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Author Topic: Necessary Government Functions  (Read 6096 times)

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Offline BCdan

Re: Necessary Government Functions
« Reply #25 on: July 03, 2011, 08:23:49 PM »
You can print all the currency you like, with whatever coins you like.  You just can't say that it is a dollar, or US currency, or the currency of any other soveirgn nation.  Milton Bradley does it all the time.  The problem with that is, no one will accept your currency, because it isn't worth anything.  National currencies are backed by an incredibly intricate system of goods and services exchanged, and they fluctuate in value all the time based on the value of whatever is backing them.  Nothing is stopping you from bartering though, and many people are more then willing to barter in various forms, be it a gift card in exchange for goods, a coupon, or a fair trade worked out through negotiation.

I can understand monopoly money being worth nothing, or any other Fiat currency that I just made up.  But what if I stamp my face into a gold coin and slap it in front of you?  Somebodies going to accept that.  In fact, bartering is where currency got its start because it made things easier. 

My problem is that the only reason we use the dollar is because alternatives are agaisnt the law.  As in you will go to jail if you try to introduce a better currency. 

Offline errantwandering

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Re: Necessary Government Functions
« Reply #26 on: July 03, 2011, 08:35:41 PM »
Please show me the law that says you can't pay for things in gold or silver.  If you slapped a gold coin in front of me, I'd certainly take it.  Some stores might not, because it'd be too inconvenient to do so, but most people would, and no government official would bat an eye.  Only thing illegal to print is dollars....no one will accept your printed money though, as you have nothing to back it with.

Offline BCdan

Re: Necessary Government Functions
« Reply #27 on: July 03, 2011, 08:45:52 PM »
Please show me the law that says you can't pay for things in gold or silver.  If you slapped a gold coin in front of me, I'd certainly take it.  Some stores might not, because it'd be too inconvenient to do so, but most people would, and no government official would bat an eye.  Only thing illegal to print is dollars....no one will accept your printed money though, as you have nothing to back it with.


Here you go.


"Whoever, except as authorized by law, makes or utters or passes, or attempts to utter or pass, any coins of gold or silver or other metal, or alloys of metals, intended for use as current money, whether in the resemblance of coins of the United States or of foreign countries, or of original design, shall be fined under this title [1] or imprisoned not more than five years, or both. "

If I attempted to make my own currency using gold and pay you with it, a group of men would arrest me, put me on trial and throw me in prison.  I have done nothing violent, but violence (or, at minimum, the threat of violence) will be used against me if I try to make my own currency that uses a precious metal. 

Offline errantwandering

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Re: Necessary Government Functions
« Reply #28 on: July 03, 2011, 08:56:20 PM »
Wow, I stand corrected.  You're right, that is a definite overstep of government authority.

Offline Synecdoche17

Re: Necessary Government Functions
« Reply #29 on: July 03, 2011, 11:18:13 PM »

If I attempted to make my own currency using gold and pay you with it, a group of men would arrest me, put me on trial and throw me in prison.  I have done nothing violent, but violence (or, at minimum, the threat of violence) will be used against me if I try to make my own currency that uses a precious metal.
If I bring 500 lb. of cocaine into the country, a group of men would arrest me, put me on trial and throw me in prison. Even though I did nothing violent, violence or the threat of violence would be used against me.

Some things are banned for the good of society, like hard drugs, unlicensed food vendors, and daycares situated on Superfund sites. Alternative currencies are and should be one of those things. The federal government didn't always have a monopoly on currency (just as cocaine wasn't always illegal). In the 1800s, we had the period of 'wildcat' banks, each issuing its own currency. Beyond the sheer insanity of trying to keep track of all these independent exchange rates (bank A says its currency is worth X, bank B says it will only give you Y for that sum of bank A's currency...), it also led to a truly staggering number of market failures, economic busts, and straight-up frauds in which unscrupulous people set up banks, accepted deposits in exchange for banknotes, and then fled the state with other people.'s savings.

Other arguments that come to mind:

- When you set up a competing currency, you are in fact harming other people financially, because the existence of your currency impacts the value and utility of the existing currency and deposits people hold in that currency, because the strength of a currency depends entirely on the willingness of people to buy it. Look at the Eurozone - despite the crumbling of several European economies (Greece, Ireland, with Spain, Italy, and Portugal all teetering on the verge), the euro remains consistently more valuable than the dollar, because, put together, the economies and populations of Europe are larger and more stable than those of the US. Fracture the economy with a separate currency and you do a great deal of harm to the value of the existing currency and deposits in that currency. For instance, both Italy and Greece's old currencies (the lira and the drachma, for those who aren't currency nerds) had been sinking steadily for decades prior to the creation of the Eurozone, a sinking that had profound effects on the poor, the elderly, and those living on fixed incomes.

