Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Best Congress Money can Buy

I remember seeing a poll that said that Congress had a 19% approval rating. I asked "How can that be? We have the best Congress money can buy!

46 comments:

B. Prokop said...

Problem is, it wasn't bought by the people!

Crude said...

Sure it was.

The people walk into the booths, the people make their choices. No one holds a gun to their head.

rank sophist said...

Crude,

I think B. Prokop's point was that it was bought after the elections were held. I'm inclined to agree.

Crude said...

I think B. Prokop's point was that it was bought after the elections were held. I'm inclined to agree.

I'd have to hear more to judge.

I'm not giving some idealistic response here - I know the government is screwed up. I know the entire political process is screwed up.

But it's not because 'the choices of the PEOPLE aren't being respected' most of the time. They bear some of the responsibility. In fact, quite a lot of it. And most of the complaints aren't really about the state of politics, but about the opposition.

I'm willing to bet if this conversation continues, the 'problem' is going to be something along the lines of, "[Conservatives/liberals] have too much power! The people would vote for [liberals/conservatives] if it wasn't for [Big Business/media bias]!"

Syllabus said...

"The people walk into the booths, the people make their choices. No one holds a gun to their head."

Even then, it's not that simple. People don't make their choices in a vacuum. Money can't buy people's choices directly, but they can buy campaigns, television and radio commercials, billboards, etc., which in turn influence the populace to an extent (whether large or small is a point of contention, but I don't think the fact that they affect the process is in dispute).

B. Prokop said...

"I'm willing to bet if this conversation continues, the 'problem' is going to be something along the lines of, "[Conservatives/liberals] have too much power! The people would vote for [liberals/conservatives] if it wasn't for [Big Business/media bias]!"

I half agree with your (tongue in cheek) comment. It is indeed money (or, to be strictly accurate, the people with money and the system that favors them) that has entirely too much power.

But this is by no stretch of the imagination a liberal/conservative thing. The introduction of those terms is a red herring.

rank sophist said...

Crude,

Actually, it has more to do with lobbyists and Congress's connections with Wall Street. Congressmen have very powerful friends.

Crude said...

Rank,

Actually, it has more to do with lobbyists and Congress's connections with Wall Street. Congressmen have very powerful friends.

Syllabus,

Even then, it's not that simple. People don't make their choices in a vacuum. Money can't buy people's choices directly, but they can buy campaigns, television and radio commercials, billboards, etc., which in turn influence the populace to an extent (whether large or small is a point of contention, but I don't think the fact that they affect the process is in dispute).

I'm afraid you guys aren't going far enough.

It has to do with a lot more than lobbyists or campaign money.

It has to do with probably the number one modern information resource (Wikipedia) being a wildly biased cesspool when it comes to just about any politically or socially controversial topic. The one clear advantage of that place is that it allows interested people to see how sausage is made, ie, how resources are really assembled behind the scenes.

It has to do with media in this country being accounted for in terms of a tiny handful of major corporate interests, which are in turn driven by a largely ideologically homogenous creative base, which in turn has an effect on how issues are framed or which topics are prioritized everywhere from the nightly news to popular TV to Archie Comics to video games. This isn't "during an election year". This is "year round, every day".

It has to do with Apple being in the position to do things like scrub a meager app the Manhattan Project was working on because the idea of people who oppose abortion and gay marriage having a coordination app on one of the most popular cell phone platforms was considered too dangerous to tolerate.

It has to do, in short, with a lot of things. And as I said, what tends to concern anyone isn't the biased and sad state of it all, but the bias that happens to be against their own interests at the time.

I'm cynical, I admit. But man, I believe I have just cause to be so.

cl said...

Crude,

I'm not giving some idealistic response here - I know the government is screwed up. I know the entire political process is screwed up.

But it's not because 'the choices of the PEOPLE aren't being respected' most of the time.


I'm not so sure about that. We don't choose the options as far as available candidates, for one thing. We choose between pre-selected options and I think B. Prokop alludes to those who do the pre-selecting.

Crude said...

cl,

I'm not so sure about that. We don't choose the options as far as available candidates, for one thing. We choose between pre-selected options and I think B. Prokop alludes to those who do the pre-selecting.

