Kuro5hin.org: technology and culture, from the trenches
create account | help/FAQ | contact | links | search | IRC | site news
[ Everything | Diaries | Technology | Science | Culture | Politics | Media | News | Internet | Op-Ed | Fiction | Meta | MLP ]
We need your support: buy an ad | premium membership

[P]
Has the US government become too hungry for power?

By erotus in Op-Ed
Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 02:03:21 PM EST
Tags: Freedom (all tags)
Freedom

The United States was once a small country with freedoms citizens of other nations could only hope for. The government was small and so was the population. The US was very much against the bullying of other nations and with absolute certainty did not want to bully it's own citizens. The more freedom was defined, more laws were added, the less freedom citizens have. Today, the US is becoming a police state and an international bully. Many foreign nations, while friendly to Americans, are unfriendly to our government and resent it's intervention in their personal affairs. I'm barely hanging on to a thread of belief that I still live in a free and just nation. Has the US government become too power hungry for it's own good?


Foreign Abuses:
As an American, I can only shake my head in disgust at the MPAA's arrest of 16 year old Johanson - creator of deCSS. When the DMCA was passed it contained a delay to the date the anti-circumvention provisions takes effect - October 28, 2000. So why was Johanson arrested? Even if this law is internationally applicable the provisions for circumvention were not yet effective - could deCSS in fact be legal then? I'll save this for another discussion. Basically, the US has lost respect for the sovereignty of other nations. The thought that they can go into another country and arrest a non-US citizen for breaking US laws is truly amazing. The US government/mpaa is trying to enforce laws beyond its borders and that is greatly disturbing. Iran believed it could export it's laws - an Indian, Salman Rushdie, received official death threats from the Iranian government because his book, "Satanic Verses", somehow insults Islam. I see no difference between the act of the US or Iran here. They both want to shove their laws and ways of life down other people's throats.

The US has become much more imperialist in nature. An example of this would be the Helms-Burton Act. The HBA allows US companies to sue foreign companies that trade with Cuba. They justify this on the basis that these companies are dealing with property nationalized by Fidel Castro which once belonged to American companies. Using this logic, England should sue companies that do business with the USA. Opponents to the HBA point out that the US is trying to make/impose its own restrictions on foreign businesses, a policy highly resented throughout the world. Many nations retaliated by creating a counter-act stating basically that no other country can define how they deal with other nations.

There are many other amazing things the US can do but many others that it can't. (or would rather simply ignore) For example, college students are tricked into vacationing to Nicaragua and when leaving, tricked into carrying cocaine out. These young students are then caught by Nicaraguan officials and held in the most deplorable of conditions, yet the US government says it can do nothing. They do nothing because only a person's life is at stake and not the psychosomatic welfare of a corporation. How nice, as an American I can be assured that my country will do nothing to protect me outside it's borders, yet foreigners outside of these borders may not be totally immune to US laws. This spells hypocrisy.

Local Abuses:
On the local front, we have civil forfeiture laws, which clearly violate the fourth amendment. The fourth, guarantees protection against unlawful searches as seizures of property. Civil forfeiture stems from the medieval belief that a "thing" can be guilty. Most Americans believe that the U.S. legal system still operates by the principle that the accused is presumed innocent of wrongdoing until proven guilty. In recent years, however, this principle has come under attack by civil forfeiture laws that permit the government to take the property of citizens who have not been proven guilty of violating the law. The government sometimes keeps the property despite the fact that the person is never given a guilty verdict. Example: A motel owner had his property seized because drug deals and prostitution occurred on his property. How was this guy to know what people do when they go to their rooms? Yet the property was seized and not returned for a considerable amount of time. Many believe that taking one's property and convicting them of a crime is a constitutional violation of the protection against double jeopardy. Guess Again! In an 8 to 1 ruling the Courts decided that civil forfeiture does not violate the constitutional protection against double jeopardy. Government can use the criminal law to prosecute someone and the law of civil forfeiture to seize a defendant's property. In another civil forfeiture case, a court ruled 5 to 4 that there was no constitutional barrier against the Government seizing property that was used to commit a crime, even the property of an 'innocent owner' who had no connection with the criminal activity. Are you scared yet?

Now that I have you a bit more paranoid lets talk about Carnivore and the Fugitive Apprehension Act 2000. There was already a post to the front page about the Fugitive Act so I won't go into too great of detail. As you may well know, Carnivore is a box that sits at the ISP and filters emails for keywords. The FBI claims that it does not intend to violate the freedom of ordinary citizens. Just when I was about to believe that, here comes this Fugitive act which gives the FBI such broad powers it just makes my head spin. If this passes the government can do secret searches of not only you, but also your friends and relatives. "In other words, if your wife's second cousin never showed up in court for his drunk-driving trial, the government could look at your bank records, telephone records and Internet records - without a court order and without ever telling you about most of the searches." (NationReview.com) I don't know about you, but this is giving me an even bigger headache because the powers of government seem to have no end in sight.

Conclusion:
Why are we letting this happen? How can a country, that 200 years ago stood for freedom and justice, bully it's own citizens today? How can a nation that believed in the sovereignty of smaller nations, bully other nations and foreign citizens? How can the constitution be the law of the land if there are exceptions like consensual crime laws that are based on religion and morality - violation of the first amendment? How can the Fugitive Apprehension Act and Civil forfeiture laws be allowed to exist when they violate the fourth and fifth amendment? There are many more examples of our freedoms being eroded away that I wish I could have included in this post. In essence, I believe the government needs a serious wake up call that will shake those senators and representatives out of their ivory towers. So, why is this happening in America today? Could the corporate buyout of Senate and the House of Representatives be a contributing factor? Is John Q. Public too apathetic and too wrapped up in football and the latest sitcom to take notice? Are other nations worried about the consequences of not kowtowing to the whims of the USA? Well, now you may respond. If you have personal experiences with civil forfeiture laws or other injustices, please share them. If you are not from the USA please tell us how the US government/US corporations have affected you as a foreign national. Finally, say why you think this has happened and what we can do about it? Is there a solution that a particular third party could solve or will we need another Boston tea party?

Now it's your turn. Fire away!

Sponsors

Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure

Login

Related Links
o Also by erotus


Display: Sort:
Has the US government become too hungry for power? | 206 comments (206 topical, editorial, 0 hidden)
Does the Pope shit in the woods? (1.00 / 17) (#1)
by _cbj on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 10:09:08 AM EST

-1 Redundant.

0 is for spam (3.11 / 9) (#11)
by tom0 on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 01:13:18 PM EST

You may not think the post is redundant, you may not agree with his vote, but the FAQ says the 0 is for "Spam only" (ie grits).

[ Parent ]
What's redundant about it? (none / 0) (#149)
by Merekat on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 04:53:52 AM EST

Why your comment?

Seriously, I'm interested in what you think is redundant about this article, and I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt in not assuming you say that simply because you disagree. You obviously have an opinion. Please elaborate.
---
I've always had the greatest respect for other peoples crack-pot beliefs.
- Sam the Eagle, The Muppet Show
[ Parent ]

The US has always been like this (3.46 / 26) (#2)
by chaotic42 on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 10:41:43 AM EST

The US was founded by the rich white protestant male, for the rich white protestant male. It's still like that today. The US is the master of subterfuge. This is where the USSR failed. Instead of cutting off freedom completely like the Soviet Union, the government lets us think we're free.

As long as we think we're free, we aren't going to complain about it.

Now, to some of your points. The US can get away with things like insane laws that take away our freedoms by convincing Joe Beercan that it stops criminals. Sure, it might do that, but it also limits our freedoms. This is of no consequence to Joe Beercan (JB) because as long as there is beer to drink, trucks to buy, and Playboys to look at, he doesn't think any of his freedoms are being taken away.

As for the statement that 200 years ago the US stood for freedom and justice, I can only assume you're reading from a middle school text book. Why don't you ask all of the slaves, women, and the poor of the era? Do you expect them to say "No, I just work in the field 18 hours a day for some bread, water, and pork fat because it's a hobby"? I should hope not.

Is there a solution, you ask? Well, yes, there is. I don't really know what it is though. People seem to think that one idea, one law, one motion, can make everything great. The problems in our world today are so insanely complicated, that no one action will help anything. It would require a massive wake-up of the public, and then they'd have to act on it. Even then, who's to say things would be different for very long?

Oops (1.85 / 7) (#4)
by Jade E. on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 10:55:37 AM EST

Damnit, I hate it when I spend 45 minutes ranting, and someone posts a shorter version of the same sentiment while I'm writing :)

[ Parent ]
You must be reading a rewritten middle-school book (3.37 / 8) (#8)
by End on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 12:30:27 PM EST

Alexander deToqueville would disagree with you....

-JD
[ Parent ]

I Don't Quite Agree (4.00 / 2) (#55)
by Daverix on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 01:23:56 AM EST

As for the statement that 200 years ago the US stood for freedom and justice, I can only assume you're reading from a middle school text book. Why don't you ask all of the slaves, women, and the poor of the era? Do you expect them to say "No, I just work in the field 18 hours a day for some bread, water, and pork fat because it's a hobby"? I should hope not.

Two Hundred Years ago, when the United States was formed, the then leaders of the nation did in fact believe in freedom and justice. Following the Enlightenment, a political movement called 'republicanism' (note the small r, I am not referring to the Republican party).

The 'republicans' believed in creating a nation with a freedom of opportunity, to eliminate the social aristocracy, to build a nation where anyone with enough talent and education could rise up the social ladder. A society based on what you could do, not who you knew.

As far as the slaves, and women, you have to understand their context at the time. By the time the United States was formed, Slavery was already being condemned. Thomas Jefferson's first draft of the Declaration of Independence intended to denounce slavery in the United States, however it was deleted in order for the Southern states to approve the Declaration. They were willing to sacrifice some freedoms in order to stay together. Eventually, the country would go to war with itself over the issue of slavery, in what some call the last battle of the revolutionary war, the Civil War.

What is my point with all this history? It goes to show that the Americans were not intending to create a police state where the rich would abuse the common citizens. If this is what they wanted, they would have created a monarchy.

Have the ideals America was founded upon faded? Of course. Are we living in a police state? No.

It is not time for revolution, however it is time for a change. Our system of government is not the best, but it is by no means the worst. We need leaders who actually want the best for the country, not for themselves. The problem is with the American people. Everytime I see Bush pulling ahead in the polls, I have to question the intellegence of the American people. Bush has been bought and paid for by big business, and will do everything in his power to make the rich even richer, and more powerful. Am I saying Gore is any better? I don't know, and that is the problem. The American people have to vote based on the "lesser of two evils". The candidate we need is someone who is not afraid to follow their own beliefs and views, no matter how it hits their pocketbook.

Someone who Americans can relate to.

Am I dreaming? Probabally.

[ Parent ]

Lesser of two evils (2.00 / 3) (#67)
by thePositron on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 03:16:25 AM EST

"The American people have to vote based on the "lesser of two evils". This is simply not true, The American people have the choice of casting their vote for 3rd party candidates or not voting at all. I think the problem is that most people choose not to vote due to disgust with the "lesser of two evils."


Ralph Nader
<A HREF="http://www.harrybrowne2000.org/>Harry Browne

Why not vote between the greater of two goods?

[ Parent ]
Lesser of two evils (4.00 / 2) (#68)
by thePositron on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 03:17:03 AM EST

"The American people have to vote based on the "lesser of two evils". This is simply not true, The American people have the choice of casting their vote for 3rd party candidates or not voting at all. I think the problem is that most people choose not to vote due to disgust with the "lesser of two evils."


Ralph Nader
Harry Browne

oops! Why not vote between the greater of two goods?

[ Parent ]
Well... (none / 0) (#87)
by Daverix on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 01:27:39 PM EST

While of course there are the other choices, such as Nader or Browne, most people will not vote for them because they will see it as a 'wasted vote', which is the problem.

If people would actually vote for the cadidate they believed in, instead of voting for Bush because he's Republican, or because his daddy was president, or whatever, or voting for Gore because hes a Democrat, we might actually break this cycle we are in.

[ Parent ]

Re: I Don't Quite Agree (none / 0) (#156)
by chaotic42 on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 08:09:38 AM EST

Two Hundred Years ago, when the United States was formed, the then leaders of the nation did in fact believe in freedom and justice. Following the Enlightenment, a political movement called 'republicanism' (note the small r, I am not referring to the Republican party).

That's why they had slaves, treated women as second class citizens, and only allowed land owners to do anything? Like I said, for the rich white male, by the rich white male.

They were willing to sacrifice some freedoms in order to stay together. Eventually, the country would go to war with itself over the issue of slavery, in what some call the last battle of the revolutionary war, the Civil War.

Willing to sacrifice freedoms like a person not being able to own another person? What's the point then? Lincoln didn't have a problem with slavery. He said that there wasn't a need to allow the slaves free, just no new slaves could be had (I'll have to check the reference on that one, so it's not word for word).

Have the ideals America was founded upon faded? Of course. Are we living in a police state? No.

Have the ideals faded? Not really. Are we in a police state? No, we aren't. The point is to stop all of this before we _are_.

The candidate we need is someone who is not afraid to follow their own beliefs and views, no matter how it hits their pocketbook.

You're right. That's why we should try to get a third party elected. I'd personally say Nader, but I think my printer could do more than Gore or Bush.

[ Parent ]
RE: RE: I don't quite agree (none / 0) (#194)
by RandomFactor on Thu Oct 19, 2000 at 09:12:21 AM EST

Willing to sacrifice freedoms like a person not being able to own another person? What's the point then? Lincoln didn't have a problem with slavery. He said that there wasn't a need to allow the slaves free, just no new slaves could be
A very effective tactic (check the inroads they've made on the 2nd amendment, which delineates a RIGHT, using this kind of grandfathering technique.)
It would be interesting to see, if the South had allowed Lincoln's approuch, (eliminating slavery in a generation) instead secession and Civil War (with the attendant mass slaughter and complete destruction of states rights beyond a token level) if we would have still evolved into the centrally controlled abomination of the government envisioned by the founding fathers that everyone here is ranting about.

[ Parent ]
DA: Why should John Q. Public care? (4.16 / 31) (#3)
by Jade E. on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 10:53:36 AM EST

[NOTE: The DA notation in the topic is something I'm used to from private conversations, if you don't recognize it please go down and read the footnote first. Also, I know this post is entirely US-centric, and I apologize, but it's a US-centric story, and I'm not familiar with the average citizens of any other country.]

You ask if John Q. Public is so wrapped up in football and the latest sitcom to take notice. The short answer is: yes. The long answer is: Why should they care?

This may come as a shock to some of the intelligent people who read this forum, but the average American not only doesn't care about the issues raised in this article, they really don't have any reason to care. They have every freedom they could want. They can work for 8 hours a day, go down to the local store, buy a 12 pack of beer, sit down and watch TV all night, then go to sleep and do it all again the next day. They can raise their family, cut their lawn, and go out hunting with their buddies, and not worry about anything beyond the basics. For an amazing amount of people, that's all they want. They're happy. Sure, if they happen to be the one to get arrested by an FBI gone out of control, they're going to suddenly care quite a bit, but since things like that only ever happen to 'someone else', why should they care? Sure, if they happened to be arrested for piracy, they're going to care about the DMCA, but in the long run they'll still be able to go down the The Wharehouse and buy the CD (for $20) they heard on the radio That morning, so why should they care? The vast majority of people will never be directly affected by any of the injustices you pointed out, and since they get all of their news through major media outlets, they're never even going to know there's an alternative to corporate monopolies like the MPAA (and/or the RIAA). But, the bottom line is, why should they care? The odds of them being affected are so drastically small, they can live their whole lives in a near-idyllic world, never worrying about foreign policy, corporate intrusions, privacy, or any of that. And what's wrong with that?

Sheep are quite happy to graze in their fields all day, even if it means getting sheared every year. Most livestock are, as far as we can tell, quite happy with their lives right up until the slaughterhouse. Sure, we'd like to think people are a little better than that, but in reality probably 98% of the American public would be quite happy to live in a corporate run society. As long as they have the basics of their simplistic lives (food, shelter, superficial privacy, accessible [even if expensive] entertainment, the latest fads in clothing), they're going to be happy, and who are we to say they're wrong? Those of us who can see beyond the end of our block are scared shitless of these developments, but America's government is still largely 'by the people', and even our politically active citizens are largely concerned with trivial non-issues. Unless the majority of our citizenship suddenly has a tremendous attitude reversal, the vocal (intelligent) minority isn't going to make a difference, so why bother trying? Why don't they just sit back in their La-Z-Boy, put on that new top 20 album, throw a USDA approved steak on the Coleman barbeque, crack open a Coke, pick up their local edition of the nationally syndicated news, relax, and enjoy the slow collapse of their rights? After all, 'normal' people aren't affected by the problems that are bothering you.

So why should they care?

-Jade E.

P.S. I know I drifted slightly offtopic towards the 'corporatization' problem, but it's a pet peeve of mine. Sorry.

- Footnote -
Alright, before I get flamed to death, for those of you who don't know what 'DA' stands for, that's the notation for "Devil's Advocate", and indicates I'm presenting a viewpoint I don't (necessarily) believe. In this particular case, I'm presenting a somewhat exaggerated version of what I percieve to be the popular viewpoint of the average American, although personally I'm frustrated as hell and would like to slap every apathetic SOB upside the head.

I know you're playing devil's advocate... (4.00 / 13) (#5)
by DJBongHit on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 11:12:45 AM EST

... but the average American citizen really does have a reason to care about this. Whether or not they do care is another question, but they should.

This may come as a shock to some of the intelligent people who read this forum, but the average American not only doesn't care about the issues raised in this article, they really don't have any reason to care. They have every freedom they could want.

The reason people have so many freedoms today is because of the protections set forth in the Constitution over 200 years ago. Until recently (and by recently I mean this century), these protections were respected by both our Government and the people. However, our Government has recently been passing laws which are blatantly Unconstitutional and immoral, and nobody says anything because they're not directly affected by these laws.

Well guess what? They are affected by these laws. Each law that chips away at our Constitutional rights paves the way for the next law which chips them away even more. And the only reason that these laws get passed is because our society has a tendancy to treat the symptoms of a problem rather than the cause (for example, we have a drug problem, so pass laws which allow unconstitutional searches and seizures to try to get drug dealers out of our neighborhoods). The Government loves it when we cry for laws like these, because it allows them more power to spy on us, to seize our assets, and to treat us like children who need to be protected from ourselves.

If we don't keep our Government from trampling our rights today, we could wake up tomorrow and find ourselves living in a police state. Our rights and freedoms, as spelled out in the Constitution, are the most important things we have and we should not take them for granted.

~DJBongHit

--
GNU GPL: Free as in herpes.

[ Parent ]
Proof (4.20 / 10) (#6)
by Jade E. on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 11:27:56 AM EST

OK. I know people are affected by bad laws, even if not directly. You know they're affected. Show me one piece of evidence that I can take to the guy in the apartment below me, whose biggest concern in the world is getting to the 7-11 to buy liquor for his grlfriends (yes, that's plural on purpose). Show me something I can use to get him to even notice that something's wrong, much less do something about it.

And if we should, as you extrapolate, wake up tomorrow and find ourselves living in a police state, what difference will it make to him? His life won't be seriously affected by a loss of every right in the bill of rights, because he doesn't exercise a single one of them. If the US government were to become a police state, it would come down swiftly and instantly on anyone who didn't conform. But the vast majority would conform, so why should they care what happens to us weirdos? My point wasn't that we shouldn't care, but *how* do we get the average person to care about their rights? I haven't found an answer yet, and doubt I will. I hope you have more luck.

-Jade E.

[ Parent ]

how to get people to care... (3.75 / 4) (#20)
by blsonne on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 04:13:10 PM EST

I've thought about this a great deal, and the only solution I can think of is particularly distasteful to me.

Basically, it involves a great deal of destruction and violence. Once it reaches the appropriate level our governments (I'm not a yank) will crack down and start doing particularly evil things, that we can barely imagine now. We use more violence and destruction and then our governments enact more stupidity until they finally cross the line, and the average person can't stand it. Then hopefully we wind up with a revolution.

Thing is, I think I'd rather die than see this happen. But maybe blood on the streets is what it will take.

[ Parent ]

no just wait (4.28 / 7) (#51)
by anonymous cowerd on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 01:04:12 AM EST

No, just wait for the stock market bubble to pop. It will, you know, And these rich bastards have this weird sick way of looking at the world, where they figure they have the God-given right not to ever lose any money. For example take that bastard Reagan. During the Second World War, when my Dad was getting his ass shelled off in France, Reagan was making movies the whole time in Hollywood, boffing one starlet after another, and raking in that big studio dough. Well, we, the U.S.A., had a two-front war going on just then, which happened to consume 48% of the nation's gross national product. (By comparison, Vietnam consumed a mere three percent.)

So as you could imagine, during the War itself, taxes were rather high. Just like today, you paid tax rates which varied with your income. So the first n sub 0 bucks were tax free, then for every dollar income you got between n sub 0 and and n sub 1 you paid k sub 1 percent, then for the part from n sub 1 to n sub 2 you paid a higher k sub 2 percent, and finally the tax rate on any part of your income above $100,000 a year (the equivalent, now, of a cool million a year income) was virtually confiscatory. Well, sorry about that, Ronnie, but um there's this World War going on.

Except "sorry" wasn't near enough for rich lil' Ronnie and that piss-haid was still moaning and bitching and griping about it non-stop, in between visits to SS graveyards, forty whole years later. Indeed that trauma of once being forced to part with so significant an amount of his princely Hollywood paycheck (at the same moment, of course, that various GI's, not exempt from overseas service, were being forcibly parted by high explosive concussion from their arms, legs, heads, etc.) was probably the primary foundation of Reagan's lifelong political-economic world-view.

The point being that when the shit hits the fan down in Wall Street, the rich guys who run our politicians like so many puppet-danglers will make damn sure that it's not they who lose out. Sure the profits get privatized, as all good Libertarians believe religiously, but as we all saw in the 1989 savings-n-loan bailouts, the losses get socialized. So not only will Joe Sixpack come to recall the recently banished awful Spectre of the Pink Slip but on top of that he'll get socked in the tax bill to bail out the millionaire and billionaire class. And don't ever underestimate how ruthlessly the Fed will prune and chop back common employment to underwrite the security of the investing class. Ronnie's Fed ran unemployment all the way up to twelve-point-oh percent in late '82 to stomp the unions and rejuvenate the banks and rentiers. So what will they do if the Dow collapses?

Maybe this forthcoming recession mess will wake up the voters without the necessity of blowing anyone up and running the gutters red with innocent folk's blood. We can hope!

Yours WD "optimist" K - WKiernan@concentric.net

"This calm way of flying will suit Japan well," said Zeppelin's granddaughter, Elisabeth Veil.
[ Parent ]

Not a revolution... (none / 0) (#159)
by Alarmist on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 10:40:11 AM EST

...but a civil war.

We use more violence and destruction and then our governments enact more stupidity until they finally cross the line, and the average person can't stand it. Then hopefully we wind up with a revolution.

What you get is the average citizen pissed at you, and they will be more than happy to suspend any and all civil rights and liberties to see to it that you (who will be denounced as a terrorist who needs to be locked up forever if not killed on sight) are done away with. Then they can go back to porn and booze. People will only remember you as a crackpot.

A better idea (for those who go in for the violent revolution thing) is this: you find a case where the government pretty clearly abused someone's human rights. You trumpet this case far and wide as accurately as possible, and be dead certain to say that this is perfectly legal because you no longer live in a free country. Pound away at it. Get the word out to individual citizens. Make them identify with the person who got screwed, and make them understand that it could happen to them. Once you've broken through the "it only happens to other people" point of view, then you have an angry populace who is ready to do something about it.

Do not fight violence with violence, at least initially. Then you will lose. Remember that the United States only won independence because the British were fighting a whole different set of wars at the time, and because the French were starting to pitch in. If there had been no other committments, the British probably would have strung up the revolutionaries from trees. Most of the colonists were not active revolutionaries, because the issues that people like Jefferson, et al. got pissed off about didn't affect them (in much the same way that the DMCA, for instance, does not really affect the average consumer) to an extent that made them willing to pick up a gun and go shoot somebody over it.

Fight the Power, but do it intelligently.


[ Parent ]

Protections (4.50 / 4) (#37)
by Aztech on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 08:13:17 PM EST

It's quite often note that Britain doesn't have a written constitution like the US, however there are various acts like the Magma Carta, Citizens charter, now the European bill of human rights etc that protect the rights of individuals, the difference is the government could theoretically (highly unlikely) revoke these laws at any point, since they're just acts of parliament.

Anyway, it doesn't matter if your ideals are written on a piece of paper or passed down based on a gentleman's agreement, if people or politicians loose respect for those ideals, then you're in trouble. Even though the US constitution cannot be revoked by an act of government, you have to remember if respect is lost then the constitution becomes nothing but a piece of paper, enough though the written constitution is meant to prevent extremities, it cannot protect itself.

Even though its unlikely anybody would simply disregarding the constitution, you have to remember it starts with a slippery slope, once you start to disregard certain attributes set down, then its only a matter of time before other aspects are ignored, then the whole concept is subverted. If I remember correctly, it's the job of the Supreme Court to cast out questionable legislation, so why isn't it doing its job properly? It doesn't sound like a fundamental flaw in the system, just problems with the enforcement of the system.

[ Parent ]
Constitution breeds Complacency? (none / 0) (#185)
by misterluke on Tue Oct 17, 2000 at 05:34:19 PM EST

Just a thought: in Canada, there is a pretty scary law in place called the War Measures Act. Basically, it says that if the prime minister thinks there's a threat to national security, they can invoke the War Measures Act and bring about martial law. This isn't just a forgotten old law still on the books from centuries gone by, either; it was used by Trudeau to deal with the FLQ terrorists in the early 1970s ( tanks on the streets & everything ). Pretty scary stuff, but why hasn't it been used more often?

Could it be that having this law on the books, and hanging over our heads ( and freedoms ) in Canada might enforce a little bit of interest in the defense of our rights? It seems to me that our laws here are a little saner here when it comes to privacy issues and the like ( no piss tests here ), and it might be because we're aware of how easy it would be for our government to take what we have away.

Maybe it would benefit civil liberties in the US if the constitutional security blanket was removed and people were made a little bit more afraid of what they could lose if things continue as they seem to be.


<soapbox>Who polices the police? We do. There are more of us.</soapbox>

[ Parent ]

DA: Point well taken (none / 0) (#145)
by erotus on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 03:21:51 AM EST

Jade E,
I must say, I truly enjoyed your post. The DA point of view is quite accurate in my opinion - so accurate that the references to Coleman grills and La-Z-Boys had me laughing out of my chair. You and I think alike regarding John Q. Public. Please see my post to a previous rant called The Joe Loser Trend! I believe you will see much similarity in our posts and possibly our personal viewpoints.

cheers

[ Parent ]
With all due respect to American individuals, (3.22 / 22) (#7)
by Quark on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 11:30:19 AM EST

but the country as a whole acts exactly the way it is, immature. Considering the age of America this could be excused, if it weren't for the fact that it's a damn powerful little kid that's bullying around. Because that what it looks like. A bully that has to prey on his "weaker" siblings in order to establish his own identity. I want to see this happen. +1.

So much bandwidth, so little time...
This is exactly the same analogy (3.71 / 7) (#22)
by Wah on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 04:36:37 PM EST

that I think for the United States, an overgrown teenager whacked out on testoserone. Check that, an overgrown, rich teenger WooT. The major problem with fixing most of the erosion of rights deals with public opinion. The media is controlled by large corporations, they can yell louder than anybody, or make anyone look the fool. With the voice of the country controlled by the same people who do most of the lobbying, it's no wonder are rights are eroding.

Another BIG problem comes from how our right are eroding. Most of the things that I see deal with increasing the profitability of certain industries. As they push profit to the limit, the only way to edge it up even more is to take away rights and choice from citizens, who have been recast as consumers. By placing profit above individual rights you appeal to the largest consistent voting block in the country, and with the extra money they make, public opinion can be swayed quite easily and public attention can be diverted when necessary. The extra money is also used to sway private opinions, or more to the point, congressmen's opinions.

It's a vicious circle, but one that I think is nearing the breaking point. I say this only because when I espouse fears like these to my peers (of many ages) I hear similar complaints. And this is from not only the information/entertainment industry (or online even). The tinder box is prepped, but does anyone have a match?

--
Fail to Obey?
[ Parent ]

Rites . . . errr . . . Rights? (3.42 / 19) (#9)
by Maclir on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 12:54:37 PM EST

As an Australian, hoping to move to the US (for personal reasons), I have made a study of US hostory and politics. Basically, people in the US like to portray themselves as the example of freedom and democracy. To understand things properly, go back to the early days of the European settlement of the country.

In most cases, much of the early settlement (the "Pilgrim Fathers") were by people who in any other country today would be called "religious fanatics". The puritians (and others) came to North America to escape persecution, but then persecuted anyone who did not agree with them. This still happens today in many areas - particularly the "bible belt". So, despite talking "tolerance", there is considerable intolerance in many parts of the US. Particularly for those that don't conform to the accepted social norms.

