japan, the process is much easier).

quote:
In many cases, yes. Government can't prosecute you based on you have sex with, or how you have sex for that matter, or forbid you from marrying someone from a different race, or charge you with a felony if you don't carry a pregnancy from conception to birth, and overall there are stronger protections in place for protection of medical information. This is a small, partial, list. Yes, in other ways, government intrudes more, but there's a pretty strong case to be made that there is much less government intrusion than in the 50s.
Oh, there is no doubt we have more lifestyle freedom. We call this "privacy" because of the peculiar constitutional contortions required to secure them (do not take that as a criticism of those freedoms, which I support 100%).

I mean "privacy" in the more traditional sense -- government's ability to snoop into your doings. I don't think you are going to win the argument on that one.

quote:
Absolutely, yes. You can't get to "no," from this question without cherry picking to an extreme.
I can get to "no" by pointing out that the president can now execute any American citizen by drone without due process, that FOIA requests for any information on this program are routinely denied, as are even the legal briefs enabling it. I can point to the lack of criminal accountability for people in the CIA who destroyed evidence of torture programs. I can point to all the BS that's been in the headlines for the last 10 years and the complete inability of any of us to do anything about it. Redactions abound.

quote:
Which part? On balance, probably more than it used to, not less.
First Amendment, yes. Searches and Seizures? Hell no. Due Process? No, not a chance.

quote:
Maybe not, but not MORE likely, either. Take the Mexican war as an example from the 19th century. Or every military operation that Reagan engaged in. Or the Spanish American War. Or Vietnam. I mean, there haven't been many wars or military actions in our history that haven't been sold on false pretenses.
Fair enough...I see that you agree with me here.
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Greg Davidson
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KT,

There are two aspects to the hypothesis that big government is getting bigger and worse. My argument above primarily focused on how government's influence over our economic/business/consumer lives has decreased in many important ways in recent decades. And it definitely provides compelling proof of how removed from reality current Republicans are when they ignore these major changes.

The libertarian perspective on big government is more of a mixed case (and I am much more sympathetic to concerns of excessive government intrusion on libertarian grounds). But when we exclude the economics/business/consumer aspect, suddenly you will find that the worst damage has been done by Republicans. It is Republicans at the state level who have gone to extremist positions satisfying the legal definition of rape in their attempts to discourage women from abortion. In the case of Terry Schiavo, the Congress of the United States choose to intervene in a family's end-of-life decisions. My biggest criticism of Obama is that he has not eliminated enough of the intrusive, abusive practices against American citizens imposed by the Bush Administration with respect to battling terrorism, but there's no question who put the larger set of abusive practices into place.


quote:
Is the mainstream media more free to criticize the government, and investigate it? Is the government more transparant? Are we less likely to be sent to war on BS intel and propaganda?
These changes are in part a result of the deregulation of the media that was pushed primarily by Republican anti-government ideology. No Fairness doctrine, greatly expanded Corporate control and influence over the media, elimination of any practical determination of serving the public interest in license renewals.


A side note on the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which serves as a check on big government

quote:
Following the Watergate scandal, President Gerald R. Ford wanted to sign FOIA-strengthening amendments in the Privacy Act of 1974, but concern (by his chief of staff Donald Rumsfeld and deputy Richard Cheney) about leaks and legal arguments that the bill was unconstitutional (by government lawyer Antonin Scalia, among others) persuaded Ford to veto the bill, according to documents declassified in 2004. However, Congress voted to override Ford's veto, giving the United States the core Freedom of Information Act still in effect today, with judicial review of executive secrecy claims.
It's not that the Republican "brand" is intrinsically worse than the Democratic brand (the original generation of Republicans were amazing), but the folks who go by that label today have taken the country to the extremes identified in the original arti8cle at the start of this thread.
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Greg Davidson
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And here's more evidence that the heated Republican rhetoric about Obama's expansion of the size of government is un-rooted in reality in a way consistent with Norman Ornstein's assessment:
quote:
ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition

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Viking_Longship
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quote:
A side note on the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which serves as a check on big government
Years agao when I was in journalism school I was assigned to go get an incident report from the police. One seceretary was printing one off when her superior just shook her head. I trieed again, this time the cheif of police took me outside and explained that while incidents were public record, he'd need a court order.

I went down to the courthouse and ran into a prosecutor I knew, who let me transcribe one he had although he wasn't really sure it was legal.

FOIA is pretty much meaningless if you're not already a lawyer.

This is how the government can be more transparent in theory, and less transparent in practice.

[ May 06, 2012, 09:32 PM: Message edited by: Viking_Longship ]

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KidTokyo
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Greg,

I don't think you're really grokking what I saying here.

Let me try one more time with Glass-Steagal being repealed in 1999.

By removing the barrier between commercial and investment banking, new mergers could take place.

Is this a movement towards "laissez-faire" and less government involvement in banking? Both parties pretend that it is, for different reasons. But it's a false narrative.

Why? Because - what happens when two banks, or any large corporations want to merge? They file an application with the Justice Department. What does the Justice Department do? As a matter of law, it must make an in-depth study of the merger, consult with the corporate managers, make recommendations, and then finally approve the merger if it so chooses.