Sure we do. What, it's a big mystery where these candidates come from or how they're selected? No one forces us to support them. We could, in principle, refuse to vote for them, we could raise hell. We don't.

As I said, it's not like I'm ignoring the problems of the system. I'm well aware - in fact, I don't think the complaints in this thread go far enough. But I don't believe in absolving the voters from their collective failures, myself included. Argue over to what degree we should be held culpable, perhaps, but I refuse to admit we're completely without blame. Just as I refuse to admit that various other groups have a lot to answer for based on what they collectively do and don't do.

Don't mind me too much, I'm venting a little bit. But I also hope to make a reasonable point here.

Syllabus said...

"It has to do with probably the number one modern information resource (Wikipedia) being a wildly biased cesspool when it comes to just about any politically or socially controversial topic."

Even if we were to discount the bias factor, which would be an obvious mistake, there's also the part about letting anyone modify the information contained therein. It's a cool idea, as it has the potential to be used for very good self-corrective purposes. It also has the downside of letting every idiot who thinks he knows a little about any subject modify the article. There's a reason why people have hired experts to compile basically every useful encyclopaedia known to mankind. They may be biased, but at leased they're both knowledgeable and biased. I suspect that most of the idiots who edit Wikipedia are biased and, arguably, ignorant.

That said, even if we can ascribe responsibility to the voters - which we can, to a certain extent - there's still only so much we can blame the voter for. The problem with the average voter is probably not so much ignorance or bias as it is sheer indifference.

Crude said...

Syllabus,

There's a reason why people have hired experts to compile basically every useful encyclopaedia known to mankind. They may be biased, but at leased they're both knowledgeable and biased. I suspect that most of the idiots who edit Wikipedia are biased and, arguably, ignorant.

They have their share of experts. Like I said, the great part of Wikipedia is that it lets people see what goes on in the act of compiling information.

Oh, and compounding the issue - de facto monopoly Google apparently prioritizes wikipedia entries in search engine results.

That said, even if we can ascribe responsibility to the voters - which we can, to a certain extent - there's still only so much we can blame the voter for. The problem with the average voter is probably not so much ignorance or bias as it is sheer indifference.

Sure, argue over the limits of culpability, but there's still some there. Even indifference is blameworthy. And part of the reason for that indifference is owed to allowing the government to get so long, having its hand in so many aspects of life, that it is literally impossible to keep abreast of what important acts the government is engaged in. Which more and more seems like a design, not a bug.

Either way, the problem is way, way beyond campaigns and campaign donations. To the point where most talks of 'reform' often end up being strategic, either by design or practical result. To use a great example: I wonder what Victor or Bob - or even yourself, Rank, or cl - thought of Scott Walker's union reforms. Even if you all thought it was a good move, did you notice that quite a lot of people who would absolutely love campaign finance reform were mortified at what Walker did? It's because "reforms" are supposed to cripple someone's opposing interests first and foremost. Even if that's not the original intention, that's the typical co-opted result.

Victor Reppert said...

My concern is that with as much money in politics as there is, you might not get all the liberalism liberals want, with government money and involvement used to help people who lack it, but you won't get conservatism either, which is the government keeping its hands off. People who buy influence in Congress want government to help them, which involves getting the government to help those with established wealth. Are oil subsidies liberal or conservative? Government economic proactivity is liberal, but it helps the rich and not the poor, which is "conservative".

Crude said...

My concern is that with as much money in politics as there is, you might not get all the liberalism liberals want, with government money and involvement used to help people who lack it,

See, even that phrasing, I disagree with. What makes you think that this is about "government money and involvement to help people who lack it" for all, or even most, self-described liberals?

When a "conservative" (and I disagree with corporate socialism) tries to get money for a business, he never describes it as - and possibly never thinks of it as - "getting money to make the rich richer" or such crap. He bills it as helping the economy and even helping the poor by sustaining a business that will employ people and improve the economy.

Your "liberals want to help the poor and disadvantaged" sure looks an awful lot like "politicians promising money and services to people, quite likely things we can't even pay for, in exchange for votes and power - and also entrapping them as a result, making them dependent and thus a reliable power base in the future".

People who buy influence in Congress want government to help them, which involves getting the government to help those with established wealth.

Like Solyndra? Unions? Universities? Google?