- Have you ever received a gift card for a store you didn't really want to buy anything from? Isn't it aggravating how some stores only offer refunds in store credit? Imagine that the whole nation operates on that kind of scheme. You can't shop at the grocery store without Chase Mutual Dollars, you can't shop at the pharmacy without Bank of America Patriot (tm) Dollars, etc. How do you convert from one to the other? By paying moneychangers, just like you would at an airport. If you've ever used a moneychanger, please express to me how happy you felt about that 10, 15, or even 20% loss you took on the exchange simply because your foreign currency was unusable in the country you had just entered. A currency free-for-all isn't going to be a happy paradise of individual competition - it's going to be large mega-corporations ganging up to control consumers. You will receive your pay in a given currency, and if you don't shop at a retailer who subscribes to that currency you're going to be punished with the money-changing fees. Large banks will ally and probably even merge with large retailers to re-impose conditions similar to the corporate towns of the early 1900s.

Offline BCdan

Re: Necessary Government Functions
« Reply #30 on: July 04, 2011, 12:03:48 AM »
If I bring 500 lb. of cocaine into the country, a group of men would arrest me, put me on trial and throw me in prison. Even though I did nothing violent, violence or the threat of violence would be used against me.

Some things are banned for the good of society, like hard drugs, unlicensed food vendors, and daycares situated on Superfund sites.

So your saying that you would put a gun to my head (use violence) for the 'good of society' even though I have never initiated any sort of violence? 

I just want to make perfectly clear what paradigm we are starting from.

Offline consortium11

Re: Necessary Government Functions
« Reply #31 on: July 04, 2011, 12:12:18 AM »
For instance, both Italy and Greece's old currencies (the lira and the drachma, for those who aren't currency nerds) had been sinking steadily for decades prior to the creation of the Eurozone, a sinking that had profound effects on the poor, the elderly, and those living on fixed incomes.

Off topic warning

It's worth noting that the relatively weak lira and drachma mean that both countries massively expanded their tourist industries as they brought in huge numbers of tourists taking advantage of the exchange rate. Since the Euro came in that trade has dropped off significantly: obviously Italy (and to a lesser extent Greece) still gets many going for the historical/cultural significance but in terms of tourists looking for sun and sand (or the like) its nearly disappeared as holidays got more and more expensive (combined with everyone tightening their wallets).

If anything Greece having a weak currency would help right now... it allows them to price themselves back into the market and with people who would traditionally go on a package summer holiday looking to save money cheap trips to Greece would be a very tempting prospect.

Offline Vekseid

Re: Necessary Government Functions
« Reply #32 on: July 04, 2011, 12:32:16 AM »
I don't think that's necessarily off topic. Should a government have full control of the currency within its borders? I would say so.

Offline Noelle

Re: Necessary Government Functions
« Reply #33 on: July 04, 2011, 10:39:35 AM »
I don't think it seems that out of sorts to understand why your government wouldn't want you minting your own currency. I think they'd be similarly displeased if you decided to declare your own sovereign neighborhood, or if you assembled your own private army or ran your own economy AKA a kind of black market. Which people do, at least on that last part, and it most certainly doesn't go over well. It's not because they're a nefarious board of shadowy figures, it's because it undercuts them trying to serve the greater good with the services they do provide and can be a very serious cause of destabilization.

Offline BCdan

Re: Necessary Government Functions
« Reply #34 on: July 04, 2011, 11:32:43 AM »
I don't think it seems that out of sorts to understand why your government wouldn't want you minting your own currency. I think they'd be similarly displeased if you decided to declare your own sovereign neighborhood, or if you assembled your own private army or ran your own economy AKA a kind of black market. Which people do, at least on that last part, and it most certainly doesn't go over well. It's not because they're a nefarious board of shadowy figures, it's because it undercuts them trying to serve the greater good with the services they do provide and can be a very serious cause of destabilization.

Ok this really bothers me.  So the war in Iraq was for the greater good?  Putting the Japanese in internment camps was for the greater good?  Printing Fiat currency is for the greater good? Was banning Gay Marriage for the greater good? 

I could go on and on, but the point I am trying to make is that a government is a body of people.  There not angels who care about what you want, they are there to govern you.  They will take every opportunity they can get to increase their power. 

Define 'greater good'.  Your definition isn't going to match the definition of anybody else when it gets down to the issue by issue level. 

Offline Noelle

Re: Necessary Government Functions
« Reply #35 on: July 04, 2011, 12:18:49 PM »
Ok this really bothers me.  So the war in Iraq was for the greater good?  Putting the Japanese in internment camps was for the greater good?  Printing Fiat currency is for the greater good? Was banning Gay Marriage for the greater good?

What bothers me is that you're injecting your own privileged hindsight into making judgment calls while simultaneously insinuating that I claimed that everything the government does is good and respectable. Pointing out that the government has made mistakes is pretty useless on the whole -- the private sector has had more than its share of utter failures, as well, which is essentially what you're arguing for when you make the claim that you should be able to print your own currency on a whim.

Also, side note, gay marriage isn't banned. There are states that try to pass bans, but it is not banned on a federal level, it is simply not recognized.

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I could go on and on, but the point I am trying to make is that a government is a body of people.  There not angels who care about what you want, they are there to govern you.  They will take every opportunity they can get to increase their power. 

