I picked up a FaceBook post today that I find very interesting:
In 1887 Alexander Tyler, a Scottish history professor at the University of Edinburgh,
had this to say about the fall of the Athenian Republic some 2,000 years prior: "A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent
form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury.
From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the
most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally
collapse over loose fiscal policy, (which is) always followed by a dictatorship.
The average age of the world's greatest civilizations from the beginning of history, has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence:
From bondage to spiritual faith;
From spiritual faith to great courage;
From courage to liberty;
From liberty to abundance;
From abundance to complacency;
From complacency to apathy;
From apathy to dependence;
From dependence back into bondage."
I have said for many years that our country will fail when people learn that they can vote themselves "bread and circuses" from the public coffers. We have passed complacency and are well into apathy and dependence; we are being ruled by not a single dictator, but by a consortium of powerful business and politicians that dictate more and more of our private everyday lives. The inevitable next step is bondage, and indeed we're not far from it.
Spot on, I also remember reading somewhere; that history not learned from, is destine to repeat itself.
While that is two quotes put together in the 1970's and possibly not Tyler's, the truth remains...history shows it and our recent history is bearing it out as well.
All too well, I'm afraid. But why? Do we as a people just not care that we are destroying the country our children and grandchildren will inherit from us? Are we that greedy?
The focus over the last 4-6 decades (or longer) has been to breed a mentality of "entitlement" and "lack of self sufficiency" to weaken the structure of the society and the Constitution. Look up Cloward and Piven. It is a conserted effort to destabilize and "fundamentally transform" the United States od America into something different than what it was founded to be.
I don't know as to the reasons behind it, but most surely there has been an effort towards and 'entitled' society. I wrote a hub on that 2 years ago and it is ever more true as time goes on.
Much of it, I think, comes from the good hearts of people in general; we all want to help those in need. Unfortunately it has become a way of life, and just not monetarily. It is extending to every facet of our lives and govt. very often "pushes" the concept all the time.
The United States government is/has been transformed in to an oligarchy based on corporate fascism.
For the most part I agree. What I don't agree with is the notion that seems to be quite common now, that anything done for the collective good of society is an example of the dependence, apathy and bondage your quote talks about. I think there is a danger that the genuine concern about that "consortium of dictators" will (has) created a situation where any idea that is not based on rampant individualism is deemed some kind of existential threat to freedom. There has to be a balance between dealing with the problems of government, while at the same time maintaining the good that some element of government provides, namely allowing society to make collective decisions for the benefit of the whole. Not sure how to do that. Any ideas?
Part of that is because you think what is good for an individual (welfare, food stamps, etc.) is good for the society.
The "good of society", though is for things like infrastructure or defense, not an improvement for a specific individual or even a small group of people. So society can definitely make collective decisions as to what is to the benefit of all.
The problem is that it doesn't stop there. Pork barrel spending is not for the good of all. Individual food stamps is not for the good of all. Yes, both have some very slight benefit to society, but nothing near the cost that society pays for either one.
It's not so much that I think what is good for an individual is for all of society. It's actually more radical than that. I think society has it's values upside down. I see people talking about work and jobs like they are a good thing. Not to put too finer point on it, but working sucks. Most people do something they don't particularly want to do, to earn enough money, to eat, drink and have shelter. Some people spend their whole lives in drudgery simply so they can exist. And that's the system we want to maintain? I don't.
I want to get rid of the whole notion of working and wage slavery. So people only work if they choose to, but don't have to. A society where individuals can choose what they do with themselves. That's freedom.
To achieve that I'd focus on the task of developing an abundant sustainable energy source because that would eradicate the need to compete for resources, and bring the value of material things crashing down, rendering money obsolete. That would be the death knell for the primitive 'this is mine' mentality. For me progress is a society where everyone has everything they need, without having to work for it, and can do what they choose to with their time. Anything else is only pseudo freedom.
It is by design that this democracy is failing and many people choose to ignore it. There are those on both sides of the isle that espouse different philosophies as to the character of their parties but both answer to the same common denominator, MONEY! The government is bought by those who could directly benefit by the decisions our policy makers pass as law. So the topic should read "Failing democracy gives way to burgeoning oligarchy".
