I think my solution is both fair, good for governance, and therefore good for the country.
In order to sustain a filibuster you must:
1. Have at least 35 votes. This means to break a filibuster you need 65 votes.
2. You have 30 days to draft and propose opposing legislation. (Effectively, you're saying: "This bill is so bad it can't be fixed with amendments. Look at this bill instead!")
3. If those supporting the filibuster fail to have opposing legislation by the end of the 30 days, they may request additional time, but to get this requires a majority vote (51 votes) on the Senate floor. A failure to get 51 votes to sustain a filibuster ends the filibuster, allowing a majority vote to pass the originally proposed legislation.
4. If opposing legislation is drafted and put forward before the end of the 30 days, it may be considered by the Senate only if it receives a majority vote (51 votes). A failure to obtain the majority vote ends the filibuster and kills the opposing legislation.
Now, what does this accomplish?
- It ends the "Just Say No" bloc in the Senate. It requires them to actually propose alternative ideas of their own, which still require a majority vote to pass. Thus, if their ideas are good they can move forward, if not they die.
- It preserves majority rule. While it slows down the process, it's designed to create debate (in fact it -demands- debate), not slow it down for the sake of slowing it down.
- If a majority of Senators like the way the opposing legislation is shaping up, they can choose to sustain the filibuster if it takes longer than 30 days to draft opposing legislation. This is a good thing because in order to get the majority vote it FORCES the minority party to work with members of the majority party. It forces compromise and has everyone working toward a solution to the problem, rather than simply erecting a roadblock.
- It leads to better governance, because it has people debating issues and ideas, not simply carpet bombing the opposition in an attempt to score cheap political points.
- It's fair, because it allows the opposition a chance to voice their dissent (if nothing else), but still demands that they gain the support of the majority of the Senate.
- By putting a time limit and requirements on what is needed to sustain a filibuster it ensures that the threat of a filibuster alone is not enough to require a super majority for everything. If the Senate has a clear and solid majority in their camp, it makes the filibuster useless aside from slowing down the process (for one month), and allows them to just shrug and let them filibuster.
- It's good for the country, because it actually allows the Senate to participate in government without grinding to a halt.
- It ends things like the Louisiana Purchase and the Ben Nelson buy off. It doesn't allow a small handful of Senators (or even just one) to hold legislation hostage if the majority support it.
I hate it when people call the United States a capitalist nation. It isn't. Not if you define Capitalism as having free and open markets. What we have in the United States is not capitalism as I'd describe it, instead we have technically what is known as a "mixed" economy. However, that economy has evolved into something horrible: Corporatism.
I understand the hate and anger that many have for the way things operate in the United States. I count myself among that number. However, I do not consider myself a socialist or a communist as some do, I consider myself a TRUE Capitalist.
In my view here is 1/3rd of the problem with our nation summed up neatly here.
- The government has granted corporations personhood. This is entirely a government construct, and without government intervention granting this privilege the leaders of many businesses would be held accountable for their actions. The government intervention in this area takes away personal responsibility, and when you take away personal responsibility, the only thing that can result is irresponsibility.
- The government protects so-called intellectual property through copyrights, patents, and trademarks. This has the side effect of creating monopolies. Why should a business be able to patent genes that exist in nature? Why should a musician be able to copyright their songs? When you sing that song for someone else, you're sharing it. When you sell a CD you no longer hold the rights to it. Once you sell something, it no longer belongs to you, and unless you had a contractual agreement before the sale the buyer is free to do as they wish.
- The government protects and rewards business. Because businesses know they can receive rewards and benefits from the government, they turn to the government for assistance and aid. A business should fail or succeed on its own merits; not on the aid it is able to enlist from the government. This all creates politicians who are bought and sold, and creates a system in which lobbyists thrive.
These three things are the source of much of the issues in our system surrounding business. Each of them are created by the government. There are times when government is needed, but in my view when government intervenes it is almost ALWAYS on the side of business.
We see clear evidence of this during the healthcare debates. Healthcare is one area where some government is needed in the marketplace. Yet, they've tried to reconcile the need to aid American's with healthcare, with allowing Health Insurance Companies to suckle at the government teat. And boy, are they suckling away. There are so many backwards laws that protect health insurance companies, that I'm willing to bet if there was simply a bill that removed the majority of the laws favoring these companies that we'd see a massive drop in insurance cost.
