Left vs. Right?

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guenther
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Left vs. Right?

Postby guenther » Tue Feb 24, 2009 6:08 am UTC

I've been kicking around the idea for a while that the whole Left vs. Right debate isn't the right way to solve the problems. The polarization that gets created seems to cause more problems than it helps. I've had this pet theory that once people get divided into "Us" and "Them", we get such great cognitive biases that it's hard to shake.

My thesis is that there's useful information on both the Right and Left, but we lose the ability to see the situation rationally when we're so mired in the team game mentality. The most common example of this sort of problem that I see is the so called "Actor-observer bias" where any mess up by "Them" and it proves they're bad, but anything wrong with "Us" is situational. I hear it all the time, and it's frustrating.

Anyway, I just have a jumble of thoughts now that I'd like to straighten out. I think there's some fundamental problem with how we view the situation that limits our ability to see a better solution. My best guess at a solution is that we need a paradigm shift (Does anyone have a good analogy where a paradigm shift solved two competing views?). But I don't know exactly what the new view is. Basically I think I see a problem, but I can't understand it well enough to solve. Or I'm just full of shit. :)

I don't know how politically diverse this forum is, but I'd love voices on both the Right and Left. I like to think of myself as in the middle, but I probably lean more to the Left. (Reducing everything down to a one dimensional characterization is probably a problem in and of itself.)

Thanks!
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Re: Left vs. Right?

Postby guenther » Tue Feb 24, 2009 6:36 am UTC

One solution I've thought about for a while is changing the voting system. (See the other thread I started.) But it doesn't seem to practical to actually implement.

If you have thoughts on the effectiveness of range voting, please post on the other thread. But feel free to discuss here if you think changing the voting system would help solve the problem I discuss above.
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Re: Left vs. Right?

Postby Clumpy » Tue Feb 24, 2009 7:52 am UTC

I think you're right, guenther. Ironically, the fact that most people don't understand what the parties stand for means that the problem may be partially self-correcting. I don't think that the Sean Hannity-type mindset you described necessarily has a hold on a large portion of Americans, though probably still enough to be alarming.

Still, I don't think two schools of thought are necessarily a bad thing, though the line between different issues is somewhat arbitrary. Unfortunately, much of the current problem comes from the fact that Washington's representatives are more polarized than the electorate and primarily deal with special interests and other highly political people, also more polarized than the electorate.

What if we redesigned districts to reduce the number of "comfortable" districts (meaning districts in which one party has a clear, easy lead from election to election) and to assure a larger number of close districts? That would force politicians to be specific and clear with their campaign promises and create more incentives both for citizens to be involved in the political process and for candidates to be more moderate to attract a greater number of constituents. That would increase the ability of citizens to vote either party based on their conscience and reduce corporate influence on elections. Does that sound like a workable idea to anybody?

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Re: Left vs. Right?

Postby Whimsical Eloquence » Tue Feb 24, 2009 4:02 pm UTC

I don't think there is allways an inherent evil in using labels for political belief; however, I think the danger comes from strawmanning (fun new verb, kids!) groups and also in the flawed, anachronistic, simplified and down right awkward Left-Right divide of the French Reveloutionary House. Instead I think the double-axis Cartesian Geometry system presented here (http://www.politicalcompass.org/) has potential and allows voters to assess and match their own beliefs to a party that really mirrors thier views. I mean for instance, people (even not the cooks yelling "Socialist") generally think Barrack Obama is non-conservative and he is in the wraped and slanted American judgement of poltical idealologies (social democracy = Socialism = Communisim); but by any European standerd he is fairly a mild conservative in his actual policys.

I think we should allways keep open minds about things and foucus (however much it may sound like a self-help mantra) upon areas of agreement instead of those of difference. By talking to those groups who we often all imagine to be the walking strawmen of their stereotypes, we can often find unexpected areas of agreement or at least, such has been my experiance.
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Re: Left vs. Right?

Postby Indon » Tue Feb 24, 2009 4:56 pm UTC

Agreed, technocracy is where it's at*. We should evaluate each issue scientifically, with only objectives/end results selected democratically by the people on an issue-by-issue basis.

"Do you believe in global warming?" is a bad question. It's not framed scientifically.
"Are you willing to combat climate change at personal cost to yourself?" is a good question. It's framed scientifically. Voters should answer this and the government should use this data to make policy decisions.

"Do you believe women should be allowed to get abortions?" is a bad question. It caters to policy customized by those ignorant of policy.
"Do you believe that medical autonomy is a right?" is a good question. It allows for logically consistent policy to be influenced by public opinion.


*-Not to be confused with The Technocracy, which is where it's invented before it gets to be anywhere.
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Re: Left vs. Right?

Postby Clumpy » Tue Feb 24, 2009 8:36 pm UTC

Indon wrote:"Do you believe women should be allowed to get abortions?" is a bad question. It caters to policy customized by those ignorant of policy.
"Do you believe that medical autonomy is a right?" is a good question. It allows for logically consistent policy to be influenced by public opinion.


We should avoid questions that make assumptions about the terms of an issue. "Do you believe that medical autonomy is a right?" is far too general to be used in regards to abortion because all Americans do not consider the issue to be a purely medical one. (Even from a logical standpoint, there is another individual involved at some level of development.)

Much better questions show the real opinions of Americans behind a debate - for example, a general question about abortion will result in predominately negative answers, though most Americans are essentially pro-choice with qualifications. For example, most Americans support abortion rights in the event of rape or incest, as well as if the woman's life is in severe danger from the continuation of the pregnancy. Most Americans do not support abortion for financial or personal reasons. Thus Americans are pretty moderate in their beliefs about abortion but asking a single, wide-reaching question may result in false data or create the impression of a massive divide that would result in bad political maneuvering.

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Re: Left vs. Right?

Postby Indon » Tue Feb 24, 2009 8:43 pm UTC

Clumpy wrote:We should avoid questions that make assumptions about the terms of an issue. "Do you believe that medical autonomy is a right?" is far too general to be used in regards to abortion because all Americans do not consider the issue to be a purely medical one. (Even from a logical standpoint, there is another individual involved at some level of development.)

My point was that Americans don't get to decide the abortion issue democratically - abortions are legal because of an unrelated issue, and their opinions of the issue are irrelevant - so why even ask?

Public opinion on some issues are irrelevant. Trying to rabble-rouse an issue like abortion, or segregation, or any other issue that was decided by a court, is pointless unless you're trying to make a constitutional amendment.
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Re: Left vs. Right?

Postby Clumpy » Tue Feb 24, 2009 9:47 pm UTC

Indon wrote:
Clumpy wrote:We should avoid questions that make assumptions about the terms of an issue. "Do you believe that medical autonomy is a right?" is far too general to be used in regards to abortion because all Americans do not consider the issue to be a purely medical one. (Even from a logical standpoint, there is another individual involved at some level of development.)

