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Mental Health Recovery Coordinator,


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How do we get corporations out of government.

Large corperations run our government, thay donate huge amounts of money for which they are rewarded. The government no longer represents the people but rather the corporations. We are supposed to be a representitive republic but our needs are not being represented, the corporations are. This is why I'm in the occupy movement, to try and return to our constitution and excercise my rights. We want the government to represent us and not the corporations, they are not people. Everyone thinks we are there to get money from the 1%, while this may be true for many what I have just written is true for me and most in the movement.

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    Jan 11 2012: Let me frame your question by establishing a parameter, if I may: Currently in America there are two general schools of thought - one which believes that the corporations influence government and one which believes that government is infringing upon civil liberties through efforts to regulate corporations.

    These two schools of thought have come about because we the citizens seem to have forgotten what government is and what it is supposed to do - and that is to protect the citizens and to provide for the common welfare. We cannot have any sort of constructive change until the citizens of the US collectively understand the purpose of their government. To do that, we have to reach an understanding that negates the polarization to either side that I described above.

    But to get 3M+ of us to agree on anything seems impossible these days, so let me start with one constructive idea: Remove the idea of "corporate personhood" from our vocabulary. We must not, in any way shape or form, allow corporations to enjoy the same rights and privileges as human entities who live in this country. Corporations are not persons, thus they are not citizens, and consequently they should have no claim to the same protections guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. This will be an essential first step toward advancing the aim of your question of how to get corporations out of government.

    This will also answer both sides - because when you no longer subscribe to the lie that General Motors or PepsiCo or ExxonMobile have the same rights as James Kindler, Michael M, or Verble Gherulous, then you are better emotionally prepared to say, "Regulate 'em to the hilt!"
    • Jan 11 2012: Verble
      Thanks for a great contribution. You are so correct.
      • Jan 11 2012: Saying, "Regulate them to the hilt," might feel good, but it is not quite so simple. Remember regulation = coercion. Coercion costs money which must be paid by extracting the cost of enforcement from someone else, and is potentially immoral. While corporations are not people, they do represent people and so any careless exercise of regulation is dangerous. The free market has gotten a bad rep principally because it has been distorted by government supported monopolies and intervention. The purpose of government at all is becoming questionable. A majority, if not all of the services once believed to be better served by government can now be performed with far less friction and more effectively by groups of independent people who have a direct stake in their successful execution. The concept that 'we need' government is a myth perpetuated by the establishment, and by those programmed by the establishment from birth. It's time to look at things in a new way. Governments have promised to take care of this and that in return for submission. Government's track record has not earned the loyalty it has to the idea of its continuation.
        • Jan 11 2012: Ok, so does that mean if government is irrelevant that you do not want any government services at all? Shall we cut off your water, sewage, and lights? Are you willing to go fight individually in Afghanistan? Who will finance projects like road repair? How will laws be made and enforced? Speaking of which, are you willing to become a policeman for your family?

          Government is necessary for the rule of law and for civil society to be just that civil. It does not need to be abolished, just unleashed from corporate chains.
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          Jan 11 2012: Regulation, when appropriate, is not coercion. Government itself is merely an entity that, when working correctly, represents the people. Corporations do not represent people, they represent financial interests. What most people do not understand is that government most often makes reactionary laws, that is, laws intended to correct a current problem. Example: the only reason why fire exits exist is because people burned to death in locked warehouses a century ago. Corporations will never have a concern for anything but financial solvency; government is at least supposed to have a directive to consider the well-being of the people.

          You are absolutely correct in that we do need to look at our government in a new way, honestly and openly,to determine if it is doing right by the people. If we find that government is imposing unfair laws, then we must seek a redress of grievances. But this discussion is about the unfair influence that corporations hold in government decisions, which I must humbly say is not addressed in your reply.

          And I'll admit that "regulate them to the hilt" was a bit tongue in cheek. I'm for adequate and appropriate regulation, as I do believe in fair market competition. We just need to make sure that it is fair.
      • Jan 12 2012: Verbie, I'm sorry to disagree with you on this but I think it's important that we begin to completely reexamine our beliefs about what is right and what is wrong in this world. Regulation is ALWAYS coercion no matter how 'appropriate' it may seem to be. "Government is not reason; it is not eloquence. It is force…" George Washington. Government can never operate TRULY morally. It has at its core a flawed concept that it is 'ok' for a group of people to force another group of people to do something or to abstain from doing something. Whenever you vote for a politician, you are voting for one group of guys to work for you to impose your beliefs on another group. No matter how large the group, they can NEVER honestly 'represent' the people, they can only represent a group of people. It is never morally correct to force anyone to do something he is unwilling to do, except where the action of the one or the group is impeding on another person or groups same right of expression. Now I know that what I'm saying creates a challenging situation. How can we deal with all of the things people do wrong in the world without some third party, authority to intervene and make it right? Exactly how I don't know, but that we do need to reconsider the basis for a tax-driven government as the solution is certain to me. I understand that many 'good' things have seemingly come out of this system, but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't stop and question its soundness when we recognize the inherent flaw in its operation.
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          Jan 12 2012: Don, you are absolutely correct in your assessment that government must continually be re-evaluated and questioned. A well-informed electorate cannot be co-opted, just as a literate public can not be controlled.

          Perhaps on the other point we disagree on the tone (but not the meaning) of coercion. I view coercion as X making Y bend to X's will for X's benefit alone. For example: Coporation Y dumps chicken fecal matter in river which poses a health risk to a city of 300,000 in the next state. The legal system (government) fines company and the legisature (government) makes a law that says, "Hey, neither Corp Y nor any other can dump chicken fecal matter in a stream" - that is not coercion: that's public health policy.

          Goes back to what I said before - America is caught in this either/or (Corps Bad vs. Gvmt Bad) philosophy, and you are entirely correct that we need to reframe our thought and essentially retake our government (in a positive way). Government can never operate morally, because it is not a human being, but it can represent our interests only so long as we make our interests known.

          Thank you so much for your response - excellent points!
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          Jan 14 2012: Don, I am sorry, but I find your 'why should I' line of debate unhelpful. You did not answer Michael's questions. Are you happy to forgo all state intervention? Sewage, state eduction, an impartial judiciary? Is the stop sign and the traffic light coercion too?

          I find we often come across this idea that living in a social group cooperatively is about 'coercion' from people whose society has become so high in crime and economically split, that it has led them to feel extremely cut off, distrustful, and isolated from their fellow people. You should rail against such as system as it costs you big on a daily basis in milliions of small and not so small ways. You should seek to change such an unfair system, not advocate for it.
        • Jan 15 2012: the incessant desire for lower taxes and less regulation is, in a word, unpatriotic. don't you love and trust your country and the people in it?? big government is there to even the playing field of the free-market free-for-all that your country is entrenched in. if america really is the greatest nation ever, shouldn't it, at the very least, be able to provide the base necessities to all of its citizens, no questions asked?
        • Timo X

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          Jan 20 2012: @Verble Gherulous
          Are public health policy and coercion mutually exclusive concepts? I think not. Public health policy certainly is coercion and it is an example of why coercion is sometimes necessary and morally good. An even better example would be the punishment of crime.

          I also notice that some people make an a priori judgment, i.e. coercion is bad, which they refuse to alter despite evidence to the contrary. Of course coercion is generally undesirable, but that doesn't mean it's undesirable in every circumstance. It is strange that this should be a matter of debate, because not even the most hardened libertarian will look you in the eye and say that criminals should not be held in (private) jail because that is coercion and coercion is bad. The debate should focus on under which circumstances individuals and groups of individuals may be coerced into doing something they will not undertake voluntarily, i.e. when coercion ultimately increases liberty or decreases it.
      • Jan 15 2012: Sorry for not replying sooner. My sleep/wake schedule is very different than most people in the US. To answer Michael M's question, I am happy to have personally shed the myth that those services can only be provided by government. I also want to make clear that my purpose is to move the conversation towards honestly evaluating our beliefs and behaviors about what is right and wrong. If everyone were to do what was morally right, all the time, there would be no conflict. Obviously that's not where we are as a species. The fact that each person acts with more or less degrees of 'moral correctness' makes behavior choices for everyone more difficult. Most people choose the easy route. They don't think, they just follow what has always been done, assuming that it must be correct because it's always been that way. As you know, often what has always been done doesn't represent moral correctness, it represents the benefit of the incumbent power and incumbent system. I cannot consider the question of how to get corporations out of government, without first examining what form government should take. How it will be funded? What functions it should be relegated, etc. Without knowing the answers to these deeper questions, it seems like putting the cart before the horse to address the other question.
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          Jan 15 2012: Hi Don, I dont think it is a 'myth that those services can only be provided by government.' only that it perhaps may not be wise, to entrust certain duties to the stewardship of the profit motive. The judiciary springs to mind, roads, drinking water, clean air....I could keep going....but I think you get my point.

          Are you willing to defend your idea regarding coercion? Is a stop sign coercion? How about interest on a debt? What about compound credit card interest? How about insurance premiums? What about when they put those up without notifying you, or for not good reason at all except the CEO's daughter is getting married and she has expensive tastes. Is that coercion?
        • Jan 17 2012: Don
          Thanks for finally answering. I mean ok, I am not willing to forgo those things for a society run by selfish individuals. Individualism is not only overrated, but pase. Rugged individualism never delivered. It is time we understood the real power of community in our world. It is community, not individuals that makes a difference. If you think there is chaos now, try operating under your system. By the way, I do not want to be a policeman, and I am not sure I want you being one either.
      • Jan 15 2012: @Verbie: I completely agree with you on: "…government must continually be re-evaluated and questioned. A well-informed electorate cannot be co-opted, just as a literate public can not be controlled." I am truly UNCERTAIN about what form society should take. I believe it is within our grasp to form the world in a way where people can more easily follow their heart's passion rather than feel compelled to run on the hamster wheel. I work hard and have for years but I don't judge someone who doesn't want to work so hard. I don't judge someone who wants to completely drop out and do nothing. I would like a world where people can pursue their passion (or not) and regardless can enjoy a minimum, quality standard of living. I think it's within our grasp with technology. I don't believe that people are inherently and typically selfish. Research has shown, and I believe logic dictates that two kinds of people, in varying degrees of expression, emerge from childhood based on whether they grew up in an environment of scarcity or abundance. That is not to say their aren't' outliers on both sides, or that genetic predispositions don't have some bearing, but predominantly each person will develop different attitudes and coping strategies based on their particular formative environmental circumstances. My point is, as a society, the best shot we have at making the world a better, more peaceful place is by pushing to raise the minimum living standard of everyone on Earth while being careful not to overlook systemic issues that may carry the seeds of future failure within them. I also think we don't need government or corporations or judges to decide if it's right for bankers – starting with the Federal Reserve to take the money and run (in all the ways they do). No. Not at all. It's wrong and we should be looking at righting that wrong first. If it weren't for that massive theft, we wouldn't be looking at whether corporations influence government too much or not.
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      Jan 11 2012: i wouldn't say i forgot government's supposed role. i believe this role can not be achieved, no matter how hard any government tries.

      more interesting is your point about corporate personhood. i tend to agree with the first part of your reasoning. only people can be persons. only people have rights. corporations are just legal constructs made by people, they are forums of cooperation. so they can not be treated anyhow else.

      but being able to freely regulate them does not follow the premises. actually it contradicts them. since corporations are not persons, and has no rights, they also can't have property. they don't do anything. they don't make decisions. only owners of the company, the people who have created it through contract, can have property, make decisions and act. property of the corporation is in fact property of the owners. decisions of the corporation is in fact the decisions of the owners. and for that, if you regulate the corporation, you in fact regulate the owners. you regulate people.
      • Jan 12 2012: Verble, I agree with you when you say that a lot of people have forgotten the role of government, including those who actively serve in government. Krisztian, I must say you are a perfect example of this. You say you havn't forgot government's "supposed" role, but one of governments primary roles is to establish rules and regulations on behalf the majority of the people, and enact it into law to protect their well being. Obviously this is not happening.... Think about what would happen if the rules and regulations of the road were not enacted. Could you imagine paying a toll on EVERY road you drove on because it was privately owned?

        Ending corporate personhood is always a noble suggestion, but it's only scratching at the surface of a much bigger core issue... Money. IT"S NOT REAL. It's no more real than the earth is flat. It's a tradition, a myth, a belief system, a religion, a corrupt moral value system that has been used to control the masses over the generations. Just as we must all open our eyes to the fact that the government, in it's entirety, is a civil service organization, responsible to the people and held responsible by the people. We must also make ourselves consciously aware of that fact that WE THE PEOPLE give money it's value.

        We are smarter than this. We are better than this. There is a better system than one that celebrates greed before it celebrates good deeds. There is a better system than one wherein for a few to be rich many must suffer. Forget about corporate personhood. Ask yourself this. Am I really willing to be a part of a system that says "above all else live by the golden rule. (Do unto others as you would have them do unto you) unless it effects your bottom line."?
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        Jan 20 2012: Krisztian, I am replying here to your comment re the homesteading principle and racism, as we seem to be out of reply opportunities on most of these threads.

        So under the homesteading principle, you concede that all lands would be returned to the indigenous tribes who first occupied them? Even if a tribe could demonstrate that Texas in its entiretyy was used and developed by them as a hunting ground, scattered with their settlement sites, and crisscrossed with their nomadic access routes? A simple yes or no will suffice.
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          Jan 20 2012: according to my rules, that would be the right decision back in 1600 or something. indians were there first, they use the land, it is theirs.

          according to my rules, settlers would have to negotiate and buy lands.
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      Jan 11 2012: Good point Verble (cool name btw).

      Are you familiar with Thom Hartmann’s talks on this topic?


      The history of how corporations became people is quite interesting.
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      Jan 14 2012: Fantastic Verble.
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      Jan 14 2012: Verbie,

      From Bill Moyers:

      "I'll believe corporations are citizens when Texas executes one."

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        Jan 14 2012: Funny! But sadly, if that happens there would be a 2 to 5% chance that corporation would either be innocent or mentally incapable of understanding the charges brought against them!
        • Jan 24 2012: That's funny too. I don't know why I missed this before.
    • Jan 15 2012: @Joanne I did not suggest that the services be provided by the profit motive. I am proposing that we need to reconsider at a fundamental level the entrenched but POSSIBLY flawed belief that those services can only be provided by a central government when that system forces the residents of a particular geographic territory to cough up to pay for those services without choice. Every instance of a centralized government throughout history has ultimately failed. I'm saying it would be a good idea to apply our collective intelligence to construct a system that does not require stealing from one group to provide to another, or even for the collective benefit of the entire group. The Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. quote - Taxes are the price we pay for civilization, sounds good, but it's not necessarily true and in fact, it feels wrong to me. Taxes is a euphemism for stealing. No matter how good the cause, having theft as the basis for providing the service is the wrong way to solve the problem.

      @Derek I think it is base to appeal to patriotism. I am proud of everyone throughout history who has fought for what is right. I love everyone regardless of what patch of dirt they happen to occupy. I will just as quickly defend anyone, anywhere who is oppressed by any form of tyranny whether it comes in the form of a corporation, government or a mugger on the street. It is dangerous to be too attached to any institution regardless of how noble their cause. At the end, it is the thoughts and behaviors of the participants in any institution that magnifies the good ideas or perverts them. America has attracted great people to her because she has historically offered a better place to live than most places on Earth. It is, and has always been the people of America that has made it great more so than its government. It is always a good idea to improve and continue to set an example for the rest of the world of a better way to conduct our society.
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        Jan 17 2012: Yes Don, I am not arguing for failed models of centralised govt. I agree with much of what you say, and your obvious commitment to peace and equality puts us on the same side, in my book, but I strongly disagree with the notion that taxes are stealing.

        Interest, especially compound interest, that perhaps fits the concept of theft by misappropriation and deception better if we look objectively.

        To assess the value of taxation, one has to look at society as a whole. Roads, infrastructure, the consumer base, hospitals, everything that makes up our civilisation was built by the sweat of our grandparents, ancestors or those who came before us. It was bequeathed to us and when we utulise those resources, we must also pay for that privilege, in order to keep them intact and to maintain them for future generations.

        Your sentiments on patriotism are wonderful, and I agree wholeheartedly. I too am from a patch of dirt and blue water called planet earth. I am loyal and patriotic to that piece of dirt, and everything that inhabits it. Every country I have lived in, has been wonderful and had so much to offer.
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        Jan 17 2012: Don, I feel I am FORCED to pay unfair interests on my debts because all the banks collude to fleece us, I feel COERCED because the banks collude with govts to allow systems of lending which amount to usury and to keep out other options.

        I feel FORCED to have health insurance in a country where the govt has been given a clear mandate by the people to supply free and equitable healthcare but private healthcare enterprises work in behind the scenes to erode the system so we need supplemenary healthcare. I feel COERCED when those premiums go up without warning, and for no other reason than my age. I feel afraid to make a claim, in case they hold me or my family to ransom for the rest of my life. AND I will fight tooth and nail to resist this backward and inhumane system becoming the norm in my country as it has in yours.

        Now you are suggesting FURTHER privatisation because that would be what 'voluntary' taxation would mean. You have examples of the failure of that idea all around you everyday, its a failed model by anyone's standards.

        Look into the face of the next unwell homeless person you meet. Actually humble yourself and sit down for a chat. His or her story could break your big kind heart, and it could by yours story Don, or your child's. That is not a system, humane, kind hearted people should advocate.
        • Jan 18 2012: Joanne, I don't believe it's an either or thing. I don't think that if we remove taxes (FORCED participation in a government provided, scheme) that we have to abandon a method of payment that is agreed to by everyone in a particular community.

          Banks represent the height of awful, horrible human behavior. They are enabled by a gang of (FORCED) tax-supported crooks aka politicians, who have not only forsaken their job of providing the currency of our country, but don't even do another of their other jobs, that of providing justice for all of the incredible crimes the banks, and more specifically the individuals like Jon Corzine, who should be removed from society for as long as it takes for them to learn how to be better people.

          As regards to homeless people, I have known many in my life. I do not judge people by their station in life. I have respect and love for everyone on Earth. For a short time I was homeless. I have a close friend whom, without my assistance, might be homeless today. I support him because I enjoy the feeling of supporting him and I value his friendship. I have always given freely of whatever I had. I'm sure I would be a lot better off, as far as my NAV, if I weren't the way I am. The point is, I choose charity. I choose participation in projects. I pay endless taxes, directly and indirectly only because someone will deprive me of my freedom if I don't pay them. Taxation is immoral.
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        Jan 17 2012: Re: “FORCED taxation (intentionally redundant) is immoral.”

        Don. Suppose you were born into a tribal community which for generations has had the custom of collecting 10% of the agricultural production of each individual in order to provide for those who were unable to farm. Moreover, if you were unwilling to make the contribution, you would be forced out of the community.

        Explain what part of that you find immoral.
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          Jan 17 2012: out of the community? very fine for me. how to do that?

          disclaimer. i'm not going to leave my house, and stop going around, working at my firm, etc. if you also mean these, you are dishonest. your freedom is the choice of "hand me the cash or die".
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          Jan 18 2012: Don't you think 'hand me the cash or die' is a bit melodramatic? I don't think anyone here would advocate a social system that recommended the death penalty for tax evasion. Perhaps your view of societies where people are reliant on collective systems is a little too dark?
        • Jan 18 2012: @Tim Colgan to me, the length of the FORCED compliance doesn't change the immorality of it. FORCING someone to pay or expelling them from the community if they don't, is the part I find immoral.