Now, with that bright-line barrier gone, the government is now actively involved in a whole series of business transactions that would not even be occurring had the change not been made. And while one "bright-line" rule may be gone, a dozen other micro-managerial rule now kick in to effect.

This is not "smaller government" with "less involvement." It is just as big, just as involved, and more accommodating to a corporate elite.

And, since the Reagan era, both parties have been feeding us this "smaller government" line precisely because it allows them to concentrate power where it is more effectively hidden from public view.

I agree with you about personal liberties and social issues (those you cite, at least, in your last post)-- there a real battle can be had between the parties because every human being in America is directly and immediately affected by such differences.

But when it comes to the economic architecture of the country, which affects us more obliquely but no less fully, your distinctions are largely academic, and wholly divorced from the actual magnitude of the changes, which have let most of us economically much more powerless than we were before.

And it has nothing to do with changing size, and everything to do with the people of both parties we have voted into office, and the mythology of liberty that they have fed us -- because they know we like that particular delusion.

Libertarian arguments and pseudo-libertarian policies have been used by both parties over the last 30 years to consolidate economic power and wealth, centralizing and protecting it from democratic process.

Libertarian arguments have been used by both parties to build the exact opposite of libertarianism -- a corporate surveillance state.

Clinton did it. Obama is doing it. Bush was merely part of a continuum.

They get away with it because people mistakenly believe something now which they had absolutely no illusions about 100 years ago -- that all these huge companies could simply exist on their own. The government is a facilitator and limiter both. Both parties now pretend it is only the latter. As a result, we fundamentally misapprehend what is happening now.

Media "deregulation" does not mean that the government is less involved in the media. It just means that the government facilitates more consolidation. The FCC is still there. It is no less powerful. It is just serving different interests.

[ May 07, 2012, 12:05 AM: Message edited by: KidTokyo ]

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Greg Davidson
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quote:
But when it comes to the economic architecture of the country, which affects us more obliquely but no less fully, your distinctions are largely academic, and wholly divorced from the actual magnitude of the changes, which have let most of us economically much more powerless than we were before.
I hear your assertion but disagree. If we were to reverse the de-regulatory actions that I delineated, by your logic there would be no more government intrusion than there is right now. So there would be no sense of an increase in big government if government were breaking up media conglomerates, insisting on local ownership, verifying stations serve the public interest, mandating equal time for opposing views. By your logic, government imposing major limitations on what today's financial institutions can do does not constitute any growth in "big government". If government went back to regulating airlines, trucking, railroads, and shipping - telling companies which routes they are allowed to use and what prices they may charge - that would not count to you as a growth in big government?

If that is your position, I believe that virtually every other member of Ornery would disagree with you.

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Greg Davidson
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quote:
what happens when two banks, or any large corporations want to merge? They file an application with the Justice Department. What does the Justice Department do? As a matter of law, it must make an in-depth study of the merger, consult with the corporate managers, make recommendations, and then finally approve the merger if it so chooses.
First of all, we have established that there are fewer government employees in an absolute sense than there were 10, 20, 30 or 40 years ago (and as a fraction of the population - or the number of financial transactions - it is a dramatically lower percentage of employees). I am not sure how it proves that there is a growth of big government when a more-stretched number of government employees perform reviews of Corporations engaging in additional transactions that previously would have been prohibited - the reverse would not be true (if there were a smaller number of allowable transactions, and a larger government workforce reviewed each one).
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AI Wessex
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"There were 6.1 million federal employees in 1970 and only 4.5 million in 2010."

Non-military federal employment is only slightly less (in absolute terms) over that period, but the military payroll has dropped by about 50%. Those numbers don't include contractors or consultants, though. I can't quickly find hard statistics about them, but this research article from 2006 talks about how much government grew in the years before it was published:
quote:
As the Bush Administration makes the turn to its final two years, it has overseen the most significant increase in recent history in the largely hidden workforce of contractors and grantees who work for the federal government. Fueled by nearly $400 billion in contracts in 2005 and another $100 billion in grants, the true size of the federal government now stands at 14.6 million employees, which includes civil servants, postal workers, military personnel, contractors, and grantees. The total is up from 12.1 million in 2002, and just 11 million in 1999.

More than half of the 2005 total is composed of contract employees, which accounted for an estimated 7.6 million jobs. This number is up nearly 2.5 million since 2002, the last year that the true size of the federal workforce was measured, and the most recent year for which complete data are available. And it is up 3.2 million since 1999. As such, the growth in contract employees between 2002 and 2005 marks both the single largest absolute and percentage increase since 1990 at the end of the cold war, which produced sharp declines in the number of civilian, military, and contactor employees during the 1990s. All of the increase in contract employees is due to increased spending at the Department of Defense. The trend is tracked in the table attached to this fact-sheet.



