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High Court Trims Whistleblower Rights 718

iminplaya writes "In yet another blow against free speech rights, the Supreme Court decided that government employees who report wrongdoing do not enjoy 1st Amendment rights while on the job. From the article 'The Supreme Court scaled back protections for government workers who blow the whistle on official misconduct Tuesday, a 5-4 decision in which new Justice Samuel Alito cast the deciding vote [...] The ruling was perhaps the clearest sign yet of the Supreme Court's shift with the departure of moderate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and the arrival of Alito. [...] Stephen Kohn, chairman of the National Whistleblower Center, said: "The ruling is a victory for every crooked politician in the United States."'"
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High Court Trims Whistleblower Rights

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  • by ag0ny ( 59629 ) <javi@lavande[ ].net ['ira' in gap]> on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @01:00AM (#15433179) Homepage
    From the Wikipedia article []:

    Fascism is a radical authoritarian political philosophy that combines elements of corporatism, totalitarianism, extreme nationalism, militarism, anti-communism and anti-liberalism.

    I think that this describes the current political situation in the USA pretty well.
  • Congress (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Detritus ( 11846 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @01:06AM (#15433196) Homepage
    Congress, should it desire to do so, can pass legislation to protect government employees from retaliation for job-related speech that serves an important purpose.

    The idea that the first amendment allows government employees to speak without fear of discipline or termination is a huge stretch.

  • by AME ( 49105 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @01:15AM (#15433227) Homepage
    Perhaps iminplaya should clear things up and tell us what he really thinks!

    Nothing but news here. No editorializing in sight. Good thing Slashdot has standards.

  • by Vengie ( 533896 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @01:39AM (#15433311)
    Read Kyllo. (Not Kelo, which is the New London case you cited) Then get back to me when you understand what "conservative" and "liberal" mean in the supreme court context. Fourth and Fifth amendment law are good examples of where everything you know about "conservative" and "liberal" get shot to hell. (More or less: Scalia generally votes to free the felon, Ginsburg generally votes to lock them up.)

    There is nothing at all "funny" about the eminent domain rulings if you understand where the "conservative" moniker comes from.

    For 200 years, "social" and "constitutional" conservatives were basically one and the same. This stopped being the case 50 or so years ago, and has only grown profoundly since Reagan. This is not a "no brainer" and one of the dissents hits the nail on the head: A teacher protesting hiring decisions in a school would be protected, but a school HR employee protesting the same decisions would not be.

  • by nickmalthus ( 972450 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @01:40AM (#15433314)
    No, it is called libel. The downing street memos [] along with other government documents clearly shows the current administration knowingly deceived the public. Whistleblowers who wish to truthfully disclose government corruption are now at the mercy of corrupted.
  • by Vengie ( 533896 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @01:51AM (#15433352)
    Read the opinion -- the entire opinon. The motion to suppress was denied on /other/ grounds. The warrant was facially invalid for the reasons he cited in his memo. The judge (in what some would call "judicial activism") denied the suppression motion based on other evidence in the record NOT in the warrant affidavit.

    Basically, he blew the whistle that the government was using illegal tactics to catch a bad guy. The trial judge threw out the whistleblower by looking at the bad guy and saying "yeah, he's bad, so whatever." At the end of the day, this wasn't an accusatory memo. The majority glosses over the facts because they need to use the rhetoric. One of O'Connor's "totality of the circumstances" eleven pronged tests would have helped nicely here.
  • by Nom du Keyboard ( 633989 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @02:11AM (#15433402)
    Considering how Sandra Day O'Connor was against the eminent domain decision last year -- truly one of the worst decisions of the last decade, if not longer -- along with the rest of the right leaning side of the bench, I hardly consider her departure has been replaced by someone that different overall than she is.
  • by whig ( 6869 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @02:16AM (#15433416) Homepage Journal
    But the court's decision says that if you try to complain within the system, you can be disciplined for that. Conversely, if you go public with your complaint, you are protected by the first amendment. So the court is reversing your argument and giving higher protection to the public disclosure than going through "proper channels."
  • Re:Unfortunate (Score:2, Interesting)

    by TabsAZ ( 697633 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @02:30AM (#15433461)
    The US is more capitalistc than ever (capitalism is the opposite of communism).

