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Is The U.S. Government Broken?

Discussion in 'Political Discussion' started by pherein, Jan 26, 2011.

  1. pherein

    pherein In the Starting Line-Up

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    Parties that seem to not understand the problems, but instead try to exploit them to gain a larger share of power , and ultimately do nothing to fix them.
    Problems that include debt, the financial market, and FEMA are not brought to the table until the last seconds.
    Congressmen explain it away as something the government didn't foresee or expect. But didn't we vote for them because thats what they brought to the job, or promised they did?

    Social security is used as a scare tactic that will “as they say” destroy america, if not fixed. But didn't we elect them to do just that, years ago, before it became a problem?

    The bills passed are hundreds of pages so no one can possibly understand them, and include hidden clauses and cut backs that fill their own pockets. Ive rarely seen a man become a even a governor poor and not leave rich, or with a 3 figure job waiting for him/her. Bush made 35 million, while governor of Texas. Not singling him out, I just know the figure.

    Lobbyist make millions, while millions of jobs are lost. We've moved thousands of factories to other countries. We have immigration problems. We don't know how to pay for our elderly and retired. The financial system is exactly the same as it was before the crash. Prices only go up. Peoples health has become profit, so care is secondary. In 1998 15 million dogs&cats were put to sleep in american shelters, not sure what it is today. Education gets worse and more expensive. If your a 4th WR in the NFL youll make 1.2 million, if your a doctor 183,000. A person playing a cop on TV makes Millions while a real cop makes about 23,000. We don't have enough resources for our schools children, but we are building 3 new aircraft carriers.

    Parties and affiliation aside,,, are we broken? Is this how its suppose to be, or should we keep trying to find someone to blame for it? Republican,Democrats, Vick, or maybe another country is to blame? or are we doing ok.

    It sure seems like it’s broken, and its kind of seems like its to big to fix, and Im on the fence as to wether its our fault or we just got blindsided trying to have a life or if it’s even possible to fix anymore.

    It’s a way to complicated problem to be solved in a forum, if it is even a problem, but..
    I guess what Im saying is, do you think the American Government is broken and can’t be fixed ? Like a lot of American's do, or do you think this is how its supposed to be?

    Government broken, fixable: Americans: The Swamp

    Just for clarification, I don't believe in the party system , so this is not a Tea party, Rep, or Dem thing
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2011
  2. The Brandon Five

    The Brandon Five Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract

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    #75 Jersey

    I think a broken government is really a reflection of a broken people. I suppose it must be that lobbyists have corrupted the process, but why is that the case?

    I don't know if the system itself is broken or if we are seeing what Adams meant when he said:

     
  3. IcyPatriot

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    #24 Jersey

    Yes ... it's broken ... but it appears less broken than many other countries out there.

    I think broken is part of who we are and where we are headed.

    Unless there is a major disaster or war ... broken will be our natural state.
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2011
  4. PatsFanInVa

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    It was the best of times, it was the worst of times... etc.

    Yes, government is broken. It is more broken than at any other time, except all the other times. It is the absolute worst government in the world, except the other governments. It waits until the very last second, except when it is raising the alarm about demographic trends that will not directly affect us for years - etc.

    I get your point, Pherein, and I don't want to turn this partisan. I just want to specify, is it broken compared with what?

    I am noting so much interest in a sort of magical thinking lately, where we say something like "government is broken" or "the problem is we have political parties." It's as if we need only identify something incredibly pervasive and hard to get at, something that, once we do get at it, we can claim is right back again once we've fixed it, that we will end up spinning our wheels.

    The question is, what do "we" believe, in terms of any and all of our problems?

    The answer, as you see here nightly, is that "we" believe a lot of different things.

    The standard answer in a democratic system is, you vote. In an electoral democracy, you vote for representatives, senators, and the president. They then push their programs, which we voted for (or against.) We can then complain, but our complaint is then "See, I was right, even though the majority was wrong. Well, that's democracy."

    A couple of things have been different lately: there has always been the potential of abuse of the filibuster in the Senate. This last Senate, that potential was realized. The Senate can simply do nothing, based not on the majority's will, but on the minority's. For this reason, the filibuster has been used relatively conservatively in the past - because if you abuse this tool, nothing gets done.

