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Government folly


Off-Topic Discussions

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Kryzbyn wrote:
I think treason is a bit much, but definately censured until their term is over.

I don't think it's a bit much at all. Ignoring your sworn duty to represent the people who voted for you in exchange for a corporate payoff sounds plenty treasonous to me, and treason convictions would send one hell of a message.


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Kelsey MacAilbert wrote:
One term limit for all politicians, no lobbying. Anybody caught lobbying or taking bribes should be considered guilty of treason, and punished as such. Considering what the maximum punishment for treason in the US is, it would make quite a message.

Not saying you're wrong Kels, but the 'no lobbying" is more important than the "one term limit" half of that sentence.

Nothing against term limits, I like term limits.


Hitdice wrote:
Kelsey MacAilbert wrote:
One term limit for all politicians, no lobbying. Anybody caught lobbying or taking bribes should be considered guilty of treason, and punished as such. Considering what the maximum punishment for treason in the US is, it would make quite a message.

Not saying you're wrong Kels, but the 'no lobbying" is more important than the "one term limit" half of that sentence.

Nothing against term limits, I like term limits.

I can negotiate on the term limit part. I too find the lobbying part more important.


On second thought, I retract the treason statement. The Constitution states that:

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.
The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.

Furthermore, the US Criminal Code states that:

Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.

Lobbying and bribe taking do not fit into this legal framework of treason.

That said, a maximum sentence of life without the possibility of parole for lobbying and bribe taking that was actually used would be very nice.


Revocation of citizenship and deportation. It'd be cheaper.

Taldor

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion Subscriber
Hitdice wrote:


Nothing against term limits, I like term limits.

My problem with term limits is then the legislators don't know basic procedure, and are more easily lead by staffers. When there's a permanent staff that gets passed from legislator to legislator, the unelected and often invisible staffers have as much influence on legislation as the elected representatives. I don't know what the solution is, but Michigan's term limits have led to some problems in the state legislature along these lines. :/

I don't like the current national state where we have a very incumbent friendly system either in the House and Senate, however.


Deport them to where, precisely?


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How many staffers does a rep or senator need? Is there so much going on they can't do it themselves? If there is, then we need to slow it down a bit, so the people actually elected to serve are the ones making the decisions.


Kelsey MacAilbert wrote:
Deport them to where, precisely?

Should we care?

Escort them to a seaport or an international airport. Bid them adieu.


Jess Door wrote:
Hitdice wrote:


Nothing against term limits, I like term limits.

My problem with term limits is then the legislators don't know basic procedure, and are more easily lead by staffers. When there's a permanent staff that gets passed from legislator to legislator, the unelected and often invisible staffers have as much influence on legislation as the elected representatives. I don't know what the solution is, but Michigan's term limits have led to some problems in the state legislature along these lines. :/

I don't like the current national state where we have a very incumbent friendly system either in the House and Senate, however.

Term limits for staff is cool; I like term limits.

Taldor

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion Subscriber

Well, when much of the House accepted the words "You have to vote for the legislation to find out what's in it," and are now regretting aspects of the vote in question, you know that:

1. The laws being voted on are poorly understood or possibly completely unread
2. Someone is writing this extremely complex legislation...and I bet that's what a lot of staff is for.

Staff is also used for constituent services, scheduling, reception, travel planning...much like any office.


Kelsey MacAilbert wrote:
One term limit for all politicians, no lobbying. Anybody caught lobbying or taking bribes should be considered guilty of treason, and punished as such. Considering what the maximum punishment for treason in the US is, it would make quite a message.

What exactly do you mean by lobbying? In it's most basic definition anyone who asks a politician to take a particular position on an issue is lobbying. Should asking your congressman to support your side of an issue be treason?

If you want a more restrictive definition of lobbying, try spelling it out to only include "bad" lobbying not "good" lobbying. It's not as easy as it might seem.