Democracy - ahhh yes. Where just about any "public" position is chosen by popular vote - almost down to the council dog catcher. Democracy is so highly valued, that so few people actually bother to exercise their right to vote. No wonder the US political scene is controlled by people with extreme views (and to many people outside the US, the "consevative" element of the Republican party are extremists). The other aspect of this is the huge amoutn of "patronage" that takes place. People are appointed to positions not based on merit, or their ability to successfully do the job, but on friendships and favours - or as we say in Australia - "looking after your mates".

So, what am I leading to? The US is a country controlled by big industry, lobbists and the conservative religious forces. I cannot see any likelihood of that changing in the medium term. So, what can individuals do? Probably nothing - except leave and migrate to another country.

Not quite... (3.66 / 9) (#13)
by B'Trey on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 01:24:46 PM EST

The US is a country controlled by big industry, lobbists and the conservative religious forces.

While I won't argue with most of your points, the "religious right" doesn't have near as much influence as it used to have, and it was never one of the dominating forces in American politics. They made a lot of noise, and managed to get a few laws pushed through (which were subsequently overturned by the courts) but they never really had a great deal of power in comparison to corporate interests. This isn't to deny that there's a definite prudish undertone to American politics, but it isn't really coherent enough to be considered a definitive, directed force.

And I'd agree that the "conservative" element of the Republican party are extremist - they're much to socialist.

[ Parent ]

Re: Not Quite (3.40 / 5) (#29)
by Captain Derivative on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 05:38:49 PM EST

"And I'd agree that the "conservative" element of the Republican party are extremist - they're much to [sic] socialist."

What the...? Um, you do realize that socialism is far left, not far right. The "liberal" element of the Democratic party would be the socialists. Maybe you meant that the far right is much too reactionary?


--
Hey! Why aren't you all dead yet?! Oh, that's right, it's only Tuesday. -- Zorak


[ Parent ]
Left and right are subjective... (3.66 / 3) (#38)
by B'Trey on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 08:34:35 PM EST

Yes, I realize that the typical political spectrum has socialism on the left. I also realize that Republicans are generally considered right wing. As a libertarian, however, I realize that left and right are subjective terms. Social security, for one example, is a socialist program. Republicans and Democrats might argue about which particular form it should take, but you hear no real discussion about abolishing it from either party.

The comment was meant rather tongue in cheek, but there is a kernel of truth there.

[ Parent ]

Re: Left and right are subjective... (3.00 / 3) (#49)
by Captain Derivative on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 12:42:50 AM EST

I'll grant you that. Technically, Hitler's Germany was ultra-conservative [0] and Stalin's Russia was ultra-liberal according to the political spectrum, but they did pretty much the same things.

Actually, left and right are relative to the current situation in the country you're talking about. "Left" means pro-change and "Right" means anti-change i.e. adhering to the old way of doing things. Today in the U.S., Left = Pro-More-Government and Right = Pro-Less-Government. Compare this to post-Revolutionary U.S., where Left = Weak Federal Government and Right = Strong Federal Government -- the roles are reversed, since at that time the "traditional" government was heavy-handed monarchy.

Finally, a big reason the Republicans support Social Security is because if they proposed abolishing it, it would be political suicide. Instead, they support scaling it down or reducing the Federal government's control of it (e.g. Bush's proposal to give some control to the taxpayers). But when Social Security was first enacted, well, that's a different story.

[0] Technically, Nazi stands for "National Socialism", but the actual political stance of the Nazis was definitely reactionary and not socialist.


--
Hey! Why aren't you all dead yet?! Oh, that's right, it's only Tuesday. -- Zorak


[ Parent ]
Social Security, on a side note (3.00 / 2) (#60)
by skim123 on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 01:49:42 AM EST

On a side note, I wonder if FDR would have enacted Social Security if he could have looked ahead and seen what budgeting issues it would have caused in the not so distant future...

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
RE:Social Security, on a side note (4.00 / 1) (#75)
by thePositron on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 06:17:11 AM EST

As a government policy, social security has not been a failure nor will it be in the near future. The idea that there is a crisis with social security now or in the near future is hyperbole invented by the securities and banking industry to pick the pockets of the US taxpayer. For further evidence of this go to the url linked to at the bottom of my post. Economic issues aside, I have my qualms with social security but they relate more to fears of a threat to civil liberties as opposed to the programs economic cost and benefit.


tompaine.com



[ Parent ]
Define "failure" (none / 0) (#80)
by B'Trey on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 09:36:22 AM EST

I suppose that depends upon your definition of failure. Personally, I'd classify a program that forcibly takes money from me and gives me a very poor rate of return (which, in effect, costs me a GREAT deal of money), all for my supposed benefit, is a dismal failure. Your mileage may vary, of course.

[ Parent ]
Failure: (4.00 / 1) (#98)
by thePositron on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 03:51:01 PM EST

It is succesful in many ways. However resentful you or I am about paying for Social Security there are cases in which it is succesful. Case in point: My mother.
My mother was a hard working healthy adult. At about the age of 47 she started having difficulties because of the onset of Multiple Sclerosis. She tried as hard as she could to continue working and to remain a part of the work force but it was just to much for her. So her only option was to start recieving her Social Security Benefits. If these benefits did not exist she would probably be living in my 1 bedroom apartment with me and my wife. Social security has helped her through this difficult time.
Question: Why don't people question the 300 billion dollars we spend on the military each year? 50% of our taxes goes to machinery of killingry. What if we applied just 10% of the money we spend on killingry for tools and programs of livingry. Is it because weapons are needed to control populations and the world and so many private companies are dependent on defense contracts that they would fight to the death to keep these programs in place.
I don't know about you but as far as I know the cold war ended nearky 11 years ago.


[ Parent ]
My wish (none / 0) (#101)
by skim123 on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 04:52:16 PM EST

I wish the gov't would cut the military budget by 10% and give it all back to the taxpayers in the form of a tax cut.

However resentful you or I am about paying for Social Security there are cases in which it is succesful

Just as if I give $10,000 to every homeless person I pass on my way to work, one of them might use it wisely to get a place to live, to clean up, and to get a job so he could continue living such a life. The others would likely waste it very quickly. The question you must ask yourself is this: before social security, what happened? We seemed to get by just fine then, so why is social security such a need now?

I also agree with the other poster's comment... having such a low rate of return is hardly a "success."

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
My wish (none / 0) (#102)
by skim123 on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 04:53:28 PM EST

I wish the gov't would cut the military budget by 10% and give it all back to the taxpayers in the form of a tax cut.

However resentful you or I am about paying for Social Security there are cases in which it is succesful

Just as if I give $10,000 to every homeless person I pass on my way to work, one of them might use it wisely to get a place to live, to clean up, and to get a job so he could continue living such a life. The others would likely waste it very quickly. The question you must ask yourself is this: before social security, what happened? We seemed to get by just fine then, so why is social security such a need now?

I also agree with the other poster's comment... having such a low rate of return is hardly a "success."

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
Errrr ? (1.33 / 3) (#34)
by Aztech on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 07:23:36 PM EST

Heh, I'd like to see an extreme conservative who's too socialist! That certainly would be a politician full of contradictions!

[ Parent ]
The religious right does have influence (3.00 / 5) (#42)
by Moneo on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 09:08:34 PM EST

While they may not be as direct or as obvious as big industry and lobbyists, the religious right plays an important part in American politics. Have a look, for example, at the age limits for drinking, smoking and sex...or the fact that in many states, fellatio is illegal, let alone sodomy. What secular reason is there for that? Or take the MPAA rating system -- any films shown on american television are so white-washed that they're virutally unviewable. I've actually watched films where "God-damn" got dubbed. My friends and I refer to this as the puritcanical force in American society. Its influence in politics is largely indirect, by correlation -- people aren't elected *because* they are religious...but religious people are often elected, and this gives the laws they pass a religious slant.
Propaganda plays the same role in a democracy as violence does in a dictatorship. -- Noam Chomsky
[ Parent ]
The Religious Right (none / 0) (#154)
by ronfar on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 06:07:20 AM EST

Probably the most important leader on the Religious Right is a man named Donald Wildmon. Read about him here:

The Rev. Donald E. Wildmon’s Crusade for Censorship, 1977-1992

Basically, this one man is a wacko who is extremely powerful in the Republican party. He, and his groups, the latest of which is the American Family Association spend all their time poisoning America with bile.

Watch out Australia, this scumbag has exported his evil to your country, according to a headline on his homepage.

Boycott the Indianapolis 500.



[ Parent ]

Democracy (3.30 / 10) (#15)
by gunner800 on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 02:54:26 PM EST

Democracy - ahhh yes. Where just about any "public" position is chosen by popular vote - almost down to the council dog catcher. Democracy is so highly valued, that so few people actually bother to exercise their right to vote.

America is not a pure democracy, and it never has been. It's a democratic republic; we elect our representatives and have limited democratic powers (i.e., a Constitutional amendment requires a vote of the people in addition to Congress). This supposedly helps dampen the effects of an evil or repressive majority.

---Ignore poorly-chosen handle for purpose of gun-control discussions.
[ Parent ]

extreamists? (3.16 / 6) (#16)
by thinthief on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 02:56:17 PM EST

Our government is not ruled by extremists. The people on the extream left have more in common with those on the extream right than either do to our center politicians.

Our two presedential differ on only a few token, civil policy issues. For Republicans & Democrats alike economics and foreign policies are centered around providing for the corporations that got them in office, and keeping forign contries subservient to our economic heft.

Those on the left (for ex: socialists, greens) share many common desires of the right (for ex: libertarians) in that they both want to take the gov't away from unaccountable corporate power and create a real democracy in the US.

[ Parent ]
greens/libertarians (5.00 / 3) (#33)
by winthrop on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 07:21:43 PM EST

I wouldn't exactly say the greens and the libertarians agree on the issue of government and corporate power. I think their views could be looked at like this:

The Greens want to take the corrupting influence of corporate power out of the government.

The Libertarians want to take the corrupting influence of government power out of the corporations.

For example, libertarians believe in privatising public schools and public land and public roads... This isn't exactly taking the government away from corporations, more like handing it straght over to them. (Because the private sector could do a better job than the government, to finish the thought for my libertarian friends.)

[ Parent ]

Public fuckups -vs- private fuckups (3.50 / 4) (#35)
by Pig Hogger on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 08:03:18 PM EST

 For example, libertarians believe in privatising public schools and public land and public roads... This isn't exactly taking the government away from corporations, more like handing it straght over to them. (Because the private sector could do a better job than the government, to finish the thought for my libertarian friends.)
Well... They believe that the private sector does a better job than the State (americans seem to mix too easily the State and the Government - they're very different things), but as a matter of fact, that fallacy does not resist analysis.

The State has to supply services that cannot be touched by private enterprise. They operate within very different environment; the private enterprise has the sole obligation to turn a profit to it's shareholders (after paying lip-service to their customers), whereas the State has to work for the benefit of ALL citizens, regardless of the amount of taxes they pay.

Private enterprise, as a whole, is not more efficient than public bureaucraties. Whereas public endeavours are open to scrutiny, and thus quite unable to hide fiascoes, private enterprise has all the privacy needed to hush-hush it's fiascoes, and when it can't hide it, it simply goes bankrupt.

In fact, there are as many fuckup horror stories occuring in private enterprise than in the public sector... It's just that the media are more inclined to report the public fuckups.
--

Somewhere in Texas, a village is missing it's idiot
[ Parent ]

It's simple to disprove... (3.66 / 3) (#39)
by btlzu2 on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 08:38:12 PM EST

...your statement "Private enterprise, as a whole, is not more efficient than public bureaucraties [sic]."

"[According to] William Shipman of State Street Global Advisors in Boston, a worker just entering the work force with an average starting salary of $22,500, and with a normal lifetime earnings path, is expected to receive a Social Security benefit of about $12,500 per year (1994 dollars), if the program is still around in 2040. If the same worker were simply permitted to place his payroll taxes in an annuity with a 6 percent real rate of return, he would have a nest egg worth $800,000 at retirement age. This would allow him to draw a $60,000 benefit per year until death (assumed at age 80)-five times what Social Security offers."
  • Forbes, Sept. 26, 1994.

    If the money I'm forced to give to Social Security was instead investing in low-risk investments or a 401k, I'd make tons more than I'll ever see in measly monthly Social Security checks when I retire (if I ever even get any money after putting such large chunks every payday). The Federal government simply cannot efficiently handle all the money we're forced to give them. It's a fact, not a spin on the truth. Ever heard the story of the $1000 hammer? A study was done on how much it costs to buy a hammer via Federal government red-tape. By the time it went through about 15 approvals, etc. it cost something like $1000. Tell me that's efficient.

    I can't understand someone trying to say that successful private industry is less efficient than the governmental black hole. Working in a government regulated industry, I see examples of this nearly every day.
    "This machine will not communicate the thoughts and the strain I am under." --Radiohead/Street Spirit (Fade Out)
    [ Parent ]
  • Its not that simple (3.66 / 3) (#44)
    by thePositron on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 11:02:57 PM EST

    First of all William Shipman's statements are based on a speculation that will invariably benefit him as a person who invests money for other people. They are not fact . It could be argued that if I go to the casino once a week that my future income could rise approximately 500% over the next year and I could retire. possible but highly unlikely. Specualtion is not fact no matter how much these finance guru's try to make it seem otherwise. These type of arguments are not convincing. To further prove that the system of investing in marjkets is just as fallible as social programs is to type 401k fraud and securities fraud into a search engine and come up with hundreds if not thousands of hits. Or I can just study what happened in 1929 as a result of over relince on private equity, markets and corporate power structures. No I will not trust my future to an artificial legal construct claiming to be a natural person. I believe in liberty and freedom for the individual but not for vast artificial legal constructs that span time and space and have resources and power greater than most of the nations of the earth. Do you think that the corporate form of governance will lead to a liberty and democracy? All you have to do is examine the power structure of most corporations to know that liberty and the well being of natural persons is not in their best interest. Large corporations don't have red tape or bureuacracy? You must be kidding? Have you ever worked for a large company? Just imagine our educational curriculunm dictated by Anheuser Busch inc. Ask the people of Bolivia about privatisation of public utilities like water and how beneficial it is. Bechtel purchased along with a British company the water utilities in Bolivia and proceeded to hike the prices of water 300%, this price increase effectively took 30% percent of the average workers budget in Bolivia. Imagine if this were to happen in the USA. Thank god the people took to the streets there and demanded that they're government buy their water rights back. Read some history concerning corporations and government, one place to start is Mussolini's "Fundamental Ideals of Fascism" it practically outlines the goal of combining the corporate ideal with that of the state. Maybe you might question your reliance on the corporate version of history to guide your opinions. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. As far as I see it now the world is beginning to look like this: The State = transnational corporations transnational corporations = The State They are now completely in sync with each other and the only way to regain our liberty is to question the power of both as a unified legal construct. Sorry for rambling.

    [ Parent ]
    Does your argument hold in the extreme? (3.50 / 2) (#62)
    by skim123 on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 02:06:01 AM EST

    You say that we need the State to run certain endeavors (those that everyone needs, or who corps. would screw, like public education, I take it?). With that logic, why shouldn't we hand over all needs all people might have to the State? (This could include hospitals and grocery stores, for example.)

    Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
    PT Barnum


    [ Parent ]
    in the extreme? (3.00 / 1) (#65)
    by thePositron on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 03:06:36 AM EST

    I don't know if you were responding to my post or a previous one but my answer is that I tend to believe that moderation is the best route. There is a place for both the state and private groups devoted to making a profit. However when either has too great a concentration of wealth or power they start attacking the liberties of the majority. If my freedom and liberty is at stake and it is threatened by any part of society be it corporate or state, I will fight to remain free. My questions is why can't individuals just act as individuals without the need for legal constructs to protect them from liability and responsibility?

    [ Parent ]
    There's a reason why it is called Security (none / 0) (#118)
    by Olhado on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 08:00:01 PM EST

    The funds the money manager is talking about are unsecured. That is, while the average person may get a 6% yield, some will get 10% others 3%, and still others will get areturn lower than inflation (which is basically losing money). That 6% is based on the return of the stock market over the last 70-80 years, it is certainly not low-risk, by most accounts.

    Social Security is secure in the fact that so long as the program is in effect, you will get paid. However, in order to ensure this, the funds are tied up in extremely low-risk/low-return items, usually returning around the rate of inflation.

    -O

    [ Parent ]
    "Pilgrim Fathers" (4.20 / 5) (#30)
    by erotus on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 06:24:45 PM EST

    "In most cases, much of the early settlement (the "Pilgrim Fathers") were by people who in any other country today would be called "religious fanatics".

    Well... Yes and no.... Yes, there were immigrants, like the puritans, who were conservative, closed-minded and fanatic. On the other hand, the "Pilgrim Fathers" you spoke of are referred to by us as the founding fathers - Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, etc... were for the most part Deists and were secular men. They were children of the enlightenment and believed in reason. Let me quote a few things from the founders of the United States.

    "History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government." -- Thomas Jefferson

    "I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of. My own mind is my own church" -- Thomas Paine

    "I began to be regarded, by pious souls, with horror, either as an apostate or an Atheist" --
    Benjamin Franklin

    As you can see, these men were not Christian and some, like Thomas Paine, had a great disdain for Christianity and the fanatacism that resulted when church and government mixed.



    [ Parent ]
    Pilgrim Fathers != Founding Fathers (none / 0) (#181)
    by Bernie Fsckinner on Tue Oct 17, 2000 at 07:25:45 AM EST

    Pilgrim Fathers usually refers to the people who started the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Founding Fathers refers to the guys who signed the Declaration of Independence, signed the Constitution, led the American Revolution...

    [ Parent ]
    The United States is not a democracy (3.33 / 3) (#36)
    by CentrX on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 08:03:38 PM EST

    It is a republic. We elect certain people to political positions where they make all of our decisions for us.
    -- "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance." - Thomas Jefferson
    [ Parent ]
    Quick correction (3.94 / 19) (#10)
    by terjelo on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 01:10:37 PM EST

    Jon Johansen - alleged "creator" of deCSS - was in no way arrested by the MPAA. The charges against him have been presented by Norwegian authorities, and while they are under pressure from the MPAA to press charges, no decision has been made yet (At least not that I'm aware of - the case really doesn't interest me that much, but a quick search of norwegian newspapers didn't turn up anything). If he is prosecuted, it will be according to norwegian law, not american law. The final decision is expected by the end of october.

    Regarding your other points, I'm sure there are others more qualified to comment, but the first step is simple enough: Get off your chair and vote, and encourage everyone you know to do likewise. Make your point heard where it matters.

    Terje.

    Vote (4.11 / 9) (#12)
    by B'Trey on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 01:17:22 PM EST

    Get off your chair and vote, and encourage everyone you know to do likewise.

    OK! I'll do it! I'll vote! Now, was it Gore or Bush that has eliminating civil forfeiture laws as part of their platform?

    [ Parent ]

    Re: Vote (2.75 / 8) (#14)
    by Redeemed on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 02:31:15 PM EST

    Neither, as a specific part of their platform. I'd venture to say, however, that you're going to have better luck getting judges that have some respect for the constitution if you vote for a candidate that hasn't decided it's a document that ought to "change with America." That is to say, your chances are better with Bush, though there's no guarantee either way.

    [ Parent ]
    Republicrats respect the Constitution? Ha! (3.60 / 5) (#19)
    by pete on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 04:11:39 PM EST

    Sorry, but nothing is going to change unless you send a message to the parties in power that you want it changed. See this link (scroll down once) for Harry Browne's thoughts on Supreme Court justices.


    --pete


    [ Parent ]
    Yes. (3.40 / 5) (#23)
    by Redeemed on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 04:36:45 PM EST

    Sorry, but nothing is going to change with regards to respect for the constitution in the Supreme Court if you vote for Harry Browne, because he isn't going to be elected. Yes, you can make your voice heard, which is great, because I agree with Mr. Browne on a number of issues, though I think he takes some of them too far. However, since a number of positions on the Supreme Court are likely up for grabs in the next four years, who gets into office matters much more than any statement one can make about one's political beliefs.

    So is there a difference between Bush and Gore? Yes. Is it as big as I'd like? Of course not. But, though Bush might not respect the Constitution as much as I'd like, he respects it more than his Democratic opponent. As far as I'm concerned, there is nowhere near a perfect candidate from any of the parties, but realistically, I think Bush carries the most respect for the constitution among the candidates who have a chance to get into office this term. And since his particular term happens to be as important as it is, I think that's something that needs to be taken into consideration when you talk about making your voice heard with third party candidates.

    [ Parent ]
    Why use fear as your guiding principle? (4.60 / 5) (#32)
    by thePositron on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 07:17:43 PM EST

    If people made decisions based purely on the fear of what would happen as a result of their decision we would still believe that the earth is flat. Why not vote for a person who you truly believe represents what you believe? Rather than be limited by the fear of what happens if the person you do not agree with gets into office. IMHO if more people voted their hopes and dreams rather than their fears the USA would change very quickly. This is why this year the 2 candidates I have been considering are Browne and Nader both these men speak about things I believe in. The republicrats are out of touch with the masses of the world and the USA.


    Harry Browne
    Ralph Nader



    [ Parent ]
    request for clarification (4.00 / 6) (#47)
    by anonymous cowerd on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 12:28:46 AM EST

    In what ways does Bush respect what shreds are left of the poor old Constitution any better than Gore does? I would estimate it the other way around.

    Bush, for example, sincerely believes that a political parody, which happened to be directed against himself, rather than being the one specific object of the First Amendment, is instead exempt from protection by that First Amendment. He was even recorded, with regard to the www.gwbush.com case, solemnly declaring that "there should be limits to Freedom." Now dammit you have got to admit that that there is a fundamental misconception in Mr. Bush's understanding of one of the rights, that of free speech, Constitutionally guaranteed to all citizens.

    At any rate, please do not consider this a flame, but if you would care to follow this up, instead explain to us in what specific ways and over which specific issues you find Gore an even worse anti-Constitutionalist than Bush.

    Anyway, I incline toward tossing my lone little vote toward the excellent Mr. Nader, for something akin to the reason that Mencken claimed in 1924 he intended to vote LaFollette:

    ...There remains, then, the Wisconsin Red, with his pockets stuffed with Soviet gold. I shall vote for him unhesitatingly, and for a plain reason: he is the best man running, as a man. There is no ring in his nose. Nobody owns him. Nobody bosses him. Nobody even advises him. Right or wrong, he has stood upon his own bottom, firmly and resolutely, since the day he was first heard of in politics, battling for his ideas in good weather and bad, facing great odds gladly, going against his followers as well as with his followers, taking his own line always and sticking to it with superb courage and resolution.

    Suppose all Americans were like LaFollette? What a country it would be! No more depressing goose-stepping. No more gorillas in hysterical herds. No more trimming and trembling. Does it matter what his ideas are? Personally, I am against four-fifths of them, but what are the odds? They are, at worst, better than the ignominious platitudes of Coolidge. They are better than the evasions of Davis. Roosevelt subscribed to most of them, and yet the country survived. Whatever may be said against them, there is at least no concealment about them. LaFollette states them plainly. You may fancy them or you may dislike them, but you can't get away from the fact that they are whooped by a man who, as politicians go among us, is almost miraculously frank, courageous, honest and first-rate...

    ...There are only men who have character and men who lack it. LaFollette has it.

    I can't praise Nader quite so fulsomely as all that, maybe only because I'm not Mencken. But it's clear as bright daylight to me that Nader has indeed got character, and that one Nader is worth far more than a whole damn frat house full of Gorebushes. OK, so I'm indulging myself on a guy who simply cannot win. But it's only justice that once in my declining old age I should be let to throw my vote away. So sue me.

    Yours WDK - WKiernan@concentric.net

    "This calm way of flying will suit Japan well," said Zeppelin's granddaughter, Elisabeth Veil.
    [ Parent ]

    Throwing your vote away (4.50 / 2) (#56)
    by pete on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 01:27:17 AM EST

    But it's only justice that once in my declining old age I should be let to throw my vote away. So sue me.

    You know, I personally fear Ralph Nader just as much as Al Gore. But as long as you vote for what you believe in, you're never throwing your vote away. Man I hate that phrase.


    --pete


    [ Parent ]
    Bush? Constitution? Did I hear you right? (3.50 / 2) (#58)
    by jreilly on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 01:36:56 AM EST

    You think Bush has respect for the Constitution? This is a man who reacted to a website about him by saying "There should be limits to freedom." This is a man who wants to effectively repeal the 1st amendment by imposing his religion on all of us. This is a man whose party created the war on drugs, which led to the civil forfieture laws this article complains about.

    Now, don't get me wrong, I don't like Gore either, but I'm confident that the Democrats will at least screw us Constitutionally.

    Oooh, shiny...
    [ Parent ]

    Federal Funds (3.60 / 10) (#17)
    by gunner800 on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 03:01:41 PM EST

    An excerpt from a related rant I'm working on:


    Dear States:

    We would like to accomplish some goal, yet we are restricted by the Constitution from passing a law mandating it. Nevertheless, we really want it to happen, so we are going to cheat.

    We are going to tax your people, then withold funding if you don't pass laws enforcing our wishes. Failure to comply with our "program" will not excempt your people from paying for it.

    We hope you appreciate this display of our respect for states' powers.

    Love,
    Congress and/or the President

    ---Ignore poorly-chosen handle for purpose of gun-control discussions.

    Example: Social Security Number abuse. (none / 0) (#184)
    by GrueZ on Tue Oct 17, 2000 at 02:56:49 PM EST

    Nice post. I'll suggest an example where this has recently (as of October, 2000) been implemented by the Department of Health and Human Services.

    As a citizen of Washington (or any) state, I am now requires to supply a Social Security number not only for federal tax and social security purposes, but also if I want:

    A job. I recently tried to withhold this when starting a job, and was told by the human resources person that Washington now requires this.

    A driver's license. I've left it blank on the form before, but probably won't be able to get away with that anymore. After all, think of the children. People who don't pay child support shouldn't be driving!

    A hunting or fishing license.

    A bank account. This actually is not law AFAIK, but it's virtually impossible to get one without supplying your SSN for tax purposes, due to corporate policies.

    A credit card (see above).

    Of course, since working, driving, hunting, and financial services aren't protected rights but privileges for which I should thank our benevolent and generous state, I've got no choice but to pass up a further means to my identification and control. The only successful challenge to social security number use was the ACLUs challenge to florida's demanding them as a requirement to vote. Voting, unlike working and driving, is a right. Thank goodness!

    [ Parent ]
    ICraveTV Case (2.62 / 8) (#18)
    by iCEBaLM on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 03:18:07 PM EST

    The ICraveTV case is a prime example of the US forcing its laws on other nations, in this case Canada.

    Rebroadcasting television signals being picked up via airwaves without alteration is completely legal in Canada. However it was being done by a US company on Canadian soil (Toronto). Major TV content providers got angry, sued the company in US court, and because US courts think they have jurisdiction all over the world, found the company guilty.

    -- iCEBaLM

    US company? (3.75 / 4) (#27)
    by Miniluv on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 05:29:11 PM EST

    If it was a US company, then the location of the illegal act doesn't matter IF the US portion of the company was profiting or contributing to said act. Had the act stayed entirely in Canada all they could've done was bitch.
    "Its like someone opened my mouth and stuck a fistful of herbs in it." - Tamio Kageyama, Iron Chef 'Battle Eggplant'
    [ Parent ]
    On the Contrary (3.50 / 4) (#46)
    by iCEBaLM on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 11:51:53 PM EST

    The act did stay in Canada. Wether it was a US company or not has no bearing or relevance. If you're a US citizen and you go smoke weed in amsterdam you can't be procecuted for it when you return home, that's insane.

    Companies routinely do things in one country which are illegal in another to get around laws.

    -- iCEBaLM

    [ Parent ]
    There's more to it... (4.00 / 1) (#69)
    by Miniluv on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 03:56:16 AM EST

    That's entirely true...an example that springs to mind was the great 80's pastimes of selling prohibited commodities to South Africa by way of Israel...but had the Government caught the profits and decided to prosecute they would've done it sucessfully.

    I'm not 100% familiar with the facts in this particular case, but if money is making it's way back to the parent company in the US, it doesn't qualify as staying in Canada. I guess my point is this, if they wanted to do it, and Canadian law allowed it, they should've incorporated up there and moved up there and done it all in Canada.
    "Its like someone opened my mouth and stuck a fistful of herbs in it." - Tamio Kageyama, Iron Chef 'Battle Eggplant'
    [ Parent ]

    iCrave was incorporated in the U.S. (none / 0) (#129)
    by riley on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 10:36:45 PM EST

    What iCrave was doing was legal in Canada.

    However, iCrave was incorporated in the U.S. (the articles of incorporation were filed in Pittsburgh or Philidelphia if I remember correctly).

    Since the corporate entity was legally prosecutable (and more importantly able to be sued) in the U.S., whether the actions were in Canada is immaterial. They were being sued for copyright infringement of property made in the U.S., by entities in the U.S., as an entity in the U.S.

    At that point, it makes no difference if they were rebroadcasting television or copying CDs (if that were legal in Canada -- it isn't, but treat this as a hypothetical).

    The point is, iCrave is subject to U.S. laws because it only exists according to U.S. laws, as a U.S. corporation.