My point was that Americans don't get to decide the abortion issue democratically - abortions are legal because of an unrelated issue, and their opinions of the issue are irrelevant - so why even ask?

Public opinion on some issues are irrelevant. Trying to rabble-rouse an issue like abortion, or segregation, or any other issue that was decided by a court, is pointless unless you're trying to make a constitutional amendment.


Then why ask a question at all, especially if it's a bad question? Either abortion is a matter of human rights (well, "fetus" rights) or a right guaranteed automatically by the ninth amendment. Whichever side of the issue takes precedence will depend on one's opinions of whether or not a fetus at some varying stage of development has the same rights as a person after their birth. Modern precedent indicates that the Supreme Court has the authority to make that decision, and the citizens essentially decide which interpretation will be encoded into law by electing presidents who will elect Supreme Court judges who subscribe to one interpretation or another.

Only a few are so extreme as to want to overthrow Roe v. Wade or, conversely, to allow partial-birth abortion, yet it's still a very real debate, and something that isn't so black-and-white as to be an automatic decision.

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Re: Left vs. Right?

Postby Garm » Tue Feb 24, 2009 10:52 pm UTC

I think more than a few people want to undermine Roe V. Wade. It's kind of a problem.

George Lakoff just posted an article at Daily Kos and 538. I think it's got some good insight into this issue. Here's what I think are the money paragraphs:

Conservatives tend to think in terms of direct causation. The overwhelming moral value of individual, not social, responsibility requires that causation be local and direct. For each individual to be entirely responsible for the consequences of his or her actions, those actions must be the direct causes of those consequences. If systemic causation is real, then the most fundamental of conservative moral—and economic—values is fallacious.

Global ecology and global economics are prime examples of systemic causation. Global warming is fundamentally a system phenomenon. That is why the very idea threatens conservative thinking. And the global economic collapse is also systemic in nature. That is at the heart of the death of the conservative principle of the laissez-faire free market, where individual short-term self-interest was supposed to be natural, moral, and the best for everybody. The reality of systemic causation has left conservatism without any real ideas to address global warming and the global economic crisis.


I think that the conservative movement has of late become one primarily concerned with campaigning and rather disinterested in ruling. They aren't forwarding many ideas and those that they do are pretty bad (like the uber tax break stimulus that Minority Whip Eric Cantor was pushing earlier this year). In terms of whether right or left is a good way to describe the policies that are espoused by either party... I think that it's a bad thing. Polarization feeds upon itself. The more "left this" and "right that" talk that we get the worse it becomes. Unfortunately the paradigm is so entrenched it'll take something magnificent to break free.
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Re: Left vs. Right?

Postby Vaniver » Tue Feb 24, 2009 11:15 pm UTC

Garm wrote:They aren't forwarding many ideas and those that they do are pretty bad
The problem isn't that they aren't forwarding many ideas- the problem is that they're mostly forwarding the same ideas. They are conservative, after all.

The problem with statements like Lakoff's is that they're oversimplifications (and, in several places, wrong)- conservatism* never said that individual short-term self-interest was the best motivator by itself. Conservatism says, "If individual short-term self-interest is the basic human motivator, how should we arrange incentives to produce the best society?"

Conservatism focuses on engineering systems, while liberalism focuses on engineering results. The liberal might think, "I want 12% of college students to be African American"- and decide to make it so with a decree. The conservative might think, "I want the students to who attend college to be the best applicants"- and decide to remove race from applications (and possibly names, replacing them with social security numbers), to minimize racial bias. The effects of the conservative plan are easy to see- though it might be difficult to predict the short-term outcome. The short-term effects of the liberal plan are easy to see- but the long-term ones are insidiously invisible.**

Conservatism does have several real ideas to address global warming- both 'cap and trade' and pollutant taxes have come from economists,** and both promise to be methods that might actually reach carbon reduction goals. Conservatism also gives a healthy dose of skepticism when it comes to projections of climate change- there is a lot of this science that still needs to be figured out, and a lot of bad data floating around that needs to be replaced with good data.

*I should specify, "my particular brand of sane conservatism." The term is necessarily vague, and so I'm going to cut out the lunatic fringes and muddled middle to focus on the philosophically sound part of the core.
**It aggravates me more than a little that the current financial crisis is the fault of the "free market," when the tentacles of the government were probably the cause of it. It's the Great Depression all over again- and if you know your history, you know that the Federal Reserve took a moderate recession and turned it into the Great Depression by doing its job the exact wrong way.
***You might raise the valid point that the economists in question could be bleeding heart liberals- but I'd respond that what matters here is the philosophical underpinning. Both cap and trade and taxes use self-interest to modify behavior and the market to allocate resources, rather than mandating behavior.
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Re: Left vs. Right?

Postby LaserGuy » Tue Feb 24, 2009 11:34 pm UTC

Garm wrote:George Lakoff just posted an article at Daily Kos and 538. I think it's got some good insight into this issue. Here's what I think are the money paragraphs:

Conservatives tend to think in terms of direct causation. The overwhelming moral value of individual, not social, responsibility requires that causation be local and direct. For each individual to be entirely responsible for the consequences of his or her actions, those actions must be the direct causes of those consequences. If systemic causation is real, then the most fundamental of conservative moral—and economic—values is fallacious.

Global ecology and global economics are prime examples of systemic causation. Global warming is fundamentally a system phenomenon. That is why the very idea threatens conservative thinking. And the global economic collapse is also systemic in nature. That is at the heart of the death of the conservative principle of the laissez-faire free market, where individual short-term self-interest was supposed to be natural, moral, and the best for everybody. The reality of systemic causation has left conservatism without any real ideas to address global warming and the global economic crisis.


At the risk of dragging this thread too far of topic, I think more the problem is that, at least in the States, the Republicans haven't acted conservatively at all for decades, economically speaking. Their policies are almost exclusively social conservative, but only economically conservative (eg. small government, low taxes, free markets), when it aligns with their social agenda. That's why we didn't see any real difference on the economic front after the Democrats got control of the House in '06--the policy differences between the parties are essentially superficial.

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Re: Left vs. Right?

Postby Garm » Wed Feb 25, 2009 2:45 am UTC

Vaniver, I'm going to go ahead and say that for the most part I agree with you and my disagreements are not germane to the discussion at hand. I think we've reached the nub of the problem in that the terms left and right, liberal and conservative are such wide brushes that they don't respect the difference of opinion within those groups. There is no way to pay respect for the various schools of thought that make up the different sides of our political debate. I'm sure we can all agree that there are more than two sides in this debate yet we only have these two ideas.