And what, it's liberal if you take people who don't have established wealth and use the government to give them it? I suppose the spoils system was liberalism at its finest then. Actually, I suppose it was.

Government economic proactivity is liberal, but it helps the rich and not the poor, which is "conservative".

How does "socialism" become "conservative" when it's directed at rewarding loyal corporate clients? Because the stereotype is "conservatives believe you should help the rich and grind the poor into sausage"?

Obama strived to go to bat for Hollywood over copyright issues. Let me guess - another incident of a conservative helping out the established rich, a very conservative act?

I respect where you're coming from on this, Victor. But I hope you realize that liberal ideals have a very cynical, practical side to them at times, and conservative ideals don't cash out the way you often seem to describe.

Ilíon said...

Perhaps the problem isn't that Congress is bought and sold, but that the voters are. And willingly so.

===========
"Problem is, it wasn't bought by the people!"

What an utterly predictable idiot.

Ilíon said...

VR: "My concern is that with as much money in politics as there is, you might not get all the liberalism liberals want, with government money and involvement used to help people who lack it, but you won't get conservatism either, which is the government keeping its hands off. People who buy influence in Congress want government to help them, which involves getting the government to help those with established wealth. Are oil subsidies liberal or conservative? Government economic proactivity is liberal, but it helps the rich and not the poor, which is "conservative"."

As almost always, when you offer your opinions about political or economic matters, those opinions are a combination of childish misunderstanding and simplicity -- generally at cross-purposes -- and "liberal" caricature and talking-points, all driven by leftist propaganda/brainwashing.

When are you ever going to put that fine mind of yours to work at identifying, then eliminating, the leftist bromides which set the parameters of your thinking?


VR: "My concern is that with as much money in politics as there is, you might not get all the liberalism liberals want, with government money and involvement used to help people who lack it, …"

In a paternalistic monarchy, it might be possible -- just barely, and depending upon many factors, including the monarch’s drive, energy and dedication, and, ultimately, depending upon the character of his advisors and ministers, all up and down the chain of bureaucracy, who are his public face -- to have "government money and involvement used to help people who lack it".

But then, in a monarchy, everything legally belongs to "the government", anyway; even if the king and his ancestors have been allowing you and your ancestors to live and speak as though, for example, the house you built or bought belongs to you. Who in has right mind wants to live in any kind of monarchy? Who, in his right mind, would want his future prospects limned by a King Charles (of Britain) with real power?

In practice, such a bare possibility depends upon the monarch’s skill and drive at getting around his own bureaucrats. And, even then, he is only one man, and there is only so much "poverty" he can personally investigate and personally alleviate.

In actually lived experience, even such a hypothetical paternalistic monarchy will work exactly as most governments throughout human history have worked – to "legally" loot the many for the benefit of the few.

Ilíon said...

In a republic, it’s impossible to have "government money and involvement used to help people who lack it". For one thing, in a republic, there is no such thing as "government money" – everything "the government" controls must first be taken from "the people". But, also, in a republic, for it to be a republic, it must be possible for members of "the people" to directly petition and influence "the government".

Thus, in a republic, EVERY TIME someone makes (foolish) noises about using "government money and involvement used to help people who lack it", the following will be true:
1) that "government" money will be, and must be, taken (by implicit or explicit force and threat of violence) from those many who are not organized to resist such depredations, or who, while being organized, are not as politically powerful as those wishing to loot them;
2) that "government" money will be, and must be, distributed to those few who are so organized and politically powerful enough to demand and initiate such looting of their fellow citizens.

Ilíon said...

VR: "… but you won't get conservatism either, which is the government keeping its hands off."

Indeed, that is as good a bite-sized summation of conservatism as one is likely to find - it appears that you *do* understand conservatism, yet you constantly misrepresent it. You even did so at the end of this very paragraph, asserting about conservatism something quite opposite of what you said here.

VR: "… you might not get all the liberalism liberals want, with government money and involvement used to help people who lack it, …"

The term ‘liberalism’, properly used, is the antithesis of this constant bleat.

Real liberalism is essentially what we in America call "conservatism"; real liberalism is encapsulated in the doctrine of "laissez faire" -- there is a reason, after all, that all leftists, whether the Soviets or the Fascists or any in between, such as American “liberals”, set themselves more fiercely against the (real) liberals than against the monarchs.

