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what are Leftists?

heath carlough
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Joined: Feb 01, 2003
Posts: 34
Newsprint is full of political jargaon these days, its something I can't ignore anymore. What does Leftist stand for, in the political sense of the word....right wing, left wing stuff like that??
Chris Treglio
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Joined: Jun 18, 2001
Posts: 64
In the US, you usually hear about Republicans on the right and Democrats on the left. Further to the right, third parties include the Conservatives, Libertarians, and the ilk. Further to the left you get the Greens, Socialists, etc.
Righties seem to be made up of a collection of traditionalists and small-governmenters. They like to talk about cutting taxes, upholding traditional values, tough law enforcement on the streets, stuff like that.
Lefties are a collection of progressives and other sorts of liberals. They like social programs, civil and women's rights, education.
Paul McKenna
Ugly Redneck
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Joined: Jul 08, 2000
Posts: 1006
One correction:
Libertarians are not necessarily right wingers. They are middle men. They are fiscally conservative i.e they prefer lower taxes and freedom to control economic policies. They are socially liberal i.e they are pro-civil rights, pro-immigration, pro-environment etc. One point where they differ from liberals is their vehement pro-gun policy. Neverthless they form the core moderate opinion.
On the extreme right of the American political spectrum you have the Reform party. Republican is slightly right wing. Democrats are slightly left wing. Greens are extreme left wing, that is they believe in socialist policies.
It is important to note that people often confuse Left wing politics with immorality and Right wing politics with Nazism. This is not true, but it is also worthwhile to mention that Left wing politics normally attract politicians who do not conform to moral code of social conduct. Similarly Right wing parties attract racists and xenophobes like honey to a bear.


Commentary From the Sidelines of history
Chris Treglio
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Joined: Jun 18, 2001
Posts: 64
I'm going to stand by putting libertarians on the right. In fact, I think that their philosophy is the core of right policies. There are inconsistencies on that side of the spectrum, and libertarians often clash with the traditionalist and religious conservatives, but that doesn't mean it's them who deserve to be moved to the middle.
I'm not sure that they're pro-environment or pro-civil rights. When in doubt, Libertarians oppose government regulation, and both of those issues often call for it. Pro-immigration? Well, since labor unions are typically leftist, you find a lot of pro-immigration folks on the right. But there are a lot of xenophobes on the right too. (Immigration might not be the best issue to tell the right from the left.)
frank davis
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Joined: Feb 12, 2001
Posts: 1479
The Right vs Left political classification system is not very usefull. One example is that in practice extreme Leftists (Communists) and extreme Rightists (Fascists) end up with basically the same type governement - authoritarian or totalitarian. The terminology would certainly not lead you to expect such a result.
A better classification would be collectivism vs individualism. Speaking in broad terms, Fascists, Communists, and socialists all emphasize the importance of the collective but use different wording ("the workers", "the fatherland", "society", etc). Government action is primarily justified by benefitting the collective. Any action against individuals can be justified under this reasoning by pointing to the greater good. Hence, socialists take wealth from inidividuals via taxation, communists/fascists execute dissenters, etc.
On the other end of the spectrem, libertarians advocate quite simply liberty, and the importance of individual rights without any needed justification of benefit to the collective. A libertarian would say the government exists to benefit the people as inidividuals, people do not exist to benefit the government.
John Smith
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Joined: Oct 08, 2001
Posts: 2937
Nice summary, Herb. What I don't understand is why Liberarians get below 3% votes in US congress. By the US founding principles, you would think that the distribution of votes would be something like 80% Libertarian, 15% Republican, and 5% Democrats. Can someone explain it to me?
Eugene.
frank davis
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Joined: Feb 12, 2001
Posts: 1479
Originally posted by Eugene Kononov:
Nice summary, Herb. What I don't understand is why Liberarians get below 3% votes in US congress. By the US founding principles, you would think that the distribution of votes would be something like 80% Libertarian, 15% Republican, and 5% Democrats. Can someone explain it to me?
Eugene.

