Democracy for a Socialist?

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Mark1955
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Re: Democracy for a Socialist?

Post by Mark1955 » March 19th, 2017, 2:47 pm

I think some of your statistical approach is flawed by the assumption that the middle class constitutes the majority I'd suggest the upper class constitute the top 5 % of the population, the middle class the next 15-20 % and the working class the remaining 75-80 %. Thus even if a normal curve applies [see below] then both the middle and upper class are minorities on the high side of the median.

I'd suggest genuine normal curves only exist in the minds of theoreticians because by definition a hypothesised normal curve ceases to be normal if any value is twice the median since you cannot extend the lower side below zero. In real life all normal curves are skewed and where issues such as income are measured I’d suggest that they are badly skewed. The easy way to see this is to compare the median and mean values, in a genuine normal distribution they will be the same, the more the mean is greater than the median the more skewed the curve.
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Re: Democracy for a Socialist?

Post by Ranvier » March 19th, 2017, 4:55 pm

Mark 1955
The population distribution that you present is what we have now. Again, the middle class by definition should be logically in the middle of the social standing. I see that you're from England, which as US is driven by the service economy. The "working class" is a broad concept in such economy. Anyone from M.D. to a waitress belongs to "working class" in service economy. The middle class is shrinking with average quality of life decreasing steadily, regardless of the economic data that we may read. Even 35-25 years ago (I'm not entirely sure about Britain), an average middle class citizen was able to save for 10 years and purchase a house with cash, without mortgage. The income for the average citizen hasn't risen much since 80's but the price value for housing (apartment rent, or house value) has increased 10-15 fold. This is also true for the energy cost, transportation, retail value of products, although not to such an extent. People that graduated with Bachelor degree in 90's would receive a starting salary of $28k-$38k, when someone could purchase an average house for $70k-140k. Today, people graduating with a Bachelor's degree (if they get a job in their field) will receive $42k to $52k depending on the State, where the average house will cost $700k-$1M today. Toyota Camry in 90's would cost about $9k-$11k retail, today it will cost $18K-$22K. Subway ride in 90's was $0.95-$1.25, today it's $2.75 for a single ride in NY. One can search for many more such examples to visualize that the quality of life had been decreasing for the middle class, expending the lower class and poverty, where 14%-20% of population depending on the State receive SNAP benefits to purchase food.

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Re: Democracy for a Socialist?

Post by -1- » March 19th, 2017, 8:41 pm

Mark1955 wrote:you cannot extend the lower side below zero.
Sure you can. The below zero values are not negative values of the measured quantity in raw score; it is a measure of the frequency of a measured value.

Negative displacements in normal curve are completely likely and real in any measured quality that has a normal distribution.

You could say, "yeah, but negative IQ does not occur, that's impossible." Well, no, it is not impossible. It is just negative because it is more than 9 standard deviations away from the normal IN FREQUENCY not in absolute value. This means, that the IQ is not a comparative measure, but a measure of frequency. That's all.

Another example would be negative values of frequency of height in a normal distribution of humans. Sure there are blocks of people who correspond to negative values on the normal curve. They are not growing into the ground, in a "negative height" fashion; they are instead so short, that their frequency of occurring is more than 9 standard deviation of the norm (which is something like 5'9" for males in North America.)

One more thing to consider: there are no "instances" or people at exactly one or another value of measured frequency on the normal curve. It is always a block, a range over a domain. The block is the interval of the function between two end points. If you talk about where a person singly falls on the normal curve, be it age, IQ, or height, that is not meaningful to how the normal curve is interpreted.
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Mark1955
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Re: Democracy for a Socialist?