    [ Parent ]

    Right.. but... (none / 0) (#147)
    by mindstrm on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 03:45:47 AM EST

    Although technically they could be sued...
    It's rediculous.

    What if you are an American, go to Amasterdam, and smoke a bowl of weed? Even buy some? Are you then charged upon return to the US, because you are 'LEgally registered as an american Citizen?' and it is against US law? no. Why shoudl a corporation be any different?



    [ Parent ]
    An alien view of America (3.47 / 17) (#21)
    by Jeconais on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 04:21:07 PM EST

    (please be gentle, vigin commenter)

    America the brave, America the beautiful. Land of endless opportunity, land of influence and power. In a idealistic view, America is perfect, it has choice, it has prosperity it has everything civilisation yearns for. Like the earth from space, America is the symbol of perfection. Its only when you get close that you see the cracks.
    The fabled choice of America. In a microcosm, restaurants in America prove this. There are hundreds of restaurants in a squre mile, lots of famous brands, yet they all seem to sell very similiar food. The choice of where, not what.
    The famous constitution and american ideals, and it's guarantes of the pursuit of happiness (Not a guarantee). Except when personal a persoanl pursuit comes into contact with corporate America, then the freedom's are gone. The freedom of speech is well and good, but everything worth speaking about is homogonised, packaged, sold by WalMart for $14.99, turned into a book, a made for TV movie and a magazine, them dumped as old fashioned as quickly as it arose.
    There was a time when the world was jealous of America, of its prosperity, of it's freedoms and people. Now people are starting to laugh at America, and a few, very few, are starting to be scared of America and the way that it is going, the direction it is going because America has power, America has money, America is leading the way in the encroachment of civil liberties, the changing of power from a representative body to corporate domination. We know about Echelon and Carnivore, how much more is there that we don't know. There is a more extreme view of America, "The Great Satan" held by the countries that have found their powerbase growing rapidly over the past few years, as they realise that America needs oil and that they have the worlds supply.
    The thing I find worse than anything else is the promise that America had, America still has which is in direct contrast to the many "Average" Americans. I'm writing this as a geek, to geek's. To people like me how through choice and education are foced to think for themselves. The people that this needs to effect are the people who vote people for idiots like George Dubbya, the people who do not have an opinion for themselves, only what is present in Soundbite News at 9:17 between "When Buildings Collapse" and "When Buildings Collapse, 19". Its the great unwashed that have the power to change America back to it's ideals. To force the elected representatives to seize power back from the corporations and to run America straight and honestly, to reaffirm America's place as the leader of the free world, to make America be what it could be.
    I want America to be perfect. I Love the idea of the American Dream. I know this has been disjointed, but its something I feel strongly about, that somewhere in this world there can be a form of perfection. I know i havent touched any of America's other problems, the social gap, racism and everything else.
    On a personal note, I will next be in america in 69 days, and if things go one way, I will be moving there next summer. I don't want to, becase I know that if I do, I will have to use friends in high places to accomplish it, not do it on my own. Tim

    1984? (4.50 / 2) (#54)
    by FunkyChild on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 01:12:49 AM EST

    Its the great unwashed that have the power to change America back to it's ideals.

    Sounds rather similar to: "If there is hope, it lies in the proles" - George Orwell, 1984. Now that's a scary thought.



    -- Today is the tomorrow that you worried about yesterday. And now, you know why.
    [ Parent ]
    let's not break our arms... (3.00 / 1) (#70)
    by theSpartan on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 04:27:57 AM EST

    ..patting ourselves on the back... RANT AHEAD !!!! I can't forgive the "corporatism" of America, but it's a game most of us are playing...here's a thought on it.. Why the apparent shared dislike of people who are wealthy? I dream of the day when I can make $35K a year, and I am definitely not even in a middle class tax bracket right now. However, I don't think that every person born into wealth (or heaven forbid EARN IT) has instantly crossed the line into evil capitalist/imperialist scumbags, either. Do we really believe that the only person who can appreciate money is the person who has done without? (here is where everyone says something like...well...I lived on Ramen Noodles all through college .. or something like that). I suppose then that some poor Haitian or Puerto Rican will truly appreciate money better than me (when he achieves it), as his NEED to appreciate is greater than mine, right? Do you all really believe that you (or some of your pals here) could start a business from the ground up, invent a new process/product/service/whatever and use it to make you and other members of your community self-reliant? I guess I'm saying that most of us better realize that we need wealthy people around, as they provide many of the things we need (such as buildings to work in, a job to perform there, a paycheck for our services, and to take it further, other products/services for us to spend our paycheck on, thus making them MORE wealthy whilst we BITCH about their gain as we sign the charge slip). Next time you drive to the store and buy something, ask yourself what part of the journey you provided or could have provided for yourself. Could you get your own plants to make tires, fuel, a building, trucking lines to bring in that fresh produce, etc. Relax, I'm NOT saying that we should owe anyone any thanks or kiss their ass, it's just that reading the usual anti-rich-<insert political party here> B.S. being spewed forth in this discussion, I feel that many of us take way to much for granted. Give wealth it's due credit, after all, we all seem to want to be rich someday, right? What happens then, do we instantly become snobs and start hating ourselves? Rewarding the inventor of a product (that we will use for a long time to come) is more than okay, it's good. Would Cisco be making anyone rich without ethernet, the military (Arpanet), or your local phone company? So why shouldn't some folks get just a bit more than the next guy. And if your don't like em, don't buy their stuff...that simple. If I were a great inventor/businessman, I wouldn't give anything to the world for free without expecting something back, but at the same time, I'd know that there are many people just waiting in line to make money off of my product also, just less than me :) . Remember, having or receiving money is just the beginning of the process, multiplying it in consecutively larger amounts is what a smart person does with it (instead of first gratifying the 'need' of a nice car/big home/etc)and then just waiting for the money to "make him rich" or, worst of all, waiting for a congress (that has voted themselves more raises, mind you, and forget party affiliation, they all got it! ) to enact a new plan.. WARNING !!!... here is where I actually stop ranting and respond to your politically-inept post !!! such as the Al Gore FEDERAL REDISTRIBUTION OF WEALTH plan or whatever the hell name it may take....I WON'T LIVE IN A WELFARE STATE, helping the weak and pathetic STAY weak and pathetic...let them work..just like I am doing. Besides...where will all those taxes come from when I just stop contributing and join the ranks of those with their hand out..crying "help me Mr. President..." How could someone spend their welfare check at a grocery store, if someone with $ didn't choose to OPEN a grocery store that accepted welfare checks, huh? I guess I'm just saying.... Let's keep politics out of this discussion, shall we? Have a nice day... OH YEAH... you said "To people like me how through choice and education are foced to think for themselves. The people that this needs to effect are the people who vote people for idiots like George Dubbya, the people who do not have an opinion for themselves" ...cmon....show a little more logic than that...how can you think for yourself if your forced and don't have an opinion for yourself...re-read your statement...it sounds like crap..

    [ Parent ]
    Welfare (4.50 / 2) (#72)
    by thePositron on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 05:51:44 AM EST

    You have been misled about the nature of welfare. The taxpayers of the United States have spent more money bailing out Chrysler, GM and the the S & l's than we have
    ever spent on the poor. I am not saying that welfare is a good thing but acknowledge that welfare has been granted to the super wealthy as well as the poor. Whats more,
    the monetary worth of a person has nothing to do with their strength or weakness.

    What offends me the most is that Microsoft and Cisco systems payed a total of $0 dollars in federal taxes last year and I paid 20% percent of my income on taxes. Who benefits most from my tax dollars? Microsoft or myself? Well Microsoft of course! They use more of the infrastructure take up more space and they have huge contracts with the federal government. Why don't I get this benefit? One year my wife had to pay so much of her income in taxes she could barely pay her rent. So why do we let Microsoft and other large corporations get away with not payingg federal taxes? Well it's because they are so wealthy and so powerful that they effectively own and operate the federal government by proxy.
    Who are they looking out for? Certainly not me in the middle class but they are serving the interests of the Bill Gates and Larry Ellison's of the world. This state of affairs effectively neutralizes the power of voting in a representative democracy. Therefore what we have is a case of TAXATION without REPPRESENTATION.
    I am not saying it is wrong to enjoy money and to become wealthy, but he who benefits from the system the most should pay the most for it. Obviously Microsoft benefits greatly from our current system so they should pay their fair share and be held to the same standards as the average citizen of the USA.

    [ Parent ]
    Couldn't agree with you more (none / 0) (#84)
    by theSpartan on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 11:36:03 AM EST

    I did state that I am not for the "Corporatism" of America. I would love to espouse on my views of how whatever heart this nation once had beating is now blackened at the core, but that would be offtopic. You did say, however, "he who benefits from the system the most should pay the most for it. Obviously Microsoft benefits greatly from our current system so they should pay their fair share". Do you mean that they should pay more, then, or just their fair share? Another small point is just a note about most of us here in America with a "pass the buck" mentality (not a personal attack, btw). The Fed really only cares if taxes are paid when they're supposed to and not by whom. I guess I'm trying to say that I was under the impression that many companies get off of paying some/all of their Federal taxes, but the taxes are still collected from those citizens on their income by the predetermined time (April 14th). I did read that article on MS & Cisco, and I hope I've understood it well enough to gleen a few facts. So, whether your employer deducts them from your paycheck or you have to pay the taxes yourself, I believe that they are still paid up. I may not like having to send them in, being used to employers paying them for me, but I don't think it's truly a matter of the company not paying their taxes, it's just another (albeit painful) method of getting the money accounted for. So whether your employer takes your 20% (the figure you stated) or you set it aside for taxes, doesn't the money still come from your paycheck? Or maybe most accurately of all and the one really important point here, is that those companies are just ABUSING this tax law/loophole and using it for an overstated deduction that conveniently covers their bill with the Fed, and passing the burden of taxpaying responsibility to its employees.

    [ Parent ]
    Money (3.00 / 1) (#77)
    by Jeconais on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 06:44:08 AM EST

    All the geeks I know earn more than $35000 a year. I do. I have nothing against money, it is not the most important thing in my life, I have turned down jobs offering a lot more than I am now because I thought that the person I would work for was a jerk.
    A personal decision which effects me personally. I admire people who are self made millioinaires because to become one, you have to have the ability to think for yourself. That is what I care about mroe than anything else. My whole point (supposedly) was that America could be what it is supposed to be if only everyone thought for themselves, not copied everyone else. And like everything, you take a quote out of context and you have changed its meaning.

    Tim

    [ Parent ]
    non sequitor (none / 0) (#163)
    by micco on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 11:29:39 AM EST

    The people that this needs to effect are the people who vote people for idiots like George Dubbya, the people who do not have an opinion for themselves...

    You do your argument an injustice by including this unrelated and non sequitor attack on people who have a different political view than yours.

    I am currently undecided in the vote for president, but as a Texan, I know a great deal about George W. Bush (or "shrub" as we like to call him here). Contrary to your ad hominem attack, I have my own opinions. They are strong and based on fact. I disagree with some of Bush's positions, but I also disagree with many of Gore's. In addition, Gore's near-pathological inability to tell the truth and his advocacy of the nanny-state are things which matter to me a great deal and shift my support away from him.

    My political views notwithstanding, you should note that sarcastic attacks against people who have different opinions do little to further your argument and, quite the contrary, make me write off your entire statement.

    [ Parent ]

    Why the Goverment has Changed (3.46 / 13) (#24)
    by Anonymous 6522 on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 05:13:01 PM EST

    When the US was founded, it was a small nation with little power and little money compaired to England and France. It had just escaped the control of a foreign country, and the people running it had ideals and though that people should have the power to govern themselves.

    Now the US it the most powerful country on the planet it has the biggest economy, the best military, the most power. The people running are the ones who can get the most money and spend it to make themselves look good. The US has, in my opinion, become the England of 200 years ago. I think the US has reached it's peak, and that unless the US starts to play nice with other nations and it's people, it will begin it's decline, and some other country will rise.

    Fall of the US (3.25 / 4) (#41)
    by Moneo on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 08:51:01 PM EST

    I agree, and here's my little pet theory.

    Sometime in the near future the stock market will finally take a dip. This might happen when VC finally realize that the Internet is not "the wave of the future"...but there's a good chance that when tech stocks dip, biotech stocks will start to soar...so it might take a while longer. Anyway, if the stock market does take a turn for the worse, people will panic and sell...and things will get worse. Once the economic bubble will burst, people will stop being happy. Corporations and politicians can get away with a lot of what they do because the public is sated...between sports, sitcoms, and the never-ending cycle of holidays, most Americans are too busy having fun to care. Once that is taken away, things are going to start to change.

    Here's where I go out on a limb...once things start getting worse, I think Jews will look out for Jews. I'm not trying to pick on Jews...but it is, unfortunately, a historical pattern of theirs -- they join a society, bring wealth and knowledge, things are going well...but they are always "Jews". The overriding characteristic of a Jew is that they are a Jews...and this is by their choice. Judaism is more than just a religion...it's an exclusive culture and a society of its own. So, come the crisis, Jews will help Jews...now, the Jews in the US are largely located in SF, NY, DC -- cities on the coasts where there is money and power. The midwest is largely filled with patriotic and/or racist christians. People there are often armed, and it's also where a large portion of the military comes from...and these people are going to be pretty angry. And they'll have a scapegoat: the Jews. I figure the Jews will get hunted here and driven out, just like they have been throughout their history. It's a shame, really, because they are (IMO) one of the finest cultures on the planet.

    I know there are things in there that people will call me on. Still, I'd rather be torn apart on k5 than anywhere else. Just be nice, because I'm really really tired right now...so I'm sure that was really badly written, and I apologize.
    Propaganda plays the same role in a democracy as violence does in a dictatorship. -- Noam Chomsky
    [ Parent ]
    One problem (2.50 / 2) (#59)
    by skim123 on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 01:44:57 AM EST

    We've had stock dips in the past couple of decades, and that never led to such a case... are you saying that we're going to have something comparable to 1929? One problem with your analysis, I think, is that if we do have such a drastic dip, the other worldwide stock markets will take a nasty dive too. So won't everyone be fucked then? I dunno, your post seems a bit racist too...

    Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
    PT Barnum


    [ Parent ]
    Didn't mean to sound racist (none / 0) (#78)
    by Moneo on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 07:16:18 AM EST

    I am talking about a serious market crisis. And yes, the world probably would go to hell...but I was just focusing on the US.

    I can see how my post might seem racist. I assure you that I don't mean it in that way. But when I look at Jews...they have a history of getting screwed. It's a consequence of the way their culture is set up. I'm not judging them...in fact, as I noted, I think it's a shame that this keeps happening to them. By the same token, however, I find that Moslem and Catholic societies are predisposed towards authoritarian rule (eg, a dictatorship) because of their cultural psyche (I can expand on that if you're interested). I'm not passing judgement...I'm just making observations and an analysis. Hope that clears it up.
    Propaganda plays the same role in a democracy as violence does in a dictatorship. -- Noam Chomsky
    [ Parent ]
    That sounds good.... (3.66 / 3) (#53)
    by duffbeer on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 01:08:21 AM EST

    ...except it is just wrong. The 'founding fathers' were not any more noble than anyone else. They were great men, but they did what they did because their fortunes (which were largely invested in either ocean shipping or western land speculation) were endangered by the colonial policies of the British. Check out my other post http://www.kuro5hin.org/?op=comments&sid=2000/10/14/1014/4718&pid=28#43 I would also suggest that you read some books about american history. You may be suprised to find that the 'golden past' that popular opinion talks about is pure bullshit. Good example: the NRA likens itself to the inheritors of the frontier 'rough-and-ready' way of life. One small problem -- the vast majority of americans on our frontiers owned no firearms. Why? They could not afford them. This information was obtained by examining probate records from county courts all over the us.

    [ Parent ]
    An outsider looking at the fall of the US (4.00 / 1) (#64)
    by ratzmilk on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 02:39:46 AM EST

    As an Australian, it looks like the rot has set in already. Your government has more of your population in prison then any other country on the planet. I won't be long untill there is an armed uprising as the population resists this incarceration. The LA riots of the early 90's show how easily a spark can ignite. When every family in America has a member being held in prison then that is when I predict it will start. And why should I care what happens to you Yanks, well, it seems our stupid government is following your governments fine example and leading us straight to hell as well....
    --------------------------------------------- I thought, therefor I was......
    [ Parent ]
    Australia is no paradise (none / 0) (#85)
    by planders on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 12:06:06 PM EST

    As an Australian, it looks like the rot has set in already

    As an American, I don't deny what you're saying about the USA, but I must point out that Australia, while naturally beautiful, is not exactly the Land of the Free. The people are wonderful, but you seem to have a Gentleman's Agreement with your government to Behave Nicely. But when it gets right down to it, your government has extraordinary powers and citizens have relatively few rights. Look at the recent national censoring of the internet for adults through the Film Board of all places. There are racial problems in Australia as well ... not just the near genocide of Aboriginals (yes, this certainly went on in the Americas too) but with Asian and other immigrants today.

    But all that is beside the point -- if the American Empire declines due to the rise of the Chinese or another power, all of the English-speaking countries will decline with it.

    [ Parent ]

    Irony? (none / 0) (#103)
    by Spinoza on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 05:20:27 PM EST

    See, here's the thing: While the Australian government has fairly broad-ranging powers over the population, it almost never uses them. The US, on the other hand, claims to be the land of the free, with a bill of rights and constitution that guarantee freedom for all its citizens, however the US government is getting more oppressive by the year.

    Oh, I agree, Australia's internet censorship laws are pretty annoying from an idealogical perspective. I don't expect them to remain in their current form for more than a few more years, but that's irrelevant, because as far as I know they have never been enforced. They were just a political bargaining chip, and nobody takes them particularly seriously.

    For (I believe) two decades prior to Australia's current government, Australia was the least censored country in the world. I'd say if the government was to censor a film or book, it would be headline news, even this year.

    Historically, whenever the government has made use of its less democratic powers, the result has been massive scandal and public outcry. In one case, the Governer-General dissolved parliament completely ejecting the current government and calling a new election. There were good reasons for doing this. The government in question had been unable to get its budget passed, however there are other ways of dealing with this situation besides exercising the reserve powers. Whatever the justification, the public was outraged for weeks. Years, even. Then they elected the opposition party to power.

    Australian politics is very different from US politics.

    [ Parent ]

    That government is best which governs the least... (3.75 / 8) (#25)
    by dann on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 05:15:35 PM EST

    Quoting from an article recently published by the CATO Institute:
    As a new cycle of Israeli-Palestinian violence flares in the Middle East, members of the foreign policy establishment in Washington are once again urging the administration to "do something" to bring the moribund peace process back to life. Abetted by the American media, which are transforming what is essentially a tribal conflict between Jews and Arabs into a global spectacle, politicians and pundits are proclaiming that "only the United States" can end the bloodshed and mediate another Arab-Israeli accord. This Pavlovian response, born of a Cold War mindset, suggests that vital U.S. interests will be harmed unless Washington defuses the "dangerous crisis."

    It's been evident for quite some time now that the liberties afforded to us as Americans have slowly been degrading over the past many years. That institution which calls itself our government has been arguing, seemingly without end, over who (a Democrat or a Republican) is more qualified to tell you how to live your life (be you American, Arabian, Canadian, or whatnot). I, for one, consider myself to be the best judge of how to invest my time, money, and efforts than an all-too-powerful beaurocrat or politician. (and, from the protests I've heard of, I'd not think Arab/Israeli sentiment to differ much).

    The U.S. Government needs to stop playing the role of an international bully (among many other things) if we're ever to truly earn the title of the "land of the free and the home of the brave"...

    For furthur information, please see here and here...


    A slight dissent... (3.75 / 4) (#26)
    by Miniluv on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 05:25:55 PM EST

    My only problem with returning to a policy of isolationism is that it's naive. In the complicated realm of international politics, there are no islands unaffected by everyone else. Especially when the Middle East is involved.

    While I don't believe we should do things like helping Khomeini overthrow the Shah, I do believe we have vital interests in that region. Why? Oil...until our national economy, and everyone elses, can function without said commodity, whoever has it will be a hotbed of international politicking. It may not be right, but it's realistic.

    It's easy to point and say this is a "Pavlovian response, born of a Cold War mindset, suggests that vital U.S. interests will be harmed unless Washington defuses the 'dangerous crisis.'" but I don't think that's entirely true. Yes, we did a lot of "nation building" during the cold war, not all of it in a positive light. It's simply wrong to not recognize our strategic interests in the continuance of the flow of oil. Perhaps the right course would be to help exploit the resources of Siberia instead, but so far from what I know the Russian Federation is uninterested, and American companies are unwilling to help.

    Ultimately, it's a situation where they have something we need, and we're obligated to do SOMETHING to ensure we have access to that needed commodity. Peace in the middle east is in the worlds best interest economically, and in the humanitarian sense as well.
    "Its like someone opened my mouth and stuck a fistful of herbs in it." - Tamio Kageyama, Iron Chef 'Battle Eggplant'
    [ Parent ]

    URL nit: org, not com (2.00 / 1) (#48)
    by acceleriter on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 12:33:54 AM EST

    Please note that the Cato Institute you're thinking of is at cato.org, not cato.com--the dot com is an (apparently) unrelated medical research organization.

    [ Parent ]
    There Is a Way to Win Back Our Freedom (3.41 / 12) (#28)
    by spectatorion on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 05:31:01 PM EST

    One of the major problems in this country is that the two major political parties have let the corporations influence their policy. This policy is all too often pro-governmental power, pro-corporation, and comes at the expense of the people. As long as hte corporations are funding the politicians, however, the politicians can keep campaigning everywhere, telling the people what they want to hear, then betraying them when it comes time to make some actual decisions. Regulation of harmful industries is painfully low, while regulation of people's lives is out of control. Most members of the government do not care about the people, just about themselves. Congress raises its salary like a bunch of kids who just discovered a wad of cash in their mom's pocketbook, while poverty is rampant in the greatest period of economic growth and strength this country has ever seen.

    Something is seriously wrong here.

    We have to send a message to the politicians that we're fed up with their corrupt bullshit and that we want the power back in our hands. Most people with liberal views would think naturally to turn to the Democrats for help. This is a party for the people, right? Civil rights, humanitarian programs, pro-choice, etc., right? WRONG. Do things like increased military spending, tax incentives to corporations, and concerns for the rich sound familiar? Sounds like a traditional Republican platform doesn't it? This kind of junk is waht the Democratic party has been pushing for, regardless of what Al Gore tells the nation in the debates. The Democratic party has been bought by the powerful corporations and is becoming increasingly like the Republicans. I mean, Joe Leiberman? The guy is as conservative as they come. But he's Jewish! so the Democrats won't loose the support of the rich Jews. [btw, I AM Jewish, but easily recognize that this was a highly political move to keep the support of the Jewish community.] The Democrats take the liberal vote for granted. Why should it even be liberal to want freedom from coroporate control of government and population? It's time to say NO MORE. That is why I am voting for Ralph Nader. Here is a man who supports the people and their interests: environment, public access to telecommunications resources, and (gasp!) freedom. Here is a man who has dedicated his life to limiting the power of corporate criminals who ship dangerous products and the lying, theiving politicians who take the corporations' checks and look the other way. Here is a man who speaks to what I believe America should be like and a man who deserves my vote. A vote for nader will say "Fuck You!" to the Democrats and their lies and crimes and will tell them you can't take our vote for granted. Leftist people have to start voting for leftist candidates (not Al Gore, the slimey liar)or this country has no hope for reform.

    votenader.org

    voting nader won't give you freedom (3.80 / 5) (#40)
    by enterfornone on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 08:41:34 PM EST

    I'm an Australian so I don't get a vote in this, but from what I've seen the only candidate who has freedom at the top of their agenda is Browne. And as a bonus Browne will keep America's nose well out of foriegn affairs.

    Nader seems too much like the S11 types that expect the rest of us to pay their welfare while they plot to overthrow the government.

    --
    efn 26/m/syd
    Will sponsor new accounts for porn.
    [ Parent ]
    No one man or party can win freedom for America. (4.00 / 5) (#43)
    by duffbeer on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 09:09:33 PM EST

    I respect Ralph Nader and the work that he has done and the message he endorses.

    The only problem is, the nature of politics is such that simply electing a president is of minimal impact on the long-term policy of the American government.

    I recommend that anyone interested in American politics read a book called "Undaunted Courage" by Stephen Ambrose. This book describes the Lewis and Clark expedition, which explored the interior of the North American continent to the Pacific Ocean. It also paints a picture of the state of American politics thirty years after the declaration of independence. If you think partisanship, patronage, hypocrisy, and graft is common today, you are wrong.

    The problem with the American Republic is that few people have an accurate view of our nation's history. In elementary and high school we are force-fed an idealized and outright incorrect view of American history. America has always been a nation of extremes; we talk all day about morals and ethics and then pilfer pens and notepads from our jobs, we want to stay out of world affairs, yet we invest in int'l mutual funds and consume billions of barrels of Arab oil.

    We are currently in the middle of the second age of american imperialism. At one time the US Army occupied the Philippenes and subjugated western north america. Now we use capital markets and corporations to dominate the world scene.



    [ Parent ]
    One president... (none / 0) (#117)
    by spectatorion on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 07:56:30 PM EST

    One president can change things dramatically...

    FDR? LBJ? Lincoln? GEORGE WASHINGTON?

    I mean, really...

    and it's not necessarily that I think Nader will win and change America forever, it's just that I cannot bring myself to vote for Gore because he's lying scum.

    [ Parent ]
    One man? (none / 0) (#136)
    by duffbeer on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 11:41:15 PM EST

    None of these men worked alone. While they were and are held resonsible for the decisions they made.

    George Washington and FDR had trusted associates who served and advised them very well. Ever hear of the 'founding fathers' or the 'brain trust'?

    LBJ was a lunatic, he spent many a night configuring bomb loads on fighter planes thousands of miles away and planning battalion-level offensives without defining a clear strategy to fight and win the Vietnam war. His presidency ultimately fell because of it.

    Lincoln was probaly the most independent and the greatest of our presidents.

    The point is, noone does it alone. Washington had Hamilton and Jefferson. Lincoln had Grant.

    What political allies does Nader have to get policy in place? Consumer reports? Get real.



    [ Parent ]
    Maybe one presidency, then... (none / 0) (#138)
    by spectatorion on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 12:16:00 AM EST

    I'm not saying that Nader alone would change stuff if in office (though if elected he would much more than gore or bush would), i was just making the point that one president (or maybe one presidency is what i should have said) can make a really big difference.

    I was also not saying that this impact has to be positive. Although the LBJ presidency did a lot of great stuff on the home front, it was a foreign policy disaster (i.e., vietnam). But would you say that LBJ's action in vietnam had a major impact on this country? You would be foolish not to.

    All i'm saying is not to underestimate the power one man has when put in a position like the presidency. even not in the presidency...i mean look at all the amazing things ralph nader has done for this country even not as president...his consumer advocacy has made america a much safer, more pleasant place to live. i am not necessarily voting for nader because i think he will make a difference (although i think he can)...he probably will not win, but I can't bring myself to vote for gore because i think he's a liar and a person who will probably not do anything great for this country.

    [ Parent ]
    A vote for Nader (3.66 / 3) (#50)
    by Paul_F on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 12:50:15 AM EST

    Is a vote not cast for one or the other party that will win. Basically you're voting for Bush with a vote for Nader. And would you honestly want Nader to win? He'd probably make littering a capital crime punishable by death. At least Gore seems to be an intellectual to me. Bush just strikes me as being a puppet.

    I'm just about middle aged now I seriously doubt that personal freedom is going to errode to an intolerable point before I'm dead. Really, I don't think I'm any less free now than oh, 20 or so years ago. I'd bet that not too many people remember Nixon that read this site. That, and we don't even have to worry about being drafted today either. Yeah! I'm too old now for the draft anyways. heh. If they start drafting people my age it's over folks. It was a while ago now but I remember filling out my draft card with like purple crayon, or something like that. :)

    I'm not going to debate the merits of either Vietnam or Korea right now, they both happened, and they'ye both over. And none of you kids have to worry about going to either today.

    As for the U.S. being international bullies, I think that the country has shown amazing restraint in the limited engagements it has gotten into lately. the Gulf Crisis was really a crisis, I mean a madman bombing his own people with toxic gasses? And we still haven't gone and assinated him or anything. I mean that's illegal. All of that stuff in the former Yugoslovia, I mean it looked pretty bad to me, I'm glad we tried to do something. Again, we left Slobodian (sp) in power. I also think that the U.S. tried to do the right thing in Bosnia too. We did not go there with any imperialistic intentions. It was humanitarian. Africa, well you win some, and you lose some, I suppose it's just too far gone for any kind of help. I really don't think that we had a lot of imperialistic intentions there either.

    As far as Cuba goes Fidel is not a nice person, and he is right in our backyard. The guy that lives across the street from me knew Fidel, that's why he's here now. From the look in his eyes I don't think that I can imagine the terror of living under a dictator like that. I doubt anyone else in this forum can either. Yeah, maybe that's it, if the U.S. sucks so bad swim to Cuba, see how you like it there.

    We'll see how the U.S. responds to some maniacs pitching a bomb into one of our warships now. We all know how Israel handled the shooting death of one of their soldiers recently. Why simply go off and attack someone's personal residence. I believe that we are already showing more tact than that.

