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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 12-03-2010, 05:54 AM   #76
Jenson71 Jenson71 is offline
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Originally Posted by Taco John View Post
That about sums it up. Discussing democracy in Iran is a waste of time. I mean, sure discuss it. But to despair over it... There are actual real problems affecting your own community, nobody should despair over the social evolution of another culture.
Yeah, I don't think Direckshun means that he is contemplating suicide over it. I think he means that, as per the definition of the term, he is losing hope in the situations.

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An interesting portrait, but hardly accurate. I'm not worried about mediocrity for me. I'm at the summit of my profession right now.
Great. It was just your previous comment about the shackles of the government that led me to believe it was your scapegoat.

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I'd put Bush in jail for breaking laws in the War Crimes Act of 1996, and the doctrine of command responsibility. I'm not sure what that has anything to do with this thread. At the very least, I'd put him in jail for the crimes he admits (authorizing torture). A man with as much blood on his hands as Bush has doesn't get a lot of sympathy from me. Did he jaywalk? Give him the chair!
I don't really trust your knowledge over the extreme legal complexity dealing with war crimes, definitions of torture, jurisdictional issues, the constitutional debate at heart in the Hamdi and Hamdan decisions, the aftermath of those decisions, and the interrelations between the executive and judicial branches in sorting out those matters, along with the reality of what occurred.

But the doctrine of command responsibility as a law? Is that some criminal law under the jurisdiction of the ICC? Are you submitting Bush to the ICC?
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Old 12-03-2010, 05:56 AM   #77
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Originally Posted by Taco John View Post
Great. Now I've got Jensen and Tom ganging up on me. How can I survive the onslaught? Woe! And again, woe!
Save your woe for little Kennedy on the playground.
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Old 12-03-2010, 06:40 AM   #78
Norman Einstein Norman Einstein is offline
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Originally Posted by Taco John View Post
Great. Now I've got Jensen and Tom ganging up on me. How can I survive the onslaught? Woe! And again, woe!
Waco John, a reply to a post isn't ganging up on you. What kind of inferiroity complex is it that you have? "Everybody hates me"? Get over yourself, you are nothing more than anyone else here, other than the fact that it seems you live on a rival team's bulletin board rather than your own.

GTFO
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Old 12-03-2010, 06:41 AM   #79
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Originally Posted by Jenson71 View Post
Save your woe for little Kennedy on the playground.

He has to bitch about something through the night, let him rant all he wants.
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Old 12-03-2010, 06:47 AM   #80
patteeu patteeu is offline
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Originally Posted by Direckshun View Post
Regarding issue #1...

This creates an even greater income gap that is unhealthy for the entire country. It will make accumulating wealth far easier for a small minority and much more difficult for everybody else. That will slow any recovery, and harm the robustness of any economy.
These are assertions not arguments. I don't see any obvious connection between a greater income gap and the speed of recovery or the robustness of an economy.

BTW, a progressive income tax does exactly what you seem to be criticizing here. It makes it harder for poor people to accumulate wealth. Super wealthy people generally don't add to their wealth primarily through earned income but instead through investment. If a wealthy person wants to, they can invest in tax free municipal bonds and avoid paying much income tax at all. Non-wealthy people add to their wealth primarily through income and under a progressive tax system, the more quickly they try to add to that wealth, the larger the percentage of tax they have to pay. Furthermore, to the extent that non-wealthy people have the ability to invest, they are priced out of the market for investments like tax free municipal bonds because the after-tax return on those bonds can't compete with taxable investments unless you're a high income earner. Progressive taxation is a barrier to upward wealth mobility.

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If you're really concerned about so many people under the poverty line, create an economic environment where more people can succeed -- and locking up more savings for the rich does the exact opposite of that.
Again, this isn't at all obvious. In fact, it seems counter-intuitive to me.
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Old 12-03-2010, 06:54 AM   #81
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This isn't a serious reply.

Conservatives oppose defense cuts, because they are concerned about the issue.

