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Argus

What's wrong with the United States?

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9 minutes ago, Argus said:

The issue is shitty government. Why do you - and we - have such shitty government?

 

Because it is the lowest common denominator that is produced by political and economic choices.   We get what we deserve. 

Other alternatives are far worse (see "Venezuela").

 

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As a conservative, I think that there are necessary, mandatory things government needs to pay for. Transportation infrastructure is one of the most important of these since the economy is strongly impacted by it. Such things need to be built and maintained as close to 100% as possible. Idiots who shortchange the maintenance and let things run down are not conservatives. They're venal, self-serving idiots who are only interested in 'keeping taxes down' until the next election.

 

Not necessarily...100% spending would be overkill and inefficient, taking funds from other priorities.   Economics will usually take care of matters when government falls short (e.g. toll roads).    If raising taxes was a cure for all a nation's ills/needs, it would be a far easier sales job.   History teaches that it is not.   

Many conservatives would rather starve the beast rather than feed it.   "Too much spending...yada...yada...yada".

 

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Keeping taxes down is not a conservative belief. It only flows from the conservative believe in small government. But that belief in small government includes efficient government that takes care of the things government NEEDS to take care of.

 

No, it is a belief for many conservatives, who also may not share your views on what constitutes necessary government outlays.

How many conservatives in Canada believe that CBC funding should be $1.5 billion per year ?

 

 

 

Edited by bush_cheney2004

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13 hours ago, bush_cheney2004 said:

Because it is the lowest common denominator that is produced by political and economic choices.   We get what we deserve. 

Other alternatives are far worse (see "Venezuela").

It is hard to see that your current choice of an idiot president is any better than the idiot in Venezuela. Your institutions are simply stronger than theirs in resisting his ignorant attempts at establishing a Trumpcracy. It is clear he has admiration for dictatorships and wishes he were one.

But this necessarily suggests western democracy is a failing system in this day and age. Especially since few people who vote pay enough attention, have enough education, or put enough care into their votes.

13 hours ago, bush_cheney2004 said:

Not necessarily...100% spending would be overkill and inefficient, taking funds from other priorities.   Economics will usually take care of matters when government falls short (e.g. toll roads).    If raising taxes was a cure for all a nation's ills/needs, it would be a far easier sales job.   History teaches that it is not.   

It is always cheaper to maintain something than to let it run down and then have to pay a huge amount to rebuild it. Toll roads are a cop-out for weak government. Roads, highways and bridges are needed by society, therefore society can and must pay for them. And will, even if the payment is by ineffecient 'toll' roads so weasel politicians can pretend they kept taxes down.

13 hours ago, bush_cheney2004 said:

Many conservatives would rather starve the beast rather than feed it.   "Too much spending...yada...yada...yada".

That's because they're weak and stupid. You don't need to starve government. You decide on what government should do, fund it, and then stop doing the rest.

13 hours ago, bush_cheney2004 said:

No, it is a belief for many conservatives, who also may not share your views on what constitutes necessary government outlays.

Necessary government outlays are those which support programs needed for the well-being and protection of society. Eg., infrastructure, military, police, health care, education, safety of food and medicine, etc. These are things which benefit all of society and must be paid for, so if it's cheaper and more efficient for government to pay than for each individual to pay to separate private sector organizations to do, then government should pay.

13 hours ago, bush_cheney2004 said:

How many conservatives in Canada believe that CBC funding should be $1.5 billion per year ?

None that I'm aware of.

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7 minutes ago, Argus said:

It is hard to see that your current choice of an idiot president is any better than the idiot in Venezuela. Your institutions are simply stronger than theirs in resisting his ignorant attempts at establishing a Trumpcracy. It is clear he has admiration for dictatorships and wishes he were one.

 

Trump is just another American president....there have been many before.    FDR admired Mussolini and fascism as a way to get things done....he is one of America's most admired presidents.   Trump was elected to disrupt the status quo and prevent Hillary Clinton from becoming president...anything else is just gravy.   Trump is more popular with polled citizens than other elected leaders in several nations, including Canada.

 

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But this necessarily suggests western democracy is a failing system in this day and age. Especially since few people who vote pay enough attention, have enough education, or put enough care into their votes.

 

Or Western "democracy" is just a victim of its own successes.   When people have choices...they will not always make the right choices.

 

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It is always cheaper to maintain something than to let it run down and then have to pay a huge amount to rebuild it. Toll roads are a cop-out for weak government. Roads, highways and bridges are needed by society, therefore society can and must pay for them. And will, even if the payment is by ineffecient 'toll' roads so weasel politicians can pretend they kept taxes down.

 

Nevertheless, no government or even private concern funds 100% of needed infrastructure projects.   In my country, many bridges are indeed left to ruin and/or are derated to lighter pedestrian and bike traffic.   Old bridges are often of obsolete design and need complete replacement to meet current standards...not just "maintenance".   Road funding is impacted by an excellent feedback loop wherein drivers will be motivated to pay more dedicated construction tax based on deteriorating conditions.

