capitalism/communism/political ideology

Discussion in 'Politics and Society' started by juantoo3, Jan 21, 2004.

  1. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ....whys guy.... ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Thank you, very much, Baud, for agreeing to participate!:)

    You have laid out some very important issues to address.:D

    I would like to begin by saying my question as to the purpose of government was intended on a far more elemental level. I have long thought the best form of government was a benevolent king. Of course, the worst form is a tyrannical king. And since kingdoms run across the spectrum, there is no guarantee the people will have either a good, bad or mediocre government. So kingdoms in my mind are not generally suitable for modern society.

    The purpose for government it seems to me, is to provide for a secure and stable society. Anarchy, by its nature, cannot provide for a stable society. Society is necessary to provide the best opportunity for each individual under given circumstances. That is, one lone individual against the elements (not to mention the rest of the world), stands little chance of survival. That individual must be not only able, but proficient, in acquiring food, shelter, water, health, sanitation, clothing, tools (weapons), and a host of other incidental necessities. A lone individual would then have to be a master gardener and/or hunter/fisher, fire builder, cook, shelter builder (with every thing that entails), water purifier, doctor, sanitary engineer, textile weaver or hide preparer, tailor, and tool/weapon manufacturer, likely involving metallurgy from casting to milling and finishing. And in the grandest sense, be able to accomplish these things with a toothpick and dental floss like McGiver (the TV show character who used to make wonderful contraptions out of bits and pieces of junk). I have intentionally belabored this to make a point, it is far too much for any person to hope to master in a lifetime, let alone be proficient in a survival setting. This is where society comes in.

    In a society, individuals can specialize, and allow for the greater opportunity for all to thrive. Nothing in life is guaranteed. Even in a social setting, individuals can flounder and perish. But their odds are greatly increased when dealing with the elements. An individual can be a gardener/farmer, and provide vegetable food for a society. A hunter/fisher can gather flesh food for a society. A fire starter can build fire for warmth, safety and industry. A chef can cook, etc. Some individuals can master multiple talents, a cook may learn to start their own fires for instance. But likely there is one or some within a given society that can accomplish these necessary tasks, and can teach others in order to continue that knowledge.

    In order to develop a working hypothesis, let us surmise how society may have been in prehistory. A group of like-minded individuals gathered around a strong protector for survival of the group. For the sake of discussion, let us call him the "chief." The chief then would provide of his talents for the protection of that society from outside and internal threats. The others, now relatively free to prosper without serious concern of threats, can then invest their energies into their respective talents. If a threat was serious enough from outside, the group could then rally behind the chief to face the threat. Internal threats pose their own problems, and for the sake of brevity I will forego those considerations.

    What we can see then is that government, "chief", allowed for relative peace and stability that few if any individuals could accomplish alone. Because of the energy expended in security, the lone individual hasn't the opportunity to flourish and thrive. A group however, interacting amongst themselves, could very easily prosper and thrive because of the division of labor, provided they had sufficient security. Government then, provides for the security and stability of a society, in order that the individuals that make up that society can flourish and thrive. This becomes crucial when one considers that non-essential knowledge, "technology", can only come about when a society's physiological and safety needs are met (to borrow from Abraham Maslow). That is, while it can be said that necessity is the mother of invention, technology comes about from free time gathered from the division of labor. Writing, for instance, is not a survival skill. It is not necessary for existence. Yet writing was able to be developed because that society was able to not only meet, but exceed their physiological and safety needs. Stated another way, if you are cold and hungry, your thoughts are of getting warm and fed. Idle thoughts at such a time are wasted energy, a very precious commodity in a survival situation. It is only when you are fed, and fed well, with no thoughts of your next meal, and warm and safe with no threat to those concerns, that your mind can be free to exercise. Government provides for the safety and security of society.

    To this point, I have discussed government at an elementary level. While the basic premise remains, it is compounded (confounded?) by size. It seems so easy at a tribal level, but when governing millions or billions of people, the infrastructure to provide that stability and security becomes extremely complex. Enter bureaucracy and red tape. Add to that the definitions of stability and security expand and compound as well. Security is no longer only from a tiger or a snowstorm or a rival tribal raid. Security is now from guns and bombs and WMD's. Stability is no longer behind a single strong man, it is behind a collection of supposedly wise elders and bureaucratic red tape.

