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Old 12-01-2010, 09:27 PM  
Direckshun Direckshun is offline
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Five reasons why I occaionally despair.

Five problems I perceive that I simply don't think we're capable of solving.

1. Ever-continual tax cuts for the rich. I believe in the power of capitalism, and that those who do well and produce much deserve to have more. I have been on both ends of that dynamic and I can appreciate its impact on society as a whole. But the widening gap between the rich and everybody else is incredibly disturbing to me.

During a recession in which the rich did well but the middle class was pounded and poverty expanded, I fail to see why the rich deserve ever-continual tax cuts that are increasingly disproportionate to their share of the economy. The constant fight to keep these people from paying more taxes, and putting their fair share into a system from which they've been fortunate enough to prosper is the ultimate triumph usurping of patriotism.

And unfortunately, the rich will win this fight every time. The taxes they are responsible for will forever slide down and down, leaving either one of two things in its wake: a weakened America that cannot pay its bills, or the emergence of an didactic oligarchy in the wake of an American government that was once capable of providing for those who struggle.

2. State secrets. The Wikileaks experience has taught us a few things over the course of the past few months, and it's this: the contempt those in power (governmentally, financially, and in the media) will forever be the greatest against those who expose state secrets, not against those that utilize secrecy to achieve some disgusting ends.

WikiLeaks has shown us some truly startling things, like live-action combat mistakes, tens of thousands of casualties being hidden from the public, and the corrupt dealings of governments as they interact with one another. But for every fascinating revelation, there are a thousand revelations that are ordinary and boring. Ordinary and boring! Why does the government, in its vast commitment to keep everything behind closed doors, need to keep ordinary, everyday dealings in the shadows?

Interpol has issued a warrant for Julian Assange. It will greatly restrict his movement, and he will likely rot in a jail cell for the rest of his life. And yet another great voice in the fight for government transparency will be neutralized by the vast powers of those who run the world. I fear that in the future, voices like his will be forever harder to hear.

3. Cutting down the deficit and debt. On this very forum, somebody posted a link to an exercise where you could cut down the deficit. It was so easy, and so simple, that it's absolutely shocking we haven't been able to do it already. Until you look at where the cutting needs to take place: defense and Medicare.

Our inability to ever figure out a way to cut down on defense is amazing to me. But even our ability to cut the production of things we never use and don't help us -- like "lazer plane" -- was continuously met with opposition. It took a miracle just to get us that far. There's simply no fighting all the districts across the country that cost us a ton of money in manufacturing and shipping. There's no fighting the vast contractor infestation that is excessive, expensive, and destructive.

Medicare is even more vexing, because while it's conservatives that largely resist the necessary vast cuts needed in defense, both conservatives and liberals resist the necessary vast cuts needed in Medicare. It feels as though there is no way to scale this mountain.

4. Our complete disdain for civil liberties. I think the shocking slide of civil liberties, starting with the eroding right to privacy and finally the slow grind into due process has been particularly disheartening. There has been so much said on the subject at this point, I don't have too much to add. Except that our irrational, excessive fear of terrorism has stretched from self-parody at this point to straight on constitutional erosion.

I do not fear terrorism. I don't fear them attacking me. I don't fear them attacking any of you. I don't fear them attacking New York City. I don't fear them attacking the ones that I love. And I have a hard time imagining anybody else here really does. I mean, really. Terrorists?

And yet we live in a society where the laws continue to reflect the understandable paranoia we felt at the turn of the century. And while the TSA flap was encouraging, I suppose, it was just a speed bump in what will be a continuing rollback of civil rights all in the name of protecting us from the Bad Guy Of The Month.

5. The juntas in Iran and Burma. There are few stories I follow more diligently than the international spread of democracy. But in this day of increasing technology which gives individuals the power of communicating better, and increasing one's knowledge of what the rest of the world possesses, governments also gain sophistication needed to fend off any assaults from their citizens, for good or bad.

In the case of Iran and especially Burma, bad. These are two countries starving for democracy that simply can't get it because those power won't give it up.

In Iran, you have people that have tried revolting against the government in the most democratic way possible: demonstrations and protests that involve Iranians of every walk of life AND BOTH GENDERS, while doing so without guns and weapons, and getting beaten down every time by the entrenched military government and the thugs they hire to terrorize their neighbors.