Taking (or giving) bribes is already illegal. Penalties aren't quite up
there with treason though. It's fairly rare anyway, since campaign contributions have been found to be free speech, though they can be and are limited. Running ads (or contributing to ads) in support of a candidate or issue are also free speech.

Most of what you want would require wholesale changes to the Constitution, including to what many consider our most fundamental rights.

I'm not at all opposed to serious campaign finance reform, even if we have to deal with "Freedom of Speech" issues to do it. Many other countries seem to have robust political debate with hard limits on campaigning and campaign contributions and without our "absolute" freedom of speech. That would have far more effect than bans on lobbying or term limits.

Term limits are a joke. All they would mean is that all Congressmen. instead of most, would be clueless about how to actually accomplish anything and more vulnerable to unelected staff and bureaucrats who knew how to work the system. And to lobbyists.
If you don't like your politicians, vote them out. Primary them. If you don't like the rate of incumbency, fight it at the state level. Gerrymandered districts are the big culprit for Representatives.


Kryzbyn wrote:
Kelsey MacAilbert wrote:
Deport them to where, precisely?

Should we care?

Escort them to a seaport or an international airport. Bid them adieu.

Why, so they can live out the rest of their lives on a gorgeous island resort with their bribe money? That's hardly a deterrent.


thejeff wrote:
Kelsey MacAilbert wrote:
One term limit for all politicians, no lobbying. Anybody caught lobbying or taking bribes should be considered guilty of treason, and punished as such. Considering what the maximum punishment for treason in the US is, it would make quite a message.

What exactly do you mean by lobbying?

Taking (or giving) bribes is already illegal.

By lobbying, I mean corporate political donations in exchange for votes.

thejeff wrote:
I'm not at all opposed to serious campaign finance reform, even if we have to deal with "Freedom of Speech" issues to do it. Many other countries seem to have robust political debate with hard limits on campaigning and campaign contributions and without our "absolute" freedom of speech. That would have far more effect than bans on lobbying or term limits.

This. I want Euro-style caps so badly.


Sure it is. There's no where like America on earth. I would not want to leave, or do anything to risk my citizenship. F that.
What good does all that money do if you have no freedom to go with it?

Taldor

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion Subscriber

The best defense against bad legislators gaining and keeping power is an informed, involved electorate with a long memory and a history of voting out representatives that disappoint them. :)

This is one reason I think the Tea Party, whether you agree or disagree with their positions on issues, is a good thing. It gets people both for and against their positions more involved in the election process. I think an informed, involved populace is the best defense we have of our liberties.


Jess Door wrote:
Well, when much of the House accepted the words "You have to vote for the legislation to find out what's in it,"

Anybody who bought that argument should be booted out of office, along with anybody who made it.


Kryzbyn wrote:

Sure it is. There's no where like America on earth. I would not want to leave, or do anything to risk my citizenship. F that.

What good does all that money do if you have no freedom to go with it?

You can live a very good life with all the freedom you could want in the Caribbean, Western Europe, or Mexico if you are rich enough.


Jess Door wrote:

The best defense against bad legislators gaining and keeping power is an informed, involved electorate with a long memory and a history of voting out representatives that disappoint them. :)

This is one reason I think the Tea Party, whether you agree or disagree with their positions on issues, is a good thing. It gets people both for and against their positions more involved in the election process. I think an informed, involved populace is the best defense we have of our liberties.

I agree 100%. This is the best case scenario.

But then again, regarding votes and bribes, would it then also be a conflict of interest for a person who's primary source of income is government assistance to get to vote as well?


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Kryzbyn wrote:

Sure it is. There's no where like America on earth. I would not want to leave, or do anything to risk my citizenship. F that.

What good does all that money do if you have no freedom to go with it?

If you've got enough money, you can get freedom pretty much anywhere.

You may have to spread some bribes around, but that's not a big deal.

Freedom for the poor is much harder to come by. Even in the US.