I think there are two things that make Lakoff correct in this particular instance. First, the Republican rhetoric of the past 30 years or so has lent itself to these small, personalized, almost moralistic solutions. Second, the Republican party is currently being run by a bunch of obstructionist loonies.
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Re: Left vs. Right?

Postby guenther » Wed Feb 25, 2009 5:46 am UTC

Wow, a lot of responses! So much information. :) Thanks!

I think you guys are on the right track of what my question was about. Basically I'm wondering what the current dysfunction is. Why don't we have a system where cooler heads prevail and we can reason through most issues?

My favorite piece of wisdom from you guys was that people should look for common ground first. This is what I try to do personally, and when I find disagreement with someone, it makes the divide less intense. But just telling people that over and over doesn't seem to do any good. We could have a socialist society and just tell people over and over to stop being lazy and depending on the government, but we know that doesn't work. Capitalism is great because it recognizes a truth about human nature.

Along those lines, I love the idea of a technocracy, since I'm an engineer. :) But again it doesn't seem like it's human nature (going off personal experience). The technical guys are much less good at marketing themselves, which is what you need in the game of politics. Plus we really want good charismatic leaders; they have such potential to unite people.

I find the debate about what the fundamental differences between the Left and Right are fascinating, but that's not exactly what I want to discuss here.

Still, my pet theory is the "Us and Them" game brought about by the two party system. When a side focuses on winning, they lose the ability to focus on doing what's best for the country. Also we lose rationality. That's why I like the idea of changing the voting system to open the door to third-party candidates. When you take away the significance of your team winning, the debate has to be about the issues then. Or so I imagine. :)

Someone mentioned hyper partisan politicians, and that might be the problem too. I haven't thought much about it, but it sounds reasonable.

My thought is that if we could reduce the polarity, we could make more progress. I'm looking for practical ways of doing that. I have to admit that changing the voting system is unlikely. Maybe there's easier ways. Or perhaps this is like saying "If only we could eliminate people's greed...", but we're not built that way.

P.S. Let me give you an idea of where I'm coming from with this stuff. I'm probably slightly liberal (I lined up with Ghandi on that political compass), but I listen to conservative talk radio all the time. In particular I like Dennis Prager; he does a great job of making a reasonable case for conservative values. But so often I hear him use arguments that basically reduce to "Since my position is reasonable, their position must not be" or "Since their position is unreasonable, my position must be". In the bigger picture, I keep hearing these political talking heads talk past each other and they never seem to make progress. Some of them have a vested interest in that (it boosts ratings to get the base riled up). But I'm not so cynical to think that all of them are just out for money and ratings. They believe what they're saying. If both sides are convinced the other side is wrong, there has to be something wrong with the arguments. Sorting that out has bugged me enough to post here. :)
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Re: Left vs. Right?

Postby JPA » Wed Feb 25, 2009 4:12 pm UTC

There is no major differences between Left and Right policies in modern American politics and is a great example of a false dichotomy. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_dichotomy

They are two sides to the same coin, both leading down a path towards more control over the population. They may do it for well intentioned reasons ("the greater good!") but ultimately they want control, which limits freedom. There is strong bipartisan support on any issue of government power (PATRIOT Act, military spending, bailouts, spending, borrowing, foreign intervention, economic intervention, etc). They only differ on social issues or which special interest gets the money/privilege.

There has not been a decrease in the expansion of the power of the state in the last 100 years, nor has it even been slowed. I fear it increase in power will only accelerate in the coming years.

Also, some posts suggest that there is only one optimal solution or policy to given problems (and that solution can be scientifically evaluated). One optimal solution is not possible because people do not have a uniform set of values, circumstances, or conditions. If you told a father a starving family that his quality of life will go down because we need to combat global warming (an outcome of many proposed solutions to global warming), he would probably punch you in the face. However, if you told the same thing to a family that was well off, he might be supportive because his family is fine now but he worries about the world for his children and grandchildren.

Lastly, to have a proper scientific analysis of policy, you need to experiment to prove theories. You need a control and an experiment(s) groups. This was the original intent of the founding of the USA (United States of America, not United Provinces of America). A minimal set of laws and policy that govern us all, and the rest left to the states so we could have difference in policy and laws. This system was a "natural selection" for governance. Since people are free to move from one state to another, people could have more choice in how they were governed. "Good" policy would thrive, while "bad" policy would wither over the long term. Sadly this system is being dismantled by the rise in central government scope and power.

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Re: Left vs. Right?

Postby guenther » Wed Feb 25, 2009 5:14 pm UTC

JPA wrote:There is no major differences between Left and Right policies in modern American politics and is a great example of a false dichotomy.

They are two sides to the same coin, both leading down a path towards more control over the population. They may do it for well intentioned reasons ("the greater good!") but ultimately they want control, which limits freedom. There is strong bipartisan support on any issue of government power (PATRIOT Act, military spending, bailouts, spending, borrowing, foreign intervention, economic intervention, etc). They only differ on social issues or which special interest gets the money/privilege.

There has not been a decrease in the expansion of the power of the state in the last 100 years, nor has it even been slowed. I fear it increase in power will only accelerate in the coming years.

I think you're describing a systemic problem in our system. I agree with you that it's a problem. I'm looking for how to fix it. I think there's some very reasonable people on the Left and Right that advocate very reasonable but very different ideas. I want those ideas to come to the surface so we can debate and decide what we want. But something in the system keeps muddying the issues debate.

Also, some posts suggest that there is only one optimal solution or policy to given problems (and that solution can be scientifically evaluated). One optimal solution is not possible because people do not have a uniform set of values, circumstances, or conditions. If you told a father a starving family that his quality of life will go down because we need to combat global warming (an outcome of many proposed solutions to global warming), he would probably punch you in the face. However, if you told the same thing to a family that was well off, he might be supportive because his family is fine now but he worries about the world for his children and grandchildren.

Optimal doesn't mean everyone's happy. If you want optimality, you have to define what "optimal" means. If optimal meant "maximum average happiness", then some people could suffer if overall most people were happy.

Now that's kind of a silly example and wouldn't be practical at all. I think we should try to make things better not optimal. And this is where science fits in. We need to really understand what "better" is and what metrics we use to measure it. And we need to understand it at the big picture level and try to plan for unexpected consequences. And we need to understand that my "better" is sometimes different than your "better" and how do we resolve which one we go with. Sometimes majority should rule, but not for all cases.

Lastly, to have a proper scientific analysis of policy, you need to experiment to prove theories. You need a control and an experiment(s) groups. This was the original intent of the founding of the USA (United States of America, not United Provinces of America). A minimal set of laws and policy that govern us all, and the rest left to the states so we could have difference in policy and laws. This system was a "natural selection" for governance. Since people are free to move from one state to another, people could have more choice in how they were governed. "Good" policy would thrive, while "bad" policy would wither over the long term. Sadly this system is being dismantled by the rise in central government scope and power.