Real liberalism (i.e. "conservatism" in the American context) is for the diffusion and dilution throughout the polity of the power to compel.

In contrast, leftism, including the happy-face version known as 'democratic socialism' or 'progressivism' (which is in America falsely called "liberalism"), as with monarchy, is for the gathering and concentration into the hands of a few of the power to compel.


VR: "People who buy influence in Congress want government to help them, which involves getting the government to help those with established wealth."

The solution, as always, is to return to our 'conservative' American roots, and actually live by the 'dead' Constitution our Fathers gave us, rather than to die, as we are doing, by the 'living' Constitution of the Progressives.

The only reason people seek to "buy influence in Congress" is because Congress, and increasingly since the Progressive usurpation, is in the business of selling favors to the few at the expense of the many.

The American Republic was consciously set up as one of the few exceptions to the general pattern of all human history and experience, whereby the few use the coercive power of the State to benefit themselves at the expense of the many. The ironic genius of the Progressives (who now generally call themselves "liberals") was to hijack the language of the American Republic so as to "progress" all the way back to what everyone else everywhere has always done.

VR: "Government economic proactivity is liberal, but it helps the rich and not the poor, which is "conservative"."

False, on both counts. But then, you already knew it was false on the second … and you said it anyway.

It’s "liberal" only in the perverted 'progressive' redefinition of 'liberalism' so as to equate it with leftism, specifically with Fascism, which is to say, with Progressivism.

Ilíon said...

VR: "Are oil subsidies liberal or conservative? Government economic proactivity is liberal, but it helps the rich and not the poor, which is "conservative"."

What "oil subsidies" would those be? Can you identify even one "oil subsidy" that is truly a subsidy? Or, are all these constantly asserted (by "liberals") "oil subsidies" based upon tendentious “liberal” redefinitions of words?

When rationally examined, do any of these asserted "oil subsidies" amount to anything other than something like "the US federal government blatantly continues to lease federally controlled lands for oil exploration and extraction at prices that are not economically prohibitive"? That is, to anything other than that the US federal government hasn’t yet allowed the green-nuts to put the US oil companies out of business?

More than half the oil consumed in the US is imported. Is the US government subsidizing (from monies extracted from American tax payers) those foreign producers? Or, is it that, for an example, the Saudi monarchy is subsidizing the oil it exports to the US? They love us that much?

B. Prokop said...

For one thing, in a republic, there is no such thing as "government money" – everything "the government" controls must first be taken from "the people".

Leave it to "Ilion" to misunderstand (or else just deliberately misrepresent) the most basic things. He's constantly bleating about how ignorant he finds everybody else (as I am sure he will do to me as soon as he reads this posting - talk about predictable!), yet he never ever looks in the mirror. This is a good case where the Words of Christ are truly applicable, concerning removing the log from one's own eye before complaining about an alleged speck in someone else's eye.

But be that as it may, what he fails utterly to comprehend is that in the United States (by theory, at least) the government and the people are the same thing. There is no meaningful distinction between government money and citizens' money. There are simply wise and prudent determinations that we the people make as to who decides to spend what and where.

We do not, Thank God (and I mean that literally), live in an Ayn Randian dystopia, but in a nation of, by, and for the people.

(Which is what makes the intrusion of anonymous big donor and corporate influence into the process so destructive - thank you, "Citizens United".)

Crude said...

We do not, Thank God (and I mean that literally), live in an Ayn Randian dystopia, but in a nation of, by, and for the people.

(Which is what makes the intrusion of anonymous big donor and corporate influence into the process so destructive - thank you, "Citizens United".)


Anonymous big donor? Why - because speech is only allowed when you commit your name to it? And anonymous donations are not by people?

And corporate - again, why? Because you claim that (even "in theory") government money is 'the people's' money and "no meaningful distinction" can be made between the two, but corporate money comes from martians?

B. Prokop said...

Because corporations, my Friend (despite what a certain presidential candidate said), are not people!

Crude said...

Because corporations, my Friend (despite what a certain presidential candidate said), are not people!

Alright, Bob. Let's examine this claim.

On the one hand, corporate donations are not donations from people, because corporations are not people.