    So, in terms of reforms, I can see filibuster reform. We wanted the Senate to move slow, to make them talk things over and think things over... hence the different structure. It does not work anymore. The filibuster has been used to "just say no," using the "minority can stop anything unless you have a super-majority" theory.

    I could see using more direct representation in the Senate, rather than apportioning 2 seats to some tiny population, and 2 seats to a gigantic urbanized area on one of the coasts (for example.) After all, that is not one man, one vote. It's one state, one vote - distorting the power of empty areas where policy affects far fewer people.

    But I don't think these are the reforms most Americans are thinking of when they say "government is broken." It's usually just a much more vague compaint - everybody's corrupt everywhere, people are too partisan (or, sometimes, "they're all the same" - even when they're supposedly too partisan and polarized), etc.

    The first response here is pretty good too - how much do we want to dig into the facts, and devote time to govenance?

    Or, to the contrary, how much do we want to say "hmmmmm it just feels icky lately," or, in respectable parlance, "government is broken"?

    Okay, maybe I'm being too much of a curmudgeon. But while I do see dissatisfaction in general, what I don't see is a real specific problem you can respond to easily or forthrightly.

    I'm not going after you, but I'm seeing some of that here - we know stuff is effed up, but let's think. You're right it's obscene that you get a couple million a year to be a JAG in the NFL and a doctor makes a couple hundred thousand. It's also obscene that a working man can make 10,000 - even if he's not a doctor - when we all know that's just plain poverty in this day and age. But we cant talk about the poor - fine, we'll talk about the obscene difference b/w the NFL and a doctor... I feel you. But that's a market phenomenon... so how does that point to the government being broken? If anything, that's an unfortunate feature of what we consider a pretty good principal in the U.S., that the free market sets these kinds of prices and the government is supposed to stay out.

    I like your point on lobbyists. Sure, let's pass a law against influence peddling. Let's keep political contributions to the existing limits, and limit contributions to only individuals. That pings unions at the same time as the corporations - so let's just do it. No more organizational money for campaigns.

    No more campaign ads by organizations other than the parties running candidates.

    No contributions to parties except by individuals, with strict (and low) limits for contributions per person. Make it so one rich guy, or the cats-paw of a given industry, can't buy the votes. Make it about the people again.

    We just took a giant step in the opposite direction, though, w/the Citizens United case. The problem is that the corporations and special interests will continue to insist that money talks, literally - the use of money as a free speech issue. And the bigger problem is that the Supreme Court has recently ruled that money does, in fact, talk.

    Yeah, that's broken too. Now what's our solution? We all rebel, an vote for... who? Even the guys that are supposedly running to get rid of all corruption, do it using... drumroll... exactly those same funding sources! Ta-daaaa!

    So I'd vote for more campaign reform, which gets at your lobbyist problem. But my problem there is that the SCOTUS would at present stifle that.

    So, what is our solution to SCOTUS? I support the form, above all, beyond the particular failure of the court, even in this one very important aspect. I believe we're better off with an independent judiciary as one of the 3 branches, than without it.

    We could of course pass an amendment to fix this... all we'd have to do then is get all these same people, who all rely on the same funding sources, to support the amendment... and that ain't gonna happen.

    So in a way I agree with you, and in a way, I feel like we have to continue within the same messy process and not give up on it.

    Big changes can take years or decades. I agree there's this epic frustration out there, but what is the likely response to any actual fix? What is the fix you're talking about? How do you define this broken-ness? Like I do, above, or some other way?

    Do we all agree how government's "broken"?

    I agree it can be better. We should be making it better. But when you look at that project as being stifled, it seems like we could put our energies into using the tools of the imperfect government we have to make some progress. And that means, again, having a common view of the problems and the solutions... at least a common enough view that a majority can be mustered and heard on most points.

    If we're disagreeing with each other, we can't get anywhere - and it simply seems that right now, we aren't agreeing.

    Well, that part of it is one of the messy downsides of democracy, right? It's going to be frustrating. Yeah I too can do w/out the lobbyists. But still.