The major turning point I believe was the Great Depression of the 1930s. During the Depression the scope of government was rapidly increased to a degree that would have horrified most Americans under other circumstances. But the severity of the depression had people crying out for government to do something to alleviate the pain. We ended up with hundreds of new governmental organizations and depts, many new laws, especially new Labor Laws, Social Security, Income Taxes, and many other socialistic measures.
During that crisis, and even to this day, many cite the Great Depression as absolute proof that economic markets, and nearly everything else, needs to be closely regulated by the government.
What is often ignored is that in a free market economy, normal flucuations in the business cycle are to be expected and they are not usually severe. What made the Great Depression so "Great" was that what would have been a mild recession became very severe because of government intervention. The Federal Reserve severely restricted the money supply choking off credit needed by businesses and then Congress passed various laws restricting imports which I believe caused other nations to reciprocate and prevent US goods from being sold (or with high tarrifs) leading to a reduction in free trade killing even more businesses. The US government was actually a major source of the problem.
In the end, regardless of the facts, the government was seen as the savior/hero. Too many people at this point had been bribed by government benefits - social security, welfare, unemployment payments, food stamps, etc. Politicaly, it is almost impossible to cancel a benefit program once it is enacted. People don't want to give up something they think they are getting for free. A politican normally has everything to lose and nothing to gain by cutting a government program or benefit.
So to this day people accept a socialistic role for government.
Michael Morris
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Joined: Jan 30, 2002
Posts: 3451

A libertarian would say the government exists to benefit the people as inidividuals, people do not exist to benefit the government.

You didn't include the extremist libertarian, the anarchist in your discussion. Most republicans would probably consider becoming libertarians if they never heared things like traffic signals are an invasion of my liberty from their members. I agree with the quote above, but with the caveat that the government has the right to protect the weak and itself from those who would do it in.


Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage - to move in the opposite direction. - Ernst F. Schumacher
Chris Treglio
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A libertarian would say the government exists to benefit the people as inidividuals, people do not exist to benefit the government.

I think you'd have a hard time scaring up anybody who thought the opposite was true, from any party on the right, left or center. The distinctions only arise when you get into what specific "good" the gov't is obligated to provide us.
Paul McKenna
Ugly Redneck
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Posts: 1006
Originally posted by Michael Morris:
but with the caveat that the government has the right to protect the weak and itself from those who would do it in.

I agree Michael!! In an ideal world no one would need governance. In an ideal world terrorism, racism and extremism wouldnt exist. In an ideal world people would honor the various unspoken "gentleman" agreements. But we dont live in such a world and hence you need something called the Government. I'd like to picture the goverment as the sergeant of a small platoon. If the military worked under the assumption that every solider knows how to fight on his or her own and doesnt require guidance then there wouldnt be the need for governing authorities like seargents and corporals. Similarly in a society people sometimes fall out of line and thats where the government kicks them back in. Government can be overbearing at times.. but then thats why we have debates in a country like America. People are allowed to choose when they need governance and when they dont.
Classic example is the situation in Iraq currently. People over there are generally nice and law abiding, but in the absence of any government the anarchy is evident. People are literally begging for some form of governance.
Every thing in moderation is always good. Racism is good, in moderation.. it teaches a person about hatred and its effect and why they should never practise it. Religion and Faith in moderation are good.. it teaches a person about having confidence and the will to succeed no matter what. So on and so forth.. Ideally a goverment helps / guides in defining those limits.. but often it makes mistakes.. but thats why the world we live in is not ideal.
Paul McKenna
Ugly Redneck
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Here is a definition from
http://www.lp.org
Libertarian
Libertarians are self-governors in both personal and economic matters. They believe government's only purpose is to protect people from coercion and violence. They value individual responsibility, and tolerate economic and social diversity.
Left-Liberal
Left-Liberals prefer self-government in personal matters and central decision-making on economics. They want government to serve the disadvantaged in the name of fairness. Leftists tolerate social diversity, but work for economic equality.
Conservative
Right-conservatives prefer self-government on economic issues, but want official standards in personal matters. They want the government to defend the community from threats to its moral fiber.
Authoritarian
Authoritarians want government to advance society and individuals through expert central planning. They often doubt whether self-government is practical. Left-authoritarians are also called socialists, while fascists are right-authoritarian
frank davis
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Originally posted by Michael Morris:

You didn't include the extremist libertarian, the anarchist in your discussion.

I thought libertarians and anarchists were two different and distinct species. Libertarians have always believed in a role for government to protect rights is my understanding, while anarchists see no role for government. Seems like a big difference to me.
Anarchy makes no sense. Firstly, it cannot exist for long for any significant period of time. Some sort of organized social structure that we might as well call a government will develop spontaneously amongst any significantly sized population to exert control over its members.
At the very least you will have criminals banding together and eventually warlords exerting control.
There is a school of thought that is really interesting called Anarcho-capitalism. My limited understanding of it is that private companies would take over many of the governmental functions.
frank davis
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Posts: 1479
Originally posted by Chris Treglio:

I think you'd have a hard time scaring up anybody who thought the opposite was true, from any party on the right, left or center.

Hmmm, when was the last time there were mass demonstrations for people who had their land forcibly taken from them for the "greater good" (substitute other collectivist terms as you see fit)??
I'm talking about "eminent domain" proceedings where the government will force you out of your house and off your land to make way for the new turnpike or new airport or whatever else the government deems necessary.