In almost every case in which the government injects itself into the market, it's to give an advantage to one business or another (knowingly or unknowingly; intentionally or unintentionally).
I am, and will forever be, against government providing any aid to business. In my eyes, the major difference between communism and corporatism is where the power rests. In corporatism it rests in the hands of semi-private, governmentally protected business. In communism it rests in the hands of the government. Both lead (in my view) to the same ends, even if they take different routes.
If someone thinks I'm wrong in my view, I'm happy to listen and debate the issue.
I think it's safe to say that the majority of people here on these forums are on the left. We all tend to agree on a wide array of principles.
However, what is a liberal? What -is- liberalism? What is its defining characteristic, what distinguishes it from other political philosophies and systems?
I don't have an answer to any of the above questions that defines everyone here. However, I can tell you what liberalism is to me and why I view myself as a radical liberal.
On a fundamental level, I believe in freedom. Not just a little bit of freedom; but a whole lot. A whole, whole lot. This puts me in opposition to some people here.
True freedom, at it's core, is about nonaggression. It's true that absolute freedom would allow you to punch me in the face. I don't believe in a society in which anarchy is allowed, but when you view freedom through the lens of nonaggression; it makes sense. You may not be free to punch me in the face, but likewise I am not free to punch you in yours. The principle of nonaggression protects your nose as much as it protects my own.
In my view of the world; I believe in the absolute right for a person to own their own body. There should be no law, no person, no government, no institution, that controls an individual or their body. This means you're free to have an abortion, free to ingest whatever substances that you want, free to be a prostitute, free to do whatever you like so long as it does not violate the nonaggression principle. I personally may not agree with a persons actions; but I try to get them to change their ways through educating them, not by outlawing them.
My "radical" view puts me into opposition with many. From my view those who disagree with my version of liberalism are essentially saying that everyone has some limited rights in their own bodies, but not complete or exclusive rights. They're saying governments, corporations, other individuals or institutions, have certain rights in each person's body, too. This is, in my view, advocating at least partial slavery. In essence, you are free to do whatever you want, unless I don't want you to do it.
This view that I hold of liberalism is, to me, the core of what it means to be a liberal. You cannot be a "true" liberal unless you hold this view. You can agree with some liberal policies (such as being pro-choice), but unless you agree with the underlying philosophy how can you be a "true" liberal? Either you believe in freedom or you don't. How can you, for example, believe in a woman's right to choose to do what she wants with her own body, then turn around and say she can't choose to (as an example) home school her child? How can you say that she doesn't have the right to smoke pot?
I think this makes me a radical, but rather than see that as a bad thing, I am proud of it. I've taken a stand on principle and I'm consistent. I don't sway to the political winds, and I don't get dragged along by where the party may or may not go. I've planted my feet firmly in the ground and declared where I make my stand. I can look at something and ask myself, "Does this enhance someone's freedom or restrict it?"
When I answer that question, it's easy to know where I must stand. What about you? Where do you stand? How do you define -your- liberalism?
This is a re-post of my response in another thread, which was somewhat buried. I am re-posting it in its own thread to generate discussion. I believe people have a misconception of libertarianism based upon both bad Libertarians who don't know what the hell they're talking about and bad information in general (blame Ayn Rand for both). I've found that Liberals and Libertarian's have a lot in common, and share many of the same goals - even if at times their methods of achieving the goals differ. I believe it is a good thing to expand ones knowledge of other political philosophies, and it is my hope that this thread sparks discussion regarding this aspect of libertarian belief.
Libertarianism is a complex political philosophy based upon individualism. It is believed that an individual will always act in their own self-interest, and that allowing people to do that is the most moral form of governance. It stands against aggression of all sorts, both those inflicted by individuals and the government. Many people mistakenly assume "self-interest" translates to "greed."
While it is true that some individuals will be greedy, you actually benefit more by providing value. In essence, you reap what you sow. A libertarian believes that a greedy individual is less likely to succeed. You'll see an example of this at the end of my post. For now, I want to address the question regarding libertarianism and the Federal Reserve.
If you want to get to the root of the Libertarian hatred of the Federal Reserve, then it is this: they oppose the Federal Reserves government granted monopoly rights on the creation of money. They further oppose the government forcing citizens to use that money. That is the root of the issue with the Fed. Now, let me explain why a Libertarian views this as a problem.