Then I invite you to provide the evidence that they are a nefarious, greedy, monolithic entity. Saying it doesn't make it so -- the "fuck the man" mantra has been so beaten to death by over-privileged and under-hygienic white people (that would be my own tongue-in-cheek reference to hippies and rebellious teenage children :D) that it doesn't mean anything on its own. People have been saying it for decades and yet somehow we've still managed to avoid forcible takeover and thorough brainwashing.

Your last claim is just patently untrue and totally baseless. The government used to systematically oppress minorities, but they're also the same government that voted to free them and make attempts to help level the playing field again through Affirmative Action and later went on to allow those people to run for government. The government also bought out GM when it was threatening to go under, and then sold it back to the private sector. This does not fit very well with the nihilistic picture you're painting of a government that only wants more power. If we have a power-hungry government, it could really use some pointers about how to be more efficient at taking over. I'm pretty sure the continued existence of the judicial branch alone is enough to show their incompetence at forming an effectively shady control mechanism.

Similarly, I fail to see how their shortcomings render them much different from the private sector who I could also sit and argue only wants to turn a profit and couldn't possibly care less about helping people and has shown consistent failures to protect people (clean water initiatives, pollution, work conditions, minimum wage requirements, child labor, workplace equality, food safety, sanitation...) while bloating their own profits and lining their pockets at the expense of others. Surprise, the government stepped in on those matters and used legislation to help stymie exploitation on many counts.

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Define 'greater good'.  Your definition isn't going to match the definition of anybody else when it gets down to the issue by issue level.

The greater good, I would imagine, is the continued existence of a functioning society of healthy, productive, and happy citizens. Of course it's subjective, our country's morals and goals and aspirations are subjective, which is why we live in a democratic republic that is represented by two parties (I know there are others, but let's not kid ourselves, it's pretty much just shades of the two-party system at this point) who vote on issues. However, you'd be hard-pressed to argue that we haven't made progress -- New York just passed a law that allows gays legal marriage recognition. What was considered good 100 years ago has changed, and that's a good thing. Our government should change over time to better serve its citizens. I would be incredibly concerned if it didn't.

Offline Synecdoche17

Re: Necessary Government Functions
« Reply #36 on: July 04, 2011, 01:03:19 PM »
So your saying that you would put a gun to my head (use violence) for the 'good of society' even though I have never initiated any sort of violence?
Nah. I prefer knives and ropes for my bondage scenes. Wait, what forum is this again?

Offline AndyZTopic starter

Re: Necessary Government Functions
« Reply #37 on: July 04, 2011, 01:11:25 PM »
Hell yes. Everyone benefits from a more educated workforce - better education means more earning power means faster economic growth for everyone. Even Scrooge McDuck should be in favor of public education. If you look at the wealthier areas of the USA, they almost all have very strong public school systems.
Hyperinflation is generally defined as 10% inflation or more. The US dollar is at maybe 2%. Throwing around words like 'hyper inflating' makes you look like an alarmist. I invite you to study real examples of hyperinflation, like 1930s Germany, 1970s Argentina, modern-day Zimbabwe, before throwing that word around.
A gold standard is a terrible idea. Most reputable economists agree that the gold standard was one of the contributing factors to the Great Depression, because the gold standard meant the problems of 'sick' nations immediately spread to 'healthy' nations as investors used the exchange rates to loot gold from government vaults. Further, the gold standard is inherently unstable, because each new discovery of gold reduces the value of gold, creating random episodes of currency deflation. If you don't like the idea of seasoned economists and financiers altering the value of your currency, how can you be more comfortable with the idea of letting sheer chance do so instead?

Most of the stuff on this forum is beyond my scope of understanding; I'm not going to insult the intelligence and knowledge of those who are informed by attempting to comment on various things.  However, although it's off-topic, I'd love to hear a little more about this 2% number.  It seems like all sorts of prices are jumping a lot faster than 2%.  That should probably be kept for another topic, though.

---

I'm going to throw out another question for debate, though: if we have the separation of church and state as detailed in the first amendment, why does the state recognize and endorse marriages at all?  I would figure that marriage is inherently a religious thing, which is going to vary based on religion, and not decided at all by state.  Maybe this is silly, and I'm probably missing the point, but I'd love to see an explanation and/or debate for this.

Offline BCdan

Re: Necessary Government Functions
« Reply #38 on: July 04, 2011, 01:21:23 PM »
What bothers me is that you're injecting your own privileged hindsight into making judgment calls while simultaneously insinuating that I claimed that everything the government does is good and respectable. Pointing out that the government has made mistakes is pretty useless on the whole -- the private sector has had more than its share of utter failures, as well, which is essentially what you're arguing for when you make the claim that you should be able to print your own currency on a whim.

Im not saying you support those things, I am saying you support the infrastructure that supports those things. 

The private sector cannot force you to buy something or force you to do anything.  When the private sector 'fails', its failures are minor in comparison to the entire system melt-downs that the government can achieve.  Take currency for example.  If my currency was inferior because I watered down the gold, or whatever was physically backing my currency became much less valuable, then I would fail but get replaced by a much more competitive currency that was more valuable. 