Who do you think designed it to fail? G. Washington?
What do conservatives advocate, that we gut Social Security, Medicare, etc. Nobody is for handouts but it is not that simple is it? There are millions of elderly that pay into social security. Are we to have beggars in the streets akin to tales told in Dickens' novels? It is a common right wing assumption to assume that progressives get votes only because the people that vote for them are determined to game the system. That is sort of a backhanded insult, I vote progressive and my resources have been earned, so most of those urbanly oriented, are they all moochers? I doubt it. So, what is your solution; offer the franchise only to propertied white males over 21? That was the world of G. Washington that you had mentioned. Nobody is for handouts or supporting waste and laziness among the populace. I believe if we just tighten eligibility requirements for the entitlement programs and enforce the requirements we can ferret out the abuse and the abusers. But, there are plenty that have earned beneifits and have every right to them.
So what is your solution?
The founding fathers realized more than any that the delicacies of democracy were to be thwarted on all sides by the perversion of influence and greed. Franklin stated "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote!". That is why they created the government as a republic so some oversight might create more of a check on the system. But Franklin only knew too well that the odds were steeped against it. Outside Independence Hall when the Constitutional Convention of 1787 ended, a Mrs. Powel of Philadelphia asked Benjamin Franklin, "Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?" With no hesitation whatsoever, Franklin responded, "A republic, if you can keep it." As you can see a democracy was not what they envisioned.
You can fill the air with a lot of patriotism and heroic bravado about our country and its' system of government but it has become a perversion of lies and greed. The longer you resist the idea the more it becomes entrenched in our system. Does that mean the American spirit of life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness has died? Certainly not, but our government is not ruled by those ethics nor morality. It merely coats the deceit and lies with a layer of it to make us think that it is still their priority.
You will find no argument from me on the pathetic status of our government. Our "leaders" have forgotten what their job is and is interested ONLY in their own greed and power. I think I could count the honest congressmen on my fingers.
But that doesn't mean our government was designed to fail in that manner, or any other. That's all.
"Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide." John Quincy Adams. While "Quincy" was not a "founding father, his distain for the institution is plainly clear with this quote and the respect he had for it's existence.
I think Jefferson stated it well with, “A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine.” The responsibility of a true democracy is reliant on a well informed electorate. With the dummying down that is being perpetrated by our educational system totally void of teaching critical thought and the bias that is blatantly perpetrated by the media the "democracy" that is represented by the vote is a non factor in the elections as evidenced in recent history.
Again, no argument from me - that it is "mob rule" is why the constitution is more about protection of people than anything else.
Dumbing down - surely people voting based on skin color, appearance, charisma, etc. is a good thing! Certainly won't argue that our electorate needs help desperately. Even more that the leaders do - it is that electorate that keeps electing them, after all.
Why is it that when our conservative friends discuss handouts, they aren't talking about bank bailouts, or agricultural subsidies, or tax breaks that benefit those who don't earn salaries but who live mainly on dividends and capital gains? Why don't they ever worry that the rich will become dependent on government handouts?
Can't speak for anyone else, but a bank bailout was most definitely a handout. It was caused by congress demanding the banks make bad loans, but it was still a handout.
Agricultural subsidies as a major handout as well, whether the "farmer" uses 50 acres or 50,000.
A tax break is NOT a handout; the govt. gives no money away, and taking less is not a handout. Considering that those dividends have already been taxed at the corporate level, that is probably justified. Capital gain reductions are not.
So why do so many condemn welfare recipients as scroungers without ever a mention of the real scroungers?
"Real scroungers" - like the rich that, using instructions from government on actions that can minimize taxes, do just that and keep as much of their earnings as everyone else? Or like the third generation welfare Mama that has zero intention of ever supporting herself or contributing something for the support that others provide?
No, like the rich who accept hand outs of our money.
Which rich people is the govt. writing checks to? Or handing cash to, for that matter?