Liberals oppose Medicare cuts because they're demagogues.

Right. When you want to get serious, I'll reply.
What I said wasn't really that complicated. I don't know why you had such a hard time understanding it. Liberals demagogue the issue of medicare. That's undeniable. I didn't say that's why they support medicare. That concept doesn't even makes sense.

I'll even give you a hand here and point out that conservatives use demagoguery when it comes to defense. My point was that your initial characterization was bullshit. You suggested that conservatives were against cutting both defense and medicare while liberals were only against cutting medicare. That gives the false impression that conservatives aren't as serious about cutting spending as liberals, which as you know (whether you'll admit it or not) is the opposite of the truth.
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Old 12-03-2010, 07:01 AM   #82
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The choices here aren't "completely ignoring them" and "complete shitfit that arrests our civil liberties by the dozen."

This tension between freedom and order will always be a complicated one, and who am I to say where the pendulum needs to stop. But the extent to which this country goes to sacrifice incredible freedoms to make ourselves marginally more safer (and even less safe in some cases) is evidence of a psychosis in motion.
Yes, that's right. The choice isn't between the two extremes. But if we want to minimize the impact to our civil liberties, we need to continue to be aggressive in our multi-faceted war with these people. If we sit back and play defense, the erosion will continue and move us much closer to that extreme.
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Old 12-03-2010, 07:06 AM   #83
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Save your woe for little Kennedy on the playground.
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Old 12-03-2010, 07:48 AM   #84
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Yeah, I don't think Direckshun means that he is contemplating suicide over it. I think he means that, as per the definition of the term, he is losing hope in the situations.
It pleases me when a lefty begins to realize that it's a waste of time pouring hope into vessels that aren't capable of containing it.
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Old 12-03-2010, 08:12 AM   #85
Direckshun Direckshun is offline
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Originally Posted by Taco John View Post
That about sums it up. Discussing democracy in Iran is a waste of time. I mean, sure discuss it. But to despair over it... There are actual real problems affecting your own community, nobody should despair over the social evolution of another culture.
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It pleases me when a lefty begins to realize that it's a waste of time pouring hope into vessels that aren't capable of containing it.
You guys are going to have to explain to me why it bothers you so much that somebody could care about a people on the other side of the earth.
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Old 12-03-2010, 08:13 AM   #86
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Originally Posted by patteeu View Post
I'll even give you a hand here and point out that conservatives use demagoguery when it comes to defense. My point was that your initial characterization was bullshit. You suggested that conservatives were against cutting both defense and medicare while liberals were only against cutting medicare. That gives the false impression that conservatives aren't as serious about cutting spending as liberals, which as you know (whether you'll admit it or not) is the opposite of the truth.
And there it is. The slow climb to reasonableness.
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Old 12-03-2010, 08:14 AM   #87
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You guys are going to have to explain to me why it bothers you so much that somebody could care about a people on the other side of the earth.
I'm not bothered at all.
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Old 12-03-2010, 08:16 AM   #88
Direckshun Direckshun is offline
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I'm not bothered at all.
So you're pleased that there's diminishing hope for democracy in places where there's a legitimate thirst for it?

Or is this another one of those threads where you have no interest at all. Time will tell if you retreat yet again to that position.
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Old 12-03-2010, 08:18 AM   #89
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Originally Posted by Direckshun View Post
So you're pleased that there's diminishing hope for democracy in places where there's a legitimate thirst for it?

Or is this another one of those threads where you have no interest at all. Time will tell if you retreat yet again to that position.
No, I'm pleased that you're losing hope. I care somewhat about you, because you can help elect well meaning fools that affect my life. I couldn't care less about Iranian democracy.
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Old 12-03-2010, 08:21 AM   #90
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No, I'm pleased that you're losing hope.
That's an incredibly reasonable point of view.

I take it that you believe hope is a negative influence on the human condition, rather than a positive.

Or you believe every person in existence only matters insomuch as they affect your own life personally.
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