    It is also important to note that government only comprises one aspect of society. Other aspects involve religion, economics and education. For the time being, these aspects must be considered only peripherally for the sake of brevity. However, these aspects have become crucial to society as well, and government is the instrument that seeks to tie these things together and form a functioning whole out of it all.
    ;)
     
  2. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ....whys guy.... ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Now, we can get into the good stuff, because we have a foundation laid.

    Should a government do any of these things, or not? Which provide for the most stable and secure society, in order to benefit the most individuals in order to insure the perpetuation and promotion of that society? Keeping in mind the aspects of religion, economics and education, fundamental to the health and improvement of that society, and mental health and sanity of the individuals within that society. What form provides the greatest possible good for the most? THAT, is where we are, and it is to that end that we seek.

    In recognizing that humans are fallible, it is reasonable to assume that no one way of governing yet devised is perfect. A society is only as secure and stable as the institution that governs it. In my mind then, it is the struggle to achieve the lesser of evils. Since societies are dynamic, a system that is inherently static will ultimately fail. Yet a fully dynamic system of government is unstable. Therefore, a government with a strong foundation, but able to adapt as need arises, seems best in my view.
     
  3. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ....whys guy.... ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Thank you Susma, for being a good sport!
    Agreed, for the reasons mentioned above.

    Tentatively, I agree. But for the sake of discussion, is there any other system that can satisfy the requirements of providing a stable foundation while allowing dynamic change as required?

    And why do we watch our government? Surely it is not idle or morbid curiosity. We watch in order to help insure that government is acting in the interests of the many, and not at the expense of the few, while insisting that it adapt to changing conditions. This is possible only in governments that allow participation of the masses. Forms of government that preclude the participation of the masses, do so I suspect for reasons of holding and consolidating power, and over time tend to be static. Examples would be kingships and autocracies. Likewise, fully dynamic systems, whether with full or partial participation of the masses, are unstable. Examples would be warrior and conquering tribes (hordes).

    Yet for all of the seeming evils of power, government is necessary. Even greater evil comes from lack of government. So we come to Lord Acton's lament, "Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely." Do we invest the total power in one chief, or do we spread the potential for evil across many chiefs? Do we have one absolutely corrupt chief, or do we have many lesser corrupt chiefs? Can a system be devised that limits the corruptibility of any and all chiefs, given human faults and weaknesses?

    Ah, but this skirts the issue. Besides, there are other threads here that deal with such matters. I promise, you do not want to get me started, and as a courtesy I have deliberately avoided those threads. Dragging peripherally related issues into this clouds the original discussion, avoiding the original intent of the exercise. The matter is not whether or not a government should be in any specific war, more rather, should a government be prepared and able to do any war, in order to secure the stability and security of its society? I might add whether or not a government should be prepared, willing and able to war with violent internal dissent? Such as crime.

    Respectfully submitted, and open for discussion. Thank you for engaging me in this.
     
  4. Susma Rio Sep

    Susma Rio Sep Well-Known Member

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    Time to formulate the propositions?

    Allow me to congratulate the main posters of this thread: Juan and Anz. And please forgive me if I appear to arrogate to myself the rostrum to award congratulatations. But honestly your erudition and skill of exposition are impressive; it is human nature to admire were merits are obviously present in a gathering.

    I have learned many things on communism, capitalism, and political ideology from the contributors here, all including Phil and Baud. I really feel confused in the face of such patience on the one hand and generous sharing on the other.

    Pretty soon, I feel that maybe Juan and Anz, you can summarize your respective positions in clearly formulated propositions on this multiplex topic; so that at least I for one can leave the thread with the knowledge that there are wise and learned and well-exposed people who propound issues on economics and politics in their respective sympathies.

    Thanks in advance.

    Susma Rio Sep
     
  5. Susma Rio Sep

    Susma Rio Sep Well-Known Member

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    Index of condemned propositions

    You know, I used to be in a Catholic university and had to study Catholic theology. There I acquired the habit of consulting the Index of Condemned Propositions (something like that if I remember right) -- Catholics from academic circles know about this work which I think is still on-going. I am now a postgraduate Catholic, though.