    Except real capitalism has nothing to do with government and business getting together to fix the market, which we have in abundance here. That is corporatism - in a truly capitalist system the government would have little to no role in the economy. Look at Hong Kong for probably the best example of it today. (at least before the Chinese takeover) Capitalism's original theorists (and the American founders) preached self-regulating market competition, not government+business cabals.

  • by fortinbras47 ( 457756 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @03:03AM (#15433549)
    The following two points are NOT controversial:
    (1) A private employee's statements to his employer are not protected by the First Amendment. (If you go on TV and call your boss an asshole, he can fire you and you are NOT protected by the first amendment.)

    (2) The government CANNOT stop citizens from bringing up issues in the public interest.

    Which brings us to this case...
    The majority of the court simply said that in this case, the petitioner was acting in his official duties and falls in category (1) and not category (2). Federal whistleblower laws etc... might protect him, but he has no CONSITUTIONAL right of action under the First Amendment.

    Before you go crazy and mod me down, take a moment to read the opinion. [] IMHO it's a quite reasonable outcome.

  • by Petersko ( 564140 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @03:23AM (#15433591)
    "There's a difference between speech and active disruption of lawful activity; the first is protected and the second is not."

    You could define any protest as an active disruption of SOME lawful activity. Once again the first amendment is subject to caveats that render it a polite, warm fiction.
  • Re:Unfortunate (Score:5, Interesting)

    by grimwell ( 141031 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @03:23AM (#15433592)
    FTFA...The ruling overturned an appeals court decision that said Los Angeles County prosecutor Richard Ceballos was constitutionally protected when he wrote a memo questioning whether a county sheriff's deputy had lied in a search warrant affidavit. Ceballos had filed a lawsuit claiming he was demoted and denied a promotion for trying to expose the lie.

    "Official communications have official consequences, creating a need for substantive consistency and clarity. Supervisors must ensure that their employees' official communications are accurate, demonstrate sound judgment, and promote the employer's mission," Kennedy wrote.

    A public offical was trying to expose a lie used to obtain a search warrant.

    Justice Kennedy seems to think that is not the employer's mission. I think Justice Kennedy is confused on who the employer actually is. Hint: US Citizens.

    The government isn't censoring people because of this decision but it does make whistleblowing an even more daunting challenge. Look at Siebel Edmonds [] for a good example of how difficult government whistle blowing was before this decision. note: her saga isn't over yet.
  • by laughingcoyote ( 762272 ) * <barghesthowl@e x c> on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @03:26AM (#15433595) Journal

    You know, I keep hearing about this "real world" thing! Certainly is different from what I learned about in school, though I sure started learning about that well before I was out.

    I've seen many strange things here. See, they told me this "Constitution" thing was the highest law of the land, and that the President even swore an oath to defend it! Must not work so well in this "real world" place, so it seems-and no one even minds when he admits to blatantly violating it!

    But the strangest thing I've seen here is that one attitude is the EXACT one they tried to drill into my head at school, too:

    "The way it is always is the way it should be. Don't work for change."

    As long as I'm getting rid of everything they tried to cram into my head at school...I'm getting rid of that first.

  • Feudalism (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Per Abrahamsen ( 1397 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @03:28AM (#15433597) Homepage
    A capitalist society that embrace large companies and monopolies (with ever stronger "IP" laws) and weakened anti-trust laws is moving towards a kind of feudalism.

    EU is actually moving (incredibly slowly, and with many backslashes) the opposite direction, from a feudal economy dominated by national monopolies and trust, into a competitive European market backed by strong anti-trust legislation.
  • Re:Feudalism (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ulrich Hobelmann ( 861309 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @03:44AM (#15433641) Journal
    EU is actually moving [...] from a feudal economy [...] into a competitive European market

    You still believe in the Easter bunny, don't you?

    (this German here wonders)

    I'd say the exact opposite. Government regulations get ever more helpful for Big Enterprise, while the smaller players suffer more and more under the extensive regulations.
  • Over the past 40 years I have lived in the Czech Republic, Australia, America, and now Austria. I have seen repressive governments and efforts of citizens to defeat it. I have seen protectionist governments and the efforts of citizens to enhance it. I have seen clueless governments and the astounding apathy of citizen inhabitants. I remember when the US was commonly thought to be the best place in the world to live. And I remember all the efforts my parents made to get US citizenship for my family.