          @Joanne Donovan regarding Krisztián Pintér's abbreviated representation of the ultimatum is factually correct. I have watched for over 25 years various good people who have challenged the validity of the income tax, be jailed and/or murdered directly or indirectly by various, wonderful, loving, and oh-so-special and caring government officials. I love paying taxes that enable special people to deny the common serfs free expression.
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          Jan 18 2012: joanne, i'm aware that some people does not like parallels or metaphors. my point was, in plain words, that some choices are not indeed choices. money or die is not a real choice, thought it has an "or" in it. it is a threat. the state does not allow the ruled citizens to leave the system. obey or leave is not a real choice, it is a threat. it is not even similar to the similar looking scenario of a phone service provider saying pay or leave. in that case, you actually can leave, with other aspects of your life untouched. buying that service is optional. you are free to negotiate terms. and you have to explicitly make a contract for the service. this contract regulates your relationship, and the provider has no right to interfere with your life outside the scope of that contract. that is a free choice. being the "customer" of the state is enforced by police and prison guards.
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          Jan 20 2012: Hi Tim, I have noticed questions like this which require definitive answers, are ignored.
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        Jan 18 2012: Don (and Krisztian). This whole rhetoric of “it’s immoral to force people to pay taxes” seems to me like no more than some libertarian drone which lacks any rational foundation. Oh yes, it’s very gratifying to be able to say “no one’s going to force me to do what I don’t want to do”. But societies don’t work that way. Societies do coerce their members into conforming to certain standards of behavior.

        At a minimum most people are going to opt for having a government which will protect them from physical attack. This has to be paid for. The idea that each individual is going to be able to decide for themselves whether or not to pay the taxes necessary to support it wishful thinking.

        But really guys. If you think that your conceived system (i.e - no government forced taxation) is so much superior, why don’t you focus on establishing one nation where your ideas can be proven out? I had suggested Texas in a previous conversation. I’m sure the people there can be persuaded to try out your scheme. A lot of people were hoping on Iraq being the proving ground, but that one didn’t seem to work out too well. And there are those that who consider Somalia as an example of functioning libertarian society (I’ll dig up a Stefan Molyneux video if you’re interested).

        But my main question is - if society would function so much better without government, why haven’t government free societies emerged and prospered?
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          Jan 18 2012: tim, pay keen attention to the precise formulation of your statements. "society" is a collectivist term. it can not act, it can not have reasons. we can describe how society works, that is a good term for that. but it is not an actor, not an acting agent.

          people form groups. when a group is formed, the people that form the group discuss and agree on the rules of the membership. they can more or less freely join or leave groups. and although these groups can have apparent characteristics, these are entirely determined by the members and their cooperation.

          a good society is mobile and dynamic. there are many co-existing and overlaying groups, and you are free to move between. groups can not force you, enslave you, command you. the biggest punishment they can put on members, against their will, is exclusion.

          in case of today's taxation, is not "society" enforcing it. it is the state that does. the state does that with the approval of the majority. none of these makes initiation of force acceptable. robbery is robbery whether the offender called "state" or not, and regardless of the number of people supporting it.

          please dig up the molyneux video that calls somalia as a functioning libertarian society.

          answer to last question: why true democracies emerged in the late 19th centuries? why slavery was widespread for many thousand years? why woman rights are so new? you deny the possibility of doing the wrong thing until we find out how to do it right, then change? (hint: you are in the denial phase.)
        • Jan 18 2012: Tim, I'm surprised that you portray the idea that a person have a choice about whether to participate in a system of paid services as lacking any rational foundation.

          What you appear to be saying is that if a group of people get together for their mutual protection (and whatever other services they deem necessary), that if they draw up a contract and sign it. Then it's OK for them to make everyone else pay for it, whether they agree with it or not. Is that what you're saying? Is that rational?

          Tim, your whole tone seem to be hostile – especially by your comments regarding setting up in Texas. I think you were suggesting execution in your last post regarding Texas. Am I reading you right? If so, why hostility? Isn't this supposed to be a peaceful forum for exchanging ideas and learning by intelligent debate? I certainly mean no hostility towards you.

          Since you attempt to invalidate the concept of a society built around a system of voluntary participation in paying for the services of the society, by pointing out that there SEEMS to be no other societies that have emerged and prospered under such an arrangement, it seems only fair that I ask you a similar question. Can you point out any other contract that would be considered valid if all parties don't agree to the terms?
        • Jan 18 2012: I really have to agree with Tim here. This "contract" Don, doesn't really exist. We live in a country, in a society that is ruled by law. Congress made those laws, including taxes, and Congress can change them. But the absurdity is that someone is forcing you to do this. Go out and change the law. Of course what would happen is the collapse of society and sometimes I think that is exactly what your type of thinking wants. It wants the collapse of a society built around laws. The system may be flawed, but how do you think you would really, honestly "fix" it by allowing your form of uncontrolled individualism to rule?

          As one living in Texas, Andrea's quote of Bill Moyers is true.
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          Jan 18 2012: Kriztian, 'society' 'can not act, it can not have reasons.'

          Society cannot act, but the state CAN reason and act, it can even commit robbery? So the state IS a single acting agent capable of understanding the concept of theft and acting on it? Can a football team be accused of commiting an act of robbery, what about a classroom of kids? You contradict yourself, and your logic cannot stand up to scrutiny. If you cannot supply a definition of theft, robbery and of ownership which you are prepared to adhere to, which can stand up to logical scrutiny, I do not see how you can participate in a discussion on social theory, or extrapolate a convincing model.

          SOMALIA as a functioning libertarian society? Is that all you have got SOMALIA? Need I remind you, genital mutulation is considered a coming of age ceremony in that country for girls any age from babyhood to adolescence. This brutal practice, one of the worst things humans have ever engaged in, has been practiced for centuries. Where is your perfect Utopian equaility that is supposed to materialise in perfect libertarian societies?

          Don, you did not answer my questions regarding taxation and charity. I cannot consider your idea that 'taxation is immoral' unless you are willing to defend it in the context of poverty.
        • Jan 18 2012: Kristian
          You make a huge jump when you say the state is not society. Of course it is. It is the construct we have created in order to govern ourselves, provide necessary services and keep the rule of law.

          Tim is right again the wild west, the rugged individual are dead. They never functioned to govern society. They never will. You believe a myth I think. A myth promulgated by selfish individuals who think the world centers on their wants and needs not on our wants and needs. Community is one of mankinds greatest achievments. Common: those things, thoughts, possessions, land, values, worldviews we share. Unity: onenees, togetherness, the need for others.

          Forget the myth that has never worked and never will. In some zombie apocalypse, made up world perhaps, but not where there are human beings. We are more than our own measure of things.

          How do we get coporations out of government? : Work on changing the laws we live by in community.
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          Jan 18 2012: joanne, this time you screwed it up big time, sorry.

          first, i said in the same comment that when state acts, it actually means that majority acts. people who vote for politicians act. they approve what the state does. they act through the state. the state actually can do things, but it is just a shortcut for us to say that police does, which is again a shortcut for a policeman does. but that is not exactly interesting. what is interesting is the source of the power. and that is the ignorant majority.

          second. somalia being a libertarian state is not my position. i don't believe that. tim believes. and i requested some backup for that.
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          Jan 18 2012: I can't improve on Michael Ms last post, and I am out of thumbs up. Krisztian, I think his position is unassailable.

          The conflict we seem to regurgitate whatever the subject of the thread, like rude guests arguing over old family disputes at someone else's wedding, (its fun though) boils down to the fact you think society/the collective is wrong, ugly and dangerous, where I/we believe it is the natural order, beautiful and the only path to safe civilisation. I/we seek to build it up, protect it, cherish it and develop it and you seek to destroy it....irrevocably.

          I would really love you to relate to us, what you hope to gain from the destruction of society? Please take the floor and extrapolate the outcome.
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          Jan 19 2012: Michael and Joanne: who is we? I am not part of your "we". If you amongst this "we" have chosen to govern yourselves, I have no problem with that. You think this is necessary; while I disagree, I am happy for you to try what you would like to try. What I am confused about is where this "we" have the arrogance and selfishness to declare that their desires are more important than anybody else's.

          I am not even clear on whether this "we" is a large number. The OECD estimates that half the world's working population is making some or all of their living in the informal/black/gray markets - outside the practical reach of regulation or taxation (see http://www.freakonomics.com/2011/11/01/the-black-market-is-the-second-largest-economy-in-the-world/). These people apparently are not part of the "we" who choose to have their business relationships governed. Who are you to declare that they should be part of this "we" of yours? By what premise do your priorities trump theirs?

          For that matter, what about my priorities? Suppose I am a member of some anarchist collective who chooses a stateless society. Will this "we" of yours gladly step aside and leave us be? Be honest now. Do you really believe in this claim to legitimacy and solidarity, or would you gladly see our society obliterated and brought back into the fold? More to point, if your state decided to do this regardless of your wishes, would you stand with us? Stand with the state? Or merely stand aside? Where is this moral hill you stand upon located?
        • Jan 20 2012: Justen
          Thanks for your comments and questions. Who is the we of which I speak?

          Where to start. First, yes, you Justen are part of the "we" represented by what I say, whether or not you claim to be or not. The we includes all who choose to live in a society. Society is multi-form as you point out. And as you point there are different degrees of relationship. (I could go on here, but won't) The simple fact is by deciding to live in a society you form part of the we of that society, whether you are marginalized by choice, or chance.

          I do not speak from arrogance, but from a communal standpoint. I do not wish to impose on your freedoms, but by living in society all of us decide to accept those common impositions described by law. I am no anarchist or libertarian. I am one who sees the necessity of government and understands its relative position in the world. We do decide through elected officials how to live together. It is called the rule of law, and no libertarian answer to this rule of law has been yet forthcoming on this post.

          The black market economy you mention is an interesting example. Yes, millions around the world contribute (please note my word) to the overall economy by their "out of bounds" business. Their premise is actually much closer to mine than you think. They are in the society, they do contribute, albeit not through taxation, and again by choice they are part of a larger society.

          Cogito ergo sum, was the the worst thing anyone ever said. It created a mentality in the West, now brought to its logical conclusion, that "I, me, mine" is the center of all being. Libertarian thought, "you have no right to tell me anything" is the logical conclusion to that statement. It was wrong when Descartes said it, it is wrong now. This world, the real one we live in is not based on the existence or the thought of one person, but on the structured, self-constructed, chaotic, going to hell in a handbasket, society we string together as humans
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          Jan 20 2012: Michael: the main objection I have to this statement, other than points of fact, is that you're conflating state with society. I am a part of many societies, and they in turn a part of humanity as a whole; however, no single government represents, or even claims to represent, most of the societies I am in - nor are they governed by any state. A participatory community does not a ruler make. When we come together to start a project, those of us interested participate; those who are uninterested do not. No-one is compelled to render aid, and unpopular ideas are not quashed for lack of majority support. We don't "elect officials to decide how we may [work] together". What we have is a community.

          What you are talking about is not community. You are talking about a relative handful of people getting what they want when they want it, at gunpoint if necessary. I have no more community with people in Washington, D.C. or in my city hall than I do with some random warlord in Somalia. At various times and places, many people have claimed to represent me and my goals, or to be looking out for my best interests. Almost all of them have been liars, from the president of the United States to the Pope to the Dali Lama to various misguided revolutionaries. I have no association with them. They cannot represent me simply by fiat, nor rule me because they claim the right to rule. Philosophically, this is absurd, but pragmatically it is also absurd. You follow the law because you choose to, not because you must - at least, not in the same way you must follow the law of gravity.

          It actually matters very little to me whether or not you feel I should be a part of your society; I am not. I occasionally cooperate with people who think they are, and that's fine with me. But in so doing I do not accept any implicit or explicit obligation to participate in the whole, whether or not you feel I ought to. Your theories are all very nice, but System D demonstrates the reality.
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        Jan 18 2012: Hi Don, how would wealth be distributed in your world without taxation? Do you think that it is realistic to expect charity to fulfill that role, or if you understand that it could never achieve that, then do you accept instead that extremes of poverty are part of the natural order of life?
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          Jan 18 2012: Man I really wish I kept up with this thread, it got really intense but good job Joanne, Tim and Micheal M for holding your own but the other positions were very interesting as well.

          Your statement about the extremes of poverty being natural really struck me, so I'll state my position in case someone answers it: I would have to say no its no natural and there is much truth to back that up starting with the hunter gather tribes. Many anthropologist stated that they were very affluent being that they never took more than they could carry and would never really waste anything..

          Also we see many indigenous tribes and as you stated below, their collective ownership and nomadic lives also did not lead to poverty(at least how we know it).

          If you ask me, poverty only occurs when you have some sort of hierarchical system, in which those at the top state they can have it all and those at the bottom are told they cannot have nothing or they'll have to work harder for it.

          I was always interested as to how those at the bottom can at often times willingly just follow or allow to themselves to be controlled in such a way. I guess words and ideas are just as powerful as brute force.
        • Jan 19 2012: Joanne, to begin with, I like the idea of you asking the "how" questions about a system without taxation. It's far better than simply defending on blind faith the idea that it must remain as it is (ostensibly because it's always been that way). Assuming that the only way to make a system work is to force people to pay into is exactly what I'm challenging.

          As to your thoughts regarding poverty, first I don't necessarily agree with your premise that it is an inevitability. Can you provide evidence for this assertion? Secondarily, if it were true that extreme poverty is the natural order of things, there is ample evidence that there is more than sufficient charity to provide for this theoretical segment. In fact, it is the current system (not just the tax system) that prevents more impoverished people from receiving charity.

          I'm surprised that so many people are so dogmatic in their protection of the statist system. We have before us a real opportunity to shift power away from the monopoly of force that is the state, to a more dispersed, equitable power. States, which are monopolies of force, always victimize, in varying degrees, those that they are supposed to care for (rule over). States have always ended up corrupting well-meaning people, or attracting sociopaths. They have always broken down to the point where they provide services at a standard lower than free market solutions. Can you name a half dozen things that the US government does well, that couldn't be done better in the free market? If you are able to produce this list, can you then name just one of those things that couldn't be performed better in the free market? By the way, if you're tempted to mention building roads, you need to remember that the funds used to build our roads are actually collected semi-voluntarily since they are an indirect (avoidable, theoretically anyway) tax added to the cost of every gallon of gasoline. Even those "indirect" taxes are wrong because they force people to collect.
        • Jan 19 2012: Orlando! Thanks for chiming in I always enjoy your posts. The hierarchal society model you mention is certainly one way poverty is perpetuated in many countries. Sometimes it takes the form of you were "meant" by means of birth to be exactly who you are. Go back and look at an older work, "The Great Chain of Being" to see this explained even more. It is rife in many countries and unfortunately still promulgated in various forms by religious organizations. Another huge reason people just "accept" things is they can see no viable way out of their situation. Face it "universal education" in the States is sometimes only universal classroom fo r12 years. This is the state I think we find ourselves in and the reason we must limit undue influence from corporations who are at their best extremely self-centered.

          Don, "the statist system", oh please. I ask you again, what would you replace this with and what sort of governing body would be non-statist? You think that the free market is non-statist? It is just as inefficient, just as wasteful as any government. But you will say how can they be when profits matter? That is the point Don, profit is all that matters. If a chemical company pollutes the air why bother right? It is just making profit. Examine the way the real world, not the world you have made up or just heard about really does work. Profit motive might decrease some waste in the short term, but does nothing about long-term consequences of corporate action. Don honestly where in history is the proof that "the free market" runs better? Show me the examples.

          Who says, and yes I am asking for citations, that states are monopolies of force? Why are they and what are the criteria for judging that? How do they always (quite a term) victimize? Which free market solutions do run better than government right now in providing necessary services?
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          Jan 19 2012: My friends (I hope I may call us all friends) - I have been away and have glanced over this thread and it seems that what I feared has come to pass: we start off talking about how to get corporate influence out of government and suddenly we're forced into defending government or attacking government as being too restrictive.

          I would like to propose this theory: that each of us who has a negative view of government (America in particular and governments in general) have this because we are pre-conditioned by two generations of negative publicity that was promoted by corporations trying to sway public opinion against government, because a representative government without support of the people is pliable, and easily controlled.

          You may disagree, fine. But what I'm asking is that we reconsider all our negative views of goverment to examine the possibility that we may have been lied to - not by Uncle Sam, but by Sam's Club.
        • Jan 19 2012: Here, here......he said banging his cane on the floor. The gentleman has his point made.
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          Jan 19 2012: The extremes of poverty seem to persist despite the existence of powerful, violent organizations hell bent on inflicting their will on others at any cost. I don't know if they're the "natural state" - that is hard to say, since it's hard to define what is "natural" in human behavior. For instance, it appears that greed and envy and selfishness and the desire to inflict pain and suffering on others who don't agree with us is a part of our "nature"; it also appears that compassion and tolerance and friendship and love and self-sacrifice are strong parts of our nature.

          May we have one set of attributes without the other and call it natural? What would a society look like which was built solely upon these latter features? I have never threatened to cage or murder a person I loved if he was not willing to help me in a cause I considered noble; I find that kind of threat to be very unloving, to say the least. I cannot imagine that such a society would feature warfare or prisons or, least of all, politicians. But would this be natural? I'm not sure we could call it that. It seems in our actually existing society the former human features - greed, envy, hatred, oppression, domination, violence - tend to be more prominent, despite promises by the institutions (built and powered by the expressions of those very features) to the contrary.
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          Jan 19 2012: @Verble: I am asking you to consider that neither "Uncle Sam" or "Sams Club" are actual entities, but mere collections of individuals, and collections which hold a great number of individuals in common to boot. If I consider the notion that "Sams Club" has lied to me (done and, with the caveat that in fact I am only using that as a symbol to mean a large group of individuals who each have participated in lying to me, I agree), will you also consider my proposal?

          I suggest that neither of these two collections are homogeneous masses, and that neither is made up of individuals who are wholly infallible or wholly malevolent. I suggest that individuals have a particular habit of finding a way to equate "good for me" with "good for everyone" when it pleases them, and even when wholly inappropriate. Further, that individuals will tend to act on that conflation, blissfully ignorant of the actual objective consequences. That when those consequences become impossible to ignore, they tend to deny their responsibility (and thus absolve themselves of the duty to make amends). That being a member of one group ("Uncle Sam") or the other ("Sam's Club") does not fundamentally change the nature of individuals. That perhaps it is unwise to wed oneself and one's philosophy to dichotomies between these two groups that are wholly fictitious.
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          Jan 19 2012: @Orlando Hawkins: you might enjoy "The Art of not Being Governed", James C. Scott, which proposes some answers, based on anthropological study, to the questions you brought up regarding poverty in indigenous tribes and the mechanisms by which states form and guarantee the submission of their populace. The book may be taken as a bit dry to those who prefer witty one-liners and feel-good quips about society and social problems, but such is the way of one who prefers study to mere consumption :)
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          Jan 20 2012: @Justen: proposal already accepted, that neither are actual stand-alone entities, but rather they are collectives with different purposes. The difference between them is that Sam's Club wants me to give them my money in exchange for goods, and Uncle Sam requires my fealty in exchange for protecting my person, my property, and my civil liberties. The other difference is that I am also a part of my government in a way that I am not a part of Sam's Club, in that I am able to serve on a jury of my peers when asked, and thus be a part of the administration of justice, and I can also vote for certain representatives of Uncle Sam; I am not allowed to vote for the CEO of Sam's Club (nor any of old man Walton's creations).

          As for your second paragraph I agree that these groups are made of people, fallable and complex and just trying to "make it through" as it were. While I believe people are basically good, they also subsume their individuality in a group, and they will follow whatever group offers them more . . . More of whatever they think they need.