    In the Catholic Church which has an intellectual history of sorts but very weighty just same, for this Church is still the mother of Western civilization whatever the opprobria hurled against her, there would be long-lasting controversies going on for centuries. But the Vatican would eventually step in and come out with a list of propositions each ending with Anathema sit,* for siding with each of them.

    If a proposition is condemned, then I know what all other positions which are opposite or different are allowed. Not that I am taking the condemnation seriously, though; well, not now, anyway.

    No, I am not saying that I am inviting the proponents here to state their positions in propositions so that I can condemn them or oppose them, but so that I can be clear and precise about their advocacies, after all so much words have been expended on them.

    So, may we eventually come to the presentation by each contributor here of his propositions?

    Thanks in advance again.

    Susma Rio Sep

    Anathema sit -- Let him be damned (from Susma's glossary).
     
  6. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ....whys guy.... ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Thank you Susma, for your thoughtful musings!

    I feel it best at this point to defer any specific suggestion on my part, in order to allow opposing views and/or corrections to what I have just posited.

    One more thing, quickly,
    I sincerely mean no offense to any Catholic individual, I know many throughout my life to be decent people. And I am in agreement the influence the Catholic church has had as an institution, religious, political, and otherwise, on Western society and culture. To deny such would be to deny 2/3 of European history since the Catholic church received political sanction. Of course, included in that history are some of the darkest moments any culture or society could be forced to face. Political power, and the abuse thereof...
     
  7. Susma Rio Sep

    Susma Rio Sep Well-Known Member

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    I am myself a postgraduate Catholic.

    Juan writes:

    I can't be more in agreement with you.

    As a matter of fact, I am myself a postgraduate Catholic. And I think the Catholic Church should go into postgraduate mode.

    Do you notice that where it used to hold suzerainty over everything in Europe, it is now a museum institution there. But it's making headways in Africa, where the peoples there still have the innocence of children -- and their unruly lack of self-restraint. No offense to our brothers in Africa, though.

    Some Africans are pretty smart. Consider those already classical Nigerian financial con artists of internet scale.

    Again, please no offense to Africans, just an academic observation. And I stand to be corrected.

    Susma Rio Sep
     
  8. Anzac

    Anzac Resident Anarchist

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    Sorry to not have responded sooner - haven't had the time to be able to reply - and I still don't (on totally unrelated matters).

    I'll post my alternative on at a later date and can ask where the Catholic Church enters into the equation? (seems to be floating in the last few threads). As for the Catholic Church being responsible for western growth, look at Sunni (or Shia for that matter) Islam during the same time period and look at the differences in progression - it is my OPINION on the subject that they held them back - but that's another story.

    Anyway, expect a reply soon.
     
  9. Baud

    Baud Seeker of Knowledge

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    So here are my two cents.

    I think that the purpose of government should be "to help maximize, whenever possible, the well-being of the people and land under its responsibility" and I am tempted to add "while refraining as much as possible from injuring the well-being of others".

    You will notice that this definition of purpose does not refer to any type of government structure (democracy, communism, etc.). I think we should talk about structure only after defining the purpose.

    Some explanation:

    - "Maximize the well-being" covers all aspects one could imagine: negative aspects (guarantee external and internal security, removing threats, etc.) and positive aspects (encouraging initiative, redistribution of wealth, promoting trade, etc.).
    -Why to "help" maximize? Because I think that the primary responsibility for well-being is an individual responsibility. The government should not be the sole provider of well-being.
    - "Whenever possible" means that it is impossible to maximize the well-being of each and everyone together. There must always be compromise between conflicting interests.
    - "Of the people and land" because government does not only have a responsibility for human beings but also for for sustainable development, nature preservation, and natural resources management.
    - Who is "under its responsibility" could be for the government to decide, but not always. Asylum seekers should be protected as well as citizens. You will notice also that I didn't refer to nation, territory, boundaries or ethnicity. So a government could be resonsible for people well outside its boundaries (theoretically, my definition would not see any specific or necessary link between government and territory).
    - Refraining from hurting others should be implied, but I add it anyway because it shows that government could not maximize the well-being of 99.9% of its citizens to the detriment of 0.1% without having to care. Likewise, government should not be authorized to maximize the well-being of its citizens while pludering someone else's riches (see our discussion on rich nations exploiting or not the poor ones).