    This recent decision of the Supreme Court of the US isn't going to instantly change the US into a regime more repressive than North Korea (despite what the left says the right is claiming). But it will make government whistle blowers think a fair bit more or more likely be a lot more cautious when they decide to go public. This is just one more little thing the government does to keep people in line and to keep secret things secret. I find it interesting that these days more & more unsavory things are kept secret.

    But still as a few raving conservatives have pointed out America is not worse than North Korea or China. So I suppose the events ongoing within the American civil system can be compared to those events that went on during the "Second Red Scare" in the 1950's, only now it's terrorists, gays, free thinkers, and non-Christians. I didn't live in the US then but I assume that McCarthyism did not affect most Americans or should I say if 1950's Americans are anything like 2000's Americans I doubt most even recognized how what was going on was wrong until their children learned it in school. McCarthyism went on for about 5 years but I fear this new scare will last longer... maybe we should call it the "Long Nebulous Scare".

    I wonder when the low point of this new scare will be, I'm getting sick of it already. I'm tired of clueless conservatives, reactionary liberals, rapacious capitalists, and the American theocrats. I'm tired of the vitriolic deception spewing from the mouths of the American political activists.
    "Not as Bad as North Korea" may be good enough for them... but it damn sure isn't good enough for me.
  • Re:The real shame (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Money for Nothin' ( 754763 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @09:03AM (#15434543)
    The GP makes a fair point -- what's the point of 2nd Amendment rights, intended by the Founders to retake the government from its politicians when it runs amok, if the 2nd is never exercised by the nation's people to that end?

    That is, what good is the right to bear arms (and thereby keep government in check) if there is no serious threat of use of those arms? The RKBA becomes an empty threat...

    I would bet that if the govn't banned all guns -- not just NFA-restricted arms (automatics, suppressors, etc.), but rifles, shotguns, pistols, etc. -- and came around to collect them, by force if necesseary, that most people would comply with the ban rather than fight back.

    Consider the examples where this is already true: airline security, many large cities (the limousine-liberal north shore suburbs of Chicago (Evanston, Wilmette, and Morton Grove have all banned the possession of handguns), and Chicago-proper particularly, but being from IL, I may be biased), the 1932 NFA and Reagan's (of all Presidents!) 1986 ban on the domestic manufacture of automatics...

    Ultimately, most people bend over, for the "common good".
  • Re:The real shame (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Ginger Unicorn ( 952287 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @09:35AM (#15434770)
    surely if the second amendement is supposed to leave the populace with the means to overthrow their government, isnt it a bit innefective unless you get the right to keep and bear a massive standing army, including helicopter gunships, nuclear missles and aircraft carriers? i doubt youd be very successful storming the pentagon carrying glocks and hunting rifles.
  • by WinterSolstice ( 223271 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @10:08AM (#15435045)
    Honestly while that was a good write up you posted from, I would disagree that the US is a facist state. The near-invasion of Mexico into California pretty well proves it, as does the presence of mostly free speech.

    The disturbing trend is that certain political parties are starting to align too heavily with religions, and the SCOTUS is not acting like as much of a balancing influence as it used to. I wouldn't argue we're becoming facist, but I would argue that the US is starting to fracture. Pity so much of the world is, too. The UK and EU are prime examples of this. If someone can point out a shining example of good, noble government I'd love to see it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @10:21AM (#15435182)
    "The things we need to be holding Bush accountable for are rarely mentioned in the press"

    Very true.

    I generally tend to agree with you on the Iraq war - right or wrong, I think there were many good reasons to do so (and many good reasons not to do so) - but that it's reasonable to be for or against it. It was a bad situation - the US had been imposing an embargo and no-fly zone in Iraq for a decade, and it was no closer to getting better. The embargo had a large cost of civilian life, and maintaining a large presence in the Saudi desert had significant economic, diplomatic, and military costs. "Spreading democracy" is a nice idea. I think the WMD arguments were all baloney, but it was seen as the fastest way to push a resolution through the UN. (The French and Russians would never approve a new resolution based on the current situation.) On the other hand, those who said "This will never work/not worth the cost" may be right. Time will tell.

    I wouldn't tend to blame the military leadership too much - I think they either said that they needed _far_ more troops, or were told to plan for an invasion only - not an occupation. Invasion or occupation was a higher-level political and intelligence decision, not a military one. (I think, in terms of our costs, the US is about where we might expect it to be. Going into this, 5 years/2000 US deaths/fraction of $1trillion wasn't unanticipated. The administration, however, tended to advertise the more optomistic figure 1 year/500 US deaths/$100billion because they didn't expect the public to have the stamina for a longer conflict.)