    Smile, things could be a whole lot worse than they are now. The U.S. tries hard to do right by it's own people, and it's international neighbors. We're not perfect but we try to do the best that we can. If the U.S. is so bad who's the good guys anyways?

    [ Parent ]

    Screw smiling. (4.50 / 2) (#66)
    by slynkie on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 03:12:47 AM EST

    I don't mean to flame directly at you, but truly, stuff like this makes me sick. I'm a 21 year old college kid who grew up in a suburban upper-middle class jewish family, and I've been lucky enough to never really be lacking in any material or financial way. This is something I'm very grateful for (although I do admit, sometimes not as grateful as I should be), and something that I do my best to keep in mind when contemplating political and social issues.

    With that in mind, I think that the whole "Smile, things could be a whole lot worse than they are now." mentality is one of the stupidest and ignorant philosophies apparent in our society today. Maybe it's a bit selfish, but I just don't see a certain level of rights and freedoms as being a stopping point just because other people in other places aren't up to that level yet. Yes, of -course- there are a thousand other places in this world that I could be living in which I would be much worse off - and I do believe that the people living in those places shouldn't have to put up with the shit that they do in their everyday lives. But why should I forget about -my- rights, and the possibilities of -my- life? It's not like fighting for your own country and it's people means that you can't fight for other people and countries as well. But more to the point, wouldn't you think that the more rights and freedoms and the better our lives are personally, the -more- ability we have to help other people gain those same rights and freedoms? I think so. And that's just one reason why I'm never going to just sit back and smile, and why others shouldn't either.

    [ Parent ]
    smile, be happy (4.00 / 1) (#82)
    by Paul_F on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 11:10:10 AM EST

    I think that the whole "Smile, things could be a whole lot worse than they are now." mentality is one of the stupidest and ignorant philosophies

    What's so dumb about being happy? try it sometime. I find it quite agreeable.

    I just don't see a certain level of rights and freedoms as being a stopping point just because other people in other places aren't up to that level yet.

    How are your rights being held back by anyone else's condition? Examples please.

    Yes, of -course- there are a thousand other places in this world that I could be living in which I would be much worse off

    Well at least the U.S. isn't in the bottom 1000 then that's a relief.

    But why should I forget about -my- rights, and the possibilities of -my- life?

    I see no reason why you should. I also see nothing that is stopping you from doing so either.

    But more to the point, wouldn't you think that the more rights and freedoms and the better our lives are personally

    Yeah sure, they should like legalize road rage, so that when someone pisses me off while I'm driving down the road I can legally kill them. Then my life really would be perfect :) But no seriously now, yes I do see pratical limits on how many freedoms society can bestow upon the individual. You may use the before mentioned as one extreme example. Bear in mind that the society has to exist at all for the individual to have any rights.

    one reason why I'm never going to just sit back and smile, and why others shouldn't either.

    I never suggested at any point that anyone should just sit back and smile. That's so far off from my meaning as to have absolutely no connection with it. The phrase smile, things could always be worse has a totally different meaning than sit back and smile. I tend to view the phrase smile, things could always be worse as meaning we all have our common, and personal hardships to endure, and some times are better or worse. More often than not it is your perception of your situation that dictates your reaction to your predicament, not the actual events that surround you themselves. A man starving and freezing may in fact be happier than a man just starving. It depends on the man. It's all in your mind really. I'm no plilosopher but I'm pretty sure being happy is better than not being happy. I'd rather be the man starving, and freezing, and happy!

    I have always described myself as the type that "hits the ground running" so to speak. But during my busy day, while I am involved with my many tasks, I'm happy. So sue me, it's your right. Me, I think that people miserable for no apparent reason are comical. *giggle* And saying so is my right.

    The above is posted by someone who was working during Reganomics. I think my mentality at that time was closer to the poster that I am replying to than it is now. I was generally pissed off, wasn't exactly sure at what, but I knew that somehow things should be better for me. I'm not really sure if they are, or they aren't but I know I'm happier. Ain't all of these abstract concepts a bitch?

    [ Parent ]

    Vote for the Smiler... (none / 0) (#89)
    by enterfornone on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 01:57:15 PM EST

    Anyone here read Transmet?

    --
    efn 26/m/syd
    Will sponsor new accounts for porn.
    [ Parent ]
    I realize this isn't what you were talking about.. (none / 0) (#97)
    by wepeel on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 03:37:31 PM EST

    but I also agree that the "sit back and smile" attitude is a significant problem, and so I quote the political-punk band crashdog:

    "Saying the United States is the best country in the world is like saying it's the shiniest trash can on the street corner."

    I considered including an explanation with this, but I'm not going to spoon feed you.



    [ Parent ]
    Goodthinker (2.00 / 1) (#171)
    by luqin on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 04:53:21 PM EST

    He gazed up at the enormous face. Forty years it had taken him to learn what kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark mustache. O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.

    -George Orwell, 1984

    -- I will feel alive / as long as I am free
    [ Parent ]

    it's possible to... (none / 0) (#96)
    by thePositron on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 03:35:15 PM EST

    Contrary to popular belief it is possible to smile, have a positive attitude and to defend your rights work for and work change at the same time.

    [ Parent ]
    Re: A vote for Nader (3.00 / 1) (#116)
    by spectatorion on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 07:53:24 PM EST

    A vote for Nader may be "a vote for Bush," as you say, but a vote for Gore is in many ways just as bad as a vote for Bush. The two are so alike in action, it's almost scary. Their talk is the biggest difference. Gore pretends to care about things other than the corporations that fund his ridiculous campaign. He doesn't really care and I don't see major change or reform under a Gore/Lieberman White House...just more scary stuff like DMCA and supporting big industry and their pillaging of the environment (and the people, for that matter). Yes, Gore is smarter than Bush...yes, Bush is probably among the dumbest who have ever made a bid for the presidency, but he will have smart advisers, etc. as long as he stays away from the cocaine, we should be alright. Nader, however, is just as smart as Al Gore. And by the way, he would most definitely not make littering a capital crime, since Nader is the only one of the 3 I've mentioned who is 100% anti-death penalty (as opposed to Bush and Gore who are pretty much pro-death penalty, except as it applies to most white people). If enough people vote for Nader, the democrats just might wake up and say "our lies are not working any more, maybe we should actually change." and if that's not what happens, i will probably not vote democrat in 2004 either. such is life

    [ Parent ]
    dumb as dirt rant (2.50 / 2) (#128)
    by jmyers on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 10:25:03 PM EST

    It is amazing to me how people blindly beleive the media propaganda. I cant beleive any person in the tech field would even consider the democrats. They are the Microsoft of politics. At least the Microsoft of four or so years ago. They are all marketing. The democrats have the media completely under control and their spin doctors carefully control every issue. The "dumb Bush riding dady's coat tails" is democrat propaganda. I dont think someone as dumb as dirt is going to make it thru Yale and become a jet pilot no matter how much family influence. But people here seem to buy it hook, line and sinker.

    I wonder how many people here who read the www.gwbush.com site also beleive the Clinton Whitewater FAQ that used to float around the internet. That doc claimed BC was a big time coke user and dealer and had ordered the killing of a bunch of people with bad scoop on him. Beleive me this FAQ and the Clinton Cronicals video tape were very "believable" and in much the same style of the gwbush paridoy site. That doesnt mean any of it is true. But people that want a reason to hate the other guy because of their own bias will buy into it.

    BTW, I remember Nixon. He actually ended the Vietnam war and got us the hell out of that place the democrats put us into. Of couse the democrats all switched sides when the republicans got in charge.

    People here complain about big business controlling politics and freedoms going away and then suggest voting for the likes of Gore or Nader!! IF you actually pay attention to the history of these guys and the issues they support you will find out that Nader is wacko and Gore is a very partisan puppet. At least Bush is a washington outsider with a history of working accross party lines.

    On the other hand most republicans (including Bush) are managers and solution minded people (with some serious exceptions, there are a lot of republicans are 100% partisan polititions). These people are horrible at dealing with the media and just get hammered by the slick democrats every time.

    The fact is, if you want to really know what a person stands for and what their policys will be like you are going to have to work to find out. It will not be exposed by the media which is the only BIG BUSINESS that really controls politics. Were do you think all the millions of dollars donated to the politians goes? It goes to the media for advertising. The scary part is that the part of the population that decides most elections are people who pay no attention to politics and vote based on who comes accross the best the few times they see them on TV.

    You will have to watch many long and boring hours of CSPAN and read a lot of major newspaper editorials (and know the bias of the writer, everyone is biased).

    It seems to me most yong people are democrats for one reason. abortion. I guess they are all scared their girlfrind is going to get knocked up. They want to make sure that little fetus can be sucked out of the womb so they can avoid all the responsiblilty of making the CHOICE to use contraception.

    -Jeff

    [ Parent ]

    Sovereignty (3.36 / 11) (#31)
    by Aztech on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 06:49:20 PM EST

    Even if this law is internationally applicable the provisions for circumvention were not yet effective - could deCSS in fact be legal then?

    I'm surprised you would think it's remotely internationally appliable, it blatently isn't. The US populace doesn't have to abide by law passed by the Palace of Westminster, conversely I don't have to abide by law passed by the US Congress ;/

    The legal standing on Johanson's arrest is highly questionable, since international copyright law doesn't include the provisions set forth in the DMCA (the reverse engineering provisions), also the US would have to put in a lengthy extradition process to actually charge him. What happened to Johanson was basically intimidation, I believe he was released without charge but his computer equipment is still being held. I'd like to actually see what the alleged charge was though.

    Capitalism (3.70 / 10) (#45)
    by semis on Sat Oct 14, 2000 at 11:25:43 PM EST

    I think capitalism has a part to blame in the current state the U.S. is in.

    Now, before I get a thread of angry people accusing me of being a supporter of Stalin, I shall say this:
    Capitalism is a great idea - but - it needs to be controlled.

    Why do I say this? Well, I think the U.S. Government has lost all control over the private sector. As big business provides more and more funding for political campaigns, their commercial interests are more frequently being met by politicians eager to tap campaign funding. But that's not the problem - that's just an example of it's cause.

    The real problem with moving so far into a free market economy is that consumer's (ie: U.S. citizens) are treated as second rate to profits and margins. I mean, think of some of the great successors of the free-market economy:

    Nike. McDonalds. Coca-Cola Amatel.

    Do these organisations exist to serve the citizens? Do these organisations aim to make the quality of life better for everyone?

    If I remember correctly, the whole point of an economic system was to "provide for the most amount (ie: efficient allocation) of people's needs given a limited amount of resources".

    Looking at companies like Nike, I would certainly have to disagree that they help make efficient allocation of resources within a community. Rather, they make INEFFICIENT allocation of resources.

    Their main goal is to maximise profits. If that is at the expense of fair employment, at the expense of worker's rights, at the expense of taxpayers (these companies don't pay tax) - then I feel they have failed the whole idea of an economic system.

    And this is where we NEED Governments to stop companies like this exploiting the system at everyone's expense. Yet because it seems the U.S.'s political system is rigged by the private sector, the only place your vote goes towards is policies orchestrated to LIMIT consumer freedom, and INCREASE business profits.

    The more this continues, the more citizens will lose their freedom and large corporate entities will be in control of it. And this is why I feel the U.S. has ventured too far into the free market economy. Capitalism needs to be balanced with policies to protect consumer's (and citizen's) rights and freedoms.

    I question your assessment of capitalism (3.16 / 6) (#57)
    by skim123 on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 01:36:52 AM EST

    Looking at companies like Nike... their main goal is to maximise profits.

    Isn't this the goal of any business (or individual) in a capitalist system? Do you seek to minimize your profits? I sure as hell don't... I don't spend more than I make, I make prudent buying decisions, and do my best to be as profitable as possible, just like I should, just like you should, just like Nike should. It's called capitalism, and it works.

    If that is at the expense of fair employment, at the expense of worker's rights, at the expense of taxpayers (these companies don't pay tax) - then I feel they have failed the whole idea of an economic system

    I don't understand where you are coming from here. Where is Nike screwing everyone? I assume you are against oversea plants, where they pay people tiny amounts of money and have them work long hours? People are just like any other commodity. The cost for an hour of a person's time is based upon the demand for the person's skillset and the supply of people who can accomplish that task. There is a lot of demand for computer programmers and not a great supply, hence they get paid more than people who work at a fast food chain (since there is a greater percentage of the population that has the skillset to work at McDonals). I don't see how Nike is screwing anyone more than you are screwing your neighbor's son to mow your lawn for $10 when you could afford to pay him $50. (And what if your other neighbor's son offerred to do the lawn for $5, and did as good a job as the other boy? You'd take his offer up, no?)

    And this is why I feel the U.S. has ventured too far into the free market economy

    I fear quite the opposite, that we have not ventured far enough into a truly free economy. With layers and layers of red tape for all sorts of industries (FDA, EPA, FCC, etc.), the government's ability to stop natural business progressions (i.e., possibly breaking up MS, possibly stopping TimeWarner/AOL merger, etc.) we live in anything but a free market economy.

    The more this continues, the more citizens will lose their freedom and large corporate entities will be in control of it

    I (and you) have only a few basic freedoms: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness/property. I don't see why any corporation would want to rob me of any of these freedoms, seeing as in doing so, I would be less likely (or unable, if they killed me) to buy their product, thereby increasing their profit, which you agreed with me earlier was the main goal of a corporation.

    Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
    PT Barnum


    [ Parent ]
    Why ? (5.00 / 4) (#71)
    by thePositron on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 05:30:18 AM EST

    "I don't see why any corporation would want to rob me of any of these freedoms, seeing as in doing so, I would be less likely (or unable, if they killed me) to buy their product, thereby increasing their profit, which you agreed with me earlier was the main goal of a corporation."

    This is all good and fine in theory but history shows us that the concentration of wealth and power in the hands of the few lead to the oppression of the many.
    Our drug laws are good example of this. Why do you think marijuana and hemp are illegal in this country? Is it because they are dangerous drugs? Or is it because of the
    1937 Tax act pushed through Congress by Hearst and Dupont to protect their business interests? It my friend is the latter.The story folows: A man name Randolph Hearst controlled large portions of the media and the means to manufacture paper through the cutting down of trees. At that time it became possible to produce 4 times the amount of paper from an acre of hemp as compared to an acre of clearcutting. This threatened Hearst's paper empire so he used his media empire to create an uproar about marijuana and it's so called dangers. So how did he do this? Well he chose Mexicans as his scapegoat many mexicans of the time were known to use marijuana and he used racism to create a hysteria about marijuana and it's effects on people.

    Simultaneously Dupont was attempting to protect it's interest in it's newly invented business of synthetic fibers.
    Hemp is known to be one of the best natural sources of
    industrial fiber and it is renewable. This fact was seen as threat to the Dupont's business interest. It just so happened that one of the Dupont's was in the the Cabinet of the Whitehouse at the time and they had Marijuana misclassified as a schedule 1 narcotic. Any scientist or pharmacologist in his right mind would tell you that Marijuana is NOT a narcotic. So there you have it. Just one example of many policies that corporate america has sponsored that continue to play havoc on our civil liberties.
    There are of course many others but I will not go into that now.

    Lastly
    PEOPLE BEFORE PROFITS
    PEOPLE ARE NOT COMMODITIES nor should they be harmed or sacrificed for money. There is nothing more fascist than the idea that money is of greater value than human life.
    Their time and labor may be a commodity but people themselves are not a commodity nor should they be treated as such.


    [ Parent ]
    my reply (3.50 / 4) (#73)
    by semis on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 06:06:22 AM EST

    Looking at companies like Nike... their main goal is to maximise profits.

    (skim123) Isn't this the goal of any business (or individual) in a capitalist system?


    Exactly. There is no question to that. However, Nike will maximise their profits at the expense of human suffering. While their workers are payed 2 dollars an hour in third world countries, the atheletes that they sponsor recieve millions of dollars simply to display the nike swoosh. Is this the example of a perfect economy, distributing resources efficiently to maximise the needs of the people who operate within it?

    If you are happy to see this as an example of capitalism, then you are agreeing that capitalism does not fit the definition of an economic system. Economic systems are supposed to allocate resources efficiently. This is not efficient allocation of resources. This is greedy allocation of resources, with no respect for humanity.

    The more this continues, the more citizens will lose their freedom and large corporate entities will be in control of it

    (skim123) I (and you) have only a few basic freedoms: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness/property. I don't see why any corporation would want to rob me of any of these freedoms, seeing as in doing so, I would be less likely (or unable, if they killed me) to buy their product, thereby increasing their profit, which you agreed with me earlier was the main goal of a corporation.


    Have you been outside? Go to your local corner store and see what I am talking about. Boxes upon boxes of CRAP. But capitalism can sell it because it has no regard for human life - with capitalism there is no value for personal well being and happiness. Thus, nobody has a problem with selling you chocolate coated cornflakes that contain carcenogenic food colouring.

    Ok, that was an exageration - but use this as a guide. Does McDonalds sell healthy food? How many people do you think develop heart diseases because of this unhealthy crap. What about cigarettes deceptivly marketed to teenage females? What about children's toys being specifically gender marketed - simply because it's a formula known to make a profit, yet has been proven to teach a stereotype of gender inequality. What about being denied access to medication because drug companies won't collaborate their IP to develop treatments we know can be made.

    The more you support the free market, the more you put your life into the hands of companies who have no value for your "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness/property". Next time you bite into your McDonalds burger, thing what your great capitalism has brought to you - 2 times the recommended daily intake of fat, the inability to order any drink which is a competior to Coca Cola Amatel, and the happiness that you just got suckered a few dollars for something that cost 15 cents to produce. Oh, but the marketing people will have you believe the opposite.

    [ Parent ]
    I question you definition of economy (4.00 / 1) (#104)
    by skim123 on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 05:26:26 PM EST

    Ok, that was an exageration - but use this as a guide. Does McDonalds sell healthy food? How many people do you think develop heart diseases because of this unhealthy crap

    Have you ever been forced to eat McDonald's food? I haven't, so who is to blame for your heart disease? McDonalds or you? YOU, of course!! Take some fucking responsbility for your own actions.

    Freedom is great... capitalism offers that freedom while other economic models take it away. I am free to choose how to spend my money in a totally free market and I am compensated for my work ehtic and skillset. In any other economic system, my pay is based upon factors other than my determination and intelligence.

    Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
    PT Barnum


    [ Parent ]
    How do I take responsibility for my junkmail? (3.00 / 3) (#108)
    by Spinoza on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 06:02:47 PM EST

    How about direct marketing? That has no respect for peoples privacy, right to quiet enjoyment, etc. Whether you're being spammed by moronic porn-peddlers on the internet, or being called by telemarketing assholes at dinner time, advertising has reached levels that defy belief. This is a direct product of the view that anything done to make a profit is justified, no matter how inethical.

    Sure, nobody is holding a gun to your head to make you eat at McDonald's, but McDonald's sure wish they could! McDonald's targets children in their advertising expressly to put parents in the position of either eating at McDonald's or having to disappoint their child. McDonald's finds it easier and cheaper to make crap food and market it strenuously, than to make good food athat people should it. This might be OK in your ethics-free world, but it finds no justification in this one. It may not be wrong, per se, but it certainly isn't right!

    If I sold you poison, telling you it was wine, would that be ethically supportable? Nobody is making you drink it. I guess it must be OK.

    [ Parent ]

    Uh (2.50 / 2) (#109)
    by skim123 on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 06:27:32 PM EST

    If I sold you poison, telling you it was wine, would that be ethically supportable

    No, that would be false advertising. McDonalds doesn't come out and say, "Hey, if you eat this, you will be healthy." So are you against freedom of speech? What if I wish to say things that you disagree with, should I be forbidden to such things? If I have the right to say, "I think parents should take their kids to McDonalds for lunch," why in the hell should McDonalds not have that right?

    Hey, I don't like certain things various religions espouse, and they make these things public! The church across the street has a BIG SIGN that has a different Biblical verse every week. I don't believe in the Bible, so should be forced to end their blatant campaign of advertising their beliefs that I disagree with and find offensive?

    Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
    PT Barnum


    [ Parent ]
    *bszzt* Wrong. Try again. (2.00 / 1) (#111)
    by Spinoza on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 06:36:12 PM EST

    McDonald's claims that their food is nutritious. All McDonald's restaurants have brochures claiming that their food is nutritious and healthy.

    [ Parent ]

    Ummm (none / 0) (#113)
    by skim123 on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 06:55:15 PM EST

    Those booklets list the nutrition information for each of their items. It is up to you to determine if it is healthy enough for you or not.

    You need to have more faith in the intelligence of you and other humans. When we ask others to look over our own well-being, we are asking for an extreme limitation to our liberties. We differ in one big way... where I say, "I am intelligent enough to weigh consequences and make my own decisions (and live with the consequences of my decisions)," you say, "I am too helpless to think for myself and want others to think for me."

    People with your attitude are not only hurting yourselves (for you have every right to fuck yourself over)... you are screwing over those of us who have enough intelligence to make their own rational decisions, because you are trying to strip us of our decision-making as well.

    Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
    PT Barnum


    [ Parent ]
    No, you aren't reading/listening (none / 0) (#114)
    by Spinoza on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 07:09:46 PM EST

    They make the bald-faced claim that McDonald's is nutritious. They don't present "nutritional information." They state that Big Macs are good for you, amongst other things.

    [ Parent ]
    Not been at McDonalds in a while... (none / 0) (#120)
    by skim123 on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 08:28:43 PM EST

    They make the bald-faced claim that McDonald's is nutritious. They don't present "nutritional information." They state that Big Macs are good for you, amongst other things

    I have to admit that it's been some time since I've last eaten at a McDonalds. The last time I did and I spied the nutrition section, they simply listed the calories/fat intake/vitamins/carbs/etc. in each item on the menu.

    Regardless, you are dropping my other arguments... does that mean that you agree with my statements on them?

    Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
    PT Barnum


    [ Parent ]
    this jist of this is... (none / 0) (#131)
    by semis on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 10:58:58 PM EST

    you cannot possibly be an expert in every field. Thus, you to some degree MUST rely on what a manufactuer/producer claims about their product.

    Not everyone is as intelligent as us to know that McDonalds is full of crap, or that the 5 minute Ab-machine really won't make you firmly toned within a week. BUT, there are those people out there who are suckered by it. They aren't educated enough, and the stuff is marketed at these people.

    More than 2/3's of American children are obese. Do you think this has something to do with the marketing of unhealthy food to children? In fact, on this point, are children expected to be able to detect fraudulent advertising? Even if they make the right choice, and buy the 5 dollar pair of no-name sneakers, they are still going to get teased by their peers for not buying the 100 dollar Nikes which are obviously "cooler".

    [ Parent ]
    Well.... (none / 0) (#139)
    by skim123 on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 12:59:12 AM EST

    More than 2/3's of American children are obese. Do you think this has something to do with the marketing of unhealthy food to children? In fact, on this point, are children expected to be able to detect fraudulent advertising

    Ah yes, and how many five year olds have you seen pull up through the drive through at McDonalds? When I was a kid I wanted to eat cookies and ice cream all the time... my parents (being my parents and being responsible for me health), decided that such a diet would be unhealthy and did not provide me ice cream and cookies as staples of my diet. The parents are the ones who make the decision what their child eats.

    Not everyone is as intelligent as us to know that McDonalds is full of crap, or that the 5 minute Ab-machine really won't make you firmly toned within a week

    The minute you open the door of separate classes, the class of the ignorant and the class of the intelligent, you are inviting bad behavior to follow. If, as you propose, a group of people are so stupid to realize that Big Macs and fries aren't healthy that laws must be inacted to prevent McDonalds from saying otherwise (which I still don't concede, I've not seen a booklet at McDonalds saying anything along the lines of, "Eating three Big Macs a day is a good diet"), then why not take this a tad further? Perhaps these people are too stupid to vote, or too stupid to choose their own religious beliefs. After all, we don't want them joining a "cult," so let's restrict their freedom due to their obvious ignorance. After all, we're just protecting them from their inferior intelligence.

    I believe quite the opposite, that all humans are capable of rational thought. I don't separate man into various intelligence classes (well, those who have a physical disorder - a severe head injury, mental retardation, etc. - might be in a special case).

    you cannot possibly be an expert in every field. Thus, you to some degree MUST rely on what a manufactuer/producer claims about their product

    Granted, I am not an expert in every field (I am not an expert on many fields at all). I take that into account when making a purchase. If I am going to make a minor purchase, where I am willing to take the risk, then I will do so. (For example, if I am going to buy an alarm radio, I will just buy some cheap-o brand, or whatever ads I've seen for alarm clocks... I won't invest time or energy into researching what alarm clocks are the best... the risk of getting a crappy deal are worth wasting my time.) In a more important decision - say choosing a school district to move into, or buying a car - I will research. In fact, I bought a new car three months ago, and did extensive research in Consumer Reports, Car and Driver, on the Internet, etc. I am not an expert and did not rely on what car ad I found most appealing to make my decision.

    While I am not an expert on many things, there exists non-biased experts who provide information... also, I have friends I can turn to for anecdotal evidence... is a Toyota Camary a good car?

    Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
    PT Barnum


    [ Parent ]
    Some rebuttal (5.00 / 2) (#135)
    by Spinoza on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 11:37:10 PM EST

    If I understand you correctly, you are arguing three basic propositions:

    • That companies and people should be judged by the same ethical standards.
    • That people are intelligent enough to act in their own best interest at all times, and from this arises the ideal that there should be only the absolute minimum of intervention in the choices accorded to them in everyday life.
    • That companies fulfil all their ethical responsibilities merely by seeking profit.

    I remind you that something that is inethical may be entirely legal, hence we are not arguing over whether a company should be prevented by law from indulging in certain questionable practices, only that a company can be held to be inethical if they do. Furthermore, if capitalism is found to encourage inethical behaviour, it can be shown that capitalism is amoral, even if it is not actively immoral.

    Consider this case: If I invite you around to my house for a meal, and present you with a plate of food that is both poor in quality, and potentially damaging to your health, what sort of a person do you consider me to be? I would not say at this point that I am immoral necessarily, but I am certainly not a good host! What if I invited you around promising a fine enjoyable meal, only to give you a plate of barely edible junk food? Is it not inethical to build your hopes up, only to dash them? This is a (slightly overstated) analogy to the function of advertising today. I can understand advertising to increase public awareness of a product. This is fine, and easily supportable. The advertising that concerns me in this instance is the form that attempts to "overcome sales resistance" as advertisers put it. That is to say, the kind designed to make people desire things that they neither want nor need.

    You, I presume, would argue your point that "nobody is forced to do anything." This argument is naive in the extreme. If nobody is being forced into anything, would it not be equally acceptable for an advertisement to be a simple statement of the availability of a product? It is clear that advertisers seek to manipulate the public through emotional means into making irrational choices. The argument that people are intelligent enough to overcome this persuasion is not really sensible. These, I remind you, are the same people who watch "When Buildings Collapse" and its ilk. Critical assessment of advertising is not something with which the human race at large is gifted. Generally, they're all suckers. Is it really ethical to encourage people to damage their bodies, and pay you for the privilege to do it?

    You might say that it is the responsibility of every sucker to look out for themself, or live with the consequences. This may be true, but it doesn't make it acceptable for advertisers to manipulate people, however stupid those people are. If we do judge a company like McDonald's by the same ethical standards as we judge other people, it is easy to see that they are manipulative, deceitful, and completely callous in their attitudes to the welfare of others. If you met a person who was willing to deceive and manipulate others for profit, would you consider that person to be imbued with a strong sense of ethics?

    So I would say that from a certain point of view, companies should be judged by the same ethical system by which we judge our own actions. This, however, does not go quite far enough. Remember, companies are able to perform activites that are beyond the scope of private individuals. Mass marketing is one instance of this. One man can only annoy his neighbourhood, and may not have much success in convincing anyone to try his religion or girl scout cookies or whatever he is peddling. A company can virtually propagandize a nation. Both are inethical, but the company is much more troubling. Judging companies by the same standards you use to judge people is fine, as long as you remember that compamies work on a larger scale, and hence their actions can be inethical on a larger scale.

    Companies are also able to reach a point at which their actions cease completely to operate on the same scale as those of the individual. A person who dumps garbage in the local park is certainly inethical, but a company that dumps toxic waste into a river system is on an entirely different scale of inethical activity. Likewise, a person may lobby his local congressman for some concession. Companies are more likely to experience success in their efforts. In this case, companies are treated differently by congress, so we have no choice but to view their political actions in a different ethical light. The best example I can think of offhand of the different treatment companies get from governemnt would be the alarmingly small fine ($1 for each board member I believe. The comany was fined something on the order of $5000.) that GM was given for sabotaging most of the public transport systems in the US.

    If you define the sole function of a company as being the pursuit of profit, you overlook the amount of social good a company is able to achieve. It cannot be ignored that companies have the resources to improve parts of society, if they were willing to exert themselves in that direction. I would argue that a person can be held to be inethical by omission of action as well as by action taken, such as the example of a person who whilst not actively commiting racism, does nothing to prevent or oppose it when it occurs. It is not ethical, in other words, to do nothing.