First, you have to understand the difference between money and wealth. Wealth consists of goods and services provided to consumers. Money is a claim check on goods and services that constitutes wealth. The more money people have, the larger percentage of goods and services they are able to claim for themselves.
When you deposit your money into the bank, you are given a promise that they will return it to you if or when you need or want it. A bank with many customers can usually count on being able to make good on their promise, because it is unlikely that -everyone- would want to withdraw all of their money at the same time.
However, eventually people do want to withdraw some portion (or even all) of their money. To counter this banks keep a part of it on reserve and loan the rest out. This in turn creates more money. There are additional methods at their disposal to do this as well.
Let's give an example. You go to your local bank and deposit $100. The bank has determined, in order to function optimally (i.e. make good on its promise to its depositors) it needs to keep 20% of all its funds in reserve. Thus, of the $100 you gave to your bank it keeps $20 on reserve and loans out the remaining $80. I now have the $80 loaned to me by your bank and deposit it into my checking account, which now tells me I have $80 in the bank. Your account still says you have $100. Together, we have $180 in the bank... but wait! There is only $100 to begin with, which means the bank just created $80 out of thin air! Correct. The same process continues as the bank takes my $80, reserving 20% ($16) and lends out the remaining $64, which is then redeposited to repeat the same process.
The lower the reserve requirement, the more money that is created. Creating this extra money causes price inflation when there is no compensating increase in goods and services (i.e. wealth).
To give a comparative example of how price inflation works imagine a game of Monopoly. All players start out with $1,500, and as they move around the game board they acquire property. When one player lands on another players property, they pay rent, which earns the property owner money. This money is then used to build houses and hotels, increasing the value of the property, costing the other players more rent when they land on it, with the eventual goal of one player bankrupting all the others.
Now, let's assume that all players of the Monopoly game started with $7,500 instead of $1,500. What is the consequence? Players will be able to build houses and hotels earlier in the game. A boom in building would result. When the starting money was only $1,500 the players might have to sell some of their existing properties to other players in order to get enough to build their hotels and houses on the remaining ones. When starting with the extra cash, property owners might not need to raise the money. Players without property would have to pay owners more in order to entice them to sell. Real estate prices would rise with the inflation in Monopoly just as they do in the real world.
The other side of the coin is price deflation. This occurs when the money supply decreases without a compensating loss in goods and services that people want (i.e. wealth). Banks can cause deflation by increasing their reserves. This keeps money out of circulation. In the Monopoly example, deflation would be simulated by the players having to return a percentage of their cash to the bank.
When players return money to the bank they are less likely to have the ability to afford the high prices of rent (generated by houses and hotels). If players try and sell their properties, they find them worth less money than it cost them to buy them. Real estate prices fall, just as they do in the real world.
This is more-or-less what took place last year. As people who bought homes could no longer afford their mortgage they began to default on their payments resulting in foreclosure. This in turn resulted in a drop in property values. When the news of the crappy mortgages sold to people who couldn't afford them spread, no one wanted to buy them. The banks got stuck with them on their books, meanwhile some of them were all chopped up into derivatives and sold off in bundles. This essentially meant that you could own 3% of 100 different mortgages. Those who bought the derivatives believed them to be safer than standard mortgages, because while a fraction of those who have mortgages will not pay them not everyone would default. This means you'd only lose a percentage of the mortgage derivatives you held instead of -all- of it had you owned the entire mortgage.
The banks were unsure how much the mortgages and the mortgage derivatives were worth, so in order to ensure that they could make good on the promise they had made to their depositors they increased their reserve. They were no longer lending. There was a credit freeze. There was serious danger of the banks going under as they had over leveraged. To avoid this and to get credit flowing again the government through the Federal Reserve began to pump the Banks with lots of cash. The Federal Reserve also began to print more money. This results in inflation.
Unlike our Monopoly example above inflation and deflation created by changes in the money supply does not effect everyone equally. When the bank or the Fed creates new money, it increases its claim checks on the wealth relative to everyone else. The bank is like a Monopoly player who gets more money than any of the other players to start with. If both you and I were bidding on the same property in Monopoly, and my cash pile increased while yours stayed the same, I would likely top your best bid and get the property.
