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Thread: What role should the government have?

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    lady sings the blues DanieMarie's Avatar
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    What role should the government have?

    I'm just curious, and I think this could be an interesting debate because we have people from all over the world here, and we all see this issue very differently.

    I'm for a medium-sized government. I really do think there needs to be regulation in order to keep thinks smoothly (the finance sector comes to mind), but I'm not a fan of excessive bureaucracy either. I like how Canada does things. You always need a certain amount of bureaucracy in a government to keep things running, but then you could be like Germany and take it to excessive levels. The amount of pointless regulation and "order" here drives me crazy, because it's too heavy to actually be efficient (German efficiency? True in the private sector, TOTAL MYTH in the public sector). Like, in Canada you can have shotguns and other hunting rifles, but you need to have an ownership permit (which involves a background check) and a carry permit (at least, if you want to take it off your own property). In Germany though, they take it a step further and you have to be part of a hunting association and have special training. In Canada, if you want to fish, you go to a shop and pay some money and you get a license. In Germany you have to take a 30 day course about fish and their environment, which is followed by a test, then pay some money and get your license. In Canada if you want to surf, you buy a surf board and maybe take some lessons or get a friend to teach you (if you don't want to fall off a lot). In Germany, you need a permit. Stuff like this DRIVES ME CRAZY. AND it also drives me crazy because if you have permits for these things in OTHER countries, they're not valid here. Where I come from, we learn about fish and their environment in school, and I've been fishing since I was 9, but that doesn't count for anything here. Blah.
    On the flip side of that though, Canada has stronger regulations in the financial sector, and its banks are stronger because of it, so I guess what I'm trying to say is that I agree with regulation where it counts, but I think it can be taken way too far to the point where it's a huge waste of time and annoys everybody.

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    Sr. Member Hoho's Avatar
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    Re: What role should the government have?

    there is never a perfect balance, especially when dealing with ideas like government. it's like a parabola(i think) always getting close to 0, but never quite there. that pretty much sums up life; much things can be attributed to parabolas ;o

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    The Gaze of the Abyss B. de Corbin's Avatar
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    Re: What role should the government have?

    Yeah - you gotta have government (there are a few places in the world where there is no government - they don't sound like nice places to live), and that means that there's going to be some bureaucracy, but it should be kept to a minimum, as you say.

    The problem is that the general tendency is for rules and laws to increase over time, rather than to decrease - once a law has been made, people get used to it, it becomes "normal,' and, subjectively, becomes a standard part of life. Then, the need for new regulation comes up, and you get another law, which, if it survives long enough, also becomes "normal."

    I would suggest that a theory of government include the idea that rules and laws (and supporting bureaucracy) be kept to a minimum. Using the idea "minimum," rather than defining too closely what the government's role is, will allow an open and healthy debate regarding what is necessary and what is not which allows for the continuous reevaluation of the role of government on the part of the governed, a situation which is more likely to allow people to develop forms of government which meet their needs as those needs change over time and in relation to circumstances than is a closely defined government which was developed at some historical period to meet the needs of the people at that time.
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    Re: What role should the government have?

    I think that, with regards to the US (considering, if you compare it to Europe, its more like 50 countries than one) that the federal government should be directly responsible for defense, treaties and trade overseas, maintaining civil rights, protecting and regulating our coastlines and US vessels on the oceans, regulating national financial markets, regulating pollution and big picture environmental concerns, and protecting our food. I'm sure there are a few other things in there---but basically, if it is something that affects the national interest, crosses state lines, etc that the national govt should have some say.

    HOWEVER, just because they have say...I don't always think they are the ones that should administer and enforce the programs. I think in matters of regional or local interest, the federal gov't should be limited to setting and enforcing standards for states to follow on items of national interest--the environment, the economy, education, public health, etc. Individual states should be the ones that set up and implement the programs for their communities, based on their communities needs--with oversight from the national government that has the right to step in and regulate when the states fail---its sort of how school systems work around here (they are under local control until they fail, go bankrupt, etc and then the state takes over them until they improve).

    I don't think we can ever go back to a "states rights" sort of government (first of all, it didn't work the first time around)--in the age of technology and transportation, states are not isolated enough entities for that to work...but I think the danger of letting a national government get too bulky is that it becomes too inefficient.
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    lady sings the blues DanieMarie's Avatar
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    Re: What role should the government have?

    [quote author=B. de Corbin link=topic=262.msg2502#msg2502 date=1287056965]
    Yeah - you gotta have government (there are a few places in the world where there is no government - they don't sound like nice places to live), and that means that there's going to be some bureaucracy, but it should be kept to a minimum, as you say.

