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United States

Journal FortKnox's Journal: Is the US Government THAT Broken? 14

I'm sure some of you noticed my post in the article about the RIAA getting DoS'ed article.
I mentioned how there were more mature ways of handling the situation, and DoS'ing them is more likely to do more harm than good. But that isn't what I'd like to talk about.

The replies I got were mostly about how doing the "mature thing" (ie - writing to your Congressman) does dittily, because Congressmen are more persuaded by "that proverbial cash" (apologies to Kevin Smith).

Is the US Democratic system broke?? Is the first level guy on Deus Ex spouting a good conspiracy theory (for those that don't play the game, go get it! Its great! But I'll sum it up anyway. Basically, he mentions how big businesses have increased in the past 100 years and privately owned businesses drastically declined. He also mentions the drastic change in taxes and other stuff. This is either because the government is 'controlling' business, or vice versa)??

If it is broken, how can it be fixed??
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Is the US Government THAT Broken?

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  • I used to be a big fan of writing my congressperson. First, I wrote snail mail by hand on my positions and issues, circa 1994. Then I sent faxes, circa 1996. Then, email, 1997-present.

    The other day, I wrote my two senators, the Honorable Corporate Lacky Senator Bill Nelson and Honorable Puppet for Hire Senator Bob Graham email about the Cuban embargo. I'm currently dating a lovely Cuban girl, so being able to visit her family without committing treason is pretty high on my plate.

    I got back two auto-responder form messages about arming airline pilots and the Pledge of Allegiance. I rang up the Puppet's office, and asked why I'd gotten a response so completely off from my email. His aide's answer was that since the Senator gets so much email a day, he couldn't possibly respond to it all. My position is, isn't that a government representative's job?

    Add to that the fact that I find myself in complete and total disagreement with every decision of this Administration that I've heard about, and the result is that I'm very disallusioned with government right now. Thinking about emigrating to Canada or the UK.

    • It carries little, if any weight. If you want to at least get a "real" response, send a snail-mail or fax.
    • I am glad that they don't answer every peice of corospondance they recieve, I would rather that they spent their time doing other things, like research, debating, voting, or whatever else they are supposed to do. They should read a stack of the mail they get, the rest should be read by secerataries and interns and the major issues or letters that deserve his personal attention should be forwarded to him.
      Even Santa has the elves to do all of his grunt work.
  • teach them statistics, including how to evaluate data collection and sampling techniques. Especially in how to spot when junk science is being used (ie - large number scare tactics, something that's very common).

    Current conditions up at the top concerning technology policy aren't going to get much better for a good number of years. The people currently there simply do not understand the issues to make good decisions. OTOH, ten years from now there will be a new generation of lawmakers that do understand things much better than the current people there, which might be enough to provide positive influence on those who only think they understand.

    Some time recently I made a post proposing advertising campaigns funded by the EFF, DigitalConsumer, and other such groups. The ads will simply show what type of world the RIAA et al are promoting. My post gave an example of a *typical* family having a knock at the door for downloading an mp3, or maybe a cute little two year old trying to do something online, but is unsuccessful because of stiff controls, and then have Dad try to explain it. An idea since my post would be a night club going suddenly silent with a scary "Sorry. This music has been played for it's alloted time for today. You may listen to it again in 6 hours." I'd point to my post, but I cant seem to find it at the moment, as I have more detail there.
  • Larry Niven wrote a long essay once about what you do when the government is screwed up. His final point: there's nothing you can do.

    You can't break out into armed revolt, because there's WAY to many people who don't care, or would actually defend the status quo, but mostly they don't want to compromise their standard of living.

    You can't really just vote down lots of senators and representatives, because there's no way to tell a shyster from a genuine person (a lot of the scum in there now made a lot of people think they were genuine), and even if the person(s) ARE genuine, it's probable that a few terms in office will either corrupt them, or break their spirit and get them locked into the status quo.

    Once things get really, really bad, the only way to get real change is to have a total collapse, get invaded, something like that.

    • Actually, old Ben Franklin had it right when he was thinking about this country. He figured there ought to be a people's uprising (i.e. revolution) every ten years whether we really need one or not because it would keep the ones in power on the straight path. Niven is a little wrong, we could have a people's revolution, but in involves changing the infrastructure of the economy and the nature of businesses who hold the power before it involves changing the world.

      Take my company. Small company, less than 15 people. Does that mean we don't bring in a LOT of money? No, we have a considerable chunk of our area's revenue. And the oldest one of us just turned 30. Young people need to revolutionize the world, in small little local bubbles, with online help from other people in their own small little local bubbles, and that is how we could create national change. I live in central Illinois. Central Illinois is my little stomping ground, and I am going to change things here. I have already had this goal in mind for years, and now I am old enough and wise enough to actually start in on it. So I have. People everywhere need to define their own little bubbles and rally their friends, and their friend's friends, and their loose acquaintances, and the random people we meet on streets and do something.

      • I remember going to canada the biggest culture shock was how much the young people actually cared about politics.