When I am sure to outbid you with new money, the auctioned property will probably sell for a slightly higher price than it otherwise would have. The seller would thereby acquire some of the newly created money. As they spend that extra money, by outbidding other players for property or paying rent, it eventually defuses into the hands of some of the other players. However, several turns may pass before some players get access to the new money. Those who have no property may never get any of the new money. They are worse off relative to the other players than they would have been if no new money had been created at all!
In real life, the banks create money and use it first. Those wealthy enough to put up collateral can borrow the money and use it next. Since both the government and the wealthy are the biggest borrowers, they benefit at the expense of those who have little property and savings. When the government begins to deficit spend, it must first borrow the money, and when it does so it inadvertently redistributes the wealth from the poor to the rich.
The longer the other players of Monopoly wait to share the new money, the worse off those without it are. In real life, prices rise before wages do as new money is created. This is a double whammy. People who do not get the new money at all (anyone on a fixed income without savings or property) must contend with the rising prices WITHOUT an increasing income.
Those who get the new money last are worse off than if there had been no inflation at all. Inflation through new money creation -artificially- increases the claim checks on goods and services for the wealthy, but not for the poor. This redistribution of wealth to the banks and the well-to-do by increasing the claim checks (money) that these groups have is referred to by Libertarians as the inflation tax.
The United States banking system alternates inflation with deflation. Without alternating the cycles, inflation would run rampant. In nations that inflate rapidly, getting the new money even a few hours later than someone else makes a person very much worse off. That is why workers in such countries rush to buy goods and services as soon as they can receive their paychecks, finding no incentive to save.
Alternating inflation creates other problems as well. When the rate of new money creation slows, people and businesses cannot borrow as readily as before. Consumers cannot buy goods; businesses must cut back production; workers get paid less or are laid off. Those who have little to no savings find themselves unable to make their mortgage payments. As a result, banks foreclose on many more homes in times of deflation.
The same people who were hurt by inflation usually find themselves crippled by deflation as well. People without property and without savings suffer the most. Alternating inflation and deflation bankrupts those living on the edge. Creditors repossess the homes and belongings of these individuals. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
In 1914 the Fed received the exclusive monopoly to issue United States currency. As you have noted it is a private corporation, operated by its member banks which are also private. Before it's creation banks generally found they needed to keep roughly 20% or so in reserve so that they would have enough money on hand when their customers wanted to make a withdrawal. When the Fed came into being it lowered the reserve requirement. It keeps a portion of its funds in reserve (like a bank) and loans the rest out to its member banks. When money is loaned out, the wealth of the American people is used as collateral.
Lowering the reserves results in the creation of more money. When the Fed began to do this the money supply doubled between 1914 and 1920 and once again from 1921 to 1929. In contrast, gold in the reserve vault increased only by 3% in the 1920s. This meant the bankers would obviously not be able to keep their promise to deliver gold to depositors if a large number of people wanted to withdraw their money at the same time.
The money flooded the economy and business could not use all the newly created money the banks wished to loan, so stock speculators were encouraged to borrow. Many people got heavily into debt, just as happens in any boom as people mistakenly believe it will continue. They believe the growth is real but in reality only a "bubble" has been created.
In 1929, the Fed responded to this excess money by slowing the creation of new money and deflating the currency (increasing the amount it had in its reserves). People who had counted on renewing their loans to cover stock speculations or other investments found, due to the new scarcity of money, that they could no longer borrow. They were forced to sell their securities, and a stock market plunge ensued.
When people lose money they spend less on goods and services; this means business began to slow. With banks unwilling to renew loans, businesses began to reduce their work force. People nervously began withdrawing their gold deposits as banks in other countries quit honoring their promise to return the gold. Rumors circulated that the Federal Reserve would soon be bankrupt as well. This was true, because as noted, there was no way for its member banks to exchange the inflated dollars for gold.
Just as the money supply increases when people deposit their funds, the reverse happens when they withdraw them from the bank. The banks' failure to loan coupled with massive withdrawals, caused even greater deflation. People lost their savings and their purchasing power; in turn, businesses lost their customers and laid off workers. Each loss contributed to the next, resulting in the Great Depression. This is what was in danger of happening last year.
This could go on, but the general point has been made. A Libertarian would like to see the elimination of government controlled currency and the Fed. This would be returning to an older system, before the Fed, where the Banks issued their own currency.