    The problem is that the general tendency is for rules and laws to increase over time, rather than to decrease - once a law has been made, people get used to it, it becomes "normal,' and, subjectively, becomes a standard part of life. Then, the need for new regulation comes up, and you get another law, which, if it survives long enough, also becomes "normal."

    I would suggest that a theory of government include the idea that rules and laws (and supporting bureaucracy) be kept to a minimum. Using the idea "minimum," rather than defining too closely what the government's role is, will allow an open and healthy debate regarding what is necessary and what is not which allows for the continuous reevaluation of the role of government on the part of the governed, a situation which is more likely to allow people to develop forms of government which meet their needs as those needs change over time and in relation to circumstances than is a closely defined government which was developed at some historical period to meet the needs of the people at that time.
    [/quote]

    Couldn't agree more. Also what you said above about people adapting to a large amount of rules and regulations and seeing that as "normal" is really common here. Foreigners, and I'll include myself in this even though I hold a German passport as I didn't grow up here, think it's all pretty ridiculous, no matter where they come from, but Germans don't really get that there's anything wrong. For me, I don't think it's just having grown up in Canada but also studying business (I major in Marketing but I do a lot of reading on Finance and Economics as well) and just being frustrated because it all gets SO expensive and our taxes are pretty high here in relation to other countries. I feel like if we could just trim things down more, we could cut back taxes a bit, or at least get more for them (like Sweden does). The financial crisis actually caused this to happen a little bit (people were really angry about it...I think it was a great idea), but not enough. Some of this could be accomplished by modernizing more things, like having a better computerized system rather than keeping thousands of paper files in the Auslaenderbehoerde and maintaining those files constantly. They could keep the paper files, but also keep things in a computer system, and rather than having to access the actual paper file (which could still be accessed occasionally) they could access the computer file. I don't know why this is so difficult...city hall already does it. They could also grant some visas (like working holiday, etc) online....Australia does this and it's quick and efficient.

    On a side note, whenever I talk about this stuff with German people, sometimes I get this attitude like I didn't grow up here so my opinion doesn't matter. This not only drives me crazy, but actually makes me very angry. My friends don't do it, and I can see how my not having grown up here affects my opinions, but I am an EFFING CITIZEN OF THIS COUNTRY, and my opinion matters just as much as any other German citizen's.

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    ...uhh Bjorn's Avatar
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    Re: What role should the government have?

    1. Raise an army
    2. Protect the borders
    3. Tax
    No one tells the wind which way to blow.

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    Re: What role should the government have?

    [quote author=Bjorn link=topic=262.msg2784#msg2784 date=1287102345]
    1. Raise an army
    2. Protect the borders
    3. Tax
    [/quote]
    I disagree with the minimalist concept of government.

    We have a Department of Weights and Measures, to be sure that a gallon of gasoline is the same, regardless of where you buy it. 1 oz of coffee beans weighs the same, regardless of where you buy it. In the world of illicit substances where such regulations don't exist, 1 ounce is often understood to be 28 grams, when the measurable and sometimes significant difference from 28.35 grams is ignored. This neglects the sometimes common practice of shorting customers of reaching even that measurement. Without the Department of Weights and Measures, and the hefty fines imposed for misrepresenting the quantity of your product, we could see exactly the same misrepresentation take place in every transaction involving the weight, volume, or any measure of a physical product.

    Some members of the "Tea Party" want to dissolve the Department of Education. Note that the Department of Education effectively accredits the accreditation agencies which give meaning to our educational degrees. Without such a thing, no one would be able to dispute the weight behind my doctorate of biopsychology from a university which I set up myself as a website. There would be no repercussions when the Texas Board of Education removes Atheists / Deists among this nations Founding Fathers from their curriculum, while such an omission would lend credence to the "Christian Nation" hypothesis spread by fundamentalists. This is also the institution by which several laws regarding the states' interaction with religion are enforced. Without that, a publicly funded school could tell *all* of the children that the atheists in town are godless heathens.

    Heck, even venture capitalists acknowledged the need for public education back during the industrial revolution. When an employee can read, it dramatically reduces training time and hazards in the workplace. When the workers are somewhat educated, they can do more, as workers. If the government quit acknowledging a child's "right to an education", or providing for such a right, society as we know it could collapse within a generation or two, from the lack of educated workers alone.

    Even past the standards for the amount of product, there are plenty of other laws in place to protect consumers. Environmental regulations for production, safety regulations on products... these things help us make sure that we buy safe products. Why can't the free market just do this for us? I'll get to that in a moment.

    Essential services, such as medicine, police, and fire protection have all been tried in a free market. In Britain, there are less birth complications than in the US, because its free there. Next to Canada European countries where medicine has some form of subsidy for insurance is the minimum of government involvement, the US's statistics on birth look like that of a third world nation, because not everyone can afford prenatal checkups.