          We currently are a nation which truly believes that government is stagnant, ineffective, and overreaching, and that private enterprise offers more freedom. We mistake freedom of choice for civil liberties. And in that aspect, I believe that the groupthink,while not changing an individual's fundamental nature, has certainly made the people compliant.

          Wow. I just realized . . . We're consumer junkies. Buying stuff is our drug. Need to let this sink in. Pardon me while I go to Best Buy and get a new flatscreen.
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          Jan 20 2012: Ah, but Uncle Sam does not actually deliver on those things, does he - other than permitting your "civil liberties", which is really just a euphemism for a protection racket. For who violates your civil liberties? The state! ROFL! They want you to pay them to make sure "something bad" doesn't happen to you.

          If you believe that your problem is consumerism, I invite you so solve it by ceasing or at least reducing your consumer activity. That's not a jab. I agree with you in part, and I'm doing this already. You can do it to. Last year I grew about 10% of my produce in my own garden; this year I expect to grow 30%. I joined a makerspace, where we make and repair many of our own things. I contribute to open source software projects. I donate to projects like Open Source Ecology. I'm reticent to mention these things lest it sound like bragging, but the point is that you do NOT have to simply wait around for someone else to solve your problems. You can begin solving them today, and you don't need permission from the government to do it (in fact, you're better off not mentioning it to them so they don't insert themselves).

          This is the trouble with statist thinking - you see a problem, you believe you have an answer, and then you go sit back on your couch and wait for the state to implement your solution. Stop doing that. The state isn't going to help you. It never has. Typically it's the source of your problem (particularly if you accept my proposal that this "corporation" vs "government" thing is a false dichotomy).

          If you judge by the outcome, rather than the claimed intent, of any state in human history, its object has been the enrichment of an idle, privileged few at the expense of the many. It becomes clear that all these other things it is supposed to do are either left undone or twisted toward the real end of accumulation of wealth and power. The euphemisms change, but the behavior stays the same. Real problems get solved by real action, not political action.
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          Jan 20 2012: Justen, I like your suggestion and I like the way you think: real positive action instead of blind dependence on something that may or may not help. I sense that we both share the same deep mistrust of corporations, but I would venture that I'm still idealistic enough to believe that government can be salvaged.

          But I would love to learn to grow my own food. I have to confess I'm addicted to the local McDonald's and I've got to detox myself from my BigMacMonkeyonmyBack.
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          Jan 20 2012: I grew up in the desert, so I'm very well acquainted with the difficulties and frustrations of growing one's own food in less than ideal circumstances. Now I live in a nice temperate forest where the biggest problems I run into are too much rain and not enough sun, which are much less difficult to overcome than their counterparts :)

          That said, my big long-term project right now is to evaluate and share what I've learned about different food production techniques, and to build the tools necessary to help other people replicate what I've come up with. I don't like to hype things I haven't yet produced so I won't carry on about the plans. I do think it's an important project, because food independence is a great way to relieve poverty and dependence on traditional institutions.

          The things that look most promising to me (and to just about everybody who gets in on this, apparently) are biointensive techniques and permaculture. In the former you're basically trying to build a feedback system where every growing cycle further enriches rather than depletes your soil, mostly through effective intervention and creating harmonious ecosystems in your garden. The latter is focused on plant-once, harvest indefinitely systems - perennial and self-renewing annual food crops. There's a lot in common between the two, and they're in some sense very complicated (thus my desire to build tools to help plan these things).

          The good news is you can get started with a lot of it without worrying about the nitty-gritty. Look for the book "Square Foot Gardening", it breaks everything down to the simplest possible productive implementation. From experience, it's a little expensive if you follow it word for word; but you can cut corners (I did, and turned a profit in the first year). Also Google "Urban Homesteading" and "Grow Your Greens", both have lots of good info and will get you tied in with the zeitgeist of biointensive gardening.
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        Jan 18 2012: Don: Execution in Texas was not an extrapolation I had in mind. But you do bring up an interesting point. The libertarian Wild West was big on executions. Really don’t mean to be hostile. Provocative, perhaps. Hostile, no.

        I do enjoy debate. Preferably with those who hold a different opinion than I do. So far from wanting to antagonize you to the point of concluding the discussion, you should recognize that I value your interaction.

        But back to my question. Instead of attempting to change a massive system which has limited support for your theories, why not focus on an experimental community of limited size to test your hypothesis?
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          Jan 18 2012: Don, and Tim, lets not forget what the Utopian Wild West did to the indigenous people as part of the glorious 'homesteading' principle. Was the loss of their nomadic system and collective ownership of their country just collateral damage?

          The homesteading principle does not recognise indigenous peoples' land claims therefore, Anarcho Capitalism, or libitarianism, is a racist and discriminatory policy.

          Krisztian; metaphor or no, I think you are 'gilding the lilly' more than a bit. You cannot justify your comment re taxation as theft, and you have not. Restating it in more fruity terms hardly constitutes gaining ground in this discussion.

          You can't extrapolate your model convincingly, and I have not noticed Don stepping up to do that either, or anyone else who has the temerity to advocate such an absurd model. (the model is absurd, not you Don, and not you either Krisztian).

          People here are smart enough to concede to ideas outside our political views, if they can be demonstrated theoretically to work. Neither of you, especially you Krisztian, have ever demonstrated a convincing extrapolation of your model. To just simply have a big problem with society as a whole, with laws as a whole or to hate paying taxes, does not constitute an argument.

          If you are looking for social models that embrace individual freedom and actually work, I suggest you look at the Anarchist movement. Do anarchists expect to pay tax Orlando?
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          Jan 19 2012: joanne, what is that wild rant? we are the racist? good lord! would you spend some time understanding the opposing position before attacking it?

          homesteading is by definition taking *unused* resources. it can not possibly hurt any indigenous people, nor anyone else, since they didn't use it anyway. taking land away from indigenous is *not* homesteading, it is theft.

          taxation is not theft, you say. then tell me the difference, but let it be like two words, unless it is just muddying the waters. theft is taking property without consent. i think i'm pretty much in the position to tell whether gave my permission. i don't think you can doubt that they take my money. taxation is taking property without consent. therefore, theft.

          i don't have to show a "model convincingly". in 1750, nobody could show you a "model convincingly" how can america function without slavery. yet many opposed it, and said, no matter what the alternative is, this is not right. we have to stop this. nobody would demonstrate in the 1700's that democracy can work. after all, how would a peasant or a servant know anything about politics? but they still made it real, because that was right.

          you are, among many, in the denial phase. you just dig up excuses instead of thinking about it. you want to find something that allows you to not take it seriously. good luck with your plan, it will be harder and harder in the following years.
        • Jan 19 2012: Ah but you do consent Kristian and that is the point. You live in a country that provides services through taxation. You do consent because you live there. You consent in a democratic country by voting, even if your particular view does not win. If what you want Kristian is really what you say, go and buy and island and live like Robinson Crusoe....oops, even he had his "man Friday."
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          Jan 19 2012: michael, i do not recommend to use that interpretation of consent before the court. like "he gave his money with consent! i said money or die, and he gave the money. it is consent, mr judge!"

          i disagree with taxation, and i disagree with most of the things the state does. the few things i agree with could be done otherwise. i can assure you, nothing in my country happens with my consent. i oppose it.
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          Jan 19 2012: Krisztian, if you recognise that indigenous people in the US used vast tracts as hunting grounds and nomadic territory and this was a legitmate use, then that land should under the homesteading principle, be returned to them. If not then this comment is racist. 'homesteading is by definition taking *unused* resources. it can not possibly hurt any indigenous people, nor anyone else, since they didn't use it anyway.' because of the idea that indigenous people, do not use their land. because it is demonstrating the idea indigenous people's use of the land is in your eyes 'worthless'.
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          Jan 19 2012: joanne, do you have problems telling apart words from their meaning? calling something "homesteading" will not make it actually homesteading. if i call taking my neighbor's tv set "finding", it is still just theft. if you take a land from someone, it is NOT homesteading. if someone calls it that, it won't change the meaning of the word. just makes him an idiot. it is really that hard?
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          Jan 19 2012: The world in general preferred executions at that time, did it not? I recall a great number of people being regularly executed by the state existing in parallel to the "wild west". Shall we likewise indict your preferred society, since it was first demonstrated by slave keepers and misogynists (in Greece), and then later re-implemented by slave keepers and misogynists (in Rome), and then again re-implemented by slave keepers and misogynists (in America), based on the fact that its founders and early participants also engaged in pracitces we now find distasteful and immoral? Or, perhaps, does the merit of a philosophy itself stand apart from those who preach and attempt to practice it?
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        Jan 19 2012: Hi Don, ' to begin with, I like the idea of you asking the "how" questions about a system without taxation' I waited with baited breath for the answer to my 'how' questions and they never materialised.

        I have numerous examples taken from thousands years of civilisation to back up my ideas of working social models, and a lifetime spent studying them, what do you have? Again, the only thing you produced was another rant against 'we who have blind faith in the system' and 'the govt'. Your argument is getting thinner Don, instead of more substantial.

        Please just give me a loose idea of how your society would function. Perhaps these specific questions might help you do that.
        1. Law and order. who pays for it?
        2. How would an election be organised?
        3. When a woman decided to have a baby, would she still have her job when she is ready to return to work?
        4. Who would support that edgy and socially critical artist who has no money of his/her own?
        5. Research into diverging minority culture world views, or the 29.5 notes of the Navajo nose flute, who would pay for that?

        To answer your general question Can you name a half dozen things that the US government does well, that couldn't be done better in the free market'. I don't think that is an important question for us. The only important question is, but would they do anything better than govt? Would they?

        I am astounded when I hear people, who come from a country where the largest most corrupt oganisations originate, wanting their society to be run by private organisations, only three years into the aftermath of the worst global crash ever seen that was caused by those very entities and caused untold suffering around the world. How can anyone who has lived through that ever think that a company could be a more trustworthy alternative to good govt?

        Sorry but it borders on a kind of blind religious madness. Do you really think you would be better off? Do you really think you wouldn't be taxed by private enterprise?
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          Jan 20 2012: I am frequently robbed by private enterprise. I am only ever taxed by government. The difference between the two things, and perhaps the two of us, is that I do not tolerate or make excuses for the latter. I call a spade a spade. I am more interested in a world where we do not condemn actions by one group, only to praise the very same actions when engaged in by another group. In other words, I believe in equality.
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        Jan 19 2012: Krisztian - I’m searching for the Stefan Molyneux video where he talks about Somalia, but haven’t found it yet. Will keep searching. In the process, I did come up with this one (which I think is one of his best):


        Although I don’t agree with his world view, I do consider Stefan Molyneux a very thought provoking thinker. Though I always thought of him as a libertarian, he seems to define himself more as an anarchist.

        Joanne and Michael - concerning your comments on the selfishness of Krisztian’s and Don’s viewpoints - I don’t think that they are any more selfish than you or me. Well, at least no more then me. I think they truly believe that the libertarian/anarchist approach would really result in a better life for most people from a pragmatic/utilitarian standpoint. And personally, I think they could be right, but that they are more likely wrong.

        The problem is that their theories seem to be impeding progress in correcting the problems in government. If, in fact, they are wrong and they simply dismantle a partially functioning system, it could well set society back significantly. Which is why I keep harping on the idea that the theory should be tested on some smaller scale before deconstructing major socio-economic systems.
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          Jan 19 2012: tim, thanks for the effort. if you could summarize briefly, might be enough.

          i don't exactly believe that somalia is libertarian. but i'm not too much of an expert on somalia. some years ago there was a civil war. i doubt too many people cares about liberty and property in a war. but things might have changed in the last few years.
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          Jan 19 2012: Sometimes partial function is less desirable than zero function. From one perspective a government we're all familiar with, the United States, is fully functional in amassing the wealth necessary to murder tens of thousands of innocent people in an ongoing global war, and caging millions of other innocent people (or, at least, innocent of "malum in se" vs "malum prohibitum"). It has been very effective as promoting the interests and profit of its favored institutions. It is not so effective at relieving poverty (which has been on the rise), creating opportunity (which has been on the decline), protecting the rights of minorities (which it has never done very well at all), preventing crime (increases and decreases in law enforcement efforts appear to have little or no correlation with crime rates), ensuring economic stability (lulz), or promoting the values of its population (uh, such as they are).

          These are all claimed functions of this government, and it's certainly functioning "in part". I am just not so sure the functions it's performing are preferable to total non-performance. Are you? Be honest.

          For all that could be said about the grinding poverty, famine, and violence in Somalia, most Somalians seem to believe they are better off without the additional rapine and murder perpetrated by their former government; and better off without the additional conflict generated by their current aspirational (if not artificial) government. The statistics tend to agree.

          Is "working, but poorly" really the best that we can hope for in less blighted lands? Or might we be better off without a bit of the "work" that this government is doing? After all it is not we, but they, who insist on the "package deal". If I could decline to pay for the mass murder while continuing to pay for, say, NASA, I would be inclined to do so. Would you? What do you think would happen if that were possible?
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          Jan 20 2012: Hi Tim, I checked through my comments and I cannot find any reference to calling anyone selfish.

          I think I used the words 'violently facist' to categorise the homesteading principle. That is not a reflection on the character of either Don, or Krisztian, who may in fact be completely gentle and altruistic people.

          I have questioned Krisztians's motives in other threads for following the Anarcho Capitalist faith, and been chastised for it, although I do think it quite reasonable to question a human being's motives, if they follow facistic ideology, because of the potential harm such an ideology would generate, should it ever be brougnt to fruition.
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          Jan 20 2012: Anarchism is an interesting and peaceful movement, I agree with many of the principles and find some of the models, believable. There are factories running on anarchist principles, and they work. Liberal socialism is another word for the same thing, anarcho capitalism or liberal capitalism has no relationship to this movement except that they both want to abolish the state.
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          Jan 20 2012: Joanne: I don't really like the words "socialism", "capitalism", "liberalism", "conservatism" or other political labels. They seem to have as many meanings as there are mouths pronouncing them. "Anarchism" has at least some precision: we can say without much argument that it means "without rulers". But there are certainly a lot of models and strategies for achieving and sustaining a world without rulers, and many motives both noble and ignoble.

          In general, it seems to me that many people are after the same things. They want peace. They want security. They want the freedom to express themselves. They do not want to have to fear the institutions they rely on to provide for them. In many cases, they want to feel as if they have provided for themselves - they want personal independence. They want opportunity - to advance, and to sustain, with as few artificial and unnecessary obstacles as possible. I think I can say this without risking over-generalization. These are all good things, and almost everybody who wants them is trying to do something to get them.

          The real question is, who is succeeding? Can we demonstrate a clear line of cause and effect between action and outcome? Can we document it, adapt it to local circumstances, and replicate it? I look around at all the movements I know of and all the points in history where a change has happened, and I see the same patterns: traditional institutions vested and entrenched in the status quo. Arguments over whether they can be fixed, or whether they ought to be ousted and replaced with new institutions. And then on the perimeter there are people who aren't too interested in arguing or struggling to grab the reins of power - through reform or through revolution. They see problems, they solve them. Abolitionists built the underground railroad. Cypherpunks built cryptographic tools. Anti-IP activists built p2p networks. They got results *first*, and the institutions caught up later (or are still trying to catch up).
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        Jan 19 2012: Krisztian: OK. I guess it was an exaggeration to say that Stefan labeled Somalia a libertarian nirvana. He actually gave an interesting line of reasoning comparing Somalia during a period of time when it had a government to a later period when no formal government existed. Apparently the government acted as a kind of mafia, funnelling foreign funds to their cronies and being opposed by local militias. Without a government private commerce sprouted up all over and people’s needs were being better met. At least that was the discourse as I remember it. Will let you know if I rediscover it.
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          Jan 19 2012: yeah, i can imagine that. take any society, eliminate the state, and observe how things start to improve.
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          Jan 20 2012: Remove the oppressive banks and their crippling lending rates, remove the oppressive land lords, or any oppressive organisation, state or otherwise and watch things start to move.
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    Jan 14 2012: At this point the only way things are going to change is honestly through some sort of revolution. I know what I'm saying sounds somewhat extravagant but we are at the point where people, although unhappy, are comfortable with where they are at and this is the main reason as to why many individuals in the U.S. continue to think that an incremental approach to such an issue is going to be effective when in all actuality it is not.

    An incremental approach to such an issues is exactly what those in power want. As Deb Burks rightly pointed out "Divide and conquer is the way to get power". Incrementalism only creates more conflict and simply voting for elected officials is ineffective given that many of them do not represent THE PEOPLE.

    To answer your question of "How do we get corporations out of government" the answer to the question is simple: change the system and with this change, create a society that is not reliant on corporations or government but something that is accessible and participatory.
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      Jan 15 2012: I can see why you would say that, I just hope it is not so. That is partly why I come on TED.
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        Jan 15 2012: Honestly this is the reason as to why I go on TED as well...with all the people that feel the way that you and I do about such matters, eventually we should be able to change things...I'm just under the impression that it may take a lot longer than we would want to....
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          Jan 15 2012: I am sure if nothing else, you have removed some of the fear and prejudice around anarchism, and educated a few people about it, including myself.
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        Jan 15 2012: haha I can only hope so... my main concern about talking about anarchism is if people actually take me seriously. I mean I'm a 22 year old African American Male. My age may not be too much of a concern but you do not find too many African American's in the U.S. who claim to be both an atheist, let alone an anarchist. Most African Americans in the U.S. are very democratic, w/christian values. I've been called white washed many times by my counter parts for adopting what they would call "punk rock ideology"

        I'll be honest, I think I was one of the few African Americans that had trouble with Obama getting elected. I was really troubled by the celebration. I mean it was a great moment in American history for African Americans but the focus seemed to be much about Obama's race as opposed to his politics and that really concerned me because I dd not know the true motive as to why he was elected (I can at least say that the fact that many people want him out of office tells me the focus was not about politics)

        For me the election was no different than any other being that I knew things would not change and that Obama is just there to still bail out the corporations.....the fact that the topic of this thread is "HOW DO WE GET CORPORATIONS OUT OF GOVERNMENT" means that this is still an issue and one that Obama has not intentions of getting rid of....

        I've said this before and I'll say it again: the only way things will change is through the people, not the politicians.

        Do not get me wrong, I have learned a lot from you as well as others on here...Thank Apollo for TED
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          Jan 16 2012: I still think America is best left in the hands of the Democrats, that these people are the best force for good to date until people can acquire a system which is more like full proportional democracy. The Democrats are the lesser of several evils! Corporations in govt, is a wider issue and needs to be dealt with, breaking this power grid will not be easy, and impossible with a Republican president.

          I think Obama has been a good president, but he has been hamstrung (is that an idiom you recognise 'hamstrung'?) by the heavily biased right wing electoral system.I think you make a good point about Obama's election being too focussed on his race, however I was one of those who watched teary eyed and grateful, to see a person from a minority background, and on the left, elected to that high office. I would like to see him reelected with more of a mandate from the people. It does not look likely. Usually leaders who have to manage a crisis, as he was left to do in 2008, have to wear the flak, and he will not survive that I do not think.

          Your age, your race, do not matter outside the U.S. and you will see that immediately if you go and live in another country for a few years. I would choose Berlin, or Copenhagen, what great cities to be young in!.
        • Jan 16 2012: @ Orlando, I'm also African American and non religious. It's kind of funny you mention the correlation between African American culture and the Christian faith, as I am the son of a preacher. Lol, just thought that was worth pointing out. Though I understand your sentiment in regards to Obama being elected, I must confess that like Joanne, I got a little misty myself. Not because a black man was elected President of the United States, but because it was a stepping stone to the realization of equality.