By comparison, if I have an all reaching, legally enforced currency backed by the threat of force if someone tries to introduce an alternative and a certain Mediterranean country has a major economic crises, then all my eggs are in one basket. 



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Then I invite you to provide the evidence that they are a nefarious, greedy, monolithic entity. Saying it doesn't make it so -- the "fuck the man" mantra has been so beaten to death by over-privileged and under-hygienic white people (that would be my own tongue-in-cheek reference to hippies and rebellious teenage children :D) that it doesn't mean anything on its own. People have been saying it for decades and yet somehow we've still managed to avoid forcible takeover and thorough brainwashing.

Your last claim is just patently untrue and totally baseless. The government used to systematically oppress minorities, but they're also the same government that voted to free them and make attempts to help level the playing field again through Affirmative Action and later went on to allow those people to run for government. The government also bought out GM when it was threatening to go under, and then sold it back to the private sector. This does not fit very well with the nihilistic picture you're painting of a government that only wants more power. If we have a power-hungry government, it could really use some pointers about how to be more efficient at taking over. I'm pretty sure the continued existence of the judicial branch alone is enough to show their incompetence at forming an effectively shady control mechanism.

So your asking me to prove politicians/dictators/bureaucrats are greedy?  I would say that the government has been getting gradually more and more controlling over the past century.  Probably the most recent example would be the patriot act. 

So basically the government oppresses minorities -> the government stops oppressing minorities = victory for government? Government committed the original sin.  Want to know why GM was saved?  Heres why.  Oh and heres another reason.  Boy I wonder if that top recipient in the senate rooted for GM at all later in his career. 

Officials know they can't just take complete control without risking anger from the population, so they might not even want to.  But being able to shut down your lemonade stand because you didn't fill out the correct permits is close enough.

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Similarly, I fail to see how their shortcomings render them much different from the private sector who I could also sit and argue only wants to turn a profit and couldn't possibly care less about helping people and has shown consistent failures to protect people (clean water initiatives, pollution, work conditions, minimum wage requirements, child labor, workplace equality, food safety, sanitation...) while bloating their own profits and lining their pockets at the expense of others. Surprise, the government stepped in on those matters and used legislation to help stymie exploitation on many counts.


Because the private sector can't force you to do anything.   If you don't want to save for retirement, then thats your choice, but wow if you stop paying into Social Security, you better have a good lawyer. 

Heres a video you should watch about the private sector and greed vs. when the public sector gets greedy.
Greed With John Stossel part 2 of 6

Quote
The greater good, I would imagine, is the continued existence of a functioning society of healthy, productive, and happy citizens. Of course it's subjective, our country's morals and goals and aspirations are subjective, which is why we live in a democratic republic that is represented by two parties (I know there are others, but let's not kid ourselves, it's pretty much just shades of the two-party system at this point) who vote on issues. However, you'd be hard-pressed to argue that we haven't made progress -- New York just passed a law that allows gays legal marriage recognition. What was considered good 100 years ago has changed, and that's a good thing. Our government should change over time to better serve its citizens. I would be incredibly concerned if it didn't.

But this is all an uphill battle agaisnt government.  Its government that first started giving special tax breaks to encourage marriage, but excluded gay people.  Its federal fugitive slave laws that made slavery economical in the US while helping to create a concept of racism.  I am trying to say that the government should change by simply not being involved in so many things. 

Offline Caela

Re: Necessary Government Functions
« Reply #39 on: July 04, 2011, 02:23:58 PM »


I'm going to throw out another question for debate, though: if we have the separation of church and state as detailed in the first amendment, why does the state recognize and endorse marriages at all?  I would figure that marriage is inherently a religious thing, which is going to vary based on religion, and not decided at all by state.  Maybe this is silly, and I'm probably missing the point, but I'd love to see an explanation and/or debate for this.

Most of this thread is interesting and totally beyond me. Good place to start learning though. This I would like to comment on though.

The state recognizes marriages because they aren't just religious ceremonies but also legal contracts between two people. Religion often influences the type of ceremony involved but a marriage is also a contract that combines two people into their own, new, legal entity. A marriage combines the partners assets (hence needing community property laws or pre-nuptials for the division of property in divorce), changes the way taxes are filed, gives each spouse the rights to medical decision making if the other is incapacitated etc. If it were just a religious ceremony none of these legal ramifications would exist and the gov't should then be expected to keep it's nose out of it.

Offline Noelle

Re: Necessary Government Functions
« Reply #40 on: July 04, 2011, 03:03:12 PM »
Im not saying you support those things, I am saying you support the infrastructure that supports those things. 

The private sector cannot force you to buy something or force you to do anything.

On technicality? Sure, you're right. But those choices probably aren't going to be very evenly weighted, if history has anything to say about it. I can work for a dollar an hour for eighteen hours a day, or I can have "standards" and go hungry because I don't have a job -- however horribly paid -- to feed myself. I mean, they're not forcing me, right? Is this a victory for the private sector without government regulation telling them what they can and can't do?

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When the private sector 'fails', its failures are minor in comparison to the entire system melt-downs that the government can achieve.

So...the lack of regulation on Wall Street and amongst bankers was...what, exactly? I'd say that catalyzed a pretty dim period for us.