    So there we have it. We all have our "sides," we all have our points of view. When we lose, there's going to be opposition to the guys that win. I think lately the idea of "opposition" has become unmoored from any interest in the institution of democracy, and it worked for one brief period.

    But you have to have faith: faith that the people will punish congresses that can't get anything done. Faith that the people will vote in their own interests. Ultimately, faith that democracy is in fact a workable way of governance.

    ... why? Because democracy was never sold as the most efficient way to do this. It's supposed to be the most fair way to do it. It's supposed to be the right way.

    Am I up for a more democratic democracy? As you see above, hell yes. Am I in favor of trying to work with the democracy we have, until such time as it can be better? Also yes.

    PFnV
     
  5. PatsFanInVa

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    I think we just agreed on something. Granted I did a lot more woolgathering in the process, but what can I say.

    PFnV
     
  6. IcyPatriot

    IcyPatriot ------------- PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #24 Jersey


    :eat3: .............
     
  7. Nikolai

    Nikolai Football Atheist PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #54 Jersey

    I'm kind of signing on to this point of view.

    It's been a while since I've read it, but I encourage people to check out "Bowling Alone" by Robert B. Putnam. It turns this whole thing into a bit of a sociological argument, but I think that's a valid direction to take any analysis about why a liberalized republican government is malfunctioning.
     
  8. Ilikehappyppl

    Ilikehappyppl 2nd Team Getting Their First Start

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    Pretty much this, its our fault we elect these douchbags and its our fault we let them lie too us. We elect people cause we like whay they say rather then supporting them cause they tell us the truth.

    We reward the ones that lie and we don't vote for the ones that tell us the truth. Only ones to blame for our mess is us!

    The other problem is, we have a large amount of people that don't know there ass from a hole in the ground and are sheep to the slaughter, they pull the rest of us down because of their ignorance.That's kind of the problem with letting the majority rule.
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2011
  9. mcgraw_wv

    mcgraw_wv In the Starting Line-Up

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    This may sound like a tired Tea Party talking point, but the government is simply too large to make change.

    Presidents don' t even know the amount of departments they are in control of, they can't make change becuase even small changes take monumental changes and effect thousands of people and their money.

    The government is so big, that the top person can't make a change.

    Compared to the first 20 presidents. Those presidents came in and could change the direction of our country for better or worse. Now it matters not what the President wants, nothing happens, everything sloggs along the same path... We can't change paths, we can't enact change, we can't stop this train no matter how far in advance we see the bridge is out.

    There are too many people who have invested too much in this version of government that making a change to that, is un-accetable. Even though it is know the current path will lead to destruction, the idea is to grab as much as possible now, and deal with that environment when they get there, atleast they will be at the top if things go bad. They could make a change, push for change, but it's easier to simply keep the gravy train rolling towards that cavern.
     
  10. Ilikehappyppl

    Ilikehappyppl 2nd Team Getting Their First Start

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    I was having a conversation the other day with my Mom, we where talking about SS and how it was in trouble.

    Let's say you put your money in the Bank, let's say they CEO running the Bank is an idiot and spends all your hard earned money, now is it the system's fault or is it the CEO's fault?

    The system works! The people running it don't! You can blame the government being too big, that's not the problem! The problem is the people running it! You can't blame SS or other programs cause they are not working, because they would work and do work if ran right! Its like the GOP talking about cutting SS, we would not have a problem if the GOP and Dem's would not spend agianst SS!!!!!! Agian the system works, the people running it don't!


    What happens when we cut everything and our government is still insolvent and is still having trouble? Sooner or later we have too look in the mirror......Stop blaming the car cause you forgot to put oil in it.....
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2011
  11. IcyPatriot

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    #24 Jersey


    Sheesh ... a slam dunk of post ... nice one ... :cool::cool::cool:
     
  12. PatsFanInVa

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    My long-***** post above is, by and large, in agreement w/you - with the caveat that we're not always supposed to agree, and when we do, we're not always supposed to get it right.

    The way democracy differs is that it's fair, not that it's efficient.

    On the particular point of social security, we're looking at 2037 for insolvency. Currently (before the 1/3 cut, supposedly for 1 year, in the FICA tax), "insolvency" would mean getting 75% or so of the promised benefit, if nothing is done to fix the program.