    As for a private fire department and police... well, private fire departments once existed. But when someone couldn't pay for the service, everyone let the place burn; in those conditions, other houses, trees, and structures near it have a way of catching on fire. Private police forces raise several other problems, a few of which were demonstrated by the political machines which arose in the US during the 19th century: they were bought off by politicians, and which districts (or even individuals) voted for said politicians earned police protection - others earn exclusion or were targeted for their vote.

    Why not let the free market take care of all of this?
    http://washingtonindependent.com/976...erty-last-year
    With one in seven Americans living in poverty, a lot more of us lack the funds to "vote with our dollars". We cannot boycott the "cheapest place in town" for bread and eggs (which is too often Walmart), or other essentials. We cannot afford to necessarily make healthier choices on our foods - highly processed food is cheap in America, while Organic food is so out of reach as to be costly for many households.

    While I cannot necessarily cite evidence for this, one may notice that unregulated capitalism, where large established companies can take a hit if it will squash upstart competition, eventually leads to monopolies or cartels. These upstarts rarely have the infrastructure to be anything but local at first - and for a company which serves nationwide or worldwide, taking a hit in one locale to put the upstarts out of business before they grow becomes cost effective. Walmart did this with several local stores in my town - the upstart fabric store died a quick death, for example, and then Walmart closed down the department which competed with them. In other industries, extremely large start up costs (and red tape) prevent upstarts, such as the American Automobile Industry.

    The way companies merge and buy each other out, this can create a trend which eventually leaves nothing but a monopoly or a cartel standing in any given large industry. Any Economist with their head will tell you that such things bend the consumer over to extract as much profit as possible.

    Lets take a look at the trend in the US - in the 1950s, it was commonplace for men to provide for entire families, while wives working was seen as weakness on the husband's part (if a wife could get a job! And there was no hope for equal pay in the same position). Then, women's liberation allowed for women to join the workplace on a more equal footing. Soon, it became not only accepted, but mandatory for families to have both spouses working. Now, its not uncommon for people to work *several* jobs. Workers wages just have not kept up with inflation.

    Meanwhile, the wealthy have found their incomes skyrocket. I remember as a child, being a millionaire was a big deal. That seemed like more money than anyone would know what to do with. Now? Billionaires seem to literally run the world - the Tea Party, which is lighting a fire in US politics was started by Freedomworks, a libertarian think-tank owned by one of the billionaire-heir Koch brothers. Rupert Murdock's Newscorp has embraced, and expanded it via Fox News, and several newspapers; American Family Radio, part of the 501(c)3 American Family Association, broadcasts news late at night which openly favors the tea party and its candidates.


    I want more government involvement. Fox News can demonize wealth redistribution all they want, but when people make billions of dollars for very little work, while others practically break their backs at several jobs a week to not even meet their needs? That's unregulated capitalism at its end. Any farther and we'll really have a problem - this extreme concentration of the world's limited wealth is what started the great depression - there wasn't money around to pay companies, nor for them to pay their workers.... the money supply effectively contracted.

    Now, with banks not lending money as easily, we've lost the "lubricant" which both let us slide out of control... and build up in the first place. This isn't a recession... while Wall Street was happy for a few periods of time from 2000 until now, the rest of us have been feeling it while they make money at our expense. That gain on Wall Street was the Carpet-baggers running out of town with money that we earned, especially on people's retirement plans. That's been long enough to classify as a Depression, and we're not out of it yet. It may even be turning deeper.
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    Re: What role should the government have?

    I want a government with very little power. It needs just enough power for society to be allowed to function, to not be too tied down, and for the country to be defended. Government is a necessary evil. Without it, we'd be on our way to various forms of tyrrany. Whether it be direct democracy, or the leaders of trade unions forming ad hoc government systems. Or if those didn't occur, the militias you'd need for defense and security would become the government.

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    Re: What role should the government have?

    Don't get me wrong. The state of Virginia actually needs to cut back on its taxes and red tape towards starting a new business - they're only contributing towards the problem! And yet, they wonder why their proverbial "Main Street" is failing...
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  10. #10
    lady sings the blues DanieMarie's Avatar
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    Re: What role should the government have?

    [quote author=AzazelEblis link=topic=262.msg3975#msg3975 date=1287349766]
    Don't get me wrong. The state of Virginia actually needs to cut back on its taxes and red tape towards starting a new business - they're only contributing towards the problem! And yet, they wonder why their proverbial "Main Street" is failing...
    [/quote]

    Germany needs to do that in such a massive way.

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