I'm sorry, what was your point again? That there is corruption in the US? I didn't disagree. However, it is quite low when compared to the world...
I might have high standards. I consider Italy to be awfully corrupt and France to be fairly bad. If you compare the US with really shitty countries like Nigeria or Russia, it comes out fine. But then again, are those the countries that you want to compare yourself with?
Your examples are interesting because they demonstrate how corruption is actually dealt with, as opposed to tolerated.
True, but only because Abramoff went too far in his corruption. It is clear that he was at the center of US politics and many other lobbyists were doing the same things, in a slightly more modest fashion. I don't see any indication that most politicians want to deal with it. They just want to prevent excesses that will become public and will result in outrage.
That may be, but a bribe that is a promise is:
(a) A pretty bad bribe... who says the promise keeper will keep their word? They've already demonstrated moral corruption by bribing you.
(b) Almost impossible to detect or fight unless the parties are exceedingly stupid.
Not at all, a gentlemens agreement that is enforced by a group is extremely effective. What happens if a big company doesn't do this? They will quickly lose influence in DC, since the other politicians will stop listening to them. So they are forced to do it. It is very easy to detect as well, just look at the CV and donations list of a politician who becomes a lobbyist. A law could be made that disallows politicians from becoming lobbyists for the companies that they had contacts with while in office.
This is a very tough problem to solve... who gets to decide what can go on TV? The government? Won't they abuse this power to curtail legitimate criticism? Who decides what is "legitimate"?
You are right. But there are several solutions that can help:
- Spread the power around by changing your system to be multi-party (it's harder to win with a negative PAC campaign when you have to discredit 5 opponents instead of 1)
- Media reform (instead of dismissing lies they like to discuss the 'controversy')
- Better defamation laws so lies can be countered effectively
Examples? Does this "independent media" have anywhere near the viewership of the US networks? In the US, the networks are pathetic... they simply go after a demographic, and their idea of "balance" is putting a useless right winger up against a useless left winger. US newspapers tend to be better though... at least until they all disappear.
UK, Germany, France, Holland and the Scandinavian countries all have way better media than the US. The problem with the US media is not that they go after a demographic. In fact, as long as the main biases are accounted for I like that far better than media that pretend to be impartial. The real problem is firstly that they have too much time to fill and want to fill it as cheaply as possible. So what do you get: sponsored and dumbass opinions, 'controversies', reading twitter messages and emails out loud on air, etc. What is rare: expert opinions, critical interviews, investigations and other forms of real journalism. The second problem is cultural. The media consider what happens in Washington DC to be normal. There is almost no criticism directed at the system. They only see fault in individuals (and those are always exceptions). Here is a nice quote:
BILL MOYERS: I think you wrote that "The media stars in Washington almost never understand that there's anything wrong with the establishment of which they're a part."
GLENN GREENWALD: That's right. I mean, if you were to say to normal Americans, and it's the reason why these issues resonated, and why Barack Obama made them a centerpiece of his campaign, that members of Congress leave office and make millions of dollars doing nothing other than essentially peddling influence to wealthy individuals who can have their way with Congress.
Most people consider that to be corruption. That's what Barack Obama called it when he ran. Yet, to members of the media, who have spent their lives in Washington, who are friends and colleagues of the people who are engorging themselves on this corrupt system that is just the way of life. It's like breathing air or drinking water. It's not anything that's noteworthy, let alone controversial.
Glen Greenwald is one of the few good journalists around today. Not surprisingly, he lives outside of the US, to keep himself from being infected. Without any staff and by doing research by phone and through the internet, he has publicised some major scandals over the years. Unsurprisingly, many of those involved unethical behavior by the media.
Most PEOPLE here favor big business. Just look at the success of Wal-Mart and other big box stores. People would much rather buy cheap shit from a giant company then support a local merchant. Our politicians reflect the populace in this case.
There is a big difference between buying from big business and letting them make the rules. Big business has gained market-share in Europe as well in the past decades, but in most West European countries their influence in politics is far less than in the US. There is actual pro-competition regulation for example, both for Europe as a whole (see the efforts by the European Commissioner for Competition) and in individual countries. I can point out many other differences between US laws that favor big business versus European laws that favor the consumer (privacy laws for instance, companies can't sell my personal info).
I have no problem with big business as long as they are kept on a tight leash (through strong regulation).
Democracy can be just as horrid as any other system if you happen to be a minority. A good system tries to balance a ruling elite with the wishes of the people.
My definition of democracy goes beyond 50% + 1 and includes the rights of every citizen (minorities, non-voting citizens, etc). Then again, I live in a country of coalition governments, instead of a winner takes all system. Support from a minority party can be crucial get into power, so there is a strong self-interest to listen to the minority, at least for the issues they care most about.
Hate to break it to you, but most people are ignorant, and almost as many are dumbasses. This is one of the other reasons that pure democracy is a nice ideal but a bad idea in practice. This is why I have no problem with money being thrown at education.
They are the ones who tried to create a single/no party system. It wound up accommodating two. To be fair, it creates more stability than coalition governments have. It's also very interesting having a legislature - pretty sure most other (all other?) democratic countries have the legislation written by the executive. This of course exasperates the lobbyist problem in the US.
Stability is overrated. If the citizens of a country cannot agree on major issues, so a strong coalition government cannot be formed, why should there be a strong government that changes laws without sufficient support? Leave the existing laws alone then. A weak government can then manage the daily affairs until there is consensus. BTW, in my country the House of Representatives has the right to propose laws, although it only happens a few times a year (and not for pork).
Yet Americans keep pretending that their constition is perfect,
How can you say that when it has been changed dozens of times over the years?
I might have exaggerated a little by using the word perfect. But if you look at the list of amendments for the previous century, most are either fixes that do not actually change the system (women's suffrage, federal income tax, two term limit for the president) or really minor alterations (20th, 23th, 24th, 25th, 27th). I see none that try to fix the two party system. For instance, in many countries, the presidential elections are two-tiered, with the two highest scoring candidates going to the decisive election. That would be a small step to do away with the a-constitutional primaries and would give third parties a much better chance. However, if you really want to earn my respect, you could go for approval voting, which only requires one election and would give even better chances to third parties (while still being extremely simple: vote for everyone you would want as president). Of course, the same can be used for congressional elections, so this can be introduced on a state level first.
Example? While it's not exactly rare to see the legislative and executive branches taking liberties, I haven't seen the Supreme Court "interpret" the constitution in a blatantly incorrect way in a very long time.
The government can only regulate interstate commerce, which should not include medical marijuana sold to state residents by stops in the state. The Supreme Court decided in 2005 that Congress may regulate a non-economic good, which is intrastate, if it does so as part of a complete scheme of legislation designed to regulate Interstate Commerce. I don't see how this interpretation is reflected in the constitution. It's a clear case of: 'we don't like this part of the constitution, but a large majority in Washington agrees and we don't want to allow for the sale of medical marijuana while an amendment is being processed'.
I think you'll find that about 2/3 of Americans vote straight down the party line. Every once in a while we get a decent alternative party (Ross Perot), and it attracts a good portion of the remainder. More people like their GOP and Democrats than you seem to think.
How can you say that when almost 50% of Americans don't vote at all and of the remainder, many are unhappy with the limited choices they have and feel forced to vote 'against' rather than 'for'. To me, it seems that many people are disenfranchised, but do not see how they can change the system. I think you'd be surprised what Americans would vote for if third parties had a chance and the media would do their work. Polls often show that the American people are way more sane than their politicians.