On the other hand: "But be that as it may, what he fails utterly to comprehend is that in the United States (by theory, at least) the government and the people are the same thing. There is no meaningful distinction between government money and citizens' money."

So, money from the government is money from people. Money from corporations: not money from people. Government acts: acts by people. Corporate acts: not acts by people.

That sums it up, I trust?

Also, regarding corporate personhood: The doctrine does not hold that corporations are "people" in the literal sense, nor does it grant to corporations all of the rights of citizens. However, as interpreted by the the US Supreme Court, the doctrine provides corporations the right to secretly and with some limits - fund political campaigns.

Ilíon said...

There's no reasoning ... with a leftist (because they're all intellectually dishonest)

Crude said...

There's no reasoning ... with a leftist (because they're all intellectually dishonest)

And, just to continue this thread's course of my being on my own here (which I don't mind - it's actually fun!), let me disagree with this.

I think plenty of people with left-leaning sympathies can be reasoned with. You certainly can't if you open up by lecturing them and calling them names - you can't reason with anyone like that. But Victor has always been civil and fair in conversation (as opposed to myself, who will quickly switch into mock mode when provoked), even if I've objected to his framing or understanding of some issues. He's not the only one I've met like that.

I agree there are some people who you can't reason with, because they don't enter into conversation intending to be reasoned with. It's just one more extension of a cultural or political war for them, and their replies are based on what they think advances their cause, rather than the result of reflection. This happens on the left and right and middle.

I'd also say that sometimes people who sound civil and fair and putting on an act. Again, some people say whatever advances their cause, and sometimes that means trying real hard to look fair-minded and civil, even when they're actually not. It's called bullshitting.

Reasoning with a person is a two-way street. It requires a certain approach and understanding on both ends.

rank sophist said...

Ilion's strategy: make wild claims and then fire ad homs at anyone who disagrees. Never fails.

Ilíon said...

Well played, Well Named One.

B. Prokop said...

That sums it up, I trust?

Yeah, that's about it.

Crude said...

Yeah, that's about it.

Great.

Bob, if you're serious, can you see the problem with your views? Because I'm not sure how to make the comparison anymore stark, and I think the problem presents itself without me pointing it out.

Victor Reppert said...

To do the "political thing" here I'd have to go a lot more slowly that I ordinarily do, and maybe I should. I would have to first go through what I think are the three elements of conservatism, and contrast it with liberalism.

My point however, is that with an extensively lobbied government, the people who pay for political campaigns won't be satisfied with laissez-faire, they are going to want government activism that benefits them, whether it fits with conservative principles, liberal principles, or neither. I happen to think that it might be a myth that Republicans are more conservative than Democrats. They are more corporatist than Democrats, but that's it. They subscribe to a different brand of redistributionism.

cl said...

Crude,

We could, in principle, refuse to vote for them, we could raise hell. We don't.

Actually, you're right. I don't vote for them, but I don't raise hell either. I'm near-100% apathetic when it comes to politics, with the rare exception being a local issue I can get good information on.

Crude said...

Victor,

My point however, is that with an extensively lobbied government, the people who pay for political campaigns won't be satisfied with laissez-faire, they are going to want government activism that benefits them, whether it fits with conservative principles, liberal principles, or neither.

This doesn't seem to follow. What, because there are no laissez-faire lobbyists? There are no lobbyists whose view (even if benefits them personally) can be best summed up as, "please keep government regulation out of this situation"?

I happen to think that it might be a myth that Republicans are more conservative than Democrats. They are more corporatist than Democrats, but that's it. They subscribe to a different brand of redistributionism.

Most conservatives I'm aware of don't think the Republican party is all that conservative anyway, especially on that topic.

cl said...

To me it seems there's no reasoning with IIíon, who argues kinda like Dawkins today (theists are idiots, there's no reasoning with a theist, yada yada yada).

Sheesh. Maybe it's just me, but this—like most conversations about politics—stinks. Why do people act so jerky over politics and religion?

Victor Reppert said...

I hear conservatives saying that they will vote Republican because, whatever might be wrong with their candidate, they are at least not that socialistic Obama. I am not sure that Republicans are any less redistributionist than Obama is.

In some important senses, one could easily argue that Bush was far more liberal than Clinton. Medicare Part D was a new government entitlement program that got through because it benefitted Big Pharma.