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Take currency for example.  If my currency was inferior because I watered down the gold, or whatever was physically backing my currency became much less valuable, then I would fail but get replaced by a much more competitive currency that was more valuable. 

As it was already demonstrated in this thread, if everyone can make their own currency on a whim, you effectively have a meltdown of economy because of exchange rates, certain places declining your money in favor of its own, and so forth. All of this doesn't even mention what it does for the country on a global scale as well as the socioeconomic disparities it would create within. I am having a little trouble seeing how allowing your currency (currencies?) to fail at any time is a desirable alternative. Needing 8 different currencies just to go to different companies for X or Y service is not efficient. The Euro has already been brought up here.

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So your asking me to prove politicians/dictators/bureaucrats are greedy?  I would say that the government has been getting gradually more and more controlling over the past century.  Probably the most recent example would be the patriot act. 

You, on one hand, argue that these are "just people". These would be the same "just people" that are running businesses in the private sector, and yet you are painting the government as different simply because it can enforce things. Okay, fine -- let's demolish the government all together and let the private sector run everything. The same people in the government are suddenly in the private sector...and you're arguing they're not going to do things that are harmful to the public at large in favor of multiplying their own power/money with nobody over them to enforce? The logic is not adding up to me.

There are certainly countries who have "more controlling" governments, and yet they remain democratic and free. Scandinavian countries and much of Western Europe comes to mind, and I'm quite positive their citizens don't feel particularly brainwashed, controlled, or oppressed. I find it pretty unconvincing on one hand to call our government inept and terrible at governing and passing laws and on the other hand, accuse them of hatching a complicated plan to take over its own citizens. It doesn't add up. Like I said, our country is awfully inept at being controlling if it's taken them damn near 300 years to pass the Patriot Act. It took Hitler (hello, Godwin!) a fraction of that time to take over Germany for his own actual nefarious purposes and execute tangible evidence of it.

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So basically the government oppresses minorities -> the government stops oppressing minorities = victory for government? Government committed the original sin.


Nooot quite. I'll address this more later, but by your argument, we should shred the Constitution because it failed outright to protect women, minorities, the GLBT community, animals, and children. It was a failure from the beginning from the strawman you're setting up. I would hardly call it a "victory", but I fail to see how greatly different and progressive the "private sector" would've been when they were getting dirt-cheap labor out on the plantation for the low, low cost of oppressing another's basic individual rights that the government set up in the first place.

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Want to know why GM was saved?  Heres why.  Oh and heres another reason.  Boy I wonder if that top recipient in the senate rooted for GM at all later in his career. 

I don't understand why you're pointing out business donations to the government -- and then turning around and blaming the "corruption" you see on the government. If you're correlating the bailout with the fact that a business got involved with the government and made donations with their money to get something that benefited them, then you're essentially saying that the government is a shill for the private sector, and I would argue that it's a stronger case against letting the private sector anywhere near the government rather than vice versa.

Regardless, you're not addressing my point. You're making the claim that the government just wants more and more power, when they safely bought the company and sold it back when they were done. That's not a spin or an ideological sleight of hand, that's what happened. Again, an awfully strange move for a government that wants it all.
Here's an interesting recap on nationalization in America -- take from it what you will, but it does address several instances of government takeover whose industries were subsequently returned to the private sector later. You'll even notice the government ruling against itself in this:
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That forced nationalization did not last long, since the Supreme Court ruled the action an unconstitutional abuse of presidential power.

Imagine that.

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Officials know they can't just take complete control without risking anger from the population, so they might not even want to.  But being able to shut down your lemonade stand because you didn't fill out the correct permits is close enough.

You're making broad, conspiratorial claims with no presented evidence and then you're jumping all over the place ideologically. First the government is hungry for power, now you're saying they might not even want to take control? You'll have to excuse me if I'm finding it difficult to follow you here, but your leaps in logic are growing difficult to follow along behind.

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Heres a video you should watch about the private sector and greed vs. when the public sector gets greedy.
Greed With John Stossel part 2 of 6

There is a lot that is wrong with this video. They create false dichotomies and strawmen abound. Comparing Bill Gates and Jean-Claude Duvalier? Really? Not addressing the fact that your taxes actually do purchase services that you use? He also builds an image that there are no successful cheaters, that people can't be mislead by corporate charlatans while simultaneously assuring us "people wise up" -- to which all I can really say is investment bubbles. Going on to say that Rockefeller and Vanderbilt taking advantage of the poor was somehow virtuous? I don't know how else to say this, but this video is utter garbage with little substance.

I'm not saying this is bunk because I'm not open to learning and possibly changing my mind in the face of good evidence -- I'm open to learning from facts that come from unbiased research. This video is shoddy from front to back and it's addressing an argument that nobody is making. Being okay with a degree of government intervention does not necessitate that you hate businesses and don't want to see anyone succeed. I don't hate the private sector any more than I want the government to take everything over and turn us into a nanny state. That's a false choice.