Another timely issue would be the draft. Here the government is forcing people to actually die to benefit the perpetuation of the government/society/etc.
Or why do we confiscate more money from certain groups of people through estate laws and dicriminatory progressive taxation and then re-distribute those funds to various governmental departments?
Those were the first examples that came to mind. Look around and I'm sure you'll find others.
Many, many people thoroughly agree with collectivist ideals - sacrificing the individual for the benefit of society/government/state.

The distinctions only arise when you get into what specific "good" the gov't is obligated to provide us.

Real libertarians may correct me, but I think libertarians support basically only those institutions that are designed to protect rights - a judicial & law enforcement system and national defense. A pretty lean government it would seem that would not need much taxation to support it.
Chris Treglio
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Posts: 64
Nothing's free -- not safety from theives, not safety from foreign aggressors, not roads and schools, nothing. We as individuals sacrifice a little to get a lot. Most notably we sacrifice money by taxation, but sometimes we sacrifice our lives in combat or law enforcement, or our real estate through emminent domain. We sacrifice the right to stroll around outside buck naked, we sacrifice the right to urinate in the river, we sacrifice the right to solve our interpersonal quarrels with fistfights, etc. But what we get in return is the assurance that our neighbors aren't all going to be strolling around buck naked either. It's a sacrifice I, for one, am willing to make.
It's always a shame when one individual feels that he or she had to give more than he got back, but remember: one man's "discriminatory progressive taxation" is another man's "give according to your ability."
If you're really steamed about the fact that the wealthy in the US have to fork over so much in taxes, ask yourself "What are the chances somebody would be able to amass such wealth without a strong, safe, civil society in the first place?"
Jason Menard
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Joined: Nov 09, 2000
Posts: 6450
Originally posted by Chris Treglio:
If you're really steamed about the fact that the wealthy in the US have to fork over so much in taxes, ask yourself "What are the chances somebody would be able to amass such wealth without a strong, safe, civil society in the first place?"

Personally, I'm steamed that the middle class in the US have to fork over so much in taxes. When you speak of "wealthy", what you are often actually talking about is dual-income middle class families. It is not wealth they have amassed, rather a fair standard of income through hard work and sacrafice.
A flat percentage income tax across the board for all taxpayers would facilitate "each according to their abilities" in a fair manner. Of course this is just one of many ways in which this could be accomplished. Progressive taxes, aside from the inherent unfairness of such a system, should tend to stifle hard work more than promote it. Although if you are actually wealthy, you most likely have more avenues available to shelter your income than the middle class families who are "wealthy" according to the US tax system.
John Smith
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Chris Treglio: If you're really steamed about the fact that the wealthy in the US have to fork over so much in taxes, ask yourself "What are the chances somebody would be able to amass such wealth without a strong, safe, civil society in the first place?"
Wrong argument. It's much easier to become wealthy in a weak, unsafe, uncivilized society. You can rob banks, steal money from your neighbors, practice insider trading, build factories with no regard to environmental laws, create monopolies, hire and exploit children, etc. This is essentially what happened in Russia after the collapse of the communism, -- the "new Russians" accumulated an enormous wealth.
Back to US, I think the wealthy should be taxed at a lower rate as a "thank you" from the US government for creating jobs, driving the economy, and paying for the US government itself.
Eugene.
[ April 13, 2003: Message edited by: Eugene Kononov ]
Chris Treglio
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It's much easier to become wealthy in a weak, unsafe, uncivilized society. You can rob banks, steal money from your neighbors, practice insider trading, build factories with no regard to environmental laws, create monopolies, hire and exploit children, etc.

For every person getting rich stealing from their neigbors, there's somebody getting poor because their neighbor is stealing from them. For every person getting rich exploiting people, there's somebody who's getting exploited. Maybe some individuals in this new Russia are getting "enormously wealthy," but there's a larger number who are being impoverished.
I'm steamed that the middle class in the US have to fork over so much in taxes. When you speak of "wealthy", what you are often actually talking about is dual-income middle class families. It is not wealth they have amassed, rather a fair standard of income through hard work and sacrafice.

Who's "wealthy" and who's "middle class" is a pretty relative distinction... And if you look around the world, even those of us who are "middle class" are pretty darn wealthy.
How do you think that Americans got so much more wealthy than the people of most of the rest of the world? If it's really because we're so much harder working than everybody else, how come we guard the right to work in this country so jealously?
Joel McNary
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Joined: Aug 20, 2001
Posts: 1821

Originally posted by herb slocomb:

Hmmm, when was the last time there were mass demonstrations for people who had their land forcibly taken from them for the "greater good" (substitute other collectivist terms as you see fit)??
I'm talking about "eminent domain" proceedings where the government will force you out of your house and off your land to make way for the new turnpike or new airport or whatever else the government deems necessary.


