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Is The U.S. Government Broken?

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

  1. pherein

    pherein Rookie

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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 Rookie

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    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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    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 ~~~Out of Order~~~ PatsFans.com Supporter

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

    Nikolai Football Atheist PatsFans.com Supporter

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    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

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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

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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

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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

    IcyPatriot ~~~Out of Order~~~ PatsFans.com Supporter

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    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

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    Are you quoting Michael Steele? ;)
  14. Ilikehappyppl

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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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    #87 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

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    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
  21. chicowalker

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    We're back to the revolution days with pamphleteers, putting out pamphlets of varying quality, accuracy and vitrole. Except now anybody can be that pamphlet publisher and pretty much everybody can read it... immediately.
  22. chicowalker

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    I was discussing this with a friend this weekend. Problem for the President, or any politician, is that they can't really win when it comes to speeches and their critics. If a speech is rah rah and/or big picture, they get bashed for a lack of details and substance. If tey get into the details, they're slammed for lack of vision or inspiration.

    If Obama were to really delve into our problems, you know that half the country would be asking why he hates America, criticizing him for a failure to inspire the nation as our leader, etc.


    In fairness, it isn't just shareholders (or CEOs, management, etc.). Consumers bear a lot of blame as well. How many people talk about wanting US manufacturing, and lament the death of "main street" (retail), yet base buying decisions solely, or primarily, on price?

    And, then, in fairness to the consumer, it can be hard to buy American made, either b/c of lack of availability or because there's just no comparison when it comes to price.

    I've been shopping for some stuff for a new place. Wanted something I liked, and preferred to buy US-made and / or from a local independent retailer. Was having a hard time finding stuff that wasn't online, but I did find one item I liked at a local independent. Price: $900. Made in USA.

    Also went to Home Depot. I hate Home Depot, but they ad a lot of what I was looking for, so at least it gave me some sense of the choices and the comfort of having doen my research. Well, the one thing I happen to like is $200. I like the other one more, but as much as I would like to support the US manufacturer, and the local guy, that's a huge price difference. I'm confident there's a quality difference, too, but that's hard to measure. If I were more flush right now, I'd still go with the $900 product. And even now, if it were $500 v $200, I'd do it. But paying 4 1/2 x as much? just can't justify it.

    Oh, and here's the kicker. When I told the same guy last night what I was looking for, and probably buying, he started calling me a fool because I could get them for $50. Which I can -- at home depot, online, etc. -- but they're ugly, poor quality and made abroad. When I pointed this out, his response was "Who cares? it's only $50" When people have that mentality, US manufacturing and the local retailers aren't going to have a chance.
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2011
  23. wistahpatsfan

    wistahpatsfan Rookie

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    You're right. Americans are done with quality, thinking ahead and supporting their neighbors. Our myopic perception of the world begins and ends with themselves more now than any time I can remember. We are insulated from each other, and our scope of the effect of our actions is limited to when something comes into our house and when it leaves in a dumpster or trash can. The "virtual" attitudes we are being sold is false. We tend to have concern about the immediate cost of things and fail to see down the road.

    That narrow view combined with national ADD is destructive and shows up in everything we do. Politics is no different from what we chose for a cereal or toothpaste. It's become part of our consumeristic mindset. We think we want one thing then we change our minds (or have them changed for us) and we can't even remember what was good about our old preferences.
  24. PATSNUTme

    PATSNUTme Paranoid Homer Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #75 Jersey
    The 2 parties are fractured by special interest. It's always been that way but now it's even more so now.

    Until we start electing people who will put country ahead of party, it won't get fixed. We need more than one wave election to do this. And then throw them out if the fail to act in the interest of the country.

    It's going to take a long time. Money is corrupting the politics of the country whether it be groups, unions, businesses or individuals. I really don't know how this can be stopped except for term limits.

    It make help to make all positions, Reps, Senate, and President 4 year terms, 2 terms per person. Reps have to raise money every 2 years so they never stop, A bad Senator keeps his job for 6 years.