Post by Mark1955 » March 20th, 2017, 4:30 pm

Ranvier wrote:The population distribution that you present is what we have now. Again, the middle class by definition should be logically in the middle of the social standing.
I don't think it ever has been so why should it. I think you're trying to take the use of the word middle far too literally.
Ranvier wrote: I see that you're from England, which as US is driven by the service economy. The "working class" is a broad concept in such economy. Anyone from M.D. to a waitress belongs to "working class" in service economy.
I think most MDs would like to think of themselves as at least middle class, some even upper.
Ranvier wrote: The middle class is shrinking with average quality of life decreasing steadily, regardless of the economic data that we may read. Even 35-25 years ago (I'm not entirely sure about Britain), an average middle class citizen was able to save for 10 years and purchase a house with cash, without mortgage. The income for the average citizen hasn't risen much since 80's but the price value for housing (apartment rent, or house value) has increased 10-15 fold. This is also true for the energy cost, transportation, retail value of products, although not to such an extent. People that graduated with Bachelor degree in 90's would receive a starting salary of $28k-$38k, when someone could purchase an average house for $70k-140k. Today, people graduating with a good Bachelor's degree (if they get a job in their field) will receive $42k to $52k depending on the State, where the average house will cost $700k-$1M today. Toyota Camry in 90's would cost about $9k-$11k retail, today it will cost $18K-$22K. Subway ride in 90's was $0.95-$1.25, today it's $2.75 for a single ride in NY. One can search for many more such examples to visualize that the quality of life had been decreasing for the middle class, expending the lower class and poverty, where 14%-20% of population depending on the State receive SNAP benefits to purchase food.
Interesting that you believe this in view of the article I read earlier today. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-39325206. "We" and I am old enough to be one of the lucky ones, lived in a brief period where housing was easily affordable. Historically I'd suggest that this is unusual so it's end should neither be surprising nor a significant problem. Your parents and grandparents may have had access to cheap housing, their grandparents didn't, unless in the rural US they built their own.
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Re: Democracy for a Socialist?

Post by Ranvier » March 21st, 2017, 5:09 am

I also read that the inflation in US is very low, yet almost every time I go to buy milk, I notice an increase in price from the last time I purchased milk. That article may be interesting but it's not a scientific study, where a very subjective question is asked to such a small population sample (1000 people out of 324Million). You can notice yourself that the happiest countries in that "study" reflect small economies with relatively small population. I believe most of all in what I can observe myself, rather than rely on the things I read. My local barista is a foreign M.D. and I don't think that he considers himself to be a part of the middle class nor many UBER drivers that hold a Bachelor's degree. The economic growth in a service economy is mostly determined by the financial market and the Wall Street calculated per citizen but not the actual reality for an average citizen. If it's so peachy in our economy why does the deficit keep rising so fast http://www.usdebtclock.org/? I moved to my own apartment when I was 18, working while still in high school and through out my higher education. I'm also old enough to notice that it was much easier to pay bills then and now.

I've traveled many times to Europe, Asia, South America and I have decent perception of Socialism, which historically has proven to be ridden with "numb" bureaucracy, wastefulness, and inefficiency. I'm also old enough to notice that in the effort for Globalization, especially after 2007 market crises, the faulty wisdom of socialism had been spreading in America for the past 20-30 years with the effects depicted in the post you quoted. It's almost as if someone is pushing a knife into one's leg, where the media propaganda informs one that it doesn't hurt and all is well. The globalist socialist Tsunami of economic enslavement needs to end and America needs to reclaim freedom sacrificed in the name of equality. By your language of "working class" you used, I hope that I'm not offending your beliefs.

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Re: Democracy for a Socialist?

Post by Dolphin42 » March 21st, 2017, 5:52 am

Ranvier:

I'm interested to know exactly what you understand by the word "socialism" and why you think it's been spreading through the US. Would you regard all funding of any goods or services via taxation as a form of socialism? Or just some? For example, if the police service is funded by taxation rather than being run as a private business (as it is in both of our countries and in most others) is that socialism? What about education? How about health? In the UK (where I live) most people use a health service that is funded by taxation. Is that socialism?

I'm interested to know where you draw the line and say "beyond this point all is socialism".

If you do generally regard the funding of services through taxation as socialism, I don't think you're necessarily right when you state that it is inefficient. I think it is certainly true that the production of most types of goods and services is most efficiently achieved using free market competition and the profit motive. But that's not true of all of them. For example, studies have shown that the US healthcare system is among the most inefficient in the world in terms of the average cost to citizens versus the quality of the service provided. Competition between lots of different market players can result in efficiency and the removal of waste by allowing noncompetitive players to fail, but it can also result in duplication of effort and therefore inefficiency. One of the advantages of centralised systems is economy of scale.

The trouble is, among people with a certain type of political disposition, there is a tendency to see the "free market" concept as a panacea, which can be blindly applied to everything. I think a more pragmatic approach, with different tools for different jobs, is more appropriate.