Often is it not in the form of literally handing cash to corporations, although that sometimes happens, big business interests close to the government get regulatory favours, bail-outs and let's not forget benefit hugely from quantitative easing, as they get the free money first before the inflationary factors hit. If you're against poor scroungers then you have to be against rich scroungers.
Regulatory favors I often don't have a problem with as congress constantly enacts laws without knowing anything about what they're doing. Example; near me, in a "no logging" area of the wilderness there was a fire. Either those dead logs are removed (by logging) or go to waste. A "regulatory favor", allowing logging anyway, is needed (unfortunately the forest is now closed to citizens so the logs will rot before spring if Obama doesn't open up the forest soon.
Other favors are NOT reasonable, and are a result of paying the legislator to vote "properly".
"Quantitative easing" you'll have to define; I haven't the faintest notion what you mean.
Bail-outs are occasionally done, with the most recent bailing banks out from the bad loans that congress pressed them to make. Most bail outs are in the interest of the country, as much as I detest them and feel that if a business can't make it without federal monies then let them fail.
So what rich scroungers are being referred to? The poor little farmer, "banking" his 100 acres in return for federal money?
"Which rich people is the govt. writing checks to? Or handing cash to, for that matter?"
You have left yourself open to a torrent of criticism with this question. The rich that are on wall street and the elite banks that receive the stimulus money through the buy outs of the rotting, stinking junk bonds and derivatives they bet on over the last 15 years is an out and out hand out to the rich beyond anything ever witnessed before in the history of this government. They bankrupted the monetary system through their actions causing millions of people to lose their jobs, millions to lose their homes and millions to lose their retirements. While doing this they became bigger than ever foreclosed on our homes and are buying them at auction for pennies on the dollar, many of which they can't even show ownership. Nobody went to jail, many executives received their bonuses and everybody but the middle class has made out very well. The wall street rich may not have found themselves in the welfare or food stamp lines but the hand outs they received were of a colossal amount dwarfing anything the poor have received.
First, govt. does not buy bonds to speak of, they sell them. No handouts there, then.
Second, banks did not cause the recession; congress is at the root of that with the demand that everyone can own a home and banks must make loans that cannot be paid back to accomplish that. No handout there, either - just a bailout for another failed govt. program.
You have a novel way of looking at what happened and selective reasoning so I guess I was wrong. The who's to blame approach is also interesting as congress is merely a puppet of those who buy their favor. You can try to "so to speak" the reasoning but the fact remains we bailed their a#@ out and they were at the heart of the problem. In my book a bail out is a handout and the rich Wall Street traders and the top banks were kept afloat by my tax dollars with out a hiccup in their lifestyles.
A bailout is a handout, yes, and the banks were bailed out.
But blame - is the person in the middle vehicle of a 4 care pileup to blame? Doubtful, and the bankers don't carry the bulk of the blame for the housing bubble collapse, either. The fact is that Congress pushed hard for banks to make substandard loans, loans that no one every expected to pay back. Those loans were guaranteed so that banks could not lose - why would a bank under political pressure, guaranteed not to lose money, NOT make the loans? Of course they made them!
And they made them knowing the borrowers were unable to pay - they carry blame for that as it was unethical regardless of what congress asked for. But the bulk still goes to congress, deciding in the socialistic manner we've come to expect, that everyone should have a home whether they can pay for it or not.
Now you can indeed bury your head in the sand, and stop playing the blame game when you find the bankers making bad loans, or you can go on digging and look for why they made those loans, knowing they would not be paid back.
And you can wonder just why this is so seldom brought out, as the politicians responsible for causing such financial agony world wide go on about their merry way, running the country into the ground. Or you can look around, understand just what happened and why, and help remove those idiots spending your money from congress.