    But what actual civil rights have we lost?

    It is undisputed that both foreigners and American citizens have been held without trial for extended periods of time at Guantanamo Bay and other places. Many of these have been subjected to torture, both psychological (various games with nakedness or women) and physical (waterboarding). The president refuses to rule out the use of torture in the future. The CIA _may_ be maintaining "secret prisons" throughout eastern Europe, and charter plane records suggest that the government transfers some detainees to oppressive regimes which practice torture without any form of extradition hearing.

    The NSA has historically had a line in its charter that it is not authorized for domestic surveillance. US citizens are supposed to be investigated only by the FBI, which should have the legal knowledge to protect citizens rights, and the obligation to obtain any necessary warrants. Bush has admitted that the NSA listens to some telephone conversations involving American citizens without the legally required judicial oversight. It is also alleged that the NSA has obtained long-distance phone recordsfor a substantial fraction of all US citizens, and is trying to data-mine this. Contrary to Bush's claim that they're only looking for records of suspected criminals, any computer program operating on this data base has to look at _all_ the records to distinguish suspicious patterns of activity from innocent calls. Current cases also allege that AT&T forwards a large fraction of its internet traffic to the NSA for analysis. Bush has been the strongest backer of the Patriot Act and its renewal, which increases the strength of National Security Letters (not subject to judicial oversight, are they?) and makes warrantess investigation easier. He has been inflexible even on the most controversial provisions in the Patriot Act. (How are library borrowing records critical to national security? My library doesn't place new copies of the "Anarchist's Cookbook" in the "Exciting Titles!" section. What are you going to do, flag people who check out "revolutionary" works like Thomas Paine's "Common Sense"?) And there's the push for keeping records of internet activity for two years or more, in the guise of protecting children (was that COPA? I'm getting my acronyms mixed up).

    Separation of powers between the three branches of the federal government is crucial to civil l
  • Meanwhile in Canada (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kent_eh ( 543303 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @10:36AM (#15435335)
    recently introduced provincial whistleblower law []
    And the federal law []

  • by ThePhilips ( 752041 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @10:39AM (#15435365) Homepage Journal
    All that stuff - all 14 traits - are very easy to derive. Most of the regimes were authoritive regimes - with male figure on the top. Some sort of freaked out dictatorship. My homeland Belarus with Lukashenko looks very much like it.

    For easiness, figurehead of such regime below will be called "the president". Anyway all such modern regimes claim to be democratic or republic.

    1. "Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism." See (3).

    2. "Disdain for the importance of human rights." There is only one man is such system - president. Everything else is just cogs that need to mesh. What doesn't mesh - is broken cog. We do not need broken cogs. And of course rest assured the president's rights are well respected.

    3. "Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause." Closely related to (1). Since there is only one man - president - in the whole country, everyone else is mere servant. Sparing between servants isn't welcome - that might look like call to the power of our beloved president. But servants need something to make a carrier on. Neighbors are good candidates for such enemies.

    4. "The supremacy of the military/avid militarism." Only real man can be soldier. Only man can protect his country from evil enemy's conspiracies ploting against us. Since there is only one man in whole country - sooner or later he becomes head of army. (e.g. Putin & Lukashenko are heads of respective armies.)

    5. "Rampant sexism." No comments. This is the man's world. And we his name - president. Every other male cog has to mimic example set by president. Women, well, they cannot mimic president since they are women. Blame God. Etc.

    6. "A controlled mass media." Option 1. Elite which wants to control the president need to cut all independent channels of information for the president. Option 2. In fact media are not controlled. It's just president makes sure that his /rights/ and his /privacy/ are respected.

    7. "Obsession with national security." Nation == president. Since president is the only man of the country, sure we do not want to loose him. Thus we have to protect him no matter what.

    8. "Religion and ruling elite tied together." That's clear. The Man - the president already stands so high above mere mortals, that only Maker is left above him. Since he is closest to the God, everyone else has to respect his as if he was God. (e.g. Russia has more or less officially integrated churce and gov't)

    9. "Power of corporations protected." No, no. You got it wrong. It's just our president need some cash. To have cash he needs a cash cow. Since mere mortals cogs do not have money, indistry has to be tightened to produce something valueable for export. (All such regimes live off export: e.g. Russia lives 80% off crude oil export.)