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Re: Democracy for a Socialist?

Post by Ranvier » March 21st, 2017, 8:44 am

Dolphin42

United States is a Federal Republic that consists of 50 states with their own state governments that are centralized by the Federal government guided by the U.S. constitution. There can be lengthy conversation as to the Democratic vs Republican ideology regarding the power distribution delegated to States in relation to the Federal government. The term Democracy stems from the electoral system of the popular vote and electoral college with 270 out of 538 electoral votes needed to elect the president. Capitalism is the term used to describe the economic system only guided by the free market system. Socialism is the economic system with various extent of government influence and control of the market through regulation and taxation, where in Communism the government has almost 100% of control (complete economic socialism) of the market and citizen's income. There is nowhere in the world a Direct Democracy nor complete Capitalism but some form of Socialist Democracy describing a politico-economic system. Hence, Socialism is not a definitive term but rather the extent of the government control of the market, including the job market.

With this in mind, my inference to spread of Socialism in America refers to the increase in taxation by States and the Federal government to increase the government budget spending, employing almost 24 million people (not including State employees Ex police department). This socialization also includes the laws and regulation that withhold freedom of choice from the citizens. For instance, even 10-15 years ago there were variety of choices for high school education, including Catholic schools, private schools, along with public schools. Today, due to government efforts to nationalize education through teacher licensing and Charter schools, there is a tremendous decrease in private education. Overall licensing is now out of control, where almost any action requires government approval through permit or license, including planting a tree in the back yard. Absolute nonsense and unnecessary bureaucracy that asphyxiates growth, diversity, and efficiency in the job market. For instance, I wrote in another post that there is a "shortage" for science teachers in many states, while there is a vast number of qualified teachers that can't teach without a State teaching license that requires time and money to obtain. Foreign doctors that work in some low paying service job because they can't even transport patients in the hospital without a license. Even obtaining a TLC license to drive for UBER used to take 2-3 weeks to obtain at a cost of $250-$300, now it takes 3 months and over $1000 in cost. That is the idiocy of over regulation and hence excessive Socialism, where people are treated as livestock forced to mandatory flu vaccines.

An adequate level of government intervention is to secure the minimum services as the benchmark for private industry. For instance, healthcare system should be provided to those that can't afford one but certainly it shouldn't be nationalized. You contrast the U.S. medical system, as the most inefficient in terms of cost, with other systems in the world. Let me assure you that any bump on the head and you will get a CT scan immediately in U.S., while I might wait 2 weeks or even a month for CT in certain parts of Europe. There is a number of other differences between US and British health care systems, for instance: we have a small "country" of 17-20 million illegal emigrants that England doesn't have to treat. The cost of private healthcare actually rises due to the abuse of Medicare and Medicaid system that is probably the most generous in the world. What this does is to force smaller insurance companies to merge to Giants that couldn't otherwise compete with the public healthcare, reducing diversity and competitiveness. The duplication effort that you mention is easily resolved through centralized medical data sharing for research and medical diagnosis but only for physicians and medical stuff, that actually shouldn't be even allowed to access by the insurance companies beside medical billing. Actually as far as I'm concerned, the entire system should be managed directly by Physician coops that should control services directly, cutting out the "middle man" as insurance companies that only inflate the medical cost. This is true for almost all industry, where there aren't that many small to medium size companies left that could compete with ever merging corporate giants. This is why something that starts as internet based company grows to behemoth with interests in telecommunication, transport, or even energy just to keep growing avoiding monopoly laws within their original industry. This led America to the current Socialist Oligarchy with incredible income disparity between Political-Corporate wealth and the average taxpaying economic slaves.

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Re: Democracy for a Socialist?

Post by Wilson » March 21st, 2017, 1:43 pm

What's interesting is that the countries with some of the highest taxation in the world are also the happiest, according to surveys that came out this week, with Denmark topping the list. The fact is that reducing the gap between rich and poor seems to make everybody more content - and shouldn't that be our goal? There's still enough difference in wealth in those countries to drive innovation and hard work.

Everyone agrees that we need some government services - police, fire fighters, army, and disaster relief. Nobody with a heart would say we should let children and those unable to care for themselves starve or go without shelter or medical care. Anybody with a brain thinks that we need to protect ourselves from environmental poisons, unsafe food, and preventable catastrophes, and support a good infrastructure of roads, telephone services, and so on. After that it becomes a matter of opinion as to whether specific functions are the business of the government or not - whether the good done by spending tax money is worth it as compared with the pain caused by taking money from the citizens.