What is funny is that for some odd reason you express an air of somebody forcing another to do something. The truth is through lobbying congress to loosen lending practices and mortgage laws the whole process was set in place. Nobody twisted anybody's arm to make this happen. The complicity in the matter is the crime. You wish to blame congress when in fact it was initiated through bribes to the reptilian entity we call congress. Did you expect some sort of morality on congress' part? I am sorry my friend but the bankers and wall street whores are the ones who gamed the system through bribes and favor, got rich beyond imagination and walked away leaving the US taxpayer to foot the bill. Remember nothing gets done in congress without somebody making some money. It is a system that took over two hundred years to perfect. What is a shame is that there are those (not you) who feel that we can just simply replace them at the ballot box. That would be monumental with the current un-informed or ignorant electorate we currently have.
Sorry - I have a hard time believing a banker would lobby congress to allow loans the banks knew would fail. They are in it for the money, not for prestige or votes.
Congress, on the other hand, is most definitely in it for prestige AND votes. Giving houses to the poor - that's right down their line in buying votes. Share the wealth and the poor love it - the result is that office holders keep their office.
But this is a worthless debate. I lay the majority of the blame at the feet of congress, a congress that had a great deal to gain by buying votes with houses. Not the banks, who had a great deal to lose by making loans they knew were bad. You lean the other way, but it really makes no difference - either way the country and world paid an enormous price for the greed of a few.
Well you are right about one thing, I can't argue with a belief and damn sure can't make you understand that corporations such as Lehman Brothers and AIG lent beyond their solvency to grab as much of the derivatives and other junk bonds they could in their drunken greed without the oversight necessary to stop it. With the overturning of Glass Steagal lobbied heavily by the Banks and credit companies I also can't convince you against your belief that American Express and other credit companies bet against any default that the federal government wouldn't back with our tax dollars. It is hard to understand why you cannot accept that the American concept of short term gains over rides any prudent thought or care for the law.
The other thing of laying this all on the feet of congress is that congress is your fault! And my fault, and every voting Americans fault in this country. They are not a separate entity from us. We elect them and re-elect them and they are emboldened and validated by the process to continue in what they do. Until "WE" find a way to talk to each other and stop pointing fingers at one party preference over another we will continue in this futility.
We will most definitely agree on the final point; in the final analysis it is my fault, your fault, the fault of every US citizen. We should have seen it coming, we should have KNOWN that we cannot give houses to everyone that wants one regardless of ability to pay, and we should never have kept re-electing the scoundrels that proposed such a stupid idea.
So yes, it is the fault of the American citizenry for putting those people in charge of the country.
I don't know about a failure of democracy, rather a failing to understand how banks work!
Banks bundle up mortgages and sell them on to pension funds et al. It really doesn't matter if some of those mortgages are weak, generally there are enough functioning mortgages to provide a good return. It is only when the economy slumps that default becomes a problem.
The slump maybe the government's fault, banks greed isn't
"generally there are enough functioning mortgages to provide a good return"
It's that "generally" that was the concern; it was no longer true. Far too many loans were defaulting as borrowers weren't even close to being able to pay what they had agreed to.
"The slump maybe the government's fault, banks greed isn't" That is quite a profound statement when you think of the repercussions that emanated from the failure in the first place. I don't know how it can be explained any other way than the quote from the movie Wall Street when Gordon Gekko said "Greed is Good" ? That is in essence what you are saying. Greed is what motivated this whole scheme. Instead of being satisfied with the proceeds that came from long term healthy practices the Wall Street schmucks had to embellish and amplify methods that damn near brought the temple down on themselves. Maybe you can trace it back to government through the recinding of Glass Staegal but the oversight that had in place did not catch a thing nor were they allowed to under the Bush administration. The practices were condoned by the government in essence. But the Wall Street whores were the ones that took the bull by the horns and rode it all the way towards the countries bankruptcy. Then the government bailed their a#$es out. Greed is never a good thing in any situation as long as there is a dependence on something toppling to make it succeed.
Which rich people? How about hedge fund managers who earn $millions but are taxed at the 15% rate. How about the mortgage interest deduction, the lion's share of which subsidizes affluent Americans, not those who actually need help buying a home.
Can you produce copies of checks written to pay the rich man's mortgate? Or a car or something for the hedge fund managers.
Taking less is NOT a handout. If the manager making millions is paying taxes at 15% then they are paying far more than their share. They are paying more taxes than most people earn, in fact, and that is most definitely not a handout.