    Now it is clear that this does not reflect the actual purpose of a number of past and presnet governments, but as we agreed we were trying to define a better form of government...

    And to answer all my questions in one paragraph, based on this purpose, yes the government should probably consider all of them in some form or other. The key would be to do this with the purpose in mind. Obviously, it would not be an easy task.

    Baud
     
  10. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ....whys guy.... ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Kindest regards, and thank you Baud!
    If I read you correctly, we are saying in essence the same thing. The primary difference I see is that you believe a government's "sphere of influence" should reach beyond its borders. Morally, I agree with you. Technically, logistically, culturally and fundamentally, there are some problems when dealing with other governments. If there were only one government in the world, an idea I am not fully in agreement with, these problems would be presumed to be resolved. But since we are dealing with a world containing something like 200 distinct recognized governments, with all that entails (religions, economics, cultures, languages, etc.), it seems to me improper for each and every one of those governments to meddle in the internal affairs of all of the others.

    Stated another way, should the US, Britain, Russia and China all have a say in how France conducts its internal affairs? Likewise, does France have the wherewithal and resources to meddle in the internal affairs of each of these other governments? Not only are competing interests at stake, but if there is any form of nationalism remaining, that meddling may be with the covert intent of destabilizing that government. In effect, this would be waging "bloodless" war.

    Should governments be more responsible in the effects of their actions on other governments and societies? In my view, certainly. But expanding the direct (rather than ambassadorial persuasion) power into other regions as a rule rather than exception would seem to me to create more problems than it would solve.

    Just some thoughts.
     
  11. Baud

    Baud Seeker of Knowledge

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    I am not necessrily saying that governments should control people or land outside its borders. Just people and land for which it is responsible. This is currently defined as citizens, resident aliens, and land and resources within the borders. This is fine, but does not necessarily need to be so.

    And, BTW, the UK does have a say in how France conducts its internal affairs. The UK can vote a EC regulation or directive that France would not agree to, but which would - if approved by the necessary majority of states - be applicable in French internal affairs. This is not directly influencing France internal affairs, but in general all EU governments have now some responsibilities towards all people living in the EU. Of course this is limited to the EU territory, but nothing says that the concept could not evolve.

    I am not saying that we should have a world government, but that the post-Westphalia Treaty concept of the Nation-State should not limit how we view government.

    Baud
     
  12. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ....whys guy.... ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Kindest Regards, and thank you, Baud!

    I don't wish to sound ignorant, I want to make sure we are seeing and speaking of the same things. By "control people or land outside its borders", are you implying the vestiges of the colonial era, the satellite subjects wholly beholding and dependent upon their patrons? If so, I had counted such in my mind as a part of a nation's sphere of influence. If not, please explain.

    I confess to some lack of knowledge about the specifics in how the EU operates. I haven't had a need to look deeply into the matter. If what you say is true (and I have no reason to doubt), then the United States of Europe are modeled somewhat differently than in the US. The individual states here have no great influence on the internal affairs of the other states, other than perhaps on occasion to voice concerns. I suspect this may be because the US states are beholding foremost to our central government, and through the central government we have no trade barriers, language differences, currency differences, etc., as each of the states are bound to each other fairly intimately. At least, more so I would think than the emerging Common Market of Europe. In this much I would say that a (collection of) US state(s) could petition our government to address an issue of concern, and after going through the legal process, enact law that would bind all states similarly. This is not how things are done typically, as lobbyists usually present their cases before the legislature, but in theory it could proceed in such a manner. My point being that an individual state, or collection of states, have no direct influence on the internal affairs of any other state(s). For example, the death penalty is allowed in only a small number of states in accordance with state law, not national law. Because there is no national law against it, it is up to the individual states to decide. The flip side of this is that our national government does utilize the death penalty (in rare circumstances), which leaves the legislative door open for any states that wish to utilize that form of punishment. The states, however, are not required to observe the death penalty. Whether for or against, the individual states do not sway the internal affairs of the others. Kentucky, for example, can not directly influence California on affairs of state, but it might hold discussions with neighboring Tennessee about pollution concerns from factory emissions, and Tennessee would not necessarily be bound by those discussions unless it unilaterally agreed to. Kentucky might petition the central government, and after legislative process law might be enacted which would then become incumbent upon all 50 states.