[ May 07, 2012, 07:49 AM: Message edited by: AI Wessex ]

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KidTokyo
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quote:
If we were to reverse the de-regulatory actions that I delineated, by your logic there would be no more government intrusion than there is right now. So there would be no sense of an increase in big government if government were breaking up media conglomerates, insisting on local ownership, verifying stations serve the public interest, mandating equal time for opposing views. By your logic, government imposing major limitations on what today's financial institutions can do does not constitute any growth in "big government". If government went back to regulating airlines, trucking, railroads, and shipping - telling companies which routes they are allowed to use and what prices they may charge - that would not count to you as a growth in big government?
Two points.

1) By your logic, people would now "sense" that government is smaller. Obviously, they do not. They only sense that it is more distant, and not working for them.

As for how people would feel about a return to the 70's -- in some, but not all of the circumstances you describe, people would likely feel freer once the wealth divide lessens.

But in terms of what they would sense in general -- my whole point here is that senses can be deceiving, and that is why the government continues wield all the power it had before, only not on our behalf.

2) For most of the 19th century, most private businesses -- especially small businesses -- faced far moreregulations and restrictions than they do today, including "time and place" requirements as well as laws gearing very strictly towards consumer protection. Regulations of a type we would neither accept nor consider constitutional today. These were enacted entirely at the state and local level.

They only went away when the federal government intervened on Constitutional grounds, beginning at the end of the 19th century.

State governments were in many ways "smaller" then with fewer employees relative to the population, but their presumptive "police powers" were huge. They could declare, for instance, that any extra space in your grain silo that you wished to rent to another citizen in need of storage space was actually "state property." Yes, really, and the Supreme Court upheld it! That was 1876. Is that "bigger government" or "smaller government"?

You have even conceded my point, I think, by demonstrating that Republicans often want to place greater restrictions on civil liberties. But now I'm asking again -- is that bigger or smaller or just different? When you ask the federal government to step aside from its constitutional bright lines, and cede regulatory power to a state?

In terms of our federal government in the present, it has ceded no presumptive power whatsoever -- no presumptive power over states, nor over banking and commerce. It may permit things it didn't used to, but in permitting them it also supports them actively, at the nuts and bolts level.

Bailing out the banking industry, and then the auto industry, is about as "big" as "big" can get. As is executing people with drones, and incarcerating 1% of the native population. As is pushing for ever-more broad powers of electronic surveillance and searches.

I think that if the government actually, verifiably pulled back or ceased a lot of these activities, it would seem smaller and less intrusive even if it did reregulate banking.

Whether it would "be" smaller is academic, just as it is now. It now looms larger over me than I have ever felt before, and, while not especially aged, at age 38 I have some history and perspective. I've never feared the government and what it may do next more than now.

quote:
First of all, we have established that there are fewer government employees in an absolute sense than there were 10, 20, 30 or 40 years ago (and as a fraction of the population - or the number of financial transactions - it is a dramatically lower percentage of employees). I am not sure how it proves that there is a growth of big government when a more-stretched number of government employees perform reviews of Corporations engaging in additional transactions that previously would have been prohibited - the reverse would not be true (if there were a smaller number of allowable transactions, and a larger government workforce reviewed each one).
Not every agency and branch shrinks.

In fact, the justice department has grown significantly during the Reagan era. To really make the point, here is a NYT article from 1991.

quote:
By DAVID JOHNSTON, Special to The New York Times
Published: March 26, 1991

After a decade of Republican stewardship, the Justice Department has grown in manpower and budget but has lost its pre-eminence as the driving force for social change and the center of legal thinking in the Government.

Legal experts credit Attorney General Dick Thornburgh with trying to reverse a legacy of turmoil, distrust and diminished influence left by his immediate predecessor, Edwin Meese 3d.

But Mr. Thornburgh has not reclaimed for the Justice Department the power and influence that have steadily shifted to White House legal counsels since 1981. And in the view of legal observers like Warren Christopher, a Deputy Attorney General in the Administration of President Lyndon B. Johnson, "the office awaits full restoration" to the central role it played in both Democratic and Republican administrations in the 1960's and 70's.

Civil rights leaders in particular are critical of the greatest single change from the Justice Department of the 1960's and 70's -- the shift to what they see as an upside-down policy of using laws that were originally passed to expand the rights of blacks and are now being used to limit their ability to get special consideration in employment and education.
[...]

*The department's budget has grown, from $2.3 billion in 1981 to more than $10 billion this year, largely as the result of spending increases since the mid-1980's to build prisons, hire more law-enforcement personnel and increase the number of Federal prosecutors to 4,000, from 2,500, by the end of 1991.

*The increasing emphasis on drugs and crime has affected the nature of the Attorney General's job itself. While many of his predecessors served as Presidential confidants, Mr. Thornburgh has devoted more time to managing the department's budget and its 80,000 employees. And because of the increasingly international nature of drug trafficking and crime, he has spent more effort working with the legal authorities in other countries. Mr. Thornburgh says he spends 40 percent of his time on such issues.

That's a huge increase in the Reagan and Bush years!

Currently?

According to wiki:

Employees 111,993 (2010)
Annual budget $27.7 billion (2010)

The biggest ever!

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Viking_Longship
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quote:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e6Kc0UOHABc&feature=g-vrec
John Stossel and David Boaz. Look at the 39 minute mark.
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