Jess Door wrote:
The best defense against bad legislators gaining and keeping power is an informed, involved electorate with a long memory and a history of voting out representatives that disappoint them. :)

That will never happen. The fact is that humans would really rather not act like this. Cracked.com, although a humor site, gives a very good explanation of why this will never, ever happen.


Kelsey MacAilbert wrote:
Jess Door wrote:
Well, when much of the House accepted the words "You have to vote for the legislation to find out what's in it,"
Anybody who bought that argument should be booted out of office, along with anybody who made it.

Deal with it. No one in Congress reads every bill they vote. Nor are they expert enough to comprehend the details of every bill on every possible topic. That's why they have staff.

They read the summaries. They get advice from their staff. They hear from the leadership.
There's nothing wrong with that. They delegate. They have to. It's the essence of running any large organization.


If their idea of freedom is to constantly worry about thugs kidnapping their children for a peice of their wealth, more power to 'em.

I simply think that if being an American means so little to them as to risk their citizenship then:
A) We don't want that kind of person in elected office; and
B) I don't want to spend another dime of government funds feeding, clothing and providing for their welfare in a prison.


Kelsey MacAilbert wrote:
Jess Door wrote:
The best defense against bad legislators gaining and keeping power is an informed, involved electorate with a long memory and a history of voting out representatives that disappoint them. :)
That will never happen. The fact is that humans would really rather not act like this. Cracked.com, although a humor site, gives a very good explanation of why this will never, ever happen.

Then the problem isn't our government. It's us. Because that's the only thing that's ever worked.

"To summarize the summary of the summary: people are a problem."


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thejeff wrote:
Kelsey MacAilbert wrote:
Jess Door wrote:
Well, when much of the House accepted the words "You have to vote for the legislation to find out what's in it,"
Anybody who bought that argument should be booted out of office, along with anybody who made it.

Deal with it. No one in Congress reads every bill they vote. Nor are they expert enough to comprehend the details of every bill on every possible topic. That's why they have staff.

They read the summaries. They get advice from their staff. They hear from the leadership.
There's nothing wrong with that. They delegate. They have to. It's the essence of running any large organization.

Delegating and summarizing is one thing. The idea that you have to vote for something to figure out what's in it is quite another. Not everybody has to read the bill, but somebody, whether the leading individuals or their staff, needs to. If nobody knows what's in it, have someone find out instead of voting on it to figure out what's in it.

Taldor

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion Subscriber
Kryzbyn wrote:
Jess Door wrote:

The best defense against bad legislators gaining and keeping power is an informed, involved electorate with a long memory and a history of voting out representatives that disappoint them. :)

This is one reason I think the Tea Party, whether you agree or disagree with their positions on issues, is a good thing. It gets people both for and against their positions more involved in the election process. I think an informed, involved populace is the best defense we have of our liberties.

I agree 100%. This is the best case scenario.

But then again, regarding votes and bribes, would it then also be a conflict of interest for a person who's primary source of income is government assistance to get to vote as well?

Here's the thing with that - I agree with this on a philosophical basis...but I can't think of a way to enforce this without a lot of potential for abuse.

What sort of governmental assistance? Should those receiving Social Security lose their right to vote? Unemployment? Food stamps? Maybe we should go back to only property owners getting to vote? Farm subsidies? Tax Credits?

This is a problem that has grown incrementally over the decades. The government is now sending agents to inspect preschooler's home packed lunches and mandating what the child must have in their lunch box (not eat!) in some states. Sometimes I worry all is lost.

Too many people are willing to give up freedom in order to avoid being responsible for themselves in every way.

Once the government provides health care, they have the power, as the one who pays for care, to dictate a LOT about how you live your life.


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thejeff wrote:
Kelsey MacAilbert wrote:
Jess Door wrote:
The best defense against bad legislators gaining and keeping power is an informed, involved electorate with a long memory and a history of voting out representatives that disappoint them. :)
That will never happen. The fact is that humans would really rather not act like this. Cracked.com, although a humor site, gives a very good explanation of why this will never, ever happen.