    If I understand you correctly, it seems the EU is more of a gentleman's club for nations. In order to join (Turkey is the example in my mind at the moment), a nation must conform to an agreed set of standards incumbent upon all members. Where that nation's internal affairs and governmental conduct are contrary to the agreed upon standards, that nation must bring its methods into compliance in order to gain acceptance by the EU. Is this correct?

    I am not familiar with the Westphalia Treaty. What is it, and how does it define nation-state? I have no formal description in my mind at the moment of what constitutes a nation-state, and I am attempting to keep a broad and open view for the purpose of discussion.

    I can't help by think there are social and cultural issues that stress bonds such as the EU. This is not intended as a slight. In the US, the various states have their social and cultural differences, but by far we share more than we differ. When there exists extremes in cultural and social differences, intimate ties would seem to me difficult to maintain. While the main part of Europe shares a great deal of culture and society, in large part by proximity, reaching out to a nation as dissimilar as Turkey seems a stretch. I sincerely hope that particular bond works over time, it would demonstrate a flexibility in the EU that I hadn't foreseen.
     
  13. Susma Rio Sep

    Susma Rio Sep Well-Known Member

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    Tabulations, please.

    If I may:

    Please, Juan and Baud, can each of you make a tabulation at this point of what each of you think the other is sympathetic to as regards facts and as regards ideals. Then we can have two tabulations each divided into two columns representing each poster's perceptions.

    After this display from each poster, Juan and Baud, you two can continue to expatiate on your respective positions of the issues you two bring up. For me at least I have the benefit of quick acquaintance with the ideas each of you hold and take exceptions to -- so far.

    Thanks in advance.

    Susma Rio Sep
     
  14. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ....whys guy.... ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Kindest Regards, Susma!

    I had thought to put together a summation earlier, but I do not wish to seem to be placing words in Baud's mouth.

    If I may be allowed the luxury, expecting correction if necessary, I believe what we agree on for the moment is:

    government is necessary

    government is responsible for those within its sphere of influence.

    government is responsible for its environment in its sphere of influence.

    government is responsible for the people within its sphere of influence.

    government is responsible for the economics within its sphere of influence (conjecture by default).

    government is responsible for the society (societies) within its sphere of influence.

    government is responsible for the culture within its sphere of influence.

    government is responsible to protect its sphere of influence, within and without.

    Once these matters are clarified, we can attempt to discuss the best manner in which to accomplish these goals, while respecting other governments.

    Again, this is a rude summary. If I am off or if I have overlooked something, I expect correction.
     
  15. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ....whys guy.... ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Kindest Regards, Baud!

    I did not intend to overlook these:

    - "Maximize the well-being" covers all aspects one could imagine: negative aspects (guarantee external and internal security, removing threats, etc.) and positive aspects (encouraging initiative, redistribution of wealth, promoting trade, etc.).

    This is largely contained in the summary above. I think it would be correct to consider each individual government on its own merits, "case-by-case" if you will, so some form of flexibility seems to me necessary. The really difficult part of our exercise is in attempting a "one-size fits all" solution. What works for France, South Africa, or Brunei, may not work so well with India or China.

    -Why to "help" maximize? Because I think that the primary responsibility for well-being is an individual responsibility. The government should not be the sole provider of well-being.