          We are all equal. Including those politicians we all like to pile the blame on. They are us... We are them... They represent the stranglehold corporations have, not only on American culture and values, but more importantly, on the values of humanity. I, however, have the utmost confidence in humanity, and believe we are capable of just about anything we put our minds to. I just hope we pull our heads out in time for me to get to see it :-) Selfish ways die hard, what can I say...
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      Jan 16 2012: Hi Orlando, I am responding here to your other post re socialism and anarchism. I agree with you that one of the reasons why there has been so much disinformation spread about these movements is because; 'anarchist and socialist thinking are major threats to corporations and th(eir) power.'

      I cannot answer the question, why I am interested in world politics, I think I have mentioned I am a student of the rise of facism and violence in human societies it is a hobby of mine. I have been interested in social theories since I was quite young, in particular matriarchies. I am interested in the mechanics of how and why McCartherism (which you referred to) and movements like that, appear in societies. If we understand how this happens, then we have the tools to avoid similar situation, so people do not have to be jailed, or worse, for their beliefs or their race, or their gender.

      Well if you don't enter politics, I hope you at least plan to write a book at some stage. Perhaps an anthology of some of the great comments we read all the time on TED.
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        Jan 16 2012: Hi Joanne,

        I'll respond to both of your post on this reply, that way we do not have to go and hunt for each others comments....

        As much as I criticize american politics, I do think the democrats are the lesser of two evils but nonetheless I really do think there really is no difference between the two..I mean on paper, their ideologies are different but they really do support the same people and are funded by the same sponsors or programs or corporations...Corporations in government is indeed a wider issue and democratic policy is geared more towards the people than republicans but to be quite honest, I do not think the democrats are capable of doing such a thing due to the fact that they are not aggressive enough and the fact that most democratic policies such as universal health care, which Obama proposed is deemed to be such a bad thing......

        In regards to Obama, I mean of course I was happy because it did show that all the hard work that my ancestors put in to give me the opportunities and liberties that I have now really did pay off but at the same time, there is a time for celebration and a time to get the economy in order. I mean people were celebrating way before he was elected so that was a major concern for me...As far as being a good president, I would prefer Obama over most and the media does distort him in the wrong way but I do not think he has done much (although he has good intentions) and I have never heard of the word "hamstrung" lol

        I do not think I'll even try to enter politics but I would not mind giving talks and debates about such issues. You have interesting hobbies similar to my own...but it would be interesting to know why people panic when they hear communism, anarchism, socialism, McCartherism, etc because, as you mentioned, if we do understand how they emerge we can prevent another Gulag or Red Scare from happening.
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          Jan 16 2012: Yes Orlando, I agree with your post, re the Democrats. Everytime a Democrat is elected I wait and hope to see social change, and always find I am bitterly disappointed at the end of the term, at how much ground is usually lost, and how little has been gained toward equality, world peace and sustainability. Our version of the Democrats is the NZ Labour party, today they are more right wing than ever before in their history. I too find few worthy alternatives when it comes to electing people to take over the stewardship of our country.

          This thread, and its question has been interesting as people are offering solutions. Some people, Paul and others are talking about a new American economic model that would be more equitable but still acceptable to a culture that places such a high value on individualism and personal freedom. I think this is an exciting idea.

          I think some Anarchist ways of doing things (not the absurd and catastrophic anarcho capitalist principles) could be part of that model, because of the freedom from state control inherent in anarchist ways of doing things. There are some good successful business models, based on these principles, already working around the world. I have heard of factories, very successful, where the workers trade labour for shares in the enterprise. It is their business, they also own and control it. Of course we would not be able to use the terms 'anarchist' or 'socialist' but some of the solutions might actually work.

          It is not outside the real of possibility Orlando. What needs to change is people everywhere need to understand that accountability to the common good is the cornerstone of all societies, whether we think so or not. This is what Occupy, began to dialogue. We should not give that power away. We can shape our own societies for the common good and we should do so, not allow a bigger entity, whether it be state or private enterprise, to do that instead.
    • Jan 16 2012: @Orlando, I agree.
  • Jan 11 2012: The Government and Corporations both get their power from people. We need to rethink how much power we are really giving both. Aside from grilling corporations, there is another more long term way of going about this.

    With regards to corporations gaining rewards from the government, what if there were more corporations? What if we start buying from smaller business entities who provide the same goods and services? We raise these small shops and lower the corporations. If firms are more equal than they are today, they will have less power.

    I'm not saying that we can perfectly equalize them, but I am saying that we have the power to cut the big boys up into smaller manageable pieces.
    • Comment deleted

      • Jan 11 2012: If you remove the government distortions, the free market will reward those businesses that conduct themselves in the public interest. Those that don't will wither. Trying to externally control them is coercive.
        • Jan 11 2012: Can you show me with clear historical examples where and when that has actually taken place? What were the companies and how did they whither? How did some benevolent hand enter the corporate picture?
        • Jan 12 2012: We're not going to try to externally control them. We're actually pushing for Perfect Competition. Which is what the free market is all about. What if we make them compete even for the government's support?
          Better goods and services.

          Let them lobby all they want. What matters is that we unite in knowing what's good for us.
          Let's not help them divide us when were trying to divide them. Coz' their purposes should be separate.
        • Jan 17 2012: Hi Mohammad, we fight! :) Still saying, the big boys and the big girls, will not let us. It is not discouraging, it is reality. They will not let us. It is too big and too powerful. Humans are too lazy, too really fight. With Respect to the Forum! :)
      • Jan 16 2012: Hi Pierre, the big boys, will never let us cut them into manageable pieces. The government, is bed buddies with the big boys. ( just sayin') :) Respect to the forum and the comments.
        • Jan 16 2012: You have a point, a discouraging point but, you do. This is why we should not let up. Of course there will be resistance.

          Most of you must agree that the present situation isn't panning out well.

          We fight or we buy.
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        Jan 16 2012: Hi Pierre, I agree, legislating to limit size, as in the case in at least France, but probably other Eurozone countries too I am sure, is the only way to bring these out-of-control huge corporate structures into a more manageable framework of influence. At the moment, some are too huge, they can influence anything, an election, an entire culture, a monetary system. This is too much power in the hands of an entity which only wants to sell products for profit.

        Don, I disagree, and this issue is too important for a mere theoretical extrapolations to suffice. I too would like to see one example, just one, of a similar system working somewhere in the world, in present day, or anytime in history.
        • Jan 16 2012: You are right, I really think it's too risky to put more resources to legislation given that they are already too big.

          But they get our power from us. And if we unite and limit their power, their only choice would be to (I don't know), force us to buy. At which point there'd be war.

          Let them crush our culture, nation, economy or laptops. But can never kill this idea once it's out. Nobody should lose hope while nothing has happened yet.

          A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on.
          -John F. Kennedy
        • Jan 17 2012: :) Nice one Joanne! :)
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      Jan 12 2012: I very much like your idea, because it actually introduces into practical application this American belief in free market competition: if we truly want to lessen the influence of any corporation, we have to stop feeding the corporation with our money. If every single person in the US would, for example, shop for their groceries from a local farmer's market, and not from a corporate grocery store, the farmers and consumers would benefit and the corporations would not.

      This speaks to the idea that instead of attacking corporations - we supplant them with better choices. We replace them by supporting more competitors. Thank you, Mohammad, for an insightful point.
      • Jan 16 2012: Well, to widen it a little bit, we give money to corporations, and trust to the government.

        And the plan is good only if the grocery storekeeper doesn't buy corporate designer clothing or corporate coffee. This means that almost everybody has to be in on this.

        And if most everybody is, well, good then the government should, by then, be mostly good too.
  • Jan 19 2012: Yes. I am pretty certain that we are going to have to unify as a globe of people in order to begin to end the conflicts for "needs".

    I don't think a better vision of the future exists where humanity is not cooperating and working together to solve problems. That is what the great philosophers, Big Bird, Bert and Ernie even the grouch came around to this idea by the end.

    So I think we should do that first by finishing what Martin Luther King Jr. started over 50 years ago and become other centered instead of self centered. I believe it is obvious that we are headed in this global community direction (even after a final war, there will be peace). It is time now to make commitments to one another as individual global citizens in order to balance the power of the greedy to the needy and skip this violence we see all around us.

    From this global point of view we can design larger communities that are sustainable and interlock them together with a system of distributing whatever it is that may need distributing. (maybe travelers as well)

    These types of ideas have been presented with more complete details and plans and I think it is time to design a more efficient lifestyle that actually attempts to leaves no one behind.

    It's time for the global community to believe that if you are a human being then you are an equal.

    Then its time to make sure everybody has a plate at the dinner table, a comfortable place to rest and an opportunity to learn and study anything.

    This type of lifestyle is much more mature than Corpratization as making a profit and treating people equally are two different ideas that don't work together.

    @ Michael M You may recognize this comment from the other thread but I altered it a bit and thought it fit here too. Haha efficiency and all
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      Jan 19 2012: The idealist in me applauds your position, and the pessimist in me says, "Wow, that's a lotta work!"

      But I wholeheartedly agree that if we are to limit the influence of corporations, then one way to do it is to recreate society in an image where we look after each other more than we look after ourselves, and if we are to provide services for each other, from our own resources, then we will see that the corporate model does not fit in with a society that prides itself on concern for the basic needs of all.
      • Jan 21 2012: I would never label myself as an idealist but I do seek answers that will promote an ideal situation in which humans can flourish so I guess it's not a stretch.(don't tell anyone I said that)

        It will be a lot of work but then again life is a lot of work and since humanity is not sure what life is all about, we can choose to create the society where we look after one another.

        The corporate model or Economic Systems surely do not take care of the needs of all. They are pyramid schemes designed to pull wealth to the top. I don't have much of a problem with that until it comes to the problem of world hunger, that's when economics get in the way.

        When unconditional help is not economically feasible, money is a problem. Money seems to provide for us a sense of security (which is a basic need). The more money you have, however, the more protection you need so you end up less secure. We need to work globally on making people feel more secure like we're all on the same team. Treating all people as equals will go a long way towards making people feel secure.

        Rant rant rant (sorry) It's all been said before. I guess it's ok to rant here in blogs. haha
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      Jan 20 2012: You may or may not be shocked to discover that many people are already doing what you propose, and not merely talking about it; and that effort has culminated, thus far, in the very objects and ideas that permitted you to post this comment. They are called, in part, the open source movement; and in part, the anarchists; and in part, entrepreneurs; and in part, system D; and many other things. They do not talk about what should be done, so much as they talk about what is being done and actually do it. Or perhaps I should say we.

      We've been doing this for quite a while now. We had a hand in the first worker's unions and mutual aid networks, and we practically built the internet as you know it. We played a large part in developing biointensive agriculture and permaculture and spreading it around the earth. Now we're building tools, physical tools, outside the restraints of state monopolies and we're giving them to people who need them. One of my absolute favorite projects right now is Open Source Ecology, but it's a drop in an ocean of things going on just below the surface of mainstream politics.

      Progress is happening. The global evolution is happening. There will be no vote on it. You have no say in what we do, whether for or against. You only have say in what you do. You have not been invited. You must invite yourself, and you can only do that by participating. Will you join us, or will you watch from the sidelines? Or, worse yet, will you stand in opposition?
      • Jan 20 2012: Alright, those are some strong words all through this thread my friend. I hear you loud and clear and am listening.

        Who is we and who is us your talking about.

        You have the floor.
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          Jan 20 2012: I am usually the one to ask that question :) But in this sense I'm only speaking in a vague generalization. There's no secret society pulling the strings here. The whole idea is that nobody is calling the shots. We're just people who have got fed up with waiting for other people to solve problems and taken to solving them ourselves. I linked an article about this elsewhere in the thread, but I'll link it here again for your benefit: http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/10/28/black_market_global_economy?page=full

          In the sense that I mean, "we" is anybody who has actually taken steps to solve the problems they perceive in the world through peaceful (if often illegal or quasi-legal) means. I count anybody who is doing that, and particularly those who have given up on traditional institutions, as my ally. I'm not big on labels or movements. Of the things I do in particular that are safe to discuss in mixed company: I grow (some of) my own food, I write open source software, I participate in a local hacker/makerspace, I organize with others locally and online, I am involved in a variety of for-profit and non-profit ventures. In general I apply my personal skills to solve the problems that I think need solving. When I lack the skill to do something useful about something I care about, I work on acquiring the skill (as with the food issue). What I don't do is sit on the couch and complain, or agitate for political entities to fix things for me. That never works. Of course I also have a day job and a family and wholly non-productive hobbies :)

          If you're looking for something more specific, tell me what you're interested in and I might be able to point you in the right direction.

          Edit again: I should mention that this only scratches the surface. You have to spend some time with this to really grasp the breadth and depth of this thing. I selected the above article because it does a good job of conveying that. Politics is dead, This is the age of action. Join us :)
        • Jan 20 2012: Justen
          I agree with the need for action and from a grass roots level. What are some of the ways you would propose we do this in our very political world?
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          Jan 20 2012: The thrust of my argument is just to stop waiting. Every individual has unique experiences, skills, and social networks. Everybody has something to bring to the table. For once, stop trying to look at the big picture and take a razor-sharp focus on the things in your immediate vicinity. Where is a problem that you, personally, can solve? What are the obstacles in your path, and how can you circumvent them?

          If a government or some other criminal gang is one of the main obstacles, what is the actual risk level? That is, are they really paying attention, do they have the capacity to stop you? If they try, what resources can you call on to resolve the situation peacefully - can you embarrass them, can you evade them, can you avoid notice all together?

          Think like a businessman. What are are the risks, what is the chance that they will materialize, what will be the cost if they do, and what is there to gain? If it's worth it, or if you can make it worth it, go for it. Don't wait for permission. Certainly don't convene an exploratory committee to examine the possibility of gathering the public will to agitate for a referendum to investigate a course of action ;) Just go do it.

          Remember that it doesn't always work. In fact, you'll have more failures than successes. Don't worry about this; every failure is a lesson. Make the successes count.

          I can't really tell you what you should be doing, since I don't know what your interests are. I can tell you to stick to the things you're passionate about and have the skills, or can gain the skills, to do something with. Don't worry about everything else; someone else is on it, or having been inspired by your choice to take action, will get on it.

          Some of the things I think are most beneficial right now are hacker/makerspaces and home agriculture. If you don't know where to start, I would say start with those. It can save you money, build opportunities, and open doors that you didn't know existed.
        • Jan 24 2012: We can't afford to be wage slaves in a system that is collapsing. Rather than separating our time into work and leisure we combine it into simply living. I applaud Justen's example. A new system is unfolding based on self reliance made possible by sharing the tools needed to do so. Just as an aristocracy collapsed without serfs so will the current power structures that manage workers. They will become obsolete as people turn to social structures which enable them to manage themselves. Ironically capitalism so efficient that profits are negligible and libertarian values will play crucial roles but not in the manner most of their supporters envisioned. The only concern is whether we can make the transition without the wars and social upheaval that usually occur when power structures face redundancy. Utopian in some senses but as Justen pointed out it is bubbling up all around us.
      • Jan 20 2012: Corporations are becoming the new pirates in the north arctic. There is an urgent need for updated governance otherwise the pirate protocol will rule over the law of the sea

        Do you agree?

        Edited 21 jan 2012.

        In lack of another term for a governing body which serve the citizens I can´t see that the alternative for corporations is something that excludes government? I do agree though that most governments are infiltrated by corporations and this is a huge problem for many societies. Perhaps a step forward is filtering out the corporations from governance. One idea could be to regulate the nominees before and after they are elected to public service. In stead focusing to much on regulating the private sector the focus should be on regulating elected individuals and their closest circle. The regulation and the auditing would be a lifetime process for those that get into public service. A reliable regulatory body should be heavily supported by technology solutions and very little human interaction.
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          Jan 20 2012: I agree that there is a problem. I disagree that government is a solution, in that I don't see the distinction between the corporation that does the deed and the government who subsidizes and authorizes it. Don't fall for the false dichotomy. The government and its corporations are one and the same. I don't know what to do about this problem or a great number of other problems with which I have no expertise, but I can tell you that going and asking the crooks to behave themselves and play fair is not the solution. At best you'll get enough people together about it to become a threat to their sustained dominance, and they'll sacrifice a little bit of temporary gain for long-term stability; but is that really the best you can hope for? To get them to go off and rape and pillage in someone else's backyard?
      • Jan 21 2012: Justen, so there is no "We" that your talking about, just a collection of people doing good?

        That's not a direction. Are you suggesting that the people in your camp do not do things that are bad. That is what it sounds like. We do this and I do that; that is all fine but you also contribute to the misery of the world. Everybody becoming a "Lone Wolf" that sounds like a great idea.

        So your a group of people tired of waiting around for other people to solve these problems? Well it's about time?

        So your group solves all of the problems, what then? Oh yes, new problems. Humans will always live under the dark cloud of problems.

        You are separating yourself from others. There is no Us and Them; there is only Us. No we the good guys and they the bad guys. You know damn well that you make choices. Some of them are well thought out and still end up being wrong. Some are just wrong but you find a way to justify it anyway.

        Ooh an exclusive group. We don't want those other kind of people in here.
        Again No way. If you exclude anyone, you are guilty of not sharing the wealth.

        No one can be excluded from our group.

        One planet. One atmosphere from which to breathe. I am not looking for ultimate happiness, that is not what people can have. I am looking for ultimate fairness and that is all that people can ask in an equal world.

        You take up an awful lot of space on this thread and so I have quite a bit of your world view in front of me. Except for maybe some key points, I really disagree with your approach to the problem.
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          Jan 21 2012: I'm not sure what point you're trying to make, to be honest. What are you getting at? What alternative do you suggest? That nobody acts until everybody acts? That nobody should pave the way until everyone has agreed on which way should be paved? That no problem should be solved until it is made known to everyone and discussed in full? This is the only thing I can extract from your statements.

          If you want to be part of the solution, and not part of the problem, do it. You don't need a committee, you don't need a vote, and you don't need permission. If you feel that the biggest problem in the world is that you don't have a hand in everything that happens in it, feel free to try to solve that problem first, and see where it gets you.

          There is no direction in nature, in evolution. We are not intelligently designed, and our future will not be intelligently designed. It will emerge. There is no-one at the helm of the world. There will not be. Reality does not permit this. Some things will happen in ways that you don't prefer, and you will be powerless to do anything about that unless you choose personally to take action.
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      Jan 20 2012: Stephen - I appreciate the altruistic sentiment in your comment … but I think you are deluded.

      Greed is the name we give to the self interest of others.

      Look, all sentient beings are self-centered. We are nerve centers of perception of input data from our surroundings. Self interest is an inherent human condition. Yet at the same time we are social beings. We thrive on interaction with others. Need others. Enjoy helping others. And do best through cooperation with others.

      So, we should aim to utilize all our capabilities to maximize our condition.

      But I do think you are correct that there is a need to refocus our goals. To aim more for cooperation and less for competition. In our mutual self-interest. To examine what is most important for the good life. And determine how it can be achieved for all.
      • Jan 21 2012: Hi Tim

        I really enjoy being insulted by people in a conversation.

        If you examine your self, you will find that you are greedy. (I see that you understand that already). So greed is not a name we give to the self interests of others. Greed is wanting more than you need of anything. What is bad about greed is the lengths at which we will go to obtain more than we need without concern for others.

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          Jan 23 2012: Stephen - I hesitated using that word (deluded), but after looking it up in the dictionary (defn - mislead or deceived) thought it seemed appropriate. Sorry if you feel insulted to be told you are wrong. My self interest in wanting to make a point was apparently excessive from your standpoint. I’ll try, in the future, to better moderate my egoism.
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          Jan 23 2012: Stephen - I’ve been thinking over our little interchange here.