    Companies are in a position to improve the world, yet they persist in making it worse. This is apparently justified by claiming that their sole responsiblity is to their shareholders. This is merely begging the question. Are their shareholders somehow exempt from ethical standards? If the company is behaving inethically to gain profit for the shareholders, then perhaps it is the shareholders we should be pointing the finger at. If any person or company is getting rich from third world exploitation, then that entity is acting inethically. This is clear by the fact that people suffer as a result of their actions or lack of action. Claiming that this is justified by by the free market is ridiculous. People are suffering. Nike is profiting from that suffering. It's pretty open and shut. Whether or not Nike is the cause of the suffering is beside the point. They profit from it while doing nothing to assuage it.

    How about a more direct example of active perpetuation of suffering. Nestle provides for free, their powdered milk to hospitals in Africa, for the feeding of newborns. Nestle's motive in this is far from humanitarian, as women whose babies are fed this way quickly cease to produce their own milk. This means that when the mother and her baby are released from hospital, the baby must be fed on Nestle's product, which is not free outside of hospitals. This is done in the name of profit. It is certainly not an isolated example, and I defy you to find the victims to blame in this case.

    Companies must be compelled to support some additional standards besides the profit motive. It is clear that pure capitalism does not provide this motivation, and actively encourages inethical companies to behave inethically in pursuit of profit. Whether or not other systems can do any better is beside the point. I certainly have not seen a political or economic system that is absolutely perfect, but I would not consider capitalism to be the best I have seen.

    [ Parent ]

    ... (none / 0) (#141)
    by skim123 on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 01:27:53 AM EST

    If I understand you correctly, you are arguing three basic propositions

    You have the first two nailed down... the third, however, is a bit off. I argue that the purpose of a corporation (or person) is to maximize profit. Not over the short-term, perhaps, but over the long run. For example, it takes money to make money, so you may have a short loss investing capital back into a business, but the end goal for a business (or person) is to be profitable. If you, as a person, continually lose more money than you acquire, you will be a very cold, hungry, and poor person.

    I don't claim that any ethical responsibilities are being fulfilled by the act of attempting to maximize profit. Making a profit is like breathing, something that is innate and must be done for the survival of a living entity. The act of breathing, like the act of profiting, does not have anything to do with ethics. The steps one takes towards profiting, may or may not be ethical. For example, if I shoot you and take your wallet, I will increase my net worth, but I will have done so unehtically.

    I remind you that something that is inethical may be entirely legal, hence we are not arguing over whether a company should be prevented by law from indulging in certain questionable practices, only that a company can be held to be inethical if they do

    That depends on what you define to be ethical (and I think it is obvious that we have different criteria for that definition). I content that humans have three basic rights: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness/property. As long as your actions do not violate those three basic rights of others, than your actions will be ethical. If a company murders someone, or forces someone to do something against their will, then the company is acting unethically, and should be punished. If a profitable company raises prices because they realize that their customers can afford (i.e., they don't need the money, and are already making money at the current price), that is ethical. If a company says to a worker in a third-world nation, "I will pay you $2 a day to do this work," that is ethical. If the person refuses and the company says, "Do it or we'll shoot you," that is unehtical.

    What if I invited you around promising a fine enjoyable meal, only to give you a plate of barely edible junk food? Is it not inethical to build your hopes up, only to dash them

    That is not unethical, unless your prepared your food so that it would injure or kill me. Just don't expect me to come over to dinner at your house in the future.

    Is it really ethical to encourage people to damage their bodies, and pay you for the privilege to do it?

    As long as you do not force them. It would be quite unethical to restrict the freedom of peoples who wish to injure themselves. If I want to weigh 400 pounds and have heart problems, what right do you have to tell me that I cannot do that? Also, you make mention of an intellectually inferior class, the "people who watch "When Buildings Collapse" and its ilk." I strongly encourage you to read another one of my posts: http://www.kuro5hin.org/?op=comments;sid=2000/10/14/1014/4718;pid=131;cid=139#139.

    If you define the sole function of a company as being the pursuit of profit, you overlook the amount of social good a company is able to achieve

    A company, like a person, is under no obligation to achieve any good for society. If a company wishes to help the public, fine, but they should be, under NO CIRCUMSTANCES, forced to help the public, or forced to give back to society.

    I view forcing anyone - a company or a person - to do something is the worst ethical violation one can make. You have no right to force me to do something, as I have no right to force you. If you want to give to charity, fine, do so, but you should be protected from being forced to do so.

    I certainly have not seen a political or economic system that is absolutely perfect, but I would not consider capitalism to be the best I have seen

    Name one that is better than capitalism. Unless you are a staunch conservative who wishes he could return to the days when men feared nature and lived in caves, capitalism is the way to go... if you look at how much has been accomplished in capitalist societies per unit time as compared to non-capitalist societies, you will see this point quite clearly. For example, imagine how many wonderful inventions and benefits to mankind could arise from China if it the government separated itself completely from the economy. Look at socialist countries in Europe, whose technical entrepenuers come to America because they are not riddled down by red tape and a government that is over-involved in the economy. Capitalism may have its flaws, but it is, hands down, the best system out there... If you allow men to trade freely among themselves, without your nagging regulations, without your incessant red tape, and without your (IMHO) faulty ethics dictating how others should trade, you would have a true utopia.

    Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
    PT Barnum


    [ Parent ]
    ... (none / 0) (#146)
    by Spinoza on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 03:22:00 AM EST

    I can only agree that our ethics are very different. I would not, for instance, condone the belief that it is OK to walk by a violent crime being committed without doing something, whether intervening personally, or raising an alarm. You, I suspect would find this perfectly acceptable, since "...a person, is under no obligation to achieve any good for society". I dread to live in a society such as this!

    You appear to support blatant lying, since it is apparently OK for me to advertise one thing and provide another. I start to wonder what ethical system finds this sort of thing to be perfectly acceptable.

    Your claptrap about not defining classes based on intelligence is all very well and good, and I understand that your motives are as well-meaning as possible. Would that advertisers shared your views! Unfortunately, advertisers are cynical monsters, who are willing to divide their market into as many classes as they find necessary, to better target their products. As much as you cover your eyes to the truth, there are stupid, or spineless people in the world, and there are clever people who exploit them directly. Claiming that we are all equally able to make enlightened choices is a rationale for exploiting the weak, nothing better. People may be born equal in some senses, but they become less equal as they grow older, whether through their own actions, or as a result of their environment. Your attempts to assert that humanity is largely undifferentiated, defy comprehension. How can you consider a university graduate to be effectively equal to a high school dropout? Equal under the law, I grant you, but we are not discussing law here.

    You'll note further, that I have not once espoused treating people any differently due to intelligence or lack thereof. If all persuasive advertising were banned, this would be perfectly equitable, would it not? Less annoyance for all.

    Nobody, in any situation I described, is being forced to do anything (with the exception of the Africans in my last example, or the people working in Nike sweatshops). When I raised the issue of a company being unethical because it overlooks human suffering in order to make a profit, I was stating that said company should be considered unethical, nothing more. I never said that the company should be forced to do anything. I would rather that they did not have to be forced.

    I would like to know if you consider the sweatshop workers to be equal to US citizens? As people they are, but they are far from equal in their ability to demand reasonable wages from Nike. You can blindly claim that they are equal, or you can acknowledge that there is a problem.

    The fact is, free market capitalism encourages unethical behaviour. This is most clear in the fact that in order to argue against this, you have had to resort to upholding one of the least logical systems of ethics ever proposed. You appear to be an ethical egoist, if I am not mistaken. That is, you believe that people acting in "enlightened self-interest" will inevitably do the correct thing, and that this is all the ethics we need. Is this the case? If so, I would go so far as to say that we define the bare meaning of the word ethics differently. I consider ethics to be a system or set of concepts governing the determination of what is right and wrong. You appear to define ethics as a system used to justify whatever you want to do.

    Finally, since you ask, I do consider socialism to be preferable to free market capitalism. I also consider mixed market economies preferable. I also point out that China had produced few, if any useful inventions for at least one thousand years prior to the communist takeover, and that most of the useful inventions and benefits to mainkind prior to the previous century came from countries that were monarchist or city states ruled by despots such as the Medici in Florence. Does this mean that despots and monarchies are preferable to capitalism in your assessment?

    [ Parent ]

    ... (none / 0) (#174)
    by skim123 on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 07:44:20 PM EST

    I would not, for instance, condone the belief that it is OK to walk by a violent crime being committed without doing something, whether intervening personally, or raising an alarm. You, I suspect would find this perfectly acceptable, since "...a person, is under no obligation to achieve any good for society". I dread to live in a society such as this

    Such an action would be acceptable but foolish. Imagine if everyone had that attitude (don't help someone in need). Then, when they were in need, no one would be there to help them. Hence, it is in your self-interest to help others (to an extent). For example, it wouldn't be worthwhile for me to help some stranger by sacrificing my own life.... but is is definitely in my self-interest to help someone by raising an alarm or help someone by some means where my life is not jeopardized.

    You appear to support blatant lying, since it is apparently OK for me to advertise one thing and provide another

    I am against false advertising if it has the ability to hurt someone or kill someone. For example, if an auto maker says, "This car is safe" when they know that 1 times out of 10 it will blow up when started... that is not acceptable. Regarding lying, or any other undesirable behavior... it is rarely in one's self interest to do this. If I lie everytime I talk to you, are you likely to believe me when I need you to believe me most? Would you keep buying a product if their advertisements were blatantly false?

    Nobody, in any situation I described, is being forced to do anything (with the exception of the Africans in my last example, or the people working in Nike sweatshops)

    How is the person in a sweatshop being forced to do anything? I can understand if it is a child, but if it is an adult, and Nike is not threatening to kill or injure the person if they don't work for them, I don't see how they are forcing anyone to do anything. Does my boss force me to show up at work on time? No, but if I decide not to, I must face the consequences from my actions, i.e., likely being fired.

    I would like to know if you consider the sweatshop workers to be equal to US citizens? As people they are, but they are far from equal in their ability to demand reasonable wages from Nike

    Why aren't they? Imagine if every person in a sweatshop community banned together and said, "We are not working for less than $x per day. Now, what would Nike do? Pay them more or move out... after the factory had already been erected, they would likely be willing to pay them more. What I am against is forcing Nike to do something about it. For example, imagine that your neighbor was poor... you could help him by giving him some of your money. If you want to do that, fine, do so. But how would you feel if someone came to you with a gun and said, "You must give your poor neighbor $x because you have more than him." That is blatantly wrong and violates my (and hopefully yours) ethical system to the very bone.

    most of the useful inventions and benefits to mainkind prior to the previous century came from countries that were monarchist or city states ruled by despots such as the Medici in Florence. Does this mean that despots and monarchies are preferable to capitalism in your assessment

    I don't have any hard numbers here, but I would be willing to wager hard, cold cash that for a given culture, more techonological advances occurred in any given time period during a capitalist economy than in any other economy. When monarchies existed, the Dark Ages existed. They were called the Dark Ages because science took a step backwards. People put their faith in religion, not in hard facts. People surrended their logical thought to irrational explanations by religious figureheads. If you look at any of the first large techonolical spurt, it started with the end of monarchy and the advent of a free economy - the Industrial Age.

    Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
    PT Barnum


    [ Parent ]
    Interesting view of history, ethics, etc. (none / 0) (#193)
    by Spinoza on Wed Oct 18, 2000 at 07:49:12 PM EST

    ...but is is definitely in my self-interest to help someone by raising an alarm...

    And in who's self interest is it to respond to your alarm, given that it is in nobody's self-interest to risk their own life? This is why ethics also requires a sense of duty. Your ethical egoism lacks this sort of thing.

    If I lie everytime I talk to you, are you likely to believe me when I need you to believe me most? Would you keep buying a product if their advertisements were blatantly false?

    This assumes that I am smart enough to see your lies at least a few times. In the case of advertising, this is not always the case. Advertisers are persuasive, and they target the gullible. Of course, according to you, this is the fault of the victim, and they only have themselves to blame for being preyed upon. Furthermore, you claim that even stating that this sort of behaviour is unethical is liable to result in a class system, and hence you are protecting people by ensuring that nobody should have to feel guilty for fleecing a sucker. How charitable of you. I hope you realise that this argument of yours based on class systems is a combinatation of two informal fallacies: The first is a a straw man, since I am not even suggesting that people be divided by class. The second is a slippery slope. You have not demonstrated any certain or logical causal progression from admitting that some people are less intelligent than others to the establishment of a class system.

    How is the person in a sweatshop being forced to do anything? ...Imagine if every person in a sweatshop community banned together and said, "We are not working for less than $x per day.

    Oh, I see. It is the fault of the workers after all. They want to be employed in poor conditions for slave wages.

    (Me:)...they are far from equal in their ability to demand reasonable wages from Nike

    (You:) Why aren't they?

    They are uneducated, and may never have heard of labour unions. They are poor. They have families to feed, and would be starved. They live in nations that would not prevent Nike from employing strike-breakers. The strike-breakers might even employ firearms. Many of them are children.

    But how would you feel if someone came to you with a gun and said, "You must give your poor neighbor $x because you have more than him." That is blatantly wrong and violates my (and hopefully yours) ethical system to the very bone.

    Am I a multinational conglomerate? Is my neighbour a half-starved slave-wage employee in one of my sweatshops? Don't waste my time with this weak analogy.

    ...I would be willing to wager hard, cold cash that for a given culture, more techonological advances occurred in any given time period during a capitalist economy than in any other economy.

    And I would take that bet. Italy. The Renaissance.

    When monarchies existed, the Dark Ages existed.

    And the renaissance. And the reformation. And the industrial revolution. Honestly, are you really that ignorant?

    If you look at any of the first large techonolical spurt, it started with the end of monarchy and the advent of a free economy - the Industrial Age.

    The end of monarchy? Who on Earth was George III? George IV? Queen Victoria? Chopped liver?

    While I don't support monarchy, I am willing to allow that some advances in science and industry happened when the English monarchy was still powerful.

    [ Parent ]

    ... (none / 0) (#196)
    by skim123 on Fri Oct 20, 2000 at 08:38:57 PM EST

    And in who's self interest is it to respond to your alarm, given that it is in nobody's self-interest to risk their own life?

    The police officer, since that is his job.

    This is why ethics also requires a sense of duty

    A sense of duty to whom? The only duty I have is to myself. The politician may command that it is your duty to die for your country, but what is his duty? To sit upon his perch and make such rousing speeches? Why doesn't he have to face death? I want his duty, and he can have mine. When a president tells me its my duty to give my money to those who don't feel like working, I say hogwash. My duty is to me, my family, those I care about.

    This assumes that I am smart enough to see your lies at least a few times. In the case of advertising, this is not always the case. Advertisers are persuasive, and they target the gullible

    What if there existed a technology such that certain people saw certain ads, while others saw other ads? For example, those who were not ignorant enough to be fooled by commercials would see the commercials of today, while those foolish ones would see less persausive commercials. Would that be good? In such a system, who is going to pick the dumb? You? Do you know anyone who is so gullible that when they see bikini-clad women in a beer commercial, they think, "I like bikini-clad women, I will go by some beer." If you do, do you tell them that they are gullible? Go up to their face and comment on their ignorance. Tell them that you need to decide what, exactly, they can see, what they are capable of handling intellectually. Just pray that one day someone doesn't come up to you and say, "Sorry, but I will have to censor certain material from you because you lack the cognitive skills to process it correctly."

    Oh, I see. It is the fault of the workers after all. They want to be employed in poor conditions for slave wages

    No, they don't want it, but who is to blame? Nike? OK, so Nike leaves, and the government enslaves the people, or another sweatshop moves in, or a national sweatshop forms. Granted, Nike isn't helping solve what you label as a problem, but they aren't the sole reason it exists.

    And I would take that bet. Italy. The Renaissance

    OK, I'd take that bet too. Yes, a lot happened in a given time span compared to times past (i.e., the Dark Ages), but compared to the same spurt of time say 100 years later?

    The end of monarchy? Who on Earth was George III? George IV? Queen Victoria?

    I didn't mean the literal end of monarchy, hell, there is still the Queen of England today, no? I meant the end of economic control by the monarchy. The monarchy didn't own the factories, didn't own the people who worked in them, didn't filter all the profits from industry through their hands... If they had, the industrial revolution wouldn't have happened.

    Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
    PT Barnum


    [ Parent ]
    ... (none / 0) (#197)
    by Spinoza on Fri Oct 20, 2000 at 10:04:05 PM EST

    Even if it is the police officer's job, it is never in any person's self interest to risk their own life for any altruistic reason. It would be in the police officer's self interest to ignore violent crimes, to better extend his chances of survival.

    On your response to the advertising example: What on Earth are you babbling about? I was trying to demonstrate that companies are unethical in their use of advertising. I was also pointing out that advertising is targeted at those most likely to be taken in by it, hence pretending that all people are equal is pointless here. What your response has to do with this is beyond me. You have provided yet another red herring argument in your attempts to avoid dealing with this issue properly. Please state, without straying off into vague, obscurantist ranting about class systems, why it is ethical for companies to employ methods of persuasion designed to convince gullible and credulous people that they should buy things the don't need.

    Why do you think it is OK to absolve Nike of any blame in their activities? They may not be the sole cause of the suffering of their workers but they are certainly profiting from it. Of course, according to your twisted morals, this is perfectly ethical, I suppose. (I note that you are not providing any responses to the Nestle example...)

    Are you saying that the renaissance was not Italy's most active period of progress in science and the arts? Could you provide a counter-example, instead of speculation?

    The end of economic control by the monarchy in England didn't really happen until the reign of Queen Victoria. This was very much towards the end of the industrial revolution. Your nonsense about what the monarchy did and did not own is beside the point. Prior to the industrial revolution, the monarchy did not own all the farms in England either, or all the people working on them. Does this mean the monarchy was devoid of economic power even then? Furthermore, did they not collect taxes during the industrial revolution?

    [ Parent ]

    ... (none / 0) (#198)
    by skim123 on Sat Oct 21, 2000 at 01:01:23 AM EST

    Even if it is the police officer's job, it is never in any person's self interest to risk their own life for any altruistic reason

    A police officer considers the following tradeoffs each and every time he is faced with a dangerous situation - is doing whatever dangerous task lies ahead me worth the risk? If I don't take the risk, I will be out of a job... if I do, I may die. That being said, only officers who didn't value their lives would accept a suicide mission. That is, 99.99% of police officers who needed to perform some task that most likely equalled death to protect someone, would say, "Fuck that."

    Please state, without straying off into vague, obscurantist ranting about class systems, why it is ethical for companies to employ methods of persuasion designed to convince gullible and credulous people that they should buy things the don't need

    As long as the advertising isn't blatant misinformation - that is, an auto company doesn't say, "Our cars won't blow up when started," when they know they will - then there is nothing unethical about it.

    A beer commerical shows its drinkers galavanting with hot women. This is obviously an exaggeration. Would you rather force beer companies to show commercials of overweight, depressed people in AA meetings?

    Why do you think it is OK to absolve Nike of any blame in their activities

    What have they done wrong? Do they beat their workers? Do they threaten them with violence? If so, then they are doing great wrong. If, however, they are saying to a worker, "We will gladly pay you $x," and the person says, "OK," then what is wrong with that? Perhaps I am working at a job here where I am getting paid $5,000 per year less than the average software engineer. So do you think my company should be punished somehow?

    I note that you are not providing any responses to the Nestle example

    I don't remember this being brought up earlier... What is it that Nestle is doing?

    Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
    PT Barnum


    [ Parent ]
    ... (none / 0) (#199)
    by Spinoza on Sat Oct 21, 2000 at 02:41:51 AM EST

    By your argument, I suspect that the police would have a difficult time attracting recruits. Without a sense of duty, a police force is more likely to turn to corruption than to actually be of any help to anyone. It's always more profitable to take a bribe, so long as you don't get caught, and if all the cops are corrupt, who's going to catch you?

    This is the one problem I have with your so-called ethics: It's okay to do anything bad, as long as you don't get caught. You might make the case that wrongdoers inevitably get caught, but that clearly isn't realistic. Your ethics degenerate to amoralism, due to the fact that people acting in their own self interest will always be as corrupt, selfish, greedy and deceitful as they can get away with. A glance at the real world reveals that people can get away with a lot of this sort of behaviour.

    Now, every time I have described something as unethical, you have replied with some statement to the effect that "it is wrong to force people to do things". This, apart from being the mindset of a spoiled child, is irrelevant. I am not talking about whether people or companies should be forced to do things. I am talking about whether or not certain things should be considered unethical, in order to further the argument that capitalism encourages unethical behaviour. Please keep this in mind. Of course, you can't convince someone of this if they refuse to consider any behaviour as being unethical.

    You are still missing the point, ragarding advertising, and I can only assume this is deliberate. No, I am not saying that beer companies should advertise using overweight depressed people (though I can't see why it would be bad if they did. Cigarette companies could be required to feature throat cancer sufferers in their billboards as well.) What I am saying is that advertising should be purely factual, nothing more. If a product is worth buying, then stating its existance, and factual information about it should be sufficient.

    The fact that advertisers employ manipulative means to persuade gullible people to purchase their product is unethical. They are taking advantage of people. Nevermind that the people "allow" themselves to be taken adantage of. That is beside the point, as we are discussing the ethics of the companies, not the people they of whom they are taking advantage.

    Why stop at disallowing "blatant misinformation"? Why not eliminate all misinformation from advertising?

    Do Nike beat their workers? Yes. They also employ children at slave wages. It may surprise you to note that sweatshops are not run like US businesses and are much more cruel. Is it OK to say what they are doing is wrong now? Or is it still the fault of their workers?

    The Nestle thing was an example I brought up a few <a href="http://www.kuro5hin.org/?op=comments&sid=2000/10/14/1014/4718&cid=135#135>posts back, second paragraph from the bottom.

    I take it from your lack of response on the subject of monarchy during the industrial revolution, and whether or not the renaissance was the gretest period of progress in Italy to date, that you are willing to concede those points. I therefore state the original point, to which I provided those as counter-examples. You had said that capitalism was the best system, because it encouraged advances in science and technology. I pointed out that there had been monarchies and despotisms that achieved this equally well, and in at least one case, better. In fact, I do not agree that capitalism encourages scientific advances to any great degree at all. It is simply not profitable to be a scientific researcher. Who is richer: Bill Gates or Tim Berners-Lee?

    Your attribution of the advances of the last 150-200 year to capitalism is ridiculous. The reason technology has been advancing more rapidly is that advances in technology have made this possible. Technology accelerates technology, in other words.

    [ Parent ]

    whoops (none / 0) (#200)
    by Spinoza on Sat Oct 21, 2000 at 02:44:11 AM EST

    Nestle thing

    [ Parent ]
    ... (none / 0) (#201)
    by skim123 on Sat Oct 21, 2000 at 03:46:45 AM EST

    Without a sense of duty, a police force is more likely to turn to corruption than to actually be of any help to anyone.

    The sense of duty for a police officer is the same sense of duty I have for my job... I do it because I enjoy being able to afford things like food, a shelter, etc.

    It's always more profitable to take a bribe, so long as you don't get caught, and if all the cops are corrupt, who's going to catch you

    It depends who pays the salaries of the police force. Should the police force be funded by taxes, or should police forces be private companies?

    This is the one problem I have with your so-called ethics: It's okay to do anything bad, as long as you don't get caught

    I never said this. The problem is that you and I define "bad" differently. Killing someone is bad in my ethics system (as it is in yours, I assume). Hence, if you kill someone and "get away with it," that is still terrible, an horendous offense and uber-unethical.

    Your ethics degenerate to amoralism, due to the fact that people acting in their own self interest will always be as corrupt, selfish, greedy and deceitful as they can get away with

    Hardly. You may think that it is in my self interest to be corrupt, and steal goods from my place of employment and sell them. But I argue that it would not be in my interest to do that, the whole social contract thing. I give up some of my rights (the right to thievery) in order to help ensure that others surrender their rights to thievery as well. It is in my self-interest, therefore, not to be a criminal.

    I am talking about whether or not certain things should be considered unethical, in order to further the argument that capitalism encourages unethical behaviour

    Is that your sole agenda? So if we say, "Yes, capitalism encourages unehtical behavior, but it is far better than other economic systems" you'll then say, "All right, point made?" Is there an economic system that doesn't encourage unethical behavior (again, it all depends on one's definition of what is and is not ethical).

    What I am saying is that advertising should be purely factual, nothing more

    Factual is so hard to define. What if I think Budwiser is the best tasting beer in the world. Then is it not factual for me to air a commercial and say, "I think Budwiser is the best tasting beer on the planet." Or, more succinctly, since I am the once saying it, why have the words, "I think." I'll just say, "Budwiser is the best tasting beer on the planet." Now, throw in a couple of bikini-clad women who agree with my views, and we have ourselves a nice, factual commercial.

    "? Why not eliminate all misinformation from advertising

    Who, pray tell, is to determine what is misinformation and what is not? Anytime you start throwing in subjectivity in deciding whether something should or should not be, you are going to limit everyone's freedoms.

    I take it from your lack of response on the subject of monarchy during the industrial revolution, and whether or not the renaissance was the gretest period of progress in Italy to date

    I think I made too strong a statement, saying that any period of time in a non-capitalist system was lesser than any period of capitalist time. That was too brash a statement, since one could easily find a slow capitalist period and a rapid non-capitalist period. My bad. Regardless, I still think, pound for pound, you are going to do best in an economic system where you encourage people for their hard work, their creativity, and their intelligence... communism discourages effort, socialism doesn't encourage effort... capitalism does.

    Your attribution of the advances of the last 150-200 year to capitalism is ridiculous. The reason technology has been advancing more rapidly is that advances in technology have made this possible. Technology accelerates technology, in other words

    Read about the pace of technology in the Eastern European bloc during the communist years as compared to the speed of technology in the Western European nations. When you reward sloth and punish ingenuity, you are going to have very little technological development (or economic growth).

    Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
    PT Barnum


    [ Parent ]
    ... (none / 0) (#202)
    by Spinoza on Sat Oct 21, 2000 at 04:15:45 AM EST

    I disagree with your view that people will act in enlightened self-interest. I don't think they will because as a rule, people aren't that enlightened. If what you say is true, there would be no corrupt people in the world. This clearly is not the case. So people are either unenlightened, or not self-interested, according to your ethics.

    Now, throw in a couple of bikini-clad women who agree with my views, and we have ourselves a nice, factual commercial.

    I know there is always a grey area. I think it's safe to say certain things are not in it. Since we aren't buying people, don't put them in the ad. Have the same voice-over guys do all the ads on a network. Limit the information to name, price and what it's for, if that's non-obvious. Additions to this could be made if they can be shown to be made objectively. It isn't that hard.

    communism discourages effort, socialism doesn't encourage effort... capitalism does.

    Capitalism encourages some effort, but only in certain directions. Generally, research is not one of these. Look at what's happening to research at most modern universities if you don't believe me. Basically, capitalism encourages a "make money now" attitude. Research takes too much time. Most of the really brilliant research done in the US over the last fifty years was government funded. (Think NASA, nuclear science, ARPA, etc) How is this capitalist?

    Read about the pace of technology in the Eastern European bloc during the communist years as compared to the speed of technology in the Western European nations. When you reward sloth and punish ingenuity, you are going to have very little technological development (or economic growth).

    I shudder to bring it up, but think about the pace of technology under the nazi regime. And remember who was first to put a man in space.

    At the heart of it, yes, all I want to say is that capitalism encourages unethical behaviour. I do not accept that it is the best system available. I don't think that there is an economic system that disourages unethical behaviour, but there are some that do not encourage excesses of the like that are commonplace under capitalism.

    [ Parent ]

    ... (none / 0) (#203)
    by skim123 on Sat Oct 21, 2000 at 05:04:01 AM EST

    I disagree with your view that people will act in enlightened self-interest

    They don't know, not all of them. There are many who do, though (and there are many who do not). Sadly, many of those who do think rationally feel guilted into providing for those who do not think rationally. There's an incredibly brilliant essay written by Ayn Rand on this phenomenon, about how smart, intelligent people are brought up to feel ashamed for their talents and feel subservient to those lesser fortunates (and feel as though they should be ashamed of their gifts, or that they owe others since they are fortunate).

    Regarding controlling advertising... isn't advertising essentially a form of expression? Hence shouldn't it be protected by freedom of speech guarantees?

    Capitalism encourages some effort, but only in certain directions. Generally, research is not one of these

    Microsoft spent something like $9 billion dollars on research last year. Should research be publically funded like it is now? I don't think so... If there are enough people who want scientists to research project X, they should make contributions out of their own pockets and fund it that way. Right now, the government is taking my money forcibly (i.e. taxes) and distributing it to projects they see fit... let's just say that thanks to such government funded research we can now build amazingly frightening weapons of mass destruction. I don't want my money going to fund research on bomb building.

    I shudder to bring it up, but think about the pace of technology under the nazi regime

    Good point.

    And remember who was first to put a man in space

    Of course they got much of that info from captured (or liberated, if you'd like to call them that) Nazi scientists, as did we.

    I don't think that there is an economic system that disourages unethical behaviour, but there are some that do not encourage excesses of the like that are commonplace under capitalism

    Could you name those economic systems please?

    Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
    PT Barnum


    [ Parent ]
    ... (none / 0) (#204)
    by Spinoza on Sat Oct 21, 2000 at 05:58:09 AM EST

    There's an incredibly brilliant essay written by Ayn Rand on this phenomenon, about how smart, intelligent people are brought up to feel ashamed for their talents and feel subservient to those lesser fortunates

    I dislike Ayn Rand, mostly because she tried to argue her philosophy as a work of fiction, rather than a structured, logical argument. There is also a very good essay by Bertrand Russell that deals in parts with the duty of a man to his fellows. It's called "A Free Man's Worship". I believe it is available on the web. It's not to everyone's taste, particularly not if you are very religious, but I think it provides an interesting alternative view to Ayn Rand's egoism. (I should say that Russell wrote this essay fairly early in his philosphical career and his views changed somewhat over the years.)

    I don't really consider advertising a form of free speech. I don't think any paid statements really count as free speech. Would you defend the "free speech" rights of advertisers to advertise cigarettes? On television? In any way they like?

    I agree that government funding of military research is not something I'd want to pay for, but on the other hand, I don't see how commercial interests would pay for ion colliders like RHIC. Plenty of medical research is government funded, too...I could probably go on and on about this, so I won't bore you, except to say that there's two sides to the argument. Generally, companies will only find certain kinds of research. This doesn't mean the other kinds are not worth doing.

    I still say socialism will not encourage things like Nike's sweatshops, or Nestle's exploitation. I won't say that it will discourage all unethical activity. It just provides less of an incentive. It has other drawbacks, I'll admit. I think the benefits outweigh the costs, though.

    [ Parent ]

    ... (none / 0) (#205)
    by skim123 on Sun Oct 22, 2000 at 05:39:41 AM EST

    I dislike Ayn Rand, mostly because she tried to argue her philosophy as a work of fiction, rather than a structured, logical argument

    Yes and no. My grasp of philosophy is pretty weak, so I don't know how she compares to others, but she wrote more than just fiction... she had a number of essays as well. Also, even in here grand work of fiction, Atlas Shrugged, there is the "This is John Galt speaking," where she spends ~80 pages in a long-winded narraitive, spelling out her philosphy.

    I don't really consider advertising a form of free speech. I don't think any paid statements really count as free speech. Would you defend the "free speech" rights of advertisers to advertise cigarettes? On television? In any way they like?

    OK, what about this? Newsweek wants to interview Bill Gates (he is, after all, the richest man in the world). Gates says in his interview, "MS is the best software company in the world and we are a bunch of innovators." Now, that is a bit of slanted advertising, no? But then again, doesn't BillG have rights to free speech? Now, you may say that since he didn't pay for it, it's all good, but now we are back into a gray area. Also, what if BillG said, "Hey, I get a kick out of being interviewed (or whatever) so I'll pay for a publication to voice my personal concerns. Doesn't he, as an individual, have this right?

    I still say socialism will not encourage things like Nike's sweatshops

    Why is this so? Socialist businesses still wanna make a buck, no?

    Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
    PT Barnum


    [ Parent ]
    i totally agree (none / 0) (#158)
    by semis on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 10:39:18 AM EST

    Spinoza, I think you summed up exactly my feelings in your post. I am happy that somebody sees the same as I with regards to to the topic of your discussion, specifically:

    Companies must be compelled to support some additional standards besides the profit motive

    [ Parent ]
    Anyway...Not my entire point... (4.00 / 1) (#112)
    by Spinoza on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 06:51:31 PM EST

    My point was, what gives companies the right to invade my life and privacy? Think doubleclick internet advertising, intrusive and pushy telemarketers, etc. I may not buy their product, but it seems I am required to endure their invasions into my life. This is not my fault and I have few, if any ways of avoiding direct marketing completely. How can you consider their actions ethical? Do you even care about ethics?

    It seems to me that the crux of your argument is that, while people are responsible for their actions, companies exist in a different ethical sphere, in which they are free to commit acts of considerable repugnance (environmental neglect, third world exploitation, etc) in the name of profit.

    [ Parent ]

    Incorrect (2.50 / 2) (#121)
    by skim123 on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 08:36:00 PM EST

    It seems to me that the crux of your argument is that, while people are responsible for their actions, companies exist in a different ethical sphere

    No, this is not what I am saying at all... I think people and corporations should be treated the same. If you go out and make a slanderous statement, I can sue you. I can also sue a corporation if they make a slanderous statement. If you think doubleclick is violating your privacy, sue them... Imagine that I had invented some technology that would let me listen in to your phone conversations without coming on your property or mangaling the phone lines... now... am I invading your privacy? Perhaps. How would you stop me? Ask me nicely, ok. Perhaps I don't listen and say, "Screw you, I'll do it if I wanna." So you take me to court. That is why the courts exist, to settle legal disputes. You interpret the law to read that my actions are a violation of your privacy, I say they are not... let the courts be the one to interpret the law and settle our dispute.

    This is not my fault and I have few, if any ways of avoiding direct marketing completely

    You know what annoys me? The bums downtown who wait at every corner to ask me for a quarter. I'd like not to have them invade my time with their direct advertising, their incessant pitches and excuses for needing money (I need to catch a bus, I need to buy cigerettes, I need beer)... What do you propose be done about them?

    What I am trying to say... there are those (people and corps) that are going to annoy you when you least would like them to... God damn bible-touting people ringing my doorbell at dinnertime to tell me about their religion... damn girl scouts, coming to my door and bothering me... I never buy their cookies, YET THEY KEEP BOTHERING ME!

    Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
    PT Barnum


    [ Parent ]
    a few points :) (2.00 / 2) (#130)
    by semis on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 10:50:02 PM EST

    skim123 - I am enjoying this discussion/debate thus far. Let me throw some comments your way :)

    You wrote - "That is why the courts exist, to settle legal disputes."

    Look at how long it takes to get any dispute settled in the states! Everybody wants to sue everybody else! You even have a few television shows about it - Judge Judy and Jackson or whatever. And this is the kinda stuff that outright capitalism has bred. Courts which make money from TV shows. And now we have law firms who specifically cater for injuries. They go around the hospitals and find people who could make a buck if they sued their employer. The legal system is folding because it can't cope with the influx of cases which could easily be settled out of court. Is this the kind of legal system you want?

    You wrote - "You know what annoys me? The bums downtown who wait at every corner to ask me for a quarter."

    It's a sad fact but you are seeing the inequality that the free market produces. A purely free market economy does not support a social security system. The U.S., being the prime example of the biggest free market economy, displays the biggest gaps between social classes. Do you think the bum is going to be given an opportunity to re-train, educate themself, and re-enter the market place? Hardly. So that's why they sit on the corner asking for a quarter. The system doesn't support them, and they aren't given any opportunities to re-enter the market. How can you claim that this system works when people freeze and starve on your streets?

    Now, this is not to say that we should have Socialism or some other system. BUT, what I am trying to point out here is that we NEED the gov't to put systems in place to give citizens a safety net. This means taxes. This means laws. But of course these get in the way of profits for big businesses - and that is why they are always eager to move more into a free market, to increase profits at the expense of the gvt's ability to provide basic humanitarian needs for the citizens. This is what I find wrong. Government intervention is needed to maintain capitalism from entering chaos/anarchy.

    [ Parent ]
    Enjoying the debate as well... (4.00 / 1) (#142)
    by skim123 on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 01:47:10 AM EST

    Look at how long it takes to get any dispute settled in the states

    So what do you propose? Someone must interpret the law... who will do this? The people with the most guns? I think a few quick changes to the law would help expedite the legal process and remove some of the frivolous cases... namely, in civil court, the loser should have to pay the victor's court costs, and if the loser couldn't afford it, their attorney would have to foot the bill (or receive some fine or something negative). This would help end those attorneys who go from frivolous case to frivolous case, looking to strike it rich on an out of court settlement.

    Do you think the bum is going to be given an opportunity to re-train, educate themself, and re-enter the market place? Hardly. So that's why they sit on the corner asking for a quarter

    There are a number of FREE rehibilitation centers within walking distance of these street corners (on a side note, these are centers that receive zero tax dollars, instead funded by local churches and charities). Why don't these bums go there? These centers, which I've volunteered at in the past, offer job training, food, a place to claim residency, a warm cot for the night, classes in life skills, etc. Why don't these bums just walk the six blocks or so down to the center and get on with their lives? Is it because they lack motivation? Is it because they are making more money begging than they could at an entry-level job? Is it because they are alcoholics? Is it because they are schizophrenic? I don't know, I've not asked any of them. I did ask one homeless man, a homeless guy in Palo Alto (of all places). He said that he "just didn't have any sense of responsibility." I didn't pry into what that meant, exactly.

    to increase profits at the expense of the gvt's ability to provide basic humanitarian needs for the citizens

    Holy crap, why do you think that it is the government's responsibility to provide humanitarian needs? That's a screwed up view, IMHO. The government, IMHO, should have the one following task: protect its citizens unalienable rights (right to life, libery, pursuit of happiness/property). I don't want a government to decide what other things they should offer to me and others. A classic example is the shoe example... imagine that the gov't said, "We must ensure that all our citizens have shoes to wear." OK, sounds like a noble effort... so taxes go up, the government starts manufacturing shoes at $500 per pair, and hands them out. 50 years later, everyone is saying, "Man, where would we be without our free shoes? Thank god for this program." Of course, look at today... the government makes no such assurances, and, because of that, there is a thriving shoe market here... shoes are inexpensive, and thousands of jobs have been created that would not have otherwise existed. I view Social Security in the same light. Hell, we survived for thousands of years without social security... but now that we have it, now that it's ingrained, people don't think we could live without it.

    Government intervention is needed to maintain capitalism from entering chaos/anarchy

    Ah yes, so instead of having a system where men freely trade with one another, we'll ask gov't to control all trade, to control all business. Then we'll have peace and no chaos. Of course one only needs to look at Eastern Europe from 1950 - 1985 to see how that argument falls apart oh so quickly. Trade unions organize and government, in order to keep business in line and "out of chaos," sends in the tanks. Hrmm....

    Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
    PT Barnum


    [ Parent ]
    an attempt to summarise :) (none / 0) (#157)
    by semis on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 10:25:04 AM EST

    I think a few quick changes to the law would help expedite the legal process and remove some of the frivolous cases... namely, in civil court, the loser should have to pay the victor's court costs...[snip] This would help end those attorneys who go from frivolous case to frivolous case, looking to strike it rich on an out of court settlement.

    Er. Hangon. So if I am a consumer that has been ripped off by your big multinational company, and I feel it is my right to get some compensation and take you to court - and I lose to your million dollar lawyers, I'm gonna have to cough up the cost of YOUR court fees? That kind of system puts the court system in the hands of the rich, and away from the poor. But aren't we ALL entitled to justice?

    But that's a trivial point, and far far away from the point I was initially trying to make. I used the court system as an example of what can happen to state owned services when they are put into the free market and "asked" to fend for themselves.

    Now, come to think of it, the court system isn't a very good example. Something like the electricity or phone network is a good example. Privatising them can make things awfully efficient. The phone network in Australia (Telstra) was recently partly privatised.. and you know the first thing they did? Cut thousands of jobs. Ok - so you see the laws of supply and demand happening here. That's good stuff, the phone network is going to more efficient.. serve the citizens alot better.. all that stuff. Hardly. They are making bigger and bigger profits each year. I get put on hold for ages before I get an operator. When in the hands of the Government, the phone network's aim was to SERVICE me. Now, their aim is to make as much money as possible from me. And seeming as they are now a monopoly, it's very easy.

    But now I'm straying again from my original point. Perhaps I'll summarise. The whole idea that people live together is for this notion of society. Apparently it's safer living together. We don't get eaten by other animals. We can build shelters with each other. And stemming from this, a few hundred thousand years later are the societies that we have today. And suddenly we have this idea called "capitalism", and we try it out for 80 years or so, and some people think its the be all and end all of economic systems. Yet, the very nature of the system mimics the "survival of the fittest" problem that societies tried to escape from.

    Capitalism is a double edged sword. It creates motivation ("holy shit, If i don't work tomorrow I won't have money to eat") - but on the other hand, if not controlled, it can create entities whose sole purpose it to make a buck at the expense of society. It's that point I am trying to get across. Government's PROTECT you from the other blade.

    Don't try and be so smug as to say "well, I'm smart. I know what I want. I can make informed decisions - therefore I don't need a Government." That's anarchy. Have you actually seen what happens to countries when they have no Government?

    [ Parent ]
    ok (none / 0) (#170)
    by skim123 on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 03:43:27 PM EST

    Regarding the utilities... it's quite foolish for the government to BUILD a monopoly and then turn that monopoly free. Imagine if there were no phone services and it was a free-for-all market (rather than gov't backing local monopolies). You would have various sources competing with one another... the one with the best service/prices would be the one you'd use. A given phone company couldn't gouge you on prices, because another could lower its prices and users would flock to it. Anytime a government controlled/created monopoly is turned loose, it's not going to have any competitors and new competitors can't enter a market like that (where you need to spend billions to build the infrastructure).

    The last thing we should want is gov't controlled business... you then lose your innovation to accomplish if you know your job is not based upon your performance. If you don't have to worry about staying in business or making a profit, you're not going to work too hard, or try new things, or take the risks that you need to take to be successful.

    Don't try and be so smug as to say "well, I'm smart. I know what I want. I can make informed decisions - therefore I don't need a Government." That's anarchy. Have you actually seen what happens to countries when they have no Government?

    I am not espousing anarchy, government has a very vital role: to protect my unalienable rights. The last thing I want to do is disregard government and live in an apolotical society. However, I don't want to hand over my rights to the government either. OK, so you decide to let govenment decide FOR YOU what products are safe FOR YOU and what products are not safe FOR YOU. What happens when the gov't decides that your religious beliefs are not safe FOR YOU? Or what if the gov't decided that the way you are raising your kid is not the best way? Or what if the gov't decides that giving you the right to free speech is no longer in everyone's best interest? What then?

    The more we give up to ANYONE (be it gov't or the bully down the street), the more we can expect them to come and try to take more... Personally, I am smart enough to make my own decisions. The last thing I need is some guy in Washington DC to tell me how to live my life... Who knows me better than me? No one... not my parents, not my friends, not my employers, and certainly not my elected representatives. So... I should be the one who makes the decisions that impact me, no one else!

    Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
    PT Barnum


    [ Parent ]
    Social Security vs Welfare (none / 0) (#152)
    by Miniluv on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 05:09:01 AM EST

    In the US these programs are TOTALLY different. Social Security is supposed to mean that if I work my whole life, that there'll be a government gaurantee that my social standing (ie income) will not drop below a predetermined level.

    Welfare is a program for aiding those who've not yet worked their whole life but who have fallen upon hard times. There are abuses of this sytem, but they are not as rampant and distressing as some people would have you believe. A fair number, I cannot find exact and recent statistics, of the people receiving these checks are divorced women with children. As I understand it, welfare was designed with a 5 year life cycle for a recipient, from start of benefits to entry into the workforce. This is a goal achieved far more often than people would like to acknowledge. Welfare does, in many places, actually provide job training, placement assistance, as well as "handouts" for food, rent, childcare, etc.

    Also bear in mind, many of these social services are accounted for on a state by state level. Something many people forget is that the Federal government is forbidden from entering certain aspects of governance, and requires that states do these things. I think it's a Good Thing for a state to manage it's welfare services, as no two states are identical in their program needs. States are also smaller beauracries, and thus can respond to changes in those needs on a faster basis...no, the speed isn't ideal, but it's better.
    "Its like someone opened my mouth and stuck a fistful of herbs in it." - Tamio Kageyama, Iron Chef 'Battle Eggplant'
    [ Parent ]

    RE:I question you definition of economy (4.00 / 3) (#123)
    by thePositron on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 09:21:09 PM EST

    you wrote- "Freedom is great... capitalism offers that freedom while other economic models take it away."

    1) Have you really thought about capitalism and do you think that our system is pure capitalism? One of the fundamental principles of capitalism is that competition is good. In the world economic system transnational corporations claim that they are for competition but promptly crush all those who try to compete with them. So what means do transnational corporations use to crush their opponents? Well you might be surprised, but they use governments and non democratic trade organizations (WTO, IMF,World Bank)to make laws which make it difficult for those with less resources to enter markets. Thereby controlling markets. This is not capitalism. It is almost a form of corporate socialism. BTW this is also contrary to a lot of the free market bs floating around.

    2)Have you ever studied different types of economic theory? There many alternatives to capitalism and socialism in our world. after all the constructs of capitalism and socialism were invented over 100 years ago. They are not the end of our evolution when it comes to economics. There are 2 models that I like one is the fair trade model and another is participatory economics

    you wrote- "Freedom is great... capitalism offers that freedom while other economic models take it away. I am free to choose how to spend my money in a totally free market and I am compensated for my work ehtic and skillset. In any other economic system, my pay is based upon factors other than my determination and intelligence"

    3) Do you really believe this is how our system works? You can't tell me that Bill Gates is compensated according to his effort and skillset. If this was so than the man would be working 24 hours a day 365 days a year for a couple of billion of years. He would also have an unbelievable ability to program computers. I believe you have been misled concerning our false capitalism. It rewards speculators and gamblers far more than it rewards hard working people. Most people who are very wealthy in this country started with wealth or got lucky some how. Albeit a few had innovative ideas that made them wealthy but this is the exception rather than the rule. Not only that but there is crucial element of classical free trade as espoused by Adam Smith missing from our current "free trade" model. One of the major components that is missing is that in Adam Smith's model not only are resources and markets completely free but so are the people. that means that everyone in India and Mexico would have a right to flow to the USA or wherever the resources and capital is. Can anyone cross borders freely and become citizens wherever they choose? Of course not. So a crucial element of this free trade bs is positively missing. It is freer for some than for others. The myth that everyone has an equal shot at the gold in this country is just that a myth. Just ask all the young, intelligent Black and Hispanic youth in prison about this myth. You will get your answer.



    [ Parent ]
    I question your definition of freedom (2.66 / 3) (#132)
    by semis on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 11:08:58 PM EST

    you wrote: "Freedom is great... capitalism offers that freedom while other economic models take it away."

    Is freedom the ability to choose between different products? The Olympics are a good example of capitalism at its best. Within a 5km radius of any event, NO non-sponsor food/drink/merchandise is allowed to be sold. Atheletes weren't allowed to display sponsor's logo's who hadn't payed money to the IOC. Net journalists were not allowed press seats. Atheletes were not allowed to post material about the Olympics to their personal homepages. Freedom? Hardly.

    Do you think that purchasing Microsoft Office is freedom? You aren't even purchasing the software, you are purchasing a license that explicitly denounces any rights you have to claim for damages that the software might cause. If there is a bug in Excel, and it screws your company because the wrong result was calculated, you CANT DO SQUAT. You signed your rights away in the contract. Is it freedom that when your clients upgrade to the newer version, that you are forced to upgrade too to remain compatible? If you don't upgrade, you can't read their files, and you are less able to compete. Is that Freedom?


    [ Parent ]
    Brand Fascism (3.00 / 2) (#162)
    by Aztech on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 10:58:52 AM EST

    My friend went to see the cycling events in Sydney, he had the can of "Pepsi" removed from his hands at a checkpoint because Coca-Cola was the official sponsor.

    He also had the "Sony" badge on his notebook covered up with black tape because IBM were the official IOC sponsors... I kid you not.

    Now does that sound like capitalism to you? I thought it was meant to promote consumer choice, obviously only if you make the right choice. To be honest it reminded me of some fascist regime or something out of 1984.

    [ Parent ]
    2 dollars an hour? (none / 0) (#106)
    by Spinoza on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 05:44:24 PM EST

    They're lucky if they get two dollars a day, I thought. The situation is much worse than two dollars an hour at Nike sweatshops.

    [ Parent ]
    sorry.. 2 dollars a day (none / 0) (#126)
    by semis on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 10:21:00 PM EST

    you are correct - I typo'd :)

    [ Parent ]
    $1.29 a Day! (none / 0) (#161)
    by Aztech on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 10:45:40 AM EST

    There was actually a tv programme on last night about the child labour being used in Cambodia for such brands as Gap and Nike. The factories were found employing 12 yr old children with the wadges of $40 a month, which is less than the cost of a single Gap shirt in the west.

    Forget $2 an hour, how would you liked to be payed $1.29 a DAY?

    Also when you buy your clothes and see "Made in the USA" you probably think it was produced in a fair and decent working environment in North America? Think again, this is an excerpt from the transcript of the tv show :-

    "This is the island of Saipan in the South Pacific. It's owned by America even though it's 6000 miles away. Saipan is a tropical island with a twist. Clothes made here can claim origin in the USA, even though it's nearer China. And big financial incentives mean 24 high street names produce clothes here. The Gap is one of them, Nike is not. But some workers claim this is just a floating sweatshop, and a bit American law firm agrees."

    Hmm, fiancial gain in the west off the back of slavery abroad? Sounds like something from 300 years ago, not something that should exist in the 21st century.

    [ Parent ]
    foo (none / 0) (#176)
    by ryan on Tue Oct 17, 2000 at 12:43:44 AM EST

    (semis) Looking at companies like Nike... their main goal is to maximise profits.

    (skim123) Isn't this the goal of any business (or individual) in a capitalist system?

    (semis) Exactly. There is no question to that.

    Why not? Do you really believe that there is no question that individuals should have the goal of maximizing profit? Be honest, you didn't even think when you wrote that, did you? Capitalism is the american religion. Otherwise intelligent people don't even THINK to question it.

    [ Parent ]

    Is this really profit maximization? (2.00 / 2) (#91)
    by weathervane on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 02:42:04 PM EST

    Looking at companies like Nike... their main goal is to maximise profits.

    Isn't this the goal of any business (or individual) in a capitalist system?

    There are two objections to this line of thought. The first is that for many sucessful businesses this isn't strictly true. Ford and Hershey both paid their labourers much more than the minimum acceptable wage rate. Ford said he did this because he wanted to create a class of industrial workers that could afford his own products. Milton Hershey considered hiself a social architect as much as a businessman, constructing a model community in Hershey PA and employing thousands in make-work projects during the Depression. Much-respected economist Paul Krugman has been looking into alternative theories that more accurately model how businesses make decisions.

    Even stock options, the darling of new economy economists, were very controversial for a long time because they diluted existing shares and thus reduced shareholder returns.

    This brings me to my second point, which is that many companies that are theoretically maximizing their profits are guilty of relentlessly stupid short term thinking. All too often long term goals like employee loyalty are ignored in favor of next quarter profits. I think this is somewhat true of companies like Nike, and very true of many computer companies.

    The other economic problem is that external costs are not considered by most companies. Laying off thousands of workers may increase profits, but at the cost of destroying entire communities that were supporting many previously profitable industries. Clearcutting may be more profitable but causes gross ecosystem damage and makes the entire area less attractive to tourists for decades to come. Factory hog farms may be more profitable but the thousands of tons of raw sewage they produce reduce property values for miles as well as poisoning the water table and forcing local communites to use massive amounts of chlorine. Oh yes, and monopolies blow all their competitors off the map by abusing their pricing power and locked-in customers, throwing otherwise profitable and promising companies into receivership.

    Much of the time the increase in 'profits' is more than matched by an increase in the costs of others. But our economic system makes no provision for these sorts of external costs.

    Investors have come to expect quick and dramatic capital gains and have no patience for a slower, more sustainable growth model. Sometimes government regulation actually increases the long term profits of companies and the health of the economy by discouraging self-destructive behaviour. Don't be so foolish as to believe that companies always make ideal long-term decisions. Reality is not a first year microeconomics textbook, thank god.

    [ Parent ]

    Does every dog have its day? (3.90 / 11) (#52)
    by FunkyChild on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 01:06:52 AM EST

    When I was in High School, my history teacher had a prediction that things tended to happen in centuries. He said that the 1800s was Britain's century and that the 1900s was America's century, and that the 2000s would be China's century.

    This seems fairly accurate to me (though I'm not too good as history), as Victorian England was rather powerful, still building empires and colonising unexplored lands (My country, Australia was first settled in 1788, and the heavy colonisation continued for quite some time after that). However at the turn of the century, due to things like World War I and the depresson, England seemed to lose power as America grew and became strong and industrious as it is today.

    I believe this growth and strength can be blamed for much of the actions of the US government and corporations over the past few years. As the US Dollar soars, the huge companies such as Nike push the limits overseas, while others such as MS get more and more cocky inside the counrtry. With the international power that the US posesses now, many countries want to stay on America's side, which severely dampens the extent to which those countries are prepared to speak out against the actions of the US government and corporations. Internally, most of the populace is too happy with fatter paychecks and larger returns on the stock market to really care much about what is happening to their society.

    Like a previous poster, I'm of the inclination that the USA's time is running out. The enourmous growth that its at the peak of now can not and will not be sustained for much longer. A lot of the American economy right now is built on the backs of e-bullshit companies, and other tech companies that are grossly overvalued for what they actually contribute to society and the economy. We saw earlier this year how the US stock market, NASDAQ etc is held together by bailing wire and faith, as it took the dive that it did. When investors and VCs finally wake up and realise that the e-Multimedia Interactive Information Convergence Superhighway Experience.com just isn't the panacea that it is lauded to be, there are going to be some serious corrections.

    Combined with this, actions of the USA such as bullying other countries, taking sides in civil wars etc. etc. have earned it many enemies. The government is always worrying about the terrorist threat, while attempting to build 'missile defence' systems that raise tensions even higher. One of these countries that is not too happy with the US getting involved in the affairs of the world is China. Incidentally it is gaining economic and military power quite quickly.

    So will China dethrone the USA as a world power this century? I believe if the US keeps hungering for power at the rate it is, it's quite a possibility. As Leia said in Star Wars, "the more you tighten your grip, the more will slip through your fingers".



    -- Today is the tomorrow that you worried about yesterday. And now, you know why.
    a lot of this is mythic (4.07 / 13) (#61)
    by deanc on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 01:58:54 AM EST

    This touches on a lot of myths about America.
    The freedom referred to was a freedom for the colonies to run themselves as they pleased-- that's what the federal government was created to do. This became "the freedom to oppress" by the colonies, most of which still had slavery and some of which had nothing resembling a "Bill of Rights".

    Also, the early years of the Federal Government in the late 18th century passed the "Alien and Sedition ACts" which allowed people to be arrested for badmouthing the federal government.

    The war of 1812 was an imperialistic war set about interfering with British shiping (tipped off by british blockades of American ports) and culminating in a misguided attempt to invade canada. The Mexican war in the mid-1800s sacked Mexico city and captured most of modern day texas, as well as the western states.

    The Spanish American War was fought specifically for getting colonies for the USA.

    During WWI, there were more sedition acts that threw people in jail for criticizing the war. Even well into the 20s and 30s, a presidential candidate running for the Socialist party was _thrown in jail_ for his views and had to run his presidential campaign from jail.

    There are a lot of amusing contradictions in the USA. For example, everyone believes in self reliance and not being a "freeloader", but when it gets right down to it, everyone's afraid of getting old and sick, so they support things like social security and medicare. And everyone loves freedom, but when they're convinced that "national security" is at stake, they're willing to give their freedoms (or the freedoms of others) up.

    -Dean


    Not everyone. (3.33 / 3) (#81)
    by pete on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 10:23:12 AM EST

    For example, everyone believes in self reliance and not being a "freeloader", but when it gets right down to it, everyone's afraid of getting old and sick, so they support things like social security and medicare. And everyone loves freedom, but when they're convinced that "national security" is at stake, they're willing to give their freedoms (or the freedoms of others) up.

    I agree with a lot of what you're saying, and unfortunately, I agree that the US is the most hypocritical nation in the world as it stands today. But don't use the word everyone in that sentence. I don't support social security, medicare, or giving up my freedoms, and I know a lot of other people who agree with me.


    --pete


    [ Parent ]
    Um, duh (1.66 / 6) (#63)
    by vsync on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 02:22:38 AM EST

    I'm only surprised that you phrased the title as a question.

    And I just got done watching "Braveheart", so I'm very much against tyranny at the moment... =)

    --
    "The problem I had with the story, before I even finished reading, was the copious attribution of thoughts and ideas to vsync. What made it worse was the ones attributed to him were the only ones that made any sense whatsoever."

    Do we need to ask why? (2.77 / 9) (#74)
    by Nickus on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 06:15:29 AM EST

    Do we really need to ask why America doesn't work anymore? Because capitalism has taken control over each and every single person over there (yes, I'm from Finland). America is the country where McDonalds has to print "Warning! Hot!" on their coffemugs so people don't sue them when they drink hot coffee. Yes! As soon as something bad happens the American public doesn't scream "Fix it!" but they scream "Sue them!".
    But what does this has to do with a powerhungry US Goverment. Because the same goverment is run by these people. The problem exists at a grassroot level and that is the place where to start.


    Due to budget cuts, light at end of tunnel will be out. --Unknown
    Truth about the McDonalds coffee thing. (3.50 / 6) (#90)
    by Legolas on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 02:26:00 PM EST

    I'm truly sorry that i have to respond to this (since this is the age long argument on why the USA is bad ;^), but i have to correct a few details Re: that McDonalds court case.

    To begin with, despite our assumptions, the woman who got burnt by the McDonalds coffee was neither driving (her grandson was), nor was the car moving at the time of the spill.

