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Old 29th Dec 2012, 01:34   #1 (permalink)
 
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Learning fom History...

A sense of Déjà vu is creeping over me...

"A democracy cannot survive as a permanent form of government. It can last only until its citizens discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority (who vote) will vote for those candidates promising the greatest benefits from the public purse, with the result that a democracy will always collapse from loose fiscal policies, always followed by a dictatorship." Lord Thomas MacCauley 1857
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Old 29th Dec 2012, 02:12   #2 (permalink)
 
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Yup, and Y'all just pi$$ed it away a little sooner than we did.
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Old 29th Dec 2012, 02:19   #3 (permalink)
 
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The indicated quotation has been around the block many times, and while its honesty is beyond reproach, its authorship is apocryphal. I believe I've heard it attributed to the likes of B. Franklin, who cautioned against unchecked democracy nearly a century before Lord MacCauley.
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Old 29th Dec 2012, 02:20   #4 (permalink)
 
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G.Dubya 'pissed" it away with his tax cuts that his party wants to make "permanent". If that happened, 50% of the national debt will be due directly to those tax cuts by 2020. We were doing just fine till these damn tax cuts that has created not one friggen job.

This will be rectified and we will be back on course the way Bill Clinton left us.
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Old 29th Dec 2012, 02:30   #5 (permalink)
 
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“A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until a majority of voters discover that they can vote themselves largess out of the public treasury.” - Alexander Tytler (1747-1813)

“The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.” - Winston Churchill (1874 - 1965)

(I note that Jay Leno can do the latter in ten seconds or less.)
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Old 29th Dec 2012, 02:31   #6 (permalink)
 
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Temp

I believe it is Obama that, and has all along, wants the tax "cuts" to be permanent, except for the rates on those whose income is above $250,000 per year married. His exception represents about 1/4 of the tax "loss". The GWB problem is the increased spending, not the tax cuts. Get your facts straight, then play politics.

GF

Last edited by galaxy flyer; 29th Dec 2012 at 02:32.
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Old 29th Dec 2012, 02:59   #7 (permalink)
 
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History, as any historian will tell you, can't teach lessons because history never repeats itself.
The rest of us, of course, think this attitude is mostly bolleaux. If you can recognize sufficient relevant parallels between then and now then lessons can be learned.

I quote from Gibbon*
"the vices of a declining empire, .. unable to protect their subjects against the public enemy, unwilling to trust them with arms for their own defence; the intolerable weight of taxes, rendered still more oppressive by the intricate or arbitrary modes of collection; the obscurity of numerous and contradictory laws; the tedious and expensive forms of judicial proceedings; the partial administration of justice; and the universal corruption, which increased the influence of the rich, and aggravated the misfortunes of the poor."

The trigger for the collapse was hordes of people wandering into the Empire from Eastern Europe looking for food and employment

I leave it to your own judgement as to whether Starbuck's paying bugger all tax is a relevant parallel. Or any of the other above factors.

Personally, I think Western Society has 20 years max before functional collapse. I think the main reason is iniquitous taxation.I deliberately avoid the word 'unfair'.

Mind you, I think Galaxy Flyer makes a very good point about the spending. Why should anyone pay taxes if state expenditure is iniquitous too? Vicious death spiral here.

*Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Yes, I've read it.

Last edited by Fox3WheresMyBanana; 29th Dec 2012 at 03:13.
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Old 29th Dec 2012, 03:51   #8 (permalink)
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What do you propose?
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Old 29th Dec 2012, 03:59   #9 (permalink)
 
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Dunno. That's why I didn't.

Very open to suggestions.

Love to solve it but can't see how. I don't think the political class (in most if not all western democracies) is really listening to voters. I fear they are now incapable of it. They appear to be in "revolution will never happen here whatever I do" mode. They won't believe it till it happens, when they will then have a mental breakdown. Margaret Moran in the UK is a good example. Equally, the average voter seems incapable of voting for independent candidates who might effect change.
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Old 29th Dec 2012, 04:11   #10 (permalink)
 
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There needs to be, on everyone's part, that they can't have more than than produce. Pols re afraid to tell voters the truth-that the social welfare state is unsustainable. The people know this, but having believed in the tooth fairy, don't dare stop the merry-go-round, hoping they die before the system collapses. Most of the public, make that 98%, can't survive without those benefits, so just whistle past the graveyard. Don't believe me, how many of the boomers can retire without SS?

GF
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Old 29th Dec 2012, 04:38   #11 (permalink)
 
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GF you don't know what the hell you are talking about.
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Old 29th Dec 2012, 04:43   #12 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
how many of the boomers can retire without SS?
Well, me. And probably quite a lot of ppruners, but not that many of the general population.
The problem comes with the definition of 'what they produce', and whether others could produce it if they had a fair chance.
I suspect we could all name rich company execs we know who are incompetent a-holes, much as serfs in days gone by could with their lords and masters.
It isn't helped when, taking the UK financial crash as an example, you have a bunch of bankers and politicians who broke a whole bunch of laws and failed in their regulatory duties yet suffer no punishment,whereas the rest of us in more menial jobs get locked up if we do the same.
I think that's the real root of the problem. We are not all equal under the law. Maybe we never were, but nobody minded much in the good times.