    Wonderful! We do seem to agree the individual person has the ultimate responsibility for their person, and should not be wholly reliant on government for their support. Provided that government has adopted and adapted an economic model that creates wealth, giving it a pool of resources to work with, it then has the ability to provide and support further means to grow and expand its citizenry, which ultimately grows and expands its governmental abilities. This can create a self-perpetutating cycle, but that cycle is very easily disrupted.
    Perhaps I should clarify what it is I mean by "grow and expand." When a government provides resources for education, for example, it provides its citizens with a means to become more productive, thus creating more wealth. By providing for better health, those citizens remain able to create wealth. By providing a less restrictive business climate, it encourages creation of wealth. A government's ability to provide these things must always be tempered with its genuine ability to do so, and with its previous obligations such as environmental concerns and national defense. To borrow from an old Charlton Heston movie, "The Ten Commandments", speaking of the slaves after having robbed the royal graneries-"the full make many (bricks), the starving make few, the dead make none." With no bricks, no work gets done, no wealth is created, and no redistribution can occur.

    - "Whenever possible" means that it is impossible to maximize the well-being of each and everyone together. There must always be compromise between conflicting interests.

    Yes, that is a purpose of government, to distribute between competing interests, ostensibly for the greatest good for the most, without doing so at the expense of the least. At some point, granting more resources into some endeavors is much like the proverbial "beating a dead horse." That encourages graft and corruption. If, for example, traditional telephonics is being replaced by cellular technology, it would be unwise for a government (or business) to continue to invest in traditional telephonics. An exception might be made if cellular was not and could not be made available in that particular region, in which case old technology is better than none.

    - "Of the people and land" because government does not only have a responsibility for human beings but also for for sustainable development, nature preservation, and natural resources management.

    I am in total agreement here. The US has made admirable moves in this direction, but there is a great deal yet to be done. When and where possible (in my mind, every possible effort MUST be exhausted), business (and by extension government) should consider the environmental impact of its actions. When the impact is great, some form of restitution should be made for restoration, or forego the business endeavor or find an alternate method/solution.

    - Who is "under its responsibility" could be for the government to decide, but not always. Asylum seekers should be protected as well as citizens. You will notice also that I didn't refer to nation, territory, boundaries or ethnicity. So a government could be resonsible for people well outside its boundaries (theoretically, my definition would not see any specific or necessary link between government and territory).

    Again, provided the government has the resources (created wealth) to be able to do so. And returning to the concept of the individual being ultimately responsible for self, I believe that assistance to other governments should be as much or more in development, not hand outs. Exceptions might be made for emergency situations. But it is better in my view to teach another government "how to." As for asylum seekers, I feel that term should have a limited definition. Granting full benefits automatically without stipulation encourages illegal immigration. This has a negative psychological impact on the legitimate citizenry, and can overwhelm a government's resources. Genuine asylum seekers should not carry such stigma in practice, provided they are limited in number and with legitimate cause. In this, the US is famous for accepting "the tired, the poor, the downtrodden." Culturally, there is always a difficult period of integration.

    - Refraining from hurting others should be implied, but I add it anyway because it shows that government could not maximize the well-being of 99.9% of its citizens to the detriment of 0.1% without having to care. Likewise, government should not be authorized to maximize the well-being of its citizens while pludering someone else's riches (see our discussion on rich nations exploiting or not the poor ones).

    I believe I already stated "to the benefit of the many, not at the expense of the few." The exception might be (and I realize this is a stretch) unless by accomodating the few, the many are unduly restrained. A society's culture tends to make these distinctions, the government merely enables those accomodations (or lack thereof). Certainly this accomodation is possible within a nation's sphere of influence, but it becomes problematic beyond that reach. In this, I return to the above statement of teaching other nations "how to." When a nation charitibly gives to another, it is effectively redistribution of wealth on a global scale. This matter ultimately resides in the natural distribution of resources. What if a nation/government does not have a needed resource within its sphere of influence? It looks beyond, in order to trade and do business. And in that trade, a nation/government uses its available resources to create wealth in order to provide for its citizenry. This is so on both ends of the deal. If a nation has a resource, but not the means to "value-add" (to borrow a business term), it either sells that resource in the raw state, or it develops the means to value-add and sells the resultant product. As global business expands, this is becoming more the reality. In the tennis shoe example, a nation that once had only the raw materials sold those materials abroad, where they were made into shoes. As production costs become prohibitive in traditional manufacturing countries, companies are increasingly opening new facilities where the resources are located (or where importation is less prohibitive). Where previously only the owners of the rubber plantations could gain wealth, now positions are opened in the manufacturing facilities that create wealth for the employees. The government now has a greater base from which to draw monetary resources from to redistribute. In effect, Anzac's argument is moot. While he endorsed global redistribution, he lamented that jobs were moving from traditional places of manufacture (this is the latent argument in disparity of wages). In this case, one cannot have their cake and eat it too. Now wealth is increasingly being redistributed, and it shows no signs of letting up. In the short term, this is beneficial for the consumer. As things become more equitible globally, who knows? And as tommorrow brings new technologies, the importance of particular resources shifts. For example, what resource will OPEC nations draw from when oil is no longer needed for transportation? Hopefully, those governments will have invested in some alternative to create wealth and continue to provide for their citizenry.
     