Sometimes I think it isn't so much the fact that we hate having to give the government part of our money as it is the belief that they aren't spending wisely what they take from us.

But if the Scandinavian countries are any guide, big government and the leveling of wealth seems to bring happiness - as long as the government is seen as efficiently using what it collects.

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Re: Democracy for a Socialist?

Post by Ranvier » March 21st, 2017, 5:59 pm

Excellent points Wilson.

It's not my contention that the government should be eliminated all together and citizens shouldn't pay taxes towards protection, to maintain infrastructure that is essential to the nation, or the support of the weakest in the population. However, I'm many things but above all, I'm a realist. Nobody really cares about anyone, especially in a large country. There is some percentage of population that gets a thrill from feeling fulfilled in helping others but take away incentive of income or other social benefits that looks well on the resume and the number of volunteers drops drastically. Perhaps that makes me a cynic but we will commit police, fire, and medical emergency departments with news helicopters flying around super worried as some poor shuck wants to commit a suicide in his last attempt to say goodby to the world on his terms. They will even shoot the guy to save him...hilarious and hypocritical but everyone is happy on the job well done in "saving the guy from himself". All this but we have no problem sending young people to die for the "greater good". The only equality we need is in how much we really value each individual life. By the way https://afsp.org/about-suicide/suicide-statistics/ reveals that US is so happy that the suicide rate keeps rising to the point of national crisis for all age group since 1999. Especially in the States, with the exception of Hawaii, that are reported as being some of the happiest (Montana and Wyoming). Which is not unusual since one of the signs of depression is to put on a fake smile and pretend that all is well. Someone that openly admits to abuse of alcohol is not an alcoholic but those that vigorously deny it.

The problem begins when the government becomes an institution in itself that wants nothing but to grow larger with ever growing influence and taxation. People don't really care if someone dies of a lung cancer but the government will levy a cigarette tax that will raise the price of a pack of cigarettes (cost of $0.19 a pack) to $14 a pack. What right does the government have to control the behavior of a large population of people that pay their taxes for a health insurance, where nonsmokers concerned about a second hand smoke will hear a reply from smokers "go suck on the diesel exhaust pipe from an 18 wheeler or a city bus". I agree that we shouldn't let people starve or let homeless roam the streets in the winter cold, yet both keep rising each year in US. I wrote in another post about our ignorance in delusion that with our superior military and all the three letter acronym agencies protecting the country, we somehow unwillingly allowed 20 million illegal immigrants (potential enemy) to "slip through". What's the point of having all of those agencies if they're all asleep and only wake up when it's time to collect taxes. Same with CDC that is super worried about an "outbreak" imposing mandatory flu (by 20-30 years old most people are immune to all strains from previous "cold") or HPV vaccines (useful for young girls but certainly shouldn't be mandatory), yet allow cervical cancer to be on the rise again that is 100% preventable with routine PAP smear. Hypocrisy of profit and the abuse of power. The problem with Socialism and the government is that no one is accountable, just clock in and wander around slowly chatting with coworkers while people are sitting for hours in the waiting room.

-- Updated March 21st, 2017, 6:42 pm to add the following --

*Sorry, not CDC but the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)

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Re: Democracy for a Socialist?

Post by Wilson » March 21st, 2017, 8:05 pm

Ranvier, you may be a little too cynical about the motivation of people. I suspect a majority would favor at least minimal services for those who can't take care of themselves, whether due to disability, mental issues, drug addiction, or simple shiftlessness. Having people starving or sick on the streets would be unsightly if nothing else. Most of us want to think of ourselves as good, decent people, generous up to a point. We don't like the idea of being taken advantage of, though, by people who aren't trying.

I don't know your county of origin, but I think the USA, where I live, would love to have one of the parties exhibit intelligent economic conservatism. That is, have government do those things that it clearly can do better than leaving it to the public. That would include a bunch of regulatory functions - but would eliminate a lot of those regulations that are more a pain in the ass than useful. It would get rid of a lot of government departments that are redundant or whose functions could be better handled in the private sector. My guess is that I would continue more government services than you would, but that's up to negotiation.