Ilíon said...

VR, the point at the moment isn't the conservatism-of-convenience of the movers-and-shakers of the GOP; the point is your own habitually faulty reasoning about the intersection of political and economic matters.

Crude said...

I hear conservatives saying that they will vote Republican because, whatever might be wrong with their candidate, they are at least not that socialistic Obama. I am not sure that Republicans are any less redistributionist than Obama is.

The problems conservatives have with Obama go far beyond the socialism. Yes, a lot of people are saying they'll vote for Romney because he's the lesser of two evils. At the very least, the Republicans pay lip service to the idea of small government and the need to rein government in. That's extremely weak beer, but it's more than the alternative, so what can they do? They tried to change things with the Tea Party bit. It only went so well.

In some important senses, one could easily argue that Bush was far more liberal than Clinton. Medicare Part D was a new government entitlement program that got through because it benefitted Big Pharma.

Bush WAS very liberal, but he was still likely better than the alternative. Clinton? Clinton was pragmatic. He got neutered in the 94 elections, and acted accordingly.

B. Prokop said...

Bob, if you're serious, can you see the problem with your views?

I'm perfectly serious.

Because I'm not sure how to make the comparison anymore stark

That's 'cause you're (apparently) arguing from a world of Platonic Ideals, where words are more important than flesh-and-blood human beings who actually have to live with real-world systems.

The U.S. Government (I can't speak for other countries) is synonymous with The People. The monies the government spends are the peoples' monies, spent by the people and for the people.

But corporate interests are the "snake in the garden". We the people have no say in what the corporations want, how they get what they want, or in what means they use to get what they want.

When Big Money and Corporate Interests run the show (as they do now), this is no different than a coup in some third world country, minus the tanks in the streets.

I cannot make the comparison anymore stark.

cl said...

...and here I am getting involved!

We the people have no say in what the corporations want, how they get what they want, or in what means they use to get what they want.

Prokop, I don't think that's true. Your statement seems to betray basic capitalist principles. We *DO* have a say a say in what corporations want. Is it not our own desires that corporations pander to? Would Apple be making gadgets if we didn't want them? Clearly, we have a say. You can vote with your wallet, right?

Crude said...

That's 'cause you're (apparently) arguing from a world of Platonic Ideals, where words are more important than flesh-and-blood human beings who actually have to live with real-world systems.

I'm sorry, what? Because you've got this utterly and exactly opposite. I'm being practical and realistic.

YOU are the one talking about an idealistic view of government such that government money is money spent "by the people, for the people" - no qualification, no recognition of how this actually works in practice - and then whipping around and telling me that when corporations give money, "people" are not, because corporations aren't people.

Actually, what you're being is ridiculously inconsistent. You're switching between idealistic language and ideas on one hand, and caricatures on the other, depending on what's useful at the time.

But corporate interests are the "snake in the garden". We the people have no say in what the corporations want, how they get what they want, or in what means they use to get what they want.

Sure we do. For instance, we can choose whether or not to buy their products or use their services. We can boycott. This before realizing we pass laws and legislate. This before pointing out that, under MY view, corporations are just groups of people.

Oh, but there's more. We also give them a lot of money, by your view. Willfully.

Remember, corporations are recipients of government money, which is our money, and it's given by the government, which is us. So apparently, we're a large part of the problem.

Corporations, however, cannot be blamed! You see, they're not people. They do not truly exist - they are at best legal fictions. Blaming a corporation for a deed makes as much sense as blaming Harry Potter for something - under your view.

So, by your understanding, corporations are blameless - they're not people, remember. The blame lies with the people. We're giving our money to them, willfully - both when we buy and use their products and services, and when we give them government money.

But THAT is okay too, because - AGAIN - the government is the people, and the will of the people. All of us. Which means, apparently, no one is complaining about the state of affairs, because if the PEOPLE didn't want to give money to the corporations, then they wouldn't be happening because government actual IS the will of the people.

So, congratulations! You just solved the entire problem due to your idealistic definition of government. No, better than that - you proved that no problems exist!

B. Prokop said...

So apparently, we're a large part of the problem.

Of course we are! It's called the Fall of Man.

But even in Genesis, there was still that pesky snake.