  16. Baud

    Baud Seeker of Knowledge

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    Loads of interestings things. I will first of all answer Susma's request by avoiding it. ;) Actually, my position on the purpose of government in short form is what I have stated in bold in a previous post. The answers to all the questions I mentioned before would simply be the detailed implementation ("simply" meaning by a very complex process) of the basic principle. I think from Juan's reply that we generally agree on these basic premises.

    Now to turn to Juan's questions. I apologize if I was a little technical before - comes from working on a regular basis in this field. I will still be somewhat technical now, and I apologize in advance.

    Actually, States can and do influence each other's internal affairs in the US in some way. The Senate is supposed to represent the interests of the States, while the House represents the interests of the People generally. This bicameral system is typical from federal states. On the other hand, in a lot of states, like in the US or in Belgium senators are elected and do not really represent the interests of their State/Region.

    The EU is built on the same principles. There is the Parliament, representing the People of Europe and directly elected, and the Council representing the Member States. Contrarily to the US Senate, the members of the Councils are ministers of the Member States and are not directly elected. To become law (European laws are called regulations or directives), a proposal must go through the legislative process (there are different processes for different areas of policy), but in the most used process at this time the proposal must receive the agreement of the Parliament and the Council. The way the Council votes also varies depending on the policy area, but under the qualified majority voting now widely used, a majority of States can outvote the others and "force" them to implement a law.

    However, an important thing to remember is that US federal power is limited to what powers are granted to the US by the Constitution. Other powers remain for the States to exercise. The same applies in the EU. Only matters covered by the EU or EC Treaties can be touched by European laws. Income taxation, for instance, remains a responsibility of the Member States.

    Now about the Treaty of Westphalia, I have actually been looking for its text for quite a number of years. It is made of two treaties signed in 1648 between Spain and the Netherlands, and France and Germany to end the 30-years war. They solved a number of religious (catholic/protestants) and territorial disputes between the parties. It did not attempt to define the Nation-State, but it is widely seen as having been the end of the Holy Roman Germanic Empire, a loose confederation of small German States, and to have consecrated the primacy in international affairs of political entities based on one ethno-cultural Nation residing within a territory, as opposed to the medieval concept of personal and somewhat willing one-to-one fealty to a lord without necessary regard to ethnicity or location.

    I hope nobody is bored yet... ;)

    Baud
     
  17. Baud

    Baud Seeker of Knowledge

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    And as far as "controlling people and land beyond its borders" is concerned, I should have used a more generic term than "controlling". What I mean to say is that the sphere of responsibility of government is currently very generally seen as being over its citizens and its own territory. I don't think that this is entirely true anymore, nor that it should remain this way. It wasn't supposed to be a reference to the consequences fo colonialism, but this would certainly be included. The reach of government is now reaching well beyond the territory, and government have in my opinion some responsibility there.

    You will notice that, in my definition, I have taken intergovernmental organisation like the UN or the EU to be "government". Maybe not in the usual sense for what concerns the UN, but it cannot in my opinion be excluded from the analysis of the purposes of government.

    Baud
     
  18. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ....whys guy.... ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Kindest Regards, Baud!

    Not at all, please continue.

    Very good. I have a cursory familiarity with recent European history , but it is by no means extensive. I understand Germany to have a very complex and muddled recent history, until the mid-1800's, my impression brought on by its affiliation with the Vatican. The Treaty of Westphalia ending the 30 years' war would explain some.