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But this is all an uphill battle agaisnt government.  Its government that first started giving special tax breaks to encourage marriage, but excluded gay people.  Its federal fugitive slave laws that made slavery economical in the US while helping to create a concept of racism.  I am trying to say that the government should change by simply not being involved in so many things.

The government did not invent racism. The government did not invent slavery. It did not invent discrimination against gays. We elect people to the government who act as our mouthpiece. The government didn't force those measures on us, we voted on them. Whether or not minorities were given full citizenship and human rights was not an act of a single-minded government monster forcing inequality on us while we all toiled in woe over how unfair it was. We let it happen. Yes, it was a shortcoming in legislature and a very disappointing and horrifying period for our society as a whole, but if you'd like to test how the state of the nation would've been without the government there, ask yourself if slavery would've dried up and gone away without the government there at all. I'd contend it wouldn't have and may have even continued on longer. What prerogative does business have to spend more money on its laborers if their current method is serving them just fine?

If you'd like to argue that our democracy is an elaborate show of smoke and mirrors and the citizens actually have nothing to do with anything that happens, then that's a line of conspiratorial thinking I can't even begin to address here and frankly don't really want to. :\
« Last Edit: July 04, 2011, 03:04:47 PM by Noelle »

Offline Synecdoche17

Re: Necessary Government Functions
« Reply #41 on: July 04, 2011, 03:59:39 PM »
Most of the stuff on this forum is beyond my scope of understanding; I'm not going to insult the intelligence and knowledge of those who are informed by attempting to comment on various things.  However, although it's off-topic, I'd love to hear a little more about this 2% number.  It seems like all sorts of prices are jumping a lot faster than 2%.  That should probably be kept for another topic, though.
2% was an off-the-cuff estimate that was truer early in the year; it appears the current rate for these months is closer to 3.5%, which is still much less than hyperinflation.
The inflation rate is the average of a 'basket' of goods, because no individual good can accurately measure the cost of living. So there are always goods that increase faster than the inflation rate, but that's not because of the decline of the currency, it's because of the scarcity or increased demand for said good. The most widely used yardstick for U.S. inflation is the Consumer Price Index; you can Google it for more information.
The controversial part of most inflation indices is that they generally exclude things that we would consider vital necessities, like food and energy, because those goods swing too wildly to be used in an estimate of annual inflation. Gasoline, for instance, is subject to rapid price spikes and declines based on geopolitics, while some foods vary wildly in price depending on the season. Again, these aren't reflective of a currency's weakness, and they usually tend to be global effects (especially gas). Although these goods are not used to compute the inflation rate, they usually tend not to vary too far from the inflation rate barring special occasions.

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I'm going to throw out another question for debate, though: if we have the separation of church and state as detailed in the first amendment, why does the state recognize and endorse marriages at all?  I would figure that marriage is inherently a religious thing, which is going to vary based on religion, and not decided at all by state.  Maybe this is silly, and I'm probably missing the point, but I'd love to see an explanation and/or debate for this.
Marriage has tons and tons of legal ramifications, from pensions to healthcare. Caela gave a good summary. We as a society have decided to attach a myriad of contractual obligations to marriage, and therefore the state has to interest itself in marriage. In fact, in the 70s and 80s, many gay and lesbian couples here in California actually formed tiny corporations in whose name they held all their assets, thus legally replicating many (though not all) of the legal benefits of marriage. Many hospitals, it turns out, won't give you permission to put your gay lover down on your next-of-kin /emergency contact forms, but they WILL let you put down your 'business partner'.

Offline BCdan

Re: Necessary Government Functions
« Reply #42 on: July 04, 2011, 05:00:55 PM »
On technicality? Sure, you're right. But those choices probably aren't going to be very evenly weighted, if history has anything to say about it. I can work for a dollar an hour for eighteen hours a day, or I can have "standards" and go hungry because I don't have a job -- however horribly paid -- to feed myself. I mean, they're not forcing me, right? Is this a victory for the private sector without government regulation telling them what they can and can't do?

Excaept you can't work for a dollar an hour because of minimum wage laws.  Instead your only option is unemployment.  You are the one introducing force when you tell someone else how much they must pay you or else you will call the police to throw them in jail.  Just because you aren't qualified to get a high paying job doesn't mean you should be able to demand someone else pay you more money.  Heres a good video about how Government interference in prices causes unemployment. 

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So...the lack of regulation on Wall Street and amongst bankers was...what, exactly? I'd say that catalyzed a pretty dim period for us.

You mean the risky actions Wall Street took because it knew it would get bailed out by government?  Or what about those unrealistic interest rates that were dictated by the FDIC?  Your going to do all sorts of risky behavior if you know your getting a bailout. 

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As it was already demonstrated in this thread, if everyone can make their own currency on a whim, you effectively have a meltdown of economy because of exchange rates, certain places declining your money in favor of its own, and so forth. All of this doesn't even mention what it does for the country on a global scale as well as the socioeconomic disparities it would create within. I am having a little trouble seeing how allowing your currency (currencies?) to fail at any time is a desirable alternative. Needing 8 different currencies just to go to different companies for X or Y service is not efficient. The Euro has already been brought up here.
 