If we're going to be logical, a smart government would establish a single payer, universal coverage medical system, which would be a much more cost-effective way to provide care. The fact is, we already have a universal coverage system, because anyone can go the any ER and get excellent medical care, which we of course eventually pay for anyway. Medicare works well and is popular and should be extended to all, along with additional cost-saving measure. The problem with not requiring insurance coverage is that an uncovered person will cost the taxpayers a lot of money if he gets sick, even aside from the fact that it may bankrupt him. The fact is that market forces don't work hardly at all for medical care so you can't rely on the free enterprise system in that area, although it's great most places.

As for immigration, there's an easy solution. It's similar to the original Reagan plan. Fine companies and individuals who hire illegal aliens. Allow a fair but not easy path to citizenship for those who've been here for long enough and are of good character. Set up a guest worker program to meet the needs of employers. Simple. But difficult politically.

Death from lung cancer is way way down because the government cracked down on smokers. Cut down on national medical expenses, too. Sometimes actions like that diminish freedom but are good for us.

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Re: Democracy for a Socialist?

Post by Mark1955 » March 22nd, 2017, 3:58 pm

Wilson wrote: Sometimes I think it isn't so much the fact that we hate having to give the government part of our money as it is the belief that they aren't spending wisely what they take from us.

But if the Scandinavian countries are any guide, big government and the leveling of wealth seems to bring happiness - as long as the government is seen as efficiently using what it collects.
Their advantage [our problem] might be that even big government in a Scandinavian country is smaller, more personal, probably less stupidly bureaucratic than a state government in the US because these countries are all small in terms of population. My prime reason to vote for Brexit was that the EU is too large. Big, to me, equals mindless one size fits all rules, rigidly enforced by jobsworth little tin Hitlers, or not actually enforced because there are so many rules no one can be bothered. To me the solution in the US would be devolve everything but defence to the States and think very hard whether you really want one currency.
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Re: Democracy for a Socialist?

Post by Wilson » March 22nd, 2017, 5:39 pm

Mark1955 wrote: Their advantage [our problem] might be that even big government in a Scandinavian country is smaller, more personal, probably less stupidly bureaucratic than a state government in the US because these countries are all small in terms of population. My prime reason to vote for Brexit was that the EU is too large. Big, to me, equals mindless one size fits all rules, rigidly enforced by jobsworth little tin Hitlers, or not actually enforced because there are so many rules no one can be bothered. To me the solution in the US would be devolve everything but defence to the States and think very hard whether you really want one currency.
Much truth in your point about the government in a smaller nation, plus their population (until recently) was more homogeneous, so it's easier to have a one for all, all for one attitude than in the US, where there are more divisions. I can't say that I totally disagree with the British decision to leave the EU, because the EU had become too big for its britches, as we say - thinking that it would regulate everything for its members, not just the economy.

Are you suggesting that each state should have its own currency? That sounds a bit off. Actually the US had done fairly well with its federal government until recently. I don't think the EU experience is a direct corollary for us, because we here all speak the same language (more or less) and have through the years felt a greater kinship with each other than exists among the EU member states.

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Re: Democracy for a Socialist?

Post by Steve3007 » March 23rd, 2017, 6:16 am

To me the solution in the US would be devolve everything but defence to the States and think very hard whether you really want one currency.
Interesting idea, though obviously not really going to happen. Apparently, before the civil war the US had 8000 currencies in use. During the civil war there was the confederate dollar - the "greyback" (as opposed to the "greenback").

I guess the question of whether any particular bloc/quasi-independent-region has its own currency, and whether it allows that currency to float freely or pegs it to a larger more stable currency, depends on an evaluation of the pros and cons. Pros of an individual free floating currency: allows that bloc to control the relative pricing of its own exports and imports; e.g. the currency can devalue to make exports more competitive. Cons: discourages trade across borders due to conversion costs.

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Re: Democracy for a Socialist?