 

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That's because they're weak and stupid. You don't need to starve government. You decide on what government should do, fund it, and then stop doing the rest.

 

There are "weak and stupid" people to be found across the entire political and ideological spectrum.   Doing the "rest" is what the fight is all about...not the ravages of time and wear on roads and bridges, which is largely a non-partisan issue.

 

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Necessary government outlays are those which support programs needed for the well-being and protection of society. Eg., infrastructure, military, police, health care, education, safety of food and medicine, etc. These are things which benefit all of society and must be paid for, so if it's cheaper and more efficient for government to pay than for each individual to pay to separate private sector organizations to do, then government should pay.

 

Nope....many of these things also have private investment that makes up for many shortfalls in government only solutions, especially health care.   Government solutions are often less efficient and ineffective...or both.

 

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What's wrong with the United States?

BC2004 is right that there are a lot of stats still showing America doing well compared to many countries. This is largely a result of the period from about 1945-2001, where the US was consistently #1 in many ways and built out a massive lead, which will take a long time to fully erode. However, over the last 20 years it does seem like US society is on the decline. I think there are several factors:

  • Increasing ideological polarization (people view their political viewpoints as a matter of identity, and disagreeing political viewpoints as indicative of bad moral character)
  • Echo chamber effect (primarily driven by social media), which self-reinforces the above polarization
  • Increasing racial polarization (mostly driven by entities [including US individuals, companies, and foreign governments] who seek to inflame these tensions for their own gains)
  • Political gridlock resulting from the above 3 factors, resulting in an ability to get even relatively uncontentious laws with broad support in the population passed
  • Increasing costs to carry out any significant project resulting from an increasing pile up of regulation and litigation
  • An increasingly large permanent underclass that is more and more disconnected from the productive economy

I think some of the most cost effective things that could be done to address some of these issues are:

  • Re-allocate some of the money that goes to the federal government to go directly to state and local governments instead (using some fair scheme, perhaps based on population). Local  projects can then be debated and funded in a less contentious environment. This will reduce the extent to which local governments are reliant on property taxes, which causes massive disparity between neighborhoods based on property value. There's no reason state and local governments should be constantly trying to lobby the federal government for contributions to specific individual local infrastructure projects, instead, they should have direct access to a reasonable amount of money for this purpose. 
  • Review the curricula in the public and private education systems and add a significant emphasis on financial literacy, critical thinking, and the ability to independently fact check information. These are all extremely important in the modern world but not taught in school. It will help with reducing the permanent underclass as well as making people able to properly assess information whose sole purpose is to inflame tensions. 
  • Create a system where online information (including in social media) can be rated for its veracity in a pervasive way. Any random viral news story that shows up in a facebook feed (for example) should have an indicator beside it showing how truthful the information and headline is, according to a consensus of independent and informed entities whose incentives are aligned properly to prioritize truthfulness over spin or sensationalism. This will aid in reducing the echo chamber effect and ideological polarization. Care must be taken to avoid any such system being a propaganda arm of the government, it would have to be setup in a very careful way to ensure independence, balance across a variety of informed viewpoints, and credibility. 
  • Emphasize the opportunities available in "blue collar" jobs in the "trades". Many of these pay even higher than most white collar jobs, and yet the school system and culture under-emphasizes this option. The lack of skilled tradespeople also harms the overall economy and drives up the price and timeline of new projects. Many people in the permanent underclass, who are unable to go to college or even finish high school, could perhaps have been much more productive members of society if the option of learning a useful trade had been presented early. Perhaps create an education track where people who are interested in this path can begin to pursue it early, at the high school level.
  • Facilitate easier access to banking for the "poor" so they don't have to rely on exploitative services like payday lenders. A very small government subsidy could make it profitable for mainstream commercial banks to properly serve this segment of the population with accounts and services that are as good as those that they offer to middle class clients. In combination with enhanced financial literacy in the education system, this would allow many people in the underclass to start to get a handle on their personal finances, which is the #1 thing they need to do to escape the underclass. 

 

 

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17 minutes ago, Bonam said:

BC2004 is right that there are a lot of stats still showing America doing well compared to many countries. This is largely a result of the period from about 1945-2001, where the US was consistently #1 in many ways and built out a massive lead, which will take a long time to fully erode. However, over the last 20 years it does seem like US society is on the decline. I think there are several factors:

 

Agreed...with the caveat that in some areas it is less about America's decline and more about other nations just closing the gap.   Post WW2 U.S. investment in war torn Europe (Marshall Plan) and Japan as a bulwark against communism ceased a long time ago save for the reliance on U.S. military spending and capabilities (e.g. NATO), dollar stability, etc.

As for the social and political fragmentation and conflict seen today, I would only point out the very founding of the country and numerous upheavals between competing interests to the point of a very destructive civil war, with the nation emerging stronger after each episode.   Trump is just a minor populist chapter in a long story, and present day circumstances are nothing compared to 1960's social unrest.

Other nationals watch America in disbelief at times....but they keep on watching because there is no other acceptable hegemon to fill the gap...yet. 

Maybe that's why they worry so much.

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