We've actually had a few of these demonstrations out 'round these parts (Chester County, PA; just west of Philadelphia). Seems a local city government wants to condemn and take via eminant domain a farm (which I believe was an actual working farm, as opposed to just a large chunk of land) so the city could put in a golf course/recreation center to help revitalize the city. This case is still in the courts, but (I feel) that the city is entirely unjustified in its actions.
1). There more pressing steps to revitializing that city than a golf course.
2). The land isn't even in the city limits; they haven't annexed it or anything.
Naturally, this is provikinga city-council vs. everybody else type scenario, but the courts seemd to be split.
Just an example. Not sure what it was intended to prove, but an example nonetheless.


Piscis Babelis est parvus, flavus, et hiridicus, et est probabiliter insolitissima raritas in toto mundo.
frank davis
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Joined: Feb 12, 2001
Posts: 1479
Originally posted by Chris Treglio:
Nothing's free -- not safety from theives, not safety from foreign aggressors, not roads and schools, nothing. We as individuals sacrifice a little to get a lot. Most notably we sacrifice money by taxation, but sometimes we sacrifice our lives in combat or law enforcement, or our real estate through emminent domain. We sacrifice the right to stroll around outside buck naked, we sacrifice the right to urinate in the river, we sacrifice the right to solve our interpersonal quarrels with fistfights, etc. But what we get in return is the assurance that our neighbors aren't all going to be strolling around buck naked either. It's a sacrifice I, for one, am willing to make.

Preventing people from going "buck naked" seems a rather weak argument on which to justify granting government broad discretionary powers to regulate our lives. I don't really understand your personal phobia of mass "buck nakedness", but I doubt you can cite any significant harm accruing from such activities since many socities have sanctiond "buck nakedness" without ill effects.
The list of "sacrifices" you mention doesn't begin to resolve the issue that was raised of whether the government is justified in requiring such sacrifices through compulsory means. Of course the government needs funding to carry out its legitimate functions, but whether the funding is voluntarily obtained (e.g., broadly defined usage fees, special purpose insurance for governmental services, or contribtions) or through force or the threat of force makes a significant difference. Its the difference between oppression and liberty.
The list of "sacrifices" you mention raises the issue of whether you have a "right" to do those things. If you don't really have such a right, then has there really been a sacrifice?
Why should someone be forced to sacrifice their home and land for which they worked for many years because some nitwit local city government decided a public golf course should be there? What gives the local nitwit city council such rights?
The issue again is the rights of the individual vs the rights of the collective. Does the collective have some sort of right to public golf courses???
The collective is merely a collection of individuals and it can have no more legitimate rights than its individual memebers have. If none of its individual members have a right to a golf course then neither does the collective itself.

It's always a shame when one individual feels that he or she had to give more than he got back, but remember: one man's "discriminatory progressive taxation" is another man's "give according to your ability."

Aren't both evil?


If you're really steamed about the fact that the wealthy in the US have to fork over so much in taxes, ask yourself "What are the chances somebody would be able to amass such wealth without a strong, safe, civil society in the first place?"

The benefit of a safe civil society is a blessing we all enjoy. I fail to see the logic of sanctioning discrimination to make some pay more than others for a benefit equally bestowed upon all.
frank davis
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Originally posted by Eugene Kononov:
Chris Treglio: If you're really steamed about the fact that the wealthy in the US have to fork over so much in taxes, ask yourself "What are the chances somebody would be able to amass such wealth without a strong, safe, civil society in the first place?"
Wrong argument. It's much easier to become wealthy in a weak, unsafe, uncivilized society. You can rob banks, steal money from your neighbors, practice insider trading, build factories with no regard to environmental laws, create monopolies, hire and exploit children, etc. This is essentially what happened in Russia after the collapse of the communism, -- the "new Russians" accumulated an enormous wealth.
Back to US, I think the wealthy should be taxed at a lower rate as a "thank you" from the US government for creating jobs, driving the economy, and paying for the US government itself.
Eugene.
[ April 13, 2003: Message edited by: Eugene Kononov ]

Excellent points, and even at a lower rate maybe you could argue that its still too discriminatory since the total amount paid could still be many, many times higher than that of other citizens.
Can you imagine the hoopla if President Bush actually really thanked the rich in one of his speeches??
frank davis
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Originally posted by Joel McNary:

Seems a local city government wants to condemn and take via eminant domain a farm (which I believe was an actual working farm, as opposed to just a large chunk of land) so the city could put in a golf course/recreation center to help revitalize the city.
...
Not sure what it was intended to prove, but an example nonetheless.