So the big question is "What's the solution?" :) I agree that you've put your finger on the problem, but what's wrong with our system to cause this?
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Re: Left vs. Right?

Postby Vaniver » Wed Feb 25, 2009 5:20 pm UTC

guenther wrote:We need to really understand what "better" is and what metrics we use to measure it. And we need to understand it at the big picture level and try to plan for unexpected consequences. And we need to understand that my "better" is sometimes different than your "better" and how do we resolve which one we go with. Sometimes majority should rule, but not for all cases.
The thing is, I think people already understand their own metrics, and that the disparity between metrics is significant. The whole nature of political interests is that they're things that person is interested in- and naturally interests conflict. Joe wants women to be able to abort fetuses; Jane wants to save unborn children. Maria wants to pay less in taxes; Omar wants more taxes to fund more programs.

There's no way to measure someone's happiness or what makes up that happiness, and preference surveys include significant problems.
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Re: Left vs. Right?

Postby guenther » Wed Feb 25, 2009 5:33 pm UTC

Vaniver wrote:The thing is, I think people already understand their own metrics, and that the disparity between metrics is significant. The whole nature of political interests is that they're things that person is interested in- and naturally interests conflict. Joe wants women to be able to abort fetuses; Jane wants to save unborn children. Maria wants to pay less in taxes; Omar wants more taxes to fund more programs.

There's no way to measure someone's happiness or what makes up that happiness, and preference surveys include significant problems.

So what do we do? Are you happy with the way things are? (I've probably made this thread US-centric, but I don't know where you are.) I see problems. People all the time are complaining about problems. We can't make everyone happy, but can we do better than we're doing?
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Re: Left vs. Right?

Postby JPA » Wed Feb 25, 2009 5:47 pm UTC

Possible solutions include:

- a more informed, educated citizen. We no longer teach civics in schools. We no longer talk about citizens responsibility of maintaining a republic. Very few of us are have an informed, neutral education on policy issues. My friends think I completely made up the idea of jury nullification (that a jury can set a man free because they decided the law was unjust) and it's not possible in America. They can't comprehend the fact that a jury of peers is more powerful than the Congress or Supreme Court according to the constitution.

- a shift in opinion that that freedom works. The concepts of spontaneous organization and the non aggression principle are not well understood or adopted. People believe you need top down control to get anything complex done. People don't believe that tens of thousands of workers in hundreds of companies from a dozen countries can form the supply chain of pencil making and organize themselves to produce pencils efficiently to supply the demand of the world.

- a constitution that has teeth in when a government oversteps it's charter. The constitution clearly states the government scope of the federal government is (with all other powers reserved by the states and the people). It does not have any penalties if that scope is breached. Imagine if any politician who wrote or cosponsored a bill was thrown out of office if the bill was later deemed unconstitutional. You would have a lot less support for the PATRIOT Act, etc.

- a wider understanding that society can solve many of its ills without the use of force. the public sector can only has two powers the private sector does not; the power to tax, the power to jail people. These powers must be used judiciously, because they can destroy wealth and freedom. Yet people look to the government to solve societies ills, when the private sector is equally equipped. Drug addiction, bad parenting, greed, employment, job creation are not problems you can fix by taxing people or putting them in jail. So why do we look to politicians to solve these problems when they have shown very little progress?

- less concentration of wealth and power. Those with wealth and power use the force of government to protect their wealth and power. The decked is stacked with rules, regulations, and subsidies. And I'm not just talking about the poor or the middle class: Walmart was denied its application to be a retail bank in the US with no clear reason given. Walmart could have competed strongly in this space, bringing prices down and quality of service up. On the other hand, Goldman Sachs (an investment bank) was made a retail bank in less than 24 hours by that very same committee (presumably so the could borrow from the Fed window and get bailed out from the TARP fund). This is why I believe a progressive wealth tax is the best tax system for the near term.

- as already mentioned, a change in the electoral process to break the duopoly parties. (In Soviet Russia, you could vote for anyone in 1 party. In America, we have it so much better where we can vote for 1 of 2 parties). I am not sure how well this will work, because people who run for office crave power and influence. And they will want more power and influence. It is a rare individual who can run for office and resist lure of power.

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Re: Left vs. Right?

Postby Zamfir » Thu Feb 26, 2009 11:44 am UTC

JPA, I don't see the point of the pencil stuff. I can't imagine there are many people who believe that pencils are made by artisans who cut their own wood. My guess is that people think that pencils are made by Chinese factories who buy their wood from other people. And even if they did, what does it have to do with politics? Pencil making is hardly some strategic industry.

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Re: Left vs. Right?

Postby TheStranger » Thu Feb 26, 2009 12:49 pm UTC

Some interesting ideas here...

JPA wrote:- a constitution that has teeth in when a government oversteps it's charter. The constitution clearly states the government scope of the federal government is (with all other powers reserved by the states and the people). It does not have any penalties if that scope is breached. Imagine if any politician who wrote or cosponsored a bill was thrown out of office if the bill was later deemed unconstitutional. You would have a lot less support for the PATRIOT Act, etc.


You do know that a bill can be declared unconstitutional at any time? That a shift in the supreme court can make something that was once seen as constitutional as unconstitutional. It very much sounds like a weapon that a party in power can use to target their opponents. I'm not to keen on the idea of punishing politicians for passing bills that are later found to be unconstitutional... let them get voted out.

- less concentration of wealth and power. Those with wealth and power use the force of government to protect their wealth and power. The decked is stacked with rules, regulations, and subsidies. And I'm not just talking about the poor or the middle class: Walmart was denied its application to be a retail bank in the US with no clear reason given. Walmart could have competed strongly in this space, bringing prices down and quality of service up. On the other hand, Goldman Sachs (an investment bank) was made a retail bank in less than 24 hours by that very same committee (presumably so the could borrow from the Fed window and get bailed out from the TARP fund). This is why I believe a progressive wealth tax is the best tax system for the near term.


Isn't Walmart an 'evil corporation'? Many people have problems with it, and the idea of it's expansion into banking was loudly bemoaned with it was first brought up.

- as already mentioned, a change in the electoral process to break the duopoly parties. (In Soviet Russia, you could vote for anyone in 1 party. In America, we have it so much better where we can vote for 1 of 2 parties). I am not sure how well this will work, because people who run for office crave power and influence. And they will want more power and influence. It is a rare individual who can run for office and resist lure of power.


I've seen ideas like this brought up a few times... and while there are two major parties in the US comparing it to the USSR (or some other dictatorship) is not really a valid comparison. The reason why those two parties are so large is that most people vote for their candidates... not because it is illegal to do otherwise.
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Re: Left vs. Right?