I was mainly arguing for the ethics of being allowed to make my own currency.  As I pointed out in a previous post, I would get a felony and five years in prison for engaging in purely voluntary behavior.  Your willing to commit violence against a peaceful person based on someones economic opinion.  I would like you to actually support that claim that the economy will melt down if we have multiple currencies, but thats not even the main point of my argument.  Its that in the really complex field of economics, you have an opinion so strong that you are willing to use violence to force it upon me. 

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You, on one hand, argue that these are "just people". These would be the same "just people" that are running businesses in the private sector, and yet you are painting the government as different simply because it can enforce things. Okay, fine -- let's demolish the government all together and let the private sector run everything. The same people in the government are suddenly in the private sector...and you're arguing they're not going to do things that are harmful to the public at large in favor of multiplying their own power/money with nobody over them to enforce? The logic is not adding up to me.

You could still have a government, it would just have to never initiate violence, the threat of violence or fraud against anyone.  Alternatively, you could have a government via contract, like a DRO.

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There are certainly countries who have "more controlling" governments, and yet they remain democratic and free. Scandinavian countries and much of Western Europe comes to mind, and I'm quite positive their citizens don't feel particularly brainwashed, controlled, or oppressed. I find it pretty unconvincing on one hand to call our government inept and terrible at governing and passing laws and on the other hand, accuse them of hatching a complicated plan to take over its own citizens. It doesn't add up. Like I said, our country is awfully inept at being controlling if it's taken them damn near 300 years to pass the Patriot Act. It took Hitler (hello, Godwin!) a fraction of that time to take over Germany for his own actual nefarious purposes and execute tangible evidence of it.

While we will never know if Hitlers Germany had long term viability (probably not).  Its largely a myth that Scandanavia is significantly more controlling.  They have high taxes, but economic freedoms often beat out the US in many areas.  I don't think that the government is run by a room full of evil men who want to conquer the world, but I do think that government naturally invites parasites that want to increase their own power.  The only thing that has slowed them down is our freedom and checks and balances.  But that has only slowed them down.

Ok, I really have stuff to do and can't continue this discussion anymore or respond to the rest of your points.  Sorry about that.  I completely disagree with you on most everything.  :P

Offline RubySlippers

Re: Necessary Government Functions
« Reply #43 on: July 04, 2011, 06:13:13 PM »
I often work for under the minimum wage its called being self-employed as a Busker and doing other jobs to make money which means often charging less than I would like to get money.

Back on the topic what is wrong with the government running everything I read A Brave New World and 1984, seems to me the latter is a nightmare but the former what is the big deal. They ended major banes to humanity and everyone was happy being what they were even if artificially controlled no one was without a home, food, clothing, entertainment, an education, sex etc.

In a way Huxley hit on maybe the best government ever the end of want, division and other things plaguing humanity for order and limited freedoms from intangibles for freedom from wants and offering needs being largely met.

I'm just saying one vision of a totalitarian state could be largely good or debased. But in the end isn't it the ideal of any government seen as good to meet the needs and wants of its people and these can vary greatly based on perception.

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Re: Necessary Government Functions
« Reply #44 on: July 04, 2011, 07:20:25 PM »
Back on the topic what is wrong with the government running everything I read A Brave New World and 1984, seems to me the latter is a nightmare but the former what is the big deal. They ended major banes to humanity and everyone was happy being what they were even if artificially controlled no one was without a home, food, clothing, entertainment, an education, sex etc.

In a way Huxley hit on maybe the best government ever the end of want, division and other things plaguing humanity for order and limited freedoms from intangibles for freedom from wants and offering needs being largely met.

That whirring sound you hear is Aldous Huxley hitting 78 rpm.  http://www.hrc.utexas.edu/multimedia/video/2008/wallace/huxley_aldous_t.html

Offline Caela

Re: Necessary Government Functions
« Reply #45 on: July 04, 2011, 07:42:26 PM »


I'm just saying one vision of a totalitarian state could be largely good or debased. But in the end isn't it the ideal of any government seen as good to meet the needs and wants of its people and these can vary greatly based on perception.

I would say no. It's not gov't job to see that my needs and wants are met. It is gov't job to ensure the infrastructure is in place so that I can rise high enough to see to my own needs and wants. I don't need gov't taking care of them any more than I still need my mother to spoon feed me.

I think it's gov't place to ensure we have peaceful treaties with our neighbors, provide infrastructure like roads, have some sort of military strength so we can protect our nation if needs be, provide schooling for our children so they have the opportunity to eventually become skilled enough to take care of themselves as well.

I'm very much a small gov't/personal responsibility kind of person myself.