          Perhaps I should explain to you that attributing societies ills to “greed” sets off some little bell in my head. It harkens back to teleevangelists blaming mankind's downfall on “sin”. Both statements seem purely rhetorical - simple tautologies like saying “evil is committed by bad people”. It may be true, but where does that get us? Meanwhile, the Newt Gingrich’s of the world seem to promote their own personal agenda by finger pointing and speaking such gibberish.

          Much better, it seems to me, to acknowledge humanity’s shortcomings and structure systems in such a way that those shortcomings are best dealt with. Redirecting the self interest, which was labeled greed (i.e. - excessive), to a self interest which benefits others as well.
      • Jan 24 2012: We are all deluded because there are no facts. I will just understand that you were not insulting me, merely opposing my thinking. I liken your opposition to this; I say it's cold outside and you say no it's not. Who is wrong? No one they are both perspectives of the same observation.

        I also find a great many people saying greed is the cornerstone of societal problems. It's not like the problems are caused by compassion. So I guess I don't understand what your opposition is, especially to an idea that is so thinly expressed here in the limitations of these pages.

        This is why so many voices slow progress. This has to be considered when designing information for all websites. Also, to much information is like not having any information.
  • Jan 15 2012: James, I apologize for not directly addressing your question in my initial response and my followups. I am fatigued from watching the show of our world. Seeing how people are oppressed, abused, manipulated and murdered. We inhabit a world that is being guided by a global conspiracy whose roots can be easily traced to a small group of bankers who have systematically monopolized everything from our money supply to our food supply. The evidence is all there. So, when I read your question: "How do we get corporations out of government?" I automatically substituted the question with "Who are the real criminals in this global crime scene?" and "What's the best thing we can do as long as we're all standing around talking about fixing what's wrong with the world?" By the way, just doing THAT is a fantastic start. I support you guys. I love that you're putting yourselves out there. I hope that everyone will get educated and continue to sharpen your message and bring attention to so many things that are wrong.
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      Jan 16 2012: Fantastic post Don.
      • Jan 17 2012: Thank you Joanne. It's exciting times we're living in. It's great to see people waking up in droves.
    • Jan 18 2012: Great post Don, we will stay out there as long as it takes. The Bank of New York Mellon has us in court trying to get our tents of there property but we have good lawyers who are helping us stay. Even if we do get evicted we say you can't evict an idea whos time has come. We are not only connected by camp but by internet, we will keep demonstrating until they listen. We are not a bunch of radicals, we are average citizens wanting major change. The people in Occupy Pittsburgh range in age from 18 to 70, I myself am 50. I work full time as do many others but we are out there at night and on weekends. Thank you for your input and don't believe what little the media says about the Occupy Movement, we are strong and determined to get corporations out of government. We also seek social justice in all facets of society, no more corporate welfare, no more police brutality, no more a policed state. We have been peaceful but arrested, beaten, maced and more. Pittburgh is the exception, the police respect what we are doing for them, they are but a tool of theose in power.
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        Jan 20 2012: Hi James, this is a little off topic, but just so you know you have my support and solidarity out there in the various Occupations. I don't necessarily agree with your end goal, I think it's beside the point, but I think what you're doing is important on its own. You are shattering the illusion of consent and consensus with the status quo. You're showing people who have been thinking that there is something seriously wrong here (usually quietly and to themselves) that they are not alone. I don't know whether something will come directly of Occupy, but thanks to you guys the world, and I, know that there is widespread awareness of the problem and a desire to find solutions.

        I'm glad that you're not in particular danger there in Pittsburgh, at least not yet. I hope you guys have a plan of action in case the worst happens. I've been circulating some materials on peaceful strategies and countermeasures to riot control and mass arrest techniques (I didn't come up with them, I've just accumulated them over time). Have you guys been getting this stuff out there and talking about it? I'm not real sure how well it's been getting around. I hate to see good people getting hurt for no good reason.
        • Jan 23 2012: Hi Justen
          Thank you for your solidarity and we are safe and have been practicing in case something happens. People drive by and yell "get a job", they have no clue as to what we are doing and have done. We are attempting to wake up the 99% so things can change. I'm not for taxing the rich, that's a drop in the bucket and will kill jobs. I am for seperating government from corporations and corporations from government. I work full time, own my own house and car, I don't comp in 20 degree weather for fun. This is the message people should be getting from Occupy but the news won't print the truth, I think the truth will come out anyway. Thank you so much for your comment.
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        Jan 23 2012: Michael M: I'm not interested in further debating the nature or morality of states. Believe it or not I've had this conversation many times and it has become very tedious. Clearly neither of us is interested in changing our point of view.

        Regarding arable land: I stated this elsewhere in the thread, not sure if we had this conversation or not, but there are different kinds of efficiency; until you know what factors you're trying to maximize, you can't determine whether you've taken the most effective course of action. Industrial agriculture maximizes price-performance. That is all fine and good, if all other factors are irrelevant (particularly space usage and energy consumption). If you want to maximize the amount of food you can produce per acre, or maximize the amount of food per unit of energy, there are radically more effective methods (land and energy are cheap). Unfortunately they cannot be automated or scaled very well with existing technology - they require a lot of specific human attention and intervention.

        No I don't expect everyone to grow their own food. I am certain that everyone could, but not everyone wants to, or should want to. There are about 4 acres of land per person, 1.2-1.4 presently arable, on the planet for every human being (you're welcome to check my math there). A substantial amount more could be sustainably improved. It takes a small fraction of that to provide 99% of the food needs for an individual using space and energy-maximizing techniques. We could all live quite comfortably on just 1/3rd acre per person, varying according to climate. See for instance what http://urbanhomestead.org is doing.

        As for luddism, it would be hard to be a transhumanist luddite, and I am certainly the former :) This is a common ad-hominem attack, but not a very effective one. Obviously I am here, chatting on the internet, on a website entitled "Technology, Entertainment, and Design". At the very least I'd be a pretty hypocritical luddite.
        • Jan 23 2012: Justen
          That's fine if you don't want to talk about the morality or the basis of the state. I just really disagree with your assumptions. Therefor on the nature of this question on getting corporations out of government I do not see how your position really moves along in any solid fashion.

          I have seen the stats on land usage before and while division might work on paper, in reality the arable land is not available, nor will it be to be divided up. Personally I prefer solutions that can actually deal with our problems. I do agree that more efficient methods can be found for food production, but in general food production is not our problem it is food distribution. (That and the fact that a lot of corn in the US goes to cars and cows, not people.)

          Sorry the luddite comment was not an ad hominem argument but one that goes to the core of what you propose. Obviously you do use "contemporary media."

          I have enjoyed your comments and I just can't go there.
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        Jan 23 2012: Michael M: My understanding of luddism is that it is the rejection of industrial technology and the belief that machines are somehow harmful rather than helpful to human productivity. I am definitely not in favor of that idea. I'm all about technology - I toy with robotics as a hobby, I write artificial intelligence simulations, I'll be the first in line for cybernetic implants.

        As for arable land being divided up, almost everybody who lives in a suburban home has a substantial amount of arable land available for use in more productive things than passive-aggressive lawn-keeping competitions with their neighbors :) The link I posted above is an ideal example of what can be accomplished on a suburban lot. If you would, entertain a thought experiment where everybody lives in a suburban home grows a fully edible landscape that provides, say, 50% of their annual food needs. Suppose they dedicated 1/8th the time they spend watching television to the garden instead - that's about 8 hours a week on average and just the amount of time required. This is definitely achievable in the temperate zones.

        I argue the main reason that this doesn't happen is that people have better things to do with their time in a place where food is cheap and abundant. With the looming approach of the end of cheap, portable energy and soil improvement in the form of petrochemicals, without which industrial scale agriculture is impossible, that may change. If and when the time comes where waiting for a political solution is no longer an option, I'll be there and ready to offer alternatives. That's what direct action is all about - alternatives.

        I agree about allocation and distribution of food - fixing that alone would fix a lot of the world's problems. Alas, Big Ag owns all relevant institutions that could be involved in a political answer, and I don't see that changing any time soon. As you like to point out, this is the reality we deal with.
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      Jan 18 2012: Don. I don’t dispute that conspiracies exist. People with power conspire together to maintain their power. That can be taken as a given. The question is - how do people without power protect themselves against those with power? Isn’t that the principle theory behind government “of, by and for the people”?

      Now we can also admit that the powerful then try (and are often successful) at manipulating the government for their own purposes. But is the solution to that problem to eliminate government? Or to reform the government in such a way that it better represents the people?
      • Jan 18 2012: Tim
        Really good insights and ones we have to take seriously in all this. We do live in a country ruled by law, albeit (as Don points out) the lawless seem to win the day at times. Change like many of us have spoken of here, comes with very deliberate actions. It does take some people being dedicated not to just a cause (they come and go), but the causes of the cause.

        We do not need to eliminate government, but make it not just responsive, but responsible in its actions. The debacle last year on the deb ceiling is ample proof we are not there. I would still hold out on this issue, that changing back even to the way it was 20 years ago with lobbyists, would do a great deal for us. There is an incredible amount of leverage there, if we can make our elected leaders responsible for saying clearly and forthrightly who they are receiving money from. Limiting lobbyist groups by amount, by registration, by legally limiting there ability to buy influence, would greatly help.

        I agree, the system may be corrupted, but it is after all, the system we have allowed to grow. We can work to change that.
      • Jan 20 2012: Tim, I guess I'm just an old-fashioned question everything guy. I can't get past the 'idea' that it is wrong to force anyone to do anything. I have always said that every person's life is their own personal experiment on how to live. I find the idea that anyone, or any group has the right to dictate to me how I should run my 'way to live' experiment untenable. As far as I know, this life may be all I get at conscious, proactive engagement with the universe. If it is, I want to be part of allowing mankind to experience it in the most meaningful and fulfilling ways possible. Therefore, I seek to abolish any unnecessary boundaries to my opportunities for personal exploration and expression.

        I should also point out that for me, and possibly other people who think like me, this fight for freedom from external control is not something I do just for fun (though I do enjoy the discourse among other intelligent people, and the opportunity to open people's eyes), I'm fighting because I strongly feel the wrongness of it and know that it is at the center of a deepening, dark cloud smothering mankind from its potential. I have also observed that the pace of those working against this consciousness expansion has accelerated. If we don't fundamentally change our thinking soon, it will be much more difficult in the near future. Protect the internet. Protect the internet. Protect the internet!
      • Jan 23 2012: Hi Tim
        I don't want to see governments dissolved or corperation, I just want to see them seperate.
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    Jan 12 2012: James,

    To get corporations out of US government:

    Begin a "No taxation, No representation" movement that publishes the NET taxes (after write offs, etc.) paid by corporations that fund candidates. Paralleled with full-on effort to revoke or amend Citizen's United.

    There are some of the latter underway, but they need much more and stronger focus.

    Citizen's United is a mis-named law, passed in 2011, that anoints corporations as people. Thus, giving corporations the ability to fund politicians directly. The vast majority of campaign funding comes from Wallstreet.

    What few seem to understand is that not only are corporate interests not representative of US citizen interests, but that Wallstreet companies are typically funded by non-American companies. One can connect the dots that these companies have even less interest in US citizens.

    For example, a US Senator from Minnesota, John Kline is funded by a Aegon, the global insurance company, which has presence in US corporations. Kline sits on workforce and education committees at Congress. Aegon clearly states in it's 2010 that it is "redirecting" it investments to Europe, Asia and South America and that it is achieving success in doing so.

    John Kline is far from the only senator who has such incongruent relationships with corporations. He just happens to be one that came up in another conversation, due to his being from my area, so I gave a quick look to his funders. Since the list was in alphabetical order, Aegon was the first that stood out. I imagine there are others in Kline's and other candidate's coffers.

    • Jan 12 2012: Thanks Andrea, my point exactly.
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      Jan 14 2012: Thanks Andrea. At last...and that is just the tip of the iceberg. The average citizen, normal trusting people, cannot possibly fathom the dark avenues of deceit that corporations currently embark on to gain access to govt funding or to undo fair trading legislation.

      The worse thing is, this corrupt culture is seeping into my country too, now that so many companies are global. People here can't see it coming, they are used to the govt being fairly trustworthy, not an avenue for corrupt speculation.
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        Jan 14 2012: Joanne,

        Yes, it is just the tip of the iceberg.

        And, while the hull of the disabled ship of society can't easily be repaired, with enough energies, a full-scale plunge by all into the depths might be avoided if people put mouths and muscles behind movements that expose the captains that created Citizen's United.

        I hope your fellow citizens and leaders see a better route and navigating accordingly, somehow.

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          Jan 14 2012: Thanks for this Andrea; 'while the hull of the disabled ship of society can't easily be repaired, with enough energies, a full-scale plunge by all into the depths might be avoided if people put mouths and muscles behind movements that expose the captains that created Citizen's United' I wish I could clone you.

          Too often we hear it is govt to blame for the fact that people with corporate interests have entered govt in order to shift the goal posts to their benefit. We hear it is govt who is at fault because those same people have set up powerful manipulative forces, for only of the one more obvious examples, highly paid lobby groups, in order to subvert established democracy for their profit.

          We, those who have lost out because of it, i.e society as a whole, sometimes seem unable or unwilling to recognise the problem for what it is, i.e. selfishness, individualism and corporate greed, and to work together to develop strategies against it. Therefore we continually, give our own power away, to our detriment.

          In my country people are still unaware of the threat, these influences pose for our economy, culture and social health. This is because we grew up in a country where we could (largely) trust our govt and its representatives. It is disingenuity which makes public awareness here slow, or non existant, and as you well know in the U.S. by the time people begin to understand, the damage has already been done.

          It is good to come on TED and see people who are waking up and beginning to strategise.
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          Jan 18 2012: Andrea, may I just say that your imagery is pure poetry? And may I use it occasionally in conversations of this nature in order to illustrate a point (full disclosure, of course!)
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        Jan 15 2012: Joanne --

        Regards highly paid lobbyists, here is Jack Abramoff: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Abramoff.

        He was a Republican influence peddler who bought off many people to get public policy passed.

        For example, by spending millions a year for the best seats at sports and other events. And employed Congressmen's staff, while the Congressional staff was still working in Congress.

        One tells the story of a hockey game Abramoff invited him to. One minute he was negotiating his salary with Abramoff, the next Abramoff was plying him for information about Congressional business.

        This is only a small snippet of this lobbyists iceberg, which sunk him for a few years. He was convicted as a player in an extensive corruption ring, which included two Bush White House officials, a Congressman and nine other lobbyists and Congressional aides.

        While it would be quaint to think this no longer happens, doing so would also be dangerously naive.

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          Jan 15 2012: Interesting Andrea, I am not surprised and I guess because Abramoff was actually prosecuted, he was not one of the main players. I am concerned about this, and even more concerned how large corporate enities are making inroads into other societies around the world, shaping cultures, and manipulating democratic processes in order to corner a market place. Monsanto is a good example. There are diplomats around the world, who work directly for that company.

          The budget of this kind of company is so huge, it has the power to change cultures through marketing, to fund supportive representatives into govts and to supress any resistence in the judicial system. It's a process described by Naomi Kline in The Shock Doctrine, and again in a great doco which you a probably familiar with 'Whats the matter with Kansas' about he Reagan election, where the abortion issue was used as a blinder.

          The fear rhetoric of the status quo; 'the war on terror', the horrors of 'socialism', the shining brilliance of the mythical 'free market', is propaganda 101 to keep the average person blind and compliant. This support culture for huge business has become so entrenched that anyone who speaks out is labelled 'a lone wolf' 'treasonist' or 'unpatriotic'.

          I have heard many commentators say that transparency, limiting the size of corporate entities so they cannot threaten national sovreignty, and a more proportionally representative democracy would do a great deal to protect citizens but given that every move to acquire these changes is hailed as 'anti capitist' 'socialist' 'anti progress', 'anti freedom' how can reform strategies ever move forward?
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        Jan 15 2012: Joanne --

        One could make a very plausible argument that the real players behind Abramoff are capitalist interests and corporations enriched by his "playing" with politicians. Leaders from, none, notably were prosecuted in the process.

        Corporations are very good at getting proxies to do their bidding. Including proxies who propagate the psych-ops of "get government out of regulating business."

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        Jan 15 2012: Joanne,

        Regards fear rhetoric, yes, it is a staple reactive agent used by many to catalyze social contagions that amplify the reasonable presence of fear, through histrionics inducing repetition, and in so doing, accelerates unreasonable fears into point-of-no-return stratospheres.

        The antidote to any contagion is an equally potent counter-contagion. Occupy is an example. Though it must evolve, as any contagious agent must, and adapt to the changing environment to effectively keep its hold and build on it, not though, through histrionic rhetoric, but though illumination of non-transparent systems and through clear action to change policy.

        Reform strategies can and will move forward when multitudes of citizens stay the course of demanding they get a representative democracy, not by answering the anti-this or anti-that folks, but by illuminating the truth in as many forums and venues as possible, over and over again. A boycott here and there on corrupt corporations can create a darn good dent.

        Think of it as citizen-led counter-corruption campaigns. While words and themes are important for orienting such movements, action must be taken on them. Needless to say, it would be counterproductive if such reactions are produced with incivility.

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          Jan 15 2012: Your focus and analysis give me hope. You put clear parameters around the problem, and outline a believable plan of approach. I find this uplifting. Thank you.
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        Jan 16 2012: Joanne,

        Your comment on my analysis provides a nice frame for encapsulating key points:

        Problem: How to get corporations out of government.
        Parameters: Transcend faux fear- amplification by shining light of truth on corporate collusion. .
        Plan: Cross-partisan citizens engage many muliti-venue, inter-connected, iterative, civil anti-corruption campaigns.

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        Jan 17 2012: Joanne (and all)--

        I had a debate with a California pastor (his name is David Housholder) yesterday who is preaching the TeaParty gospel against "wealth distribution" which calls for more equitable taxing system.

        He posted very condescending and nasty comments to a homeless and disabled women's FB. Needless to say, he is likely funded by some wealthy folks. So likely feels the needs to defend his funders.

        The problem is he is preaching an "anti-tax" point from a pulpit also supported by non-profit tax-exempt status that explicitly stipulates tax-exempt churches from using tax-exempt benefits to preach polarizing politics. Not that he can't have personal views, but he preaches his personal political views (and one imagines those of wealthy friends) at his church and via church publications.

        We debated about Citizen's United. Which reminded me of common Christian knowledge, that Jesus consorted with tax-collectors, because he believed they were redeemable. But kept up his campaign against hidden power puppet-string pullers, including leaders in the Temple.

        Regards Citizen's United "corporate personhood" mask, I asked Housholder if Jesus would call corporations people.

        I did not get an answer, in fact, he blocked me seeing his further posts. However, the activist whose FB he used to propagate his prophecy profits Christians gospel to reached out to me privately. We'll talk more about how he and others are manipulating many.

        • Jan 17 2012: Excellent comments Andrea. Thank you.

          Fortunately not all religious/spiritual people would agree with the right-wing element. There are millions of us out there who would not and will not ever.
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          Jan 17 2012: Actually Andrea, I wish I had been 'a fly on the wall' during that debate! Something tells me you might have shaken his belief that his ideas are so reasonable and absolute.

          This comes back to the solutions we were discussing previously, and how important to challenge the platform of authority that the greed culture have developed around their highly questionable self serving ideas.
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          Jan 18 2012: Andrea, just to clarify that while he is a pastor he is apparently not teaching Christ, and you are very correct in spotting this. A true follower of Christ refrains from disparaging remarks, and in my humble opinion, it is not possible to live a Christ-centered life AND be a Tea Partier.