Postby Velict » Thu Feb 26, 2009 2:51 pm UTC

JPA wrote:Possible solutions include:

- a more informed, educated citizen. We no longer teach civics in schools. We no longer talk about citizens responsibility of maintaining a republic. Very few of us are have an informed, neutral education on policy issues. My friends think I completely made up the idea of jury nullification (that a jury can set a man free because they decided the law was unjust) and it's not possible in America. They can't comprehend the fact that a jury of peers is more powerful than the Congress or Supreme Court according to the constitution.


I don't know what school you went to, but as a current high school student in Colorado, I most definitely am required to take civics in school. It's not merely available or taught - it's straight up required. Moreover, there are readily available classes like AP American Government and Politics that offer an in-depth level of education on the topic.

On your second point, that of an uninformed electorate, there is only so much that can be done to assist this. While our society as a whole does need to place a greater emphasis on education, some people will always be uneducated, ignorant, or just downright stupid.

- a constitution that has teeth in when a government oversteps it's charter. The constitution clearly states the government scope of the federal government is (with all other powers reserved by the states and the people). It does not have any penalties if that scope is breached. Imagine if any politician who wrote or cosponsored a bill was thrown out of office if the bill was later deemed unconstitutional. You would have a lot less support for the PATRIOT Act, etc.


Our Constitution does not, by design, clearly state the scale of federal government. If you read the document, Congress is given a wide range of non-specific powers, including "[making] all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers" and "[regulating] Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States". Furthermore, if Congress oversteps its authority, we have an institution known as the Supreme Court that can declare laws unconstitutional and nullify them. For a recent example, see U.S. v. Lopez(1995).

- a wider understanding that society can solve many of its ills without the use of force. the public sector can only has two powers the private sector does not; the power to tax, the power to jail people. These powers must be used judiciously, because they can destroy wealth and freedom. Yet people look to the government to solve societies ills, when the private sector is equally equipped. Drug addiction, bad parenting, greed, employment, job creation are not problems you can fix by taxing people or putting them in jail. So why do we look to politicians to solve these problems when they have shown very little progress?


The private sector is not quite equally equipped in all matters. In actuality, the ability to tax is precisely why government is better equipped to deal with social issues like health care, social security, assistance to the poor, and the like. Due to the uneven distribution of wealth among citizens in any nation, the government's ability to tax (mostly from the wealthy) and provide service programs (mostly for the poor) far outstrips the desire, if not the ability, of the private sector to do the same. While I do agree that the private sector is almost exclusively superior to the government when it comes to beneficial programs, it is absolutely necessary to recognize the unique advantages provided to the public sector in such matters.

- less concentration of wealth and power. Those with wealth and power use the force of government to protect their wealth and power. The decked is stacked with rules, regulations, and subsidies. And I'm not just talking about the poor or the middle class: Walmart was denied its application to be a retail bank in the US with no clear reason given. Walmart could have competed strongly in this space, bringing prices down and quality of service up. On the other hand, Goldman Sachs (an investment bank) was made a retail bank in less than 24 hours by that very same committee (presumably so the could borrow from the Fed window and get bailed out from the TARP fund). This is why I believe a progressive wealth tax is the best tax system for the near term.


I have a difficult time seeing the juxtaposition of these two sentences as anything other than a non-sequitur.

- as already mentioned, a change in the electoral process to break the duopoly parties. (In Soviet Russia, you could vote for anyone in 1 party. In America, we have it so much better where we can vote for 1 of 2 parties). I am not sure how well this will work, because people who run for office crave power and influence. And they will want more power and influence. It is a rare individual who can run for office and resist lure of power.


Essentially, the only way to do this would be to amend the Constitution. This would, of course, be extremely difficult, as the American public does not currently support doing so. I support the shift to a proportional representation system, but I'm not sure there's any realistic chance to enact it. Once an electoral system is firmly entrenched, like our SMD system is, it's extremely difficult to remove it. Look at our electoral college system, which is far more moronic than SMD, but still remains part of our political system despite every single politically-knowledgeable American knowing that it's a terrible idea.

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Re: Left vs. Right?

Postby JPA » Thu Feb 26, 2009 5:59 pm UTC

The Stranger,
The political leaning of the SC take decades to swing. A political party is not going to set a trap to catch a senator 30 years from now. This is just one idea on how to enforce breach of contract between the people and the government they give their consent to be governed by. I am open to other ideas on how to handle breach of contract. I also don't put as much faith in the supreme court (being part of the government, hand selected by members of the government) as everyone else does. I would think any close ruling should be national referendum. Or maybe have have a special court just for constitutional matters made up of arbitrators from the private sector. Do you think the Military Commissions Act or TARP Bailout would have passed a national referendum?

No Walmart is not evil, as long as they are not using force, fraud, or threat of violence to create their profits. Certainly Walmart has done evil things, no argument there. But ultimately, they have improved the quality of life for the poorest part of America by delivering the necessities of life to the people for lower prices.

I think the 2 party system is a byproduct of the voting system more than anything. As long people believe there are only 2 viable choices, they will only vote for the options. Polls have shown that most voters are unhappy with their choices, and I remember reading a study showing how 2 party systems converge on policy issues, not giving voters meaningful choices.

Zamfir,
The pencil is a mundane object that everyone uses that is created by a very complex system. Wood, tin, rubber from different countries/companies, graphite refined in a different, from many different suppliers, manufactured, distributed by another, then sold at retail by yet another company. If an average person looked at the complexity in logistics to deliver a pencil from raw materials to product shelf, they would assume some group must be coordinating all of this activity; some sort of centralized command and control. In fact, the market with it's profit/loss signals organizes itself much better at delivering goods without shortages or excess than a centrally planned economy.
Wisdom of crowds, or distributed/decentralized decision making, organic synchronization are all similar concepts to markets that you can read more about. Most people don't understand the concept or the power of these systems, and believe you need a strong central government to tackle large complex issues (or put a man on the moon).

Velict,
http://www.usconstitution.net/const.html#Article1
I missed the section that granted them the power to bailout specific companies of their whim, listen to our conversations, invade countries without a deceleration of war, override state laws, debase the currency with fiat money (oops there was an terrible amendment that gave them that power), and countless other breaches of contract?
Looking at the evidence, it is clear that the Supreme Court is not sufficient to restrain the growth of government power over our lives.

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Re: Left vs. Right?

Postby Indon » Thu Feb 26, 2009 10:43 pm UTC

Vaniver wrote:The thing is, I think people already understand their own metrics, and that the disparity between metrics is significant. The whole nature of political interests is that they're things that person is interested in- and naturally interests conflict. Joe wants women to be able to abort pweshis widdle baybees; Jane wants to save unborn children. Maria wants to pay less in taxes; Omar wants more taxes to fund more programs.