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: Necessary Government Functions
« Reply #46 on: July 04, 2011, 07:49:20 PM »
Morally I can understand how some people argue for a minimal state, a government that's only concerned with some very strictly defined and stripped-down functions (policing, defence, justice, some key sanitary functions, perhaps a primary school system...) What I don't understand is why people imagine that such a state would not be outsmarted much of the time by corruption and wheelie-dealing among the citizens - and by the corporations, of course - , by old boys' networks, by organized crime; why those who have a great deal of power from inherited money, business assets etc would have to bend to such a state and its courtrooms on the same conditions as those who don't have a choice. Of course they wouldn't. A minimal state would tend to be, on at least half its weight, like a feudal state, where people will tend to rely on fiefdoms and personal bonds of loyalty, and on the room they - formally or informally - have to exploit others.
« Last Edit: July 04, 2011, 08:04:46 PM by gaggedLouise »

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Necessary Government Functions
« Reply #47 on: July 04, 2011, 08:01:42 PM »
I don’t quite understand the issue with using force to protect and enforce the laws of a society.  A law without enforcement is a waste of paper to be honest.  There are many non-violent actions an individual may take in order to be reprimanded by the law, in some cases with forceful removal.  Impeding the flow of traffic on a street can be met with force, failing to reach medical care for a minor can be meet with force, shouting “fire” in a crowded room can be met with force.  The benefit of the many outweighs the rights of the few in many instances.   

As for the currency issue, history and present day example disagree with this more benevolent system being proposed.  Mining communities at one time would give out their own currency to workers to be used at the “Company Store.”  The items were marked up for the company currency because the workers had no place else to spend the currency because it would not be accepted at anyone else’s store.  A similar thing occurs with migrant workers today where a farmer gives them “credit” toward items in his own store, along with tools and lodging.  Often times the migrant worker owes the farmer after the season is done due to the mark ups.  These are small scale instances, but when applied to a larger scale I believe few people would have problems seeing the implications.  For a larger implication look toward the time when states printed their own currency for the economic hardship that would follow. 

Instances have been shown by more than one poster about the economic hardship that would result from private currency.  The welfare of the state and the people the state is obligated to protect takes priority over a personal desire or want to create currency.  The economic opinion is what governs the economy of the world market and economy is based on belief.  That belief allows us to conduct advanced levels of trade, negotiations and market which then mean that this opinion is worth enforcing.

Medical opinion faces a similar situation.  People can be imprisoned for not seeking medical attention or following medical advice in regard to their children.  A couple seeking to give their child a vegan diet led to malnutrition and death of the baby.  They were prosecuted.  People that do not seek medical treatment for their children can be prosecuted, even though their faith may say that medicine is wrong.  This are measures by the government to enforce an opinion, a medical opinion.  Whether the medical team actually helps or can help is irrelevant in some situations.  The simple matter is that as a country we believe in medicine and so our government feels that seeking medical attention is in the best interest of the people.

The same enforcement, I might add, can be used for people that refuse treatment and have infectious diseases such as TB.  Government has a higher responsibility to protect its citizens.  So yes, force can be used to enforce the “opinions” of the government.

« Last Edit: July 04, 2011, 08:11:15 PM by Pumpkin Seeds »

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: Necessary Government Functions
« Reply #48 on: July 04, 2011, 08:17:50 PM »
Quote from: Noelle
So...the lack of regulation on Wall Street and amongst bankers was...what, exactly? I'd say that catalyzed a pretty dim period for us.


Quote from: BCDan
You mean the risky actions Wall Street took because it knew it would get bailed out by government?  Or what about those unrealistic interest rates that were dictated by the FDIC?  Your going to do all sorts of risky behavior if you know your getting a bailout.

I wouldn't say they knew, as fact, that they were going to be bailed out if they tanked. Nor did they know the full risks inherent in their actions together, as a group. But the people who did the transactions or who led those banks and hedgefunds did know that if the market bombed, they would not be called on the full value of the money lost, their homes would not be repossessed, and even if they lost their jobs they would not personally be treated as outcasts or go to jail, they would not have lost their chances to go on to another well-paid job. The institutions were "too big to fail", and as for the people involved, they could laugh all the way to the bank, even when a few banks had defaulted.
« Last Edit: July 04, 2011, 08:19:00 PM by gaggedLouise »

Offline BCdan

Re: Necessary Government Functions
« Reply #49 on: July 04, 2011, 08:23:39 PM »
Morally I can understand how some people argue for a minimal state, a government that's only concerned with some very strictly defined and stripped-down functions (policing, defence, justice, some key sanitary functions, perhaps a primary school system...) What I don't understand is why people imagine that such a state would not be outsmarted much of the time by corruption and wheelie-dealing among the citizens - and by the corporations, of course - , by old boys' networks, by organized crime; why those who have a great deal of power from inherited money, business assets etc would have to bend to such a state and its courtrooms on the same conditions as those who don't have a choice. Of course they wouldn't. A minimal state would tend to be, on at least half its weight, like a feudal state, where people will tend to rely on fiefdoms and personal bonds of loyalty, and on the room they - formally or informally - have to exploit others.

I don't think that is even remotely true.  Take Greece for example.  Huge welfare state relative to GDP, massively corrupt government on all levels and tax-dodging as a commonality across all levels of society.  Greece has a huge government relative to GDP and corruption is rampant.  Now they are threatening the strength of the entire centralized currency that is the Euro. 

A small government would be less corrupt because it wouldn't be able to do anything for corporations.  Check out corporatism, check out cronyism and regulatory capture.  Those are only consequences of a large government.