          You are also correct that Christ went and preached among the crack addicts, meth dealers, and child molesters of His day. He also ignored the rich, the arrogant, and the power brokers, because He knew, all too rightly, that their lust for money and power would forever separate them from God.

          To bring this to point, another way to get corporations out of government is to open the eyes of the Christian community to the fact that they have been seduced by corporate interests. In the past twenty years, Christianity has been co-opted by those with a dibilitating economic agenda by appealing to social issues to enlist the mindless allegiance of the rank and file. Therefore,I have been trying in my own humble way to speak with my fellow Christians to discuss these matters, and try to see if we can focus the church to spiritual matters and not politics.

          Sadly, I've had very few who will listen (mainly just my cats!) but at least it's something. If we can divorce the Christian base from their obsequious slavery to corporate interests,that would go a long way to reducing corporate influence in government.

          Lastly, remember (and I say this to the pastor you mentioned) we can do anything, but if we do it without Love, then we have nothing.
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        Jan 17 2012: Joanne,

        The conversation actually happened on a Julia Dinsmore's (a friend) FB. You might be able to see it/them here: https://www.facebook.com/julia.dinsmore. In comments section of the second Migrant Mother photo on her FB, captioned "Trickle Down Theory."

        However, Housholders may not be visible. After a lengthily back-n-forth with me he blocked me from seeing his comments, and likely others, too. If you can't see his, it'll make mine seem bit odd.

        I actually cringe a bit at my reactions in the comments, and am debating how/if to make amends.

        I don't often lose balance, but had been pulling an all-nighter to get an essay completed and published for Dr. Martin Luther King holiday and when I responded was not only sleep-deprived but pretty grumpy. I felt defensive of Julia and her hard work on the cause of poverty. And wanted to react to what looked a lot like bullying to me.

        Though it might seem a bit ironic knowing this "me v. pastor" "back-story" here is the piece I was writing in the wee hours, when this all occurred, called -- Beating the Drum for Emmanuel:


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          Jan 17 2012: Hi Andrea, I could nt read any of the fb exchange, but I have printed the article to read tonight, and it looks interesting, so thank you.

          It is very important to the citizens in the country where I live, that people are polite. I believe this emphasis on courtesy is is a colonial trait, to do with originally needing to work together and so it paid to avoid 'rocking the boat' in circumstances where you may be forced to rely on your neighbour. People who visit often comment how kind and friendly my countrymen are and it is true, they often are. Sometimes though, behind the courtesy, horrible problems go unchecked, homophopia, racism because it is considered 'wrong' to speak out.

          Sometimes people suffer as result of this social agreement. In my home town for example, in the rural south, we have very high statistics for homosexual male suicide, at highschool level. Although this important issue is finally being dialogued, and people are beginning to change their attitudes, it is still very difficult for gay men, to come out and feel safe in my small rural community.

          Last week I got into a similar squabble as the one you mention on facebook because a cousin (who is in the military) posted a terrible picture of a brutally murdered man taken outside his barracks in Papua New Guinea where is posted. The man was a person of colour, and my cousin proceeded to make jokes in open forum about his death with his mates.

          Of course, in N.Z. where politeness is paramount, no one challenged this, and if anyone else thought it was wrong, they did not say.Of course, myself, and I am proud to say, my mother and one other person did make a very strong vocal stand against this and a little facebook explosion ensued, which thankfully, no one died from.

          Perhaps I am wrong, I do not know, but I believe, we do no wrong when we speak out against injustice, and sometimes a strong voice is better than a conciliatory one.
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        Jan 18 2012: Verbie--

        I'm glad you are spreading the hope that Christians (and I'd add: all others, too) "can do anything, but if we do it without Love, then we have nothing."

        Here is a piece I wrote to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr holiday that shows how one woman -- a single black mother, with all reasons to hate, illustrates the power of love to change the world. Her son's name was Emmanuel.

        Beating the Drum for Emmanuel:

        She is living and more importantly propogating both Jesus and that other KIngs (MLK) message. As it happens, I was writing the piece in the wee hours of the morning when I had the exchange with the pastor.

        As for your own efforts, Verbie. I hope you keep on and extend your audience. Herding people to truths like these can be,well, like herding cats. And, like cats, it can appear that even if they hear, people aren't able to communicate and accomplish the task of illuminating love beyond and above all in ways that change corporations and civic incivility. But they do hear.

        If you can keep your drumbeat going and amplify it however and wherever you can, you're critical message will be heard and acted on. You'll only know after the fact, though. People, like cats, can be pretty closed mouthed about these things until their dander really gets riled.

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      Jan 14 2012: If you wonder why, Adriaan, it is mainly because of 1. Government coercion, as has been discussed in this thread, i.e., the government makes millions of rules for everyone (Americans aren't fond of rules), and 2. Bureaucracy, which places inordinate power to enforce all the rules in the hands of anal petty bureaucrats, of which there are annually more and more because of the ever-increasing rules. Both of these seem to be natural consequences of socialism.
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          Jan 14 2012: I don't mean to be saying anything specific about the Netherlands, as I've only visited there. (They are known for very liberal laws of the "morality" type - blue laws, as we call them.) But I do know a bit about Norway, where I've lived about 20 years and where I now spend half my time. People in Norway are on the whole well off and are therefore happy and content. The government takes in big bucks through the offshore oil and gas activities, and that income supports a cradle-to-grave welfare state that is very likely to collapse under its costs when the oil & gas runs out. There's no doubt that full employment and health care softens the difficulties of life.

          So why do I prefer my time in the US? Why a sense of relief when I get back here? Hard to say. In the US the notion that you have to report to the police when you move from one town to another, or even move down the street would be thought grotesque. There's no governmental "national register of persons" here that keeps track of you. In Norway an official committee determines which words (in the Norwegian language) are legal, and on the public radio/TV you can't use words that aren't. Friends there are surprised to hear that English doesn't have an official committee that tells us how to speak. Never did.

          I think in the socialized countries people just get used to being told what to do by the government, and they learn to depend on the government for their needs. And everything requires forms. And waiting. Lots of waiting.

          The US is certainly messier than Norway, but out of that comes a liveliness and creativity for better or worse. In Europe the best current example of bureaucratized rule-making may be the EU (which even non-member Norway must obey through a trade agreement). The thousands of new regulations streaming out of Brussels may in the end bring about the end of the EU, as people finally get enough. I remember a regulation a few years ago that specified the maximum legal curvature of cucumbers!
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        Jan 14 2012: I think you can comment on Norway with authority Paul, as you seem to have plenty of experience there but there are many other what you would call 'socialist' countries which do not have the laws you reference. I think those you mention are peculiar to the Norwegian mindset. Try to tell a Berliner what to say and what not to say for example. People in Germany do not accept the state having too much say over their private choices. I do not think you can argue effectively that state dominance over private choices is a side affect of 'socialism' as it comes down to the particular culture of country we are talking about.

        I have noticed an absolute paranoia associated with the word 'socialism' amongst so many American commentators and I wonder if some of your comments do not arise out of that cultural bias.

        Acutally the definition of socialism is extremely benign and ridiculously broad but here is one I like; Michael Freeden in his study Ideologies and Political Theory (1996) states that all socialists share five themes: the first is that socialism posits that society is more than a mere collection of individuals; second, that it considers human welfare a desirable objective; third, that it considers humans by nature to be active and productive; fourth, it holds the belief of human equality; and fifth, that history is progressive and will create positive change on the condition that humans work to achieve such change.[5]

        That the Nordic model is a more effective, humane and sustainable form of socialism is really just because they practice more even wealth distribution through responsible taxation and regualation of the banking/investing sector and so do not have to deal with the problems associated with highly economically split societies.

        What we need today, is an American model, which is particular to the innovative, independent mindset of the culture, but is a return to a more just economic model.
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          Jan 15 2012: Joanne,

          Thank you for sharing Freeden's definition of the broad criteria of socialism.

          You are quite correct that socialism has become co-opted for politically polarizing positioning. Many US citizens, not to mention many politicians, can't keep up with the bouncing-ball that semantical representations, well, misrepresent.

          By Freeden, and indeed others' definitions capitalism, when it is not about money (I know, I know...) is socialism. It is just a matter of, again, semantics. Both seek to build with human capacities in culturally dynamic ways.

          The trouble with both is when this interest in human agency is organized in ways that undermine human agency.

          More to the point: who's semantics are most consistently communicated, in word, if not actions.

          A good reason for all citizens everywhere to consider the actions that influence leaders and the actions that define their work.

          In other words: if leaders' actions continuously betray their words, citizens' should listen a lot less and observe a lot more.

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          Jan 15 2012: Joanne.
          Yes, the socialist experience differs from country to country. The entire political spectrum shifts from one society to the next. Nevertheless, my beef with socialist states I'm acquainted with (and it's not only Norway) is that state power and structure grow unabated, and citizens come to expect as birthright the growing benefits that socialist politicians eagerly offer at elections, but as the EU is currently experiencing, can't be maintained through economic setbacks. I will disagree with your thought that socialism does not imply greater state control. It always does, because it creates more state programs, which the state naturally controls.

          Freeden's definition of socialism says nothing about state power, bureaucracy or the economy, and is sweet-sounding but unrealistic idealism.

          In December 2008, at the height of the financial meltdown, I wrote at BlueRidgeJournal (my website) about the need for a New Economics that blended the social concern of the European socialist model with the liberated creativity of the American capitalist model. The abstract reads:
          "The American "competition" social model has created vast innovation and enterprise, while leaving too many poor behind. The European "welfare" model supports the unfortunate, but a burgeoning bureaucracy stifles innovation. A new synthesis is needed, a New Economics that achieves the benefits of each system without its drawbacks."

          I invite you to read the rest at:

          (Re: your comment that "I have noticed an absolute paranoia associated with the word 'socialism' amongst so many American commentators and I wonder if some of your comments do not arise out of that cultural bias."
          I'm sure an aversion (though not paranoia) to socialism and its governmental growth is common in the US, but I would avoid painting thoughtful debaters here with that taint. I'm sure you didn't mean any offense, and I'll just forget it.)
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          Jan 15 2012: Joanne,

          I do find it interesting that you know so much about american politics than most people who do live in the U.S. It is good to know that those from the outside can see the issues of american exploitation and imperialism.

          Anyhow as you and Andrea rightly pointed out, if anything other than capitalism is ever mentioned in the U.S. it creates mass hysteria but this of course is not new. For example there was the Red Scare in the 50's and 60's but if you think about it, communism was not a threat. What it was is that most of the leaders were threats to U.S. power and the U.S ambition to obtain global dominance.

          Anyhow today we should be open minded to such systems like communism and socialism but it creates such a panic and such concepts are poorly taught in schools that most people are panicking without even knowing why.

          I bet you will get a kick out of this: If socialism and communism are usually misconstrued and creates a massive panic just imagine how the media (including the educational system) distorts anarchism? This is the exact reason why I would never get elected to public office being that I am both an atheist and an anarchist, which according to most people is as worse as you can get...

          but if you ask me, anarchist and socialist thinking are major threats to corporations and the power that they have because both ideologies require some sort of dismantling of the corporate system.
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        Jan 15 2012: Hi Paul, lets be specific, which other 'socialist states' have you had direct experience of where you would deem state control to encroach too far on your personal choices?

        I take issue with this 'as the EU is currently experiencing, can't be maintained through economic setbacks.' Firstly, can you name one country whose banks had a significant amount of American subprime loan mortgages that has managed to weather the 2008 hit?

        Secondly, if we believe news agencies which are tied to the western corporate system, the Euro is over. If we watch French, German, Russian, or Middle Eastern news, the reportage is more realistic. Who is served best by the idea the Euro is over?

        Re this; 'The European "welfare" model supports the unfortunate, but a burgeoning bureaucracy stifles innovation' again which country are we talking about? Some of the greatest engineering projects in the world are created in Holland, Denmark Germany, not to mention innovations in green energy solutions and new technology. Germany invests hugely in hi tech research. I hardly think you can defend this assertion.

        Here we (almost) agree the need for a New Economics that blended the social concern of the European socialist model with the liberated creativity of the American capitalist model.' Except I would substitute the words 'liberated creativity of the American capitalist model' with 'the irresponsible business practices of some American corporate enterprises'.

        Re my comment on the negative associations around the word 'socialism', I think Paul you made enough sweeping assertions about 'socialist' countries for that cap to fit quite well, so I stand by it with no insult intended. I am happy to exchange the word 'paranoia' to aversion if that makes you feel better. What does that change?

        The point I was making by posting the 'sweetly idealistic' definition of socialism, is that a little objectivity on social systems is helpful, perhaps this is served best by avoiding loaded terminologies.
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          Jan 16 2012: Dear Joanne,
          You want me to "be specific" about which other countries I have experience with, that I dare express myself about their social systems. I'm quite familiar with our neighbor Sweden, and England, to mention two. You don't seem to think that specifying where you have familiarity is important to the conversation.

          I wasn't talking about bad mortgages (though here the European banks proved themselves just as stupid as the US banks) but about unfunded social welfare systems in Europe that are bankrupting a series of countries.

          If you don't see that the EU is losing popularity within the EU (this is not about the Euro), you're out of touch. You just need to check the opinion polls. The reason usually given is Brussel's intrusive rule-making that has taken control of their own country's laws out of the hands of member countries' elected legislatures. If the EU is to survive, it'll need a revised model that gives power back to the people.

          When I speak of American enterprise and inventiveness, and of Europe's general doldrums, I'm referring to such minor items of modern life as functioning electricity, functioning radio, functioning TV, the transistor, the personal computer, the Internet, the mobile phone (and the telephone in general), the iPad/iPhone, Microsoft, Google, Intel's chip, GPS (provided by American satellites free to the world but paid for by American taxpayers), Facebook, Twitter, the world's space program NASA (Hubble, Kepler, etc etc), most of the world's top universities, most of the world's Nobel prizes ... One can go on. The US is much smaller than Europe in population and economy, but dominates completely in inventiveness.

          We don't need to blame this on socialism.. We can find something else to blame it on. American greedy capitalist bad guys, perhaps. That sounds like it would - to use your patronizing phrase - make you feel better. For whatever reason, though, the world's most creative people are still beating a path to America.
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        Jan 16 2012: Hi Paul,

        Actually if you go by a measure of Nobel prize laureates instead of its world famous (its not that bad, I have lived there) substandard plumbing, the U.K comes out on top with 119 nobel prizes for 62million people. That is almost double than results for the states, and Germany and France are not far behind and on a par, per capita with the states.

        Of course we know America is a wonderful country, full of amazing and talented people, but so are these other countries too and it is just not true that they are more draconian in terms of human freedoms or social contols. It is just not true they are behind technologically. In fact, their citizens pay no higher price for the added security of a supportive welfare system and top notch healthcare system. I think it is what every American deserves too, and their country is certainly rich enough to afford it.

        I cannot understand why more people are not struggling for what should be their birthright and why so many people buy into the myth that it is because Americans have so much 'freedom' and because they are so 'innovative' that they are a country where people have to take 'responsibility' for themselves. This is all rhetoric that serves the 1%, the neocons and corporate giants who act in their own interests first. And lets not forget the cold reality, for every billionaire, who acquires the big dream, thousands are impoverished as a result.

        The real reason corporate greed is at a zenith, why it is eroding the best attributes of American culture, why it is out of control, is because a dominant minority have developed an entire culture around greed economics and cleverly tied it into important feelings of patriotism, and you just demonstated this perfectly in your post.

        Re this; 'though here the European banks proved themselves just as stupid as the US banks' Who is at fault? The person who designs something, packages it up to conceal its flaws and sells it, or the unsuspecting buyer?
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    Jan 23 2012: To think that the corporations run our govenment- think again. To think that we have a government-think again.

    You spend you money on stuff that supports corporations which then gives them the fuel they need to influence the false heart of humans-greed! Stop buying the stuff of corporations and you starve them of the very food that makes them grow big and strong. Start spending money on those things that creates health, liberty and happiness for all who are willing to participate in creating Heaven on Earth.

    We do not have a government because we the people of the USA are the government. Every complaint we have against government is a direct complaint against our self. Government is a reflexion of the people. We have a corrupt government as an expression of currupt people voting into office corrupt people. If you desire absolute democracy then you must Govern yourself and reject the temptations of your false heart-your greediness. SELF Governing is True Democracy. It requires SELF discipline in order to Self Govern and we must hold a vision of our future self in order to exercise our free will towards Self Government.

    How you live life and exprience love is your current expression of Heaven on Earth.
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      Jan 23 2012: Dan, although I take issue with your focus on greed, see:


      I do think you are right in pointing out the importance of our individual behaviour to our dilemma.

      I recently read an interesting statement - “we need to get beyond the belief in the idea that every human owning a car is a basic human right”. Something in that comment touches on an important issue to human progress. The idea of refocusing our priorities to the things which truly enhance our fulfillment. I don’t think that humankind lacks the material resources for all humans to live satisfying lives. But it is important that we make judicious use of the resources available to us.
      • Jan 24 2012: Ultimately, we all seem to agree that there are some fundamental problems but we seem to be arguing in different scales of the problems.

        You Tim and others are arguing that the details of the Constitution are being manipulated by government using policy and by corporation using finance. I am blending this entire conversation down into what I sense with that claim and am trying to say that your argument is; The devil is in the details of the systems of checks and balances.

        I and I think Dan and others would agree that the main problem with government and corporations is that the people who lead those entities, don't follow the behavior that the Preamble to the Constitution projects. Not the image that I have anyway. Furthermore, the people, who actually do have a voice, in both government and corporation at the cash register (not the voting booth), aren't exactly living the lifestyle that is implied in the Preamble either. That is essentially the mission statement of each individual and is each individuals responsibility, if they themselves desire freedom.

        In order for me to justify the freedom I have, I must insist that everyone is entitled to the same. Anyone being entitled to any more or less of anything is not in the spirit of equality. I consider a vast majority of the things we have in some way are harmful to other specific people on this planet. My desire for a coke is harmful to other people on this planet in some not so obvious ways but hang on, I've got a party coming up this weekend and guess what goes great with rum. When I behave in this manner, I consider that to be "greedy". Perhaps I could choose another word that is more suited to my beliefs but then again, that would just be semantics. I would still feel the same way just with a different vocabulary.

        This might be a good add to the conversation. If you make profit, how is that an equal trade? (this question is more at the root of the concept and not what happens in the market place.)
        • Jan 24 2012: Stephen
          A really good post. I think you are correct in your general description of people who have participated in this dialogue.

          I am not against profit or even people making money. My biggest concern is how that money is used. Is it used to exploit more people? Is it used to buy undo influence either in the marketplace or in Congress? Is it used to actually multiply the common good? See I believe there are companies who try to do that. They do make a buck, but somehow in all of that, the common good, more jobs, better products, a better world (at least materially) is out there. We don't live in a barter society, so attempting to say profit production is not an equal trade just doesn't make much sense. But again, what are corporations doing with their profits?

          In my own personal life I am coming to revalue some things: solitude and quiet, work that is fulfilling and makes me happy, a lifestyle that enjoys while not exploiting.
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    Jan 22 2012: I would turn this question on it's head and ask "How do we better govern corporations?" specifically instead of railing against the legal concept that corporations are people (even if collective ones) give them their rights (as a collective) and add their responsibilities and back this concept up with the force of law. Ghandi (among others) was on a very productive path when he talked about rights and responsibilities and I do not believe you can have one without the other. A right in order to be "granted and guaranteed" must be the responsibility of all people to grant and guarantee it. Every right includes a responsibility (to be redundant). So start with improving (in the US) the bill of rights to include (with the force of law) the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and add all the corollary responsibilities.