    10. "Power of labor suppressed or eliminated." What you talking about? The cogs? The mortals and rights? We have only one man in the country and his rights have priority above anything else.

    11. "Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts." Funniest part, is that dictators and presidents often protect such people. It's just elite closest to the president do not like people who can break plans of their. Of course people who can think and think freely - are the people who might give wrong idea to others. God save if they would give wrong idea to his highness president. Also the artists are quite weak in bureaucracy - that makes them good target for carrierists.

    12. "Obsession with crime and punishment." See (2) and broken cogs. We do not need them.

    13. "Rampant cronyism and corruption." This is the curse of all such regimes. That creeps slowly in. The president ends up living in some sort of condom: sterile tightly controlled environment made up by his closest ministers. Influencing environment would obviously influence the president. The elite of course charges premium for such interventions. (e.g. post of minister in Russia costs about $2.5mln, hiring person to be
  • by spun ( 1352 ) <loverevolutionar ... m ['oo.' in gap]> on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @11:34AM (#15435887) Journal
    Nothing in archeology backs up what you say here. Please find me any evidence prior to 4500BC of walled encampments, non-hunting weapons, or mass graves (ok, there is ONE guy who claims to have found one from 10,000BC, but his evidence is very questionable.) Humans are instinctually cooperative, it is in our genes, and it is what makes us as successful as we are. We also have the genes for selfishness, because sometimes that works, but it appears you have a misunderstanding of the way evolution works, and what fitness means in terms of species.

    How could non-reproducing eusocial creatures such as drone bees develop if evolution only promoted competition? Evolution works on the level of the species and selects for traits that help the entire species survive. Cooperation is the most effective strategy whenever there is both local abundance and local scarcity, which is most of the time in this world. Competition is only most effective in cases of absolute abundance or absolute scarcity.

    Look at anthropological studies of tribes that have had little contact with western culture. You will find they are cooperative in nature, non-violent and non-competative. This is the largest part of our original nature, and our competative side is very small.

    Where did violence and competition come from, then? Here's one theory. [] Yes, James DeMeo was a student of notable weird dude Wilhelm Reich, but his scholarship is impeccable. His theory is that violence originated when we developed agriculture, settled down, built up a surplus and a more complex society, then got hit with massive climate change and famine. Before that, when famine hit, we just moved on. When the Sahara, the middle east, and central asian regions dried up, people had the surplus and organization to move on their more fortunate neighbors en-mass. At first said neighbors took them in, but as the climate change accelerated, they became unable to help. For the first time in history, masses of humans fought other humans.

    You had a generation of post traumatic parents raising a geenration of brain damaged children (starvation does that to a kid.) This locked that small violent, competative part of our nature permanently into our culture. It is as if we are in permanent famine mode. But it is not the entirety of our nature.

    DeMeo's proof is complex and thorough. He researched nearly 3,000 cultures worldwide, and found a clear pattern. The further a culture originates from the epicenter of violence, the less heirarchal, violent, and competative traits it has. Unless you are completely attached to your worldview about the origins of human violence, I suggest at least reading the summary with an open mind. Perhaps what he says is true, perhaps not, but it at least gives a different theory than "Nature, red in tooth and claw," which is unsatisfactory to me as it does not account for all the evidence.

    As Lao Tzu said,

    When the Tao is forgotten, there is righteousness.
    When righteousness is forgotten, there is morality.
    When morality is forgotten, there is the law.
    The law is the husk of faith,
    and trust is the beginning of chaos.
  • by jafac ( 1449 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @01:06PM (#15436762) Homepage
    1. We're not a dictatorship

    Define "dictatorship". 700 "signing statements" in which the president says he's above the law pretty much seals that definition in my book.

    2. Bush certainly isn't forcibly suppressing opposition and criticism

    Unless you consider "free speech zones". Or covert republican operatives posing as reporters in the White House press pool.

    3. We're a capitalist society. The government doesn't control industry.

    No, it only invades countries as an excuse to subsidize industry.

    4. Nationalism isn't necessarily bad, unless it goes to extremes, which we haven't

    Define "extreme". (I would argue that the word is poorly used in your sentance, and seems aimed towards making the entire statement non-declarative, because the meaning of the statement depends on one's individual definition of what is or is not extreme. - it belies an underlying attitude of intention to deter actual debate - it smells like an attempt to assert an indisputable non-fact).

