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Aljazeera

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Balladeer
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0 posted 08-17-2011 07:58 AM       View Profile for Balladeer   Email Balladeer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Balladeer's Home Page   View IP for Balladeer


I've never been a fan of the paper but I find this article to be excellent with many points I agree with wholeheartedly in this day and age.

To track this, it is necessary to do what mafia prosecutors do: follow the money. Over time, a steadily increasing proportion of tax revenues has flowed to the federal government, at the expense of the states.  With that money has come greater authority. Rather than the citizens of the states making spending decisions at the local and provincial level, where their input would be far more direct and the opportunities for abuse, mismanagement and duplication far less, key decisions are more and more frequently made in Washington.

Thus, the money which has flowed from the states is then bequeathed, magnanimously, back to the states.  Only now, the uses to which that money is to be put are dictated by, and bureaucratically administered from, the centre. Moreover, free of the balanced-budget constraints which exist in most states, the federal government can dispense largesse, particularly for health, retirement and other large-scale "entitlement" programmes, using money it does not have, for the purpose of expanding and sustaining its own power.

This was not the intent of the framers of the US constitution.  Their vision was one of citizen legislators, who would temporarily put aside their careers in business, the professions, or academia, to serve the public good for a time before returning to their communities. Those who originally conceived the US system did not foresee the rise of a permanent class of professional legislators, motivated to ignore the greater good in order to sustain themselves in office.


http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2011/08/201181462220840979.html#.TkuoYHTVX0o.facebook
Bob K
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1 posted 08-18-2011 02:51 AM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K


The aljazeera article raises some interesting points.  Some of them need some explanation, however.

quote:

Over time, a steadily increasing proportion of tax revenues has flowed to the federal government, at the expense of the states.†



     This, for example, has a ring of authority to it.  But, on examination, I find I canít actually isolate what the statement means.  It is in the passive voice, so nobody has actually done anything ó itís all been done somewhere off in the heavens someplace by forces or persons unknown.  Have they flowed?  If so, how, and who has made them flow in this fashion, and for what reasons?  I see no explanations or proofs offered here; though there certainly may be such things floating about, the author or authors or the article donít mention them.
Nor has there been any effort made to prove any connection between the two asserted facts.

    Is aljazeera suggesting that Federal tax rates have gone up over the last 30 years or so?  If so, they have shown no evidence to support this; nor has Mike, who says that he agrees with many of the points raised in the article wholeheartedly.  My understanding for many states is that their tax rates may have gone down because of reductions in property taxes and other taxes.  Perhaps there are others who can  suggest what their states are doing with the massive surpluses that theyíve been running from the popular campaigns to cut local spending by eliminating fripperies like roads, police and fire services, and education.

     My understanding is that there havenít been any, and that attempts by the Federal Government to help make up the difference have not been accepted graciously.  I can understand that.  The money that the Feds have been distributing, as I understand it, has tended to go mostly from blue states to red states, and that the blue states have been pretty much keeping the red states afloat.  I suspect that if Federal tax dollars we returned proportionately to the states where they were collected, the results would be even more upsetting to those citizens of red states than they are today.

     As for the intent of the Framers, Iíd like to hear more about that.  Iíd also like to hear where aljazeera gets their notion about what those intentions actually were, and why they would pick and choose among the various intentions of the founders as to which ones they think are important to bring up in  this case.

     The initial experiment may have been with citizen legislators serving at the whim of the people, but aljazeera and others have apparently overlooked the fact that the framers were people who found that model did not work, and who quite purposefully set aside the Articles of confederation, which stipulated temporary citizen legislators by permitting only a congress with a two year term.  Had that been their continued intention, they wouldnít have made the changes they did, would they?  

     Because, even if you take into account the possibility that they might only have wanted the President to be an administrator, and not a very powerful one at that, you would still have to deal with the large number of folks who thought that Washington would have made a fine King; and part of the wonder of George Washington was that he passed on being King of America.  Even George III of England admired him for that.

     And.

     And the other branch of government was one that designed not to be at the direct beck and call of the public.  They were designed to be insulated from the public.  In fact, initially, they werenít even elected by the public.  Nor were they supposed to be citizen legislators, really, and that expectation was right there in the name that was chosen for them:  Senators were named after members of the Roman Senate, and you couldnít join unless you were a Knight.  In a country like our own which didnít have hereditary nobility, that fell on the folks who could own large amounts of property and who had the ability to maintain a couple of residences and households and a lot of servants for a long period of time.  They didnít have to be at anybodyís beck and call and were relatively immune (Ha! ó they were supposed to be, at least) from political and financial pressures.  Thatís why they had a six year term.  