    Then we can throw them all out at once with them all running every 4 years. I was against term limits until recently.

    Also, I don't see how we can make much progress until the breakdown of the family is changed. And we keep throwing more an more money at education and it does not get any better. The main reason are the family breakdown and that schools are spending too much time on social problems.
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2011
  25. PatsFanInVa

    PatsFanInVa PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Okay, please nobody spazz, but I'm going to put the phrase "breakdown of the family" in quotes here, because it stands in for so many different and related phenomena:

    - A move from the extended family to the nuclear family as the focal group within which a lot of kids are raised;

    - A move from a multigenerational model (Maybe great-grandparents, grandparents, parents, kids in one home) to a two-generational model (parents/kids);

    - An increase in births out of wedlock & single-parent homes;

    - The rise of the "Brady Bunch" mix/match family, with the normalization of divorce.

    - Oddly enough never mentioned: the greatly extended adolescence in modern liberal democracies, in which middle class kids and up are not expected to be adults until their mid-20s, if then. Here I use the standard definition: responsible enough to support oneself and/or raise a family. This is even true of the poor, when compared with kids a few centuries back, who would do farm work all day every day, get married at 14, make a bunch of new hungry mouths to feed, then lose half of them in childbirth.

    I would argue that all these phenomena that are packed into the phrase "breakdown of the family" are effects, rather than causes.

    America is about liberty. So goes the national ideology. People take that to mean a lot of things. When people declare "I'm buying what I want to buy, screw you and your 'national agenda' on pricing," they're expressing that liberty -- sorry, that's a very "conservative" fact of life, but it's a fact of life. We are a nation founded on rights and liberty -- in this way it makes sense that Kennedy said "Ask not what your country can do for you." HOwever, "Ask what you can do for your country" falls on the altar of Ayn Randian objectivism. "Nut-uh. It costs less," we say. "That's what we fought the Revolution for."

    Now, let's discuss divorce. I assume it's still in the 50% range.

    If there are big sanctions against divorce, you get very unhappy people who could give two shlitzes about your ideological "liberty." As far as they're concerned, they're slaves to a bad marriage, forced in the most intimate way to carry on a sham that neither of them believe in.

    But liberalize divorce laws, and presto, we are now free! Let's throw into that mix that now that women work, they can do exactly like men, and get someone else to care for a kid. In fact, more than likely, they're doing that as part of the marriage, and continue to do that as part of the divorce.

    So who in a bad marriage would stay in that bad marriage? So far I'm describing the middle-class face of it, but that reverberates in the rest of society. We have atomized the family -- made it smaller, less "inter-dependent," more free. And that has effects for the society in other ways.

    The difficulty, however, is that there is a market for both wagearners now, and the downward wage pressure on both has turned that "feminist mantra" of being able to go out & get a job into the every-day necessity for middle class families.

    So there is no longer a little Mrs. who stays at home and raises children and is told "Lucy, I tol' you never come down to the club!" except of course for my missus, because I'd rather preserve my slice of patriarchy than have the extra cash, we don't have minor children running around, and I'm just a neanderthal at heart.

    In our own little world, we're the "point people" for two great-grands in nursing homes. The kids, of course, are out on their own. One batch of kids has our grandkids. We're the grands, I suppose. All the next generation down dealt with the horror of a working mother who was sometimes single, and for the most part, came out okay. In fairness to my funny little hunny, she's pretty dedicated about child-raising, from everything I know... not the "make them by default, feed em and forget em" type.

    Two hundred years ago, there'd be no nursing home and the great grands would be dead. We, the grands, would probably be toward the end of our usefulness, and would be doddering around the agrarian household, or out on the street begging perhaps -- depending on the economic pressures on our kids (the "parent" generation.) They would be much more numerous at birth, and somewhat more numerous at present (we have 3... we would probably have 4 or 5 surviving back then, if not more, and maybe 8 who were born.)