    5. I haven't seen any signs of racism in the current administration

    Just because they have a couple of colored people on staff, does not mean that racism is not enshrined in policy.
  • by h4x0r-3l337 ( 219532 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @02:08PM (#15437403)
    1. Bush claims he is not bound by any laws. The Attorney General agrees with him. How would *you* define dictatorship?
    2. "free speech zones", reprisals/threats []against people not toeing the party line. Sure sounds like he's suppressing things.
    3. Industry controls government, which is even worse.
    4. Invading other countries, citizens with guns at the borders, mainstream [] conservative [] pundits [] allying themselves with white supremacist groups and repeating their talking points. If that's not extreme, you're certainly well on your way.
    5. With all the "patriots" talking about how they'd love to go to Iraq (if only they weren't too old, too sick, etc) and kill them some sandniggas, it's only a matter of time before racism becomes an acceptable political platform (see also point 4). Right now, the administration's policies are mostly working against the poor, which just happens to include minorities.
  • Re:Unfortunate (Score:3, Interesting)

    by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @02:17PM (#15437520) Homepage Journal
    Did you even bother to read the article?

    Yes. However, I was responding to the snippy "Language evolves. Deal with it" remark. De-evolution is what we have in this particular case. For whatever reason.

    The article cites one possible reason for the mispronunciation as a behavioral problem rather than an educational one.

    Substituting one defect (behavioral) for another (educational) does not magically turn de-evolution into evolution.

    I've found that certain words I learned younger when I was a child were learned incorrectly and I pronounced them wrong. Maybe it was because I was reading beyond my level and had no reinforcement from others as to how they should be pronounced; maybe I'm mildly dyslexic.

    Substituting yet another defect (dyslexia) for others also does not magically turn de-evolution into evolution.

    I find it a stretch to liken the mispronunciation of one single word to the use of ebonics.

    Then don't do it. I certainly didn't. I simply pointed out that they were instances of the same thing: De-evolution of the language. I was also depending on you to generalize in the normal fashion: "I'd like some "eye-talian bread." (from eye-tally, I presume.) "We should use nuke-you-lur weapons." "Excetera." "Expecially." "Nice foilage." (I love that one... I always look around to see if there's some sex freak wrapped in aluminium I've missed.)

    When you define everything in language as either correct or incorrect, you're left saying that one of American English and British English are wrong.

    Again, simply don't do that. I didn't. You're setting up straw men here. When you do that, I won't argue with them, I'll just set them on fire. :-)

    Why you expect the educational system to properly educate children when all the money is stripped away from education and given to deadbeats and welfare recipients is beyond me.

    Did I say I expected the educational system to properly educate children? Did I, in any way, indicate that I was satisfied with the educational system? Did I indicate my satisfaction with how welfare and other government entitlement programs are conceived and/or adminsistered? Excuse me, but I need to get to that line of strawmen you've set up with my napalm.

    Furthermore, why you expect the government to do any of these things properly is a rather interesting concept as well.

    That "whoosh" you hear is your hair igniting from being too close to that last strawman you built. The only thing that can save you now is the fact that clearly... you're all wet.

  • Re:Unfortunate (Score:3, Interesting)

    by lgw ( 121541 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @02:57PM (#15437903) Journal
    Athens relied heavily on slave labor. The slaves did not get paid 1/50th of what the wealthiest citizens got paid (or anything at all, for that matter). Comparing income ratios of "citizens" is pointless in this case.

    Athens took care of its poorer citizens through welfare programs that exceeded the GDP of Athens. Athens paid more in jury pay alone (which basically served as social security) than it collected in taxes from citizens. They could get away with it because Athens used it's considerable military might to both colect the slave labor needed and to extort tribute from neighbors that amounted to about 10 times Athens own production, at least by estimates of the citizens at the time.

    If America extorted 10 times its GDP in tribute from the rest of the world (i.e., everyone who's not an American citizen pays a 50% income tax to America, or we nuke you), we could do all sorts of fun things in terms of social programs, and maintaining a 50 to 1 income ration would be no problem at all. Especially if that 50 to 1 ratio only applied to Citizens and not illegal immigrants.

A committee takes root and grows, it flowers, wilts and dies, scattering the seed from which other committees will bloom. -- Parkinson