And if you honestly do believe that we as a people have any meaningful say in what Big Corporations sell us, or that they are the tiniest bit concerned with our actual welfare, then pl-e-e-e-ze give me your phone number, so's I can sell you some beautiful oceanfront property in Arizona.

Crude said...

And if you honestly do believe that we as a people have any meaningful say in what Big Corporations sell us,

Bob, your definition of government makes it so there is no problem to speak of. The government sided with the corporations on Citizens United, which means we did, and we did so willfully. The government gives money to the corporations, so it's our money, and we give it willfully. The entire point of the complaint about corporations is the effect they have on government - which just means that government takes certain actions, which you've defined as the will of the people.

All this before realizing - again - that it's pointless to blame "corporations" for anything, because corporations are not people. They do not exist, by your view. They are inert. They are labels.

So again: you've solved everything. There is no problem. The money is the people's money. The legislative acts are the people's will. Period. No legislative problem exists.

If you buckle on this and say that no, sometimes the government takes our money against our will, and engages in acts against our will - that sometimes the government makes real bad decisions that the people should oppose - you'll be able to institute the start of a criticism on this topic. In the process, you will shatter your view of government: it will then be a source, potentially and actually, of oppression, coercion and abuse, even in this country. No, the government's will is not necessarily The People's will. No, government money is not - in a practical sense - necessarily The People's Money.

As for your "snake in the garden" line, I'll be droll and remark that I reject the comparison, what with the government not being my God.

B. Prokop said...

... it's not mine either. But "snake in the garden" is a long-established, well-understood figure of speech with zero religious connotation, similar to "how the mighty have fallen" or "a cloud no bigger than a man's hand".

But with every post, you confirm my suspicion that you're arguing in a vacuum - more worried about tripping people up in words or chasing down imaginary logical rabbit holes, rather than looking reality straight in the face and dealing with it.

But, to put on my "Ilion" hat, that's why I have repeatedly (and quite sincerely, by the way) argued that I am apolitical. I refuse to use ideology in an argument, but make every effort to stick to objective fact.

Now excuse me while I get back to The Ed Show.

Crude said...

Bob,

But with every post, you confirm my suspicion that you're arguing in a vacuum - more worried about tripping people up in words or chasing down imaginary logical rabbit holes, rather than looking reality straight in the face and dealing with it.

Bull.

What I'm doing is following the logic of your argument and showing where it falls apart, what the consequences are if I take you seriously.

There's a real simple way to defuse it: admit that identifying the actions of government with "the will of the people" and the government's money as "the people money", in the way you are, as utterly unrealistic. You accused me of being off in Platonism-land, dealing with ideals. But I'm not - I'm the most cynical guy in this thread. You're the one who ran with a ridiculous ideal, and I showed why it was ridiculous.

But, to put on my "Ilion" hat, that's why I have repeatedly (and quite sincerely, by the way) argued that I am apolitical.

Last time you tried that, it didn't go so well. If you're apolitical, you've had (let's get another religious example in here) a Saul on the road to Damascus style change in the recent past.

Hey, drop the subject if you want. But I'll reject any claim that I've been unfair here. I even asked if you were serious before I ran with my criticism, because I thought you'd be able to see the problem. You doubled down, so I treated it as fair game.

Charles said...

Oh, and compounding the issue - de facto monopoly Google apparently prioritizes wikipedia entries in search engine results.

This is technically inaccurate. Pages get ranked highly on Google based on how people link to them. If someone wants to link an introduction to a topic, the Wikipedia page is an excellent bet.

Thus, Google ranks Wikipedia pages highly because others link to them. There is no "prioritization of Wikipedia".

cl said...

I just cannot wrap my head around this disconnect, Prokop:

And if you honestly do believe that we as a people have any meaningful say in what Big Corporations sell us,

...and yet you say you keep to the objective facts! Go watch the Ed Show, then, please! Help me understand here: doesn't a corporation succeed by supplying goods and services the people demand? How can you say the people have no say in what the corporations sell them?

Does that strike anybody else as nonsensical or am I just missing some nuance here?

Crude said...

Charles,

Then I stand corrected on that one, I was misinformed - I'll take you as knowing better than me on this. My bad.

Either way, wikipedia consistently ranks high.