Then the problem isn't our government. It's us. Because that's the only thing that's ever worked.

"To summarize the summary of the summary: people are a problem."

The thing is, other countries have managed to mitigate the problem. America refuses, and I blame our quasi-religious adherence to the idea of the first amendment. Every other country manages to balance free speech protection with keeping campaign contributions and the media in check, but we refuse to even try, and will probably collapse before we do.


I don't have all the answers, but if it's an idea worth pursuing, I'm open to discussion.


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I really wouldn't want to set the precedent of being able to deport US citizens for any crime.

If you can deport rich legislators who can buy their way into comfort anywhere, they can deport you. Who will you be able to bribe to take you in? What if no one will?


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Jess Door wrote:
Once the government provides health care, they have the power, as the one who pays for care, to dictate a LOT about how you live your life.

The corporations aren't any better, though. They are in it solely to make money, not to provide for your health. Honestly, I'd rather deal with government nannyism than corporate greed in a health care system.


dotting thread. also voting for a group of snipers to hang out at formal political debates and headshot anyone who resorts to personal attacks and sheer bloodyminded denial of the other side's point of view.

they'll need a van for all the ammo.

(Disclaimer. this post should not be taken seriously, but should be considered a sign of how fed up i am with polititians.)

more seriously, some system to fire polititians who aren't doing a good job would be welcome. those guys seem to be able to get away with anything and keep their jobs.


thejeff wrote:

I really wouldn't want to set the precedent of being able to deport US citizens for any crime.

If you can deport rich legislators who can buy their way into comfort anywhere, they can deport you. Who will you be able to bribe to take you in? What if no one will?

I agree. Deporting rich legislators may sound good, but it isn't a punishment at all. They get to live a nice, comfy life in exile. Meanwhile, it opens the door for not so wealthy people to get deported, and they don't get all the benefits rich people do.


Jess Door wrote:
Too many people are willing to give up freedom in order to avoid being responsible for themselves in every way.

This I agree with. I'm 100% in support of socialized medicine, but not in favor of handing over personal responsibility to the government. Freedom means you have the duty to take care of yourself and not rely on the government to do it, barring extenuating circumstances.


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FuelDrop wrote:
more seriously, some system to fire polititians who aren't doing a good job would be welcome. those guys seem to be able to get away with anything and keep their jobs.

I say stiffen the penalties for bribery and other forms of corruption, curtail campaign contributions heavily, bring back draconian anti-trust laws, institute jail time instead of fines when corporations decide to ignore regulations, and, most of all, ENFORCE THE LAWS AND REGULATIONS IN PLACE. Stiff bribery and corruption penalties and jail time for violating EPA regulations mean nothing if people aren't actively prosecuted and punished when they do these things.


thejeff wrote:
Kelsey MacAilbert wrote:
Jess Door wrote:
The best defense against bad legislators gaining and keeping power is an informed, involved electorate with a long memory and a history of voting out representatives that disappoint them. :)
That will never happen. The fact is that humans would really rather not act like this. Cracked.com, although a humor site, gives a very good explanation of why this will never, ever happen.

Then the problem isn't our government. It's us. Because that's the only thing that's ever worked.

"To summarize the summary of the summary: people are a problem."

I have to concur. We the people are a massive part of the problems in the government. Guess who votes all these corrupt people into office and tolerates a complete lack of reasoned debate and a preponderance of personal attacks between politicians and corporate greed? We do.


Kryzbyn wrote:

Well, most if not all lobby money and contributions are a bribe. Legal bribes.

End lobbying.

And Kirth, I guess I'd be on page with that too. I just would like it to stop being a career for people. Serve one or two terms, then leave. You're not there to form a power base, you're there to represent other people.

I find it stunning that millions of people would actually agree with you on the idea to end lobbying. I'm sure many millions more agree with the idea of stripping groups like corporations, issue advocacy groups, and unions of their free speech rights.