     And they werenít beholden to voters.  They were beholden to the folks back home in the state legislatures or the Electors.  They were meant to be a check on the craziness of congress.  The Framers were many things, and one of them was very nervous about the mob.  They did not want the mob running things.  They remembered the latin phrase, Vox Populi , vox Dei.

     The Voice of The Mob is the Voice of God.  They were pretty well educated folks by todayís standards, and they were terrified of mob rule, even if they were a sort of democratic bunch of folks.  In fact, it would have been very difficult to get them to agree on any single definition of what democracy or republicanism actually was.  Recent reading surprised me with that particular piece of information recently.

     I too am fond of a lot of things we say today about our framers and our founding fathers and mothers.  I may like some of them more than my best understandings of the truth, and I need to grant them their own weight and authority.  That doesnít mean that I agree to substitute fantasy for reality, much as it may appeal.

     I believe.
Bob K
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2 posted 09-02-2011 02:44 AM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K



     I noticed that this thread, which appeared right before I took off for scenic Buffalo-on-Lake-Eerie didn't get any response.  I was wondering if that was because by response to Mike's comment was ill-written or whether it was simply an uninteresting topic of conversation in general.  I was gone for almost two weeks and didn't get a chance to check back.  I have no particular wish to torment a dead horse, if the topic is uninteresting.  I thought I'd simply try a trial balloon if anybody is interested.
Balladeer
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3 posted 09-02-2011 07:21 AM       View Profile for Balladeer   Email Balladeer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Balladeer's Home Page   View IP for Balladeer

Sorry, Bob, but I got busy at the time and this post slipped by me. I'll be happy to respond as soon as I can and I appreciate the time you took to be part of it.
Balladeer
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4 posted 09-02-2011 10:21 PM       View Profile for Balladeer   Email Balladeer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Balladeer's Home Page   View IP for Balladeer

Bob, thank you for your thoughts, althoughI cannot really address them since you are asking for more information concerning certain areas. Only the writer of the column can supply the information you ask for.

What I CAN do is to point out the areas I agree with..

This was not the intent of the framers of the US constitution.  Their vision was one of citizen legislators, who would temporarily put aside their careers in business, the professions, or academia, to serve the public good for a time before returning to their communities. Those who originally conceived the US system did not foresee the rise of a permanent class of professional legislators, motivated to ignore the greater good in order to sustain themselves in office.

I agree. Our early legislators did not give up their jobs or their farms or whatever to move to Washington and become professional legislators....and when their terms were over, they went back to their normal life  and work. I don't think the original plan was to have congress become a "profession" but more like  a temporary position.

Over time, a steadily increasing proportion of tax revenues has flowed to the federal government, at the expense of the states. With that money has come greater authority. Rather than the citizens of the states making spending decisions at the local and provincial level, where their input would be far more direct and the opportunities for abuse, mismanagement and duplication far less, key decisions are more and more frequently made in Washington.

I agree. Every time there is a new federal tax, that is money going to Washington as opposed to the states. It also grants  the federal government more power over making decisions for the states as opposed to having the states make their decisions for themselves.

Polls show conclusively that Americans are greatly concerned with the national debt, even if they disagree strongly about how to cut it. The same polls, unsurprisingly, show popular disdain for a Congress whose political cowardice and fecklessness were so prominently on display during the recent crisis over the US debt ceiling.

Citizens' disdain, however, usually does not extend to their own congressmen. Why? Because in the desperate effort to win federal dollars, an individual congressman's worth is determined not by her ability to change a dysfunctional system, which she can hardly do alone, but by ensuring a fair share for her constituents. Remember, in Washington, congressmen are not citizen-legislators, but professionals. Their influence, measured by their ability to get money for their states and districts, is not determined by merit, but by seniority.

A voter who might otherwise be tempted to send a message to Washington, and to try to change the wasteful and self-serving culture of the Capitol knows that the result of voting his or her congressman out of office will most likely be to gratuitously disadvantage one's own locality in the zero-sum competition for federal money.

An evil genius working alone could not have devised a better system for favouring incumbents, who indeed are consistently shown by election results to be greatly advantaged. The only way to address this systemic weakness and to bring public-spirited responsibility to US governance is to impose a systemic change: That is, to impose term limits on federal legislators.


I agree absolutely. That is how congressmen keep getting re-elected. Pelosi, Reid both keep getting re-elected because they deliver for their voters. Barney Frank is very open about it, saying he will never lose and election because he takes care of his people. Republicans are no different. It's a bad system. These congressment don't care about the country. They care about getting re-elected. Their voters don't care about t he country. They care about electing someone who will take care of THEM. I agree wholeheartedly that term limits are needed to stop that insanity. We have term limits on the president but congress, whichis more powerful, has none, It makes no sense.
 
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