    Second, the coffee was not just hot, as one expects coffee. Coffee that you make at home is generally prepared at 60C (140F). However, the McDonalds coffee at that location was at 85C (185F). This was enough to cause 3rd degree burns to over 6 percent of her body, much in her thigh area, which required $20000 USD of reconstructive plastic surgery.

    Initially, Mrs. Liebeck just claimed that McDonalds covers her medical claim due to the excessive temperature of their coffee. When they refuse, she discoveres that between 1982 and 1992, there were over 700 claims of burns due to McDonalds coffee, many involving 3rd degree burns.

    Finally, the judge found Mrs. Liebeck 20% responsable, and deducted from her reward accordingly.

    This is a prime example of what I don't like about the US (I'm Canadian, btw)... The only reason we think of her as some kind of insane lunitic that spilled coffee on herself while driving was due to a marvolous PR spin on the part of McD's. I have become quite cynical due to the large corperations appearing innocent in everything (gogo gadget MPAA), and how recently it seems that the US Governement is passing laws to help large corparations control the US people, at the expense of the rights of the US citizens. Please tell me how the US government is looking out for its people when it becomes illegal to create a player to let you view the DVD you paid for. Or someone's grandmom is portrayed as some kind of maniac because she had her groin area burnt off by excessively hot coffee.

    Additionally, I think the whole sue-everybody mentality is a result of the consumerism attitudes of the US (this applies to Canada too). Since success is measured in how large of a car you get that you don't need/can't afford, and we are saturated by images of happy people buying things (i noticed that at my university, they actually put ads on the back of doors in the toilet stalls! Thank God they left the hook above it for my coat.) If I think that I need a $1 fruit-of-the-loom t-shirt with a $24 Tommy Hilfiger logo on it to be happy, of course i'm going to get money anyway that I can.

    (a note to the person i am replying to: Just interested - i don't talk to many people from Finland - How bad is the consumerism/ad saturation/etc. there?)

    Anywho, thanks for listening to my rant. More facts on the McDonalds coffee case can be found here
    -legolas

    [ Parent ]
    Good with more information (none / 0) (#99)
    by Nickus on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 04:23:05 PM EST

    I didn't know all the details in the McD case but I think still it makes a valid point.
    Consumerism is the plague of the western society and Finland is no exception. It is not as bad as in the US and it is definitely not as easy to sue somebody in Finland.
    When it comes to the DeCSS-case the computing centre where I work got a letter from an US-lawyerfirm that someone on our webserver mirrored the decss-source. The told us to remove it ofcourse but we couldn't possibly see who the thought they have jurisdiction here in Finland. Atleast it made a good story at the lunchbreak that day :-).

    Due to budget cuts, light at end of tunnel will be out. --Unknown
    [ Parent ]
    Coffee & Tea (none / 0) (#206)
    by Dop on Thu Oct 26, 2000 at 11:36:10 AM EST

    Coffee that you make at home is generally prepared at 60C (140F). However, the McDonalds coffee at that location was at 85C (185F)

    Wow. a whole 85C. Let's hope that woman never drinks Tea - which you make with BOILING water at 100C (212F?)

    Do not burn the candle at both ends as this leads to the life of a hairdresser!
    [ Parent ]
    history, HIStory, mythology, ... (3.66 / 6) (#76)
    by djzoot on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 06:35:14 AM EST

    Much props to deanc and some of the other K5ers who commented already on the historical perspective (or lack thereof) in this article. The signal-to-noise ratio within discussions at K5 is why I personally value this site. Generally, posts and comments are more well-informed than not (or a combination of group-moderation and personal laziness with the scrollbar is doing its job).

    Perhaps its the semi-religious nature of politics ... perhaps its a reflection of the average K5er's persona, (i dunno), but the discussions involving history and political trends seem to fall below the standard of accuracy with which I was so first-impressed. (ie: tech articles and discussion generally contain more sound factual backing to the arguments presented).

    But, I should ramble back to the point ... Whereas erotus is right on the money in presenting various self-contridictions in the laws/interest of the current US government, this popular comparison to the supposedly more pure state of early US policy falls flat. The orthodox (labelled middle-school-textbook in another post) histories of the US have rather profound omissions. "We the people" are in fact a small gathering of privledged white males whose class interest is in a stronger federal government. The ideals of freedom and justice have always been second to selfishness. The language of these popular american myths is carefully selected (although not by some secret-conspiracy) as to draw some false sense of common interest between the ultra-rich and the rest of the citizenry.

    If you are at all interested in US history/politics, or even how that applies to human spirit/philosophy, I strongly suggest taking in the writings of Howard Zinn. A People's History of the United States (1492-present), ISBN: 0-06-019448-0 was recently reprinted in a twentieth anniversary edition. It's an amazing work ... one of the most important books I have ever read.

    thanks for listening,
    -rob


    --
    There is no K5.

    middle-school-textbook (4.00 / 1) (#144)
    by erotus on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 03:02:57 AM EST

    djzoot,

    I really appreciate your post because it clarified a few points as did other posts similar to yours. When I wrote this rant I was writing just that, a rant, and I got a little carried away. My references, to what you called a "pure state," were to convey that the US, while in it's infancy, was not passing imperialistic legislation that affected other nations. However, that soon changed as the US became more powerful. I did not mean to convey, at least on the local front, that US citizens were living in an utopia. People of African-American descent were slaves, women were second-class citizens, and the native population were treated as savages. There have been many omissions and interpretations of US history and I do agree my post might have conveyed a "middle-school-textbook" view of the US in it's early years, however this was not my intent. I believe your post and others like it make a very relevant point. Maybe this could be another topic you could expand on - the rewriting of our history to fit our "middle-school-textbook" viewpoint of the early US. I believe that it would make for another interesting discussion here on K5.

    Cheers

    [ Parent ]
    It's the POLITICIANs ! (3.16 / 6) (#79)
    by redelm on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 09:18:31 AM EST

    The American form of government [Constitution] is indeed a remarkable and unusual thing. It limits government powers and deliberately sets up conflict within government. The famous checks-and-balances.

    But why does it break down? Simple -- the officeholders (politicians) want to expand their power. As near as I can tell, they are mostly people who have a high need to control other people. That is why they persued office. A dwindling minority actually want to improve things for others. The rigors of the political process ensure that those less strongly motivated get weeded out.

    Once you have control-minded officeholders, written rules are only a small impediment to expanding powers. Human motivation is a powerful thing, and once motivated, people always find their way around rules.

    The electorate may not be entirely stupid, or swayed by advertising and/or media editorial. But it is a death of a thousand cuts. Each one is too small to arouse serious action. Perhaps the Internet will allow opposition to unite and strengthen. But more likely not.

    The essential problem is that representative government doesn't scale. The electorate might be able to hold a representative's feet to the fire when there are only 15,000 of them for each rep. Now, with 600,000 per rep, and usually more per senator, they can do what they like. There is always a large portion of their constituancy who will support them.





    A view of the US from the other side of the Puddle (4.42 / 21) (#83)
    by Chakotay on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 11:29:42 AM EST

    (virgin K5 poster alert)

    I was lured to K5 by Quark aka JurriAlt137n being equally disappointed in /. as he was, and I'm very pleasantly surprised by the signal to noise ratio at K5. Okay, over to the subject :)

    I'm Dutch, I've lived in the Netherlands all my life, and I'm quite a patriot without having been indoctrinated as such. I love our queen and our royal family, I honour our flag and our anthem, without having had to "pledge allegiance" every morning in school. I love this tiny country, and I wouldn't want to live anywhere else for more than a few years - well, I might consider moving to Burkina Faso if my girlfriend wanted to (when/if we get married, which we haven't even thought about yet), but she wants to stay here too :)

    My experience with the US is a two-week holiday in Richmond, VA, staying at a friend's house. So it's not like I was only a tourist in the US for two weeks, I consider myself to have actually lived there for two weeks, seeing the US the way somebody who lives there sees it. The year before, she visited me in the same way, staying with me at my parents' house, seeing the Netherlands from the point of view of somebody who lives here. It was a refreshing experience for both of us.

    Before I visited the US, my image of the US was formed solely by what I saw on TV and interaction with US citizens online. That image was pretty correct, but I found out that it was also totally wrong in very subtle, yet very important details. Living in the US for a few weeks made me understand much more of the American culture (or rather, the Richmond-Virginian culture - can't speak for the rest of the US). The first thing I saw of the US was clouds, flying south along the coast from Canada. The first thing I really saw was a birdseye view of DC and surrounding area while approaching Dulles. That already smattered one of my preconceptions: I saw a beautiful city, the Washington Memorial (aka the Phallus of America) sticking out high above it, with a great view of the Capitol aswell, and its suburbs spreading wide: huge forests, really, with roads criscrossing through. More trees than I had ever seen, even though I grew up in the most forested area of the Netherlands, near our largest national reserve park.

    Drifting away... Steering back to where I want to be heading :)

    I knew a lot of facts about the US, but interpreted them from a Dutch point of view. We have an excellent public transportation system here - it's not absolutely necessary to own a car in the Netherlands. I knew that things in the US were spread wider, so public transportation wouldn't be viable, so everybody would need to own a car just to get the groceries, let alone go to work - I knew it for a fact, but I didn't truly understand it until I actually saw it.

    But there are also things that I still not understand:

    When we were driving around downtown Richmond, we saw a man standing on a street corner with a sign "will work for food". In almost every shop you saw signs "help wanted", "now hiring". Why didn't that man have a job, when so many were available? Why did he have to beg for a job on a street corner to get some food, while he should be able to get one of those readily available jobs for actual money?

    One detail I'd like to mention there is that that person was probably in his late 30s, early 40s, black, and looking rather shabby. But should that matter, with so many jobs available? Why are shops desperately looking for help, when there's a whole work force available, if they'd just pick them off the streets, give them a place to stay, a stack of clothes and a bath? You can bet those people are willing to work, and would grab such an opportunity with both hands if it were just given to them - then why does no-one, in that land of infinite possibilities, hand them that opportunity? It's not like it won't pay off in the long run - see it as an investment!

    Another thing I still don't understand, which actually has to do with the topic of this conversation: The USA is a huge multicultural country. People from all walks of life, from all ethnic, economic and religious backgrounds live together, and all of them are supposed to be represented in their government. Why are there only two large parties? Why are there no mid-sized parties? Here in the Netherlands, with only 16 million inhabitants, where most inhabitants are Dutch born and raised, there are four large parties competing for a place in the government, and there are two or three parties that are large enough to provide meaningful opposition together with any large party / parties that end up in the opposition. To get a seat in the Dutch parliament, all you have to do is get 100,000 votes for your political party. To get a seat in the American senate (comparable to the Dutch parliament), you will probably need a lot of money and corporate backing.

    Some time ago a new party was fromed called SP, the Socialist Party. They're an anti-party, a very vocal opposition party, harvesting protest votes. Previously, protest votes were harvested by CD, the Central Democrats (right extremists), who up to then had one seat in parliament. When the SP came around, the instantly got a seat in parliament at the next elections, and Marijnissen, the person filling that seat, is doing a great job of livening up parliament, saying things that need to be said that no other politician would risk saying. Janmaat, who used to fill that spot for CD, was simply dispised by everybody else, and ignored. Marijnissen is doing a much, much better job at being the burr in the parliament's pants :)

    Where is the Marijnissen, or even the Janmaat, in the American senate? If the composition of the senate represents the American people, that means there is nobody who doesn't agree with the current state of things? This article, this discussion in itself proves otherwise. The American people aren't who are being represented in the senate anymore - the American corporations and the Big Money are. America seems to have become a dictatorship, and the name of the dictator is Money.

    --
    Linux like wigwam. No windows, no gates, Apache inside.

    Two party system and... bums.... (3.20 / 5) (#86)
    by FreshView on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 01:26:54 PM EST


    I agree that the two party system is outdated and unworthy of our government. Especially when it leads to a choice like Bush vs Gore (neihther of which, I can vote for with a clear conscience). Part of the reason it's like that is, well.. "it's always been that way", there are a few other political parties, but none of then get many votes (libertarians, Green party, Perot's old party), though, for a "protest vote", perot grabbed a bunch of that a few years ago.

    As far as the man with a sign saying "will work for food" despite help wanted signs. It is puzzling to US citizens, too. Some of these people are homeless, and it is very difficult to get a job if you are homeless, I don't know how difficult, I've never spoken to a homeless person about it, nor have I been homeless. However, from many homeless people I HAVE seen and spoken to on the street (I used to live in downtown Denver, Colorado), most of them either don't want to work, (begging can actually bring home a rather large salary), or they're too crazy to work. I have run in to 3 or 4 completely mad homeless people, telling bizzare stories and trying to pick fights.

    Thank you for your post, it is very interesting to get another viewpoint on America that isn't totally anti-american.

    [ Parent ]
    Homelessnes (3.00 / 1) (#94)
    by thePositron on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 03:19:06 PM EST

    Some reasons alot of homeless people do not get jobs.
    I believe that these are in order of their significance in relation to the problem.
    1)Mental illness. In the 1980's many of the those who had severe mental illnesses were released to the streets of USA from mental hospitals. This is one of the great social policies that we can thank Reagan for. Many of these people are so sick that it is nearly impossible for them to hold down and get jobs.
    2)Lack of a fixed adress. Most jobs require a physical address fixed address in order to be considered for a job.
    3)Social stigma. In the USA most people who are poor and homeless are considered some how inferior to those who have money or they are feared as being criminals of some sort. So out of hand without prior investgation they are considered "worthless".
    4)They don't want a job.
    5)Some homeless people refuse to join our system in any way and choose homelessness in order to remain true to their ideals.
    6) Fear of rejection.

    Of course there are many others because each person has thier unique view on life. As a side note- I have had first hand experience with homelessnes albeit temporary. Through the help and kindness of friends I was able to rebuild my life and obtain a job that pays enough for me to live comfortably in a home. What burns me is that Microsoft and Cisco pay $0 dollars in income taxes and
    we decry giving money to help our poorer citizens out.
    This to me is the height of arrogance and brutality and it leads me to believe that our political leaders care very little for the citizens of this country. I don't hate business or corporations as things unto themselves. What I hate is the inequity that is so prevalent in our society yet goes virtually unmentioned in our mainstream politics. This lack of discourse leads me to believe that those who have large amounts of capital control the majority of our government and press.

    [ Parent ]
    re: Homelessness (3.50 / 2) (#100)
    by AsmodeusB on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 04:35:42 PM EST

    What burns me is that Microsoft and Cisco pay $0 dollars in income taxes and we decry giving money to help our poorer citizens out.

    To make a broad, general statement...
    Giving money to the poor does not help them in any way; it just gets them dependant on that handout. IMNSHO, putting that money towards running a place that they can stay (giving them a fixed address, alleviating reason #2 in your list) would be much better, and only letting them continue to stay there if they are employed. Perhaps just subsidizing their cost to live there.
    Anyways, this is off-topic to the discussion, and I am far from being well-informed on the topic.

    .Shawn

    [ Parent ]

    It's all Reagan's fault! (4.00 / 1) (#110)
    by shaum on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 06:29:52 PM EST

    In the 1980's many of the those who had severe mental illnesses were released to the streets of USA from mental hospitals. This is one of the great social policies that we can thank Reagan for.

    Sorry, but Reagan had very little to do with the number of homelessness on the streets.

    Throughout the 1970s and 80s, deinstitutionalization and outpatient care became the preferred mode of treatment for the mentally ill. This was reinforced in the early 80s by a series of lawsuits by the ACLU, nominally on behalf of mentally ill homeless people, that made it far more difficult to have someone institutionalized, even if they were clearly unable to care for themselves.

    There's a decent write-up on the problem here.

    I agree with you about Microsoft and Cisco getting off with little or no tax burden. I'd rather see a (low) tax on revenues rather than a (high) tax on earnings; such a system would be harder for corporate tax accountants to "hack".

    :wq!
    [ Parent ]

    Thanks for the info (none / 0) (#124)
    by thePositron on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 09:27:23 PM EST

    Sometimes I get a bit overzealous about things and I don't check my facts completely. Thanks for the additional information on this problem. I will be sure to research it more thoroughly.

    [ Parent ]
    The result of local elections (3.20 / 5) (#88)
    by Michael Leuchtenburg on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 01:35:24 PM EST

    Thus the problem with locally electing representatives. The majority (or at least plurality) in that area gets represented, but the minorities do not. In fact, the minorities never get represented, because they're too widely spread. The representatives, said to represent the beliefs of the American public, are chosen with a geographical bias, but people who think a certain way aren't arranged geographically. Sure, it's true on some things, but there's a lot of times where it isn't.

    That's just one example of the fundamental brokenness of the US Government.

    [ #k5: dyfrgi ]
    [ TINK5C ]
    [ Parent ]

    Patriotism and third parties (3.80 / 5) (#92)
    by pete on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 02:47:52 PM EST

    ...I'm quite a patriot without having been indoctrinated as such. I love our queen and our royal family, I honour our flag and our anthem, without having had to "pledge allegiance" every morning in school. I love this tiny country...

    Careful. Such blind loyalty only makes it easier for you to be taken advantage of by those you profess to love. Always question what you hear, no matter who it's coming from. Just IMO. BTW: I have been to your country twice on business. It is a nice place.

    On the topic of third parties: I believe that the combination of people's disillusionment with the government and free access to information over the internet will create a surge of support for third parties. It's not going to happen overnight, but it has started. It's really up to us now. We have the tools to make it happen. In 10 years, I believe (and hope) that the political landscape will be much different here.


    --pete


    [ Parent ]
    Of patriotism and 3rd parties (none / 0) (#93)
    by Chakotay on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 03:09:33 PM EST

    Careful. Such blind loyalty only makes it easier for you to be taken advantage of by those you profess to love. Always question what you hear, no matter who it's coming from. Just IMO. BTW: I have been to your country twice on business. It is a nice place.

    I'm a patriot because this country deserves it. Our queen is a very good head of state (and one of the most politically powerful monarchs on earth, a driving force behind our government), our government is doing a pretty good job too, our justice system actually does justice most of the time, our school system provides solid education, and health care is pretty good. Well, health care could be better - if it's anything less than life threatening you may spend a very long time on a waiting list, but if it IS life threatening, I'd prefer a Dutch hospital above any other. I'm a patriot, but I've never even considered joining the army - I might consider a police job though.

    And it's not blind loyalty. I see the dark side of our country too. With any government system there is at least some corruption involved. Prince Bernhard was involved in a corruption scandal revolving around the purchase of aircraft for the airforce, and there are definitely more spots marring our royal family and our governments, but on the whole, it isn't half bad :)

    On the topic of third parties: I believe that the combination of people's disillusionment with the government and free access to information over the internet will create a surge of support for third parties. It's not going to happen overnight, but it has started. It's really up to us now. We have the tools to make it happen. In 10 years, I believe (and hope) that the political landscape will be much different here.

    Yeah... Nader is pretty popular thanks to foreign and alternative media. What struck me is that when Nader visited the poor area of some city somewhere (thought it was NYC, could be wrong though), he was surrounded by European media - but there wasn't one single American camera or microphone. And why isn't Nader allowed into the presidential debates?

    If I were an American, I'd either vote Nader (my true feelings), or Gore (to prevent Bush from becoming president), depending on what the opinion polls show at the time of the actual election. Which is sad, really, having to vote a Lesser Evil to prevent a Greater Evil, when a Good is available...

    --
    Linux like wigwam. No windows, no gates, Apache inside.

    [ Parent ]

    Debates (none / 0) (#95)
    by pete on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 03:28:17 PM EST

    And why isn't Nader allowed into the presidential debates?

    Just in case that isn't a rhetorical question: the CPD (Commission on Presidential Debates) is a bipartisan (Republicans & Democrats) organization, sponsored by the large corporations that donate to the Republican and Democrat campaigns. Their home page is here.

    So that's the answer; why would the two parties invite someone who would bring up the issues they don't want to talk about? (BTW, I'm a Harry Browne supporter; the reason is the same for him.)

    It's almost unheard of for people or organizations to voluntarily give up power; we have to take it away from them. Like I said earlier, however, I believe that it can be done eventually.


    --pete


    [ Parent ]
    Snail mail them a letter and voice your disgust (4.00 / 1) (#107)
    by maynard on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 05:59:06 PM EST

    [...]the CPD (Commission on Presidential Debates) is a bipartisan (Republicans & Democrats) organization, sponsored by the large corporations that donate to the Republican and Democrat campaigns[...]

    This is an accurate analysis of how the US debates have been bought out by corporations and the two major political parties. I'm a Nader supporter, but I figure there's plenty of room for the Constitutional Party, the Libertarians, Reform, and Green parties. We probably disagree on policy agendas, but I'm sure we agree that the two party system we have now is simply a one party duopoly managed by large corporations and politically funded special interests. As such it's corrupted the values of the Constitution and Bill of Rights as defined by our founders.

    It galls me that the CPD wrested control of the debates from the League of Women Voters (who hadn't been doing a terribly good job but were at least more independent), and then proceeded to divy up the debates only among themselves. That is NOT democratic. I've written a letter to the CPD voicing my outrage and encourage you to do so as well. It may not do much good, but it's the only option for citizens right now.

    And yeah, I think we're moving into a police state as well. When a government can confiscate your property without warrant, an arrest, or even an explanation beyond the legal fiction of filing charges against the property (as if it were an entity), then we have a serious constitutional crisis on our hands.

    Cheers,
    --Maynard

    Read The Proxies, a short crime thriller.
    [ Parent ]

    JudicialWatch (none / 0) (#125)
    by pete on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 10:16:57 PM EST

    Speaking of debates, ever hear what happened to the JudicialWatch debate? At one point, every candidate except Bush had committed to being there. I can't seem to find more information now.


    --pete


    [ Parent ]
    Monarchy (none / 0) (#122)
    by Aztech on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 09:17:07 PM EST

    Our queen is a very good head of state (and one of the most politically powerful monarchs on earth, a driving force behind our government
    This is quite odd in a constitutional monarchy, the King/Queen is the head of state and therefore has to stay completely independent and abstracted from politics, even though bills have to be royal ascent in order to become law, monarchs rarely refuse the will of the government.

    The monarch is part of the checks and balances in the constitution and can refuse to enact bills and force a general election if a tyrannical government ever came into office.

    [ Parent ]
    Generally, yes :) (none / 0) (#173)
    by Chakotay on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 06:30:10 PM EST

    This is quite odd in a constitutional monarchy, the King/Queen is the head of state and therefore has to stay completely independent and abstracted from politics, even though bills have to be royal ascent in order to become law, monarchs rarely refuse the will of the government.

    The monarch is part of the checks and balances in the constitution and can refuse to enact bills and force a general election if a tyrannical government ever came into office.

    Generally, that's indeed how it works, and that's also how it works here, on the surface. Laws and such are all made by the "2nd Chambre" (= parliament = government + opposition), double-checked against the constitution and other laws by the "1st Chambre", and then passed on to the monarch for his/her signature. The implications of a monarch denying such a signature are extremely grave. It's never happened, but theoretically, both the government and the monarch would, in such a case, be forced to resign.

    But behind the scenes there's more going on. Behind the scenes the queen has a pretty strong influence on the prime minister by giving him advice. The prime minster may ofcourse choose to ignore the monarch's advice with no direct repercussions whatsoever, because it is just that - advice. The prime minister and the monarch truly dance a very complicated tango, because the monarch has ofcourse total immunity, and thus the prime minister is responsible for what the monarch voices in public. In other words, rule one is that the monarch is always right, rule two is that if the monarch is wrong, rule one applies, and the prime minister is in deep shit. Most monarchs have at some point abused their power for their own agendas, but that's basically unavoidable - they're mere humans too, you know :)

    --
    Linux like wigwam. No windows, no gates, Apache inside.

    [ Parent ]

    Some don't really want to work for food... (2.80 / 5) (#105)
    by jbuchana on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 05:29:13 PM EST

    > When we were driving around downtown Richmond, we saw a
    > man standing on a street corner with a
    > sign "will work for food"

    Many of them don't really want to work, nowadays "Will Work for Food" is begger's shorthand for "Give Me Money".

    Everyone I know who has offered one of these people work has gotten nothing but ridicule and derision from the begger.

    A few years ago one of the TV news magazines tried to get some of these people to work, they didn't have much luck either.

    --
    Jim Buchanan
    jbuchana@buchanan1.net
    [ Parent ]
    Trees in D.C. (1.50 / 2) (#137)
    by stbalbach on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 12:07:52 AM EST

    Much of the East Coast of the USA is a non-tropical rain forest. Having grown up here it seems normal and its not untill visiting other places or when vistors come that the incredible amount of lush green vegatation and abundant water becomes apparent. There are more trees now then 100 years ago due to intensive conservation efforts and less farming which is more out west now.

    [ Parent ]
    Trees... (none / 0) (#151)
    by Chakotay on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 04:57:36 AM EST

    Yeah... It's hard to imagine that the Netherlands was once a mix of forests just like that, swamps, lakes, streams and rivers. The forests have been cultivated, the swamps and lakes laid dry, the streams and rivers guided by dikes and locks. The only places left where nature can roam on its own are also man-made.

    The Veluwe, where I grew up, has become a rather arid semi-desert due to overcultivation (and miscultivation) since forever, and is slowly drying up further because the water is drawing towards the polders. The Oostvaardersplassen are a swampy area inside a polder that's only there because they attempted - and failed - to get it dry, so they gave up and let part of the polder flood again. The birds found it, and other wild animals, and by introducing deer, foxes and wild horses it's been turned into a man-made wildlife resort. The only bit of original terrain left is the Biesbosch, a small swampy area in the south-west of the country, the only place where there are still beavers. Those beavers became extinct in the '50s, and were reintroduced in the '80s. On a side note, my grandfather lived in that swamp for a few years, hiding from the Germans in WWII...

    Since the '50s the Dutch have dominated over Mother Nature, but our grip is slipping. El Niño, and other climate changes, are testing our defenses to their limits. Everything was geared towards getting the water out of the country and towards the sea as far as possible, but in recent years there has been more and more water, so you get gigantic peaks, that would have normally not caused any problems because of flooding upstream. And another problem is that by trying to get the water out as fast as possible, not enough water is being absorbed into the ground, so the country is slowly drying up even though we're fighting a water surplus in our rivers and channels. Luckily though, the government acknowledges the problem and plans are being made to give parts of the country back to Mother Nature, almost as a peace offering, to protect the rest of the country. The Delta Plan that has protected us from floods for half a century is starting to fail. The creator of the Delta Plan already sad it: "in the early 21st century there will probably need to be made adjustments to the Delta Plan to ensure continued safety." :)

    Oooo, look how far we drifted off topic.

    --
    Linux like wigwam. No windows, no gates, Apache inside.

    [ Parent ]

    A free market solution? (none / 0) (#177)
    by Cwalen on Tue Oct 17, 2000 at 02:13:58 AM EST

    <shrugs> Not that I am a great fan, but walk with me on this. "More demand for patent clerks increases employment. Money circulates through the economy. "Bad" patents get through. Those that are too stupid are challenged in court. Shifting money off to the lawyers. Round and Round it goes." Sounds as good for the economy as bill gates and a lot easier to put up with. As for those who think "nah that's not worth patenting" A lot of the time, for my ideas, it's true. With work and persistence I could develop something from those ideas, and profit from that discovery. Then I wouldn't mind having some protection. If I have something I believe is really worth patenting, I can go through the process. If you are too meek to protect your own work, then grab a shotgun; it's time to go inherit the earth.

    [ Parent ]
    As free as Truman in 'the Truman Show' (4.53 / 13) (#115)
    by Akiramoeba on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 07:32:40 PM EST

    As a Western-European, I can't help feeling astounded by the insistance of Americans (of the Northern hemisphere variety) on how they live in a 'country' which is the reference for 'freedom'. Having visited the US on an intensive tour, starting at Millenium night, at Times Square, NY, all the way via New Orleans to Las Vegas, I found myself in a position actually being pleased to leave - a feeling quite absent when I left Japan after a similar trip, 3 months later. From my point of view, the US provides only bliss (and freedom) for those who can afford it. The amount of suppression and poverty we met along the way was astounding for a country which calls itself the land of freedom and opportunity. We celebrated Y2K surrounded by an 8000 man strong police force, snipers and choppers standing by - including a chemical warfare unit. All alcohol was prohibited. We got busted for filming in the Washington subway, which apparantly required a permit. In New Orleans, various signs informed us of the danger we were in, police was demonstratively present. We were pulled aside in Arizona for driving New York licence plates. And if it wasn't for someone of our party sleeping in the car at that moment, the car would have been broken into too in Las Vegas. Everywhere, lower-education, lower-wage jobs were performed by people from non-white ethnic groups. It seems to me, this whole US thing is the biggest pyramid scheme ever in the whole history of the world, promising freedom and opportunity, with only a few winners and a lot losers. I do not question the ideals that once founded this country - I sincerly question its honesty about maintaining them. It's a fake with false freedom and phoney opportunities. Of course, how dare we WEs challenge this, after all, 'you saved our asses' in 1945 (to paraphrase the words a friend of mine was told by his roommate freshmen, while attending college in the US, as an argument to why he had the right to claim the better bed in the room).

    Sigh. (1.50 / 2) (#127)
    by pete on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 10:22:57 PM EST

    I wish I could do something other than shake my head and agree with everything you just said. But I can't. Sigh.