I guess this seems like an obvious response to government at every level being absolutely saturated with blatant corruption and incompetence, and it seems to make sense when we think about it being aimed at "the other guys".

The problem is that criminalizing the speech of others is very much a double edged sword. While it may feel satisfying to punish BP by criminalizing their ad campaigns do you really want to see the same restrictions applied to teachers unions, the NRA, Amnesty International, watchdog groups that monitor government fraud and corruption, consumer safety advocates, environmental groups, NORMAL, and so on?

Money is speech. Money buys air time, print, call centers and so forth. Criminalizing money effectively criminalizes all of these forms of outreach to some degree. (I think many laws on bribery, blackmail and conflicts of interest can be fine, but they are awfully tough to enforce.) Stifling the political speech of groups ultimately impacts the rights of individuals who are part of that group, and it seems to me that our history teaches us that when some peoples rights are violated everyone's rights are at risk. If you try to limit the restrictions to only some groups you end up with a law that is unequally applied and will be gamed and loop holed to death to try to hurt the other side.

I hate to play the apologist for giant corporations that are obviously gaming the system into an increasingly fascist disaster, but I think the cure of restricting speech is worse than the disease of buying power.

I also think the current status quo is unsustainable and will end in disaster, but I think having a smaller government with less power over every aspect of our lives makes an enormous difference in terms of the efficacy and profitability of buying politicians and regulators. In other words one of the unintended consequences of more government regulation and control is more big corporate power through the government. It doesn't make it OK, but giant corporations buy politicians and regulators because it's a good investment. Goldman Sacs is a great example. The influence that they blatantly purchased got them bailed out and one of their chief competitors left out in the cold. The overall effect is corruption and market distortion on a global scale.

I wish the solution to the problem was as simple and satisfying as just passing laws to restrict the corrupt corporations, but it's not.

Hell, I wish the solution was as simple and satisfying as reducing the scope and power of corrupt and incompetent government, but it's more complex than that too. My approach of limiting government will doubtless have painful unintended consequences too, but I think it's a far better choice than expanding government power even more.


Bitter Thorn wrote:
Kryzbyn wrote:

Well, most if not all lobby money and contributions are a bribe. Legal bribes.

End lobbying.

And Kirth, I guess I'd be on page with that too. I just would like it to stop being a career for people. Serve one or two terms, then leave. You're not there to form a power base, you're there to represent other people.

I find it stunning that millions of people would actually agree with you on the idea to end lobbying. I'm sure many millions more agree with the idea of stripping groups like corporations, issue advocacy groups, and unions of their free speech rights.

I guess this seems like an obvious response to government at every level being absolutely saturated with blatant corruption and incompetence, and it seems to make sense when we think about it being aimed at "the other guys".

The problem is that criminalizing the speech of others is very much a double edged sword. While it may feel satisfying to punish BP by criminalizing their ad campaigns do you really want to see the same restrictions applied to teachers unions, the NRA, Amnesty International, watchdog groups that monitor government fraud and corruption, consumer safety advocates, environmental groups, NORMAL, and so on?

Money is speech. Money buys air time, print, call centers and so forth. Criminalizing money effectively criminalizes all of these forms of outreach to some degree. (I think many laws on bribery, blackmail and conflicts of interest can be fine, but they are awfully tough to enforce.) Stifling the political speech of groups ultimately impacts the rights of individuals who are part of that group, and it seems to me that our history teaches us that when some peoples rights are violated everyone's rights are at risk. If you try to limit the restrictions to only some groups you end up with a law that is unequally applied and will be gamed and loop holed to death to try to hurt the other side.

I hate to play the apologist for giant corporations that are obviously gaming the system into an...

Actually, Western Europe has brutally draconian laws when it comes to how much money a political campaign can spend, and they don't have a lack of free speech or a lack of wealthy corporations. What they do have is political debate instead of personal attacks and wealth deciding who gets elected. Regulating how much money a campaign can spend does not prevent free speech. What it does is provide for a fair and balanced election, something the United States hasn't had in a very long time.