    Each of them would be working on a big brood of their own, and each surviving set of hands would be set to work in childhood to earn their keep.

    Better? Worse? Well, I can definitely say you worked harder and died younger, which has the desireable side-effect of keeping younguns out of trouble, and keeping us old folk from being a drag on resources.

    So all that to say, we can say we need to "reverse the breakdown of the family" all we want, but that means turning back the clock. What will it be? Death panels at 60 (the old lifespan?) A law stating that a married couple must stay married, to fix the fact that we now socially accept divorce? Perhaps the $900 thingamajig that you can get for $50 if you don't mind the quality difference should cost a few hundred bucks more because we're halving the workforce in-house, to keep dad well-paid and mom tending to the younguns. Or maybe dad shouldn't be employed in industry but in agriculture. Maybe our big mistake was the industrial revolution.

    What I'm getting at is that the forces that give us the "breakdown of the family" aren't things like not going to church enough, they're way bigger than that. You don't "reverse" that, you figure out what the best adjustment is.

    As has been demonstrated quite well over the years, tightly knit, large, intergenerational families are not a predictable outcome of the capitalist mode of production; atomization of the family until it is best recognized as a number of individuals, rather, is the natural outcome.

    And that, too, fits in with our overarching American ideal of individualism.

    I agree with the calls here to reevaluate that state of affairs. I doubt, however, that we can get at the atomization of the family with complaints or calls for behavioral change. It is the same with "buy American."

    If you want something for a society, you do need to monkey around with the incentives. A modern industrial or post-industrial society with a market purist ideology will not produce the vanished family that we lament. A society that accepts spheres where money does not matter could bolster such a family unit. That's not a "left" idea, but it's something you have to work at, and it would not turn us all into "The Waltons" overnight.

    We can't turn back the clock, but we can look at the features of the past we most liked and find another way to achieve them.

    PFnV
  26. PATSNUTme

    PATSNUTme Paranoid Homer Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #75 Jersey
    I equate "the breakdown of the family" to the welfare state and to the psyco-babble that prevails in today's society.

    When fathers are free to walk away without supporting their children. When young uneducated mothers have babies and get child support, housing, food stamps and then have another and another.

    Also a child is not brought up to respect authority and bad behavior is now a "special need". My wife has been teaching for 30 years and each group of kids seem to be getting worse. Parent are responsible by being selfish and spoiling their kids. Then they look for excuses, outside their selves, when the kid does not preform well or has behavioral issues.

    Sometimes an episode of South Park hits the mark. The one where the whole class goes to a psychologist and are all called ADD and get put on drugs so they are excused from doing assignments. And the parents say "see it's not our fault", really hit he mark.

    Then when you look at a tows budget, special ed is the biggest item and can not be touched.

    How's that for a rant.
  27. Harry Boy

    Harry Boy Look Up, It's Amazing PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Attention Tea Partys

    Fix America

    HAVE A RIOT
  28. Mrs.PatsFanInVa

    Mrs.PatsFanInVa PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    That might make sense - if it were true.

    But it is not.

    Fathers are far less "free" to walk away now then they ever were in any time of history. A generation ago a single unwed mother did not have to give the name of her child's father to the welfare office in order to collect benefits. Now, it is a condition of even being considered for benefits. The only way she can not give the name of the father is if she can prove, through the court system, that he is a danger to her or her child. If she does not provide his name so that the state can go after him for child support reimbursement, she will not get welfare benefits for her child.

    Courts routinely attach a non-custodial parents check right from the get-go. They don't wait for him to fall behind in his child support payments, they aggressively figure out what percentage of his wages are appropriate for child support and they ordered it taken it from his check before he gets it.

    http://www.publiccounsel.org/tools/...rents-to-Welfare-and-Health-Care-Programs.pdf

    It's also been proven that the small amount of additional benefits a family receives for subsequent children has no bearing on the number of children they have or continue to have when on public aid.