I think it proves its a bad idea to let government have the power to arbitrarily
disregard the rights of individuals. Government is often corrupt and influenced by concerns other than the real common good. Its not uncommon for the government to be lobbied by local construction companies for such projects.
There may be special construction deals going to certain friends of local officials and/or kickbacks/payoffs. Besides corruption, there's stupidity in governmental decisions. In addition to stupidity there's ignorance. How can the government actually know that a public golf course is really the best use (or even a good use) of its funds? But more fundamentally, what gives them the right to take land from others???
Chris Treglio
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I don't really understand your personal phobia of mass "buck nakedness"

My point was simply that when we move from a state of nature to subscription in society, then we make certain sacrifices. When we were wandering alone in the woods, we had the right to do more or less anything we wanted. We sacrifice some of the freedom of our actions or we sacifice some of our money, but we do it because we know it's worth it. We might complain about it the week the tax bill is due, but ultimately you and I know that obeying laws and paying taxes and risking getting drafted or having our stuff seized by emminent domain is worth the benefit of membership in society. If you didn't believe it was worth it, you wouldn't choose to remain a member of the society.
This is just the fundamental principle of human politics... The only argument left to have is whether you sacrifice a lot and get a lot, or sacrifice less and get less -- that is the difference between the political left and the political right.
frank davis
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Originally posted by Chris Treglio:

... but ultimately you and I know that obeying laws and paying taxes and risking getting drafted or having our stuff seized by emminent domain is worth the benefit of membership in society. If you didn't believe it was worth it, you wouldn't choose to remain a member of the society.

My point is that our society has room for moral improvement and whether the evils you mention are really necessary :
1. Obeying just laws is fundamental to any societal order, no debate here. But recognize that just laws are those that protect rights, not destroy them (e.g. those that respect my right to property protect that right, eminent domain destroys that right).
2. Paying taxes is a somewhat debateable necessary evil. The United States had NO income tax for much of its history and did quite well developing, industrializing, and evolving into a economic superpower. Of course sustaining the present bloated size and scope of government in its present form is impossible without income confiscation, but that's another thing I'm calling into question - the legitimacy of its size and scope.
Another possiblity is revenue through voluntary means - usage fees, insurance premiums for govt services (enforcement of contracts, or other servies, etc), or voluntary contributions. Again , all the above voluntary forms of revenue would not be enough to sustain the present size of our govt, but thats part of the point.
3. A government that is just will have enough people who will voluntarily defend it against REAL threats; there is no need for a draft. A government that cannot exist without forcing people to die for it perhaps should not exist - the people in that case are in a sense voting by their inaction not to defend it and demonstrating their evaluation of the govt as opposed to its alternatives.
4. Eminent domain ? I thought you said earlier no one supported the propostion that people existed for the benefit of the government (society) and not the other way around. Eminent domain seems to be pretty good example of sacrificing the rights of the few for the benefit of the government/society or whatever collectivist term you prefer.
What if society benefits by killing off a certain percentage of elderly people, would you support that also? What principle do you use to justify some collectivist actions and not others? I think there is some inconsistency here.
Chris Treglio
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An understanding of "collectivism" is not complete until you admit that we're talking about a collection of individuals. And since we're talking about individual sacrifices (taxation, risk of seizure, etc.), we can value membership in our (or any) society by weighing these individual sacrifices against the individual benefits.
Imagine that citizenship were like some more mundane product or service offered in the marketplace. You'd go from store to store comparing the different features of the products, and their prices, and eventually you would make a decision by weighing the cost against the value you think you'd get. Right? And what would happen if one particular product had all the nifty features everybody wants, at a low price? Lots of people would buy it.
This is the same decision that we're all constantly making regarding where we choose to live and work. People who find that they're not safe where they live, or that the market for their labor stinks there, do what any reasonable person would do: they get up and move. Where do they move to? Well, they look around at the world's countries and try to decide which ones offer the best balance of cost and benefit. And where do a bulk of them decide has that best balance? You might not think you're getting your money's worth out of your US residency, but 900,000 people per year disagree, and not all of them are dumber than you.
It's not like there aren't other options. Russia has a flat income tax, and their consulate is wide open -- no lines! Why? Because there aren't any jobs there. Why? Because investors don't want to send their capital there to do business. Why? Because they are, rightly, afraid of the kind of institutionalized lawlessness that reigns. The stability we enjoy here is worth more than you seem to want to admit.
Now, governmental abuses and corruption should absolutely be stamped out with extreme prejudice. And governmental inefficiency should be eradicated with the same urgency as in our private enterprise. Liberals don't typically have an appreciation for how large institutions (public and private) can take money and flush it right down the toilet with no discernable benefit. But while the US government certainly doesn't manage its cash perfectly, it's way ahead of whoever's in second place. The proof is in the pudding.
frank davis
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Originally posted by Chris Treglio:
...But while the US government certainly doesn't manage its cash perfectly, it's way ahead of whoever's in second place. The proof is in the pudding.