Burma is an even more hopeless cause, because the junta there will fire live rounds into crowds, imprison anybody that says the slightest thing against the government FOR DECADES, and they purposefully starve their population while shutting down the internet so they can't reach the outside world.

Both of these countries are international hostage situations, pure and simple. International opinion does not budge them. The options for these countries are seemingly hopeless.
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Old 12-01-2010, 10:07 PM   #2
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Despair? Dude, it's only life. It's not like it's something serious.
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Old 12-01-2010, 10:10 PM   #3
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OH NOES! Rich people are keeping more of the money that they make!
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Old 12-01-2010, 10:12 PM   #4
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OH NOES! Rich people are keeping more of the money that they make!
Not to mention the injustice of forcing Iranians to live in a foreign country.
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Old 12-01-2010, 10:53 PM   #5
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I like your post, Direckshun. However, the Wikileaks scramble hasn't really proven surprising (and the founder has been completely irresponsible, in my opinion) and the TSA measures have not really bothered me. I think in Iran there's a significant class difference that is affecting/preventing change. I don't see it as a tiny minority that has been able to control everyone else against their will. On the flip-side, the protesters are a smaller, but certainly growing, section of middle class, Western-accepting fragment of the population. The lower class, the way I've read it (Nasr's Forces of Fortune), are still largely in support of the current regime.
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Old 12-01-2010, 11:00 PM   #6
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I'm more concerned that there's a little girl named Kennedy who is pushing over kids in the pre-school class my son is in than some Junta somewhere. Those fools let themselves be ruled by religion, and get the society that they deserve based on their own social evolution. I need to figure out a way to explain to my son that it's ok to stand up to girls if your friends are being pushed around without giving him lisence to push girls around.

What's to point of crying about civil liberties when you believe that people should be treated differently based on their income level? Once you believe that, why not systematically treat people differently based on their skin color - oh wait, affirmative action.

The crusade to solve everyone else's problem through the power of government force and income redistribution can suck on farts.
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Old 12-01-2010, 11:41 PM   #7
Direckshun Direckshun is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jenson71 View Post
However, the Wikileaks scramble hasn't really proven surprising
Explain.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jenson71 View Post
I think in Iran there's a significant class difference that is affecting/preventing change. I don't see it as a tiny minority that has been able to control everyone else against their will. On the flip-side, the protesters are a smaller, but certainly growing, section of middle class, Western-accepting fragment of the population. The lower class, the way I've read it (Nasr's Forces of Fortune), are still largely in support of the current regime.
That's about right.

In Iran, there is an ACTUAL culture war (rather than the media hyped fake one we have here), and it is largely between those who are more theocratic supporters of Khomeini, and the rest of the country which is looking to get out.

The problem is, nobody really knows the percentages there. Every vote they've held under Doctor Evil has been riddled with voter fraud. My friends I have living there say it's around a third of the country still support him.
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Old 12-01-2010, 11:42 PM   #8
Direckshun Direckshun is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Taco John View Post
I'm more concerned that there's a little girl named Kennedy who is pushing over kids in the pre-school class my son is in than some Junta somewhere.
Well, that's largely because some of us care about striving for better across the entire human race.
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Old 12-01-2010, 11:53 PM   #9
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1. The Rich getting Richer doesn't bother me. I do believe we need to simplify the tax code. I am fine with removing tax breaks as long as there is a corresponding decrease in tax rates. I would like to see an end to the IRS how much money would we save on salaries and benefits eliminating that department? Govt is way too big doing way too much that we should be taking care of our selves. IMHO Defense is priority 1 for the Govt.

2.Wiki Leaks troubles me because somebody is sharing information they should not be sharing. I also find it troubling how this is being battled. See todays attack on Wiki that shut them down. I don't blame the guy for putting out the information I blame the folks giving them the info. The attacks Wiki demonstrates to me how your freedom of speech can be squashed.

3. Cutting the Deficit and spending is very troubling. I did the excercise and had a surplus with something like over 80% spending cuts and less than 20% in tax increases. I find it very troubling that our Govt. is so unwilling to change their spending habits and refuses to reduce the size of Govt. and Govt interventions (healthcare)

4. I am also sick and tired of the errosion of civil liberties and the attacks on our rights. I however do not believe that we have an irrational fear of Terrorist attacks. We have many enemies who would love nothing more than to kill a bunch of americans. We will be attacked again and we must not let our guard down. However I do believe we can be ever vigilant without eroding our civil liberties.