Post by Mark1955 » March 23rd, 2017, 3:12 pm

Wilson wrote:
Mark1955 wrote: Their advantage [our problem] might be that even big government in a Scandinavian country is smaller, more personal, probably less stupidly bureaucratic than a state government in the US because these countries are all small in terms of population. My prime reason to vote for Brexit was that the EU is too large. Big, to me, equals mindless one size fits all rules, rigidly enforced by jobsworth little tin Hitlers, or not actually enforced because there are so many rules no one can be bothered. To me the solution in the US would be devolve everything but defence to the States and think very hard whether you really want one currency.
I don't think the EU experience is a direct corollary for us, because we here all speak the same language (more or less) and have through the years felt a greater kinship with each other than exists among the EU member states.
Except the first thing every American I know tells me is that their dad is Polish and mum German, or similar, when actually they are both American.

-- Updated 23 Mar 2017 20:26 to add the following --
Steve3007 wrote:
To me the solution in the US would be devolve everything but defence to the States and think very hard whether you really want one currency.
I guess the question of whether any particular bloc/quasi-independent-region has its own currency, and whether it allows that currency to float freely or pegs it to a larger more stable currency, depends on an evaluation of the pros and cons. Pros of an individual free floating currency: allows that bloc to control the relative pricing of its own exports and imports; e.g. the currency can devalue to make exports more competitive. Cons: discourages trade across borders due to conversion costs.
The federal government allows states or groups of states to have their own currencies, freely floating [otherwise they can stick to the Federal dollar]. The Federal Reserve Bank controls currency conversion and fixes the cost at a small enough figure to be no impediment to trade. With modern computer systems you could put your card in in Texas paying on Petrodols and have it extracted from your bank in MA in Teadols based on a daily fixed rate and with a 0.5% [e.g.] fee to the Fed. Bigger transactions would attract smaller %'s. Interest rates would also be set per currency so areas like the mid west are not penalised by high rates due to West coast inflation.
You are right it will not happen, it would need very very brave and intelligent politicians to try this sort of thing and I doubt your electorate could be persuaded against cries of 'Unpatriotic' from the opposition.
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Re: Democracy for a Socialist?

Post by Grotto19 » May 20th, 2017, 2:08 am

The Greeks who founded Democracy understood the importance of civic involvement. They used to shame people heavily for being uninformed or not voting. Being politically informed was a duty of all Greek men (not women as sadly in that age they were still not full people). In our democracies now we still hang on the notion the people should vote but forgot about the being informed portion.

We got lazy and relied on journalists to tell us what to think and let them do the leg work. But we didn’t inspect that work and they work for cash not purity so in the end we got political theatre instead of information.

This worked out well since we love sports and turning politics into a sporting match of guessing which team will win is way more fun than actually learning about political events and consequences of our sometimes heinous greed driven actions. (Spoiler alert it is all greed driven).

But it doesn’t take too long before everything starts getting really messed up and we all ask how the hell did we get here? We are nearly back to monarchy and it seems an inbreed one at that, were about to nuke each other, and even if we don’t the globe is dying and no one seems to really care aside from a handful of hippies no one listens to. Sigh

Socrates predicted this pretty much but he predicted the return to tyranny. We rejected that and clung to letting uninformed idiots continue voting. We didn’t demand they get informed like the Greeks instead we just kept shouting “GET OUT AND VOTE”. We shouted this the hardest to our team, but the other team did the same. And as a result we have EVEN WORSE REPRESNTITIVES.

People with cash realized a while back holy crap we can make a lot of money out of this. So they fund the idiots on both sides who are most able to elicit the votes of idiots to give them to give them the authority to hand more money back to them. They fund two sides not one because as long as there are two sides it is never actually them taking your wealth it is always the “other side”. Socrates maybe didn’t see this coming but in his defense free market capitalism was very new in Greece then.

So now we have a world spiraling into toxic slow death unless nuclear annihilation doesn’t come first with a side dish or religious and ethnic strife. How did we get here again? Insert your agenda here. It’s because of religion, no wait it is because of racism, no wait it is because of tribalism, no wait it is because of…. …. … … It’s because we allow uninformed idiots to decide who makes the big decisions. Socrates knew this but damned if we think letting every moron cast his opinion on complicated things is the way to a safe and prosperous future. You know the same people who made Jersey Shore a hit show and can name every Kardashian (just the fact that my spell check knew that word ought to prove my point).

Democracy would be great but only if the citizens take it as a somber responsibility. They don’t anymore and likely will not again. So no Democracy is no longer the highest form of enlightened governance. We are going to need a new solution, or we will drown/starve/ be irradiated in our ignorance.

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