Kelsey MacAilbert wrote:
thejeff wrote:
Kelsey MacAilbert wrote:
One term limit for all politicians, no lobbying. Anybody caught lobbying or taking bribes should be considered guilty of treason, and punished as such. Considering what the maximum punishment for treason in the US is, it would make quite a message.

What exactly do you mean by lobbying?

Taking (or giving) bribes is already illegal.

By lobbying, I mean corporate political donations in exchange for votes.

So non-corporate political donations are okay? (I can hear the right screaming about unions and eco-terrorists from here)

Corporate political donations are okay if they're not in exchange for votes? That's pretty much the law now. The tricky part is proving "in exchange for votes". We all know it's happening, but without explicit quid pro quo, it's really hard to prove.

The solution, as I think we both agree, is campaign finance reform. Preferably public funding of campaigns with strict low limits on additional donations and hopefully time limits on campaigning. And bans on 3rd party (SuperPAC style) ads.
Current interpretation of the 1st Amendment blocks all of that.

I think a lot of politicians would even go for it, if they thought it would work. They really do have to spend most of their time begging for contributions. It's got to be demeaning.


Kelsey MacAilbert wrote:

On second thought, I retract the treason statement. The Constitution states that:

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.
The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.

Furthermore, the US Criminal Code states that:

Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.

Lobbying and bribe taking do not fit into this legal framework of treason.

That said, a maximum sentence of life without the possibility of parole for lobbying and bribe taking that was actually used would be very nice.

Life in prison for lobbying for Human Rights Watch?

I don't think you're really thinking this through with all due respect.


I do agree. Decide on what is a reasonable amount of spending for a campaign, and then forbid any campaign from spending more than that.


Jess Door wrote:
Hitdice wrote:


Nothing against term limits, I like term limits.

My problem with term limits is then the legislators don't know basic procedure, and are more easily lead by staffers. When there's a permanent staff that gets passed from legislator to legislator, the unelected and often invisible staffers have as much influence on legislation as the elected representatives. I don't know what the solution is, but Michigan's term limits have led to some problems in the state legislature along these lines. :/

I don't like the current national state where we have a very incumbent friendly system either in the House and Senate, however.

+1


Bitter Thorn wrote:
Kelsey MacAilbert wrote:

On second thought, I retract the treason statement. The Constitution states that:

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.
The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.

Furthermore, the US Criminal Code states that:

Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.

Lobbying and bribe taking do not fit into this legal framework of treason.

That said, a maximum sentence of life without the possibility of parole for lobbying and bribe taking that was actually used would be very nice.

Life in prison for lobbying for Human Rights Watch?

I don't think you're really thinking this through with all due respect.

When I say lobbying, I mean corporate donations to political campaigns in exchange for favors and other forms of bribery, which pretty much every person in congress participates in. Damn right I want life in prison for it. It's ruining this country. I'd love to go even further than a life sentence, but that isn't realistic.


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Corporations aren't people, money isn't speech, and profits aren't a right. Finally the freedom to say what you what doesn't excuse you of responsibility for what you say.

Just my opinion of course.


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is there some way to remove humanity from the government altogether? a giant computer or the like to make all the decisions? ;)

i think that the major problems with government today are largely due to the fact that politicians are looking out for number 1, not for the people who elected them. other than a couple of mass executions to get their priorities straight, does anyone have a solution to this problem? (Mass executions of the least effective/most corrupt politicians that is... though we may need to rebuild the government from the ground up if we do that!)


I like the idea of executing a few of the worst offenders, but I don't think it would accomplish anything. Executions feel great, but they are sadly ineffective at actually accomplishing anything other than removing a threat, and we have other ways to do that these days.


Kryzbyn wrote:
How many staffers does a rep or senator need? Is there so much going on they can't do it themselves? If there is, then we need to slow it down a bit, so the people actually elected to serve are the ones making the decisions.