    Welfare mothers actually have less of an economic incentive to have children than nonwelfare mothers. Studies have not been able to find a correlation between family size and the size of welfare benefits. Welfare families are virtually the same size as nonwelfare families; indeed, both have been declining over the decades. The New Jersey "family cap" experiment, which denies extra benefits to mothers who have more children, appears to have no effect on the welfare birthrate.

    Many conservatives criticize welfare because it increases benefits when a mother has another child. This, they argue, is an economic incentive to have more children, an ill-considered policy which inflates the rolls of our welfare programs. As columnist Ellen Goodman wrote: "A family that works does not get a raise for having a child. Why then should a family that doesn't work?"

    Unfortunately, this argument is incorrect. Working families do receive "financial incentives" to have more children, and far larger ones than welfare provides. A working family receives a $2,450 tax deduction per child, and can claim up to $2,400 in tax credits to offset the costs of child care. By comparison, a welfare mother can only expect about $90 per month in increased AFDC payments for another child.



    The size of welfare payments also have little or no bearing on the number of children a family has.

    Just one of these studies' findings is that states with higher benefits do not see higher birthrates among its welfare mothers. According to a 1992 study by Child Trends Inc., the five states with the highest birth rates among 18- and 19-year-old women -- Arizona, Arkansas, Mississippi, Nevada and New Mexico -- all have AFDC benefits below the national median. The four states with the lowest birth rates among 18- and 19-year-old women -- Massachusetts, New Hampshire, North Dakota and Vermont -- all have AFDC benefits above the national median.

    Welfare gives mothers an economic incentive to have more children
  29. DarrylS

    DarrylS PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    While there are some who babble about violence being the answer as they overlook the Northern Atlantic in front of their fireplaces.. they are obviously unaware that despite being insulated in their enclave, their life will change dramatically and more importantly their childrens lives will probably be negatively impacted.

    My initial point is that this has been going on for a while, and when we realized that the government was nothing more than a bunch of self serving liars people began to wake up. In the 50's and preceding that period, there was an inordinate amount of trust in the government. Then came the Viet Nam War, Women's Liberation Movement and Civil Rights Movement all of which converged into a very powerful movement that did effect some change.

    The civil rights act realigned the Democratic Party, the Viet Nam war fractured this nation.. the Women's Lib had more of an economic impact on our nation. But since LBJ the relationship with the white house has always been contentious.. Nixon(nuff said he got caught), Ford, Carter, Reagan(the biggest blowhard of all), Bush 1, Clinton, Bush 2 and Obama.

    Social media has had the the greatest impact, the medium has become the message for the news... no matter what is done there is instant news, instant feedback and most significantly instant polarization. If this had been in place since LBJ most of the presidents since would have been looked at quite differently, more would have faced impeachment proceedings.

    Is it broken?, no. Are there significant problems, yes and the one who figures out how to use this new social media will be the winner. Consider Sarah Palin, would she have existed 25 years ago?.. no, she would have been considered a looser and her voice would not be heard very much. Now because of the way information is conveyed she gains an instant audience, instant face time and provides instant conversation. It is about branding and face time.
  30. pherein

    pherein Rookie

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    I have gone over most of the responses, and the general consensus is its broken. Some say family values, some say corporate greed, but most seem to agree, there is a significant problem . One problem, it seems, is not that "America is broken",.. it is that they are more worried about the wording of it,... "Broken" seems to harsh a word.

    So, with the knowledge that the banks, lobbyist, cooperation's, and independently wealthy actually own our policy, so own law, and by de-facto own what freedom looks like . How do you change that? Or is it even possible anymore? Are we just kidding ourselves by even trying ? or do we even care anymore?

    Being a native N.O., we have been put threw hell at times. I don't think I have ever lived in a city that was destroyed 2x were fully willing to wait for the next storm and rebuild. But none of us will touch this topic. Id have to say most in LA are more inclined to continue the spiral and do nothing, because we have our own lives, and don't want to be involved. Maybe we are mad.
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2011

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