        Then I realized the big difference. In canada politics is more regional. You vote for a representative of your riding. The party with the most people in the house's leader becomes the prime minister, etc.

        The problem with US politics is that everyone focuses on the president. Of course young people are going to consider there vote useless in a presidential election. Because let's face it your vote is useless in a presidential election.
    • Is it broken? Yes. Why? Nobody cares. Oh, people complain, but most don't care. If they cared, they would follow their representatives' careers and vote out ones that took bribes or voted stupidly. Basically, our congressmen aren't held accountable.

      How can it be fixed? I can't fix it. You can't fix it. To fix it, MOST of us (more than the ~20% turnout of people our age group) need to hold them accountable. When they do something wrong, write about it in your journals or local blogs if it is a state or district rep. Find out where politicians stand and vote accordingly in the primaries. Some congressmen will take bribes, but if everyone that gets caught taking bribes is voted out of office, no congressman will even CONSIDER taking a bribe unless it is very substantial. And what company is going to pay that much to a congressman who will then be removed before he can help them out? Finally, if you are religious, pray for God's guidance and influence over the lives and decisions of our nations leaders.

  • That when the Government of the People becomes this disillusioned with the people, that the only way to "fix things" is revolt.

    Now I'm not talking about armed revolt, but something a lot more subtle:

    economic revolt would have been possible 2 years ago, but the economy is in the trash, now so this is unlikely.

    political revolt is still possible, especially with the current administration...the problem is that most Americans are satisfied with the way things are.
    Now I've tried calling the Congress critter on things that mattered to me. You know what? After 4-5 times of doing that and having the exact opposite of what I wanted come to pass, you get a little disillusioned with the "right way" of doing things. More often than not, the "right way" is about as ineffective as throwing pies at the problem.

    The idea of using local stomping ground is a good one, and is an example of political revolt. We might be wise to start implementing such ideas.

  • I think the government as a whole does what they think the voter wants them to. Sure money talks, but votes speak a lot louder. The politicians do what they think will get them or their successor elected.

    And if the voters got fed up with special interests enough to make them illegal, a politician would come along and make it so if it helps him stay in office.

    The fact that we have this accounting scandal at all is proof that the corps don't control everything. Everybody is accountable in the end, one way or another. The fact that we have an elected government ensures this.

    Someone on an email list I'm on suggested that what the large powerful corporations really want is to install a president that will push the country into martial law and keep it that way. But I think that's pretty far-fetched.

  • Yes, it can be challenging to get an appointment, but you can often meet the folks at their offices in Washington - if you happen to be there - and you can go and talk to representatives from all over the country, but better if you at least have names of some of their voters who stand behind you.

    Much of the problem with representatives is not that they're idiots - just that they're uneducated about the issues. If a warm body takes a minute to explain the issues, they're more likely to understand. They certainly can't read all the mail (staffers summarize), and they can't know everything. In short, you are the expert on the subject, and if you manage to explain your subject clearly and succinctly, your representative will do well to take note.

    Lest you wonder, a good friend of mine works for a representative, and it's interesting to hear his stories from the inside.

  • I'm in favour of mixed member proportional voting. In this system, voters tend to get a more accurate representation of what they want. The system doesn't reflect a certian moral, and only reflects societies preferences. For instance, if the 90% of your country were Nazis, then you'd get 90% Nazis in power. If 90% were truly devoted and loving Christians, then you'd get 90% Christians.

    A more practical example is my province of British Columbia. In our last election, the Liberal party won about 78 seats in the Legislature and only 2 seats went to another party. Nothing has ever been done like this in all of Canada. The interesting thing is that in the previous election, a huge majority of people were so fed up with the ruling NDP party, but yet, the NDP party won the election. This happened because the people could only choose one person on the ballot. Unfortunately, after the previous election, the ruling party managed to squander approx. 9 billion dollars on 3 super fast ferries that were never allowed to be used. To add insult to injury, they would sell them off for way less than the ferries cost them. I could type for days, telling of their corruption.

    With mixed member proportional, this would never happen, because people would be allowed to say, "My first preference is party A, but if they don't make it past the first round of counting, then party B, but if they don't make it past the second round of counting, then party C.". I like this method a lot.

    Another reason that I like this voting method, is because it encourages people with the most moderate views to work together. It doesn't mean tha they are right, but it means that there will be greater balance in the decision making.

    After reflecting on this quite often, I've come to the conclusion that perhaps the government and courts aren't supposed to be making moral decisions. I believe that they should focus on doing what they are best are at. The government should be best at setting the laws for the people under their jurisdiction, and only their jurisdiction. The courts should only focus on carrying out their laws. Neither organization should go about making decisions just because "it was the right thing to do".

    As far as right and wrong goes, people should have more access to controlling the government, so that they can have a stronger influence in making laws.

    In summary, small is beautiful.

    If you guys *really* want to make a change, then search google for voting methods, as well as political science.

    Anyboy have thoughts on this?

If a thing's worth having, it's worth cheating for. -- W.C. Fields