    --pete


    [ Parent ]
    Litigation Happy (4.11 / 9) (#119)
    by mindstrm on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 08:05:49 PM EST

    Been to several places in the US, both on vacation and for work. All in all, the people are okedokee, if a bit strange. (But that happens everywhere you travel, right?).

    There are three things from my own experience I'd like to point out. (BTW.. I'm Canadian)

    One time, a guy from California came up to do some training at my company. We worked with him for the day, and then at the end of the day, asked where he was staying. It was the hotel just up the street, so we invited him over for dinner, beer, and a movie. He looked scared! Apparently, such treatment is *abnormal*, and he would be expected to go back to his hotel, even though *obviously* he would not know anyone in this foreign place. Now... I realize it would be wrong of me to assume that all Americans live this way.. it's probably more to do with the corporate culture he lived in, and the big city.

    The second thing... he, as well as many other Americans I've spoken to, all seem to have, to varying degrees, the idea that the Canadian government controls everything up here, and that we have no freedom. I know our American business-guest sure thought so.. but after a week with us, he thought rather differently. Sure, our health care is government controlled, the liquore laws are stiffer, as are the gun laws... but that basically sums it up! That's not very much really! The freedom to go places and do things, and the lack of waivers and regulations amazed him!

    The third thing is an anecdote from my day out diving (scuba) today. One of the divers had a magazine and was pointing to an article where some guy was saying how the 'buddy system' in diving is a *BAD* idea, as it opens you up to litigation should your buddy get hurt. Wow. I mean.. I read it.. it makes sense from an American legal point of view; you trust your buddy to help you out, and if something is wrong and they can't, you (or your next of kin) would hold them criminaly liable. WOW! Imagine that. People not willing to help each other out simply because they might get sued. Gosh, that guy looks out of air! I better not try to help him because if he chokes while I'm passing him my regulator he might sue me!



    Interesting... (none / 0) (#148)
    by Miniluv on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 04:35:17 AM EST

    The thing that really struck me was that third item you mentioned...the one about legal liability. Sadly, for this I have to place equal blame on the litigious people in the US and the lax court system that allows such litigious people.

    Unfortunately, the US civil court system is highly blame oriented, and they feel that the proper punishment when blame is assessed is monetary reimbursement. While in some situations this is true...what does monetary reimbursement do in a wrongful death suit? I myself would prefer, if corporate negligence caused my death, that said company had to spend X amount of dollars instituting policies that would prevent another death from negligence of the nature that struck me down. In that situation I am dead, and my family cannot buy me back no matter how much money they receive. I understand that if the primary wage earner, or sole wage earner, is struck down monetary rewards allow standard of living to continue, or such is the theory.

    The question I struggle with is, what can I do about it? Aside from not bringing frivolous litigation against people, there's not much I can do, aside from lobbying my local and federal government to change the laws...which I guess is a pretty big step. Perhaps it's time we start passing out a petition for Americans to stop bringing frivoous litigation against people...if enough people sign the number of suits will go down...and perhaps then the overworked courts can sort out even more of the wastes of their time and deal with the real civil issues.
    "Its like someone opened my mouth and stuck a fistful of herbs in it." - Tamio Kageyama, Iron Chef 'Battle Eggplant'
    [ Parent ]

    History... (4.50 / 12) (#133)
    by riley on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 11:12:56 PM EST

    So, I've been reading lots of comments. There is a lot of ranting and raving. There are some good comments by people from outside the U.S. with good perspective. However, I think the whole discussion is starting from some pretty large misconceptions.

    The U.S. has never been a true bastion of freedom and liberty. If you need proof, ask a person of African-American descent, or someone of Native American descent. One ethnic group had their liberties completely stripped for a century, and the other had a war of genocide waged against it. Even after slavery was made illegal, and Native Americans were not actively being slaughtered, they were not citizen of the country on equal standing with white men. Women were not allowed their full rights as citizens until early in the 20th century.

    And it is not as though the U.S. government has ever been free of commerical influence. The commercial interest of the southern plantation owners were the reason slavery was kept under the U.S. Constitution. More than a century ago, the cabinet of U.S. Grant was embroiled in scandals as public policy was being written by large industry. Congressmen and Presidents have always been for sale, and it is the exception rather than the rule who is able to be elected without becoming an extension of industry.

    Much of what people complain about is the loss of what they feel is the "golden age" of the United States. The problem is that for the most part, what people have been told about the ideals of the United States is a myth that never really existed. There was never a United States of perfect liberty and justice for all. It was always a national myth, like Washington and the cherry tree.

    Right now, the U.S. government has vastly less power than it has had in recent memory. There is nothing to rival the personal threat of the various sedition acts that had been imposed in the early part of the 20th Century, nor anything like McCarthy. Law enforcement agencies had much greater power under Hoover than Reno.

    This rant of mine could go on, but suffice to say that the complaint is about the U.S. as it has always behaved. We are a violent, vulgar, arrogant nation. We can also be brilliant and compasionate, but that is not shown nearly as much.

    I'm not sure about this (4.33 / 3) (#155)
    by wheely on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 08:00:03 AM EST

    Speaking as a UK citizen, I see U.S. citizens often described by themselves and by others as "vulgar, violent", and most often, as "arrogant". However, to me it seems that they are not. I'm generalising, of course, but the U.S. seems more like a troubled teenager, which indeed it is. Most of the nations of the world have a history going back thousands and even tens of thousands of years. The U.S. doesn't (by virtue of the fact that the encumbant culture was wiped out). The almost parrot like claims of "freedom" that come from the U.S. are like that of a teenager finding their first new philosophy. Everyone else can see that the U.S is no more free than most nations and less free than many. The U.S. is a huge economic and military power, most probably because it started from somewhere around the industrial revolution whereas everyone else started from rubbing sticks together. Having that much power in the hands of a teenager is bound to cause trouble here and there but I think generally, Americans are an honest people, naive in some respects and everything will turn out ok when the nation grows up. I've never met an American I didn't like. Regards

    [ Parent ]
    Related Book (none / 0) (#169)
    by Langley on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 02:13:46 PM EST

    From your comments you most likely have already read this book.

    In case you haven't and for every one else out there, it is called Plagues of the Mind : The New Epidemic of False Knowledge by Bruce S. Thornton.


    A Prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded. -Abraham Lincoln (Sixteenth President of the United States of America)
    [ Parent ]
    The USification of Australia (4.20 / 5) (#134)
    by |42| on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 11:16:45 PM EST

    In recent times we have not only seen the deluge of US tv in Australia but now our Government is starting to try and act in some ways like the US. In recent peacful protests Australian police came out in full riot gear and proceded to beat inocent protesters. It is this type of heavy handed tactics that I, as an Australian, used to be shocked at when I saw it on US tv. Thankfully our independant/green/and democratic parties seem to have more influence here so maybe we can still save our political souls. It does seem tho that the two major parties (or atleast the so called Liberals) are becoming more and more like a control hungry dictatorship.

    Many US citizens were quick to scorn Australias lack of independace when we voted agaist a republic (I ama Republican) but I think they would be supprised to hear that one of the biggest reasons people voted no was because they feared an American style, all powerfull Presidant (even though our current Primeminister seems to think he is God and can do no wrong).

    I belive that the Democratic system can work. Just not in the form that it is currently in. Things need to change otherewise we will all stagnate. WE should never become so complaicent as to say "If it ain't broke don't fix it!" everything can always be improved!

    Young countries (3.00 / 1) (#153)
    by Chakotay on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 05:24:35 AM EST

    I think this is a problem in all young countries all around the world. After a few years (or centuries, in this case), their political system starts to break down. That's a normal thing.

    The Dutch political system has also broken down quite often. Around 1600 the Dutch became independent from Spain, and the Republic of the United Provinces was formed. The Republic thrived, and after defeating the Spanish multiple times, and the English - the English throne even being ascended by the Dutch Stadtholder William III of Orange, the Netherlands ruled the waves. Then the Republic was invaded by Napoleon though, and, now called the Batavian Republic, it became a French province. After Napoleon, in the vacume of power, the House of Orange grabbed power, and the Kingdom of the Netherlands was created. But much of the political system of the Republic stayed intact. Basically, the Stadtholder was replaced by the Monarch, and that was about it.

    From there the political system evolved from the republic-like constitutional monarchy to the parliamental democracy-like constitutional monarchy it is now. Actually, from the beginning, Dutch monarchs are inaugurated, not crowned, because the crown belongs to the Dutch people - though that was most likely only done to gain public support in the unstable years after Napoleon left :)

    --
    Linux like wigwam. No windows, no gates, Apache inside.

    [ Parent ]

    Things Americans can do to stay free (4.66 / 9) (#140)
    by thePositron on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 01:23:25 AM EST

    The text copied below is part of a book by the Journalist Sam Smith called "The Great American Repair Manual"

    Further excerpts from this book are located HERE
    I also suggest the rest of his website located HERE

    Restoring economic democracy

    This use of the government of all for the enrichment and aggrandizement of few is a revolution. ~ These sovereign powers . . . have been given by you and me, all of us, to our government to be used only for the common and equal benefit. Given by all to be used by all, it is a revolution to have made them the perquisite of a few. -- Henry Demarest Lloyd speaking in the 1890s to a crowd in Cook County, IL.

    In the last few years, there has been growing support for a simple and direct notion: that we should correct the egregious error that the Supreme Court made when it declared corporations to be persons. This could be achieved by passing a constitutional amendment inserting some words clarifying that the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment is only meant to apply to living human beings.

    In America's new economic circumstances, such a change would raise an issue that is no longer academic or quixotic. The battle over such an amendment would force Americans to educate themselves about the corporate ursurpation of our rights. It would help citizens learn the huge difference between economically productive commercialism and corporate feudalism.


    Some things to doto stay free
    1. Act like a free American
    2. Know your rights
    3. Know where you will draw the line and take a stand
    4. You don't have to like other Americans; you do have to be decent to them.
    5. Don't let anyone "balance" your rights with anything. Your rights are inalienable.
    6. Don't let your politicians sell democracy to private business.
    7. Amend the Constitution to make clear that corporations are not entitled to rights designed for individual citizens.



    How about freedom from LAPD death squads? (4.16 / 6) (#143)
    by maynard on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 02:43:10 AM EST

    Salon is featuring a story today entitled Who killed Biggie Smalls?", which states that LAPD detective Russell Poole has filed a lawsuit against the LAPD regarding a coverup over a report he wrote which hindered the investigation of another LAPD officer in the killing.

    Given the number of posts in this article and the large number of police brutality cases in LA, Pittsburgh, and New York I think this is an absolutely critical story. Because folks, frankly we can't enjoy freedom if our police officers practice death squad tactics ala Guatemala and El Salvador. Personally, I think this should be front page here on K5.

    Read The Proxies, a short crime thriller.

    Nationwide protests on October 22nd (3.50 / 2) (#150)
    by thePositron on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 04:55:19 AM EST

    Every year on october 22nd there are nation wide protests against police brutality

    Go HERE for more info


    Also check outindy media to publish and get reports from an alternate source.

    [ Parent ]
    As an American... (4.41 / 12) (#160)
    by pjc on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 10:45:17 AM EST

    Having read the comments, I do not have too much to add except personal impressions. For the majority of my life, especially my work life, it has been considered a taboo to question Capitalism too much. If you do in the wrong circles (most everywhere), you are considered a communist. This is because Americans have been brainwashed for their entire life that there were only two choices in the world: Communism and Capitalism, and we all know that Communism is evil...

    So what we have, is a society that thinks it is the best, because it was told it was so. We were told we defeated the great evil empire, so this proves we are better. We were told we have freedom, while Communists have none. We were told our system works; all you have to do is put in enough effort. Of course, you first must be considered economically viable...

    While many of us were trying to build a life for ourselves, our esteemed 'baby boomers' were crippling the country. They passed laws that took away virtually all our freedoms, except, of course, to be a slave in the corporate wheel. They did this for our 'protection'; to protect our 'way of life' from the great evil Communism. We lost our representative democracy as they gave corporations ownership of the government. All for our own good...

    U.S style capitalism is a vile, dehumanizing beast. This is the 'New World Order'. Capitalism for the entire world. Capitalism and corporate welfare. If a corporation makes a mistake, just raise taxes. Is'nt that the answer? That's way the democrats and republicans here think. No mention of corporate responsiblity to people or the environment, of course. The only time this comes up is when it will effect the stock price of some other corporation. U.S style capitalism is turning the world into a casino.

    If I had known 17 years ago what I know now, I would have tried to take residence in another country. But, I got rooted, had a family, got ensnared in American dream. The American dream, like most things in America, is designed to entrap a pragmatic individual. Of course it is easier to just work harder for you family, try a little harder. Everyone does it, see? They even trot out 'our daily winners' just to make you think you can do it too. But it is a lie. You will waste your life, see your soal eaten up by a cold, dehumanizing corporate beast that has ABSOLUTELY NO LOYALTY.

    You may read this and think I've gotten the short end of the social darwinistic stick here in the 'good ole USA', but I have not. I make a good wage, better than most. But I would trade it all for a better way of life. There is no good way of life here in the US. I recently travelled abroad, saw many cultures. I must admit, the Dutch have it much better. Wish I had could go there...anybody need a developer with 17 years of experience?

    Unless your gamble pays off, there will be no future for you in America when you get old. And, you must gamble to win. Having integrity and working hard gets you nothing except calluses. Being inventive gets you ripped off. Being honest gets you fired. Being a back-stabbing politician gets you promoted. Screwing over your fellow man means you've got good corporate sense. Screwing over everyone for a buck means you will be a success here, in the land of opportunity. Gambling in the stock market, the great casino of earth, is where the heart of America really is. Gamble and win. Just read the corporate press, there are winners daily. Don't be left beind while your neighbors build a future. Gamble now, and live comfortabily in retirement.

    Or just die. Work and die. Work until you die. This is not a welfare state. Either you gamble and win, or work and die. Fair is fair. Everyone has the same chance at the wheel.

    And, while you play, consume. Consume it all, its all available. Anything you want. 10,000 shades of solid waste for you to buy. And buy you must. It is the American religion. We even shut down every december to honor the American god. Of course, there is no religion in the state, but <wink...wink>, Santa is a Capitalist. And a Christian! Play and consume, buy and worship. Why, your neighbors just got MORE THAN YOU. Better gamble now, better consume more, better worship at the corporate alter...

    And when you die, you will be remembered as a good american. A hard working corporate stooge that has 1000 times your bodywieght in solid waste to be buried along with you. Remember, the one with the most toys wins...so you better start now!

    This impression of America is my own. And, it is not complete. I could rant on for a hundred pages about what is wrong here...but it will just give me high blood pressure. If I had known 17 years ago what I do now, I would have left and not looked back. I wonder, is it too late?


    pthread_exit( (void *)0 );
    Commie. (1.20 / 5) (#183)
    by Alanzilla on Tue Oct 17, 2000 at 11:11:56 AM EST

    I mean that seriously. Get out.

    [ Parent ]
    Troller (2.00 / 1) (#189)
    by Commienst on Wed Oct 18, 2000 at 04:32:37 AM EST

    I mean that seriously. Get out.

    [ Parent ]
    Agreed (none / 0) (#190)
    by Commienst on Wed Oct 18, 2000 at 04:53:31 AM EST

    "it has been considered a taboo to question Capitalism too much"

    Lately I have abandoned the pursuit of material wealth except for essentials, though I do buy a lot of books. People who know me look at me like I am weird or something for it, they always want to buy something or other and think it is strange that there is nothing I want. When I was younger I would always want some toy only to realise when I got it I would just want another toy, and another and now that I am 18 I am starting to break that cycle.

    I remeber my senior year of high school complaining in school that the only form of government we ever learn about in public school is democracy and monarchies. At that point he directed the class to a measly chapter in the back of the book about communism which we were not even gonna cover.

    If I had known 17 years ago what I know now, I would have tried to take residence in another country.

    I am in the same situation. I really want to leave the US badly, life here is not all its cracked up to be. I do not want to work as hard as Americans do each day when I could go to Europe and get more time off. I am thinking of moving to Greece as I am Greek and could become a citizen easily since both of my parents are citizens of Greece. A lot of aspects of Greek life are much better than America. Over there in the villages and other less populated areas the men go to cafes and actually discuss politics(something that matters)! In America the men go to bars and drink beer and discuss sports(meaningless drivel meant to lull the mind) and chase skirts(women). In Greece all beaches are public. I live in New Jersey surronded by shoreline yet I have to drive 100 miles to the nearest beach because all of the wealthy own all the beachfront property while all us middle class folk have to use overcrowded polluted public beaches. In Greece culture it is looked down upon to ask strangers for money. Here everytime I exit a supermarket someone asks me to buy a candy bar for whatever school trip they want to go on. Etc,etc.

    [ Parent ]

    Liberty rhetoric (3.50 / 2) (#164)
    by SIGFPE on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 12:22:41 PM EST

    One thing I must mention. 'Freedom' is a word that is used in many ways. When you read an American's writing on the word 'freedom' you need to read very carefully. For example many politicians will rant about how federal government is imposing restrictions that limit individual freedom. But what they really mean is that federal government is imposing restrictions that mean state or local government can't impose *its* restrictions.

    For example many rants about government interference in schools is really from people who want to impose a so-called Christian education on the populace - including all of the stupidity that implies such as creationism.

    'Freedom' in the US is just a token in a big game. At the end of the day rights in the US aren't terribly different from those in the rest of the Western world.
    SIGFPE
    Personal Freedom vs. Societal Freedom (3.50 / 4) (#165)
    by bearclaw on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 12:42:59 PM EST

    While I agree with most everything the poster has typed, I'd like to offer a thought for discussion..a famous philospher and criminologist, Beccaria, had an idea about society and the individual.

    His idea was that in order to have a working society, the individual must give up some personal liberties in order to ensure safety in this society. No society can give 100% personal freedom. It is not possible. Give me an example. Please.

    There are always going to be rules and regulations limiting certain personal freedoms, that is a given. What should be examined is not whetehr they limit personal freedoms, but whether, by limiting them, the benefit to the society is greater than to the individual, and by how much. If the goverment could guarantee 100% that banning all guns would end all crime, then of course everyone would advocate gun control. But ofcourse this is not the case, so we realize that the gain of society over the loss of the personal freedom is not rational.

    Now, many will stand up and cry "the individual is just as important as the society". And to those I would say no society can exist under that premise.

    We need reform in the U.S. politcal system - yes. But don't think we can design a system where the individual has 100% of their rights 100% of the time - it isn't going to happen.


    -- bearclaw
    100% freedom (none / 0) (#166)
    by Jade E. on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 12:56:13 PM EST

    OK, while I think this is slightly off topic, here goes.

    In asking for an example of a system that offers 100% freedom, you seem to have forgotten that in almost any trade off (including liberty vs. safety) you can at least theorize an extreme that provides 100% of the one at the expense of all of the other. In this case, we could postulate an entirely anarchical (Is that a word?) system in which you are 100% free to do whatever you want. The trade off is that you have to deal with the consequences of everyone being allowed to do 100% of what they want. Feel like going out and shooting your neighboor? Fine. Just be prepared when someone driving past your house decides they feel like shooting you. I know it's not a workable system, any more than any 100% safe system is workable, but you asked for an example. :)

    [Although the opposite example is funnier: If everyone were immobilized in pods being fed via IV by a computer, they'd be 100% safe...]

    [ Parent ]

    Ok.. (none / 0) (#167)
    by bearclaw on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 01:18:33 PM EST

    Well, yes, your system is an example. What I really ment was a system thats was currently or previously tried.

    I'm not advocating allowing the federal goverment to legislate us into oblivion - I'm all about small goverment. I'm just saying you can't have it 100% for 100% of the time.

    -- bearclaw
    [ Parent ]
    OT: Wow, thank you. (none / 0) (#168)
    by Jade E. on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 01:23:53 PM EST

    OK, this is pointless, but I'd just like to say I've only recently started posting and you've just broken the trend of every other message I post getting no replies.

    Also, I wasn't trying to disprove your point, just nitpicking a minor technical flaw :)

    -Jade E.

    [ Parent ]

    At the risk of being redundant... (none / 0) (#175)
    by RiffRaff on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 11:38:51 PM EST

    I know it's been stated here before, so I'll merely reiterate that, for people who seriously wish to reduce the size of government, it's worth looking into the Libertarian Party. Don't pay any attention to those who say you'll be wasting your vote, for they only wish to preserve the status quo. Again, if you're serious, look into the LP's platform...see what they are really trying to accomplish. Then make up your own mind. In my particular case, voting for Bush or Gore WOULD be a wasted vote vote, since I don't believe Bush in what Bush stands for, and Gore even less. Voting for a stance I cannot ethically or morally support would truely be a waste. So, I vote my conscience, and every election I see a little bit more of the libertarian (lower case L) philosophy adopted by the mainstream. It's a slow process, but it's certainly not a waste.

    htp://www.lp.org



    http://www.lp.org Enough is enough!
    [ Parent ]
    Local Abuse: Puerto Rico (4.50 / 4) (#172)
    by cardiaz on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 05:44:53 PM EST

    I think the US has forgotten their history and it has transformed from oppressed to oppressor. For example, the United States has abused of its power with the US Citizens on Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico is a territory of the US, we have no representation on the US Government (we have one congressman without vote). Part of our land is used for military training, the Military doesn’t pays rent or taxes for the land they use. They have violated many environment protection laws, and we can’t do anything (except protests and civil disobedience) because the US Government supports the Military and on top of that the US Government is not interested on solving our representation problem (we don’t have the power to solve it). There is more information here if you are interested.

    This relationship is (now) of your own choosing (3.00 / 1) (#182)
    by AnUnnamedSource on Tue Oct 17, 2000 at 10:00:08 AM EST

    While it didn't start out that way, the relationship Puerto Rico has with the U.S. is your choice. There have been several referendums on independence, which while not necessarily binding, I believe would have been acted upon had you chosen independence. The fact is, every referendum has reflected your desire to maintain the status quo. By the way, in your gripe about representation, you neglected to mention not having to pay federal taxes.

    [ Parent ]
    You are right... but (none / 0) (#187)
    by cardiaz on Tue Oct 17, 2000 at 10:11:28 PM EST

    You are right, the current status has won on several referendums but the formula that won included the expansion of our current status giving more power to the local government (Puerto Rico). The US Government didn't like that and they preferred to ignore our will. And you are right we don't pay taxes, but the US Government is billing us with "Environmental Damages" by allowing the US Navy to drop napalm, depleted uranium and other pollutants. And please don't get me wrong, the US has helped Puerto Rico in many ways, but the price for that help has been set to high. With each bomb that falls on Vieques the pollutants that lay on the soil travel up to 50 miles, this affects 100% of Vieques and at least 40% of Puerto Rico. The other reason we don't pay taxes is because if we did then the US could not deny that we are a colony (they say we aren't but we are) or they will have to make us a state (and they don't like that either). Again don’t get me wrong the US is a great country but they have forgotten what they stand for, the people (all the people not just the elite of the US people).

    [ Parent ]
    Join the Club. (none / 0) (#186)
    by Narcischizm on Tue Oct 17, 2000 at 05:42:42 PM EST

    If I were to humanize the US goverment, it would be a hypocrytical money-grubbing A-hole that needs to get his butt kicked. Most of the world knows the history of our government. As for Puerto Rico, don't feel alone, its the same here on the mainland. Puerto Rico can be the 52nd State, Washington, DC is first (because I live here). Congress likes to take our power and voting rights. We live just a few blocks from where all of the federal laws are being made, yet we, like Puerto Rico, have no vote. Somewhere it says that the citizens of the United States of America will have no taxation without representation, no one told us that the small print reads 'unless Congress decides otherwise'.

    for more info on the lack of voting rights in the Capital of the United States of America, go to DCVote.org.

    [ Parent ]
    Hell yeah, it's oppressive! (4.33 / 3) (#178)
    by nordicfrost on Tue Oct 17, 2000 at 04:55:38 AM EST

    I'm really sorry, but as a citizen of a country that has felt the US foreign policy gripping around it's throat, I have to say: Yes, the US abuses its powers. I'm from Norway. We're one of the richest countries in the world due to our oil reservers in the north sea. Also, we are a neighbouring country to Russia. After WWII, we decided to join NATO and recive Marshall aid. After that, the country has been a puppet to the will of the US Foregin Affairs dept. For many years, we were afraid to vote against the US in the UN, simply because they could withdraw economical support. As of today, Norway is being punished by the US for having a too efficient fishing fleet. There's a malicious tax on Norwegian fish that's exported to the US, because it's cheaper than fish from the US. If you are going to buy fish in the store, think about the fact that this little country can't sell it's fish to you, and you have to settle for more expensive fish!

    But sometimes, we have pissed the US off to. Usually by showing an independent will and by not complying to ignorant US demands. Like the times we have said "no" to hosting US nuclear missils on Norwegian soil, "no" to American bases and by condemming the latest Israeli aggressive action in the mid-east (Actually, we have condemmed both sides' acts of aggression, but we have something in our hearts that feel empathy when being fired upon with rockets.) Also, the American ambassador was pissed off because we dared to have positive opinions about Cuba. To put things in perspective; the health affairs leader of the extreme right party (Compares roughly to your republicans, only a bit more leftist (!)) went to Cuba and found out that it had, after the circumstances, and really good health care system. He was baffled, because he was bottle fed on the fact that Cuba was evil, poor and a gritty country. He came back, and declared that he would make the health care system as good as the Cuban (Corrected for the fact that Cuba is poor and we're rich :)).

    Oh, that's right... (2.00 / 1) (#179)
    by nordicfrost on Tue Oct 17, 2000 at 04:59:12 AM EST

    The Norwegian police was misled during the Johansen case. They were actually in good faith, because they thought he was a cracker or bootlegger of goods. Wich he isn't, of course. When they were told what the case was about, all Norwegian charges were dropped at once, and an apology given.

    Where can I find out more (3.00 / 1) (#180)
    by erotus on Tue Oct 17, 2000 at 05:36:33 AM EST

    Nordicfrost,

    This is important information. I have been unable to find out more about Johanson's case. If indeed all charges were dropped then I'd like to know where I can find this info. I know many who are wondering what Johanson's current legal status is in regards to the charges filed by the MPAA. Please post some links if you have them.

    Thanks.

    [ Parent ]
    Three links. (none / 0) (#188)
    by Jade E. on Wed Oct 18, 2000 at 03:07:09 AM EST

    I found (via Google) three links you might like, although they still somewhat gloss over exactly what happened in Norway:

    The EFF's latest update on the Johansen case, which goes into the most detail I could find (not much) on what the actual charges were.

    Again at the EFF, a nice writeup on Johansen's testimony, which is from the MPAA's case against 2600. (There is also a link to the court transcript here.)

    And, finally, the New York Times writeup touches on the high points of the testimony if you don't want to read the whole 300k transcript.

    [ Parent ]

    Hmm... now I'm in doubt... (5.00 / 1) (#191)
    by nordicfrost on Wed Oct 18, 2000 at 03:37:24 PM EST

    I recall that the charges were dropped, because ØKOKRIM (Economical crimes division) found out the real intentions (Those of the MPAA) that led to the charges. They also have discovered that he hasn't done anything special, (Except from writing the front end app, he said that a german guy extracted (Not cracked) the CSS code from Xing's faulty DVD player app.). ØKOKRIM has also summoned technical competence, and I think they now understand that A) copying can be done without CSS codes, B) copying a DVD is economical not viable anc C) MPAA has misled Norwegian police. And THAT is a serious crime.

    On the other side, I have paid a lot of attention to this case, given the fact that I'm a law student (And here in Norway, it's a lot different to be lawyer than in the US.), I work in the largest newspaper in the country and I love computers. As i see it, if the ØKOKRIM hasn't withdrawn their charges yet, they will be dropped in pre-trial hearings assuming Johansen's lawyer is smarter than a dung beetle. But I think the charges are already dropped. There's another post in this discussion that says the conclusion will arrive in late october, that would be a reaaaally long time for the DA and ØKOKRIM to make up their minds...

    Personally, I hope that the police have better things to do than charge a front-end-writing high-school drop out.

    [ Parent ]
    Link (5.00 / 1) (#192)
    by nordicfrost on Wed Oct 18, 2000 at 03:41:43 PM EST

    See also: http://bladeenc.mp3.no/articles/decss.html

    [ Parent ]
    How early did it go wrong? (none / 0) (#195)
    by itsbruce on Fri Oct 20, 2000 at 08:04:34 AM EST

    I asked my fortune database about this and it said "Did you ever get the feeling that taxation without representation might have been cheaper?".

    --

    It is impolite to tell a man who is carrying you on his shoulders that his head smells.
    Has the US government become too hungry for power? | 206 comments (206 topical, 0 editorial, 0 hidden)
    Display: Sort:

    kuro5hin.org

    [XML]
    All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. The Rest © 2000 - Present Kuro5hin.org Inc.
    See our legalese page for copyright policies. Please also read our Privacy Policy.
    Kuro5hin.org is powered by Free Software, including Apache, Perl, and Linux, The Scoop Engine that runs this site is freely available, under the terms of the GPL.
    Need some help? Email help@kuro5hin.org.
    My heart's the long stairs.

    Powered by Scoop create account | help/FAQ | mission | links | search | IRC | YOU choose the stories!