    SS is a great example of your "people are bad" theory. It is now slightly more screwed than ever before, because cutting the FICA tax is a "stimulative" measure, right now.

    But we better put that FICA tax back where it was, or those bills come due much earlier. Will it happen? Children like candy. We act like children. This tax cut is the candy. We'll cry and whine if it goes away, just like any other "temporary" tax cut.

    It's way less odious than the "temporary" Bush cuts that have been going for 10 years now.

    But watch the flurry of idiots reciting their "any tax is evil and bad" catechism in response to this post.

    This is what kills me. There are unpleasant things we have to do, no doubt about, no argument about it. Watch the amount of heated debate over such ideas here. No wonder "the government is broken."

    The pres. did a good one the other night - he said "hey, let's close the loopholes, and then reduce our corporate tax rates." The GOP heard "reduce the corporate tax rate, and slobbered like pavlov's dogs when they hear the bell.

    But 2/3 of America's corporations -- weighted toward the largest and best-heeled ones -- pay no corporate taxes in the first place.

    Hence his prioritization of the loophole-closing over the tax rate itself. Smaht.

    I just don't know that as a people we'll vote for sane programs with enough consistency not to fall behind vis a vis other economies/governments. We'll see.

    PFnV
     
  13. Titus Pullo

    Titus Pullo Banned

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    Are you quoting Michael Steele? ;)
     
  14. Ilikehappyppl

    Ilikehappyppl 2nd Team Getting Their First Start

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    Great Post, could not agree more. I went and read what you posted earlier and your right on the money.:rocker:
     
  15. PatsFanInVa

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    LOLOL

    Yeah, you know, from "War and Peace". The second volume I think, "The Empire Strikes Back."

    I actually saw Steele on Maddow the other night... you would think it would be a crappy combination, but he was actually very, very personable. His politics are still nonsensical, but I was amazed he was not the brain-dead buffoon he became in the GOP chair role. Probably because any gaffing was okay, now that he's Citizen Steele.

    Tale of 2 Steeles, if you will.
     
  16. IcyPatriot

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    #24 Jersey

    this is a great opinion piece regarding Obama's speech. which let's face it ... is pretty much the problem with every Presidential speech ... more rah rah than substance and problem solving.

    This is why we are broke ... we really don't want to hear hard solutions.

    President Obama's "Sputnik Moment" Turns Into Throwing Spaghetti on the Wall | BuzzFlash.org

    Stockholders ... Americans?.... don't care about real American solutions do they?
    That great big sucking sound redux.
    who builds infrastructure? Union workers do ... don't piss them off.
    Military people don't really care about American soil problems ... do they?
    The article then goes on to criticize Obama ... which is kind of shallow ... because if it was Hillary, or McCain, or Romney ... the speech would have been similar ... has it ever been different?

    Presidential speeches are like homecoming pep rally's from the high school days. pep rally's never discuss the real probabilities of winning the game either.
     
  17. The Brandon Five

    The Brandon Five Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract

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    #75 Jersey

    It's easy to think that Western liberal democracy is the natural evolution of human society...hence our complacency.
     
  18. PatsFanInVa

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    “America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between.” -- Oscar Wilde
     
  19. DarrylS

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    IMO it is fractured more than broken.. currently in NOLA for some disaster training, and observing the world going by.

    Decadence is alive and well, and folks are still trying to sell their sisters on the sidewalk. People are still queued up at the favorite restaurants.. so as bad as the economy is, people are spending and some are puking in the alleys.

    An interesting conversation had while getting some air during this training, ran into a guy who just got in from an oil rig in Indonesia.. he works one month on and one month off.. he was a tad grouchy as he had to spend the weekend with his second wife and daughter at a cheerleading competition.. anyways he was telling me that even though the moratorium has been lifted there is no new drilling for oil in the gulf.. and most of the floating deepwater platforms have been floated down to Brazil.

    And I thought that drilling was going on..

    OTOH had some oysters and fresh shrimp from the gulf so guess there is some recovery.. who knows the long term effect.