Agreed. The US is best. But what has made it best is that it empahsizes the individual over the collective more than any other society in the history of the world and the way to make it better and more moral is to apply those 'libertarian' (used in a broad sense, not an endorsement of the political party) principles consistently.
Collectivism is evil, just as executing elderly people for the good of society is evil, just as unjust deprivation of property and life is evil, etc, etc. Either a government respects rights (some form of natural rights not merely legalistic ones) or it does not, and if it does not respect rights its actions are simply evil.
Thomas Paul
mister krabs
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Originally posted by herb slocomb:
What if society benefits by killing off a certain percentage of elderly people, would you support that also? What principle do you use to justify some collectivist actions and not others? I think there is some inconsistency here.
You have a bad analogy here. Eminent Domain doesn't give the government the right to simply take your property away. It gives the government the right to give you fair market value for your property. Without eminent domain there would be no highways for example.


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Richard Hawkes
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There are always winners and losers in society which obviously means we can't all be winners, even if we were all born with equal amounts of talent. There is no way we could all head our own company and amass a fortune; someone has to flip the burgers.
The state - reasonably successfully - levels the playing field and protects us from harm so that those with talents and skills valued in society have the opportunity to get ahead, keep most of what they earn and live without fear. I believe those of us that are successful have a duty to pay proportionally more for the privilege of having been able to become successful, and to 'compensate' those - that for whatever reason - are left to flip the burgers. And lets face it, society wouldn't function without the people that flipped the burgers (I'm a little peckish).
Also I believe human nature is generally more self-serving than altruistic and a democratically elected government is the best way yet of managing the assets taken from the better-off, and from protecting us from the excesses of the most powerful.
I think a society without an intrusive (but democratic) state would be a less pleasant place to live overall, even if sometimes collective values override our so-called individual 'rights'.
Thomas Paul
mister krabs
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Originally posted by herb slocomb:
Agreed. The US is best. But what has made it best is that it empahsizes the individual over the collective more than any other society in the history of the world and the way to make it better and more moral is to apply those 'libertarian' (used in a broad sense, not an endorsement of the political party) principles consistently.

There is obviously a balancing act here. A society that fully emphasized the individual wouldn't be a society, it would be an anarchy. A society that ignores the individual and emphasizes the society becomes a communist dictatorship. The US is trying to find the right balance between fulfilling the needs of society while protecting the rights of the individual. Overall, I think the US does a great job at that.
frank davis
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Originally posted by Thomas Paul:
You have a bad analogy here. Eminent Domain doesn't give the government the right to simply take your property away. It gives the government the right to give you fair market value for your property.

You raise a good point since the compensation eases the sting of being of booted out of your house and off your land. Yet fair market value may not be enough to buy you another house the same distance from work, in the same neighborhood, with the same view, etc, etc, not to mention sentimental value which cannot be compensated, the disruption of family life (harder for children to adapt sometimes to new neighborhoods; new, possibly worse schools, etc), in addition to moving expenses and hassles.
But again, what gives them the right to boot you out of your own house in the first place? What moral principle is at work here - simply that whatever benefits the majority is OK, that people can be shuffled around like pawns at the whim of local city commission golf players to build a new golf course?
Sidenote :
I'm behind on the state of eminemt domain law, but not so many years ago there were a number of cases where there were "constructive takings" of property without compensation by the government. I believe they were environmental cases that prevented owners from draining their swamp land and developing it. Essentially their land, which was sold with the assumption by both parties that it could be developed, was made worthless and the right of property ownership was made in effect null and void. There may have been some other cases as well involving historic preservation of buildings where owners bought an old building to use for a certain purpose then were told they could not and had to instead keep the building in its original design and structure. Again, in some cases it made the property almost worthless and they were not compensated.


Without eminent domain there would be no highways for example.