Hot dog!!! You're at 100! Congrats to you.
Regarding the OP. I may sound idealistic, but I have to think that the Founding Fathers were very aware of how democracy worked. Which is why they did not form the US as a true democracy, but rather as a democratic republic. Where men fail, law will prevail, keeping unreasonable men reasonable by its very nature. I think the way the US government is designed, it contains ... well, escape valves for lack of a better description.
Yes, I see that it does not work perfectly, but I believe that it will work the way it is supposed to if arrogant men and women move out if its way.
- this discussion is one we need to revisit.
Also, Obama has just declared that the 30 hour work week is full time. He is forcing people out of their private healthcare hoping they will sign up for PPACA. However, only an average of 1,000 people per state has even tried to sign up for it. Keep up good work people.
Do not sign up for Obama Care!
This is the best way to at least put off the last step listed in the op:
We must keep in mind the bigger picture. Catering to so many individuals who are demanding to be given what has always been worked for in the past (for instance, I pay for my own health insurance and will not dare give it up,) will cause dependance and result in bondage. At this point it is a matter of doing the right thing to save the nation. Vote with your feet on this one.
Step away from the computer.
That is why the framers of our constitution made great pains to make the federal government limited in its power. Limited to enumerated powers. To restrain not only the politicians, but also the people from doing things like what you mention. Unfortunately, it didn't last longer then 50 years til it started to erode, and about 120 til it was significantly altered even without amending it.
". . . we are being ruled by not a single dictator, but by a consortium of powerful business and politicians that dictate more and more of our private everyday lives."
This sums it up fairly well, though apparently we all have a different idea about how to combat this.
Rhamson - Presumably you are advocating getting money out of the political system, since I believe you've said as much on other threads. This does not address the inherent conflict of interest in government - taking it to its logical conclusion, why don't you just get rid of all private businesses? Then you would be sure to be rid of all the special interests that sway politicians. However, communist and socialist states have shown us that politicians don't lose their capability to be selfish, and are just as likely to enact impossible and/or oppressive policies.
Don W - We can probably argue all day about the virtues of work and whether it makes you 'free', but it is difficult to deny that working is fundamentally a voluntary agreement, and any scenario that makes that illegal would therefore be anti-freedom. I admire your idealism, but I don't understand how you expect this sustainable energy source to be developed without some kind of work being done.
And by the way, the government is not the only institution capable of performing services that benefit everybody.
Credence2- "I believe if we just tighten eligibility requirements for the entitlement programs and enforce the requirements we can ferret out the abuse and the abusers."
I think you'd struggle to find an instance where this has been performed and the politician that enacted it didn't get ousted at the next election. Once an entitlement system has been put into place, whether it be for poor people or corporations, it is extremely difficult to un-do it again. Many special interests rely on it and would not be happy to see it decimated, whether it be the corporations who fund the campaigns or the voters. It's basically a never-ending cycle and is why governments always get bigger. The nature of the system needs to change as opposed to the degree it is implemented.
Me? I'd educate the masses that society can operate much better without the people being ruled by anyone.
But, I do find it interesting that nobody in the world seems to think "our politicians are an accurate reflection of our demands, and this is the optimum way of organising society". Everybody knows the corporate-political alliance is ruining everything, but apparently we're content attempting to nudge the current system towards something vaguely close to our views every 4 years or so instead of questioning the nature of the system itself.
- right. The people need to address this problem. We need to demand regulations. The loopholes need to be the checked since ethical morals and concern for the common good are not adequate. Democratic types of government require morals to function properly. When the government slips up, we have the right to respond and revolt. We need a revolution in regulations. We need better than equal treatment for people over banks.
By making our opinions directly heard: Email, twitter, petition, march before their offices, flood their Facebook inboxes. Did you know anybody can walk right into the capital building and arrange to speak to one's city/state representatives and congress men? You can also go in and watch sessions where bills are being discussed. Go to your city council meetings where issues are being discussed. We do need to get more involved and we can.
Vote against the ones who do not represent us and instead, take from us.
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