There's no way to measure someone's happiness or what makes up that happiness, and preference surveys include significant problems.


A fair point, and a difficult problem.

I wonder, however, if a more scenario-oriented approach could work to solve the problem of preferences.

After all, an ideal technocracy would care nothing for methods used, and would instead attempt to select optimal methods to reach a specific result, which strikes me as more measurable than other forms of preferences anyway.
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Re: Left vs. Right?

Postby zug » Fri Feb 27, 2009 12:37 am UTC

guenther wrote:That's why I like the idea of changing the voting system to open the door to third-party candidates. When you take away the significance of your team winning, the debate has to be about the issues then. Or so I imagine. :)

Unfortunately, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duverger%27s_law states that a three-party system isn't possible in a plurality voting system. From the article:

"A third party can only enter the arena if it can exploit the mistakes of a pre-existing major party, ultimately at that party's expense. For example, the political chaos in the United States immediately preceding the Civil War allowed the Republican Party to replace the Whig Party as the progressive half of the American political landscape. Loosely united on a platform of country-wide economic reform and federally funded industrialization, the decentralized Whig leadership failed to take a decisive stance on the slavery issue, effectively splitting the party along the Mason-Dixon Line. Southern rural planters, initially lured by the prospect of federal infrastructure and schools, quickly aligned themselves with the pro-slavery Democrats, while urban laborers and professionals in the northern states, threatened by the sudden shift in political and economic power and losing faith in the failing Whig candidates, flocked to the increasingly vocal anti-slavery Republican Party."

Really the only chance to expand beyond 2 parties (according to political science) would be to drastically amend the US political structure from a plurality system into proportional representation.
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Re: Left vs. Right?

Postby guenther » Sun Mar 01, 2009 4:14 pm UTC

zug wrote:Really the only chance to expand beyond 2 parties (according to political science) would be to drastically amend the US political structure from a plurality system into proportional representation.

In another thread, we discuss range voting and proportional representation. I'm a big fan of changing the voting system. Practically it seems unlikely to happen, but if I'm going to advocate it, I want to discuss it with others to make sure it will have the effect I want.
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Re: Left vs. Right?

Postby Comic JK » Mon Mar 02, 2009 2:57 am UTC

JPA wrote: I missed the section that granted them the power to bailout specific companies of their whim, listen to our conversations, invade countries without a deceleration of war, override state laws, debase the currency with fiat money (oops there was an terrible amendment that gave them that power), and countless other breaches of contract?

You missed the elasticity clause? In that case, you missed a lot.
You missed the Civil War. The federal government has to be able to override state laws, or there is no federal government--each state will simply use the laws it prefers.
You missed modern economics. The most ardent free-market proponents today also believe in a free market between currencies, using fiat money. Indexing the money supply to the supply of a particular commodity is ridiculous, even if that commodity happens to be hard and shiny.

The elasticity clause has to be balanced by the tenth amendment, which says basically the opposite--that all powers not stated are reserved to the states and the people. But you can't pretend that one exists and the other doesn't. That's why we have elections, legislators, and judges to choose between them, striking down things that directly contradict the constitution (like illegal searches and wars) and using their judgment in cases where the constitution is not clearly, if at all, violated (like fiat currency and bailouts).

If it weren't for the elasticity clause, we wouldn't have the states west of the Mississippi (the constitution makes no mention of the executive branch being able to purchase land), anti-poverty programs (no mention of redistributing money), or environmental protection (no mention of regulating companies). So let's not enumerate what the Constitution doesn't say, and keep the discussion on what it does.
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Re: Left vs. Right?

Postby JPA » Mon Mar 02, 2009 5:33 am UTC

The federal government has to be able to override state laws, or there is no federal government--each state will simply use the laws it prefers. :
Sounds like you don't like the concepts of self governance or secession? 2 concepts this country was founded on. Federal law only supersedes state law when it comes to what is in the constitution.

You missed modern economics.

You missed the history of money. All fiat systems have ended in hyperinflation, none lasting more than 200 years. That silly commodity system has lasted 5,000 years and is still stable. The only thing more ridiculous than indexing the money supply to the supply of commodity is indexing it to the supply of the promise of debt. At least the commodity represents wealth and savings. Increasing the money supply every time someone takes on a loan is incredibly unstable to the money supply, and is the reason we had such a such large money contraction last year. And debt is neither fungible or liquid in times of stress (which we will see when the world moves off the dollar reserve standard), two primary attributes in definition of money

Actually, the original constitution banned fiat money: Section 10 "No State shall... emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts". The authors just witnessed first hand the problems with the continental dollar.

And plenty of free market proponents advocate sound money (also called Representative money http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Representative_money). Hayek, Mises, more recently Bernard Lietaer. Investors like Jim Rodgers is also sound money advocate.

If it weren't for the elasticity clause, we wouldn't have the states west of the Mississippi (the constitution makes no mention of the executive branch being able to purchase land)

Incorrect. Land is purchased with a treaty. Article II, Section 2. He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur;
anti-poverty programs (no mention of redistributing money)

Very correct. There is no authority given to the federal government for this. This is a power best left to the people or the state. Charity given by free will works better than a federal tax and welfare system. And safety nets (or none!) can be established just fine at the state levels, giving people free choice in what type of system they want to live in.

or environmental protection (no mention of regulating companies).

environmental protection is a matter of enforcing property rights. If you pollute my land, air, or water, you owe me due compensation. Your federal government has sided of polluters on this issue... then passed a few marginal unconstitutional regulations in face of public pressure. Yet the nation is still getting more polluted, and government will be happy to grab more power to "combat" it. War on Pollution! Just as effective as the War on Terror and Drugs.


The Necessary and Proper clause refers only to the powers granted. That is what authors intended, even the pro-central government Federalists stated that.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Necessary_ ... per_Clause
It is well understood that has been abused or ignored in US history. Don't distort it's meaning by redefining it "elasticity clause". The constitution is a contract between the people and its government. It is not some words on paper that can be stretched "elastically".

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Re: Left vs. Right?

Postby bratwurst » Mon Mar 02, 2009 6:29 am UTC

JPA wrote:- as already mentioned, a change in the electoral process to break the duopoly parties. (In Soviet Russia, you could vote for anyone in 1 party. In America, we have it so much better where we can vote for 1 of 2 parties). I am not sure how well this will work, because people who run for office crave power and influence. And they will want more power and influence. It is a rare individual who can run for office and resist lure of power.