    This does not get corporations out of government so much as recognize them formally under existing rights (the right to assemble) and add their responsibilities. Right now in the US the only formal responsibility of a "for profit" company is to make a profit...this is enshrined in law and it is at the heart of the problem (in my view).

    I have also posted this solution here: http://www.wesolver.org/wiki/Universal_rights_and_responsibilities as a solution to the problem of the for profit corporation here: http://www.wesolver.org/wiki/The_For_Profit_Corporation

    I would love comments on this idea (as it relates to the orignal topic).
    • Jan 23 2012: Amistral
      I do think you are on to something with the rights/responsibilities thing. What we do need however is also a description at least of what those corporate responsibilities would look like. One, off the top of my head, would be pay your taxes!
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        Jan 23 2012: Agreed. A project I would like to so is for people to get together and describe what they believe should be those corporate rights and responsibilities. Open it up to everyone and rate the top content, government then can and should use this as input into making laws.
        • Jan 25 2012: "...the only formal responsibility of a "for profit" company is to make a profit..." and I would suggest it stay that way for purposes of simplicity. I recall ethics and similar business classes that ultimately created situations that would create more work for lawyers and politicians. The profit motive is an efficient one. The issue to me is how and who defines profit? Why are the externalities such as waste, pollution and health issues not properly accounted for? Why are the public facilities and services not properly charged for? How is it that producing weapons of mass destruction are profitable while clean water, alternative energy, education and health care require subsidies or are dependent on charity. Get the accounting right , create situations where those things that advance civilization are profitable and let them compete to get it done. The Chinese have a saying that another man's margin is an opportunity. I wonder how inexpensive the things we really need would become if we just made it profitable. I also wonder how we could afford to have an under educated population of unhealthy people that are deprived of the necessities of life that turn to drugs and crime to survive. Should prisons be one of our fastest growing industries? I would suggest the problem is not profit but rather the accounting and that is where we, the public , the people (the breathing kind with a pulse) need to take on more responsibility.
  • Jan 18 2012: What are the products you buy?

    Where does your dollar end up at the end of the day?

    What are you actually supporting?

    If every individual asks these questions of the products they buy, I believe we would see a lot of issues dry up and blow away. Individuals do what they believe to be the right thing (arguable, I agree) so if it is shown convincingly that a corporations practices are malignant to society, that corporations profits and therefore its ability to continue its practices at all will drop.

    YOU as the consumer, must consider everything you purchase when trying to end corporate greed. If you are not willing to give up that shiny new _____, that is an example of corporate greed.

    Great conversation James, there is some really interesting content here.
    • Jan 18 2012: I agree Stephen, we must give up a lot of things, I don't even own a television but need a good car to work. It does seem like a losing battle at times but we must try.
      • Jan 18 2012: Thank you James for not being offended as I speak my mind but I have had 2 things removed from TED conversations and my confidence in our ability to do 'anything' is shaken.

        Yes. Your behavior (concerning consumption) is fine but I am 44 and just in the last 2 years of PTSD am I waking up to a reality that wasn't there before "05-06" for me.

        Also your a rare breed but ultimately "the masses" are the ones shopping, and they all have multiple TVs and other gadgets (as well as I).

        I was on the phone with a rep from ATT about how I wanted out of my contract.
        My argument was based on the fact that NASA receives updates from probes that were sent up almost 50 years ago and my last years iphone and my friends brand new phones(I forgot what they were) all have problems. HA I told him.(I still have to finish the contract)

        The intent of these companies are not to provide you with a good product. If you have that, you won't upgrade.

        Unfortunately money rules for the time being and the message has to reach the guy on the yacht. But we must try.
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        Jan 21 2012: Don't give things up, change how you get them. You can run circles around the big retailers, and even the big manufacturers, if you know where to look. Some things are more difficult than others. It's hard to get an open-source car, for instance, because of all the regulation around auto manufacturing and licensing. But other gadgets and tools? Hell yeah you can go outside or around the system to get them. There are landfills full of perfectly good products and components that want for but a little attention and repair. Open source hardware is getting to be a big thing too.

        You're in Pittsburg; I know there's a good hackerspace there. Have you heard of them? If not, get in touch. Usually the biggest barrier to entry (and one you're traditionally supposed to overcome on your own) is to figure out who and where they are and apply for membership. Don't worry, you don't need to be a computer nerd. You just need to know how to make stuff, or want to learn and teach others; and want access to the means to produce the stuff you want to make. For (hopefully) obvious reasons not everybody who applies will be accepted.

        If for whatever reason membership isn't an option, how about starting your own? Do you know of some space where you can get together with other like-minded people? Do you, and/or some of them, have some tools and equipment to share? Put it together! Start making things!
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    Jan 12 2012: I am going to go "old school" and offer one way to get corporations out of government: Write your representatives once a month.

    Not email, not text, not tweet - a good, old-fashioned typed letter, signed sealed delivered (I'm yours!)

    We each have three elected representatives: Our President, our Senator, and our District Representative. (and I'm just talking Federal . . . if you like the idea you can include State and local as well).

    We write them a letter, telling them what we want them to do. Send a letter a month. Can you imagine if every citizen who could compose a simple letter flooded these reps with our voices?

    The point is this: we can't blame Corps for doing what we should have been doing all along - getting their message across. These Corps know what these Representatives do, they communicate constantly, they make their will known. Taking an idea I just read from another poster above, we should supplant their voices with ours.

    Sounds a little idealistic, I know, but I'll admit I'm tired of sitting at my terminal crying about why doesn't government pass a law to expose corporate donations . . . I'm going to write them a letter, make my voice heard! If we could get everyone to do that, we could effect a positive change . .. and maybe even salvage the USPS!
    • Jan 16 2012: @Verbie, I have observed first hand that government officials rubber stamp, form response letters to almost every genuine query, even in mass. I have sat on the defense table and watched a federal judge lie to a jury about how they are to interpret the law, and how they are supposed to perform their (jury) duty. It's too late to ask the system to fix itself. It's rotten from the inside out. Ron Paul represents a real opportunity to return to a still imperfect, but less screwed up situation than we have now and despite his real popularity, the establishment will not permit him to become the republican's candidate. The news lies/suppresses information. We need to get the CFR/Trilateral influence out of our world if we want to recover.
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        Jan 16 2012: Thank you for your response, and yes, the response letters that I received are always from some minor lackeys. The only handwritten response I've ever received was from a senator when I was a boy, hundreds of decades ago.

        What my hidden agenda was is if everybody does write, each rep, monthly, they will have to have something to write about. Is means they'll have to inform themselves. Those who discuss in forums such as this are generally informed, but the vat majority of the voting public goes only on the opinions that are fed them. My aim is to incite every single person to inform themselves and then speak.

        If we are to get corporations out of government, while working within the system of government that we have, the only way to go about this is to make our voices louder and more resounding than theirs. That sounds idealistic, but if we make small changes in how we talk to our government, and make that a habit, then that can start making practical changes.
        • Jan 16 2012: I think what you mean by writing once a month is that every citizen must be more involved with the governing of your country. If that is your wish, it can take any form not just letter writing. Conversation with your neighbours and strangers first and foremost; an educated public is essential to good government. The distance between the government representative and the public has to be lessened. Corporations spend millions on lobbyists to convince politicians of what they want. The public needs to do the same - groups of people with petitions, events and activities, and groups of people in general will get far more attention from politicians than individuals. If enough people want something to happen and are will to spend time making some noise about it, it has a way of spreading that can't be ignored. Most people are far too 'busy' with working, watching television and other things they place more importance on than helping decide what path the country and the world takes. If Corporations are willing to spend their hard earned dollars and the public is not, the dollar wins. Perhaps we could just convince corporations to represent us better and bypass government altogether?
        • Jan 17 2012: Clever Verbie, very clever! :)
        • Jan 17 2012: Verbie very nicely said. A lot of us stand ready and willing to participate.

          Jason, you are so right, the mover in all this will be grassroots action. Vote and get involved!
  • Jan 11 2012: We need to change laws about lobbying and influence peddling. More than that we need to change our heros. Instead of looking at people who measure success by how much, maybe we need to measure success by how relational. We need to stop looking at Carnegie and Rockefeller, and start looking at how real people contribute to real community. Perhaps we need to stop looking at who drives us and decide where it is as a society we want to go. We haven't done that in a long while. We would rather be driven.

    Unless the Occupy movement can start helping us change who we are instead of just how much we have the hero will always be the guy with big bucks.
    • Jan 11 2012: Michael
      We don't want to change who you are, we simply want you to realize what's happening and speak out about it.
      • Jan 11 2012: James
        I agree that the Occupy movement is about raising consciousness. However, it has to go beyond that in some real tangible way. It hasn't captured people's hearts, only some of their attention.

        When I say help change who we are, that is what I mean. The occupy movement has to change values and understandings. That is the only way to effectuate change in our society like you describe.
        • Jan 12 2012: Hi Michael
          I believe the reason we haven't captured people's hearts is because the corporate and censured press keeps making us look bad or pays no attention to us at all. We all need to start speaking up on this issue until we can't be ignored.
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          Jan 12 2012: Both of you are correct. The people must change their heroes: we have to stop looking at financial success as something to be admired. Michael has a point that the Occupy Movement, while refusing to be co-opted by any specific monied interest, is (in some way) in danger of being marginalized as being ineffective in the long run.

          James is correct in that this movement is the only movement in recent history that has actually raised consciousness and gotten people to think, instead of simply rallying like-minded believers into radical action (cough! tea!cough!party!cough!)

          James is also correct in his assessment that the part of the media that is openly supported by corporate money has been openly disdainful of the OM - but then, even government supported media has been cool to the cause . . .
        • Jan 24 2012: Michael, I share your concern about the extent with which current outrage is encouraging radically new ideas in how society organizes itself versus demands for redistribution of wealth to maintain the same old industrial consumer based economy. Many in the movement are well intentioned but I wonder whether much like the Luddites in the early phases of Industrialization they are just stalling and reacting to the inevitable. I sense the real battle is more about issues such as SOPA and information integral to a knowledge economy being available and open for the benefit of all. What forms of co-operative movements can create the organizations needed to insure the wealth and benefits of emerging technologies accrue to the majority rather than a minority. Once again I reiterate its not left versus right but rather open versus closed.
    • Comment deleted

      • Jan 11 2012: Pierre
        I do agree that there times when lobbying produces good results. But under the current unrestricted system, I think money talks. And not only does it talk, it determines way too much policy. I think their limits could be defined and severe restrictions be placed on our elected officials and much of this influence would change. There are ways to change how we think about what government is, and what it should do. I am not btw in any form or fashion a Libertarian on these issues. It is not unfettered individualism that is going to get us out of this mess.
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        Jan 12 2012: exactly how lobby can have positive effect?
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        Jan 12 2012: here is my take on the ethics of lobbying.

        politicians either know what is right or they don't. if they know, lobbying can not possibly help. if they don't, they need to acquire the appropriate knowledge. this can be either public or private. if the government and the representatives of the sector are working on public good, they lose nothing if the information is public, but we all lose if it is secret. in this case, they can put all material on a website, and educate the people, including politicians, about their interests. let's have an open debate. if they are not working on the public good, then lobbying is harmful.

        consequence: lobbying can not help. public discussion helps.
        • Jan 12 2012: Kristzian, I argree with the fact that in order for government to work it must be completely open, honest, and transperant with all of it's dealings, otherwise there is no trust between it's representatives and those they represent. Any relationship without trust can only be a dysfunctional one.

          Can you imagine a world in which every branch of government in every region of the world was set up in this manner? A representative of the people, and held accountable by the people for whom it serves. A government wherein TRUST is non-negotiable, and the average man or woman has access to the same information as the highest government official.

          Sadly that will not happen... Not until WE ALL realize corporations are not the problem. They stem from the problem. They are the product of the problem. MONEY IS THE PROBLEM.

          Let's go a step further here so we all understand that this is not simply a financial issue or a political issue... This is an issue of humanity. We, pompous, arrogant, self fulfilling, egotistical human beings have decided that we can put "Ownership Rights" on whatever we deem appropriate. Let's be clear, I have no more a right to own anything on this planet or in this universe for that matter, than anyone or anything has a right to own me.

          Once we all realize this fact of nature; we are all a product of the universe, therefore, anything we do in our lifetimes is just that... A product of the universe. Getting corporations out of politics won't turn out to be this long hard drawn-out struggle. It will be seen as no more than a hiccup in the process of human evolution.
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          Jan 13 2012: Hey Anthony.

          .I was right there withyou right up to your conclusion that MONEY IS THE PROBLEM.


          We the people..

          We have totally disengaged from civic life..we have allowed ourselves to become too passive about governance and too comfortable with our self absorbed life of consumerism

          What good is truth and transparency in government if no one is watching.? It is only through our ogoing civic action and ceaseless vigilance that we can take charge and displace corporations from the reins of power.

          To me, that isn't the anarchist antics #Occupy has chosen

          .It's the hard work of rebuilding democracy from the ground up through civic awareness and engagement.
  • Jan 12 2012: Rip off all of those corporate veils. Let's see who the people are behind all of those decisions that have such far-reaching effects. We want names.
  • Jan 25 2012: The concept of democracy is that a peoples elect the government. There should be simply a citizen tax that goes to a pool from which elections may be run and each candidate should get an equal amount of money. One vote equals one flat voting tax. This tax should represent the cost of running an election, minimal advertising funds and lots of access to community space and forums for discussion. Corporations should NEVER be allowed to donate, not even in kind, to government.Nor should they be allowed to participate in debates. Other avenues should be set up for dialogue between state and business. And there should be a lot more referendums to get people used to participating and voting.
  • Jan 24 2012: I am a big believer in the power of ideas
  • Jan 22 2012: It will require a whole lot of hard work, but it can be done by a real movement that uses the present system to elect people who are not backed by corporations. A superpac can spend millions of dollars to its media partners (rather incestuous, it seems), but we actually have the means to combat them on the internet by promoting candidates to run for the available senate and congressional seats, which are basically local contests. Choose the party that ailgns most with your core philosophy, and promote a candidate who is reasonable and willing to work to reach solutions. Not one Superpac has a vote. It is our job as responsible people to encourage better candidates. Americavotes.org is doing this, and probably others. One big problem, however: people have to work with others of totally different views; each one must give up the need to be right and work on common goals. Can we do it any better than our politicians?
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    Jan 22 2012: James,

    Civic engagement is the key to keeping any democratic government on course in a way that serves "we the people".

    Three recent issues show how even without the legislative and constitutional fixes we point to and seek," we the people" can take charge of our nations priorities and its agenda even against massive corpoare investment to "have it their way":

    (1) Keystone Pipeline
    (2) SOPA/PIPA ( Stop on Pircay--Hiuse and Senate Versions)
    (3) Not Granting Banks immunity from criminal liability

    In each, corporate interests invested a huge amount of money in lobbying congress and in public advertsing campaigns trying to persuade "we the epople' these were all things in our interest. Occupy awakened the 99% movement so people are more disposed now in their own hearts around their own dining room tables to work through to the truth and act on that. So when petitions come around from Move On or Credo or AARP or whatever groups express their views people are more likely, I think, to already understand the issue addressed and more ready to sign. And on these three issues "we the people" have been heard and we have had an effect

    .None of these issues is fully put to bed..there's a lot of corporate money still pushing on all ( and more) but it is less likely they will sneak through now with so many milions of americans awake and watching and now better informed . In any democratic government, even one as constiutionally challenged and legsilatively impaired as our own in the U.S. at the moment, when all the people rise and speak we can drive legislativve agendas, we can drive prioriities, we can determine outcomes

    .If no one is wtaching and noone is engaged, day by day, every day no amount of legislative and constiutional reform will bring change. Corporations and special interess will always seek to influence governement because so much of what corporations want to do is only possible with active legislative/government support.

    It Takes Us.


    • Jan 23 2012: Thank you Lindsey
      I got over 350 comments on this post, people are awaking and will hopefuly engage, that's the idea behing Occupy, wake up everyone.
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    Jan 21 2012: James,

    As I answered earlier on your Q thread, two things must be prioritized to get corporations out of government.

    One, to put major energies behind amending Citizen's United. MoveOn.org is answering your Q with a petition to President Obama urging him to also prioritize two things. One urging Obama to strongly declare his support of a constitutional amendment to Citizen's United.


    I'm not a "joiner" of political issues groups. I'm not interested in my ideals being lost in the shuffle of groups who's vision I might agree with, but, whose means to achieve it, I sometimes disagree with. Beyond that, I don't sign many petitions. But this one is critical, so I did.

    I added this note:

    President Obama,

    Neither our Founders nor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would stand for Citizen’s United. It is an unconscionable co-option of We the People ideals.

    Undoing Citizen's United is a cross-partisan win for our representative democracy.

    The Framers designed our government to liberate America from foreign control. They rejected by-proxy interpretations of anti-citizen initiatives.

    Our leaders, from the Founders to MLK, would roll in their graves to see how Citizen’s United corrupts our We the People ideals.

    Take a stand, as they did, against by-proxy "shadow" government.
    Take a stand, as they did, for the rights of individual citizens.
    Take a stand, as they did, for no taxation, no representation.

    Take a stand for hard working American taxpayers whose Congress and government is being represented by tax-sheltered corporations, many owned by non-tax paying foreign interests with increasingly less strategic interest in investing in America.

    Regulation is not enough. Take a stand to amend Citizen's United.

    Thank you,
    Andrea Morisette Grazzini

    Those here who are serious about getting corporations out of government should seriously consider signing, too.

    • Jan 24 2012: By the way, I also went to your cite from one of the other posts. Very impressive. Nice work, Andrea.
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        Jan 24 2012: Stephen,

        My understanding is Obama will take a strong populist stance tonight in State of the Union Speech. As I see it, his talk, should reinforce all serious citizens get serious about closing gaps in visible, sustained efforts.

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      Jan 24 2012: well said Andrea..I'll be listening tonight as well and looking for clearer, stronger more visionary policies not just on corporations and banks but on inclusion and opportunity for meaningful work, for wisdom on extraction based jobs and profits, for wisdom on sustaianable energy and a sustainable stable economuc policy.

      .This is not a night for inspired rhetoric, inflated claims or empty promises. It is a night to hear about the nuts and bolts of a change we can bring about together.
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        Jan 24 2012: Lindsay,

        I think we'll hear visionary policies. But as you point out, they must be clear, real and perceivable. Anything too lofty won't fly.

        Inclusion of sustainability and less ecologically damaging economy is likely. More so, though, is manufacturing, I expect. Best if they are "married" solutions, where possible. Manufacturing speaks to cross-partisan calls for jobs, less complicated that environmental issues. Obama wants, as you point out, clarity and concrete deliverables.

        I expect another topic on the night will be education. I imagine evidence of the HigherEd and civic education effort American Commonwealth Partnership led by Harry Boyte and other is heading up will be present.

        Let's hope all focus less on corporate and gov't and more on aiding, abetting and engaging citizen agency and public assets.

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        Jan 25 2012: Lindsay (and all) --

        Here is what President Obama on getting corporations out of government:

        ""Send me a bill that bans insider trading in Congress, and I will sign it tomorrow. And, while we're at it, lets make sure that people who bundle campaign funding, can't."

        From his State of the Union speech, tonight.