I wonder , does the government actually go through the hassle of an eminent domain proceeding against every single property owner when building a highway? That seems dubious to me. I believe they simply buy the property generally. (maybe the owners know if they don't sell they will be "eminent domained"???).
I don't believe the broad statement that there would NO highways without eminent domain is true.
I believe that there are a number of different routes for almost any proposed highway, most owners will sell, and a way to plan the route of the proposed highway can be based on the oweners who do want to sell. Will the price be higher? Certainly, but in the grand scheme of government budgets, not noticeably higher.
frank davis
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Originally posted by Thomas Paul:

There is obviously a balancing act here. A society that fully emphasized the individual wouldn't be a society, it would be an anarchy.

Please give some specific examples of anarchy resulting from a government that merely protects the rights of its citizens.
frank davis
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Originally posted by Richard Hawkes:

I believe those of us that are successful have a duty to pay proportionally more for the privilege of having been able to become successful, and to 'compensate' those - that for whatever reason - are left to flip the burgers.

In a free society you could donate as much of your income as you wanted to the buger flippers.
Charity can and has existed in the United States long before government income re-distribution plans were in effect. The charities were often more effective as well. The concept of a duty to burger flippers is interesting however.


I think a society without an intrusive (but democratic) state would be a less pleasant place to live overall, even if sometimes collective values override our so-called individual 'rights'.

Please give specific examples.
Thomas Paul
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Originally posted by herb slocomb:
Please give some specific examples of anarchy resulting from a government that merely protects the rights of its citizens.

How can society protect the rights of individuals if the rights of individuals trumps the rights of the state? How can the state, for example, arrest me for a crime since that would be denying me my individual rights (my right to be free) from society's right to be free of crime? Obviuosly, any state that isn't an anarchy is going to take away some rights from some individuals in order to protect the rights of others.
Peter den Haan
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Originally posted by Jason Menard:
A flat percentage income tax across the board for all taxpayers would facilitate "each according to their abilities" in a fair manner.
Taxes are evil. They hurt. Taxes are perhaps a necessary evil (Well, let's just assume this for the sake of argument), but ultimately it's legitimised theft.
A fair tax system will spread the hurt fairly.
If you have to get by on $100 a week, $25 is an awful lot of money. Being robbed of it hurts. Badly. There are a lot of things that will have to go, because most of your budget is gobbled up by the bare essentials of living.
If you live on $10000 a week, missing $2500 of it is pretty darn annoying, but hurt is a pretty big word. You can do a bit less of what you were doing before, but there's little that previously was in your reach but now no longer is.
A fair tax system is progressive.
- Peter
[ April 14, 2003: Message edited by: Peter den Haan ]
Thomas Paul
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Herb is forgetting why we have a welfare system at all. In the 1930's FDR came to power at a time when communism was looking awfully good to a lot of Americans. Enough hungry poor people will go to plan B, eat the rich.
Thomas Paul
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Originally posted by herb slocomb:
I wonder , does the government actually go through the hassle of an eminent domain proceeding against every single property owner when building a highway? That seems dubious to me. I believe they simply buy the property generally. (maybe the owners know if they don't sell they will be "eminent domained"???).

Normally, the state goes around and tells everyone that they can sell or the state will invoke eminent domain. Anyone who doesn't sell gets their property bought from them. Highways can't just be built anywhere. They need to go from point A to point B if someone owns property in-between and they won't sell then the state needs to take the property by eminent domain. Finding people who want to sell but they don't have adjacent lots doesn't help.
There's a good example of what happens when the state doesn't invoke eminent domain. take a look at this:
Northern State Parkway (zoom in once)
That big turn in that red road (Northern State Parkway) is there because the state didn't invoke eminent domain to take property. (The reason was because the property was owned by a bunch of rich people with political power.) The more northerly turn is one of the most dangerous 1/2 miles in the NY parkway system. The southern turn has been reworked several times to make it safer at a very high cost to the state.
[ April 14, 2003: Message edited by: Thomas Paul ]
frank davis
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Originally posted by Thomas Paul:

How can society protect the rights of individuals if the rights of individuals trumps the rights of the state? How can the state, for example, arrest me for a crime since that would be denying me my individual rights (my right to be free) from society's right to be free of crime? Obviuosly, any state that isn't an anarchy is going to take away some rights from some individuals in order to protect the rights of others.

The classic non-technical statement on rights and limitations on rights is something like, "My right to swing my fists stops at your nose". Assuming an equality of rights, how can one person have the right to act to deprive another of his rights; that would be a logical contradiction. Therefore a criminal can claim no "right" to assault or deprive another of property. Once a criminal has performed acts to deprive others of their rights he has demonstrated that he is a threat to the rights of the others in the society. The society acting through the justice system has the right to self-defense and the right to incarcerate such a person. The incarceration of criminals is to defend the rights of others, a legitiamte purpose of government.