    Getting back to the subject at hand, government is fractured.. and have to wonder with the easy access to the news and the advent of the blogosphere we are just seeing more.. none of this is new. Since the Civil Rights act government have gotten more polarized and perhaps this is the culmination of about 40 years of contentious politics made more evident by social media.

    The succession presidents since LBJ have just made it more and more polarized.. whether it be Nixon, Carter, Reagan, Bush 1, Clinton, Bush 2 or Obama all of these in their own way have helped with the current injury.

    Will it change, probably not, but lots of people play with a fracture and do not miss a beat.. this is a time of tremendous political upheaval and suspect that it will probably remain the same for a while and then some equilibrium will set in.. but then someone will pull some idiotic shenanigans and we will ask the question again.

    The whole issue of social media cannot be downplayed, and have to wonder if whoever masters this method will be our most favorite politicians of the future...
     
  20. PatsFanInVa

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    Lots of interesting observations here, will stick with 1 or 2 I have something to say about... especially your last one, was just thinking about this...

    Side-note on this one... I'm thinking the devil is in the details...

    I think drilling is going on, but more to the point, production was never suspended... so if he only drills new wells, his part of the industry was affected by the moratorium, and I have no idea what the lead-time is prior to him getting into the act -- you have to figure that pipeline, no pun intended, would be backed up before his work picks back up.

    We have at the moment a democratization of ideas.

    This sounds good. In a way, it is. Anybody should, after all, be able to be heard.

    However, there used to be "gatekeepers": real editors, fact checkers, and the like. This pertained for every species of available media. Real news organizations lived and died on the reliability of their information. Gossip was gossip, and if something traveled through the airwaves, for the most part, it was real news. Whether you complain of a corporate or a liberal bias, prior to cable (for example,) there was a "center" to what was considered legitimate news coverage.

    The dispersal of news across the cable landscape, and the migration of "news" into entertainment, were the beginning, but only a harbinger of the age we're in now. Even news as entertainment is packaged and pushed.

    Consider what we've been seeing lately in Iran and now Algeria and Egypt: flash mob as revolution, and -- this is important -- by leaderless movements.

    These movements replicate in the real world the structure of the social networks they use to communicate. As if to gild the lily, it's thought that the movement in Egypt reached a tipping point due to... wait for it... wikileaks.

    So we have democratization of information, democratization of discussion of that information, and democratization/decentralization of action based on that (and other) information.

    Similarly, the U.S. is itself in a populist mode, once again displaying "throw the bums out" behavior, but without a successor ideology, and without a thought-out program of action based on the acquisition of power.

    The difficulty is not for the democratization of discourse, which we consider a good, but for anti-elitist ideological reasons.

    The difficulty is that the quality of discourse decreases as it is democratized.

    Electronic media seem tailor-made for any point of view to be taken to an extreme. In Iran or Egypt, this may be a good thing. In the U.S., is it?

    Caveat - there are no doubt defenders of the Egyptian or Iranian status quos who do not think this is a good thing.

    I am a defender of an American status quo -- that is, electoral politics, an independent judiciary, the rule of law, that sort of thing.

    Social networks are ultimately anarchic, and their fruits, thus far, appear to recapitulate that anarchic tendency.

    When each person's opinion is weighted equally, that's a fair hearing of opinion. When what each person says is accorded a roughly equivalent chance of being factually accurate, we have lost a very significant value that the "gatekeepers" can bring us.

    Naturally, the "gatekeepers" can be accused of bringing us badly chosen and edited information. I would counter that you need to base your consumption of "real" news on its fact content, to create a market for fact-based journalism. The wild success of news-as-entertainment, together with the abysmal performance (by comparison) of the real news, is a good indicator of the amount of patience we have with this approach.

    I don't know where we go next, and whether it is good or bad. Freud said America is an experiment... a failed experiment. Personally, I don't think that is the case. I think the experiment continues.... in good times, I think the adventure continues.

    But what's been lost is that we have to inform ourselves -- not rile ourselves up, not argue to defend an ideology, but know the actual facts -- to have the vital conversations on which the future depends.

    The ultimate democratization of information cannot be confused with an ultimate democracy in the evaluation of information, if we wish to live in a world where the best information is the information we use to form our opinions and instruct our actions.

    PFnV
     

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