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          Jan 25 2012: may it be so
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          Jan 25 2012: meanwhile, mr president, you might stop handing out bailout money to selected corporations. also stop spending zillions of dollars on new (and occasionally nonfunctional) weapon systems. because, you know, we might get the impression that you serve special interest groups. and it would be a disappointment. for some.
  • Jan 19 2012: Corporations cannot be removed from the government. My belief is that each community should sustain itself thus drying up each corporations proverbial well. This planet existed long before and will continue to exist long after Wal-Mart is erased from the history books.
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      Jan 19 2012: but most people want walmart to exist. if i was around, i would want too. i like tesco here.
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      Jan 19 2012: Moss,

      Excellent idea. We as consumers have to determine who we are going to support and not. We must inform ourselves regarding what corporations do, and if we find their actions sufficiently heinous, then we must stop feeding them. Dry up the well . . . actually use our pocketbooks to do what government can only do by regulation.

      The problem remains though in getting the public to go along with it. Perfect example: Everybody by now should know that Chase bank doesn't deserve anybody's business, because 1) they made approximately $14Billion quarterly profit betting on the failure of the Greek economy, and 2) leaked internal memoes show that Chase cares nothing for any client who does not bring in $500 million in business per year. Anything less (and that's means natural persons like us) do not count in "Chase World" - With knowledge as this, the millions of people who have accounts should be so infuriated that they would close their accounts and go somewhere else (Credit Unions or community banks), and yet . . . they do not.

      The people are silent. Mute. Chase's well should have dried up long ago. How do we get the people passionate enough to do something about this? (Chase is only one example, as we all well know.)
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        Jan 21 2012: Part of it may be that Chase is right - the little guys don't matter. I would hazard a guess that if every private ("natural" - good term) person pulled their money out of Chase it would hardly put a dent in their bottom line. People like us who live paycheck to paycheck don't leave enough money in the bank at any time to make them consistent money (hope I'm not falsely categorizing anybody here). We're barnacles to them, at best a benign cost of doing business, at worst something that can be shed.

        They give us bank accounts so that we'll come to them when we want loans. Then they sell those loans to other banks, or collect interest on them. We can't "take away" our loans from Chase once we've got them. In a very real sense, we are not the customers, we are the product. They sell us to each other - or our assets, anyway. So that may be why they're not drying up, at least not in the short term. If everybody who had an account at Chase closed it tomorrow they'd still be getting money for 30 years - when the last of the mortgage payments dried up. If this happened, you wouldn't even hear about it unless they complained about it in the news.

        So to put a positive spin on that, maybe it's not as bleak as you think, maybe it's just that the effects haven't been felt yet.
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          Jan 21 2012: Barnacles. Nice imagery!

          But mt point really is not so much to weaken chase as it is to strengthen the public. We consume without ever paying attention to whom we are giving our money.

          And even if every natural person removing their funds wouldn't hurt chase's bottom line, it would do this: it would exposechase for what it is: a monster who makes its profit from other monstrous corps and hedging bets on foreign economies. And they would have no further impetus to dull our senses with a branch on every corner and insipid commercials telling us how great it is that we can cash our checks at ATMs.

          If we can't defeat the giants, at least let's expose their nasty teeth.
  • Jan 19 2012: Would you want to get corporations out of the government, or perhaps simply improve governance overall? Across the world we've seen a lack of proper governance from the US to the middle east, India, Russia and China. Do we simply blame the influence of 'corporations' for this remarkable failure or is it rather a time to re-think what we want and need from our governments? Do we really want a world proliferated with subsidies and local protection laws, or do we simply want our governments to provide the basic tenets of security and infrastructure while maintaining civil discipline. Even these requirements need to re-evaluated from time to time to ensure that what we are provided meets the current demands and not what was required 50 or a few hundred years ago.

    Also we need to distill some basic ethics to the current young, as well as upcoming generations. For too long has it been agreeable to do whatever is required to achieve ones goals. Time for a rethink perhaps? The well-being of all humanity, and the larger world needs to be the first goal for every new human-being brought into this world. If not why bring more of the selfish thugs who will only find better ways to plunder our resources and develop themselves at everybody else's cost? Survival of the fittest works in a local-ecosystem of the animal kingdom. Sure. But we as humanity need to move on to 'Survival of the Earth' as our new slogan - Overtly philosophical perhaps, but I don't see anything else solving our resource, governance, health or freedom issues without such a radical change at the individual level. Greed is not good - May Gordon rest in peace.

    Oh well, perhaps I've read too many books and need to get to sleep.
  • Jan 18 2012: The only reason that corporations want to influence government is because governments have so much control over people. Take away your government's power and control over you, and the corporations will cease to be interested.
    • Jan 19 2012: I'm not sure I follow.

      If you take away the governments power it will create a leadership vacuum that corporations with money will fill.

      Back in the same situation but without some kind of voice.
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        Jan 19 2012: Why do you think you have any voice with the government? Do you honestly believe that the option to place a note in a box indicating your preference equates to a "voice"? When I go to, say, McDonalds, if I am dissatisfied with the quality of food or service I may express myself by not returning. When I am dissatisfied with the quality of service from a government, and I attempt to decline its service, it is in the habit of pointing guns at me and pushing me into cages.

        Whatever nasty things may be said about McDonalds (and I would most likely agree with all of it, I loathe them), the only way by which I am forced to support McDonalds is the power of taxation by the government which is used to subsidize McDonald's profits.

        Now I personally am not so sure that merely taking away one or the other, or empowering one to the exclusion of the other, would resolve any problems at all. In that sense, I agree with you. I am merely confused about where your "voice" comes into this.

        I am also confused about how a corporation might exist without government power, since a corporation is in fact a group of individuals granted special privileges *by* a government, primary amongst those limitation of liability. Without government-granted privileges what exactly is a corporation? I say it's just a bunch of persons.

        I say if you want to stop a bunch of persons from doing bad things to you, the first and best thing you can do is to stop helping them do it. The next best thing you can do, once you've accomplished the first, is to find ways to prevent them from further abusing you. I don't believe that asking nicely or indicating your preference on a card comes into any of this or has any potential at all for real gain. I think that groups of persons hell-bent on abuse only cease it when they realize they cannot overcome resistance and obstacles set against them, and that stopping them is never as easy as cooperating with them.
      • Jan 20 2012: Stephen - Do you need leadership from others? The best person to lead you is you!!
        • Jan 21 2012: James, how does it all work if there are 7billion leaders? Some people are not capable of leading themselves. Some people will need help.

          With a large population people will have to cooperate with one another. When people cooperate with one another, a system evolves. We call these systems governments. Governments will need leaders.

          There are many styles of leadership and not all of them use the "carrot and stick" models.

          Are all the ideas you generate your own invention or did you actually do a little research of what someone has said and done before you? As if you followed their lead.

          We are all teachers and students. We are all leaders and followers. so;

          Yes I need leadership from others. and No sometimes I am not the best person I should listen to, because sometimes I am wrong.

          same as you.
  • Jan 17 2012: I agree with your basic framework of thought and believe that the world today is governed by company friendly governments. Either through direct "bribes" or more indirect influence. Some people even start with politics just to get in to the lucrative world of companies. The only way to stop this from further increasing is that people use their power. No matter how rich you are, the pressure of people will make you fall. I personally saw this during the Arab Spring! Right now America is experiencing a great thing, namely the Occupy-movement. At the same time America is going through a elections process (a very complicated one seen through european eyes). But it is very difficult to see any connections between these two.

    The reason for this is probably the system of elections in America that require quite a lot of money, that only rich people or corporations possess. Rather simply you can find the contradiction between the elections and Occupy. How to change this then?

    Probably what the world needs is more critical media that really dare to put politicians accountable for the happenings and demand more transparency. I think this would bring about the kind of change that is needed to really understand how corporations affect policy. The positive thing is that today everybody can be media, there is no limit to how much internet can affect people's opinions.

    The downside is that it takes quite a lot of effort and even some funding to make it happen... And soon coproations/governments will control the internet in a way that not even the government of China can! So to answer your question... SPREAD THE WORD, THE WISDOM AND NEVER LOSE YOUR FAITH IN GOOD THINGS!
    • Jan 17 2012: Hi Peter
      I've been a part of Occupy Pittsburgh since October 15th and we don't align ourselves with any political party. We are against corperations running our government and our lives and both parties are guilty. It is so huge though you wonder how you are ever going to change it. I guess I'll keep sleeping outside and send the message to as many as possible. Thanks for your comment.
      • Jan 18 2012: Sorry James. Don't take this as a personal attack. If you are one of the people still out for Occupy, then you are clearly one of the good guy's.

        If you are an active part of the Occupy movement then you are camping. If you are camping then you are giving your hard earned money to the Jarden Corporation. That is if you are using any Coleman equipment. (just to mention one product name).

        What are the products you buy?

        Where does your dollar end up at the end of the day?

        What are you actually supporting?

        Does anyone know?

        It seems to me that if your going to fight the system, you have to fight the whole system. With our current form of trade, we are supporting the system we are trying to fight, whether we like it or not.

        This is a runaway train.
        • Jan 18 2012: Hi StephenDon't be sorry, say what you feel. I am still camping out on weekends when I'm not working. We are on bank property so we have no propane, no coleman products and most of the tents were donated. We have no heat, lights or electricity, the food and sleeping bags were all donated and we usually get one good meal a day in. The only money we spend is on coffee, cigarettes and we have had to buy some warm socks and thermals. I personally buy no more than I have to, that being gasoline, food, clothes and utilitities, I also own my own home which the bank really owns for 9 more years and then the government will extort taxes out of me for the rest of my life. I try to keep my money in the U.S. and the community I live in and if I have to buy foreign I look for Canadian pruducts or products from European Countrys. I buy alot second hand. The movement may not be ideal but we are trying to bring awareness to the masses, unfortunitly the media lies about us a lot. I'm not a rich kid or a dirty hippy, I'm a 50 year old man trying to better his country for the next generation, for us it's shot.
  • Jan 17 2012: Political economy is a struggle between that which best benefits the whole & that which most benefits the most powerful at the expense of everybody else.

    History shows democracies, with guaranteed human rights, where no one is above the rule of law are the only way to achieve the former.

    Authoritarian movements start out as utopian fantasies with an exhortation to hedonic hate - dehumanizing people - designated minorities, anyone who disagrees. They inevitably lead to hellholes where a privileged sociopathic few exploit and abuse the rest of the population.

    Laissez-faire is just such an authoritarian fantasy. The better name for it is neo-feudalism: its purpose is to place plutocrats above the rule of law so they can abuse people with impunity. My grandparents & great grandparents were successful entrepreneurs in the late 19th & early 20th centuries. They taught us laissez-faire was a failure, the root cause of the world wars and the 20th c's totalitarian movements. That's what real history teaches us, not the "Goldberg Variations" (Jonah Goldberg's bowdlerization).

    Corporations are amazingly powerful tools for leveraging wealth & power. Unfortunately that makes them amazingly powerful tools for destroying democracy & enslaving the people. Citizens United allows egregiously overpaid CEOs to use middle class retirement savings to control the government & destroy the rights of the middle class & poor. We need to get rid of CU by amendment or SCOTUS overruling it. In the meantime there are ways we can eviscerate its evil impact - require shareholder approval, require corporate donations be segregated & subject to truth in advertising laws as commercial speech, reject the corporatists' Hobson's choice of gov controlled by them (Romney) or no gov w/direct control by them (Paul).

    Adam Smith & the Founders fully intended to protect the people from private abuse as well as government abuse, but self-serving plutocrats keep kicking that hard fact under the rug.
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    Jan 17 2012: We can start by repealing the old legal curve ball that got the Supreme Court to declare corporations to be a "person" with all rights and privileges attendant therein. Step two would be to make any form of lobbying, outside of simply providing information to politicians, illegal. Step 3, abolish the Federal Reserve System. The Fed is a non-governmental organization, i.e., privately owned, yet it prints our money and uses the money supply to control our economy. The Fed is owned by private banks, most of which, at the top, are not American owned. It is the biggest con, outside of "global warming" to be foisted off on a naive and gullible public.
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    Jan 15 2012: The problem is, the corporation is in fact part of the government. How do you else think your president gets elected?

    It's by hard cash from the corporations what allows the government to do things. Money from the people is fine, but never enough to sustain a country. There are even corporations that are richer then country's, takes as an example Apple that has more money then the United States of America. Don't you think that is important decision for a country? Choose between no money at all or chance some laws to get money from corporations.

    To get Corporations out of your country, you must embrace machines. machines allows to make people absolute. in this way we can't created any money, because we don't have jobs. So the corporations need to give there stuff for free. The problem is we already have the technology to make those things possible, if it wasn't for the corporations that won't allow us to use these technology's (as an example the electric car, that technology is already available for 60 years and the use of geothermal electricity, what allows us to have free electricity for ever.) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geothermal_electricity

    so if we can make it clear that we need to improve these technology's and use it, then we might have an chance to make money absolute (because the lack of work ) and life the Venus-project. http://www.thevenusproject.com/
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    Jan 15 2012: Reading your question and the debate I feel first of all so sad that the American modell of a melting point - integrating even the widest and most controversial interests for two hundred years - has come to an end. The US has been a modell for democracy in socially diverse and migrated populations. Now the divergence of society is larger than then the attraction. Reading the political wordings of hatred in the election campaigns one has the impression from the outside that the USA is steering towards a civil war and that it has lost respect of intellectual individuality.

    The large influence of companies is not new to the US, but I agree - today it is over the top: Today the banking oligarchy is using the state and goverment, even whole currencies, to increase their wealth. If the depth of the society as a whole towards the banking system is so large that not even generation can pay it back, you will get a civil war - this is a thesis of a new book called simply "DEBT".

    In Germany the power of companies is limited on the political parties - they can sponsor only small amounts of money, because the parties are financed by the federal state budget. each political party gets their costs paid in a certain framework which is voted by parliament. it is transparent and it is give the same chance to all parties. money is not the tipping point in a public campaign. given that all parties have about the same comparable budgets, election competitions are not mass-media-events by the biggest sponsor. subsequently politicians are not forced to "pay back" once they are voted.

    Of course this German party system has a lot of mistakes also, but it has not the mistake which results in such a great and frightening conflict as in USA policy today. Good luck!
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      Jan 15 2012: I agree with your entire post Bernd, one hundred percent. Especially regarding this as it saddens me greatly too; 'that the American modell of a melting point - integrating even the widest and most controversial interests for two hundred years - has come to an end.'

      I think if your average American person really knew what they were losing they would be outraged and they would fight tooth and nail to restore their country to the egalitarian principles it was founded on.
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    Jan 13 2012: Boycott... Stop shopping at stores where you don't know the owner, or head chefs name... Convince other people to do the same. Introduce yourself to your local small business community, you will find most of them happy to provide you with a better quality product, and better service, for a small increase in price... It's worth it.
    • Jan 13 2012: That's a great idea and I try to do it. It also helps to keep your money in your community by way of taxes. Thanks for your input.
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    Jan 13 2012: Divide and conquer is the way to get power, once you have the power then you will also have the money. How?
    Buy the media and only allow people to see and hear what you want for them to see and hear; a lesson learned from the Viet Nam war when coverage of a little girl, running naked down a lane covered in napalm hit the hearts of those taxpayers who were footing the bill for the war, or coverage of the police shooting down college kids at Kent State who were peaceably protesting that war. Use the media to lure the gullible into believing that "those people" (peacemakers, minorities, tree huggers, liberals, unions, Democrats, liberal elites, et al) are responsible for any and all problems; which effectively divides the populace and at the same time garners votes for the candidates that you want in power. Once you have that "tri-fecta" (House, Senate and Whitehouse) hold 3am votes to push through every law that will benefit your 1% group. Create a trillion dollar war, based on lies, to fund your group, and appoint Supreme Court Judges who will make laws that will give you even more power (Citizen's United). Continue using the media to "wag the dog" away from the truth; constantly laying blame for the havoc that you caused on "those people", so that the pendulum will not swing back and take the power and money, that you have stolen, away .
    • Jan 13 2012: To all of those who are religious, let me first apologize.

      I will say it until I am blue in the face... MONEY IS NOT REAL. It is Christianity, Islam, Buddhism. Hell, call it Scientology if you want to, as long as you realize that IT"S NOT REAL. It's a value system, and a corrupt one at that. And just as the basic fundamental foundations of all the religions I just mentioned are all rooted in the idea peace, all money is rooted in the idea of a fair and free market system. Well, the idea of peace has not been an impediment on religious wars, and a free market system has not turned out to be fair at all.

      I feel like we are all drowning in a foot of water, and instead of just lifting our heads to take a breath, we're all fumbling around underwater looking for a mask, or our snorkel gear. Let's just lift our heads and breathe you guys.

      WE ALL know what to do. We know it like we know how to blink our eyes. Corporations, money, religion... They're all just tools we're fumbling around with...
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        Jan 15 2012: I love this 'we are all drowning in a foot of water'. I think I am going to get a t shirt printed. Is that yours? Its good.

        Re 'money is not real', I am afraid like anyone else, I suffer from something like 'phantom limb syndrome' when it comes to money. It may not be real, but it still has the power to hurt like hell.
        • Jan 15 2012: Lol, Thanks Joanne! I've never heard anyone say the drowning thing before, but I take no credit for it...
          I must confess though, your comments on this conversation sparked my interest so I read your profile. Needless to say It's so awesome to find so many like-minded people here on TED, most of whom are so open and respectful of new ideas and opinions. It's a truly humbling experience to be amongst some of the marvelous minds of our time, and right here in the comfort of my living room no less.
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        Jan 15 2012: I get what your saying Anthony and your right, money is just a concept, a idea, a social construct and yet it is perhaps the one of the most powerful things in existence. It has the power to create a sense of bliss as well as the power to create misery around the world it is a shame the the world revolves around something so grotesque.
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        Jan 15 2012: Well you are too kind Anthony, and I feel the same way. Actually my beloved partner, is a bit of a TED widower at the moment....and my garden needs weeding.
    • Jan 13 2012: Lol. Sorry Deb. I meant to respond to your last post, then just started to rant.... Good sentiment though!
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        Jan 14 2012: Hi Anthony,

        Not sure how religion gets convoluted every time. I am a Christian, one of the Prince of Peace ones who believes in "turn the other cheek, do unto others, not judging, etc." If all Christians went back to wearing the WWJD bracelets (what would Jesus do?) to guide them then we wouldn't have wars for money and power or taking from the poor to give to the rich.

        "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."
        Mohandas Gandhi Well, believe it or not some of us are still trying to live the way that Jesus teaches us to even though the far right gives Christianity a bad name and tends to get the most air time.

        The second Commandment states not to take the Lord's name in vain; I cringe every time a politician claims to be a follower of God or Jesus to get votes. It seems the louder they profess their faith, the further from the doctrines of that faith they are.

        Free markets need regulated, Church and state need separated, you are totally right that money is just a value system.

        Thanks for the thoughts:-)
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    Jan 12 2012: To get the corporations out of government, you need, to reform the banking system and give the reins of the banking system back to the government.

    This way, the corporations will not become superior to the governmental institution. If you allow the government to become inferior to the banking institution owned by the current 1%, the government becomes a puppet of that institution, the government owes money to the banks, so it will do anything the bank wants in order to not goes bankrupt.

    If the government owns the banking institution, then things work the other way around, the corporations no longer have an hold on the governmental institution but rather works for it, which is how things should be. Because the people has no power against the private banking institution, it has a sort of power over the government but not the corporations.

    Maybe if the government would own the banks and not some obscure private owners, things would be different on the international scale, there would be no interest to spread wars overseas. Because the governments would not be soak into debts and forced to the bidding of the richest men. The interests of the government would be different if the position of the government would be above the corporations.

    It is not the case now. The government has the power to take the ownership of these corrupted institutions, and to suit these con-men, fraudsters, warmongers, enemies of the people but the elected simply doesn't have the guts to do it.

    The World Will Unite soon.