I'm Canadian. The fundamentals of our electoral system work, more or less, in the same way as yours (at least for when you're electing Congress and the Senate; obviously we have no equivalent to presidential elections). And yet we have 4 parties that are consistently elected to government, with the possibility that that could become 5 within a few years. It is not your electoral process that produces a duopoly - it is your people.

JPA wrote:You missed the history of money. All fiat systems have ended in hyperinflation, none lasting more than 200 years. That silly commodity system has lasted 5,000 years and is still stable. The only thing more ridiculous than indexing the money supply to the supply of commodity is indexing it to the supply of the promise of debt. At least the commodity represents wealth and savings. Increasing the money supply every time someone takes on a loan is incredibly unstable to the money supply, and is the reason we had such a such large money contraction last year. And debt is neither fungible or liquid in times of stress (which we will see when the world moves off the dollar reserve standard), two primary attributes in definition of money


We have a hard enough time in the digital era indexing the supply of money to bills, and you want to move it back to gold or the like? Additionally, debt does represent wealth: after all, the debt has to be owed to someone, so clearly that value does exist. Lastly, people have been predicting the world moving off the dollar standard for decades, and it hasn't happened yet. Who's to say it will this time?

Actually, the original constitution banned fiat money: Section 10 "No State shall... emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts". The authors just witnessed first hand the problems with the continental dollar.


So far as I can tell, that says nothing about the Federal Government. Additionally, that's not a ban on fiat money: that's a ban on money that is not physically made out of gold or silver. (Edit: Read it carefully, to make sure. And no, saying "it shouldn't be taken literally" is quite insufficient; a law that cannot be taken literally is no law at all.) Simply backing the currency with objects of equal "intrinsic value" (which strikes me as a highly questionable idea to begin with) was apparently insufficient for the framers of your constitution.

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Re: Left vs. Right?

Postby JPA » Mon Mar 02, 2009 9:44 am UTC

you don't need to carry around gold (or oil) to be on a commodity based monetary system. You deal in a receipt (digital or paper) of that commodity. You can still have floating exchanges of foreign currencies, as well as exit out to the backing commodity if you prefer.

Debt is not wealth. It is the promise of wealth, but that promise can and does get broken from time to time. And when that happens, that "quasi wealth" of debt simply vanishes overnight. If I hold a receipt of deposit of oil (or gold, etc), my wealth can not simply vanish like it with fractional reserve / fiat money. A promise of future payment/tax revenue from a person/corp/city/state/nation can and will sometimes default. These spikes of high default rates / deposits being taken out cause huge contractions in the money supply, further compounding the economic problems that originated the defaults. Fiat money is inherently unstable, and act as a negative feedback loop to economic turbulence.

The world moved to the fiat dollar reserve in 1972 (bretton woods II). So it has not be decades of predictions. The system will last as long people put up with coming inflation. The prudent Canadian banks that stayed out of this economic crisis are going to loose a lot of real wealth if they continue to hold US dollars during 5 - 10% inflation years. China is already feeling the pain of holding US dollars and Tbills, while also keeping their yuan low to sustain there exports. The middle east already wants to trade oil in something other than US dollars. There is a tipping point, who knows where that point is, but when it tips, the world will move fast because no one will want to be the last one holding US dollars reserves.

Section 10 actually only bans paying legal debts, not what people use as currency. Basically, it prevents the states from creating Federal Reserve of New York that would issue currency that could be accepted as payment of debt in a court of law.

The original constitution stated the federal power of money was: To coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin, and fix the standard of weights and measures. This was superseded by the federal reserve amendment.

Bringing it back to left vs. right, there is no debate between the political factions on a) monetary policy (both agree inflation is good and inflation is the cure to our economic problems) b) banking policy (federal reserve, extremely low reserve requirements, etc).
And to prevent further offtracking this thread, I won't reply on monetary issues. If you wish to continue a discussion, I will of course reply to a thread anyone creates on the topic.

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Re: Left vs. Right?

Postby Whimsical Eloquence » Mon Mar 02, 2009 6:42 pm UTC

JPA wrote:
The federal government has to be able to override state laws, or there is no federal government--each state will simply use the laws it prefers. :
Sounds like you don't like the concepts of self governance or secession? 2 concepts this country was founded on. Federal law only supersedes state law when it comes to what is in the constitution.


This is somthing that allways amuses me about America; 'tis not really suprising the country was born in hypocrisy and lives in it to this day. The United States Secceeded from Britain due to, as you, say so called "self-determination". Yet when the South wishes to do the same (indeed they used your own words secceed) there's war. Dose the Union ever offer the Southern States the option of referenda to decide upon their secession like they wished from Britain, hardly.

I share a distaste for the whole notion of States in America; while not opposed to localised goverment exactly, I do object to the idea that I can step and inch, crossing a state line, and suddenly my fundemental rights (like being able to marry whomever I wish) are altered despite my citizenship exisitng in both these places.

The notions of Federations from a non-American persspective are ones I like well enough however in that there are merits to local goverment. However I don't have the same ardent aversion to centralisation and the "long, hand of the democrat goverment that'll turn us into commies".

To those that have begun picking apart the founding principles of the U.S.A., the simple truth is that the rebels were more buisness concerned Europeans who wanted Laissez-Faire economic territory to fiddle around and exploited the sentiments and fears of others to get it (the hopeful and idealistic revoloutionary and the pig farmer who thinks the British will snatch his land). The issue with Fiat currency and the like isn't as simple as "carrying paper to represent gold" and is also a product of the times.

During the 18th centuary a notourious Burst and Bubble occured in France due to the introduction of paper money, the contriving of a false stockmarket and economy and the desire by the French Regent, the Duke of Orléans to clear debt that was masterminded by the halpless, if partially brillant, John Law. The whole buisness had made France and Paper Money the laughing stock of the world and had made some economic-luddites afriad of the whole notion.

Also, as is in today though in a different fashion, money dosn't represent anything as such. Today this is due to Fractional-Reserve banking where paper money is the new gold representing only a fraction of the money in existance. Back in the 1700s this was gold and paper and indeed spawned the modern system, proto-bankers caught on to the notion of issuing more credit notes in loans and withdrawls then money they had in reality and making the difference back of intrest, however after plethoras of scandals when bank runs occured people became wary of this system.
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Re: Left vs. Right?

Postby Azrael » Mon Mar 02, 2009 7:41 pm UTC

Let's be sure to continue this discussion in a topical fashion.

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Re: Left vs. Right?