Under such a system, the owners / managers / CEO's would be liable if the bank lost its depositors' money through doing risky business. Most of these banks would most likely buy liability insurance to protect themselves from their depositors, which in turn would eliminate the need for the FDIC. The premiums would be different for each bank, depending on how well it invested its depositors' money. Bad banks would be saddled with high premiums or forced out of business. As premiums go up, profits go down, ensuring that poor managers / owners / CEO's would be fired. Likewise, customers would only trust banks with good records of making good on their promises.
Today, each bank pays the same premium regardless of the way it does business. Managers can make risky loans that generate high closing fees, and walk away if their loans turn sour. The American people, and in particular poor American's, are forced to subsidize the wealthy by picking up the tab.
This wraps me around right back to the beginning of my post. Libertarianism is a complex political philosophy based upon individualism, which assumes that each individual will make the choice they deem in their self-interest. In a Libertarian form of banking the Banker may become greedy, but his greed would be punished by failure. He reaps what he sows.
Under the current system self-interest does not disappear as each individual continues to make the best choices they deem in their best interest. The downside is now clear: the government through the creation of the Federal Reserve and through its willingness to subsidize the banks and wealthy risk takers has made greed acceptable. There is no longer a downside: failure. There is only an upside: if you succeed you make a lot of money, and if you don't the government will save you. In turn, this places the American people – in particular the poor (as detailed above) – at a disadvantage. It harms them the most.
This is why the Libertarians stand against the Fed.
Posted by Meldread in General Discussion: Presidential (Through Nov 2009)
Sun May 24th 2009, 09:23 PM
Am I the only one that finds this argument made by torture supporters amusing?
Let's assume we take Big Dick's argument at face value. Okay, you've got a ticking time bomb. You've got a terrorist who has some information that you need. So you torture him and get the information and save - let's be generous - you save 10 million people from certain death. Ergo, what you did is not wrong or illegal because it saves lives. For arguments sake, let's just pretend that this situation occurred.
Dick is being hailed a hero and savior of millions.
So here I am, looking at Big Dick and thinking to myself, "Hey, I want to make a difference in America too, damn it."
So I get in my car and drive to my local bank. I pull out a gun, rob everyone in the bank (for the sake of argument lets assume those at the bank are all well off). The money is FDIC insured so no real loss to people who have accounts there. (Also ignore the fact that banks don't carry that much cash on hand. I could also be committing a Ponzi scheme like Bernie Madoff.)
So now let's assume I've gotten away with roughly 20 million dollars. Now, I'm an altruistic person so I give every penny of the money away. I give that money to feed children who would otherwise die of starvation without my generous donation. Let's say I save an equal amount of children that Dick saved by torture - 10 million.
In the end, does it matter that my illegal activities saved lives? Hell no. I'm going to the slammer and rightfully so. I broke the damn law. Sure, if I didn't act 10 million children would have died, and money can always be regained (or in the case of our government: printed and inflated). Sure, the people I robbed might be a bit shaken up, but let's pretend that I was REALLY nice and even apologized and told them what I was going to do with the money. So maybe it wasn't as bad as a normal robbery, as they knew I had altruistic motives.
The argument does not hold water. Since when did the law ever take into consideration motivation behind criminal behavior? That is for the sentencing. You're still going to be prosecuted and rightfully so.
This is what irks me the most about it all. It's not as if I really care what happens to some obvious terrorist, on an emotional level. They're bastards, to say the least. What really pisses me off is the cost and illegality of doing it: we lose allies abroad, and turn moderate Muslims against us for little to no yield. Hell, I'm even willing to admit that if you torture someone over 180 times you might eventually get something useful. Of course, taking that long to torture someone isn't going to help you in a ticking time bomb situation, which is the primary scenario used to justify it in the first place... meaning that even the one wobbly leg that the whole argument stands on doesn't stand up to the slightest bit of scrutiny.
I am angered now over the fact that it is clear that Obama (who outside of a handful of issues is doing a good job) is politicizing the justice department. It does not matter how politically inconvenient it is to prosecute someone. If we are a nation of laws, then damn it, those laws apply to everyone equally. You do not get a pass based on circumstance or situation. We have three branches of government for a reason, not two, and if anything one thing is clear from all this: the judicial branch of government has been horribly crippled. So much for checks and balances.
Do Republicans think they have a case against Nancy Pelosi or some other group of Democrats? Fine. Prosecute them as well. For me, this is not about revenge, it is about justice and the rule of law. Either we have it or we don't....
...and right now, it is pretty clear that we don't.
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