Last edited by Fox3WheresMyBanana; 29th Dec 2012 at 04:44.
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Old 29th Dec 2012, 04:48   #13 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
"A democracy cannot survive as a permanent form of government. It can last only until its citizens discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority (who vote) will vote for those candidates promising the greatest benefits from the public purse, with the result that a democracy will always collapse from loose fiscal policies, always followed by a dictatorship." Lord Thomas MacCauley 1857
Not ignoring your useful comment, Barit1, one will play the ball as served for a wee bit:

Maybe things are not exactly the same now as in the mid 1800's, so even if LTM's comment had weight then, it might have less now: let's see what might have changed the political calculus of the late 1850's regarding economics, politics, and who's ultimately in charge of the political outcomes that determine governance. The plate of possibles is overflowing, so we'll just cherry-pick:

Karl Marx had gained a bit of recognition from publication of Communist Manifesto about a decade before the 1857 milestone, setting in motion a radicalizing process that would transform the relatively new phenom of the Industrial Revolution into political revolutions that, less than a century later would liberate government and populace of a fair fraction of the world's populace from domination by Church and Monarchy and Wealth to domination by populist proletarian Dictatorships in the mid 1900's, which now are evolving drammatically from authoritatarian to more representative government models that likely will look a lot like Democratic-variant-style governments managing Consumer Societies containing a third of the world's populace by some point midstream in the 21st century.

In 1859, Charlie Darwin published On the Origin of Species, which has ultimately had the effect of permanently altering the relationship of people as individuals to their Societies and thereby moving the attention of individuals in many modern societies from religious fatalism to credence in the uses of science, methodology, and thoughtful processes for developing society's supporting sub-systems such as economics, science, philosophy, law and political structures so as to benefit both individuals and the collective social opus. The consequence of this is that many "errors"
in the conceptualization and administration of government are now amenable and generally to be addressed through the recurring buzz of popular opinion, which may not be instantaneously correct in any instance but on average likely will oscillate around the mean of intentions of the collective will combined with the constraints necessary for continuing polity.

.... one might go on and on, but neither time nor patience will support that right now.

Quite a bit else has happened in the time since 1857.

The bottom line is that the modern world is a much different one from any that was understood by thoughtful persons even 50 years ago, and all the more so in reference to 150 years back. Grand-standing profundities about the ways of the world that do not take into account our actual history -- right up to the current minute -- are unlikely to be anywhere near the mark of reality for our present "modern" times. Lofty opinions projecting the future from vantages in the middle to distant past are curiously remarkable, but rarely have much predictive power in time forward because the actual futures, as realized, likely will always be so much more interesting and complex than hypothetical ones based on stodgy, dated preconceptions.
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Old 29th Dec 2012, 04:58   #14 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
Lofty opinions projecting the future from vantages in the middle to distant past are curiously remarkable, but rarely have much predictive power
True, they rarely do. But if eternal truths exist, then they will be more predictive. The trick is picking the right gemstones out of the muck-pile, which is what the OP was after I think. Which are the right lessons from history that are relevant?
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Old 29th Dec 2012, 10:08   #15 (permalink)
 
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But do we not, as a country, need to export goods to the same or greater value than we import? (Goods can also be services in this context). Once that ceases to happen, we are gradually getting to the stage where the SS funds are unsustainable - as is happening in Greece. If you then add the fact that everyone wants a car, a TV set, a washing machine, refrigerator etc, all of which need to be paid for, then people need jobs. But if the job can be done more cheaply off shore, then there's a tendency for it to go there, leaving a lack of jobs but people still wanting the luxuries.

'High tech' industries, people cry, but those industries generally don't need many people, and in any case, need people with the capability of developing high skills - which, let's face it, not everybody has.
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Old 29th Dec 2012, 11:11   #16 (permalink)
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A benevolent dictatorship will always be a lot better at getting things done than a so called democratically elected parliament. The problem is keeping it benevolent and uncorrupted.
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Old 29th Dec 2012, 13:01   #17 (permalink)
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Best example of that is the UK's Royal family surely?! What a shame they didn't write the book (wouldn't be a best-seller as the market for Royals in similar circumstances always has been very limited) though.

A more or less thin-veneer of democracy has stood the UK Royals very well. The Saudis (and other Royals in those regions especially) should take note and act accordingly. Before it's too late.

After all, even in UK today, some people might ask who was the last Royal who actually lost their life fighting for the Realm alongside the millions of others? I'm not talking about all the Royals who were recently trained to fly helicopters, fast jets, (or equivalent) etc., but who died in a combat zone. Saudi citizens might ask the same of their own.
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Old 29th Dec 2012, 15:12   #18 (permalink)
 
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Airship,

The fact that the royals haven't yet suffered a loss is to some extent fortuitous. King George VI served in the RN in WW1 and was in the Battle of Jutland: Prince Philip was in the RN in WW2 and was mentioned in despatches for his work at the Battle of Matapan. Prince Andrew flew helicopter decoys against Exocets in the Falklands, while Prince Harry is in Afghanistan.

Not a bad family military record......

Last edited by radeng; 29th Dec 2012 at 15:13. Reason: missing word
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Old 29th Dec 2012, 17:22   #19 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
G.Dubya 'pissed" it away with his tax cuts that his party wants to make "permanent". If that happened, 50% of the national debt will be due directly to those tax cuts by 2020. We were doing just fine till these damn tax cuts that has created not one friggen job.
deja vu arguments or simple nostalgia ?

You should only tax at a level the economy supports.

Nothing wrong with raising or lowering taxes in accordance with the ups and down in the economy. Taxes are just a way of leveling the playing field a bit by suppling more free services to the the less affluent, or more incentive for the small entrepreneurs to expand the economy.

Timing is everything
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Old 29th Dec 2012, 17:48   #20 (permalink)
 
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If you think the USG can continue to borrow 40% of its annual budget to subsidize retirement, you are the one whistling past the graveyard, not knowing what the hell you are talking about.

GF
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