    Sphere of responsibility, ok. Perhaps I am missing something, and I wish in no way to be rude. Would there not be complications inherent in such? Complications are not an automatic disqualifier, ways to accomplish such have to be found. I suppose if a nation has a friendly and cooperative history with another, such is not a great problem. The problem I see is in influencing nations who do not want nor have invited such outside "responsibility." If I am misunderstanding, please clarify. I can see how such could be perceived much like a "nosey neighbor." The kind that know how everybody else should run their affairs, but not a clue how to run their own affairs.

    Very well, I had a somewhat different perception. The UN seems to me a place for nations to interact, but by and large, able to dismiss. Perhaps this stems from American arrogance, something I sincerely wish to set aside in my own reasoning. Yet, the bigger dogs in the pack get to make the rules, and choose whether or not to follow those rules. This is not equitable, but it is reality. I do feel the UN has some good qualities, and certainly is a vehicle for promoting human welfare, especially in lesser developed countries. But as for seriously influencing "the big dogs", its hands are effectively tied. The nature of the creature requires, in my mind, a unique perspective on government. It is a government attempting to govern governments.
    The EU I understood to be (primarily) an economic agreement, not unlike NAFTA, or the South-East Asian trade bloc. If I read you correctly then, the EU is far more than a trade bloc, sharing intimate legislation beyond that of economics.

    So, where do we go from here?
     
  19. Baud

    Baud Seeker of Knowledge

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    I wasn't entirely clear. When I wrote that I consider the UN to be government, I didn't mean "a government". I see it as a branch, or emanation of governmental power, and as such having the same basic purpose, like the IRS is also government. None of them are "a government" in the strict sense, though.

    FYI, this is a list of the areas where the EU is authorised to make policy or legislate: free movement of goods; agriculture; free movement of persons, service and capital; visas, asylum and immigration; transport; competition, taxation and approximation of laws; economic and monetary policy; employment; commercial policy; customs; social policy and education; culture; public health; consumer protection; networks; industry; economic and social cohesion; reserach and technology development; environment; development cooperation; economic cooperation with thrid countries; common foreign and security policy; and judicial cooperation in criminal matters. Please keep in mind, however, that in many of these areas, the EU competence is shared with the member states.

    Baud
     
  20. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ....whys guy.... ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Kindest Regards, Baud!

    Very good! That gives me a better overview of the purpose and parameters of the EU and UN.

    I am not intimately familiar with NAFTA or ASEAN, or the fledgling Latin American unions, I believe them to be predominantly focused on economic concerns, which include many of the same focuses and interests laid out for the EU.

    So if I am I now reading you better, the UN and these other "unions" (economic and otherwise) are tools used by "conventional" governments to facilitate interaction with other governments. Yes? Is it fair to say that this is perhaps an extension of the "Treaty" process into a more physical form, granting a certain flexibility and dynamism?

    Last week, one of my professors presented an interesting viewpoint I have been mulling over since. My concern is that I may not present it correctly here. My understanding of what I heard is that economics now determines the fate and rule of nations, particularly at the level of the individual. Global business will not be stopped, despite the perceived faults by some. If one could conceivably convince US business of the "error of its ways", globalism would still continue, driven if by none other than the Chinese and East Indians. Those two nations alone account for on the order of half of the world's population. Many among that population have tasted the finer things in life, found them to taste sweet, and want these things now for themselves. These markets are exploding in growth, and that growth will fuel the fires of expansion well into the middle of this century.

    While it seems easy for some to consider these nations as having "backwards" societies and governments, such is not really the case. I believe it is incumbent upon developed nations to not only recognize the value of these nations (and others), but in the interest of peace and prosperity on a global scale, facilitate rather than attempt to hamper the impending progress. Instead of jumping in front of the freight train and trying to stop it "superman" style, it is better to coach the engineer in how best to throttle and control the train so that it doesn't jump the track.

    Perhaps the EU, and the other economic agreements, are a form of the same thing I am alluding to. Or, as the old saw goes, "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em."
     

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