The criminal, by acts, has asserted that he does not recognize the rights of others, and by implication even his own rights since he has no posssible claim of superior rights. The criminal therefore has relinquished his claims to his rights - the justice system therefore does not deprive him of his rights he has previously forfeited or relinquished his rights.
Thomas Paul
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Originally posted by herb slocomb:
The criminal, by acts, has asserted that he does not recognize the rights of others, and by implication even his own rights since he has no posssible claim of superior rights. The criminal therefore has relinquished his claims to his rights - the justice system therefore does not deprive him of his rights he has previously forfeited or relinquished his rights.

And that is somewhere to the left on the scale from individual rights to society rights. In the above the individuals rights are not supreme. Society has a right to protect itself from the individual. The question is how much.
John Smith
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Peter den Haan:
Taxes are evil. A fair tax system will spread the hurt fairly. A fair tax system is progressive.

Peter, welcome to MD bartending! I always appreciated your insights to Java development, but what the hell are you doing in here, sharpening your people skills? I gotta tell you, if that's the purpose, MD is definitely the place to be.
I must admit, your argument for progressive taxation sounds persuasive. But let me use your "fair spreading of evil" concept in the other situation. Suppose the neccessary evil is taking health from the citizens. Would you consider it fair for the government to suck more blood and inject more cancerous cells to the citizens who are in a better physical shape (they excercise, watch their diet, avoid smoking), but do just a little bit of damage to the "to be dead at 40" (they eat junk food, use drugs, spend all their money on alcohol)?
Don't you see that with the "progressive evil" you are punishing the success?
Eugene.
frank davis
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Originally posted by Thomas Paul:

Highways can't just be built anywhere. They need to go from point A to point B if someone owns property in-between and they won't sell then the state needs to take the property by eminent domain.

There are an infinite number of points between point A and point B, and therefore an almost potentially infinite number of lines or highways connecting those points( "almost" because we'll exclude obviously crazy combinations of multi-circling loops, etc). Its not necessary or even desirable to always have a perfectly straight line connecting two points. Geographical considerations such as rivers, mountains, hills, soil conditions, etc, often make it more desirable to build highways around them. Likewise, it is possible to build around people who do not wish to have their property taken by using one of the other almost infinite possiblities as an alternative route. Very long, perfectly straight lines between points are monotonous and cause bordedom leading to people falling asleep while driving and killing themselves and others.

Finding people who want to sell but they don't have adjacent lots doesn't help.

You may have to re-plan the proposed route dozens of times until you find a way to connect all the dots between point A and point B so that you can find all the owners of those points who wish to sell. I don't think the States put enough effort into finding alternative routes other than the one they orignally plan, but since their duty is to protect the rights of their citizens the need to put forth that effort.

There's a good example of what happens when the state doesn't invoke eminent domain.(HS : URL omitted.)That big turn in that red road (Northern State Parkway) is there because the state didn't invoke eminent domain to take property. (The reason was because the property was owned by a bunch of rich people with political power.) The more northerly turn is one of the most dangerous 1/2 miles in the NY parkway system. The southern turn has been reworked several times to make it safer at a very high cost to the state.
[ April 14, 2003: Message edited by: Thomas Paul ]

If you mean that this is an example of what happens when the State does not use eminent domain, then are you abandoning your prior position that NO highways could be built without eminent doamin? Or do you just mean that no highways can be built that Thomas Paul will find acceptable unless eminent domain is used?
If the southern route has been re-worked several times, maybe it could have been built differently to begin with...
The problem of rich and political powerfully people abusing their influence is just yet another example of why the government should not be entrusted to such decisions and judgements of denying rights to people.
All that being said, admittedly, eminent domain unfairness is not the strongest case against collectivism, since there usually is at least quasi-adequate compensation offered to owners.
frank davis
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Originally posted by Eugene Kononov:
I must admit, your argument for progressive taxation sounds persuasive. But let me use your "fair spreading of evil" concept in the other situation. Suppose the neccessary evil is taking health from the citizens. Would you consider it fair for the government to suck more blood and inject more cancerous cells to the citizens who are in a better physical shape (they excercise, watch their diet, avoid smoking), but do just a little bit of damage to the "to be dead at 40" (they eat junk food, use drugs, spend all their money on alcohol)?
Don't you see that with the "progressive evil" you are punishing the success?
Eugene.

As usual (not always, ) Eugene puts his finger at the heart of the problem with collectivism. Carrying their slogan of "the greatest good for the greatest number" to its logical conclusion we would have healthy people dissected and their organs donated to all the many different sick people needing organ transplants. Collectivists like Thomas Paul disgust me
[ April 14, 2003: Message edited by: herb slocomb ]
 
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