5. I am not sure how we can change this situations in Iran and Burma. Covert operations (assasinations)I suppose but I think we need a break from war. I don't think we can just ignore whats happening for the reason I posted in #4 As much as I wish we could just say its not our concern. It really does concern us.
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Old 12-02-2010, 12:09 AM   #10
Direckshun Direckshun is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2bikemike View Post
The attacks Wiki demonstrates to me how your freedom of speech can be squashed.
Huh?
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Old 12-02-2010, 01:32 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Direckshun View Post
Well, that's largely because some of us care about striving for better across the entire human race.
Oh yes, of course. You believe that stirring up fundamentalists in other countries in behalf of the people you are trying to save equates to striving for better across the entire human race. The father who minds his P's and Q's on the macro level and teaches his kids to co-exist peacefully is nothing compared to the busy-body who thinks bleeding heart rhetoric is the equivalent of bettering the human race.

Liberty isn't something that you spread like an ointment. It's an idea that has to take root culturally, and cannot be attained without a cultural revolution (That doesn't necessarily mean war). Forcing it with foriegn guns does not promote a better world - to the contrary. It promotes empire.

Woe! The empire isn't as strong as it could/should be if it would only tax its people more, and go to war more. Oh, and it should be very open and transparent about it, they should cut the deficit in the process, and protect our civil liberties if they can squeeze that somewhere into the perpetual war state.

If you want to strive for better in the human race in a way that doesn't involve guns and empire, you should pick up a Ron Paul book - I'd suggest Manifesto. Trade is how you peacefully spread ideas. Not government force.
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Old 12-02-2010, 02:28 AM   #12
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I totally agree with #1. I'm sick and tired of hearing how the worst thing you can do is raise taxes in the middle of a recession, and how thats not acceptable for middle class Americans. Thats right its not, but I sure don't have a problem with an Millionares tax increase. There is a major problem when someone making 40 million a yr has the same tax rate as someone making 400k, and yes there is plenty of cuts the Govt. could be making also.
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Old 12-02-2010, 04:11 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Direckshun View Post
Huh?
Pardon the english. I have trouble making large posts with my phone. My point was that Wiki was under some sort of cyber attack yesterday. I don't know but I would suspect it was governmental. If that is the case how easy would it be for our govt. to squash a website from putting out info?
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Old 12-02-2010, 06:22 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by 2bikemike View Post
1. The Rich getting Richer doesn't bother me. I do believe we need to simplify the tax code. I am fine with removing tax breaks as long as there is a corresponding decrease in tax rates. I would like to see an end to the IRS how much money would we save on salaries and benefits eliminating that department? Govt is way too big doing way too much that we should be taking care of our selves. IMHO Defense is priority 1 for the Govt.
.
Kinda wondering how that is possible. I'm may be wrong, but I'm guessing you are advocating a consumption tax(fair tax for the gullible) to replace the progressive tax we currently have.

My question is, say we do scrap a progressive tax and move in a consumption tax, who exactly is going to collect these taxes? The IRS would be my first guess. Sure we could change the name to something else, but it's still going to be the IRS by and large. And how do you address state, local and property taxes?

Consumption tax advocates say that it could be done at 19% for the Govt. The Govt. says that they can't have anything less than 34% to satisfy budget demands. So we have a problem begining with tax rates. Since it will be the Govt. collecting the taxes and not consumption tax advocates, I'm willing to bet the rate will be much closer to 34% rather than 19%. State and local taxes is a whole other boondoggle that would only further increase the rates for both business and individuals. How big the increase, depends on which state you live in. Hope you don't live on either coast.
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Old 12-02-2010, 06:41 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Direckshun View Post

1. Ever-continual tax cuts for the rich.

(snip)

The taxes they are responsible for will forever slide down and down, leaving either one of two things in its wake: a weakened America that cannot pay its bills, or the emergence of an didactic oligarchy in the wake of an American government that was once capable of providing for those who struggle.
Um, if the tax rates have stayed the same for 10 years, and if the top 1% of incomes pay 38% of the taxes, and the top 50% of the incomes pay 97% of the taxes, can you explain how the taxes "they" are responsible for are "forever sliding down and down"?

It sounds more like half of the country is getting a free ride, and even that is not enough.
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