If government continues to expand it's scope then they need a lot more staff.

This is one of the most fundamental problems with increased government control. 100 senators who have basically zero content expertise get to vote on hugely complex laws like Obama Care that have a massive impact on our lives, our freedom and the economy. If you watch Cspan committee hearings it become immediately evident that the vast majority of legislators are terrifyingly ignorant of the substance of issues that they are writing laws for. If it's an even remotely technical issue it's even more disturbing to see their complete ignorance in action.

100 senators and a few hundred representatives simply aren't smart enough to have the amount of power that they do.


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Robert Heinlein wrote:

Democracy is based on the assumption that a million men are wiser than one man. How's that again? I missed something.

Autocracy is based on the assumption that one man is wiser than a million men. Let's play that over again, too. Who decides?

Time Enough for Love 1973

Kind of sums up the problem pretty well in my opinion.


thejeff wrote:
Kelsey MacAilbert wrote:
One term limit for all politicians, no lobbying. Anybody caught lobbying or taking bribes should be considered guilty of treason, and punished as such. Considering what the maximum punishment for treason in the US is, it would make quite a message.

What exactly do you mean by lobbying? In it's most basic definition anyone who asks a politician to take a particular position on an issue is lobbying. Should asking your congressman to support your side of an issue be treason?

If you want a more restrictive definition of lobbying, try spelling it out to only include "bad" lobbying not "good" lobbying. It's not as easy as it might seem.

Taking (or giving) bribes is already illegal. Penalties aren't quite up
there with treason though. It's fairly rare anyway, since campaign contributions have been found to be free speech, though they can be and are limited. Running ads (or contributing to ads) in support of a candidate or issue are also free speech.

Most of what you want would require wholesale changes to the Constitution, including to what many consider our most fundamental rights.

I'm not at all opposed to serious campaign finance reform, even if we have to deal with "Freedom of Speech" issues to do it. Many other countries seem to have robust political debate with hard limits on campaigning and campaign contributions and without our "absolute" freedom of speech. That would have far more effect than bans on lobbying or term limits.

Term limits are a joke. All they would mean is that all Congressmen. instead of most, would be clueless about how to actually accomplish anything and more vulnerable to unelected staff and bureaucrats who knew how to work the system. And to lobbyists.
If you don't like your politicians, vote them out. Primary them. If you don't like the rate of incumbency, fight it at the state level. Gerrymandered districts are the big culprit for Representatives.

Ninja'ed.

Remarkably I agree with about %90 of this. O_o


I agree with most of it, too. Then again, when I say lobbying, I refer mostly to the forms that are basically forms of bribery.


Jess Door wrote:
Kryzbyn wrote:
Jess Door wrote:

The best defense against bad legislators gaining and keeping power is an informed, involved electorate with a long memory and a history of voting out representatives that disappoint them. :)

This is one reason I think the Tea Party, whether you agree or disagree with their positions on issues, is a good thing. It gets people both for and against their positions more involved in the election process. I think an informed, involved populace is the best defense we have of our liberties.

I agree 100%. This is the best case scenario.

But then again, regarding votes and bribes, would it then also be a conflict of interest for a person who's primary source of income is government assistance to get to vote as well?

Here's the thing with that - I agree with this on a philosophical basis...but I can't think of a way to enforce this without a lot of potential for abuse.

What sort of governmental assistance? Should those receiving Social Security lose their right to vote? Unemployment? Food stamps? Maybe we should go back to only property owners getting to vote? Farm subsidies? Tax Credits?

This is a problem that has grown incrementally over the decades. The government is now sending agents to inspect preschooler's home packed lunches and mandating what the child must have in their lunch box (not eat!) in some states. Sometimes I worry all is lost.

Too many people are willing to give up freedom in order to avoid being responsible for themselves in every way.

Once the government provides health care, they have the power, as the one who pays for care, to dictate a LOT about how you live your life.

Very well said.

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