Postby Comic JK » Mon Mar 02, 2009 10:30 pm UTC

It is rather amusing that a thread against the Left-Right, Us vs Them debate turned into...a Left-Right, Us vs. Them debate, specifically about the proper role of government. A great topic, for another thread.
we lose the ability to see the situation rationally when we're so mired in the team game mentality

So is it possible to end this duality, and do what's right for the country on some empirical basis? I doubt it. One can find evidence for almost any position, no matter how ludicrous (in the interest of civility, I'll refrain from giving examples from this thread). What we can do is watch out for party-think and party-speak, and make an honest effort to accept the good ideas of the "other team" when they come. Once a good idea, like a nationalized military*, is adopted by both sides, two-party rancor ceases to be a problem.

*(By which I mean an army controlled by the state, as opposed to rich men hiring their own mercenaries as was popular in Medieval and Renaissance Europe. It's the kind of thing which could plausibly be the subject of left-right debate, but thankfully never is.)
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Re: Left vs. Right?

Postby guenther » Tue Mar 03, 2009 7:18 am UTC

Thanks for the help steering us back to my topic. :) (Though the other is interesting as well.)

Comic JK wrote:So is it possible to end this duality, and do what's right for the country on some empirical basis? I doubt it. One can find evidence for almost any position, no matter how ludicrous (in the interest of civility, I'll refrain from giving examples from this thread). What we can do is watch out for party-think and party-speak, and make an honest effort to accept the good ideas of the "other team" when they come. Once a good idea, like a nationalized military*, is adopted by both sides, two-party rancor ceases to be a problem.

At the individual level, we can always come up with ways to be better (and I think it's wonderful to do so). But at the macro level where we have to consider lots and lots of people, some problems are systemic, and no amount of self-motivation will work.

Take people living under communism where everyone makes the same wage no matter how hard they work or how often. Some might wonder why these people are lazy; they never produce as much as those in capitalistic societies. And any individual there could come to understand the greater good for producing more without any extra pay and become less "lazy". But at the group level, it's a systemic problem. We're not built that way. We are designed to be efficient. If we can get the same reward for less work, we'll do it. And if we have incentives to work harder, we'll do it.

In the same way, I think we're built to be divisive. I think our social nature works both ways. It causes us to band together to become stronger, but it also causes "Us" to look down upon "Them". We rationalize the behavior of "Us" and persecute the behavior of "Them". It creates a very strong irrational bias. I think it's what makes us so loyal to family while at the same time allows us to dehumanize others so that we can do terrible things. (I'm doing a lot of speculation here. I haven't actually read anything on this subject before.)

So I think the problem is systemic. I would certainly advice any individual to overcome the Us vs. Them bias. But at the macro level, I can't imagine a mass education plan would do any good. I think something in the system should change. My current pet theory is to change the voting system, but I have no evidence that it would actually fix the problems I'm talking about.

Incidentally, for this same reason, I think it's critically important that we have a strong national identity. The Us/Them divide is strong, but if we identify stronger with our nation than with our political ideology, then our political opposite won't become Them and will stay one of Us. Perhaps the answer is in there somewhere. Or perhaps it's somewhere else altogether. :)
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Re: Left vs. Right?

Postby Azrael » Tue Mar 03, 2009 4:36 pm UTC

Be sure to *actually* stay on topic after I ask you to stay on topic, please.

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Re: Left vs. Right?

Postby Minstrel » Tue Mar 03, 2009 4:50 pm UTC

Azrael wrote:Be sure to *actually* stay on topic after I ask you to stay on topic, please.

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Could you please clarify exactly what the topic is then?

I fail to see how my post regarding the consequences of abandoning a party system in favor of directly voting on issues is not very directly related to the subject of abandoning an us vs. them party system and in particular the first few posts on the subject that suggested such a change as a resolution. Given that the OP responded to my post and in fact thanked me for staying on topic seems to me to indicate that I was within the spirit of discussion that he had planned as well.

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Re: Left vs. Right?

Postby guenther » Tue Mar 03, 2009 6:23 pm UTC

Republic vs. Democracy is off topic, but if reasonable people might see pure Democracy as the outcome of what I'm suggesting, then that's marginally on topic. So I responded to be clear that I'm not trying to take us down that road. (To be fair, some of my response was probably off topic.)

To summarize, I'm not looking to overhaul the whole US political system. Simply put, I see a dysfunction, and I'd like to understand what the cause is. Is it systemic? At what level is it systemic? What is the minimum we could change to fix it?

Minstrel: I'm glad you were able to read my post, so hopefully you understand where I'm going with this a little better.
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

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Re: Left vs. Right?

Postby Azrael » Tue Mar 03, 2009 9:00 pm UTC

We don't need two topics on range voting.

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Re: Left vs. Right?

Postby Dhes » Fri Mar 06, 2009 10:08 am UTC

The “Us” vs. “Them” mentality isn’t all bad. I think that it’s a way to moderate people. Even if you're part of group A, not everyone in group A will have the same point of view. By grouping together everyone evens out. You can take this and scale it up where smaller group form bigger group. This is the same as having multiple political parties, you will get a divide of the entire spectrum from left to right, but you always end up with a government the will be slightly left or right of centre. A central government tents to be slower moving than a right or left wing government but for the most part it’s more stable. Looking long term (decades), societies (spectrum) shift to the left. There are socially standards that used to be left wing and are now considered the norm or should be (i.e. eliminating gender/race segregation). You get problems when to much power falls on one side (left or Right).

imho
Left = The group over the individual
If you get to much power on the left over a long time you get situations where people that are not on the left side are outcast (i.e. china or North Korea). Extreme left normally goes full circle and ends up being extreme right. (i.e. China or Nazi Germany)

Right = The individual over the group
If you get to much power on the right you get situations where people’s worth/status/power are based on there economic standing.
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Re: Left vs. Right?

Postby Zamfir » Fri Mar 06, 2009 11:11 am UTC

Dhes wrote:Looking long term (decades), societies (spectrum) shift to the left. There are socially standards that used to be left wing and are now considered the norm or should be (i.e. eliminating gender/race segregation).


On the other hand, supporting the revolution and the overthrow of capitalism used to be very normal positions of the left not that long ago, more seen as hard to achieve than undesirable. If you compare for example the British Labour party even in the 1970s with its current version, it has shifted to the right a very long way. If you compare the economic principles of Kennedy vs Obama, and Eisenhower or Nixon vs Bush, you see a similar shift in the US.

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Re: Left vs. Right?

Postby Dhes » Fri Mar 06, 2009 12:18 pm UTC

Zamfir, you’re correct. The last 2 decades there has been a political shift to the right in foreign policy and economic policy in a lot of western countries. Not just in GB or the US but also most of the other countries in the EU. But I think there’s been a shift to the left when you look at social policy. The US for example has an administration now (and a lot of support by the people) for something as universal health care, something that was still seen as pure communism 15 years ago.
My father, who grow up in the 60s (real left wing politically active hippy) always says “The revolution is eating it's children”, with regards to the political views of mainly the left wing parties.
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